English 162: Theological Terms
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Anglicanism: The English (Anglican) Episcopal church established in the sixteenth century when Henry VIII broke from the Roman Catholic church in order to be granted a divorce from Katherine of Aragon.
Arminianism: The religious doctrines of the Dutch theologian Arminius which opposed strict Calvinist theology, especially in the matters of predestination. It emphasized that God predestines the good to salvation and the bad to damnation, but did not ordain that one group should be good and one evil. Man was seen as having free will.
Calvinism: The religious doctrines of John Calvin, emphasizing the omnipotence of God and the salvation of the elect by God's grace alone. Calvinists believed in predestination.
Catholicism: The official church of Rome. Doctrine in which the church and tradition have authority in religious matters. Salvation can be achieved through good works and religious practices. Churchmen (i.e. priests) act as the mediator between man and God and can determine what an individual must believe and do. The Protestants associated corruption, ostentation, and idolatry with the Catholic Church.
Independents: Unlike the Presbyterians, the Independents denied the need for an established church and demanded religious toleration. Independents made up most of Cromwell's New Model Army and, fighting against a mostly Presbyterian Parliament, they defeated the Presbyterian army and took control of Parliament in 1648. Became modern Congregationalists.
Presbyterianism: Modeled on Calvinist theology. Seen as more democratic for the clergy because there were no Bishops; they felt that the Episcopal church government ought to be replaced by that of a council of Presbetyrs, or Elders, on the local and national level. The Presbyterians sided in the civil war with the Royalists after Charles I agreed to support their cause. They advocated a no tolerance policy for dissenters.
Protestant: A member of a Western Christian church whose faith and practice are founded on the principles of the Protestant Reformation. Protestants believed in the acceptance of the Scriptures as the sole source of church authority, in salvation only through Gods grace and personal faith, and in the universal priesthood of all the believers.
Puritan: A member of a group of English Protestants who is the 16th and 17th centuries dissented from the Anglican church because they felt that the church had not done enough to disassociate itself from the Roman Catholic Church. They advocated strict religious discipline along with simplification of the ceremonies and creeds of the Church of England. Puritans practiced modesty in dress, speech, and social habits.
- This is a boiled down version of some theological doctrines and is not meant to stand in for thorough definitions of all theology.
Definitions adapted from: Lois Potter, A Preface to Milton (New York: Longman, 1971) and The Oxford English Dictionary