Key Terms and Definitions

Note: Throughout this pamphlet you will likely encounter several unfamiliar terms. Here is a brief sampler of some key phrases within:

  • Constitution - The basic principles and laws of a nation, state, or social group that determine the powers and duties of the government and guarantee certain rights to the people in it. It is often referred to as an agreement between the people and their government and is regarded in the area of political science as a “social contract.”

  • Covenant - In the Hebrew Scriptures, an agreement or treaty among peoples or nations, but most memorably the promises that God extended to humankind (e.g., the promise to Noah never again to destroy the earth by flood or the promise to Abraham that his descendants would multiply and inherit the land of Israel). God’s revelation of the law to Moses on Mount Sinai created a pact between God and Israel known as the Sinai Covenant. In Christianity, Jesus’ death established a new covenant between God and humanity.

  • Discourse -A mode of organizing knowledge, ideas, or experience that is rooted in language and its concrete contexts (as history or institutions).

  • Empiricism - The practice of relying on observation and experiment, especially in the natural sciences.

  • Exegesis - Critical explanation or interpretation of a text, especially of Scripture.

  • Inculcate - To instill (an attitude, idea or habit) by persistent instruction.

  • Paradigm -A typical example or pattern of something; a model.

  • Rationalism -A view that reason and experience, rather than the non-rational, are the fundamental criteria in the solution of problems.

  • Reformed Protestant - The Reformed Churches formed one branch of the Protestant churches that broke from the Roman Catholic Church of that day. They began in the sixteenth century in Switzerland under the leadership of Ulrich Zwingli and John Calvin. Calvin’s teachings became the dominant and leading force in these churches as they spread across Europe, particularly to France, the Netherlands, Scotland and by the eighteenth century, to North America, Africa, Hungary, Indonesia and many other parts of the globe.

  • Torah/Pentateuch - The first part of the Hebrew Bible, comprising Genesis, Exodus, Leviticus, Numbers and Deuteronomy.

  • Universal Truth/Absolute Truth -An absolute truth, sometimes called a universal truth, is an unalterable and permanent fact. It means that something is true no matter where you are and who says it, i.e., 2 + 2 = 4, no matter where you go you get the same answer, so that is a universal truth

  • Virtue - St. Paul added the theological virtues of faith, hope and love—virtues which, in Christian teaching, do not originate naturally in humanity but are instead imparted by God through Christ and then practiced by the believer.