Glossary of religious terms
(Starting with "B")
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Conservative Christian faith groups often define terms
very differently than other faith groups and secular
movements. The former are shown in italics
in the below lists of words.
A tower mentioned in Genesis 11. The Bible describes
how there was only one language used prior to
construction of the tower. God was offended by
the construction, and caused its builders to speak
in different languages. Almost all linguistic
experts, except those who are conservative Christians,
consider the story to be a myth.
A type of subliminal
message in which a second audio track
is recorded backwards on top of a record's music.
It is a common belief among the public that such
messages bypass the conscious brain, enter the
subconscious and motivate the individual to take
certain actions. One rock group actually inserted
a backmasking section on one of their records
as a joke. There is no evidence that backmasking
World Faith: A world religion,
founded in 1844 CE by Baha'u'llah (Glory of God)
in Iran. Its roots are based in Islam. With the
exception of its beliefs about homosexuality,
and the makeup of its Universal House of Justice,
it promotes democracy with equal rights to
all, regardless of gender, race, nationality,
etc. It has spread across the world. Its followers
experience heavy oppression in Iran.
(a.k.a. Sigil of Baphomet): A pentagram (a five
pointed star) with one point downwards and two
upwards, within a circle. A goat's head is drawn
within the star. This is used by many Satanists
as a religious symbol.
New Year's celebration.
The English words "baptize" and
"baptism" are derived from a
Greek root: "baptizr," which
means "to immerse," "to dip
under," or "to wash."
Within Christianity, it is usually performed by
a member of the clergy in a church setting, thus
welcoming an individual into the church.
Denominations disagree about the method (immersion
or sprinkling), the age at which the ritual is
done, and additional consequences of baptism. Some
Christian groups maintain that baptism is required
before a person can be saved; some say that only
those baptized in their denomination or in a certain
way can be saved. Still others consider
baptism to be merely an indication that a person
had been saved in the recent past.
for the dead: This is a procedure that was
employed among some Christian groups during the
second century CE. Today, it is followed by members
Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day saints
-- the Mormons. Ancestors who died outside the
church can be baptized by their descendents who
are alive today.
A group of Protestant Christian who, according
to religious historians, originated in the English
Separatist movement of the 1600s. However, some
Baptists believe that they can trace their history
directly back to the New Testament period. In
the U.S., they consist of dozens of denominations
that do not baptize infants, but who baptize individuals
by immersion after they have personally professed
their faith. Baptist congregations are independent;
full authority resides in the membership of each
church. The largest American Protestant denomination,
the Southern Baptist Convention, deviated from
centuries of tradition by expelling congregations
who had decided to welcome sexually active gays
and lesbians as members.
To father, or sire. Etymology is: Indo-European
"ghend" > Old English "begetan"
> Middle English "biyeten" > Modern
A past participle of beget.
One of the four major Sabbats celebrated annually
by Wiccans and other Neopagans on the evening
of APR-30. It is based on an ancient Celtic seasonal
day of celebration.
The "Song of the Lord" -- a holy
text revered by followers of Hinduism and Iskcon.
This word has many meanings:
holy text used by Christians. It is includes
Scripture (Old Testament), Christian
Scripture (New Testament). Some
faith groups also include a group of writings
called the Apocrypha.
is sometimes used to refer to the holy texts
of other religions.
is sometimes used to refer to an all-embracing
book on a specific topic, from computers
to fly fishing to astronomy.
Code: A book by Michael Drosnin which promoted
the concept that the Bible contains prophecies
which are hidden by a special code. This belief
became popular during the 1990s, but collapsed
when it was found that similar codes could be
extracted from any book of similar length.
authority: This is the belief -- near universally
held among conservative Christians -- that: "the
Bible, as the expression of God's will to us,
possesses the right supremely to define what we
are to believe and how we are to conduct ourselves."
