Glossary of religious and spiritual terms
Starting with the letters "EV" to "EX." Words
beginning with "EA" to "EU" are listed elsewhere.
|Evangelical: "Evangelical" is not a
well-defined term with a universally accepted meaning. It normally refers to a major portion of the conservative
"wing" of Protestant Christianity. In a study comparing
Evangelical and mainline denominations, a Princeton University study
included the following as Evangelical denominations: Assemblies of God,
Southern Baptists, Independent Baptists, black Protestants, African
Methodist Episcopal, African Methodist Episcopal Zion; Church of Christ,
Churches of God in Christ, Lutheran Church - Missouri Synod, National
Baptist Church, National Progressive Baptist Church, Nondenominational,
Pentecostal denominations, and the Presbyterian Church in America. 1
Evangelicals tend to take very conservative views on social matters, like
access to abortion, equal rights for gays and lesbians, etc. Many
Evangelical congregations serve parishioners who are alomost entirely of a single
Fundamentalists comprise the most conservative wing of Evangelicalism. Most Evangelicals tend to be less anti-scientific and less literal in their
interpretation of Biblical passages than are Fundamentalists.
believe in the historical doctrines of the Christian church:
- The original writings of the Bible, were
inerrant (without error).
- Jesus Christ was born of a
- Atonement: that through Jesus'
death, the relationship between God and Man (which had been damaged
by Adam and Eve's sin) has been restored.
- Resurrection: that after
Jesus' death and burial, he arose again.
- Second coming: that Jesus return to earth is imminent.
- Incarnation: that God appeared on earth in human form, as Jesus.
- Justification: an act of God in which any person who accepts
that they have sinned and who believes in the atonement of Christ is
forgiven of their sins and brought into a close relationship with
- Regeneration of the spirit: that a new believer undergoes a
- Inspiration: that the
authors of the Bible were inspired by the Holy Spirit.
- God exists as a Trinity, consisting of the Father, Son
and Holy Spirit.
- Satan is a created
being, was once an angel but is now an all-evil tormentor of
- Salvation is
attained by repentance of one's sins and trusting Jesus as Lord and Savior.
- Heaven and Hell exist; the former is a place of eternal reward; the latter is a place of never-ending
torture without mercy or any hope of cessation.
There are many additional beliefs regarded as important by various Evangelical
organizations. For example, the Southern Baptist Convention requires its
employees to sign a loyalty oath which includes the belief that the authors of the Gospels
were in fact named Matthew, Mark, Luke and John. Some Evangelical institutions refuse to
hire faculty who believe that women should be eligible for ordination.
The name "evangelical" was originally used to refer to those faith groups
which followed traditional Christian beliefs, in contrast with two other movements:
philosophical rationalism and legalistic Christianity. The Evangelical Lutheran Church
in America, and Wisconsin Evangelical Lutheran Synod total about 6 million
members and are not part of the present-day Evangelical movement.
More information on the definition of Evangelical
|Evangelize: To explain ones beliefs to another in the
hope that they might wish to adopt them. The word is sometimes used as a
synonym for "Proselytize" -- to actively attempt to convert another person to your
||Evemerism: See Euhemerism|
|Evidential, Evidentialism, Evidentialist: This refers to a method of attempting
to prove the validity of Christianity by starting with the assumption (or
attempt to prove) that
God exists and continuing with the use of reason. An alternate method is
||Evil: An act that is considered profoundly immoral, wicked and depraved. This is a relative term. For example, the Nazi Holocaust, a.k.a. the Shoa in Judaism, and The Devowering by the Roma is generally regarded as the most extreme example of evil during the 20th century. However, among most German Nazis,
the genocide to make Europe Judenfrei (free of Jews) and to exterminate all Roma was considered a noble quest.|
|Evil one: A Christian synonym for Satan: a fallen angel.
|Evolution, Naturalistic: (From the Greek "evolutio"
meaning unrolling or turning out). The term has multiple meanings. It is often
necessary to examine an essay, speech or article carefully in order to
determine which meaning is being used.
|Strictly speaking, it is deals only with life forms on earth; the
term refers to gradual change over long periods of time of plant and
animal species due to natural processes and forces, including the
appearance and extinction of many species. |
|In a popular sense, it is one of many cosmogonies (models
of origins) commonly accepted in North America. It states that the
earth, including its life forms, and the rest of the universe formed
over the past approximately 14 billion years due to natural processes
and forces. People often discuss the evolution of: the universe, of individual
stars, solar systems, earth formation, species of life on earth, etc.|
|Also in a popular sense, the term is used to refer to anything that
changes over time, such as the evolution of religious beliefs, political
concepts, economic models, child discipline methods, etc.
|Evolution, Theistic: One of three main cosmogonies (models
of origins) commonly accepted in North America. It accepts the
observations of naturalistic evolution but states that God guided and
used evolution as a method of forming the multiplicity of species of
life, the rest of the Earth and the rest of the universe.
|Evolutionist: A term used by Evangelical Christians to refer to over 99% of earth and biological
scientists who use and support the theory of evolution in their professional work.
