Glossary of religious and spiritual terms
Starting with the letters "Sp" to "Sz"
||Spell: a prayer, or verbal direction of magickal energies
toward the accomplishment of some goal. 5 Wiccans and
other Pagans often use spells, but are not permitted to use them to
dominate, manipulate, control or harm another person. For example, a
Wiccan is not permitted to cast a spell to motivate another person to
feel sexual attraction towards them.|
|Spiritism: See necromancy.|
|Spiritualism: See necromancy.|
Spirituality: from the Latin word "spiritus," which means "wind" or "breath." This term is defined quite differently by
monotheists, polytheists, humanists, followers of new age, Native
Americans, secularists, etc. Some common meanings are:
- Devotion to metaphysical
matters, as opposed to worldly things.
which renew, lift up, comfort, heal and inspire both ourselves and
those with whom we interact.
- The deepest values and meanings by which people live.
- Practices to develop a person's inner life, including meditation, private prayer, yoga, meditation, quiet reflection, contemplation.
- Religion minus the dogma, minus the need to control others, and minus an overwhelming fixation with what people do sexuality.
- Methods of "internal travel" that give richness and meaning to our life, including mental, and physical practices.
- Our beliefs about what ultimately exists, who we fundamentally are, and our place in the greater scheme of things.
- Belief in a power operating in the universe that is greater than oneself.
- A sense of interconnectedness with all living creatures, and an awareness of the purpose and meaning of life.
||Srivatsa (a.k.a. Swastika in German and English): A cross symbol with equal arms bent at a right angle:
This is an ancient positive symbol used by many religions around the world
-- e.g. Hinduism, Buddhism, Jainism, Christianity, Judaism, and by the ancient
Greeks, Germanic tribes, and Native Americans. 6. It was distorted and adopted by the Nazi regime in
Germany. Since the 1930s it has been considered a profoundly evil symbol
throughout the West.
||SSM: An acronym for "Same-Sex Marriage:" a marriage between two persons of the same sex. SSM is sometimes referred to as "gay marriage." However, the latter term is not recommended, because some same-sex marriages include one or two spouses with a bisexual orientation.
||Star of David: A Jewish symbol consisting of a six-pointed star.
||Stewardship: In general usage, stewardship is the wise management
and use of resources, whether by an individual, corporation, government,
etc. Among many religious conservatives it is the concept that God owns
everything and has entrusted certain resources to individual believers who
will eventually be held accountable for what they accomplished with those
||Stereotype: A process of generalization by which an entire
group is found to be at fault because of the actions of a few of their
members. One example is to blame all homosexuals for child molestation
because of the actions of NAMBLA, a homosexual pedophile group which is
composed of a handful of members. The term is sometimes used to refer to the condemnation
of an entire group because of events that never happened. One
example was the German Nazi government who blamed the loss of World War I
on the German Jews -- a very small minority at the time, numbering less than 1% of its citizens.
||Stigmata: the presence of wounds on a person's body (usually a woman) in the
places where Jesus is believed to have been injured at his crucifixion. Wound's usually
appear on the palms of the person even though during his crucifixion, Jesus was
either pierced through his wrists or his arms were tied to the crossbar. A nail through the palm of the hand would tear out due to the weight of the body.
||Suffragan bishop: An assistant or subordinate bishop of an diocese
-- generally in the Roman Catholic Church or Anglican Communion.
||Stupa: A Buddhist term that refers to a burial monument that
stands for the Buddha and his attainment of enlightenment.
||Subliminal Messages: Visual or audible
messages shown in a way that prevents the conscious mind from recognizing
them. Visual messages may be flashed on a screen too fast for the person
to sense; audible messages may be played at too low a volume to be
detected. Controlled tests have shown that they are completely
ineffective. Some people still believe that such messages can enter the
individual's subconscious mind and motivate them to take certain actions.
See also backmasking.
||Subordinationism: An early Christian heresy that Jesus is
eternally subordinated to God the Father. This contrasts with the
traditional Christian view that the Father, Son and Holy Spirit are
co-eternal, interdependent, one in substance, and without any form of hierarchy, order or ranking. The heresy has been adopted by many Evangelical
Christians in recent decades and used to support the belief that a woman's role
is to be submissive to other males -- in particular to her husband.
||Subordination of the Son, Eternal: See Eternal Subordination of the Son
||Substance dualism: The concept that the brain and mind are
separate entities: the brain is a physical entity controlled by chemical
and electrical processes; the mind is not physical.
||Succubus: A female demon who would visit sleeping men at night and
engage in sexual activity. This belief was commonly held during the late
Middle Ages and Renaissance. There were also corresponding male demons, called incubi
who were believed to visit women.
