Religious or Spiritual Terms
See Charts: Five Types of Religious Expressions
New Age Terms in the Church
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Agnosticism: Denies that man can know whether or not God exists. Therefore it also denies the validity of the Bible. The only certainties are those that can be proved by "science." .
Atheism: Denies the existence of any God, thought it is traditionally focused on the rejection of the Biblical God.
Christianity: Refers to the exercise of faith in the atoning and saving work of Jesus Christ through His sacrificial death and victorious resurrection as revealed through God's holy Word. (See What it means to be a Christian) But today (as in previous centuries) it’s being twisted into whatever form of faith/salvation/works combination fits today’s emerging “Christian” communities.
Christendom: (wisely not used much anymore) Primarily refers to the domain of the world that identified itself as Christian.Since Biblical Christianity is being replaced with countless accommodating or "emerging" alternatives, it really doesn’t apply to any regional domain today.
Contemplative spirituality: "A belief system that uses ancient mystical practices to induce altered states of consciousness (the silence) and is rooted in mysticism and the occult but often wrapped in Christian terminology; the premise of contemplative spirituality is pantheistic (God is all) and panentheistic (God is in all)." [Lighthouse Trails Research]
Deism: Accepts the reality of a Creator God but ignored Biblical revelation. See "The Enlightenment" below:
Enlightenment: Francis Schaeffer explains the difference in his 1976 book, How Should We Then Live?
"The utopian dream of the Enlightenment can be summed up by five words: reason, nature, happiness, progress, and liberty.... If these men had a religion, it was deism. The deists believed in a God who had created the world but who had no contact with it now, and who had not revealed truth to men. If there was a God, he was silent." [Read more]
Existentialism: Belief that "individuals must create their own being, each in his own specific situation and environment." (Webster's Dictionary, Encyclopedic Edition, 1989)
Gnosticism: A variety of mystical sects -- pagan as well as those who called themselves "Christian". They rejected or twisted the true gospel into esoteric myths that deceived many, especially during the second and third centuries AD. According to "The Gnostic Apostle Thomas," "there is at our core a spark of spirit which was once part of the universal spirit; that this individual spirit has become embedded...in the body, through activities of lesser powers (often called archons or rulers)....Gnosis is a Greek word for knowledge -- not... knowledge in the sense of rational learning but intuitive knowledge reaching beyond the limits of reason to truths hidden from ordinary experience and intellect.... The gods, as the artificer's intermediaries, had created humankind, a mixture of spirit and matter."
Hinduism: "The basis of Vedantist teaching is that ultimately reality is one, and that the variety of apprehension which comes to us through the senses is illusory. Man must rid himself of his illusions and ignorance if he is to become aware of, and to partake of, reality (brahma). He must come to know that his own individualized self is only a manifestation of the one self (atman), and he must then come to know that the one self is reality.
"This ‘knowing’ is not a mere intellectual knowledge, but an enlightenment of one’s whole being. If one fails to find this ‘release’ (moksa), one is bound by the law of punishment and reward (*KARMA) to return to this world in a further incarnation, still tied to the wheel of rebirth (samsara). The attainment of moksa will come... through meditation (“YOGA). The thoroughgoing monistic pantheism of the Vedantists was too cold a creed, however, for the majority of Hindus who, while respecting the yogis, sought other ways of escape from this world of illusion (maya).
"The Ramayana, the Mahabharata and the less important Puranas tell of the avatars of the god Vishnu. The most influential section of the Mahabharata is known as the Song of God (Bhagavad-Gita). It has been described as ‘the focus of all Indian religion’. It teaches the way of yoga, but also the way of devotion (bhakti) to a personal god and of nonattached everyday living (i.e. the carrying out of daily tasks and caste duties without self-involvement). The teaching of the Bhagavad-gita is the justification for the variety of Hindu practice today.
"Polytheism (in some cases, animism) is still the basis of much popular Hindu worship (at the house shrines. temples, processions and pilgrimages), but outward forms are not felt to be of any real consequence. The bhakti of the worshipper is what matters." (From The New Lexicon: Webster's Dictionary of the English Language, 1989)
Monotheism: Belief in one God.
New Age Spirituality (occult): (From the Aquarian Age Community) "Spirituality refers to the evolutionary process as it drives us forward, eventually, to perfect wholeness. It relates to the expansion or evolution of consciousness. ...[A]ll activity -- be it physical, emotional, intuitional and so forth-that leads towards greater perfection, goodness and wholeness is therefore spiritual....
"Spiritual values are qualified by ever-widening horizons,synthesis, growth and wholeness as well as greater vision, understanding and integration....
"The spirit of man is undying; it forever endures, progressing from point to point and stage to stage upon thePath of Evolution....
"This group [the New Group of World Servers] gives the word 'spiritual' a wide significance; they believe it to mean an inclusive endeavour towards human betterment, uplift and understanding; they give it the connotation of tolerance, internationalsynthetic communion, religious inclusiveness, and all trends of thought which concern the esoteric development of the human being."
New Thought: A non-Christian spirituality that emphasizes "the power of right thinking... the idea that our thoughts and attitudes affect our experience and that God (or whatever other name a person might have for a Higher Power) is within the individual." [Affiliated New Thought Network]
Panentheism: All (pan) is in God, yet God is transcendent over everything. (Notice the difference between panentheism and pantheism). Some would assume that as everything in the universe (positioned in God) evolves, this unbiblical God would also evolve and grow in knowledge and complexity.
Pantheism: Everything is God and God is all. Since God is everything and everything is God, everything is sacred and interconnected.
