World Religions

Have faith: If you learn these words related to world religions, you'll soon be a theological expert. Review all of the major denominations and sects, from Anglicanism to Zoroastrianism, as well as religious terms such as
heresy, and more.


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  1. Abraham

    the first of the Old Testament patriarchs and the father of Isaac; according to Genesis, God promised to give Abraham's family (the Hebrews) the land of Canaan (the Promised Land); God tested Abraham by asking him to sacrifice his son
  2. Adventism

    any Christian religion that believes the second coming of Christ is imminent
  3. agnosticism

    a religious orientation of doubt
  4. ahimsa

    a Buddhist and Hindu and especially Jainist doctrine holding that all forms of life are sacred and urging the avoidance of violence
  5. Allah

    Muslim name for the one and only God
  6. alms

    money or goods contributed to the poor
  7. Amish

    an American follower of the Mennonite religion
  8. Amish sect

    an orthodox Anabaptist sect separated from the Mennonites in late 17th century; settled chiefly in southeastern Pennsylvania
  9. angel

    spiritual being attendant upon God
  10. Anglicanism

    the faith and doctrine and practice of the Anglican Church
  11. animism

    the doctrine that all natural objects have souls
  12. apocalypse

    a cosmic cataclysm in which God destroys the powers of evil
  13. apostle

    an ardent early supporter of a cause or reform
  14. ascetic

    someone who practices self denial as a spiritual discipline
  15. atheist

    someone who denies the existence of god
  16. atonement

    the act of making amends for sin or wrongdoing
  17. Bahaism

    a religion founded in Iran in 1863
  18. baptism

    a sacrament signifying spiritual cleansing and rebirth
  19. baptize

    administer a sacrament signifying spiritual rebirth
  20. Bible

    the sacred writings of the Christian religions
  21. bishop

    a senior member of the Christian clergy
  22. blasphemy

    the act of depriving something of its sacred character
  23. Brahminism

    the religious beliefs of ancient India as prescribed in the sacred Vedas and Brahmanas and Upanishads
  24. Buddha

    founder of Buddhism; worshipped as a god (c 563-483 BC)
  25. Buddhism

    the teaching of Buddha that life is permeated with suffering caused by desire, that suffering ceases when desire ceases, and that enlightenment obtained through right conduct and wisdom and meditation releases one from desire and suffering and rebirth
  26. caliph

    the civil and religious leader of a Muslim state
  27. Calvinism

    the theological system of John Calvin and his followers emphasizing omnipotence of God and salvation by grace alone
  28. canonize

    declare (a dead person) to be a saint
  29. caste

    a hereditary social class among Hindus
  30. cathedral

    the principal Christian church building of a diocese
  31. Christian Science

    religious system based on teachings of Mary Baker Eddy emphasizing spiritual healing
  32. Christianity

    a monotheistic system of beliefs and practices based on the Old Testament and the teachings of Jesus as embodied in the New Testament and emphasizing the role of Jesus as savior
  33. clergy

    the entire class of religious officials
  34. confession

    the act of a penitent disclosing sinfulness before a priest
  35. Conservative Judaism

    beliefs and practices of Conservative Jews
  36. conversion

    a change of religion
  37. convert

    change religious beliefs, or adopt a religious belief
  38. covenant

    an agreement between God and his people
  39. crucifixion

    the act of executing by a method widespread in the ancient world; the victim's hands and feet are bound or nailed to a cross
  40. cult

    a system of religious beliefs and rituals
  41. Dalai Lama

    chief lama and once ruler of Tibet
  42. deity

    a supernatural being worshipped as controlling the world
  43. denomination

    a group of religious congregations with its own organization
  44. Dharma

    basic principles of the cosmos
  45. diaspora

    the dispersion of something that was originally localized
  46. diocese

    a district that is under the jurisdiction of a bishop
  47. divine

    being or having the nature of a god
  48. dogma

    a religious doctrine proclaimed as true without proof
  49. ecclesiastical

    of or associated with a church
  50. enlightenment

    the beatitude that transcends the cycle of reincarnation
  51. episcopal

    denoting or governed by or relating to a bishop or bishops
  52. eschatology

    the branch of theology that is concerned with final things
  53. Eucharist

    a Christian sacrament commemorating the Last Supper by consecrating bread and wine
  54. evangelical

    of or pertaining to or in keeping with the Christian gospel
  55. evangelicalism

    stresses the importance of personal conversion and faith as the means of salvation
  56. faith

    a strong belief in a divine power or powers
  57. fundamentalism

    the interpretation of sacred texts as literal truth
  58. Gnosticism

    a religious orientation advocating gnosis as the way to release a person's spiritual element; considered heresy by Christian churches
  59. goddess

