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Religious terms starting
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See elsewhere for terms starting with the letters PA or PB to PQ

bullet Prayer: The act of attempting to verbally communicate with the supernatural. It is found in almost all the religions of the world.  Communal prayer, as during a church service, is forbidden in Matthew 6:5-8 in favor of private prayer in isolation. Its purpose within Christianity is to assess the will of God for one's life, to commune with God, to praise God, to give thanks to God, to repent of sinful behavior, to ask forgiveness, to seek a favor from God, and (occasionally) to ask God to curse an opponent.
bullet Predestination: This is a controversial doctrine promoted by John Calvin and other theologians. God has divided humanity into two groups: a small percentage of people who God will save and who will attain heaven. God has decided to not save a much larger group; they will spend eternity being tortured without mercy in Hell. Only after God chooses an individual can they understand and accept salvation.

bullet Pregnancy, start of:
bullet General medical definition: Pregnancy begins when the pre-embryo attaches to the wall of the uterus, about 12 days after conception.

bullet Common pro-life definitions: Pregnancy begins at conception, or shortly afterwards when a unique DNA is formed.

bullet The difference in definitions makes dialog concerning abortion and emergency contraception (a.k.a. the morning after pill) very difficult. More info.
bullet Prelate: From the Latin praelatus which means to be set above. A prelate is a high ranking Christian ecclesiastic, typically a cardinal, bishop, or abbot.
bullet Premillennialism: a belief that the moral condition of the world is degenerating, that a period of great suffering will occur in the near future, that "born again" believers will rise from the earth to be with Jesus, and that Jesus Christ will establish himself as king and start a 1,000 year period of peace. Originally a Christian heresy in the early church, this belief is now promoted by most Evangelical Christians.
bullet Presbyterian:
bullet The name of a Christian denomination, like the Presbyterian Church, USA, who trace their spiritual roots back to Calvin.

