Glossary of Religion
Learn the definitions of religious terms and concepts with our extensive Glossary of Religion. Choose a letter above or explore the random terms below.
- One of the main Protestant groups that arose out of the 16th-century Reformation. Generally speaking, modern Presbyterian churches trace their origins to the Calvinist churches of the British Isles, the European counterparts of which came to be known by the more inclusive name of Reformed. The term presbyterian also denotes a collegiate type of church government led by pastors and lay leaders called elders or presbyters.
- Dalai Lama
- Head of the dominant school of Tibetan Buddhism, the Gelugpa (or Yellow Hats), and from 1642 to 1959, the spiritual and temporal leader of Tibet.
- Baha'i New Year, celebrated on the spring equinox (March 20 or 21)
- Jehovah's Witnesses
- Christian sect originally founded by Charles Taze Russell in the late 19th century. Russell's successor, Joseph Franklin Rutherford, adopted the name Jehovah's Witness in 1931. The sect believes that Jehovah (Yahweh) is the true God, and that Jesus Christ is the son of God. The sect's goal is to establish what they consider to be God's Kingdom, which they believe will emerge following an apocalyptic Armageddon.
- bhumisparsha mudra
- Buddhist hand gesture representing calling the earth to witness.
- Gospel of John
- The fourth gospel of the New Testament, written the latest and having the most unique material and developed theology.
- Originally, and in Catholic theology, this term refers to the belief that God creates a soul for each individual person at conception or birth, in contrast to the belief in a soul's pre-existence. In the Middle Ages it was thought that this occurred 40 days after conception for a male baby and 80 days after conception for a female baby. While Augustine thought creationism and original sin were contradictory, Aquinas held that not believing in this tenet constituted heresy.
- (Hebrew "teaching"). The Oral Torah: a collection of rabbinical writings that interpret, explain and apply the Torah scriptures. Consists of the Mishnah and the Gemara.
- (Arabic, "submission") Monotheistic faith based on the Qur'an and teachings of the Prophet Muhammad.
- Orthodox Judaism
- Designates the branch of Judaism that most staunchly adheres to traditional beliefs and practices, characterized by the belief in the immutability and supreme authority of the Written Law and Oral Law as the fundamental basis of religious observance, by resistance to modernization, by strict conformity to daily worship and dietary laws, by the regular study of the Torah, by the observance of the Sabbath, and by the separation of men and women in the synagogue.
- Rig Veda
- The oldest known literary work in India, a collection of hymns to the Vedic gods dating from c. 1500 BCE.
- Generally, geometric motifs, often circular and symbolic of the Universe, capable of innumerable variation and meaning in a variety of media.
- Eid Al-Fitr
- ("Feast of the Breaking of the Fast"). Holiday celebrated at the end of the month of Ramadan.
- The form of Buddhism practiced in the South Asian countries of Sri Lanka, Burma, Cambodia, Thailand, and Laos. Its doctrine, relatively unchanged since the 3rd century BCE, is based on the 'tipitaka' or Pali Canon and consists of a conservative interpretation of the Buddha's teachings. Theravada's main distinction from later Mahayana is its rejection of bodhisattvas. While the ultimate goal of Theravada is to become a 'perfected saint' or 'arhat,' lay believers cannot attain true enlightenment.
- conch shell
- Symbol of the fame of the Buddha's teachings.