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I - K

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Idol, Idolatry
      An idol is a representation of something in the heavens or on the earth. It is used in worship and is often worshiped. It is an abomination to God (
Exodus 20:4). Idolatry is bowing down before such an idol in adoration, prayer, or worship. In a loose sense, idolatry does not necessitate a material image nor a religious system. It can be anything that takes the place of God: a car, a job, money, a person, a desire, etc. Idolatry is denounced by God at the beginning of the Ten Commandments.

Immaculate Conception
The teaching that Mary was conceived without
original sin.  Typically believed as true in Roman Catholicism. 

Image of God
     Man was made in the image of God (
Gen. 1:26).  The image of God is generally held to mean that people contain within their nature elements that reflect God's nature: compassion, reason, love, patience, kindness, self-awareneness, etc. 

      The divine attribute of unchangeableness which many consider central to Christian notions of God.


     Life without death anytime in the future.   

Impute, Imputation
      To reckon to someone the blessing, curse, debt, etc. of another. Adam's sin is imputed to all people (
Rom. 5:12-21), according to some passages, mostly found in the New Testament. Similarly, the righteousness of Christ is imputed to the believer, thus making a right relationship with God possible.

In facto
     Something that exists and is complete.

In fieri
     Beginning to be, but not yet complete.

      The notion that in Jesus, the human and the divine are one, such that his divinity is revealed in the way he lived a completely human life. In this he is seen as the "pioneer and perfecter" of human nature itself.
In classical Christian theology, Jesus has two natures: divine and human. This is known as the Hypostatic Union.
      The doctrine is of vital importance to the Christian. By it are defined related notions of the atonement, forgiveness, grace, salvation, redemption, etc.

     A system of logic where specific facts are used to draw a general conclusion.

     In Catholicism, a means by which the Catholic church takes away some of the punishment due the Christian in this life and/or purgatory because of his sin.

     Without error, non-errant. In some denominations, inerrancy states that the Bible, in its original documents, is without error regarding facts, names, dates, and any other revealed information. Inerrancy usually is not seen as extending to the copies of the biblical manuscripts. Most of the major denominations do not view the Bible as inerrant. The majority view is that the Bible is inerrant only with respect to its essential teaching on matters pertaining to salvation. See: The Bible True or False.

Infant baptism
     The practice of baptizing infant children of believing parents. In the Catholic Church infant baptism washes away original sin and is regenerative. In Reformed circles, infant baptism is not regenerative but covenantal and validated through the believing parent(s). There are no explicit accounts of infant baptism in the Bible. However, it cannot be excluded as a possibility given that entire households were baptized
Acts 16:1533; 18:8. For more on baptism.

     A derogatory term used by those who identify with a particular religion to those who do not.

     The state or quality of being infinite, unlimited by space or time, without end, without beginning or end. God is infinite in that He/She is not limited by space or time and is without beginning and without end (
Psalm 90:2).

     An archane issue within Reformed theology dealing with what may have happened in God's mind regarding the logical order of considering whom to elect into salvation before the foundation of the world.  The word means "after the fall."  The position is that God first decided he would allow sin into the world and second that he would then save people from it.  By contrast, the supralapsarian ("before the fall") position holds that God first decided that he would save some people and then second that he would allow sin into the world.  

      The belief that the Bible was composed by human authors and editors who were acting with the influence of God. It is, therefore, accurate and authoritative for the believer.
Intense discussion continues about the inspiration and authority of the text with opinion ranging from those who hold the God literally dictated each word of the text, to those who see biblical inspiration as being comparable to the way other great writing emerges from the imagination of a gifted artist. For more on the inspiration and authority of the Bible.

Intermediate state
     Som biblical texts imply that for the individual, resurrection does not take place at the time of death, but much later during the "end times" as part of a general resurrection the dead. The condition of the person in this "intermediate state" is debated. One theory is that the person is without a body, yet is conscious, and that he will receive his body at the resurrection. Another theory states that the person has a different sort of spiritual body that will be lost at the resurrection when body and soul are reunited (
2 Cor. 5:1-4).

     An anglicized pronunciation of the Hebrew tetragrammaton, YHWH, which are the four consonant letters used to spell God’s name in the Hebrew Bible (
Exodus 3:14). The Hebrews considered the name of God too holy to pronounce and susbstituted the word “Lord” (adonai) when the text was read. The vowels of the word “adonai” was combined with YHWH to get the word “Jehovah” which was first used in the 12th century. A more accurate pronunciation of YHWH would be “Yahweh.” Howver, the exact and proper pronunciation has been lost.

