SOME IMPORTANT LATIN THEOLOGICAL TERMS
Biblia: Bible. Book. Biblia Sacra: Holy Bible. Vulgata: Vulgate (official Latin Bible). Vetus Testamentum: Old Testament. Novum Testamentum: New Testament.
Sola Scriptura: Scripture Alone. This was the fundamental point in dispute in the Protestant Reformation. It is taught in 2 Tim. 3:16-17; I Cor.4:6; Acts 17:11; Isa.8:20, etc.
Analogia Scripturae: The Analogy of Scripture. This is explained in the formula: “Scripturam ex Scriptura explicandam esse“, or “Scripture is to be explained by Scripture.” Related to this principle is the principle of Analogia Fide, or “Analogy of Faith.” That is, Biblical doctrines are to be interpreted in relation to the basic message of the Bible, the Gospel, the content of faith, often called The Faith. Cf.1 Cor.2:13, 15:1-4.
Testimonium Internum Spiritu Sanctu: The Internal Testimony of the Holy Spirit. The Spirit who inspired Scripture also authenticates and proves its divine origin through the Scripture itself. This is especially emphasized by Calvinists. Cf.Heb.10:15; I John 5:7-8.
Textus Receptus: Received Text. The Greek text first published by Erasmus, then with slight modifications by Stephanus, Beza and Elzivir, upon which the King James Version is based. It follows the vast majority of the Greek manuscripts, is much the same as the more recent Majority Text, as opposed to the editions based on a minority of manuscripts.
Deus: God. Corresponds to the Greek word THEOS. Deus est: God is. Deus Absconditus: The Hidden God. Deus Revelatus: The Revealed God.Verbum Dei: Word of God. Lux Dei: Light of God. Vox Dei: Voice of God. Imago Dei: Image of God. The word “deity” comes from Deus.
Trinitas: Trinity. Probably coined by Tertullian by combining the Latin words for three and one. The word is not found in Scripture, but the doctrine is (Matt. 28:19).
Actus Purus: Pure Actuality. Refers to God as to His perfect self-existence. Creation is potential or derivative in being, or growing in being once created. God is perfect being.
Sensus Divinitas: The sense of divinity. All men know that God exists (Rom. 1:18-21). Thus, there are no real atheists. Especially emphasized by Calvinists, particularly those of the Presuppositionalist school of apologetics, such as Cornelius Van Til.
Theologica: Theology. Based on the Greek words for God and science. Summa Theologica: Sum of Theology. This was the title of the famous systematic theology by Thomas Aquinas.
Loci Communes: Common Places. This was the usual term for systematic theology by the Lutherans, such as the important one by Philip Melanchthon. It refers to the collection of Scripture texts according to subject. Locus Classicus: Classic Place. The major Bible text on a subject.
Institutio Christianae Religionis: Institutes of the Christian Religion. Calvin’s main work.
Summum Bonum: Chief Good. God is the first cause of all, and the final goal. And so, the chief end for which all things were created is the glory of God.
Analogia Entis: Analogy of Being. The error that says that God and Man both share the same kind of being, differing in quantity but not in quality. Basically pantheistic.
Protoevangelium : The First Gospel. The first revelation of the Gospel was Gen. 3:15.
Foedus: Covenant. Federal Theology (or Federalism) is Covenant Theology.
Lex: Law. Lex Dei: Law of God. Lex Naturalis: Natural Law, revealed in Creation (Rom.1:18-23, 2:14-15). Lex Mosaica: Law of Moses. Lex Ceremonialis: Ceremonial Law. The temporary and symbolic laws of Moses, replaced by baptism and communion (Col. 2:16-17). Lex Moralis: Moral Law, God’s fundamental, unchangeable Law, in force in both testaments. Lex Talionis: Law of Retribution (or retaliation). An eye for an eye, the punishment fits the crime, you reap what you sow. Lex Rex: Law and the King, or Law of the King. Title of important book by Samuel Rutherford on the use of Biblical civil law today.