    a female deity
  60. gospel

    the written body of teachings accepted by a religious group
  61. guru

    a Hindu or Buddhist religious leader and spiritual teacher
  62. hajj

    a pilgrimage to Mecca that is a religious duty for Muslims
  63. halal

    conforming to dietary laws
  64. Hare Krishna

    a religious sect founded in the United States in 1966
  65. heresy

    a belief that rejects the orthodox tenets of a religion
  66. heterodox

    characterized by departure from accepted standards
  67. Hinduism

    a body of religious and philosophical beliefs and cultural practices native to India and based on a caste system; it is characterized by a belief in reincarnation, by a belief in 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
  68. icon

    a conventional religious painting in oil on a small panel
  69. idol

    a material effigy that is worshipped
  70. imam

    the person who leads prayers in a mosque
  71. Jainism

    religion founded in the 6th century BC as a revolt against Hinduism; emphasizes asceticism and immortality and transmigration of the soul; denies existence of a perfect or supreme being
  72. Jesus Christ

    a teacher and prophet born in Bethlehem and active in Nazareth; his life and sermons form the basis for Christianity (circa 4 BC - AD 29)
  73. jihad

    a holy struggle by a Muslim for a moral or political goal
  74. Judaism

    the monotheistic religion of the Jews having its spiritual and ethical principles embodied chiefly in the Torah and in the Talmud
  75. karma

    effects of one's actions that determine his or her destiny
  76. kosher

    conforming to dietary laws
  77. Krishnaism

    worship of Krishna the 8th avatar of Vishnu
  78. laity

    members of a religious community who are not clergy
  79. Last Judgment

    (New Testament) day at the end of time following Armageddon when God will decree the fates of all individual humans according to the good and evil of their earthly lives
  80. Lutheranism

    teachings of Martin Luther emphasizing the cardinal doctrine of justification by faith alone
  81. Mahayana Buddhism

    one of two great schools of Buddhist doctrine emphasizing a common search for universal salvation especially through faith alone; the dominant religion of China and Tibet and Japan
  82. martyr

    one who voluntarily suffers death
  83. Mary

    the mother of Jesus
  84. Mecca

    joint capital of Saudi Arabia
  85. meditation

    contemplation of spiritual matters
  86. Mennonitism

    system of beliefs and practices including belief in scriptural authority; plain dress; adult baptism; foot washing; restriction of marriage to members of the group
  87. messiah

    any expected deliverer
  88. Methodism

    the religious beliefs and practices of Methodists characterized by concern with social welfare and public morals
  89. monastic order

    a group of person living under a religious rule
  90. monk

    a male religious living in a cloister and devoting himself to contemplation and prayer and work
  91. monotheistic

    believing that there is only one god
  92. Mormonism

    the doctrines and practices of the Mormon Church based on the Book of Mormon
  93. Moses

    (Old Testament) the Hebrew prophet who led the Israelites from Egypt across the Red sea on a journey known as the Exodus; Moses received the Ten Commandments from God on Mount Sinai
  94. mosque

    a Muslim place of worship that usually has a minaret
  95. Muhammad

    the Arab prophet who, according to Islam, was the last messenger of Allah (570-632)
  96. Muslim

    a believer in or follower of Islam
  97. mystic

    someone who believes in realities beyond human comprehension
  98. nirvana

    the beatitude that transcends the cycle of reincarnation
  99. nun

    a woman religious
  100. orthodox

    adhering to what is commonly accepted
  101. Orthodox Judaism

    beliefs and practices of a Judaic sect that strictly observes Mosaic law
  102. paganism

    a religion outside of mainstream monotheism
  103. parable

    a story told by Jesus to convey his religious message
  104. parish

    a local church community
  105. pentecostalism

    the principles and practices of Pentecostal religious groups
  106. pilgrim

    someone who journeys to a sacred place as an act of devotion
  107. pilgrimage

    a journey to a sacred place
  108. polytheistic

    worshipping or believing in more than one god
  109. pope

    the head of the Roman Catholic Church
  110. predestination

    previous determination as if by destiny or fate
  111. Presbyterianism

    the doctrines and practices of the Presbyterian Church: based in Calvinism
  112. profane

    not concerned with or devoted to religion
  113. prophecy

    a prediction uttered under divine inspiration
  114. prophet

    someone who speaks by divine inspiration
  115. Protestantism

    the theological system of any of the churches of western Christendom that separated from the Roman Catholic Church during the Reformation
  116. purgatory

    a temporary state of the dead in Roman Catholic theology
  117. Puritanism

    the beliefs and practices characteristic of Puritans
  118. Quakers

    a Christian sect founded by George Fox about 1660
  119. Quran

    the sacred writings of Islam revealed by God to the prophet Muhammad during his life at Mecca and Medina
  120. rabbi

