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Glossary of terms

Religious terms starting
with the letters "Ia" to "Inf"

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bullet I Ching: A Chinese technique of predicting the future, based on a book by the same name -- one of the five foundational books of Confucianism. Yellow stocks or rods are cast in order to select one of 64 hexagrams (patterns of six lines which may be broken or continuous).

bullet Idol: This has two main meanings:
bullet A drawing, statue, or other representation of an item in heaven or earth, that is used for worship.
bullet Anything in life that takes a position of priority over one's relationship with God.

bullet Idolatry: From the Greek: worship of a false god.

bullet Iftar: A Muslim term referring to a meal eaten at sunset that breaks a fast.

bullet Ignosticism: The belief that the question of whether God exists is meaningless, because there is no unambiguous definition of the term "God." The term was coined in the 1960s by Sherwin Wine, a rabbi and a founding figure of Humanistic Judaism.

bullet Igtheism: The opinion that belief in a metaphysical, transcendent being is incoherent and unintelligible. The term was coined by the secular humanist Paul Kurtz in his 1992 book The New Skepticism.

bullet Ihram: A white seamless garment worn by male Muslims during the hajj -- a pilgrimage to Mecca. It is normally in two pieces: one is wrapped around the waist, and the other is draped over the left shoulder.

bullet I.H.S.:
bullet An acronym for Isis, Horus, and Seb -- the Egyptian trinity consisting of the Mother, the Child and the Father.
bullet The first three letters of the name Iesus, the Greek version of Yeshua.

bullet Illuminati: (a.k.a. the enlightened ones)
bullet A group or individual who claim to be unusually enlightened.
bullet A secret philosophical and political society established by Adam Weishaupt in Germany in 1776. They promoted free thought and democracy.
bullet A game involving trading cards.
bullet A sinister organization believed to consist of evil men who control world finances, and whose goal is world domination through world government. Many consider this group to be non-existent.

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bullet Iman: A Muslim term meaning belief

bullet Imam: A Muslim term for a national leader or the leader of worship in a mosque.

bulletImitatio Dei: A Latin term for "imitation of the Gods." Taking on godly values. Expressed in:
bullet Leviticus 19:2: "Be holy because I, the LORD your God, am holy."
bullet Matthew 5:48: "Therefore you are to be perfect, as your heavenly Father is perfect."

bullet Immaculate Conception: The belief that before the birth of Mary (the mother of Jesus) was born, she was preserved from original sin at the time of her conception, circa 20 BCE. It is widely but incorrectly believed to refer to Jesus' conception, circa 5 to 8 BCE.

bullet Immanence: the concept that God is very much associated with creation, is all-present in the world, and is close to believers.

bulletImmerse, immersion:
bullet Baptists and some other Christian groups generally translate the Greek words baptizo and baptisma as implying the total immersion of a convert during baptism.
bullet Many other Christian denominations believe that the words can also imply washing, without any specific description of the method. Thus, a baptism by sprinkling is biblically valid.

bullet Imminence: the belief that an event is about to occur in the near future. e.g. the Second Coming.

bullet Immorality: Behavior which transgresses a given system of morals; incorrect behavior. Liberal and conservative Christians differ in many matters over what is moral, even though both sincerely believe that their positions are biblically based. Moral standards change over time, even within a given religious group. Church schisms were common in the mid 19th century over slavery because parts of a denomination considered slavery to be profoundly immoral, while other believers believed that it was condoned, regulated and accepted by the Bible. Major moral shifts over the past 150 years have involved slavery, inoculation of children, birth control, abortion, sexism, racial segregation, discipline of children through the use of pain, and homophobia.

bullet God has traditionally been considered to be immortal, there having been no point at which he has not existed.
bullet Humans who have been saved have traditionally been considered to be immortal in that they will continue to exist in Heaven after death.
bullet Most Christian groups teach that the unsaved are also immortal in that they will continue to exist in Hell for all eternity after death. Other faith groups teach annihilationism.

