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Glossary of religious and spiritual terms

Words & phrases starting with letters "HA" to "HE"

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Words and phrases starting with "HI" to "HY" are listed separately

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bullet Hadavar: Hebrew for "the thing that cannot be described." A term used to refer to Yahweh. Many Jews consider the use of God's name directly to be forbidden or restricted.

bullet Hades: A Greek term generally translated "Hell" in the King James Version of the Bible. Beliefs about Hades are divided:
bullet Some Christians believe that Hades is a place where the spirits of unsaved persons and of believers who died before the ascension of Christ temporarily reside until the day of judgment. Then, the unsaved will be thrown into the lake of fire; the believers will attain heaven.

bullet Others believe that Hades and Sheol are Hell where the unsaved are tortured for all eternity.

bullet Hadith: The recorded sayings and practices of Mohammed. Some were written down during the Prophet's life; most were collected and written down after his death.

bullet Hajj: A pilgrimage to Mecca and Medina in Saudi Arabia which every Muslim is expected to perform at least once during their lifetime, if they are physically and financially able.

bullet Hajji: A Muslim who has performed a Hajj. The term is used as a pejorative by some U.S. troops in Iraq.

bullet Halacha (a.k.a. Halaka., Halakha): Jewish law custom, practice or rite.

bullet Halal: A set of Islamic dietary laws which regulate the slaughter of animals and the preparation of food. A growing number of supermarkets display Halal meat along side Jewish Kosher meat. Some animal rights groups oppose the halal slaughter of animals because they feel it subjects them to unnecessary stress and pain.

bullet Hallelujah: A shout or song of praise to God. "Hallel" means "praise." "Jah" is an abbreviation of "YWVH." It appears in many places throughout the last third of the book of Psalms. It is occasionally used as a first name, most commonly for girls.

bullet Halloween:
bullet Secular meaning: an annual children's celebration on the evening of each OCT-31. Children dress up in costumes and go to homes in their neighborhood to collect candy.

bullet Pagan meaning: Wiccans and other Neopagans celebrate the major Sabbat of Samhain on this day. It is the end of the Wiccan year, marking the transition between the warm and the cold season.

bullet Christian meaning: All Hallow's Eve, a Roman Catholic observance of the night before All Saints' Day.

bullet Satanic meaning: One of three major seasonal days of celebration -- the other two being Walpurgisnacht (APR-30) and the member's birthday.

bullet Handfasting: A Neopagan wedding. Some religious traditions assign it a length of a year and a day. It can be registered with the government as a marriage if the priest/priestess performing the handfasting is registered to perform weddings.

bullet Haram (a.k.a. haraam): An Islamic term for a forbidden action.

bullet Harg: A stone altar in Norse Heathenism.

bullet HaShem: Hebrew for "the name." A term used to refer to Yahweh. Many Jews consider the use of God's name directly to be forbidden or restricted.

bullet Health & Wealth Gospel: (a.k.a. Word of Faith movement, Positive Confession, Name it and Claim it, and Faith-formula). A group of conservative Protestant para-church ministries and denominations which focus on "anointed" ministers and the health, wealth, and success of their viewers and donors. MinistryWatch estimates that their total income is in excess of a half billion dollars annually. 1

bullet Heathen: Originally people of the heath or moor. Originally, it was a Christian term to denigrate followers of the old, pre-Christian Religion. Followers of Asatru and other ancient reconstructed aboriginal religions have embraced the term.

bullet Heaven:
bullet In the Old Testament, Heaven referred to the region where God lived. It was above the firmament which was believed to be a solid metal dome located a few hundred feet above the earth.

bullet In Christianity it is the abode of God, the Father's House, where selected individuals go after death to be with God. Faith groups differ in their belief about what criteria are used to determine who will attain heaven after death -- whether it be good works or correct beliefs or a mixture of the two.

bullet Paradise is the name used to refer to Heaven within Islam.

bullet Hebephile: This is a word whose meaning is changing. In the past, it referred to an adult who is sexually attracted to post-pubescent persons under the age of 18. Currently, it is evolving to include older teens as perpetrators. See pedophile.

bullet Hell: one of two destinations for an individual after death in the Christian, Muslim and some other religions. Various groups within Christianity believe that a person goes there because of their beliefs or their actions, or some combination of beliefs and actions. Up to the early part of the 20th century, Hell was generally believed to be a place of eternal punishment and torment. Lately, more groups describe it as a simple isolation from God. Liberal religious groups generally treat biblical passages on Hell as symbolic. See also Universalism. In the King James Version of the Bible, the Hebrew word sheol and Greek word hades (two very different concepts) are both generally translated as Hell.

