Glossary of religious and spiritual terms
Starting with the letter "N"
|Nabi (a.k.a. Navi): Jewish and Muslim term for prophet.|
|Name it and Claim it: (a.k.a. Word of Faith movement, Health
& Wealth Gospel, Positive Confession, and Faith-formula). A group of
conservative Protestant para-church ministries 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. 2|
|Naturalism: The belief that phenomena in the universe are
explained by natural laws, and that there are no supernatural forces
||Natural marriage: The union of one man and one women to the
exclusion of all others, freely entered into, and hopefully for life. Most of the
eight family and marriage types mentioned in the
Bible do not represent natural marriage. The term is typically used by
individuals and groups opposed to same-sex marriage
who wish to keep marriage as a special privilege offered only to
opposite-sex couples. One implication of this term is that marriage by a same-sex couple would then be, by definition, unnatural.|
|Naturalistic Evolution: The belief
that new species of animals develop from existing species over a very
long interval of time, in response to purely natural forces and
processes -- i.e. without the intervention of a deity.|
|Near-death Experience: (acronym NDE): An often profoundly
moving experience that is sometimes felt by persons who have clinically
died and been brought back to life. It often involves the perception of
traveling through a tube towards a light. It is often associated with warm
feelings of acceptance and love. Some neurologists believe that the NDE
does not reflect reality, but is a normal hallucinogenic experience
generated by a brain that is being starved of oxygen.|
|Necromancy: Am attempt to communicate with the spirits of the
dead. This is forbidden in the Hebrew Scriptures (Old Testament).|
||Neit Hillel: From the Hebrew "House of Hillel). A liberal
religious school of belief derived from Hillel -- a notable liberal Jewish
philosopher and rabbi who lived during the 1st century BCE. Yeshua of
Nazareth (a.k.a. Jesus Christ) largely followed Hillel's teachings, except
over criteria for marital divorce.
|Nenju: Buddhist meditation beads.|
|Neo-orthodoxy: (a.k.a. Barthianism) A movement within
Christianity which was a reaction against liberalism, and based on the
leadership of Karl Barth (1886-1968). He taught that God is "so
far transcendent above man that there could be no communication between
man and God." God cannot be described in human language. Humans can
only communicate with God through the Bible, in spite of its human
origins. Barth accepted the theory of evolution and higher criticism.|
||Neopagan: (a.k.a. Neo-pagan, Pagan): A person who follows a religion which is reconstructed from,
or based upon, a ancient
Pagan religion. e.g. the Druidic religion is based on the faith
and practices of the ancient Celtic professional class; followers of Asatru adhere to the ancient, pre-Christian Norse religion; Wiccans trace their roots back to the pre-Christian era in Europe. Other Neo-pagans follow Roman,
Greek, Egyptian and other traditions. No Neopagan tradition recognizes an
all-evil deity similar to the Christian and Islamic Satan. Neopagans respect
other religions and the right of people to follow the faith of their
choice. Conservative usage: a form of Satanism.
||Neo-Pentecostalism: A synonym for the Charismatic movement.
||NeoPlatonism: An Alexandrian system of philosophy from the third
century CE. It mixed Jewish and Christian concepts with ideas from Plato and
other Greek philosophers and with Oriental mysticism.
||Neotheism (a.k.a. Open Theism or Open view of God): A belief that
God is not omniscient. In particular, God does not know what will happen in
the future with precision, because the future has not yet happened. Supporters of this belief back up their position
with biblical quotations.
||Neshoma: Jewish term for soul.
||New Age: Although it is often referred to as a religion, the
New Age is in reality an almost completely decentralized and
movement. It is composed of metaphysical bookstores, seminar
leaders, authors, teachers and user/believers of a variety of
techniques, such as channeling, past life regressions, pyramid
science, crystal power, etc. It is a free-flowing spiritual movement
-- a network of believers and practitioners -- where book publishers
take the place of a central organization; seminars, conventions, books
and informal groups replace of sermons and religious services. Conservative
usage: closely coordinated groups including occultists, Wiccans,
Satanists, astrologers, channelers, spiritists, etc.
