Some Christians believe that this must have involved a miraculous creative act, while others are comfortable with the idea that God worked through the evolutionary process. The book of Genesis also teaches that human beings, male and female, were created in the image of God. The exact meaning of this has been debated throughout church history.
Christian anthropology has implications for beliefs about death and the afterlife. The Christian church has traditionally taught that the soul of each individual separates from the body at death, to be reunited at the resurrection. This is closely related to the doctrine of the immortality of the soul. The question then arises: where exactly does the disembodied soul "go" at death? Theologians refer to this subject as the intermediate state. The Old Testament speaks of a place called sheol where the spirits of the dead reside.
In the New Testament , hades , the classical Greek realm of the dead, takes the place of sheol. In particular, Jesus teaches in Luke —31 Lazarus and Dives that hades consists of two separate "sections", one for the righteous and one for the unrighteous. His teaching is consistent with intertestamental Jewish thought on the subject. Fully developed Christian theology goes a step further; on the basis of such texts as Luke and Philippians , it has traditionally been taught that the souls of the dead are received immediately either into heaven or hell, where they will experience a foretaste of their eternal destiny prior to the resurrection.
Roman Catholicism teaches a third possible location, Purgatory , though this is denied by Protestants and Eastern Orthodox. Some Christian groups which stress a monistic anthropology deny that the soul can exist consciously apart from the body. For example, the Seventh-day Adventist Church teaches that the intermediate state is an unconscious sleep; this teaching is informally known as " soul sleep ".
In Christian belief, both the righteous and the unrighteous will be resurrected at the last judgment. The righteous will receive incorruptible, immortal bodies 1 Corinthians 15 , while the unrighteous will be sent to hell. Traditionally, Christians have believed that hell will be a place of eternal physical and psychological punishment. In the last two centuries, annihilationism has become popular. The study of the Blessed Virgin Mary , doctrines about her, and how she relates to the Church, Christ, and the individual Christian is called Mariology.
Catholic Mariology is the Marian study specifically in the context of the Catholic Church. Most descriptions of angels in the Bible describe them in military terms. For example, in terms such as encampment Gen. Its specific hierarchy differs slightly from the Hierarchy of Angels as it surrounds more military services, whereas the Hierarchy of angels is a division of angels into non-military services to God.
Cherubim are depicted as accompanying God's chariot-throne Ps. Exodus —22 refers to two Cherub statues placed on top of the Ark of the Covenant, the two cherubim are usually interpreted as guarding the throne of God. Other guard-like duties include being posted in locations such as the gates of Eden Gen. Cherubim were mythological winged bulls or other beasts that were part of ancient Near Eastern traditions.
This angelic designation might be given to angels of various ranks. An example would be Raphael who is ranked variously as a Seraph, Cherub, and Archangel.
Classical Apologetics from Reformed Perspective
It is not known how many angels there are but one figure given in Revelation for the number of "many angels in a circle around the throne, as well as the living creatures and the elders" was "ten thousand times ten thousand", which would be million. In most of Christianity , a fallen angel is an angel who has been exiled or banished from Heaven. Often such banishment is a punishment for disobeying or rebelling against God see War in Heaven. The best-known fallen angel is Lucifer. Lucifer is a name frequently given to Satan in Christian belief.
This usage stems from a particular interpretation, as a reference to a fallen angel, of a passage in the Bible Isaiah —20 that speaks of someone who is given the name of "Day Star" or "Morning Star" in Latin , Lucifer as fallen from heaven. Allegedly, fallen angels are those which have committed one of the seven deadly sins.
Therefore, are banished from heaven and suffer in hell for all eternity. Demons from hell would punish the fallen angel by ripping out their wings as a sign of insignificance and low rank. Christianity has taught Heaven as a place of eternal life , in that it is a shared plane to be attained by all the elect rather than an abstract experience related to individual concepts of the ideal. The Christian Church has been divided over how people gain this eternal life.
From the 16th to the late 19th century, Christendom was divided between the Roman Catholic view, the Orthodox view, the Coptic view, the Jacobite view, the Abyssinian view and Protestant views. See also Christian denominations. Heaven is the English name for a transcendental realm wherein human beings who have transcended human living live in an afterlife. Christianity maintains that entry into Heaven awaits such time as, "When the form of this world has passed away.
