A PHILOSOPHICAL/THEOLOGICAL VOCABULARY
PHILOSOPHY -- Love and pursuit of wisdom by
intellectual means and moral self-discipline. The
investigation of causes and laws underlying reality.
SYNCRETISM -- The attempt or tendency to combine or
reconcile differing beliefs, as in philosophy or religion.
EPICUREANISM -- The art of making life happy, with
intellectual pleasure or serenity the only good. Taught that
physical pleasure was good, but in moderation. Denies the
existence of the gods. Rejects the afterlife. Fond of good
food, good books, appreciation of music and the arts. "Eat,
drink, and be merry, for tomorrow we die."
THEOLOGY -- The study of the nature of God and religious
truth; rational inquiry into religious questions, especially those
posed by Christianity. An organized often formalized body of
opinions concerning God and Man's relationship to God.
METAPHYSICS -- branch of philosophy that tries to
discover and explain reality and knowledge
CATHOLICISM -- of or pertaining to the universal
Christian church; or pertaining to the ancient, undivided
SOPHISTRY -- A plausible but misleading or fallacious
argument. Plausible but fallacious argumentation; faulty
ROMAN CATHOLIC CHURCH -- The Christian church
that is characterized by a hierarchic structure of bishops and
priests in which doctrinal and disciplinary authority are
dependent upon apostolic succession, with the pope as head of
the episcopal college.
ANTINOMY -- Opposition; contradiction. Contradiction
between inferences or principles that seem equally necessary
and reasonable. Can God make a rock so big he can't lift it?
SKEPTICISM -- attitude of not believing easily; doubt; The
philosophical doctrine that absolute knowledge is impossible
and that inquiry must be a process of doubting in order to
acquire approximate or relative certainty. 2. Doubt or disbelief
of the tenets of Christianity.
REFORMATION -- The effort in the 16th century (led by
Martin Luther) to reconstitute the life and teaching of
Western Christendom, resulting in the separation of the
Protestant churches from the Roman Catholic Church.
PROTESTANT -- Any Christian that seceded from the
Church of Rome at the time of the Reformation. One of those
who adhered to the doctrine of Luther and in 1529 protested
against the decree of the Diet of Spires commanding
submission to the authority of Rome.
DEISM -- the belief that god created the universe then
abandoned it assuming no control or responsibility over life.
A group of rationalists of the 17th and 18th centuries who
rejected formal religion and supernatural revelation, but
argued that the course of nature demonstrates the existence of
God. There were deistic elements in the thinking of Voltaire,
Rousseau, Franklin, and Jefferson. The religious orthodox
called them freethinkers.
LUTHERAN -- Of or relating to Martin Luther or his
religious teachings and especially to the doctrine of
justification by faith alone instead of by sacraments and
mediation of Church; placed man in direct communication
with God; insistence on reading the Bible placed on the
individual greater responsibility for his own salvation; of or
relating to the branch of the Protestant Church adhering to the
views of Martin Luther.
EXISTENTIALISM -- philosophy which holds that reality
consists of living and that human beings make themselves
what they are and are responsible to themselves alone; the
belief that man is adrift in a godless, hostile or at least
indifferent universe; anguish is an emotion common to men
confronting life's problems; and morality demands
participation. Denies God and stresses man's absolute freedom
to choose, with resulting anguish and despair.
PRESBYTERIAN -- Of or pertaining to ecclesiastical
government by presbyters (church elders); traditionally
Calvinist in doctrine.
ETHICS -- The study of the general nature of morals and of
the specific moral choices to be made by the individual in his
relationship with others; the philosophy of morals. Also
called "moral philosophy."
CALVINISM -- The religious doctrines of John Calvin, the
greatest theologian of the Reformation, which emphasize the
supremacy of the Scriptures in the revelation of truth, the
omnipotence of God, the sinfulness of man, the salvation of
the elect by God's grace alone, and a rigid moral code.