||Suffragan bishop: an assistant bishop in a diocese.
||Sufiism: "Sufism or tasawwuf, as it is called in
Arabic, is generally understood by scholars and Sufis to be the inner,
mystical, or psycho-spiritual dimension of Islam." Some Muslims reject the concept
that Sufism is part of Islam. 7
||Sunnat: A Muslim term for an act that is desirable but
||Sunni: The larger of the two main tradition within Islam. Islam split into two main traditions after the death of the prophet Muhammad: Sunni and Shi'a (a.k.a. Shiism). The main dispute was over the mechanism to be used to select his successor. The religion remains divided, with much mutual hatred, violence and mass murder.
||Sunyata: A Sanskrit term for "emptiness." It is a
Buddhist term that asserts that "... everything one encounters in life is
empty of absolute identity, permanence, or 'self'. This is because
everything is inter-related and mutually dependent - never wholly
self-sufficient or independent. 8
||Supercessionism: (a.k.a. Replacement Theology). This is the theological concept that,
because the vast majority of Jews in the first century CE did not accept Jesus as their Messiah, God
unilaterally terminated his covenants with the Jewish people and transferred them to the followers of Christianity.
It relegates Judaism to an inferior position and recognizes Christianity as
the 'true' or 'spiritual' Israel. This concept was first developed by Justin
Martyr (circa 100 to 165 CE) and Irenaeus of Lyon (circa 130 to 200 CE). It was largely
accepted within the church by the 4th century. It has led to a great deal of persecution of Jews by Christians. Many conservative
Protestants still believe in this principle. In opposition to
supercessionism is the dual covenant theory -- that God has a different and separate covenant with both Jews and Christians.
||Sura: (a.k.a. Surah): one of the 114 chapters in the
Qur'an. They are generally sorted in decreasing length.
||Sutra: A Buddhist scripture that includes a teaching by Buddha.
||Swastika: See srivatsa.
||Sweat lodge: A Native American ritual for purification
involving moist hot air in an enclosed space.
||Synagogue: From the Greek word for "gathering." A Jewish house of worship.
||Syncretistic Religion: A faith that is created from the merger of concepts from
two or more religions. Santeria and Vodun are two examples.
||Synergism: Two or more items interacting in such as way that
the end result is greater than each item could have achieved separately.
For example, a client who believes in Satan as
an evil, quasi-deity who undergoes recovered memory
therapy (RMT) is very likely to recover false memory of Satanic ritual abuse (SRA). Just believing in Satan
or just undergoing RMT is much less likely to generate false memories of
||Synoptic: From the Greek syn (together) and opsis (appearance). A
term used to refer to the gospels Mark, Matthew and Luke. They are in
general agreement with each other; each conflicts
with the Gospel of John in theme, content, time duration,
order of events, and style. "Only ca. 8% of ... [John] is parallel to these other
gospels, and even then, no such word-for-word parallelism occurs as we find among the
synoptic gospels." 9
||In Roman Catholicism: any official church meeting.
||Among Presbyterian denominations, a religious court between the
presbytery and the general assembly.
||Systematic theology: The study of God and his relationship with
The following information sources were used to prepare and update the above essay. The hyperlinks are not necessarily still active today.
- David Levinson, "Religion: A cross-cultural dictionary,"
Oxford University Press, (1998). Read reviews or order this book
- "The Fountainhead of Miracles, Shinreikyo," has a
home page at: http://www.shinreikyo.or.jp
- Sola Scriptura," Wikipedia, 2007-JUL-19, at: http://en.wikipedia.org/
- Robert N. Bellah, "Is There a Common American Culture?," The Journal for the
American Academy of Religion, Volume 66, Number 3, (1998-Fall), Pages 613-625.
Online at: http://www.robertbellah.com/
- Rowan Moonstone and Durwydd MacTara, "Glossary of Terms Used Frequently in Wicca," Miciigan State University, 1992, at: https://www.msu.edu/
- "Historical note on the Swastika," Falun Dafa, at: http://www.falundafa.org.il/
- Dr. Alan Godlas, "Sufism -- Sufis -- Sufi Orders: Sufism's Many
Paths," at: http://www.arches.uga.edu/~godlas/
- "Sunyata" Wikipedia, at: http://en.wikipedia.org/
- F.V. Filson, "The Literary Relations among the Gospels,"
essay in C.M. Laymon: "The Interpreter's One-Volume Commentary on
the Bible," Abingdon Press, Nashville, TN, (1991)
Copyright © 1996 to 2016 by Ontario Consultants on
Originally published on: 1996-MAR-11
Last update and review: 2016-MAR-01
Author: B.A. Robinson