I Thess — Two related and often confused concepts of heaven in Christianity are better described as the "resurrection of the body" , which is exclusively of biblical origin, as contrasted with the " immortality of the soul ", which is also evident in the Greek tradition. In the first concept, the soul does not enter heaven until the last judgement or the "end of time" when it along with the body is resurrected and judged.
In the second concept, the soul goes to a heaven on another plane such as the intermediate state immediately after death.
These two concepts are generally combined in the doctrine of the double judgement where the soul is judged once at death and goes to a temporary heaven, while awaiting a second and final physical judgement at the end of the world. One popular medieval view of Heaven was that it existed as a physical place above the clouds and that God and the Angels were physically above, watching over man.
Heaven as a physical place survived in the concept that it was located far out into space, and that the stars were "lights shining through from heaven". Many of today's biblical scholars, such as N. Wright , in tracing the concept of Heaven back to its Jewish roots, see Earth and Heaven as overlapping or interlocking. Heaven is known as God's space, his dimension, and is not a place that can be reached by human technology. This belief states that Heaven is where God lives and reigns whilst being active and working alongside people on Earth.
Religions that teach about heaven differ on how and if one gets into it, typically in the afterlife. In most, entrance to Heaven is conditional on having lived a "good life" within the terms of the spiritual system. A notable exception to this is the ' sola fide ' belief of many mainstream Protestants, which teaches that one does not have to live a perfectly "good life," but that one must accept Jesus Christ as one's saviour, and then Jesus Christ will assume the guilt of one's sins ; believers are believed to be forgiven regardless of any good or bad "works" one has participated in.
Many religions state that those who do not go to heaven will go to a place "without the presence of God", Hell , which is eternal see annihilationism. Some religions believe that other afterlives exist in addition to Heaven and Hell, such as Purgatory. One belief, universalism , believes that everyone will go to Heaven eventually, no matter what they have done or believed on earth. Some forms of Christianity believe Hell to be the termination of the soul. Various saints have had visions of heaven 2 Corinthians —4. The Orthodox concept of life in heaven is described in one of the prayers for the dead : " The Church bases its belief in Heaven on some main biblical passages in the Hebrew and Christian Scriptures Old and New Testaments and collected church wisdom.
Heaven is the Realm of the Blessed Trinity , the angels  and the saints. The essential joy of heaven is called the beatific vision , which is derived from the vision of God's essence. The soul rests perfectly in God, and does not, or cannot desire anything else than God. After the Last Judgment , when the soul is reunited with its body, the body participates in the happiness of the soul.
It becomes incorruptible, glorious and perfect. Any physical defects the body may have laboured under are erased. Heaven is also known as paradise in some cases. The Great Gulf separates heaven from hell. Upon dying, each soul goes to what is called "the particular judgement " where its own afterlife is decided i.
Heaven after Purgatory, straight to Heaven, or Hell. This is different from "the general judgement" also known as "the Last judgement " which will occur when Christ returns to judge all the living and the dead. The term Heaven which differs from "The Kingdom of Heaven " see note below is applied by the biblical authors to the realm in which God currently resides.
Eternal life, by contrast, occurs in a renewed, unspoilt and perfect creation, which can be termed Heaven since God will choose to dwell there permanently with his people, as seen in Revelation There will no longer be any separation between God and man. The believers themselves will exist in incorruptible, resurrected and new bodies; there will be no sickness, no death and no tears.
Some teach that death itself is not a natural part of life, but was allowed to happen after Adam and Eve disobeyed God see original sin so that mankind would not live forever in a state of sin and thus a state of separation from God. Many evangelicals understand this future life to be divided into two distinct periods: first, the Millennial Reign of Christ the one thousand years on this earth, referred to in Revelation —10 ; secondly, the New Heavens and New Earth , referred to in Revelation 21 and This millennialism or chiliasm is a revival of a strong tradition in the Early Church that was dismissed by Augustine of Hippo and the Roman Catholic Church after him.
