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Glossary of religious and spiritual terms

Words & phrases starting
with the letters "PA"

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

bullet Pacifism of Islam: The belief in Islam that war is an abnormal activity opposed to the will of God. It is sometimes forced on Muslims. When entered into must be limited, humane, and involve minimal damage to the land and possessions.

bullet Padre: This is the word for "father" in the Italian, Portuguese, and Spanish languages. Its origin can be traced to the Latin word "pater," which also means father.  It is often used to refer to a member of the Christian clergy, particularly one who is a military chaplain.

bullet Paedobaptism: Baptism of infants.
bullet Pagan: (From a Latin word for village peasant). This word has many unrelated meanings. Some definitions are:

bullet Wiccans and other Neopagans sometimes use Pagan as a synonym for Neopagan.

bullet Religious and social conservatives often use the term as a general-purpose "snarl" word to refer to cultures and religions very different from their own.

bullet a person who is neither Christian, a Muslim or a Jew.

bullet an animistic, spirits-and-essences filled belief system, usually polytheistic. It is based upon direct perception of the forces of nature and usually involves the use of idols, talismans and taboos in order to convey respect for these forces and beings.

bullet The ancient religions of Egypt, Greece, Rome, and other civilizations are often referred to as Pagan religions. Societies surrounding the ancient Israelites are often referred to as Pagan. 1

bullet Pagoda: A religious building, especially a multistory Buddhist tower in the Far East, erected as a memorial or shrine.

bullet Palm reading: Attempting to foretell a person's future and reveal their past through an analysis of the lines on a person's hand. Fortune tellers generally have great confidence in this technique. Many conservative Christians consider it a dangerous form of divination forbidden in the Bible.

bullet Panentheism, Panentheist: (From the Greek pan-en-theos which means all-in-God) Like Pantheism, Panentheism includes the belief that God is in everything. The belief that the entire universe - substances, forces and laws -- is God - the universe is God's body. But, in addition, God is seen as transcending the universe. This belief is seen in Process Theology and in some components of New Age belief. Leading Panentheists in the present and recent past are John Cobb, Charles Hartshorne, Shubert Ogden, and Alfred North Whitehead.

bullet Pan Indianism: A a recent and growing movement which encourages Native Americans to return to traditional beliefs, and seek to create a common Native religion.

bullet Pantheism, Pantheist: From the Greek words "pan" (all) and "theos" (God). God is all. The belief that every existing entity (humans, animals, etc.) together, is a part of God. The entire universe is divine. They do not view God in personal terms, that is: as having a personality, having the ability to make decisions, able to interact with humans, etc.

bullet Pantheon: A group of all the Gods and/or Goddesses worshiped by followers of a single religion or by a single culture. One example was the Greek pantheon. The term originated with the name of a building: the Pantheon -- a circular temple built in the first century BCE in Rome, and dedicated to all of the Roman deities. It remains standing and in good condition to this day.

bullet Parable: A brief story which may or may not be of actual persons or events, that is used to illustrate a moral, spiritual or religious lesson. Most commonly used to refer to the parables attributed to Yeshua of Nazareth (Jesus Christ)

bullet Parachurch: A religious organization that operates outside of a denomination or sect. Their membership, catchment area, and message often cut across denominational lines. Typical examples are Promise Keepers, Focus on the Family, the Family Research Council.

bullet Paradise: From the Greek word for park or garden. The afterlife destination taught by Islam that will be attained by persons who have done a predominance of good works.

bullet Parchment: Sheets of prepared animal skin used for recording documents.

bullet Parousia: From the Greek word "parousia," meaning "presence." The second coming when many Christians expect Jesus Christ to return to earth. This is a major focus of most conservative Christians.

bullet Parthenogenesis: Virgin birth.

bullet Partial life: This is a Jewish term to refer to the status of a fetus. In Jewish law, a fetus normally becomes a full human person when its head emerges from the birth canal. Before that event, the fetus is considered of lesser importance than a full human being. The same term has many other meanings in biology and manufacturing.

bullet Particular Redemption: This is the third of The Five Points of Calvinism: the belief that Jesus did not die to save all humans. He died only for the sake of specific sins of those who are saved. Sometimes called "Limited atonement."

bullet Passive resistance: A non-violent method of opposing oppression through the use of non-cooperation.

bullet Passover: This is the most important feast of the Jewish calendar, celebrated at the first full moon after the Vernal Equinox. The name "Passover" was derived from the actions of the angel of death as described in the book of Exodus. The angel "passed over" the homes of the Jews which were marked with the blood obtained from a ritual animal sacrifice. The same angel murdered the first-born child and first-born animals of every Egyptian family whose doorway was not so marked.

bullet Past life regression: A therapeutic technique in which the patient is urged to imagine going back in time, past their birth, into a former lifetime. It is a suggestive treatment method that can easily generate memories of events that never happened without either the patient or therapist being aware of the process.

bullet Patina: A covering that forms naturally on hard surfaces over a long interval. One example is the green layer that forms on copper metal or copper alloys as a result of corrosion. Another is a varnish-like coating found on limestone ossuaries (bone boxes) such as James alleged ossuary and the ossuaries allegedly belonging to Jesus' immediate family.

bullet Patriarchs:

A group of early Hebrew leaders, including Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob. Some Christians, Muslims, and Baha'is believe that these names refer to real people; others regard them as mythical persons.

bullet The title given to the current leader of various Eastern Orthodox churches.

bullet The title given in early Christianity to the bishops at the five main Christian centers: Alexandria, Antioch, Constantinople, Jerusalem, and Rome.

bullet A leader within Buddhism who has achieved the status of a Buddha -- i.e. fully awakened; enlightened.

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

References and comments:

  1. We recommend that the term never be used in speech or written form unless it is carefully pre-defined. Otherwise mass confusion will occur. We suggest that you use the actual name of the religious group that you are referring to: e.g. Hindu, Animist, Wiccan, Neopagan, etc. to avoid ambiguity.

Copyright 1996 to 2014 by Ontario Consultants on Religious Tolerance
Originally published on: 1996-MAR-11
Last update: 2014-JUN-08

Author: B.A. Robinson

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