2 Steven Ibbotson states: "The
Bible is authoritative because it is God's inspired
word to humanity." 3
Religious liberals commonly discount some sections
of the Bible as authoritative because they are
judged to be
when compared to today's religious and secular
wordview: A personal perspective on humanity,
deity and the rest of the universe based on the
Bible. There are many such worldviews, reflecting
various conservative, mainline, liberal, Gnostic,
post-Christian and other belief systems. The Barna
Group defines a conservative Protestant biblical
worldview as including eight beliefs:
source of moral truth is the Bible.
Bible is without
error in all of its teachings.
eternal spiritual salvation
cannot be earned through works while on
led a sinless
life while on earth.
has a responsibility to share their religious
beliefs with others.
is a living force, not just a symbol of
is the creator of the universe, omnipotent,
omniscient who still rules the universe
found that 8% of adult American Protestants,
5% of adults generally and less than 0.5% of
Roman Catholics "have a [conservative
Protestant] biblical world view."
Having a particular regard for the Bible as
the Word of God and the ultimate
authority for religious belief and morality.
Worship of a book, particularly the Bible.
A term of criticism levied against individuals
who give an excessive regard to the text of the
This word has a secular and a Christian meaning:
A discussion of books.
The study of the Bible and the doctrines
derived from it.
of the Bab: A Baha'i
holy day honoring of the founder, Mirza 'Ali-Muhammed,
He assumed the title Bab ("the
of Baha'u'llah: A Baha'i
annual celebration of the birth of their teacher
and Messiah, Mirza Husayn-'Ali-i-Nuri (1817-1892).
He was the Manifestation predicted by the Bab.
of Guru Nanak Dev Ji: A day when Sikhs
commemorate the birthday of their founder.
(From the Greek word episkopos: supervisor). In
the early church, he was a chief priest at a church.
Later, the role became that of a priest with administrative
duties over a group of churches within a geographical
area called a diocese.
Synonym for duotheist; a person who believes that
there are two deities -- typically one female
and the other male, as in Wicca,
or one all good and the other all bad, as in Zoroastrianism.
magic: The use of religious rites and rituals
to harm another person. One example from the Bible
was when Elisha issued a curse against 42 children
who were bothering him. The children were torn
to shreds by she-bears. See 2
Mass: An imaginary inverted form of the Roman
Catholic mass involving black candles, desecrated
materials stolen from a church, prayers recited
backwards in Latin, etc. Such rituals have been
performed by members of the Church
of Satan as a publicity stunt.
Muslims: A group of Muslim organizations for
African-Americans, including the Nation of
theology: The belief that Israel, as described
in the Hebrew Scriptures (Old Testament), was
a nation of blacks. Jesus was black; his purpose
was to liberate fellow blacks from oppression
by white Gentiles.
Swearing in the name of God, denying the existence
of God, saying evil things about God, asserting
incorrect beliefs about God, etc. One religion's
affirmation of their God is another religion's
blasphemy about their God.
be: A frequently used greeting-blessing by
Wiccans and other Neopagans.
group of theories that attempt to explain
how Jesus' torture-death resulted in a mechanism
by which people's sins can be forgiven.
Other explanations, sometimes called "bloodless
atonement" theories, account for the
forgiveness of sins on the bases of Jesus'
teachings and life.
in the early Mormon church introduced
by Brigham Young. It has since been abandoned
by some Mormon denominations. Some crimes
were considered so serious that the perpetrator's
salvation required that he be killed and
his blood mixed with the earth.
libel: A false belief which has endured since
the 1st century BCE.
It states that members of a religious group
kidnap, abuse, ritually
murder and sometimes eat the body of a member
of another religion. Groups creating
this groundless fable include ancient Greek and
Roman Pagans, Christians, Nazis, and Muslims.
Innocent religious groups victimized by the fable
include Jews, Christians, Wiccans, Druids and
other Neopagans, and Roma (Gypsies). The hoax
exists today mostly among some Muslims (against
Jews) and some Fundamentalist Christians (against
Wiccans, Satanists and other religious minorities).