Not only will the believers spend eternity with God, they will also spend it with each other. John's vision recorded in Revelation describes a New Jerusalem which comes from Heaven to the New Earth, which is seen to be a symbolic reference to the people of God living in community with one another. See also World to Come. Purgatory is the condition or temporary punishment  in which, it is believed, the souls of those who die in a state of grace are made ready for Heaven.
This is a theological idea that has ancient roots and is well-attested in early Christian literature, while the poetic conception of purgatory as a geographically situated place is largely the creation of medieval Christian piety and imagination. The notion of purgatory is associated particularly with the Latin Rite of the Catholic Church in the Eastern sui juris churches or rites it is a doctrine, though often without using the name "Purgatory" ; Anglicans of the Anglo-Catholic tradition generally also hold to the belief.
John Wesley , the founder of Methodism , believed in an intermediate state between death and the final judgment and in the possibility of "continuing to grow in holiness there. Hell in Christian beliefs, is a place or a state in which the souls of the unsaved will suffer the consequences of sin.
The Christian doctrine of Hell derives from the teaching of the New Testament , where Hell is typically described using the Greek words Gehenna or Tartarus.
Unlike Hades , Sheol , or Purgatory it is eternal, and those damned to Hell are without hope. In the New Testament , it is described as the place or state of punishment after death or last judgment for those who have rejected Jesus. Hell is generally defined as the eternal fate of unrepentant sinners after this life. Only in the King James Version of the bible is the word "Hell" used to translate certain words, such as sheol Hebrew and both hades and Gehenna Greek.
All other translations reserve Hell only for use when Gehenna is mentioned. It is generally agreed that both sheol and hades do not typically refer to the place of eternal punishment, but to the underworld or temporary abode of the dead. Traditionally, the majority of Protestants have held that Hell will be a place of unending conscious torment, both physical and spiritual,  although some recent writers such as C. Lewis  and J. Moreland  have cast Hell in terms of "eternal separation" from God.
Certain biblical texts have led some theologians to the conclusion that punishment in Hell, though eternal and irrevocable, will be proportional to the deeds of each soul e. Matthew , Luke — Another area of debate is the fate of the unevangelized i. Some Protestants agree with Augustine that people in these categories will be damned to Hell for original sin , while others believe that God will make an exception in these cases.
A "significant minority" believe in the doctrine of conditional immortality ,  which teaches that those sent to Hell will not experience eternal conscious punishment, but instead will be extinguished or annihilated after a period of "limited conscious punishment". Some Protestants such as George MacDonald , Karl Randall , Keith DeRose and Thomas Talbott , also, however, in a minority, believe that after serving their sentence in Gehenna , all souls are reconciled to God and admitted to heaven, or ways are found at the time of death of drawing all souls to repentance so that no "hellish" suffering is experienced.
This view is often called Christian universalism —its conservative branch is more specifically called 'Biblical or Trinitarian Universalism '—and is not to be confused with Unitarian Universalism. See universal reconciliation , apocatastasis and the problem of Hell. Theodicy can be said to be defense of God's goodness and omnipotence in view of the existence of evil. Specifically, Theodicy is a specific branch of theology and philosophy which attempts to reconcile belief in God with the perceived existence of evil. Responses to the problem of evil have sometimes been classified as defenses or theodicies.
However, authors disagree on the exact definitions. A defense need not argue that this is a probable or plausible explanation, only that the defense is logically possible. A defense attempts to answer the logical problem of evil. A theodicy, on the other hand, is a more ambitious attempt to provide a plausible justification for the existence of evil. A theodicy attempts to answer the evidential problem of evil.
As an example, some authors see arguments including demons or the fall of man as not logically impossible but not very plausible considering our knowledge about the world. Thus they are seen as defenses but not good theodicies. Lewis writes in his book The Problem of Pain :.
We can, perhaps, conceive of a world in which God corrected the results of this abuse of free will by His creatures at every moment: so that a wooden beam became soft as grass when it was used as a weapon, and the air refused to obey me if I attempted to set up in it the sound waves that carry lies or insults. But such a world would be one in which wrong actions were impossible, and in which, therefore, freedom of the will would be void; nay, if the principle were carried out to its logical conclusion, evil thoughts would be impossible, for the cerebral matter which we use in thinking would refuse its task when we attempted to frame them.