Pluralism. All religious expressions are supposedly valid in a world of diversity. Since today's ideal form of pluralism would be used to nurture "common good" and social equality, it demands uncritical, multicultural "tolerance" and acceptance. No religion or beliefs can be more "right" or exclusive than others. Therefore, pluralism must exclude or compromise the truths, values and certainties of Christianity, which could offend others.
Polytheism. Belief in many (poly) gods or divine beings. Most ancient, primitive or tribal religions were polytheistic. See Charts: Five Types of Religious Expressions
Relativism: All philosophical points or positions are equally valid. Your "truth" is a true as my "truth." There are no absolutes, therefore the most pragmatic or popular position is likely to reign.
Religious Science (Science of Mind): Founded by Ernest Holmes in 1927, it "honors all paths to God," utilizes the principles of New Thought and helps "bring peace and harmony to the world." [http://www.rsintl.org]
Holmes "studied the mind science teachings of Dr. P. Quimby, Mary Baker Eddy, Charles Filmore, and Ralph Waldo Emerson, along with eastern mysticism and religions such as Hinduism. He took a little from each of these (Christian Science, Unity, transcendentalism, etc.) .... It was after writing a book titled The Science of the Mind that his teachings became very popular, and the Institute of Religious Science and School of Philosophy was formed." [www.gotquestions.org/religious-science.html]
Taoism(now inseperable from Confucianism and Buddhism, which blend together in today's Chinese folk religions): Most Chinese people "do not distinguish themselves as Confucianists or Buddhists or Taoists. They follow a general religion, which antedates, combines and overshadows all the so-called 'three religions.' This general cult is characterized by several prominent features:
1. Animism and polytheism. The "spirits of Heaven.... the spirits of Earth..... the spirits of human brings, especially ancestors... and the spirits of inanimate objects" are part of this variable pantheon of deities. Through the centuries, some gods have disappeared "while others have emerged."
2. Worship of Shang-ti, a major heavenly spirit. "Until 1912, it was the supreme duty of the emperor to make sacrifice to him on behalf of the people."...
3. Ancestral worship. "As the foundation of things is Heaven, so the foundation of man is the ancestors."
4. Worship of Confucius. "As ancestor worship is the extension of filial piety, so the worship of Confucius is the extension of respect for a teachers. The Chinese worship Confucius, Lao Tzu, and Sakyamuni (Buddhist deity).
5. Superstitions. This blend of Three Religions "includes a strong element of superstition called shu shu, or divination and witchcraft.... based on the belief that the Great Ultimate (T'ai Chi), Yin Yang or the negative and positive cosmic forces, the Five Elements and the Eight Trigrams could be so coordinated and controlled as to bring about good fortune." The search for long life and blessings was first "first promoted by the priest-magicians feng shi),and later crystallized in the Huang Lao movement. From then on, astrology, almanacs, dream interpretation, feng shui, witchcraft, phrenology, palmistry, Ouija to recall the soul, and fortunetelling in all forms have played an important part...."
6. Ethics. "...Worship is dominated by gratitude and superstation is dominated by fear. In each case the underlying movie is ethical. Ethical ideals ... are predominantly Confucian....
7. The Chinese even when they attend Buddhist and Taoist temples, worship Buddhist and Taoist deities as part of a general pantheon. [Vergilius Fern, An Ecyclopedia of Religion (New York: The Philosophical Library, 1945), pp.143-145]
Theism: Belief that "God" exists. His identity is open to interpretation and to the breadth of the human imagination.
Universalism. As countless pluralists have claimed through the years, "all spiritual paths lead up to the same mountaintop." See Universalism
Spiritual formation:"a movement that has provided a platform and a channel through which contemplative prayer is entering the church. Find spiritual formation being used, and in nearly every case you will find contemplative spirituality. In fact, contemplative spirituality is the heartbeat of the spiritual formation." [Lighthouse Trails Research]
Lectio Divina: "Lectio Divina", a Latin term, means 'divine reading' and describes a way of reading the Scriptures whereby we gradually let go of our own agenda and open ourselves to what God wants to say to us. In the 12th century, a Carthusian monk called Guigo, described the stages which he saw as essential to the practice of Lectio Divina....
1. "Lectio (reading) where we read the Word of God, slowly and reflectively so that it sinks into us. Any passage of Scripture can be used....
2. "Meditatio (reflection) where we think about the text we have chosen and ruminate upon it so that we take from it what God wants to give us.
3. "Oratio (response) where we leave our thinking aside and simply let our hearts speak to God. This response is inspired by our reflection on the Word of God.
4. "Contemplatio (rest) where we let go not only of our own ideas, plans and meditations but also of our holy words and thoughts. We simply rest in the Word of God. We listen at the deepest level of our being to God who speaks within us with a still small voice. As we listen, we are gradually transformed from within."
What is the meaning of the term, spiritual? (From the Aquarian Age Community) "Spirituality refers to the evolutionary process as it drives us forward, eventually, to perfect wholeness. It relates to the expansion or evolution of consciousness. And, thus all activity-be it physical, emotional, intuitional and so forth-that leads towards greater perfection, goodness and wholeness is therefore spiritual. ...
Spiritual values are qualified by ever-widening horizons, synthesis, growth and wholeness as well as greater vision, understanding and integration. ...
"The word 'spiritual' does not refer to religious matters, so-called. All activity which drives the human being forward towards some form of development... is essentially spiritual.... The spirit of man is undying; it forever endures, progressing from point to point and stage to stage upon the Path of Evolution, unfolding steadily and sequentially the divine attributes and aspects. ....
"This group [the New Group of World Servers] gives the word 'spiritual' a wide significance; they believe it to mean an inclusive endeavour towards human betterment, uplift and understanding; they give it the connotation of tolerance, international synthetic communion, religious inclusiveness, and all trends of thought which concern the esoteric development of the human being."
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