The term is not used by scientists themselves.
|Exclusivism: The belief that one's truth (or faith
group or religion) is the only truly valid truth (or faith group or religion). This is a
very common belief among monotheistic faiths, and among other religions as well.
It has historically been a foundation of religiously motivated
oppression, mass murder, mass crimes against
humanity and genocide. Alternative beliefs towards other religions
are inclusivism and
|Excommunication: The enforced separation of a Christian from
her or his denomination, done for the good of the individual and the faith
group, with the intent of changing the individual's behavior so that they
can be welcomed back. Unfortunately, in many high-intensity/high
commitment religious groups, where a member's entire support network
consists of fellow members, excommunication can lead to depression and
|Exegesis: Analyzing passages from a document -- often the Bible
-- to understand what it meant to its author and others in the author's
|Exaltation of Christ: This consists of Christ's resurrection,
ascension to heaven, sitting at the right hand of God, and second coming.
|Exaltation (LDS and other Mormon Churches):
a.k.a. Eternal Progression. This "...is a belief among members of many
Mormon denominations that mankind, as spirit children of their Father in
Heaven, can become like him. Exaltation is the highest goal of a Mormon, to
become as God is. The highest goal is to learn to become like God, who is
perfect in attributes and perfections. Exaltation means to live the life
that God lives and to obtain the co-equal position of godhood." 2
These beliefs are regarded as blasphemy and heresy by essentially all non-Mormon Christian faith groups, and are largely
responsible for anti-Mormon feelings among many Christians.
||Exceptionalism: This is the the belief that God gave America a special role in human history. Almost 60% of American adults affirm this belief. Those that believe in exceptionalism are more likely to support military interventions in foreign countries and to believe that torture of prisoners is sometimes justified.|
||Exegesis: This means "to lead" or "to bring out." It is most commonly used to refer to "bringing out" of Scripture the message that is contained there. Unfortunately, people generally bring their culture and beliefs to the Bible which distort the actual meaning of the text. A good example is the analysis of Genesis 19, the story of God's genocide at Sodom and Gomorrah. Some groups interpret this as God's condemnation of same-gender sexual behavior by men or women. Others interpret this as God's condemnation of males attempting to rape other males, or rape males of a different species (angels in this case) or of using rape to humiliate strangers who were visiting the rapists' city. Sadly, both groups often believe that their execesis, alone, is the only correct one. They essentially never dialogue with each other.|
|Existentialism: This is both a philosophical and literary
movement which teaches that:|
|Life has no intrinsic meaning, other than what an individual gives
|Individual existence takes precedence over abstract concepts;|
|Humans are totally free and responsible for their own actions;|
||No absolute values exist other than those that are grounded in human experience.
||Exodus: A mass movement of people from an area or country. It
often refers to the alleged departure of Hebrews from slavery in Egypt,
variously dated as happening sometime between 1440 and 1290 BCE. "Exodus" is the name of the
second book in the Pentateuch -- the first five books of the Hebrew Scriptures.|
|Exorcism: The act of driving one or more evil spirits from the
body of a person.
|Externalist: A Buddhist term for an individual who follows a
|Extraction evangelism: A technique of drawing non-Christians
individuals out of their culture of origin and converting them to
conservative Protestantism. This has been criticized for its destructive
effect on those families in which only some members convert to Christianity.
|Extrasensory Perception: (acronym ESP) The
ability of a person to sense the world using powers beyond the five
senses. This often takes the form of reading cards being dealt in another
room, viewing events in a remote location, sensing auras, predicting the
future, etc. A prize of over one million
dollars awaits anyone who can prove that they have some form of ESP.
||Extreme Unction (a.k.a. Unction and Anointing of the sick): A sacrament of the Roman Catholic church in
which a seriously ill person is anointed with oil that has been consecrated by a
bishop. It's purpose is to obtain the remission of sins and to restore the
person to health. To our knowledge, the efficacy of extreme unction to
make a person healthy has never been scientifically evaluated.|
- Robert Wuthnow, "Study on Religion and Politics Finds Widespread
Interest in Progressive Issues: Survey Suggests Political Potential of
Mainline Protestants," at:
- "Exaltation (LDS Church), Wikipedia, at:
http://en.wikipedia.org/ Search for "Exaltation"
Copyright © 1996 to 2014 by Ontario Consultants on Religious Tolerance
Originally written on: 1996-MAR-11
Last update: 2014-APR-21
Author: B.A. Robinson