Glossary of terms
Religious terms starting
with the letter "I"
|I Ching: A Chinese technique of predicting the future, based on
a book by the same name -- one of the five foundational books of
Confucianism. Yellow stocks or rods are cast in order to select one of 64
hexagrams (patterns of six lines which may be broken or continuous).|
|Idol: This has two main meanings:
|A drawing, statue, or other representation of an item in heaven
or earth, that is used for worship.|
|Anything in life that takes a position of priority over one's
relationship with God.|
|Idolatry: From the Greek: worship of a false god.|
|Iftar: A Muslim term referring to a meal eaten at
sunset that breaks a fast. |
|Ihram: A white seamless garment worn by male Muslims during the hajj
-- a pilgrimage to Mecca. It is normally in two pieces: one is wrapped around
the waist, and the other is draped over the left shoulder.|
|An acronym for Isis, Horus, and Seb -- the Egyptian trinity
consisting of the Mother, the Child and the Father.|
|The first three letters of the name Iesus, the Greek version of
|Illuminati: (a.k.a. the enlightened ones)|
|A group or individual who claim to be unusually enlightened.|
|A secret philosophical and political society established by Adam
Weishaupt in Germany in 1776. They promoted free thought and democracy.|
|A game involving trading cards.|
|A sinister organization believed to consist of evil men who control
world finances, and whose goal is world domination through world
government. Many consider this group to be non-existent.|
|Iman: A Muslim term meaning belief|
|Imam: A Muslim term for a national leader or the leader of worship
in a mosque.|
|Imitatio Dei: A Latin term for "imitation of the Gods." Taking on
godly values. Expressed in:|
|Leviticus 19:2: "Be holy because I, the LORD your God, am holy."|
|Matthew 5:48: "Therefore you are to be perfect, as your heavenly
Father is perfect."|
|Immaculate Conception: The belief that before the birth of Mary (the mother of
Jesus) was born, she was preserved from original sin at the time of her
conception, circa 20 BCE. It is
widely but incorrectly believed to refer to Jesus' conception, circa 5 to 8
|Immanence: the concept that God is very much associated with creation, is
all-present in the world, and is close to believers.|
|Immerse, immersion: |
|Baptists and some other Christian groups generally translate the
Greek words baptizo and baptisma as implying the total immersion of a
convert during baptism.|
|Many other Christian denominations believe that the words can also
imply washing, without any specific description of the method. Thus, a
baptism by sprinkling is biblically valid.|
|Imminence: the belief that an event is about to occur in the
near future. e.g. the Second Coming.|
|Immorality: Behavior which transgresses a given system of
morals; incorrect behavior. Liberal and conservative Christians differ in
many matters over what is moral, even though both sincerely believe that
their positions are biblically based. Moral standards change over time,
even within a given religious group. Church schisms were common in the mid
19th century over slavery because parts of a denomination considered
slavery to be profoundly immoral, while other believers believed that it
was condoned, regulated and accepted by the Bible. Major moral shifts over
the past 150 years have involved slavery, inoculation of children, birth
control, abortion, sexism, racial segregation, discipline of children
through the use of pain, and homophobia.|
||God has traditionally been considered to be immortal, there having
been no point at which he has not existed.|
|Humans who have been saved have traditionally been considered to be
immortal in that they will continue to exist in Heaven after death. |
|Most Christian groups teach that the unsaved are also immortal in
that they will continue to exist in Hell for all eternity after death.
Other faith groups teach annihilationism.|
||Impeccability: The concept that Jesus Christ could not have
sinned, even if he had wanted to.
||Imprecation: A curse that invokes evil on one or more persons.
||Imprecatory prayer: To pray to God asking him to curse and bring
evil upon one or more persons. A biblical example is found in Psalms 109 when
Jeremiah was being slandered. He asked God to punish the slanderer. 4
||Imputation: Adam and Eve's sinful disobeying of Gods instruction when they ate the fruit of the tree of the
knowledge of good and evil has been assigned to their children, their
grandchildren, and all the way to present-day humanity forever. Holding one person responsible for the sins of another individual is rare in the field
of religion and in secular moral systems. However, it is quite common in the Bible.
||Inability, total: Alternative term for Total Depravity.
||Incarnation: The embodying of a spiritual entity in physical
form. Within Christianity: the concept that God became a man, Yeshua of
Nazareth (Jesus Christ) and dwelt
among other humans. This was rejected by the Gnostic Christians, the Ebionites and other Jewish Christians, but
accepted by Pauline Christians.
