Glossary of Terms

Apostolic: The term apostle in Greek refers to "one who is sent away," and in the context of the church it refers primarily to Jesus' disciples and those who were entrusted with carrying out their mission of spreading the gospel.

Archiepiscopal: Having to do with an archbishop.

Arminianism: Arminianism is a theology named after Jacobus Arminius (1560-1609), the Dutch Reformed theologian; although the theologies termed Arminian in the English context actually predate Arminius' own writings. It is a catch-all phrase referring to a theological position which rejects the Calvinist doctrine of double predestination.

Ars: Ars is Latin term for craft, skill or power. The English word ‘art’ derives from it.

Baptism: Baptism is the sacrament of acceptance and adoption into the Christian faith through the symbolic washing away of sins with water.

Byzantine: The Byzantine Empire is the Eastern Roman Empire existing in Late Antiquity and the Middle Ages. Its capital was Constantinople.

Calvin: Jean Calvin (1509-1564) was a French Protestant Reformer, and one of the most important figures of the Reformation. His Institutes of the Christian Religion was a seminal text for Reformed theology and numerous movements sprang up on the basis of his ideas which continue to this day.

Calvinist: Calvinism refers to a major branch of Protestantism following the teachings of John Calvin, among other reformers. It differs from Lutheran theology on questions of salvation and the use of God's law for believers and others.

Canon Law: Canon law is the body of laws and regulations established by the church for the governance of its territories and the lives of its subjects.

Catechesis: Catechesis is basic, institutionalized religious education for children and adults.

Catholic Reformation: The Catholic Reformation was a movement of Catholic resurgence in response to the Protestant Reformation. It began with the Council of Trent (1545-1563), which sought to define the organization and practice of the Catholic Church.

Chantry: A small chapel where priests were employed to sing mass for a departed benefactor to ease their passing through purgatory.

Charismatic: The Greek term Charisma refers to the grace of God. Charismatic in the context of the Christian Church refers to gifts received directly from God.

Clerical: Clerical means having to do with the clergy.

Commonwealth: The traditional English term for a political community founded for the common good.

Council of Trent: Council held by the Catholic Church in northern Italy between 1545 and 1563. It addressed a wide range of subjects including responses to Protestant criticism and church reforms. It is usually identified with the Catholic Reformation.

Curriculum: A curriculum is the organization of the totality of student experiences within an educational institution.

Deacon: Deacon is derived from a Greek word meaning "servant," and refers to a clerical or lay office within the church.

Decalogue: The Decalogue refers to The Ten Commandments.

Double Predestination: The doctrine that God actively reprobates or decrees damnation for some, as well as salvation for the elect.

Duns Scotus: Duns Scotus (c.1266-1308) was an influential scholastic theologian. He was famous for his doctrine of the “univocity of being”, claiming that existence is the most abstract concept available to the mind, one that can be applied to every existing thing. Scotus was a crucial figure in scholastic university curricula of the High Middle Ages.

Ecclesiastical: Ecclesiastical means having to do with the Christian Church.

Episcopacy/Episcopal: A hierarchical form of church governance in which authorities are called bishops.

Eucharist: Also called the Lord's Supper or Holy Communion, it is the sacrament instituted by Christ at the Last Supper. Communicants break bread together and share wine, symbolizing their unity in the person of Christ.

Exegesis: Refers to explanation or interpretation of the Biblical text.

Gnostics: Gnosticism is a modern name for a series of movements in the ancient Mediterranean world that assert a strong opposition between the material and the spiritual worlds.

Heidelberg University: Heidelberg University is Germany's oldest university, founded in 1386. It remains one of the oldest surviving universities in the world. Martin Luther gave his disputation at Heidelberg in 1518 and it played a significant role in the Reformation.

Heresy: Heresy is belief that is strongly at odds with established custom and orthodoxy.

Hussites: The Hussites were a Czech movement following the teaching of the reformer Jan Hus (1369-1415), prior to the Protestant reformation. They have been described as the first modern revolutionary movement, given that they captured the Czech state and formally broke with the Roman Catholic Church.

Iconoclastic: Iconoclasm is the social belief in the importance of the destruction of (usually religious) images for religious or political goals.

Idolatry: Idolatry literally means worship of an idol. It refers to the worship of anything other than God.

Incumbents: The incumbent is the term used to describe the person in charge of the spiritual well-being of a parish. He held the benefice and hence received tithes. In the 16th century context the term referred to those priests who were not long-standing members of the community, but recent plants as a result of the instability of the parish structure in the period.

Jesuits/ The Society of Jesus: A religious order founded in the mid-16th century by Ignatius Loyola (1491-1556). Despite Loyola's reputation as a contemplative, the Jesuits were a missionary order who sought both to spread the gospel to the globe, and the bringing of sectarian Protestants back into the fold of the Catholic Church.