FUNDAMENTALISM -- belief in the bible as factual
historical record and incontrovertible prophecy, including such
doctrines as the Genesis, the Virgin Birth, the Second coming,
EPISCOPALISM -- (Protestant) The belief that the power to
govern the church should rest with an episcopal (bishop) or
pastoral body, rather than with any supreme individual.
PANTHEISM -- the doctrine identifying God with the
various forces and workings of nature; belief that God is not
separate from the universe and God is the universe 2. belief in
and worship of all gods.
BAPTIST -- a Christian believing that the sacrament of
baptism should be given only to adult members upon
profession of faith and usually by immersion.
ANABAPTIST -- A member of one of the radical
movements of the Reformation of the 16th century that
insisted that only adult baptism was valid and held that true
Christians should not bear arms, use force, or hold
JUDAISM -- The monotheistic religion of the Jewish people,
tracing its origins to Abraham, having its spiritual and
ethical principles embodied chiefly in the Bible and the
Talmud (The collection of ancient Rabbinic writings
consisting of the Mishnah and the Gemara, constituting the
basis of religious authority for traditional Judaism).
MENNONITE -- (Protestant) A member of an Evangelical
Protestant Christian sect opposed to taking oaths, holding
public office, or performing military service.
ZION -- The Jewish people; Israel; the Jewish homeland as
a symbol of Judaism; a place or religious community
regarded as sacredly devoted to God; a city of God; an
idealized harmonious community; a utopia
AMISH -- An orthodox Anabaptist sect that separated from
the Mennonites in the late 17th century and exists today
primarily in southeastern Pennsylvania.
ZIONISM -- A plan or movement of the Jewish people to
return from the diaspora to Palestine; a movement originally
aimed at the re-establishment of a Jewish national homeland
and state in Palestine and now concerned with development
GOSPEL -- The teachings of Jesus and the Apostles. One of
the first four books of the New Testament, describing the
life, death, and resurrection of Jesus Christ.
BAR MITZVAH -- A 13-year-old Jewish male, considered
an adult and thenceforth responsible for his moral and
religious duties; the ceremony conferring and celebrating this
MORMON -- Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints,
founded by Joseph Smith in 1830 at Fayette, New York.
Accepts the Book of Mormon (An American prophet,
warrior, historian of the fourth century, author of sacred
history of the Americas, engraved on golden tablets) as the
word of God.
BAT MITZVAH -- A girl who reaches the age of Jewish
duty and responsibility, usually between twelve and fourteen
JEHOVAH'S WITNESSES -- A religious sect founded in
the United States during the late 19th century, the followers
of which practice active evangelism, preach the imminent
approach of the millennium, and are strongly opposed to war
and to the authority of organized government in matters of
ISLAM -- A religion based upon the teachings of the
prophet Mohammed, believing in one God (Allah) and in
Paradise and Hell, and having a body of law put forth in the
Koran (Allah's revelations to Mohammed) and the Sunna (the
body of traditional Moslem law, based on teachings of
Mohammed); the Moslem religion.
JEHOVAH -- God, especially in Christian translations of the
HINDUISM -- A Western term for religious beliefs and
practices of most of the people of India. Innumerable sects
and no well-defined ecclesiastical organization
characterized by beliefs in reincarnation and a supreme
being of many forms and natures, by the view that opposing
theories are aspects of one eternal truth, and by a desire for
liberation from earthly evils. Hold cows and snakes as sacred.
Trinity - Brahman, Shiva, Vishnu
MILLENNIUM -- A thousand-year period of holiness
during which Christ is to rule on earth. Revelation 20:1-5; a
hoped-for period of joy, serenity, prosperity, and justice.
ADVENTS -- Christians that believe Christ's second coming
and the end of the world are near at hand.
ORTHODOX -- Adhering to the accepted or traditional and
established faith, especially in religion.
BRAHMAN -- The remote diety who created the universe;
the essential divine reality of the universe; the eternal spirit
from which all being originates and to which all returns.
CHRISTIAN SCIENCE -- The church and the religious
system founded by Mary Baker Eddy, emphasizing healing
through spiritual means as an important element of
Christianity, and teaching pure divine goodness as underlying
the scientific reality of existence.