||Inclusion: In general usage, inclusion means to allow people
into a group; i.e. excluding nobody. In relation to salvation, the "Gospel of Inclusion" means a belief that
everyone -- or almost everyone -- will be saved, will attain Heaven and avoid Hell. This is a heresy according to conservative Christians, and an accurate interpretation of
the Bible according to liberal Christians. 1
||Inclusivism: The recognition that
ones belief system is
the only true and valid one. Beliefs of other religions contain some
truth, and their followers are deserving of respect, even though those
beliefs might be in conflict
with one's own view of the truth. Opposing beliefs are exclusivism and pluralism. More
||Incubus: (Plural: Incubi)
A male demon who would visit sleeping women at night and engage
in sexual activity. This belief was commonly held during the late Middle
Ages and Renaissance. There were also female demons, called succubi who
were believed to visit men.
||Indulgence: Originally an ancient practice by which a person could pay money to
the church or do a good deed and obtain remission of the temporal
punishment in Purgatory due to sin. After the Protestant Reformation, cash no longer
became an acceptable way to obtain an indulgence.
||Inerrant: When applied to a sacred
text like the Bible, inerrancy is
the belief that, as originally written, its
contents are infallible, totally free of error and totally authoritative. Many religions,
particularly their conservative wings, believe in the inerrancy of their particular sacred texts and deny the inerrancy of the texts of other religions. However, the concept of inerrancy is weakened when multiple, contrasting and conflicting meanings can be derived from the same passage. It is also weakened when the clear meaning of some passages differ from that of other passages. There are many passages that appear ambiguous because different intelligent, thoughtful, sincere, competent theologians derive confilicting meanings from them. There are also many passages which such theologians find in conflict.
||Inerrancy, limited: This is the belief that the Bible is
only inerrant on matters of moral, spiritual and religious truth. That is,
biblical passages that describes cosmology, origins of life, the Earth and
the rest of the universe, place names, some events, etc. are not necessarily
||When applied to a sacred text like the Bible, infallible means that the text is fully trustworthy. i.e. it does not deceive
the reader into falsehood. There are problems
with this concept, because even within the conservative wing of
Christianity, Bible experts reach many different conclusions about divorce, hell, the millennium, Book of Revelation, and creation/evolution, etc. Since these theologians' beliefs are mutually exclusive, most must be
wrong. Since they were all derived from the Bible, the concept of
biblical infallibility is suspect.
||Within the Roman Catholic Church, the belief that the pope can speak
on matters of faith and morals without error. This belief was
promulgated in 1870. The pope stripped Hans Küng
of his credentials as a teacher of Catholic theology, largely because of
his questioning of the doctrine of Papal infallibility.
||Infidel: a person who does not believe in your particular religion, denomination
or religious tradition. Similar to "Unbeliever" but more of a "snarl"
word. Atheists-online have T-shirts available with the definition "INDIFEL: One
who does not believe in your God." See atheists-online.com/
||Initial evidence: A doctrine formed from the Book of Acts. It
holds that speaking in tongues is the initial evidence of the baptism in
the Holy Spirit. Both the United Pentecostal Church and the Assemblies of God believe this doctrine. The, UPC further believes
that this experience is essential to salvation. i.e. if you haven't spoken
in tongues, you haven't been saved. 2
||Inmarry, inmarried: A couple who both follow the same religion, and perhaps the same denomination/sect/tradition of the same religion.
||Inquisition: An organization within the Roman Catholic Church
which was responsible for the elimination of heretics. They were the final court
of appeal for those charged with heresy. Those who could be proven to be
heretics were turned over to the civil authority for execution. This arm of
the church was created in 1542 as the "Sacred Congregation of the
Universal Inquisition." It went through two name changes, being called
the "Congregatio pro Doctrina Fidei" (Sacred Congregation for the
Doctrine of the Faith) in 1965. "Sacred" was dropped in 1983. It was
headed by Cardinal Josef Ratzinger until his election as pope in 2005.
||INRI: An acronym for the Latin phrase "Iesus Nazarenus Rex
Iudaeorum" which means: "Jesus of Nazareth, King of the Jews"
||Inspiration: When applied to a sacred text like the Bible, inspiration means that the God affected the thought
processes of the writers and prevented them from writing any
material that was in error. A logical result of inspiration is that the
original text of the Bible was inerrant.
