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Glossary of religious and spiritual terms

Starting with the letters "EV" to "EX." Words
beginning with "EA" to "EU" are listed elsewhere.

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bullet Evangelical: "Evangelical" is not a well-defined term with a universally accepted meaning. It normally refers to a major portion of the conservative "wing" of Protestant Christianity. In a study comparing Evangelical and mainline denominations, a Princeton University study included the following as Evangelical denominations: Assemblies of God, Southern Baptists, Independent Baptists, black Protestants, African Methodist Episcopal, African Methodist Episcopal Zion; Church of Christ, Churches of God in Christ, Lutheran Church - Missouri Synod, National Baptist Church, National Progressive Baptist Church, Nondenominational, Pentecostal denominations, and the Presbyterian Church in America. 1

Evangelicals tend to take very conservative views on social matters, like access to abortion, equal rights for gays and lesbians, etc. Many Evangelical congregations serve parishioners who are alomost entirely of a single race.

Fundamentalists comprise the most conservative wing of Evangelicalism. Most Evangelicals tend to be less anti-scientific and less literal in their interpretation of Biblical passages than are Fundamentalists.

Evangelicals generally believe in the historical doctrines of the Christian church:

  1. The original writings of the Bible, were inerrant (without error).
  2. Jesus Christ was born of a virgin.
  3. Atonement: that through Jesus' death, the relationship between God and Man (which had been damaged by Adam and Eve's sin) has been restored.
  4. Resurrection: that after Jesus' death and burial, he arose again.
  5. Second coming: that Jesus return to earth is imminent.
  6. Incarnation: that God appeared on earth in human form, as Jesus.
  7. Justification: an act of God in which any person who accepts that they have sinned and who believes in the atonement of Christ is forgiven of their sins and brought into a close relationship with God.
  8. Regeneration of the spirit: that a new believer undergoes a spiritual rebirth.
  9. Inspiration: that the authors of the Bible were inspired by the Holy Spirit.
  10. God exists as a Trinity, consisting of the Father, Son and Holy Spirit.
  11. Satan is a created being, was once an angel but is now an all-evil tormentor of humanity.
  12. Salvation is attained by repentance of one's sins and trusting Jesus as Lord and Savior.
  13. Heaven and Hell exist; the former is a place of eternal reward; the latter is a place of never-ending torture without mercy or any hope of cessation.

There are many additional beliefs regarded as important by various Evangelical organizations. For example, the Southern Baptist Convention requires its employees to sign a loyalty oath which includes the belief that the authors of the Gospels were in fact named Matthew, Mark, Luke and John. Some Evangelical institutions refuse to hire faculty who believe that women should be eligible for ordination.

The name "evangelical" was originally used to refer to those faith groups which followed traditional Christian beliefs, in contrast with two other movements: philosophical rationalism and legalistic Christianity. The Evangelical Lutheran Church in America, and Wisconsin Evangelical Lutheran Synod total about 6 million members and are not part of the present-day Evangelical movement. More information on the definition of Evangelical

bullet Evangelize: To explain ones beliefs to another in the hope that they might wish to adopt them. The word is sometimes used as a synonym for "Proselytize" -- to actively attempt to convert another person to your beliefs.

bullet Evemerism: See Euhemerism

bullet Evidential, Evidentialism, Evidentialist: This refers to a method of attempting to prove the validity of Christianity by starting with the assumption (or attempt to prove) that God exists and continuing with the use of reason. An alternate method is presuppositionalism

bullet Evil: An act that is considered profoundly immoral, wicked and depraved. This is a relative term. For example, the Nazi Holocaust, a.k.a. the Shoa in Judaism, and The Devowering by the Roma is generally regarded as the most extreme example of evil during the 20th century. However, among most German Nazis, the genocide to make Europe Judenfrei (free of Jews) and to exterminate all Roma was considered a noble quest.

bullet Evil one: A Christian synonym for Satan: a fallen angel.

bullet Evolution, Naturalistic: (From the Greek "evolutio" meaning unrolling or turning out). The term has multiple meanings. It is often necessary to examine an essay, speech or article carefully in order to determine which meaning is being used.
bullet Strictly speaking, it is deals only with life forms on earth; the term refers to gradual change over long periods of time of plant and animal species due to natural processes and forces, including the appearance and extinction of many species.
bullet In a popular sense, it is one of many cosmogonies (models of origins) commonly accepted in North America. It states that the earth, including its life forms, and the rest of the universe formed over the past approximately 14 billion years due to natural processes and forces. People often discuss the evolution of: the universe, of individual stars, solar systems, earth formation, species of life on earth, etc.
bullet Also in a popular sense, the term is used to refer to anything that changes over time, such as the evolution of religious beliefs, political concepts, economic models, child discipline methods, etc.