Christian theology - Wikipedia
Another possible answer is that the world is corrupted due to the sin of mankind. Some answer that because of sin, the world has fallen from the grace of God, and is not perfect. Therefore, evils and imperfections persist because the world is fallen. Dembski argues that the effects of Adam's sin recorded in the Book of Genesis were 'back-dated' by God, and hence applied to the earlier history of the universe. Evil is sometimes seen as a test or trial for humans.
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Irenaeus of Lyons and more recently John Hick have argued that evil and suffering are necessary for spiritual growth. This is often combined with the free will argument by arguing that such spiritual growth requires free will decisions. A problem with this is that many evils do not seem to cause any kind of spiritual growth, or even permit it, as when a child is abused from birth and becomes, seemingly inevitably, a brutal adult. The problem of evil is often phrased in the form: Why do bad things happen to good people? Christianity teach that all people are inherently sinful due to the fall of man and original sin ; for example, Calvinist theology follows a doctrine called federal headship , which argues that the first man, Adam , was the legal representative of the entire human race.
A counterargument to the basic version of this principle is that an omniscient God would have predicted this, when he created the world, and an omnipotent God could have prevented it. The Book of Isaiah clearly claims that God is the source of at least some natural disasters, but Isaiah doesn't attempt to explain the motivation behind the creation of evil. In it, Satan challenges God regarding his servant Job, claiming that Job only serves God for the blessings and protection that he receives from him. God allows Satan to plague Job and his family in a number of ways, with the limitation that Satan may not take Job's life but his children are killed.
Job discusses this with three friends and questions God regarding his suffering which he finds to be unjust. God responds in a speech and then more than restores Job's prior health, wealth, and gives him new children. Bart D. Ehrman argues that different parts of the Bible give different answers. One example is evil as punishment for sin or as a consequence of sin. Ehrman writes that this seems to be based on some notion of free will although this argument is never explicitly mentioned in the Bible. Another argument is that suffering ultimately achieves a greater good, possibly for persons other than the sufferer, that would not have been possible otherwise.
The Book of Job offers two different answers: suffering is a test, and you will be rewarded later for passing it; another that God in his might chooses not to reveal his reasons. Ecclesiastes sees suffering as beyond human abilities to comprehend. Apocalyptic parts, including the New Testament , see suffering as due to cosmic evil forces, that God for mysterious reasons has given power over the world, but which will soon be defeated and things will be set right.
The Greek word in the New Testament that is translated in English as "sin" is hamartia , which literally means missing the target. Jesus clarified the law by defining its foundation: "Jesus replied: 'Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind. And the second is like it: 'Love your neighbor as yourself. Substantial branches of hamartiological understanding subscribe to the doctrine of original sin , which was taught by the Apostle Paul in Romans —19 and popularized by Saint Augustine.
He taught that all the descendants of Adam and Eve are guilty of Adam's sin without their own personal choice . In contrast, Pelagius argued that humans enter life as essentially tabulae rasae. The fall that occurred when Adam and Eve disobeyed God was held by his group to have affected humankind only minimally. But few theologians continue to hold this hamartiological viewpoint. A third branch of thinking takes an intermediate position, arguing that after the fall of Adam and Eve, humans are born impacted by sin such that they have very decided tendencies toward sinning which by personal choice all accountable humans but Jesus soon choose to indulge.
The degree to which a Christian believes humanity is impacted by either a literal or metaphorical "fall" determines their understanding of related theological concepts like salvation , justification , and sanctification. Christian views on sin are mostly understood as legal infraction or contract violation, and so salvation tends to be viewed in legal terms, similar to Jewish thinking. In religion , sin is the concept of acts that violate a moral rule. The term sin may also refer to the state of having committed such a violation.
Commonly, the moral code of conduct is decreed by a divine entity, i. Divine law. Sin is often used to mean an action that is prohibited or considered wrong; in some religions notably some sects of Christianity , sin can refer not only to physical actions taken, but also to thoughts and internalized motivations and feelings. Colloquially, any thought, word, or act considered immoral, shameful , harmful, or alienating might be termed "sinful". An elementary concept of "sin" regards such acts and elements of Earthly living that one cannot take with them into transcendental living.