Creatio ex Nihilo: Creation out of nothing. God created merely by speaking it into existence.
Infralapsus: Infralapsarian. God first ordained the Fall and then elected men in the logical order of the eternal decrees. Supralapsus: Supralapsarian. God first elected some and rejected others before He ordained the Fall. Lapsus: Fall.
Ordo Salutis: Order of Salvation. Reformed theologians coined the term. Armilla Aurea, or Golden Chain, to relate the elements and stages of salvation according to Rom.8:29-30, etc.
Sola Gratia: Grace alone. Grace-faith-justification-works, not grace-faith-works-justification.
Sola Fide: Faith alone. Bona fide: Good faith. Credo: I believe. Notitia: Knowledge, the first element of saving faith. Assensus: Assent, the second element of faith. Fiducia: Trust, the third element of faith.
Simul lustus et Peccator: Simultaneously just and sinful. When we are justified, we are still sinful of ourselves. Even though our natures are changed in regeneration, there is still indwelling sin within us. The basis of our acceptance with God is not our changed nature, but rather the righteousness of Christ. His righteousness is thus Iustia Alienum, an alien righteousness – it is inherent in Christ, but not in us. In justification, God imputes or accounts this to us. It is then Iustia Imputata, imputed righteousness.
Articulus Stantis et Cadentis Ecclesiae: The article by which the Church stands and falls. Luther’s statement concerning justification of the imputed righteousness of Christ by faith alone, rejected by Roman Catholicism.
Solo Christo: Christ alone. Not Christ and priests, pastors, parents, or anyone else.
Extra Calvinisticum: The Calvinistic Extra. The Lutherans believed in the ubiquity (omnipresence) of Christ’s human body and nature, whereas the Calvinists have believed the historic view that Christ’s human body-and-soul is not infinite or omnipresent, but is only now at the right hand of the Father. Calvinists hold to the principle Finitum non Capax Infiniti, or the finite is not capable of the infinite (the finite human nature of Christ is not capable of containing His infinite divine nature in its entirety).Thus, ever since the Incarnation, there is still infinite deity beyond Christ’s human nature. The beyond is “extra” or outside, infinite.
Corpus Christi: The Body of Christ. Hoc est Corpus Meum: This is My Body.
Sacramentum: Sacrament. Catholicism believes the sacraments are magical instruments which actually and physically confer grace. Their principle is Ex Opere Operato, or out of the work worked. Do something or receive a physical sacrament, and grace is automatically given. True Protestants, however, rightly reject this and take the word sacramentum to mean mystery, a symbolic ordinance in which grace is given through the Word of God.
Papa: Pope, father. Catholicism says he is infallible when he pronounces a truth as dogma when he speaks Ex Cathedra, from the chair (of Peter). This contradicts Sola Scriptura.
Extra Ecclesiam Nulla Salus: Outside the Church there is no salvation. The Catholic heresy that there is no salvation outside Catholicism. Protestants believe rather that salvation is not given through a Church but through Christ. There are true believers in many churches, but not outside Biblical Christianity or out of the Body of Christ.
Reformata sed Semper Reformanda: Reformed and always reforming. The Protestant principle that the Church should always be striving to conform to Scripture. So should Christians.
Posse non Peccare: Able not to sin. Adam’s state before the Fall, and in another way also ours after we are saved. Non Posse non Peccare: Not able not to sin. Total inability to obey God or resist sinning. Unregenerate Man. Non Posse Peccare: Not able to sin. In one sense, God alone is unable to sin, being intrinsically holy. In another sense, the elect will be unable to sin when they are perfected in Heaven (Heb. 12:23; Eph. 1:4).
Soli Deo Gloria: To God alone be the glory. Gloria in Excelsis Deo: Glory to God in the highest.
For full definitions of these and many more, see Richard A. Muller, Dictionary of Latin and Greek Theological Terms (Grand Rapids: Baker Book House, 1985).