Define key terms used about the Bible

Words About the Bible

What do they really mean?


Christian Spirituality > Word Meanings >
Words About the Bible

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There's also a PDF booklet of the pages on scripture, including most of these definitions.

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ver.: 02 August 2014


How To Say What The Bible Means To Christian Faith

There are many words that Christians use when they describe what the Bible means in their teachings, their faith, and the Christian way(s) of life. They're often found in statements of faith and debates about the Bible. Some of these terms are badly abused, others aren't used anywhere near enough, and some you may never have heard in this context. But unless you had a a drill sergeant for a Sunday School teacher, you'd find it hopeless to understand. I'll also offer here other terms that may be more helpful than the usual ones. So, here I go, trying to succeed where others have failed for 2000 years, to slay the Fire-Breathing Jargon.

Christians read the Bible to learn what God says through it about God, ourselves, and our world. This is done through the story of the Israelites and of the earliest Christians. Most centrally of all, it is done through what the early church told. about Jesus of Nazareth's life, death, and return to the living, by those who were there and by those they told it to. We look to the Bible so the Spirit can show us what it is to follow Jesus the Christ. We look to the Scriptures to help us sort out our own lives and deeds, as individual persons, as families, and as a gathered followers of Jesus.

We're sharing these definitions with you so that when you hear or see them or use them yourself, you understand a deeper meaning for the word. The better-known terms have a lot of nuance to them, but people find it so easy to use them carelessly. The lesser-known terms may point to a way past the usual arguments about the Bible, to a more helpful point of view. Try this: look at the terms below. Maybe you see one and say, "why would they say that about the Bible?" Or, "what is ...?" Or, maybe "yeah, right..." or "whatever...". Click on it and see; the word may not mean quite what you think. You might even already think this about the Bible but didn't have a word for it. Please give it a try.


Describing the Role of the Bible