Laity: A layperson refers to someone who is not an ordained clergy within a religious tradition.

Litany: A form of prayer used in service and processions consisting of a number of petitions or supplications.

Liturgy: Liturgy is a tradition of public and communal worship. It is a communal response to and participation in sacred events.

Lollard: The Lollards were English religious reformers who followed the teachings of John Wycliffe (1320-1384). They are recognized as prefiguring the Protestant Reformation, given that many of the beliefs they held and reforms they desired were mirrored in that later movement.

Mary: Mary was Queen of England from 1553 to 1558. During her reign she attempted to return England to communion with the Roman Catholic Church through the suppression of Protestantism.

Mendicant: Mendicant religious orders (e.g. Franciscans, Dominicans) are those that depend upon the charity of others to survive.

Nationalism: Nationalism is a multivalent social construct reflecting a variety of ways in which people form collective identities on the basis of shared nations.

Ordinands: Those who are on their way to becoming ordained.

Ordination: The process by which individuals are set apart as clergy, and hence allowed to perform certain sacred functions.

Orthodoxy: Orthodoxy means "right belief," and refers to the standards of doctrine within churches.

Palatinate: The Palatinate was a historical territory of the Holy Roman Empire, administered by a count palatine. Its rulers ranked among the most significant secular Princes of the Holy Roman Empire.

Parish: The parishes of the church are permanent and local forms of religious organization.

Parochial: Parochial refers to the parish organization of the church, which are permanent and local forms of religious organization. It can sometimes be used derisively, referring to a perspective that is too limited to the local, and lacking contact with the outside world. It also implies a system of pastoral care which refers to the duty of the pastor to care for the people in their parish, in every aspect of their lives. It is so named for the association with Jesus' role as the good shepherd, guiding his flock towards salvation.

Pastoral: Pastoral care refers to the duty of the pastor to care for the people in their parish, in every aspect of their lives. It is so named for the association with Jesus' role as the good shepherd, guiding his flock towards salvation.

Patronage: The medieval system of patronage, which was altered but remained powerful in the 16th century, was the system by which landowning classes controlled the flow of wealth within the church through the selection of ministers.

Philology: The study of language in written historical sources. The study of literary texts and written records, which seeks to establish their authenticity.

Priesthood of all Believers: The priesthood of all believers is a Protestant doctrine reflecting the belief that all Christians share a common priesthood, and that ordinary people have direct and unmediated access to God through their prayers.

Protestant Settlement: Queen Elizabeth I made a religious settlement in response to the divisions that had arisen in the reigns of her predecessors Henry VIII, Edward VI, and Mary. It was set out in two acts of parliament. The first was the Act of Supremacy, declaring Elizabeth the supreme head of the Church of England. The second was the Act of Uniformity that described how the English church was to operate, including the reinstitution of the Book of Common Prayer, kneeling during the Eucharist, priestly vestments, etc.

Rhetoric: The art of rhetoric is the art of discourse, and a speaker or writer employs it to persuade their listeners. In the case of theology, a rhetorical theology would make use of poetic idiom and styles found in the Bible rather than attempting to articulate beliefs as logical structures.

Sacrament: The sacraments are Christian rites of particular importance, such as baptism, confirmation, marriage, confession, and the eucharist.

St. Jerome (347-420): A priest and theologian. He is known for his Vulgate translation of the Bible into Latin. He also wrote extensively, and was a figure whose authority both Catholics and Protestants sought to claim during the Reformation.

Schism: A schism is a division in the communion of the church.

Scholastic/Scholasticism: Scholasticism is a method of critical thought that was employed in the High Middle Ages and beyond to articulate and understand Christian belief. It is native to the universities of Europe where it was held in high esteem as the ultimate technique for comprehending the relationship between God, human beings, and the world.

Scribal: A scribe is someone who served as a professional copyist before the advent of printing. Scribal culture is a culture that is centered on this mode of engaging knowledge and the world.

Sola Scriptura: A core Protestant belief that asserts the supremacy of the truth of Scripture. The conscience alone can act as interpreter of Scripture and no external power can intervene.

Synod: A synod is a church council brought together to decide on matters of doctrine or administration.

Tithes: Tithe is a one-tenth part of something, imposed by the 16th century church as a mandatory tax.

Tonsure: Tonsure is the practice of cutting or shaving some or all of the hair on one's head as a sign of religious devotion and humility.

Transubstantiation: The Catholic doctrine of the literal body and blood of Christ appearing in the Eucharist.

Vernacular: Vernacular languages are the languages spoken by the common people of a given region, especially as opposed to a standard or sacred language like Latin.