Terminology – A

Abortion

Abortion has caused much debate in contemporary western societies. Christians very much view abortion as the killing of an unborn child, whilst the secular community sees the debate more in terms the woman’s right to control her own body – and not have others (especially men) tell her what she can and cannot do with it.

For the Christian, this debate is seen in the context of Humankind being made in God’s Image. This is explicitly stated in the Old Testament, in Genesis: Genesis 1:26 Genesis 1:27, Genesis 9:6. These passages set humanity, over and above the rest of creation, and modelled after God.

In addition, there are a number of text that describe Conception as a Sign of God’s Blessing and depict God’s active role in conception and childbirth. This means that conception and childbirth are gifts from God. In Genesis 1:28 we see the instruction to be fruitful is phrased as a blessing: “God blessed them and said to them, Be fruitful and increase in number.” This is also reflected in God’s commitments to Abraham ( Genesis 17:6 Genesis 17:16 ; 21:1-2 ), Isaac ( Genesis 26:3-4 Genesis 26:24 ), Jacob ( 28:14 ; Genesis 30:18 Genesis 30:20 ; 33:5 ) and Israel ( Deuteronomy 7:13 ). The restoration of Job is signified by the blessing of offspring ( Job 42:12-17 ). Fast-forward to the New Testament, and we see Luke describe Elizabeth’s remarkable conception of John the Baptist as a sign of the Lord’s increased mercy toward her ( Luke 1:25 Luke 1:28 ).

Both Testaments refer to the fetus using words that are also applied to the young child ( Gen 25:22 ; 38:27-30 ; Job 1:21 ; Job 3:3 Job 3:11-16 ; Job 10:18-19 ; Job 31:15 ; Psalm 51:5 ; Isaiah 49:5 ; Jer 20:14-18 ; Hosea 12:3 ; Luke 1:15 Luke 1:41 Luke 1:44 ; Romans 9:10-11 ). This implies a continuity between the two and also a distinct individuality for the fetus. John the Baptist, as a fetus of six months, leapt in the presence of the newly conceived Jesus, he commenced his witness to the One who is to come ( Luke 1:39-45 ).

In our current times, many view pregnancy as a punishment for promiscuity, but this was certainly not the case in the Bible, where the Bible portrays pregnancy and the arrival of a child as a blessing.

Age of Accountability

The Age of Accountability is not a concept that is articulated in the Bible. As such, it has met with a great deal of discussion and debate. The basic idea is that children are not mature enough to be able to decide and put their trust in God and Jesus for their salvation. As such they are innocent and will be saved regardless of whether they have professed their faith, repented of their sins and been baptised.

The Bible does provide support for the viewpoint – though this is disputed by those who disagree with the concept.

Passages used include:

  • Ezekiel; ““The soul who sins shall die. The son shall not bear the guilt of the father, nor the father bear the guilt of the son.”” (Ezekiel 18:20)
  • Jesus, Himself, demonstrated the spiritually safe condition of children when He stated: ““Assuredly, I say to you, unless you are converted and become as little children, you will by no means enter the kingdom of heaven”” (Matthew 18:3).
  • Jesus also stated: ““Let the little children come to Me, and do not forbid them; for of such is the kingdom of heaven”” (Matthew 19:14).
  • Paul the Apostle, used the following phrase: “”For the children not yet being born, nor having done any good or evil”” (Romans 9:11).

Furthermore, under the Old Testament law, the Jews recognised that children could not be held personally accountable to the law of Moses. They set an age at which a child assumed adult status in religious matters. Whether we would set the same age in our society is less clear (adulthood being typically reached at 18), though most Christians would not wish their family members to wait until this age if they seeking to commit to Christ.

Apostles’ Creed

This is a statement of Christian beliefs that was composed a long time after their deaths. There are similarities with the Nicene Creed. Creeds are one of the Catechisms of the Roman Catholic Church. Whilst there is nothing in this that is wrong, we should exercise caution in the use of such creeds and catechisms as they take us away from the Bible, which is the source of faith and truth for Christians.

I believe in God, the Father almighty,
creator of heaven and earth.

I believe in Jesus Christ, his only Son, our Lord,
who was conceived by the Holy Spirit
and born of the virgin Mary.
He suffered under Pontius Pilate,
was crucified, died, and was buried;
he descended to hell.
The third day he rose again from the dead.
He ascended to heaven
and is seated at the right hand of God the Father almighty.
From there he will come to judge the living and the dead.

I believe in the Holy Spirit,
the holy catholic* church,
the communion of saints,
the forgiveness of sins,
the resurrection of the body,
and the life everlasting. Amen.

*this means, the true Christian church of all times and all places

Armageddon

This term appears in Revelation 16:16, “the place that in Hebrew is called Armageddon”. It refers to the place where the battle between good and evil will take pace in the end days described in Revelation. In broader terms, it can be used to refer to the final battle itself.

In common usage it has come to mean any events which can spell the end of mankind, or the end of our civilisation.

Atheism

The denial of the existence of a God, supreme being, creator. Not all religions profess the existence of God – such as Buddhists and Taoists (however, Buddhism does profess a number of overseeing “spirits” that help and guide the progress of nations. Atheism has been on the increase in most ‘western’ nations for most of the last century.

Atonement

In the Old Testament times, sins of man had to be paid for – this was through the sacrifice of animals. Now, after Jesus death resurrection, such atonement for sin is no longer needed. Christ’s death on the cross is seen as atonement (payment in full) for the sins of mankind. This atonement for our sins is seen as Christ taking our sin upon himself, and suffering the penalty that was due to us.

Atonement is also a key concept of Judaism. On Yom Kippur (Day of Atonement), Jews fast and pray – asking God to forgive them for their sins of the past year.

Many Protestants believe that anyone who has faith and repentance receives atonement for their sins.

Catholics affirm that atonement is only available to those who partake of the Catholic sacraments.