Food, for example is not of transcendental living and therefore its excessive savoring is considered a sin. A more developed concept of "sin" deals with a distinction between sins of death mortal sin and the sins of human living venial sin. In that context, mortal sins are said to have the dire consequence of mortal penalty , while sins of living food , casual or informal sexuality , play , inebriation may be regarded as essential spice for transcendental living, even though these may be destructive in the context of human living obesity, infidelity.
In Western Christianity , "sin is lawlessness " 1 John and so salvation tends to be understood in legal terms, similar to Jewish law. Sin alienates the sinner from God. It has damaged, and completely severed, the relationship of humanity to God. That relationship can only be restored through acceptance of Jesus Christ and his death on the cross as a sacrifice for mankind's sin see Salvation and Substitutionary atonement.
In Eastern Christianity , sin is viewed in terms of its effects on relationships, both among people and between people and God. Sin is seen as the refusal to follow God's plan, and the desire to be like God and thus in direct opposition to him see the account of Adam and Eve in the Book of Genesis.
To sin is to want control of one's destiny in opposition to the will of God, to do some rigid beliefs. In Russian variant of Eastern Christianity , sin sometimes is regarded as any mistake made by people in their life. From this point of view every person is sinful because every person makes mistakes during his life.
When person accuses others in sins he always must remember that he is also sinner and so he must have mercy for others remembering that God is also merciful to him and to all humanity. The fall of man or simply the fall refers in Christian doctrine to the transition of the first humans from a state of innocent obedience to God , to a state of guilty disobedience to God. In the Book of Genesis chapter 2, Adam and Eve live at first with God in a paradise , but are then deceived or tempted by the serpent to eat fruit from the Tree of Knowledge of Good and Evil , which had been forbidden to them by God.
After doing so they become ashamed of their nakedness, and God consequently expelled them from paradise. The fall is not mentioned by name in the Bible , but the story of disobedience and expulsion is recounted in both Testaments in different ways. The Fall can refer to the wider theological inferences for all humankind as a consequence of Eve and Adam's original sin. Examples include the teachings of Paul in Romans —19 and 1 Cor. Some Christian denominations believe the fall corrupted the entire natural world, including human nature, causing people to be born into original sin , a state from which they cannot attain eternal life without the gracious intervention of God.
Protestants hold that Jesus ' death was a "ransom" by which humanity was offered freedom from the sin acquired at the fall. In other religions, such as Judaism , Islam , and Gnosticism , the term "the fall" is not recognized and varying interpretations of the Eden narrative are presented. Christianity interprets the fall in a number of ways. The doctrine of original sin , as articulated by Augustine of Hippo's interpretation of Paul of Tarsus , provides that the fall caused a fundamental change in human nature, so that all descendants of Adam are born in sin , and can only be redeemed by divine grace.
Sacrifice was the only means by which humanity could be redeemed after the fall. Jesus, who was without sin, died on the cross as the ultimate redemption for the sin of humankind. Thus, the moment Adam and Eve ate the fruit from the tree—which God had commanded them not to do—sinful death was born; it was an act of disobedience, thinking they could become like gods, that was the sin.
Since Adam was the head of the human race, he is held responsible for the evil that took place, for which reason the fall of man is referred to as the " sin of Adam ". This sin caused Adam and his descendants to lose unrestricted access to God Himself. The years of life were limited. In Christian theology, the death of Jesus on the cross is the atonement to the sin of Adam. As a result of that act of Christ, all who put their trust in Christ alone now have unrestricted access to God through prayer and in presence.
Original sin, which Eastern Christians usually refer to as ancestral sin ,  is, according to a doctrine proposed in Christian theology, humanity's state of sin resulting from the fall of man. Those who uphold the doctrine look to the teaching of Paul the Apostle in Romans —21 and 1 Corinthians for its scriptural base,  and see it as perhaps implied in Old Testament passages such as Psalm and Psalm The Apostolic Fathers and the Apologists mostly dealt with topics other than original sin. He thought it was a most subtle job to discern what came first: self-centeredness or failure in seeing truth.