bullet A method of church government by the ministers and representative elders from each congregation in a given district.
bullet Presuppositionalism: a conservative Christian method of apologetics that accepts on faith that God exists and that the Bible is true. No attempt is made to prove these beliefs logically or from evidence. Leading proponents of presuppositional apologetics include Greg Bahsen, John Frame, Abraham Kuyper, and Cornelius Van Til. An alternate approach is evidentialism.
bullet Preterism: A Christian belief system in which some or all of the end-time events specified in the Christian Scriptures (New Testament) are believed to have already been fulfilled. They were accomplished in the past, particularly during the Roman-Jewish war of 66 to 73 CE.
bullet Preterist: A Christian who believes in Preterism.
bullet Prevenient grace: (a.k.a. prevenial grace) An Armenian belief found in Methodism and the Wesleyan movement. It teaches that the natural person is so hopelessly fallen due to the sin of Adam and Eve that they are totally unable to sense the need for salvation. However, God extends to humans sufficient grace so that, through the use of free will, they may accept salvation.
bullet Pre-wrath Rapture (a.k.a. prewrath rapture): The belief among some evangelical Christians that born-again Christians will have to endure much of the tribulation on Earth.
bullet Priest:
bullet A religious leader found in ancient Judaism, ancient and modern Paganism, and modern-day Roman Catholicism, the Anglican Communion, Eastern Orthodox Christianity, Hinduism, etc.
bullet A male Wiccan or other Neopagan.
bullet Female religious leaders are sometimes called priestesses -- as in the case of Neopagans -- and sometimes called priests -- as in the case of Anglicans, and are sometimes prohibited from becoming leaders, -- as in the case of many religiously conservative faith groups.
bullet Priesthood of all believers: The belief that saved individuals can have access to God directly, without the need for a professional priesthood to act as intermediaries.
bullet Pro-aborts: A derogatory term used mainly by U.S. religious and social conservatives to refer both to the majority of American adults who favor abortion access (pro-choicers), and to the small number of Americans who actively promote abortion as a solution to unwanted pregnancy.
bullet Pro-choice: A belief that pregnant women should have free, or relatively free, access to abortion. There is a range of beliefs among people who consider themselves pro-choice: some would allow the woman to have an abortion for any reason up to the moment of birth. Others would restrict access to abortion under various conditions. Common reasons held by some pro-choice advocates include a pregnancy in its later stages when the fetus is sentient, abortions for the purpose of sex selection, and/or cases where the fetus is minimally genetically defective There is no consensus on the meaning of the term, although many people hold firmly to their own definition as the only correct one.
bullet Pro-life: A belief that pregnant women should have limited or no access to abortion. There is a range of beliefs among people who consider themselves pro-life: some would allow the woman and the fetus to die rather than terminate the life of the fetus; others would allow abortion for specific reasons but criminalize it under all other situations. Common reasons held by some pro-life advocates to allow abortion are: pregnancies resulting from rape, pregnancies arising from incest, pregnancies in which the fetus is very seriously genetically malformed and would quickly die, and/or pregnancies that would seriously harm the health and perhaps cause permanent disability to the woman if they are not terminated. There is no consensus on the meaning of the term "pro-life", although many people hold firmly to their own definition as the only correct one. In recent years, the meaning of the term has expanded to include matters related to assisted suicide, in-vitro fertilization, the death penalty, pre-implantation diagnosis, stem-cell research, etc.
bullet Process Theology: A view of God which is based on the writings of Alfred North Whitehead. The traditional view of a immutable, omnipresent, omniscient and omnipotent deity is replaced by a God is who is in process. He is constantly changing, learning, and evolving along with humanity. God affects history indirectly through gentle persuasion and not directly by coercion. He does not intrude directly in human activities; he does not violate the laws of nature by creating a miracle. Rather, "God gently persuades all entities towards this perfection by providing each of them with a glimpse of the divine vision of a better future. And yet all entities retain the freedom to depart from that vision." 1
bullet Procreation: Reproduction: conceiving and bearing babies. Among most opposite-sex couples, this is normally done through sexual intercourse. Among same-sex couples and infertile opposite-sex couples, this typically involves in-vitro fertilization or artificial insemination.
bullet Profane:
bullet When used to refer to language, "Profane" generally describes cursing, irreverent speech, or action.
bullet When used In a religious sense, "profane" means something that is not sacred and not associated with religion. 
bullet Progressive Christianity: A loosely organized very liberal wing of Christianity whose believers look upon Christianity as one of many valid spiritual paths and who stress seeking truth, social justice, concern for the environment, and peace. Their groups are open to persons of all genders, races, sexual orientations, classes, abilities and such religious minorities as agnostics and skeptics. 2
bullet Progressive sanctification: A Christian term which refers to the process by which the Holy Spirit helps a born-again Christian to grow spiritually, become more Christ-like, and abandon sinful behaviors.
bullet Proof-text: A part of a verse, or a complete verse, or a passage in the Bible, which appears to clearly and directly support an answer to a specific question.
bullet Promise Keepers: A conservative Christian men's movement founded in 1990 by Bill McCartney. It encourages men to accept more responsibilities for their personal behavior and for their family roles. It is strongly opposed to racism. They promote a family structure in which men take a leadership role in families. They oppose equal rights for gays and lesbians.
bullet Prooftexting: The use of a quotation from the Bible or other book, usually taken out of context, to support a belief or action. "Choose life" is a phrase taken from the Bible that is often used to support the abolition of abortion. Read in its biblical context, the phrase has nothing to do with abortion.

bullet Prophet: In the times of the Hebrew Scriptures (Old Testament) a person, almost always male, who was a religious reformer. They claimed to speak for God mainly on matters of ethics and morality. In more recent times, a person who predicts future events.
bullet Prophecy: The foretelling of the future through a direct revelation from God.
bullet Proselytize: To attempt to convert another person to your beliefs.
bullet Protection of marriage, : The terms "protection of marriage" and "protection of traditional marriage" are used by religious and social conservatives to refer to activity designed to give special privileges to opposite-sex couples and to prevent loving committed same-sex couples from marrying and thereby protecting themselves and their children with approximately 1,500 state and federal government benefits, rights and obligations.
bullet Protestantism: This word has many overlapping definitions. A few are:
bullet A grouping of thousands of Christian denominations that trace their history back to the Protestant Reformation, and the split with the Roman Catholic church over the authority of the pope, the grounds for salvation, the status of the Bible, and the priesthood of all believers.

