Sunday Q&A

Sunday Q&A Glossary
This page is an at-home guide for those who are participating in one of our Sunday School classes, called "Sunday Q&A" which meets at 10am on Sunday mornings in the Old Fellowship Hall.
  • adiaphora: a Greek word at root which means "things that do not deal with the heart of the matter." For example, whether or not a minister wears a robe in worship does not strike at the heart of the Gospel. Still, just because something does not deal with the heart of the matter does not mean that it is unimportant. Note also that this word is used in the Book of Concord or Lutheran Confessions (see Book of Concord below).

  • paschal: comes from Hebrew word pascha which is the word for the Passover in the book of Exodus. We sometimes use this word in connection with a candle, the paschal candle (can also be called the Christ candle). This candle often shows up in Easter where the sacrificial death of Jesus is tied to the slaughter of the Passover lamb in the Jewish tradition. 

  • canon: just think of a standard of measurement. In the ancient world, a canon was a unit of measurement marked on a reed. For our purposes, it refers to books of the bible that "measure up" to the Apostles' testimony about the life death and resurrection of Jesus. These books are said to be "canonical." There are non-canonical gospels out there. The early Church simply decided that they didn't "measure up."  

  • gnostic: comes from the Greek word for knowledge and refers to a number of religious groups/cults that were on the ground during the time of early Christianity. Instead of focusing on worshipping Jesus as the means of salvation, salvation was to be had through gaining secret knowledge (hence the name) often involving secret initiation rites. To put it simply, gnostics were looking for something like "religious enlightenment." Do know that gnostic is a catch-all category, and its hard to nail down just exactly what gnostics were. 

  • Book of Concord: this word refers to the collection of documents that grew out of the Lutheran Reformation and gave authoritative shape to it. The Book of Concord may also be referred to as the Lutheran Confessions. These documents are normative for Lutherans, describing how their beliefs and practice square with the Scriptures and the confessions of the ancient Church. There are 8 documents in all: the Large and Small Catechisms, the Augsburg Confession, the Apology to the Augsburg Confession, the Smalcald Articles, the Treatise on the Power and Primacy of the Pope, the Formula of Concord consisting of the Epitome and the Solid Declaration

  • apology: this doesn't mean "I'm sorry," as we typically use the word, but rather "a thought-out defense" of a position. (See 5 above where the Apology to the Augsburg Confession is mentioned. This document was a reasoned defense of the Augsburg Confession in response to the Roman Catholic rebuttal to that confession.) There is a branch of theology called "apologetics," and it simply refers to Christians attempting to give a reasoned defense for the Christian faith.

  • polemical: stems from the Greek word for war, and refers to a genre of argument. If you were to get in a "war of words" with someone, you would be speaking in a polemical tone. Many writing which stem from the Lutheran Reformation are polemical in nature: they are feisty arguments about matters authors considered to be of great importance.

  • liturgy: another Greek word lurks behind this one. Literally, liturgy means something like "public service" and before Christianity referred to a citizen's work for the public good. For example, a capable citizen might donate money for a local park. In Greek, this could be her liturgy, or public service. In Christianity, it refers most specifically to a worship service (notice that service carries over here). Instead of being just any old public work, liturgy refers to Christians' public worship of God. There are plenty of spin offs associated with this word. A "liturgical worship tradition" refers to worship styles that use a pre-determined order of service with scripted responses, movements and gestures. We fall into this category. Liturgical clothing and decorations also come into play here...things like robes, candles, altar hangings etc.   

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