The consequences of the fall were transmitted to their descendants in the form of concupiscence , which is a metaphysical term, and not a psychological one. Thomas Aquinas explained Augustine's doctrine pointing out that the libido concupiscence , which makes the original sin pass from parents to children, is not a libido actualis , i. In Augustine's view termed "Realism" , all of humanity was really present in Adam when he sinned, and therefore all have sinned. Original sin, according to Augustine, consists of the guilt of Adam which all humans inherit.
As sinners, humans are utterly depraved in nature, lack the freedom to do good, and cannot respond to the will of God without divine grace. Grace is irresistible , results in conversion, and leads to perseverance. Augustine's formulation of original sin was popular among Protestant reformers, such as Martin Luther and John Calvin , and also, within Roman Catholicism, in the Jansenist movement, but this movement was declared heretical by the Roman Catholic Church. Calvin believed that humans inherit Adamic guilt and are in a state of sin from the moment of conception.
This inherently sinful nature the basis for the Calvinistic doctrine of " total depravity " results in a complete alienation from God and the total inability of humans to achieve reconciliation with God based on their own abilities. Not only do individuals inherit a sinful nature due to Adam's fall, but since he was the federal head and representative of the human race, all whom he represented inherit the guilt of his sin by imputation. The scriptural basis for the doctrine is found in two New Testament books by Paul the Apostle , Romans —21 and 1 Corinthians , in which he identifies Adam as the one man through whom death came into the world.
Total depravity also called absolute inability and total corruption is a theological doctrine that derives from the Augustinian concept of original sin. It is the teaching that, as a consequence of the fall of man , every person born into the world is enslaved to the service of sin and, apart from the efficacious or prevenient grace of God , is utterly unable to choose to follow God or choose to accept salvation as it is freely offered. It is also advocated to various degrees by many Protestant confessions of faith and catechisms, including those of Lutheranism ,  Arminianism ,  and Calvinism.
Total depravity is the fallen state of man as a result of original sin. The doctrine of total depravity asserts that people are by nature not inclined or even able to love God wholly with heart, mind, and strength, but rather all are inclined by nature to serve their own will and desires and to reject the rule of God. Even religion and philanthropy are wicked to God to the extent that these originate from a human imagination, passion, and will and are not done to the glory of God.
Therefore, in Reformed theology , if God is to save anyone He must predestine , call, elect individuals to salvation since fallen man does not want to, indeed is incapable of choosing God. Total depravity does not mean, however, that people are as evil as possible. Rather, it means that even the good which a person may intend is faulty in its premise, false in its motive, and weak in its implementation; and there is no mere refinement of natural capacities that can correct this condition.
Thus, even acts of generosity and altruism are in fact egoist acts in disguise. All good, consequently, is derived from God alone, and in no way through man. Christian soteriology is the branch of Christian theology that deals with one's salvation. Atonement is a doctrine that describes how human beings can be reconciled to God.
In Christian theology the atonement refers to the forgiving or pardoning of one's sin through the death of Jesus Christ by crucifixion , which made possible the reconciliation between God and creation. Within Christianity there are three main theories for how such atonement might work: the ransom theory , the satisfaction theory and the moral influence theory. Christian soteriology is unlike and not to be confused with collective salvation. Christian soteriology traditionally focuses on how God ends the separation people have from him due to sin by reconciling them with himself.
Many Christians believe they receive the forgiveness of sins Acts , life Rom. Christ's death, resurrection, ascension, and sending of the Holy Spirit , is called The Paschal Mystery. Christ's human birth is called the Incarnation. Either or both are considered in different versions of soteriology. While not neglecting the Paschal Mystery , many Christians believe salvation is brought through the Incarnation itself, in which God took on human nature so that humans could partake in the divine nature 2 Peter 1. As St. Athanasius put it, God became human so that we might become divine St.
Athanasius, De inc. This grace in Christ 1 Cor. This involves accepting Jesus Christ as the personal saviour and Lord over one's life. Protestant teaching, originating with Martin Luther , teaches that salvation is received by grace alone and that one's sole necessary response to this grace is faith alone. Older Christian teaching, as found in Catholic and Orthodox theology, is that salvation is received by grace alone , but that one's necessary response to this grace comprises both faith and works James , 26; Rom —7; Gal Human beings exists because God wanted to share His life with them.