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bullet Impeccability: The concept that Jesus Christ could not have sinned, even if he had wanted to.

bullet Imprecation: A curse that invokes evil on one or more persons.

bullet Imprecatory prayer: To pray to God asking him to curse and bring evil upon one or more persons. A biblical example is found in Psalms 109 when Jeremiah was being slandered. He asked God to punish the slanderer. 1
bullet Imputation: Adam and Eve's sinful disobeying of Gods instruction when they ate the fruit of the tree of the knowledge of good and evil has been assigned to their children, their grandchildren, and all the way to present-day humanity forever. Holding one person responsible for the sins of another individual is rare in the field of religion and in secular moral systems. However, it is quite common in the Bible.

bullet Inability, total: Alternative term for Total Depravity.

bullet Incarnation: The embodying of a spiritual entity in physical form. Within Christianity: the concept that God became a man, Yeshua of Nazareth (Jesus Christ) and dwelt among other humans. This was rejected by the Gnostic Christians, the Ebionites and other Jewish Christians, but accepted by Pauline Christians.

bullet Inclusion: In general usage, inclusion means to allow people into a group; i.e. excluding nobody. In relation to salvation, the "Gospel of Inclusion" means a belief that everyone -- or almost everyone -- will be saved, will attain Heaven and avoid Hell. This is a heresy according to conservative Christians, and an accurate interpretation of the Bible according to liberal Christians. 4

bullet Inclusivism: The recognition that ones belief system is the only true and valid one. Beliefs of other religions contain some truth, and their followers are deserving of respect, even though those beliefs might be in conflict with one's own view of the truth. Opposing beliefs are exclusivism and pluralism. More details

bullet Incubus: (Plural: Incubi) A male demon who would visit sleeping women at night and engage in sexual activity. This belief was commonly held during the late Middle Ages and Renaissance. There were also female demons, called succubi who were believed to visit men.

bullet Inology: The study of the history, literature, culture, and religions of India.

bullet Indulgence: Originally an ancient practice by which a person could pay money to the church or do a good deed and obtain remission of the temporal punishment in Purgatory due to sin. After the Protestant Reformation, cash no longer became an acceptable way to obtain an indulgence.

bullet Inerrant: When applied to a sacred text like the Bible, inerrancy is the belief that, as originally written, its contents are infallible, totally free of error and totally authoritative. Many religions, particularly their conservative wings, believe in the inerrancy of their particular sacred texts and deny the inerrancy of the texts of other religions. However, the concept of inerrancy is weakened when multiple, contrasting and conflicting meanings can be derived from the same passage. It is also weakened when the clear meaning of some passages differ from that of other passages. There are many passages that appear ambiguous because different intelligent, thoughtful, sincere, competent theologians derive confilicting meanings from them. There are also many passages which such theologians find in conflict.

bullet Inerrancy, limited: This is the belief that the Bible is only inerrant on matters of moral, spiritual and religious truth. That is, biblical passages that describes cosmology, origins of life, the Earth and the rest of the universe, place names, some events, etc. are not necessarily accurate.

bullet When applied to a sacred text like the Bible, infallible means that the text is fully trustworthy. i.e. it does not deceive the reader into falsehood. There are problems with this concept, because even within the conservative wing of Christianity, Bible experts reach many different conclusions about divorce, hell, the millennium, Book of Revelation, and creation/evolution, etc. Since these theologians' beliefs are mutually exclusive, most must be wrong. Since they were all derived from the Bible, the concept of biblical infallibility is suspect.

bullet Within the Roman Catholic Church, the belief that the pope can speak on matters of faith and morals without error. This belief was promulgated in 1870. The pope stripped Hans Küng of his credentials as a teacher of Catholic theology, largely because of his questioning of the doctrine of Papal infallibility.

bullet Infidel: a person who does not believe in your particular religion, denomination or religious tradition. Similar to "Unbeliever" but more of a "snarl" word. The Anti-Religion Shoppe at Cafe Press sell T-shirts, mugs, bumper stickers, baseball caps, etc. with the definition "INFIDEL: One who does not believe in your God." See

Everyone is an infidel. Nobody believes in everyone else's version of a god, a goddess, multiple gods, multiple goddesses, or patheon of deities.

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Terms beginning with the letters INI to IZ are in the next list.

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  1. Walter Kay, "Imprecatory Prayer," at:
  2. Carlton D. Pearson, "Jesus: The savior of the World (The Gospel of Inclusion)," at:

Copyright © 1996 to 2017 by Ontario Consultants on Religious Tolerance
Originally written on: 1996-MAR-11
Most recent update: 2017-MAR-24
Author: B.A. Robinson
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