What is the meaning of:
confessional, parousia, dispensationalism.
What Is Christian Spirituality? > Church Word Meanings > define Biblical and Charismata
biblical (also 'Bible-based', 'scriptural') : 'according to the Scriptures'. "Biblical" is an adjective, that is, a term that describes something, instead of defining it. The main meaning, and the strictest sense, is simply that something is actually found in the Bible. As to the usual use by today's Christians, to be 'biblical' means that the substance and the shape of Christian faith and life is drawn from the main course of what is taught in the Bible. This gives each person, each teacher, each Bible study, and each congregation a great responsibility. A biblical faith is a commitment. It can't be had without learning the main thrust of Scripture thoroughly, and keeping everything in the Bible in the context of everything else in the Bible. Being biblical also means not taking a principle from outside of Scripture and superimposing it onto Scriptural study or what comes from it. Being biblical means asking questions of the Bible and not taking it to be something it's not. It means understanding that there are many angles to what it says.
Having a biblical faith also means that when other sources, or your own personal tastes, give something a different style, form, or substance than that found in the Bible, you look at the scriptures more closely. Even if you decide that it's outdated or unjust, take a closer look again. See what it's really driving at, what core things about it come into play, and place those within the context of the Gospel of Christ. Having a biblical faith means to trust that the Bible has something to tell you. Find the underlying purposes behind it. Then, bring that to bear on the way you deal with the subject matter. If you are Christian, you should always be undertaking the discipline of putting yourself under the Spirit who speaks through the Bible. But that plays out differently with each Christian, and differently within each Christian over time. Remember that you are making decisions about how you live and how you think -- others must make up their minds for themselves. You are free to advocate, debate, teach, affirm, reject, or organize, but if you act to silence others or to be hateful toward them, you are acting against Jesus and His gospel, and are thus being anti-biblical.
Often, what the Bible teaches is very different than what's usually called 'biblical'. The word's meaning has been so watered down or septically-laden that it describes anything from snake-handlers to end-time cultists and dominionists to the seminary teachers that boost the 'new morality' or modern pantheisms and neo-gnosticisms. So what do you do when a "biblical" teaching is cited, especially on political matters? See if it's really there (hint: it rarely is), and, if it is, what would be the most loving yet effective way to hold to that truth. Talk to others about it. Certainly talk to your pastor about it, if that's who's pushing non-biblical political ideas as 'biblical'. They may get angry and vindictive, and tell you to leave; there are other congregations, at least some of which will welcome you.
Explore some of the words Christians use to describe what's involved in being biblical. These words are not themselves sacred, but are used for describing something that is sacred. You can also check for 'biblical' in the dictionary.
beatification [< Latin beatus (blessed), used as equivalent of Greek makarios; + Latin facere (to make)] Recognition by the Roman Catholic Church of the accession to Heaven of a past leading figure in the Catholic faith. This is done by an act of the Pope declaring that the person's holy life makes them worthy of ritual acts of devotion and respect (veneration). Someone who is beatified is seen by Roman Catholics as being able to intercede on behalf of individuals who pray in his/her name. The beatified can be venerated in places connected with them. However, they are not canonized into sainthood just yet; there are more processes along that road. The proper Catholic title for them is 'Blessed', not 'Saint'.
Protestants do not give anyone beatification or sainthood, though there are prayers of thanks offered for many great Christians by Anglican and Lutheran churches (as well as by many congregations of other denominations, and by the 'New Monastics') on their assigned feast days, and their lives and deeds are remembered. For all Protestants, this is a matter of honoring and respecting those that have shown themselves worthy of honor and respect, not done as any form of worship or part of any supposed eternal pecking-order that determines the power of a prayer. They almost never call anyone 'the Blessed' or 'Makarios'.
charismata (pl.), charisma (sg.): [Greek; 'things given']. Or put another way, 'stuff from grace'. A charisma is given, not earned or bought. It is given by the Spirit, not by a leader or a church body. (It can sometimes come from the Spirit through a church body or a leader; it can also come against the desires of church bodies, leaders, or even the body of believers as a whole or the whole world, if need be.) There are many kinds of gifts the Spirit gives - ultimately, life itself is a free gift from God. But when Christians speak of 'charismata', they are talking of a specific kind of gift: a gift that is given specifically to build up the community of believers, those within it, and those it serves. These gifts are given not to save, but to empower the saved and grow the depth of character they need to strengthen other people.
parousia : (Greek; a "coming" or "arrival".) For Christians, the term means the return ("second coming") of Christ during the end times. When? Who knows... Christians have debated the second coming since just after the first coming. The mainstream of Christian thought see the parousia as the End itself, with His second return marking the completion of a Kingdom of God which has already started and has been foreshadowed constantly since Christ's first return. Others, called 'chiliasts' (from a Greek word for 'thousand'), believe Christ will reign on earth for a thousand years before a final confrontation brings in the Kingdom. Many modern fundamentalists, many evangelicals, and a surprisingly large portion of those in the more established churches, are chiliasts, and they've been there almost from the start. The ancient creeds don't mention timing. They simply assert that "He will come again in glory to judge the living and the dead, and His Kingdom will have no end" (Nicene Creed). Between then and now, Christ is with us through the work of the Holy Spirit.
dispensationalism : a way of viewing the history of divine action and interaction with humans recorded in the Bible. The best-known version of dispensationalism is that which was made popular by the Scofield Reference Bible (orig. 1909) and developed by John Nelson Darby (1800-1882). It divides history into eras or 'dispensations': the eras of innocence, conscience, civil government, promise, law, grace, and the Kingdom. In each dispensation, God puts human obedience to the test in a different way, revealed by God. In each, of course, we fail the test. Eventually, the last 'dispensation' will end, and the Lord will dispense judgement in His thousand-year earthly reign.
There are many problems with dispensationalism. It creates 'eras' out of nowhere, then overplays the importance of each era and exaggerates main 'themes' for each era. It only faintly touches on how much alike each 'era' really is. Dispensationalism has all the difficulties of other millenialist/chiliastic teachings (based on thousand-year time frames), plus those of having a rigid and fixed view of history. Among some dispensationalists, it leads to an abandonment of the concerns of this life, including an abandonment of the other people living in it. Dispensationalism is also used by many as support for dominionism, which is one of those supposedly 'biblical' political ideas which leads people to do unbiblical things. It is found almost entirely among US-based fundamentalist churches and their offshoots worldwide.
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|ver.: 16 September 2012
Parousia and Biblical. Copyright © 1995-2012 by Robert Longman.