SHIVA -- The destroyer. God of destruction and
reproduction, a member of the Hindu triad.
VISHNU -- The preserver. The chief diety worshipped by the
Vaishnava, and second member of the trinity including
Brahma and Shiva.
PURITANISM -- A composite of social, political, ethical,
and theological ideas in English and American
Protestantism. The early settlements in New England were
Puritan in origin. Their ideal of society was a theocracy,
with powerful ministers and absolute control of individual
conduct. The family was the fortress of godliness, and life
was to be lived in strict obedience to detailed laws of God as
read in the Bible.
BUDDHISM -- The doctrine, attributed to Gautama
Buddha, that suffering is inseparable from existence but that
inward extinction of the self and of the senses culminates in
a state of illumination beyond both suffering and existence.
The belief that the nature of man may reach perfection
through his own efforts without divine aid. The belief that
Jesus was mortal rather than divine.
AESTHETICISM -- the belief in beauty as the basic
standard of value in the human life
ZEN BUDDHISM -- A Chinese and Japanese school of
Buddhism that asserts that enlightenment can be attained
through meditation, self-contemplation, and intuition rather
than through the scriptures.
EMPIRICISM -- use of methods based on experiment and
UTILITARIANISM: The doctrine or belief that the greatest
good of the greatest number should be the purpose of human
conduct; the doctrine or belief that actions are good if they are
SATORI -- A state of spiritual enlightenment sought in Zen
Buddhism (Japanese for "insight").
MYSTICISM -- A spiritual discipline aiming at union with
the divine through deep meditation or trancelike
contemplation; any belief in the existence of realities beyond
perceptual or intellectual apprehension but central to being
and directly accessible by intuition.
MATERIALISM -- The philosophical opinion that physical
matter in its movements and modifications is the only
reality and that everything in the universe, including thought,
feeling, mind, and will, can be explained in terms of physical
laws. The theory or doctrine that physical well-being and
worldly possessions constitute the greatest good and highest
value in life.
HEDONISM -- Pursuit of or devotion to pleasure; the
ethical doctrine that only that which is pleasant or has pleasant
consequences is intrinsically good. 2. Psychology -- that
human behavior is motivated by the desire for pleasure and the
avoidance of pain.
SCIENTOLOGY - a body of beliefs Created by L. Ron
Hubbard (1911–1986), starting in 1952, as a successor to his
earlier self-help system, Dianetics. People are immortal beings
who have forgotten their true nature. Practitioners can be
spiritually rehabilitated through a process known as auditing.
Through counseling, people deal with traumatic memories and
get past their limiting effects.
ANIMALISM -- A state of enjoying sound health and the
wholesome satisfaction of physical drives. A state of brutish
indifference to all but the physical appetites. The doctrine
that man is purely animal with no spiritual nature.
IDEALISM -- (opposite of materialism) The theory that the
object of external perception, in itself or as perceived,
consists of ideas.
ANIMISM -- The primitive belief that all things animate
and inanimate are held to possess an innate soul.
SECULARISM -- The view that the consideration of the
present well-being of mankind should predominate over
religious considerations in civil affairs or public education.
SECULAR - of or pertaining to the temporal rather than to
NOMINALISM -- The doctrine that abstract concepts,
general terms, or universals have no objective reference but
exist only as names.
ECLECTICISM -- Free selection and borrowing, as of
ideas or styles, from diverse sources.
HUMANISM -- A philosophy or attitude that is concerned
with human beings, their achievements and interests, rather
than with the abstract beings and problems of theology. An
interest in man and his capabilities, the humanities.
NIHILISM -- entire rejection of the established beliefs of
religion, morals, gov't, laws, etc.
SOLIPSISM -- The theory that the self is the only thing that
can be known and verified. The theory or view that the self is
the only reality
HUMANITARIANISM -- The ideas, principles, or methods
of charity, philanthropy. The belief that man's sole moral
obligation is to work for the improved welfare of humanity.