In this sense, every human being is God's child. In a fuller sense, to come to salvation is to be reconciled to God through Christ and to be united with His divine Essence via Theosis in the beatific vision of the Godhead. The graces of Christ's passion, death, and resurrection are found in the seven sacraments of the Catholic Church. Specific areas of concern include the church's role in salvation , its origin, its relationship to the historical Christ , its discipline, its destiny , and its leadership. Ecclesiology is, therefore, the study of the church as a thing in, and of, itself.
Different ecclesiologies give shape to very different institutions. Thus, in addition to describing a broad discipline of theology, ecclesiology may be used in the specific sense of a particular church or denomination's character, self-described or otherwise. This is the sense of the word in such phrases as Roman Catholic ecclesiology , Lutheran ecclesiology , and ecumenical ecclesiology. Ecclesiastical polity is the operational and governance structure of a church or Christian denomination.
It also denotes the ministerial structure of the church and the authority relationships between churches. Polity is closely related to Ecclesiology , the study of doctrine and theology relating to church organization. Issues of church governance appear in the first chapters of the Acts of the Apostles ; the first act recorded after the ascension is the election of Matthias to replace Judas Iscariot.
Over the years a system of episcopal polity developed. During the Protestant Reformation , arguments were made that the New Testament prescribed structures quite different from that of the Roman Catholic Church of the day, and different Protestant bodies used different types of polity. Episcopal polity is used in several closely related senses. Most commonly it refers to the field of church governance in the abstract, but it also can refer to the governance of a particular Christian body.
In this sense it is used as a term in civil law. Though each church or denomination has its own characteristic structure, there are three general types of polity. Churches having episcopal polity are governed by bishops. The title bishop comes from the Greek word episkopos , which literally translates into overseer. Bishops in this system may be subject to higher ranking bishops variously called archbishops , metropolitans or patriarchs , depending upon the tradition; see also Bishop for further explanation of the varieties of bishops.
They also meet in councils or synods. These synods, subject to presidency by higher ranking bishops, may govern the dioceses which are represented in the council, though the synod may also be purely advisory. Note that the presence of the office of "bishop" within a church is not proof of episcopal polity. For example, in Mormonism , the "bishop" occupies the office that in an Anglican church would be occupied by a priest. Also, episcopal polity is not usually a simple chain of command.
Instead, some authority may be held, not only by synods and colleges of bishops, but by lay and clerical councils. Further, patterns of authority are subject to a wide variety of historical rights and honors which may cut across simple lines of authority. It is also common in Methodist and Lutheran churches. Among churches with episcopal polity, different theories of autonomy are expressed.
Complementary apologetics: An attempt for the integration of apologetic schools
So in Roman Catholicism the church is viewed as a single polity headed by the pope , but in Eastern Orthodoxy the various churches retain formal autonomy but are held to be unified by shared doctrine and conciliarity —that is, the authority of councils, such as ecumenical councils , Holy Synods and the former standing council, the Endemusa Synod.
Many Reformed churches, notably those in the Presbyterian and Continental Reformed traditions, are governed by a hierarchy of councils. The lowest level council governs a single local church and is called the session or consistory ; its members are called elders. The minister of the church sometimes referred to as a teaching elder is a member of and presides over the session; lay representatives ruling elders or, informally, just elders are elected by the congregation. The session sends representatives to the next level higher council, called the presbytery or classis. Specifically, those who refuse to "approve" of God's revealed proofs are themselves "without excuse" for disapproving God's proof.
Accordingly, apologetics must be realistic in balancing the presentation of proof with the predisposition of unpersuaded humans to suppress or reject that truth. Apologetics teaches that those who reject truth have broken thinking. The challenge is even worse than just inexcusable skepticism because opposing creation's witness that God is our Creator triggers a built-in consequence: corruption of human powers to analyze truth, meaning, and moral value. God has "given over" unbelievers to a "reprobate mind" Romans This complicates matters for using rational apologetics: evidence and logic are not enough to "win" most unbelievers.