According to most Christian teaching Jesus is God Incarnate, He is fully God and fully human (Col. 2:9); thus, He has two natures: divine and human. He is not half God and half man. Some Christians, who emphasize the divinity of Jesus are comfortable with the declaration: "Jesus is God." They see Jesus on an equaly par with the God, the Creator and the Holy Spirit as part of the Trinity. For more on the range of views within Christianity on the identity of Jesus. For more on the Trinity. For more on the Holy Spirit.

Jesus Only Movement
      This is a movement in some Pentecostal circles. It reflects a somewhat unusual understanding of the nature of the Trinity. The biblical Trinity consists of three persons simultaneously and eternally existing in one God. The Jesus Only Movement maintains that there is only one person in the Godhead: Jesus. It teaches that the person of the Father became the person of the Son who then became the person of the Holy Spirit and that the persons are consecutive not simultaneous. Most denominations would describe this view as heretical. For more on the Trinity. For more on pentacostalism.

     Originally, a Jew was a member of the state of Judah during the period of the division of Israel into two nations: Judah and Israel. It became a common reference from the 8th century B.C. Today it is used of those who identify with Judaism as a religion or culture. For more on the relationship between Christians and Jews.

      The word appears often in the Bible and the meaning varies according to context. There are several judgments: the judgment of the believer's sins (
John 5:24), the judgment of the believer's self (1 Cor. 11:31-32), the judgment of the believer's works (2 Cor. 5:10), the judgment of the nations (Matt. 25:31-46), and the judgment of the wicked (Rev. 20:11-15). There is intense debate within theological circles as to the implications and interpretations of these and other texts. The common theme of most of those who reflect upon the notion of God's judgement is that there are consequences resulting from our behavior, and that God can be trusted to act consistently with both love and justice which are the essential aspects of God's character.

Just, Justice
      The due reward or punishment for an act. Justice is getting what is deserved. God is merciful but also just (
Deut. 32:4 - righteous) and, as indicated, there are consequences for those who act in ways that are contrary to the will of God. The biblical notion of justice is framed both by the laws of the Torah, and most specifically the Ten Commandments, but also a more general understanding of the nature of God. The notion of justice in the Bible includes a strong emphasis upon the notion of addressing the wrongs of the world with special emphasis upon the exploitation of the poor by the powerful.

Justify, Justification
      To be justified is to be made righteous. It is a divine act through which God liberates and individual to be and become all that he or she is meant to be, allowing the individual to act fully and completely "in the image and likeness of God." For Christians, justification is made possible through the life, death and resurrection of Jesus.
Justification is a gift of grace (Rom. 3:24) rather than an achievement or accomplishment of the individual. Those who are justified may be expected to act with the same loving kindness, regard for the poor, and love of peace that Jesus so powerfully exhibited.

     In Hinduism, the total compilation of all a person's past lives and actions that result in the present condition of that person. Normally, it is associated with

      This is a teaching concerning Jesus' incarnation. The Kenosis attempts to solve some paradoxes between the nature of God and of the human as united in Jesus. For example, how could an all knowing God become a baby, or how could God be tempted? The Kenosis maintains that God, when becoming human, was divested of some qualities of being human. In a sense, the Kenosis is God minus something; God subtracting some qualities of deity to become human. The Hypostatic Union is God plus something; God adding the human and the divine into One. The Kenosis, then, jeopardizes the notion that Jesus was fully human and fully divine. (Compare with Hypostatic Union.)

Kingdom of God
      The kingdom of God is a focal point in the teaching of Jesus. For Jesus, "the kingdom of God" or "the kingdom of heaven" begins in the life of the individual who exhibits the love and justice of God. It was this immediate sense of the reality of the "kingdom" that Jesus had in mind when he said that the "kingdom of God is in the midst of you."
The notion also refers to the end of time when God's reign will be complete. For more on the "kingdom of God" in the teaching of Jesus.


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Charles Henderson

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The Rev. Charles P. Henderson is a Presbyterian minister and Executive Director of
He is the author of God and Science (John Knox Press, 1986).  
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God and Science (Hypertext Edition, 2005).
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Faith, Science and the Future (CrossCurrents Press, 2007).

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