Dar-e-Mehr: A North American term used by the Zoroastrian faith to
refer to their house of worship. It literally means "a portal to all
that is good: charity, devotion, kindness and love."
Dasa Laxana: A Jain holy day which
recalls the ten important goals for a follower of Jainism.
Day of reckoning: Judgment day as described in the Bible: a time when all will be
judged and sent either to Hell or Heaven.
Day of the Covenant: Baha'is recall
the the covenant contained in the last will and testament of
Day of the Lord: A time when Christians believe that God will destroy all evil and
establish his kingdom on earth.
Days of awe: A Jewish term referring to the ten days from Rosh Hashanah
to Yom Kippur. It is a time of introspection.
Deacon: From the Greek word diakanos (servant). Originally a
church administrator. Currently, the term may refer to a low-ranking
member of the clergy, a lay minister, or a lay administrator.
Dead, cult of the: Worship of the deceased. Unlike ancestor
worship, cult of the dead involves the worship of the deceased by all,
not just by the kin of the ancestors.
Dead Sea Scrolls:
According to"The Da Vinci
Code" the scrolls consists of "some of the gospels that
Constantine attempted to eradicate. ... The Dead Sea Scrolls were found
in the 1950s hidden in a cave near Qumran in the Judean desert...these
documents speak of Christ's ministry in very human terms."
According to reality, the Dead Sea
Scrolls were actually found in the 1940s. They contained no gospels and
no mention of Jesus' ministry. In fact, the
scrolls contained no Christian writings at all; they were entirely made
up of Jewish documents. Except for the book of Esther, all books from the
Hebrew Scriptures are present, along with many documents from the Essene
Dean: As a religious term, it is most commonly used as an assistant to the bishop who runs
Death of God Theology: (a.k.a. Christian Atheism) This is a
belief that became popular in the 1960s among some Christian theologians.
Perhaps the most famous promoter of this concept was J.A.T. Robinson, a
bishop of the Church of England. He wrote in his book Honest to God that
the transcendent God described in the Bible is an outdated myth, but that the moral and ethical teachings of Jesus are valid.
Debate, religious: A formal discussion of the
truth or advantages of one or more faith groups or theological positions.
Deconversion: A term used most often by Atheists and Agnostics to
describe an individual's loss of faith in a religion with which they had
Deicide: The act of killing God. Until the mid 20th century, most
Christians held modern-day Jews responsible for killing God in the form of
Yeshua of Nazareth (a.k.a. Jesus Christ). The Catholic Church has partly
repudiated this belief. Most Protestant denominations have gone further. But
one still hears the occasional accusation of "Christ Killer" directed at
Deist: a person who believes in the existence of a remote,
unknowable deity, usually male, who created
the universe, but has not been involved with it since. Most of the
politicians who founded America were Deists.
Deity: a generic term used to refer to one or more supernatural
beings. It can refer to a single God, as is Judaism and Islam; a pair of
gods, as in Zoroastrianism; a Trinity as in Christianity and Hinduism; a
God and a Goddess as in Wicca and other Neopagan religions, etc. Plural
form is "deities."
The name of the creator according to the philosophy of Plato.
A creator-god viewed by Gnostics as
defective and inferior to
the supreme deity. This is the God of the Hebrew Scriptures (Old
Testament), a deity who they view / viewed as fundamentally evil,
jealous, rigid, lacking in compassion, and prone to genocide.
Demon: Originally an angel, it joined with Satan to oppose
God. Many conservative Christians believe that a person can be
possessed by a demon; some think that only non-Christians can be
possessed. Mental health professionals abandoned the concept of
demonic possession centuries ago.
Demoniac: An individual who is possessed by a demon.
Denomination: an established religious faith group within a religion, which has
usually been in existence for many years and has geographically widespread membership. It
typically unites a group of individual, local congregations into a single administrative body.
Deontological: a system of ethics based on
fixed rules which need to be followed in order for a person to be
ethically and morally justified in their decisions. The
Ten Commandments or the 613 Mosaic Laws in the
Torah are two examples. One's duty is to follow these defined rules of
conduct, regardless of the practical consequences. Antonym:
Deosil: The clockwise direction. The term is often used in
describing Wiccan and other Neopagan rituals.
Depravity, total: (a.k.a. Total inability)The doctrine, primarily held by conservative
Christians, that every part of a person has been hopelessly damaged by sin.
None would seek out God unless God first intervenes in their life. "Man
is spiritually dead and unable to save himself or even believe without God's
help." 1This is one of the five points of
Calvinism. See Romans 3:9.
Deprogramming: A criminal method of forcing a person to abandon
their religious or other beliefs, usually through kidnapping, forcible
confinement, and psychological pressure.
