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Religious & theological terms

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Religious and theological terms:

Common Evangelical usageUsage by many othersComments
Religious tolerance requires a person to accept that all religions are equally accurate, true and good. Religious Tolerance requires a person to value and fight for the freedom of all persons to follow their own faith.Same phrase; totally different definitions. One relates to the nature of truth; the other is a human rights issue.
A Christian is defined as a person who has trusted Jesus as their personal Lord and Savior and has been born again. A Christian is defined as a person who seriously, thoughtfully considers themselves to follow Christ's teachings. * By the first definition, about 35% of U.S. adults are Christians; by the second. it is about 75%.
The Bible is the Word of God. Diverse beliefs:
bullet The Bible contains the word of God.
bullet The Bible contains the varying beliefs of its authors.
Many non-Evangelicals reject those Bible passages that condone slavery, genocide, executing non-virgin brides, torturing prisoners, etc., as being opposed to the will of God.
"Christianity" is a personal relationship with Jesus. "Christianity" is one of many of the world's major religions.  
The term "Pagan" generally refers to a polytheist who lived in Bible times. Sometimes, "Pagan" is used as a general purpose 'snarl' word.  A "Pagan" (a.k.a. Neopagan) is a follower of Asatru, Wicca, Druidism, etc. Some Evangelicals define present-day followers of non-Abrahamic religions, like Buddhism, Hinduism etc. to be Pagans.
A "cult" is a Christian group that teaches beliefs that are not in accordance with conservative interpretations of the Scriptures. A "cult" is a religious group that is destructive and dangerous to their members. It is often led by a single, charismatic leader. There are also at least seven other unrelated meanings to the term "cult."
Satan is a fallen, wholly evil former angel who devotes his life to seeking whom he may destroy. Diverse beliefs: Satan is:
bullet A fallen, wholly evil quasi-deity.
bullet A non-living symbol of evil
bullet A force that stands for free will, pleasure, indulgence, & reason.
"Other" in this case refers to liberal Christians and followers of many other religions.
"Lucifer" is another name for Satan. Wiccans and other Neopagans view "Lucifer" as a reference to the morning star -- the planet Venus. "Lucifer" is Latin for "light bringer."
Satanism is a widespread religion of Satan worshipers. It takes many forms: adult Satanism, Wicca, Witchcraft, etc.  Satanism is a very small religion. Wiccans are not Satanists; they don't worship or even recognize the existence of Satan. The term "Witchcraft" has at least 17 different meanings.
Hell is a place of eternal mental and physical torment and isolation from God, where unsaved people go after death. The vast majority of people will go there after death. Hell either does not exist, is intended to be interpreted symbolically, or is simply isolation from God. "Other" in this case refers to liberal Christians and followers of many other religions.
The "Occult" has Satanism at its core. Rituals are based on demonic powers and fakery. Heavy metal and other rock music, fantasy role-playing games etc. are often considered occult pastimes. The "Occult" is simply a list of unrelated, hidden activities that includes practices as varied as Satanism, the Masonic Order, tea leaf readings, and tarot card reading. Many other definitions exist for the "Occult."
"Crusade" is a common term used to refer to evangelical drives to convert the public. To Jews, "Crusade" recalls the killing of hundreds of thousands of defenseless Jews in Europe. To Muslims it recalls unprovoked wars in the Middle East. Some Christians are recognizing that the term is offensive to many. e.g. Wheaton College recently renamed its Crusaders sports teams to The Wheaton Thunder.
"Interfaithism" appears to be a term used only by conservative Protestants. It means the belief that all religions are equally valid and true; all lead to God. Many others use the term "pluralism" to refer to the belief that all of the world's religions are true and valid within their own societies. Unfortunately, the term "pluralism" is also used to refer to the fact that a diversity of religions exist in a country. It is a fact, not a belief.

* This definition is used by this web site, by public opinion pollsters, and by government census offices. Since there are many diverse and often opposing beliefs about what Jesus' teachings actually were, the term "Christian" includes persons and groups who hold very diverse beliefs and engage in very diverse practices. It includes faith groups like the Roman Catholic Church, Orthodox churches, Jehovah's Witnesses, The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints (the Mormons), the Unification Church, the United Church, Progressive Christianity, etc. -- many of which are considered non-Christian, sub-Christian or even anti-Christian by some.

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Copyright 2000 to 2009 by Ontario Consultants on Religious Tolerance
Originally written: 2000-OCT-02
Latest update: 2009-APR-21
Author: B.A. Robinson

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