Defining Religion


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C

Covenant

agreement, contract, testament. Scripture speaks of God's covenant with Noah (Genesis 6:18-21), Abraham (Genesis 15:18-21), Israel at Sinai (Exodus 24:7-8), and David (2 Samuel 7). Through the work of the Messiah, God established a new covenant (Jeremiah 31:31-34, 1 Corinthians 11:25) in which he promises the forgiveness of sins.

Creed

a written statement or confession of what one believes. The three creeds commonly used in worship-the Apostles', Nicene, and Athanasian Creeds-are brief summaries of the basic teachings of Scripture.

D

Decision Theology

the teaching that an unconverted human being has spiritual power to accept the gospel or invite Jesus into his heart. The Bible, however, teaches that by nature we are spiritually dead, spiritually blind, and opposed to God. Conversion is, therefore, entirely the work of God without our effort (Ephesians 2:8,9).

Deism

a movement arising out of the Enlightenment in 17th and 18th century Europe that emphasizes the importance of human reason and morality. Deists believe that a personal, rational god created the universe, but then stepped back from it. He allows it to continue to function according to the laws of nature without any interference from him.

Disciple

A disciple is a pupil or learner who follows a teacher, learns from him, and spreads his teachings. Every believer is a disciple of Christ because every believer follows Christ as his Master and Teacher. The Bible also uses the term for followers of a prophet (Isaiah 8:16), followers of John the Baptist (Matthew 9:14), of the Pharisees (Matthew 22:16), and in a special way for the twelve apostles (Matthew 10:1).

Dispensationalism

is the false interpretive approach to Scripture developed by John Nelson Darby (1800-1882) and popularized by the Scofield Reference Bible (1909, revised 1967) which divides history into various periods characterized by a new test of natural man by God, each ending in man's failure. The final dispensation involves Christ's physical, political, millennial reign on earth.

Dogmatics

the systematic study of the teachings of the Bible. In a dogmatics class, doctrine drawn from Scripture is presented in an organized and orderly manner according to a number of theological categories.

Doxology

an expression of praise to God. The common doxology begins with the words, "Praise God from whom all blessings flow. . . ."

E

Ecumenical Movement

a movement to unite all Christian groups without regard to differences in teaching and practice. The Bible, however, warns us "to watch out for those who cause divisions and put obstacles in your way that are contrary to the teaching you have learned. Keep away from them" (Romans 16:17).

Ecumenism

is the desire for visible union and religious cooperation among all Christian groups without regard to differences in teaching and practice. As Christians, we want to express fellowship with those who teach and believe as we do, but we cannot express fellowship with those who teach falsely (Romans 16:17).

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