Deuterocanon: A series of books found in Bible translations used by
Catholics and some Anglicans. They consist of 1 & 2 Maccabees, Tobit, Judith,
Wisdom of Solomon, Sirach, Baruch, and parts of Daniel and Esther. They are
called the Apocrypha by Protestants, and were removed by them at the time of
the reformation in the 16th century.
Deutero Isaiah: A theological term referring to chapters 49 to 65
in the book of Isaiah. Religious liberals and most Bible historians believe
that this was written by a different author.
Devi: (Sanskrit for Goddess)Wikipedia describes her as a
Hindu goddess. "...synonymous with Shakti, the female aspect of the divine,
as conceptualized by the Shakta tradition of Hinduism.
Devil: Christian synonym for Satan: an all-evil former angel.
He is regarded by most progressive Christians as a mythical being who
symbolizes evil. He is regarded by most conservative Christians as an
extremely powerful personality -- a quasi-deity who is tempting every human
to do evil.
Dharma: This term has multiple meanings: The teachings of the
Buddha, truth; that which is established, customary, or proper; natural
law -- the way the universe works; one's duty and responsibility, etc.
Dharma Day: This celebrates the first teaching of the Buddha
after his enlightenment. (Not to be mistaken for Tuesday, when Dharma
and Greg situational comedy is broadcast. Sorry for the humor. ;-)
Dialog: In a religious sense, dialog refers to people from two or
more religious traditions meeting as equals to explain and explore their
religious beliefs and practices together. The aim is not conversion, debate, or
proselytizing; it is
to improve understanding, mutual respect, and personal growth. Dialog tends to
be rare when compared to instances of debate.
Diaspora: The forced exiles of the Jewish people from
Palestine by the Babylonians in the sixth century BCE
and by the Roman Empire in the middle of the 2nd century CE.
Diatessaron: The belief that the four Christian Gospels are in
harmony with each other. The term is often used to refer to the writing of
a very popular gospel by Tatian (120 - 173 CE) based on Matthew, Mark,
Luke and John.
Dichotomy: In the field of religion, the concept that a person is made up of a body and
a soul, or a body and a spirit. An opposing belief, also justified by reference
to biblical passages is trichotomy: the belief that a person is composed of
body, soul, and spirit.
Didache: a very early, short book describing Christian
rituals and beliefs.
Diocese: a geographical area under the jurisdiction of a
Diophysite: A person or group which believes in Diophysitism.
Diophysitism: This is the belief that Christ
had two natures: both divine and human. This concept won out after
extensive debate at the church council at Chalcedon in 451
CE. It is imbedded in the Chalcedonian Creed. An
opposing belief is Monophysitism.
Diocese: A geographical area in which a group of priests are under the
direction of a single bishop. The term is used by the Roman Catholic
church, the Greek Orthodox churches, and the Anglican Communion.
Disciples: In Christian usage, followers of Jesus. At one
time, Jesus had 12 disciples; at another time, 70 are mentioned.
Although those followers who were mentioned by name often in the
gospels were evenly split between women and men, only conflicting lists of male
Disfellowshipping: A practice of some Christian faith groups in
which a member has certain privileges removed in order to force them to
give up certain behaviors and beliefs. Within the LFD church -- commonly called
the Mormons -- a disfellowshipped member has certain privileges removed, but still remains
a member. Among the Jehovah's Witnesses, a person is shunned. This can
have devastating consequences to persons in a high-intensity religious
group whose entire support system involves fellow members.
Dispensation, Dispensationalism: The is the concept that all of
human history has been divided into seven distinct periods of time or
dispensations. They are often called: innocence, conscience, human
government, promise, law, grace and the Kingdom. God focused on the Hebrews
during some dispensations and on the church during others.
Dispensationalists see a major role for the state of Israel in the future, and
anticipate the second coming of Jesus in the immediate future.
Displacement, theology of: Alternative term for
Disappointment, great: The term is used to refer to the failed prophecy of William
Miller who predicted that Christ would return to earth in 1844.
Disassociate: a term used within the Jehovah's Witnesses to refer to an
apostate who has been severed from the organization..
Disestablishment: Cancellation of the official status of a
faith group as a country's official church. There is a growing support
that the state church in Britain, the Church of England, be
Disestablishmentarianism: The belief that there should no
longer be an official church in the country. The word
antidisestablishmentarianism is sometimes quoted as the longest word
in the English language. The longest word in any language may well be
the Welsh name of a town in Wales:
Dissociate: a mental condition in which the mind detaches itself from external
activity. A psychological term widely used in the treatment of persons who allegedly
suffer from Multiple Personality Disorder (MPD) a.k.a.