||Intention: The belief in the Roman Catholic church that the
efficacy of the administration of a sacrament is dependant on the priest
having the proper intent.
||Intercession: An activity of Christ in which he is believed to advocate to
God the Father the in favor of one or more individuals
||Interdict, Interdiction: A prohibition by the pope that can
deprive individual persons, groups, communities and even nations of all
priestly ministry. Thus, they no longer had access to the sacraments of
||Interfaith (a.k.a. inter-faith): An attempt to initiate dialog, cooperation, and
understanding among individuals of two different faiths. It is also
used to refer to a relationship or marriage between people of different
faiths. It is
occasionally used as a synonym for "multi-faith." Unfortunately, the
term "faith" is defined differently by various religious groups. For
example, some conservative Protestants regard a marriage to a person who is
not of their denomination to be an interfaith marriage. Other conservative
Protestants would regard liberal Christians, Roman Catholics, Mormons,
etc. as being of a different faith.
Still other Christians interpret "interfaith" as involving another
religion, as in a Christian-Buddhist exchange.
||Interfaithism: A belief that all religions are equally valid;
they all lead to God. This word is used almost entirely among
conservative Protestants. One of the two main meanings of the word "pluralism"
is a synonym for "interfaithism."
||Interreligious: A synonym for "interfaith."
||Intertestamental period: The interval of time between the writing
of Nehemiah, perhaps the last book to be written in the Hebrew Scriptures
(Old Testament), and the writing of 1 Thessalonians, the first book to be
written in the Christian Scriptures (New Testament). The interval covers
circa 400 BCE to 51 CE. Books
that form the Apocrypha were written during this
interval. Most mainline and liberal religious historians date the writing of
the book of Daniel in the middle of the Intertestamental period, to about
||Intincture: To some Christians, this is the communion
practice in which the believer takes the bread or host, carries it to
the wine, dips it, and then consumes it. In the Roman Catholic church,
intincture involves the priest dipping the host in the wine and
placing it on the tongue of the communicant.
||Irresistible Grace: This is the fourth of The Five Points of Calvinism: the belief that it is
impossible for a person whom God has elected to avoid coming to a knowledge of God.
||Irtidãd: Literally: "turning
back". In Islam, this is the act of apostasy -- leaving Islam for another religion or
for a secular lifestyle.
||Islam:The second largest religion in
the world. It has over 1,164 million followers, about 20% of the
world's population, and is rapidly growing. It is based on the Qur'an, which is said to have
been dictated to the Prophet Mohammed by the angel Jibril (a.k.a.
Jibreel; Gabriel in English) in 622 CE.
This is the largest of the purely monotheistic faiths. Members are
found in large numbers throughout Africa, the Middle East and Asia.
||Islamic: Synonym for "Muslim," a follower of Islam.
||Islamism: An Islamic revivalist movement, often characterized by moral conservatism, literalism, and the attempt to forcibly implement Islamic values in all spheres of life.
||Islamists: These are Fundamentalist Muslims who are attempting
to replace secular governments with Islamic theocracies. Mainstream
Islamists do this by peaceful means of persuasion. Violent, extremist,
radical, militant Fundamentalist Islamists use violence and terrorism as their main means
of effecting change.
||Islamophobia: "Fear and/or hatred of Muslims, or of the religion of Islam, and/or a desire to
limit the civil liberties of Muslims. This word corresponds to sexism,
racism, religism, homophobia, transphobia and xenophobia in areas related to gender, race, religion, sexual
orientation, gender identity and nationality. It corresponds to anti-semitism and Christianophobia in topics related to Judaism and Christianity. It is often exhibited by a person or attributing the
actions of a few extreme, violent, Fundamentalist Muslim terrorists to the
entire population of Muslims.
||Isogesis: Reading something into a document. One starts with
a belief and searches a document for supporting passages. Often used
with reference to the Bible. A potential hazard is that the interpreter
may quote a verse out of context with considering the rest of the
passage or other passages in the rest of the Bible which may express conflicting views.
- Carlton D. Pearson, "Jesus: The savior of the World (The Gospel of
- Mark MvNeil, "Is speaking with tongues the initial evidence of the
spirit baptism?," at:
- "Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith," Answers.com, at:
- Walter Kay, "Imprecatory Prayer," at:
Copyright © 1996 to 2013 by Ontario Consultants on Religious Tolerance
Originally written on: 1996-MAR-11
Most recent update: 2014-DEC-08
Author: B.A. Robinson