bullet A Christian denomination that is not Roman Catholic, Eastern Orthodox, or the Anglican Communion. This is the definition that we generally use on our website.

bullet A Christian denomination that is neither Roman Catholic nor Eastern Orthodox.
bullet Protocols of the Learned Elders of Zion: A document forged by the Russian Secret Police in the early 20th century. It was based on an earlier French novel, and was promoted as evidence of an international Jewish conspiracy to rule the world. It is still circulated by some rabidly antisemitic groups, and has been featured in the media in some Muslim countries. It was sold in Wal-Mart online book store until removed shelves on 2004-SEP. It is available online at However, they have the decency to note that it is a forgery. 3
bullet Protoevangelium: Greek for "first message." This is found in Genesis 3:15. It relates to the relationship between Eve and the snake in the Garden of Eden. Historical Christianity interprets the serpent as Satan, and has taught that this verse predicts how the impact of Adam's and Eve's sin in the Garden of Eden would be undone millennia later by the Messiah, who will bring the possibility of salvation to all. Thus, the verse anticipates the gospel message.
bullet Pseudobaptist: A term used to refer to Baptist denominations, congregations and ministers who baptize infants.
bullet Pseudepigrapha: The name given to a collection of over 50 anonymous Jewish writings from the 5th century BCE to second century CE that are not part of the Hebrew Scriptures but are often attributed to biblical figures.
bullet Public square: In a religious and moral sense, this is the figurative "place" where opinions are shared in the expectation of influencing government policies. Some faith groups complain that their religious beliefs are not given adequate access to the public square.
bullet Pulpit Theft: A term used to refer to clergy who buy canned sermons from the Internet or elsewhere and pass them on as their own creation. See as one example.
bullet Punya (a.k.a. Pua): A term in Buddhism, Hinduism, and Jainism that refers to merit that a person accumulates as a result of good deeds, acts or thoughts. After death, this merit carries over into the person's next life.
bullet Pure: A term used by conservative Christians to refer to the approximately five percentage of  teens or young adults who have not become sexually active before marriage. Many who are not conservative Christians regard sexual activity within a committed relationship prior to marriage to be a moral decision, which makes neither partner less pure; they consider the term to be offensive.
bullet Pure Land: A Buddhist term for a Land of Ultimate Bliss into which a person can be reborn after death and in which they can seek enlightenment without being subject to retrogression (rebirth on earth or in a lower realm).
bullet Purgatory: The Roman Catholic Church teaches that almost everyone who is not sent to hell at death will go to this place and/or state. They will be purified through punishment for an interval of time before going to heaven. Belief in Purgatory was never accepted by the Orthodox Churches; it has been rejected by the Protestant Churches.
bullet Pyramid power: The concept that objects in the shape of the Egyptian pyramids can concentrate power, preserve materials or heal. We have never seen any scientific studies which have supported this belief.

See elsewhere for terms starting with the letters PA or PB to PQ

References used:

  1. Sheela Pawar, "Basis Synopsis of Process Thought," Center for Process Studies, at:
  2. The Center for Progressive Christianity lists "8 Points" which describe Progressive Christianity. See:
  3. Victor Marsden, translator, "The Protocols of the Learned Elders of Zion," Liberty Bell Publications, (2004). Read reviews or order this hate propaganda safely from online book store

Copyright 1996 to 2013 by Ontario Consultants on Religious Tolerance
Originally published on: 1996-MAR-11
Last update: 2013-JAN-10
Author: B.A. Robinson

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