    spiritual leader of a Jewish congregation
  121. Ramadan

    the ninth month of the Islamic calendar
  122. Rastafarianism

    a religious cult based on a belief that Ras Tafari (Haile Selassie) is the Messiah and that Africa (especially Ethiopia) is the Promised Land
  123. Reform Judaism

    beliefs and practices of Reform Jews
  124. reincarnation

    the doctrine that a person may be reborn successively
  125. Roman Catholicism

    the beliefs and practices of the Catholic Church based in Rome
  126. Sabbath

    a day of rest and worship: Sunday for most Christians
  127. saint

    a person who has died and has been canonized
  128. Saktism

    a Hindu sect worshiping Shakti
  129. salvation

    the act of delivering from sin or saving from evil
  130. sect

    a subdivision of a larger religious group
  131. secular

    not concerned with or devoted to religion
  132. secularization

    removal of religion as a control or influence over something
  133. shaman

    one acting as a medium between the visible and spirit worlds
  134. sharia

    the code of law derived from the Koran and from the teachings and example of Mohammed
  135. Shiah Islam

    one of the two main branches of orthodox Islam
  136. Shintoism

    the ancient indigenous religion of Japan lacking formal dogma; characterized by a veneration of nature spirits and of ancestors
  137. Shivaism

    a Hindu sect worshiping Shiva
  138. shrine

    a place of worship associated with something sacred
  139. Siddhartha

    founder of Buddhism; worshipped as a god (c 563-483 BC)
  140. Sikhism

    the doctrines of a monotheistic religion founded in northern India in the 16th century by Guru Nanak and combining elements of Hinduism and Islam
  141. Sufism

    Islamic mysticism
  142. Sunni Islam

    one of the two main branches of orthodox Islam
  143. synagogue

    the place of worship for a Jewish congregation
  144. syncretism

    the union of different systems of thought or belief
  145. synod

    a council convened to discuss ecclesiastical business
  146. Talmud

    the collection of ancient rabbinic writings on Jewish law and tradition (the Mishna and the Gemara) that constitute the basis of religious authority in Orthodox Judaism
  147. Taoism

    philosophical system developed by Lao-tzu and Chuang-tzu advocating a simple honest life and noninterference with the course of natural events
  148. temple

    a place of worship
  149. Ten Commandments

    the biblical commandments of Moses
  150. tenet

    a basic principle or belief that is accepted as true
  151. theocracy

    a political unit governed by a deity
  152. theological

    of or relating to or concerning the study of religion
  153. theology

    the rational and systematic study of religion
  154. Theravada Buddhism

    one of two great schools of Buddhist doctrine emphasizing personal salvation through your own efforts; a conservative form of Buddhism that adheres to Pali scriptures and the non-theistic ideal of self purification to nirvana; the dominant religion of Sri Lanka (Ceylon) and Myanmar (Burma) and Thailand and Laos and Cambodia
  155. Tibetan Buddhism

    a Buddhist doctrine that includes elements from India that are not Buddhist and elements of preexisting shamanism
  156. Torah

    (Judaism) the scroll of parchment on which the first five books of the Hebrew Scripture is written; is used in a synagogue during services
  157. transcendent

    beyond and outside the ordinary range of human experience
  158. transubstantiation

    the Roman Catholic doctrine that the whole substance of the bread and the wine changes into the substance of the body and blood of Christ when consecrated in the Eucharist
  159. Trinitarianism

    Christian doctrine stressing belief in the Trinity
  160. Trinity

    the union of the Father and Son and Holy Ghost in one Godhead
  161. Unitarianism

    Christian doctrine that stresses individual freedom of belief and rejects the Trinity
  162. untouchable

    belongs to lowest social and ritual class in India
  163. Veda

    (from the Sanskrit word for `knowledge') any of the most ancient sacred writings of Hinduism written in early Sanskrit; traditionally believed to comprise the Samhitas, the Brahmanas, the Aranyakas, and the Upanishads
  164. voodoo

    a religion practiced chiefly in Caribbean countries
  165. Wicca

    the polytheistic nature religion of modern witchcraft whose central deity is a mother goddess; claims origins in pre-Christian pagan religions of western Europe
  166. Yahweh

    a name for the God of the Old Testament as transliterated from the Hebrew consonants YHVH
  167. Zen Buddhism

    school of Mahayana Buddhism asserting that enlightenment can come through meditation and intuition rather than faith; China and Japan
  168. Zoroastrianism

    system of religion founded in Persia in the 6th century BC by Zoroaster; set forth in the Zend-Avesta; based on concept of struggle between light (good) and dark (evil)
Created on January 4, 2017
(updated April 3, 2017)