bullet Evolution, Theistic: One of three main cosmogonies (models of origins) commonly accepted in North America. It accepts the observations of naturalistic evolution but states that God guided and used evolution as a method of forming the multiplicity of species of life, the rest of the Earth and the rest of the universe.

bullet Evolutionist: A term used by Evangelical Christians to refer to over 99% of earth and biological scientists who use and support the theory of evolution in their professional work. The term is not used by scientists themselves.

bullet Exclusivism: The belief that one's truth (or faith group or religion) is the only truly valid truth (or faith group or religion). This is a very common belief among monotheistic faiths, and among other religions as well. It has historically been a foundation of religiously motivated oppression, mass murder, mass crimes against humanity and genocide. Alternative beliefs towards other religions are inclusivism and pluralismMore details.

bullet Excommunication: The enforced separation of a Christian from her or his denomination, done for the good of the individual and the faith group, with the intent of changing the individual's behavior so that they can be welcomed back. Unfortunately, in many high-intensity/high commitment religious groups, where a member's entire support network consists of fellow members, excommunication can lead to depression and occasional suicide.

bullet Exegesis: Analyzing passages from a document -- often the Bible -- to understand what it meant to its author and others in the author's culture.

bullet Exaltation of Christ: This consists of Christ's resurrection, ascension to heaven, sitting at the right hand of God, and second coming.

bullet Exaltation (LDS and other Mormon Churches): a.k.a. Eternal Progression. This " a belief among members of many Mormon denominations that mankind, as spirit children of their Father in Heaven, can become like him. Exaltation is the highest goal of a Mormon, to become as God is. The highest goal is to learn to become like God, who is perfect in attributes and perfections. Exaltation means to live the life that God lives and to obtain the co-equal position of godhood." 2 These beliefs are regarded as blasphemy and heresy by essentially all non-Mormon Christian faith groups, and are largely responsible for anti-Mormon feelings among many Christians.

bullet Exceptionalism: This is the the belief that God gave America a special role in human history. Almost 60% of American adults affirm this belief. Those that believe in exceptionalism are more likely to support military interventions in foreign countries and to believe that torture of prisoners is sometimes justified.

bullet Exegesis: This means "to lead" or "to bring out." It is most commonly used to refer to "bringing out" of Scripture the message that is contained there. Unfortunately, people generally bring their culture and beliefs to the Bible which distort the actual meaning of the text. A good example is the analysis of Genesis 19, the story of God's genocide at Sodom and Gomorrah. Some groups interpret this as God's condemnation of same-gender sexual behavior by men or women. Others interpret this as God's condemnation of males attempting to rape other males, or rape males of a different species (angels in this case) or of using rape to humiliate strangers who were visiting the rapists' city. Sadly, both groups often believe that their execesis, alone, is the only correct one. They essentially never dialogue with each other.

bullet Existentialism: This is both a philosophical and literary movement which teaches that:
bullet Life has no intrinsic meaning, other than what an individual gives it.

bullet Individual existence takes precedence over abstract concepts;

bullet Humans are totally free and responsible for their own actions;

bullet No absolute values exist other than those that are grounded in human experience.

bullet Exodus: A mass movement of people from an area or country. It often refers to the alleged departure of Hebrews from slavery in Egypt, variously dated as happening sometime between 1440 and 1290 BCE. "Exodus" is the name of the second book in the Pentateuch -- the first five books of the Hebrew Scriptures.

bullet Exorcism: The act of driving one or more evil spirits from the body of a person.

bullet Externalist: A Buddhist term for an individual who follows a non-Buddhist religion.

bullet Extraction evangelism: A technique of drawing non-Christians individuals out of their culture of origin and converting them to conservative Protestantism. This has been criticized for its destructive effect on those families in which only some members convert to Christianity.

bullet Extrasensory Perception: (acronym ESP) The ability of a person to sense the world using powers beyond the five senses. This often takes the form of reading cards being dealt in another room, viewing events in a remote location, sensing auras, predicting the future, etc. A prize of over one million dollars awaits anyone who can prove that they have some form of ESP.

bullet Extreme Unction (a.k.a. Unction and Anointing of the sick): A sacrament of the Roman Catholic church in which a seriously ill person is anointed with oil that has been consecrated by a bishop. It's purpose is to obtain the remission of sins and to restore the person to health. To our knowledge, the efficacy of extreme unction to make a person healthy has never been scientifically evaluated.

References used:

  1. Robert Wuthnow, "Study on Religion and Politics Finds Widespread Interest in Progressive Issues: Survey Suggests Political Potential of Mainline Protestants," at:
  2. "Exaltation (LDS Church), Wikipedia, at: Search for "Exaltation"

Copyright 1996 to 2014 by Ontario Consultants on Religious Tolerance
Originally written on: 1996-MAR-11
Last update: 2014-APR-21
Author: B.A. Robinson

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