Service of the Gods; kinship between the Gods
of Norse Heathenism and the people.
A Buddhist term which means to have achieved enlightenment;
to understand the ultimate reality.
A Buddhist term to describe a person who is embarked
on the path to enlightenment.
Day: The day when Buddha
decided to sit under the bodhi tree, and remain
there until he reached enlightenment.
of Christ: This often refers to the physical
body of Yeshua of Nazareth (a.k.a. Jesus Christ.)
Other times, it refers to the "invisible
church" which is made up of true Christians,
past and present. Unfortunately, there is no consensus
is a "true" Christian, so
that there is no agreement over the exact makeup
of this group.
Festival: This is a day when the followers
honor the souls of their ancestors. People visit
of Life: In Christianity,
a list of saved individuals which is maintained
of Mormon: One of four texts considered to
be divinely inspired and authoritative scripture
by the Church
of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints
(the Mormons) and other Mormon denominations.
Mormons believe that Joseph Smith, their founder,
translated the Book of Mormon from golden plates
left by an early American society. Some researchers
believe the Book to have been written by Smith,
and partly based on an earlier book "View
of the Hebrews" by Ethan Smith (no relation).
of Shadows: A personal diary of a Wiccan or
other Neopagan in which she/he records their ritual
again: The process by which a person
repents of their sins and trusts Jesus of Nazareth
as Lord and Savior. Conservative Protestants believe
that this is the only way that one can get to
Some of these denominations do not require that
a person repent first.
The creator God and member of the Hindu trinity
of deities, which also includes Shiva and Vishnu.
A member of the priestly class in Hinduism --
the highest caste in India.
(a.k.a. thought control, mind control, coercive
persuasion). A non-violent method that uses mind
control techniques to convince a person to abandon
some of their basic beliefs and adopt the beliefs
of the indoctrinator. The anti-cult
movement teaches that many small religious
groups, which they call cults, engage in brainwashing.
Sociologists and mental health researchers who
are not involved in the anti-cult movement generally
reject the concept.
Davidians: Popular name for a doomsday,
cult, the Students of the Seven
Seals, which was led by David Koresh. Dozens
of their members died when their compound burned
to the ground in Waco, TX.
Israel movement: A belief that the ten lost
tribes of Israel -- those conquered and assimilated
by the Assyrians circa 722 BCE -- became the British
people, and sometimes the inhabitants of the former
British Empire, including the U.S. and Canada.
The Moral Rearmament movement founded by
Frank Buchman (1878 - 1961). He organized the
Oxford Group in 1929, which became Moral
Rearmament, an inter-faith group, in 1938.
Its goal was to change society one person at a
time, by promoting absolute purity, unselfishness,
honesty and love.
A Buddhist term used to refer to Prince Siddhartha,
(560 - 480 BCE)
after his enlightenment.
Day: A celebration of the birthday of the
A world religion, founded in the 6th century BCE
by a Hindu: Siddhartha Gautama, His followers
called him "the Buddha" or "the
enlightened one." It has about 300 million
followers, almost all located in Asia. Buddhism
is experiencing a rapid growth in North America.
It is perhaps the least violent of the world's
From the Latin word "bulla" a
seal. A papal statement in which he speaks ex
cathedra on a matter of belief or morality.
Such a statement is regarded by Roman Catholics
Man Festival: An annual gathering in Black
Rock Desert, NV. Creative individuals create artistic
works, dance, chant, sing, etc. At the end of
the festival, a wooden image in the form of a
man is burned. This is apparently derived from
the burning of a wicker statue of the spirit of
vegetation by the ancient Celts. That statue also
was in the form of a man.
adults feel accepted by God, but lack a biblical
worldview," The Barna Group, 2005-AUG-09.
J. Erickson, "Christian Theology," Baker,
(1985), Page 241.
Ibbotson, "Biblical Authority,"
Prairie bible Institute, (2000), at:
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