Dissociative Identity Disorder (DID). This is a controversial topic. Most mental health
professionals believe that MPD/DID is either extremely rare or nonexistent. Belief
in MPD/DID is rapidly declining among the public.
Divination: Any method of predicting future events.
Astrology, bird entrails, tarot cards, runes, even the shadow of a
groundhog near the end of winter have been used as tools of
divination. Divination was practiced by many persons mentioned in the
Bible (Joseph, high priests, Daniel). Some types of
divination are condemned by the Bible.
Diwali: A Hindu Festival of Lights. Gifts are exchanged;
fireworks are enjoyed
Docetism: From the Greek word for "image." An early belief about Christ in which Jesus was
believed to be a spirit who
merely appeared to be a human.
Doctrine: From the Latin word "doctrina" (doctor)
and the Greek "didaskolos" (teaching). A
body of beliefs that is taught. Within the field of religion, there is
often the assumption that a member must agree with all aspects of the
group's doctrine. The 1,000 or so Christian faith groups in North America
teach many different sets of conflicting doctrine. Many consider their own
doctrines to be absolutely true, and other groups' doctrines to be in
Documentary Hypothesis: The belief that the Pentateuch (the
first five books in the Bible) were not written by Moses, but by four
anonymous authors -- traditionally called J, E, P and D. Also involved
were one or more redactors who edited the writings into their present
form. Conservative Christians generally deny the hypothesis, and believe
that Moses wrote all five books -- except perhaps for the chapters that describe
his death and burial.
Dogma: From the Greek word "dogma" (a decree).A revealed truth defined by a faith group. It is
important to realize that one group's dogma is often another group's
Domestic partnership: A voluntary union of two
adult persons of the same sex. The couple typically receives some but not
all of the same benefits, obligations, and protections as married
opposite-sex couples are given. In the U.S., they are available in California.
See also civil unions.
Donatism: An early Christian leader from North Africa, Donatus,
promoted the belief that the validity of a sacrament was dependent on the
moral character of the priest who performed it. Two church synods later
declared this to be a heresy.
Doomsday cult: a religious group which is focused on the anticipated end of the
world in the near future. Often referred to as a destructive
Dormition of the Theotokos: On this day, the Greek Orthodox
Church commemorates the death, burial, resurrection and ascension into
heaven of the Virgin Mary.
Doubt, religious: "... a feeling of uncertainty toward, and a
questioning of, religious teachings and beliefs." 1
Downgraders: A term used to refer to Christian theologians
and clergy during the 1880s who were reacting to the widespread public
skepticism against miracles at the time. They instead taught the moral
leadership of Jesus, and were called "downgraders" as a result.
Dowsing: A type of divination, typically using a forked branch
or two sticks. They are used most often to locate underground sources of
water. Although belief in the effectiveness of dowsing is widespread,
carefully controlled studies have shown it to be useless.
Druids: A professional class of
individuals in ancient Celtic society who had various teaching, priestly,
legal, and ambassadorial functions. They are often portrayed as engaging
in human sacrifice. However, the only source for this belief are a single
reference in the wartime writings of Julius Caesar, who relied on
Druse: (a.k.a. Muwahhid, Mowahhidoon,
Mo'wa'he'doon, Taw'heed Faith):
The Druze are a fiercely
independent religious group with perhaps as many as a million members. They
are mainly concentrated in Lebanon around the base of Mount Hermon, and in
the mountains behind Beirut and Sidon. They broke away from Islam during the
10th century CE.
Dualism: In general, the belief that entities and concepts often appear in
pairs. They are generally opposites. Often one is considered good and the other bad.
The religion of Zoroastrianism recognizes one all-good deity and one who is
all-evil. Most conservative Christians believe that two, very powerful,
supernatural powers influence the world: God and Satan. Dualism" is often
used to refer to persons as being composed of body and soul, or to refer to
the universe as being made up of mind and matter.
Dual Covenant: This is the theological concept that God
has continued his
covenants with the Jewish people, and has established a new, parallel
covenant with the followers of Christianity. Opposing this belief is
the concept of Supercessionism: that God has
unilaterally terminated his covenants with the Jews, and transferred them
to Christians. The latter belief led to a great deal of
persecution of Jews by Christians; it is
now rejected within Christianity except for some conservative Protestant denominations.
Duotheist: Synonym for bitheist; 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.
Dussehra: An annual observance when Hindus celebrate the victory of Lord Rama over the
Dystheism: A belief that God exists, but is not good, although is not necessarily evil.
The following information sources were used to prepare and update the above
essay. The hyperlinks are not necessarily still active today.