||Nikah: Muslim term for marriage.
||Nilhilist: One who rejects almost every type of assertion about the nature of the
universe. Usually attributes no significance to humankind or to any meaning for existence.
||Nirvana: This is a Buddhist term which means a state of mind
where all suffering and dissonant emotions which give rise to suffering
have ceased and one is released from samsara -- the endless cycle of
birth, life, death and rebirth.
||Nissiun: A Jewish wedding ceremony.
||Noachide Covenant: A covenant that God made with Noah and his sons
after the great flood. In Acts 15, non-Jewish Christians were released from the
full requirements of the Hebrew Scriptures, but were expected to follow this
||The "Christmas" interval from DEC-24 to JAN-6.
||A French name given to boys; derived from noël
(Christmas). The female equivalent is Noelle. It is derived from the
Latin "natalis," referring to the birth of Jesus,
||An acronym for "No Observable Effect Level:" the greatest
concentration or amount of a chemical in a plant or animal that causes
no detectable adverse effect. Sometimes called NEL
||Non-denominational: The term generally refers
to evangelical Protestant congregations that are not affiliated with a
specific Christian denomination. The vast majority are fundamentalist in
their theological beliefs. Most "... are loosely Baptist in doctrine" 3 and are often
influenced by charismatic, Pentecostal, and Calvinist beliefs and
practices. They total about 6 million members in the U.S. Many congregations'
senior pastors lack a seminary degree. They have the highest proportion of
adults among all Christian groups with what Barna Research calls a "biblical
worldview." 3,4 The term
"non-denominational" should not be confused with terms like "inter-faith" or
"multi-faith" or "all faiths" or "all faith and ethical traditions" etc.
These are terms that indicate acceptance of Christianity, Judaism, Islam and
many other belief systems.
||NONES: Individuals who are not affiliated with a religion. This would include Agnostics, Apatheists, Atheists, Humanists, Deists, freethinkers, secularists, etc. The term was adopted in early 2013 by many religious information sources. There is one serious objection to the term: It is pronounced "nuns." On radio and TV, having the two words pronounced the same leads to confusion. See NOTA below.
||Normative Ethics: a study into ultimate values and how people should live their
||Normative principle: The belief, held by Lutherans and Anglicans that
whatever is not specifically forbidden in the Bible is allowed in the
church's practice, worship and organization.
NOTA: An acronym for "Not Affiliated" or "None Of The Above." It includes everyone not affiliated with a religious faith, including most Agnostics, Atheists, Humanists, Deists, freethinkers, secularists, etc. The media tends to use the term "Nones" instead. This is an awkward term to use because it is a homophone (sounds like the word) "nuns"
This is one of the two English words that we created many years ago in the hope that they would enter wide usage in the language. The other one was "Relism" which we changed to "Religism" on the advise of a visitor to our web site. It means bigotry and bias used to oppress or discriminate against others on the basis of their religion. It is similar to racism, sexism, xenophobia, homophobia, transphobia, etc. We have had no luck getting NOTA accepted, but a little better luck with Religism.
||Numerology: The use of numerical analysis to uncover hidden
knowledge. One of the most famous examples of numerology involves the
reference to the number of the beast -- 666 -- in Revelation 13:18. This
has led to numerous interpretations.
- "Neo-Orthodoxy," at:
- "A critical look at the 'Word of Faith' ministries," Ministry
Watch Reflections, 2003-OCT, at:
http://www.ministrywatch.com/ This is a PDF file. You may require software to read it. Software can be obtained free from:
- "A Biblical Worldview Has a Radical Effect on a Person's Life," Barna
Research, 2003-DEC-01, at:
- "Non-denominational Churches in america [sic]," WorshipQuest.org, at:
Copyright © 1996 to 2014 by Ontario Consultants on Religious Tolerance
Originally published on: 1996-MAR-11
Last update: 2015-DEC-18
Author: B.A. Robinson