bullet Hellenism: A general term referring to the influence that Greek Pagan culture had on other societies between the time of Alexander the Great (333 BCE) to 76 BCE when the Romans rose to power. Judaism was profoundly influenced by Hellenism after the conquest of Palestine by the Greeks in the second century BCE.

bullet Henotheism. belief in many deities of which only one is the supreme deity. This may involve:
bullet One chief God and multiple gods and goddesses of lesser power and importance. Ancient Greek and Roman religions were of this type.
bullet One supreme God, and multiple gods and goddesses who are all simply manifestations or aspects of the supreme God. Hinduism is one example; they recognize Brahman as the single deity. Some Wiccans believe in a single deity about which they know little. They call the deity "The One" or "The All." They recognize the God and Goddess as the male and female aspects of that supreme deity.

bullet One supreme God who rules over a country, and many other gods and goddesses who have similar jurisdiction over other territories. Liberal theologians believe that the ancient Israelites were henotheists; they worshipped Jehovah as the supreme God over Israel, but recognized the existence of Baal and other deities who ruled over other tribes. Over time, monotheistic belief developed and Yahweh was regarded as the only deity.

bullet Heptateuch: From a pair of Greek words for "seven" and "container." It refers to the first seven books of the Hebrew Scriptures -- the Pentateuch and the books of Joshua and Judges. Some theologians believe that these books should be considered as a unit because they believe that the books were composed from the same literary sources.

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bullet Herem esh-Sheif: Arabic for "Noble Sanctuary." The area in Jerusalem where the Dome of the Rock and the Al-Aqsa Mosque are located. Most historians believe that the Jewish Temple once stood there.

bullet Heresy: From a Greek word for sub-group or sect: Beliefs that are forbidden by the policy-deciding body of a faith group. Heresy is a relative term, because one group's heresy is frequently another group's required belief or dogma, and vice-versa. Consider, for example, the different criteria for salvation as taught by three Christian groups: the Roman Catholic Church, the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints (Mormons), and Fundamentalist protestants. One group's required belief may also be the same group's condemned past heresy (and vice-versa). Heresies are inevitable in religion because there does not appear to be any simple mechanism by which religious disagreements can be resolved -- either through reason or by assessing the will of God. More information.

bullet Heresiologist: An individual who studies heresies.

bullet Heresiology: The study of heresies. The Counter Cult Movement within conservative Protestantism defines all faith groups that deviate from traditional Christian beliefs to be both heretics and cults.

bullet Heretic: a person who believes in one or more heresies.

bullet Hermeneutics: The word was derived from the Pagan Greek myth of Hermes. A study of methods used to interpreting the Bible.

bullet Hermeticism: A Pagan religion that started in Egypt in the 2nd or 3rd century BCE. Its followers believed that its beliefs were revealed to their founder Hermes by his divine father. They taught that a person on earth is a mortal god and that God is an immortal man. It was one of the main competitors to early Christianity. Some religious historians trace certain Mormon beliefs to Hermeticism.

bullet Herodian: An interval of Jewish history from 30 BCE to 70 CE. Named after Herod the Great who reigned from 37 to 4 BCE.

bullet Heterodox: Greek for "other opinioned." Beliefs that deviate from accepted doctrines. Antonym of orthodox. It is important to realize that one group's orthodoxy is another group's heterodoxy.

bullet Heterosexism: "....An an ideological system that denies, denigrates, and stigmatizes any non-heterosexual form of behavior, identity, relationship, or community. Heterosexism is reflected by personal assumptions that everyone in the world is, or should be, heterosexual."

bullet Heterosexual: A person who is sexually attracted only to members of the opposite sex. Conservative Christian definition: a person who is sexually active with members of the opposite sex and not with members of the same sex."

bullet Hexateuch: A theological term for the first six books of the Hebrew Scriptures (Old Testament): The Torah (Genesis, Exodus, Leviticus, Numbers, and Deuteronomy) and the book of Joshua.

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This list continues...

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Reference used:

  1. "A critical look at the 'Word of Faith' ministries," Ministry Watch Reflections, 2003-OCT, at: This is a PDF file. You may require software to read it. Software can be obtained free from: 

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Copyright 1996 to 2013 by Ontario Consultants on Religious Tolerance
Originally written on: 1996-MAR-11
Last update: 2013-OCT-06
Author: B.A. Robinson


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