Paul's epistle to the Romans emphasizes this critical truth: all humans should be grateful to God for creating them, and thus should logically glorify Him as their Creator. However, humans are naturally predisposed to ignore, suppress, and even reject the solid proof they have about God's creatorship. Therefore, unless and until this inexcusable rejection of God is somehow remedied, humans automatically receive a terrible consequence called a "reprobate mind" Romans A "reprobate" mind malfunctions when it evaluates true vs.
So, how can apologetics help "defend" God's truth against such mental malfunctions? Apologetics is more about honoring God than winning an argument. Scripturally speaking, the main purpose of apologetics is not to "win a case" like a litigator, because the "jury" may be hopelessly corrupt or distracted. Rather, apologetics is primarily a science for honoring the Lord by carefully studying and then accurately communicating His revealed truth biblical, scientific, historical, etc.
In other words, let God handle the results. But sanctify the Lord God in your hearts: and be ready always to give an answer [or logical reply, Greek apologian ] to every man that asketh you a reason [or logic, Greek logon ] of the hope [or confidence, Greek elpidos ] that is in you with meekness and fear. Notice that sanctifying God is the first priority; providing a ready reply is secondary and subsequent. This makes sense because our highest love and loyalty are supposed to be directed toward God; our obligation to serve our neighbor in love comes next Matthew Sanctifying God involves acknowledging Christ as Creator and rightfully preeminent Colossians , so biblical apologetics must somehow always link back to Christ.
Apologetics means loving God first, people second. Therefore, apologetics is primarily a labor of love and loyalty to God, the Creator, and secondarily a labor of love and learning on behalf of humans, the creatures. Of course, real apologetics properly recognizes the authority of Scripture, as Christ did compare John with Apologetics prioritizes all Scripture in general 2 Timothy and Messianic prophecy in particular 1 Timothy ; 1 Peter , because the salvation gospel itself is twice qualified by the phrase "according to the Scriptures" 1 Corinthians These principles are critical, because the practice of inadequate apologetics flows from a reliance on inadequate principles.
Remember your audience. Thus, the transcendental argument complements the classical approach rather than undermining it. One of the most common attacks on the classical method is the claim that it requires a person to fully comprehend metaphysics, philosophical arguments, and evidential proofs for Christianity in order to have true faith in God and belief in the truth of Christian claims.
Practically, this means that reason and evidence supplement faith rather than attempt to supplant or prove it. While the Spirit gives people direct revelation of the truth of Christianity and provides for certainty of the knowledge of God, arguments and evidence act as a way to connect the truth of God to reality.
The Preparation to Become An Apologist
Seeing that connection can help the unbeliever by giving the Holy Spirit content about which to bring spiritual conviction. On the other side, believers can also benefit from seeing these connections; they serve to remind believers of the faithfulness and providence of God expressed in His creation. Again, the Holy Spirit can utilize these propositions to spur a person on to greater trust. With this understanding of the ministerial role of evidence and reason in the classical method, a common fideist criticism of the classical method can be addressed. The fideist tends to argue that knowledge of Christ is not propositional; rather, knowledge of Christ is a relationship with the person of Christ.
However, the classical position accounts for the personal element of faith as it asserts the magisterial role of the Holy Spirit in coming to know God. Rather, argumentation and evidence remove the blocks to faith, while the Holy Spirit does the work of regeneration which allows a person to have faith. The Spirit presents a direct witness in the heart of believers.
The classical method is the most well-rounded method of addressing pre-evangelism. It is biblically defended by Jesus, Paul, and proclamation of God through the prophets. It provides the new believer with a firm philosophical and worldview foundation through which Scripture and Christian principles can be assimilated. Additionally, the classical position asserts the truth of Scripture as the ultimate standard by which all else will be judged after a person comes to Christ. Though not necessary for salvation, the classical approach best prepares a person for their future life with Christ.
Boa, Kenneth D. Bowman Jr. Frame, John M. Grand Rapids, MI: Zondervan, Geisler, Normon L. Christian Apologetics. Keener, Craig S. Klink, Edward W. Zondervan Exegetical Commentary on the New Testament. Lewis, Gordon R. Accessed October 12, Morley, Brian K. Mapping Apologetics: Comparing Contemporary Approaches. Shedd, William G. Dogmatic Theology. Edited by Alan Gomes. Sproul, R. Van Til, Cornelius. Boa and Robert M.