Defining Religion

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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).


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).


to build up in the faith; to strengthen faith through the means of grace.


the biblical teaching that God in his grace chose in eternity those who will be saved. He chose them apart from any merit or worthiness in them (Ephesians 1:3-6, Ephesians 2:8-9). God, however, did not choose anyone to be damned; those who are lost have only themselves to blame (1 Timothy 2:4, Matthew 23:37, Hosea 13:9).


an exemplary believer who lived before the Genesis flood. He was taken directly to heaven by God without experiencing death (Genesis 5:21-24). Enoch was also the father of Methuselah, the oldest human being mentioned in the Bible.


a revelation or making known. The Epiphany festival, on which we celebrate the revelation of Jesus as the Son of God and Savior of the world, is commemorated on Jan. 6. The Epiphany season lasts for one to six weeks, depending on the date of Easter.


a letter. The New Testament contains 21 letters written in the first century by apostles or companions of the apostles to congregations, individuals, or the Christian church in general.


the study of the last things. Theologians generally include the following topics under the heading of eschatology: death, the last times, Christ's return, the resurrection of the dead, judgment day, the end of the world, heaven and hell.


gospel preaching. Lutheran congregations and synods that include "evangelical" in their name wish to emphasize the fact that they believe in salvation by grace through faith apart from works.


a movement of individuals, congregations, and denominations in American Protestantism that emphasizes a personal experience of the grace of God in conversion or rebirth. Evangelicals generally have a high regard for the authority of Scripture, but deny the efficacy of the sacraments and lack a clear understanding of conversion and church fellowship.


an evangelist is one who proclaims the gospel, the good news of forgiveness of sins, life, and salvation through faith in Jesus. Matthew, Mark, Luke, and John are called evangelists because they penned the four Gospels. Every Christian is an evangelist when he tells others about their Savior.


the declaration by the church that a person has placed himself outside the kingdom of God by his stubborn impenitence (Matthew 18:15-18). Excommunication is an act of love intended to call a sinner to repentance.


the act of explaining or interpreting. Biblical exegesis involves the study of a section of Scripture by examining the vocabulary and grammar of the section in the original language and taking note of the immediate context of the passage, the general context and purpose of the particular book of the Bible in which the passage occurs, and the historical setting. By means of such study the exegete explains the meaning of the passage.

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