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Glossary of religious and spiritual terms

Starting with the letter "U"

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bulletUFO: See Unidentified Flying Objects.

bulletUlama: Learned scholars of Islamic law and jurisprudence. Singular form: alim

bulletUmmah: A Muslim word that means the community of nation of Muslim believers.

bulletUnbeliever: a person who does not believe in your particular religion, denomination or religious tradition. Similar to infidel, but less judgmental. Of course if a person of faith group "A" regards a person of faith group "B" as an unbeliever, then the "Bs" would probably also regard the "As" to be unbeliever.

bulletUnconditional election: This is the second of the The Five Points of Calvinism: the belief that God decided before he created the universe that certain people would be chosen to make knowledgeable about himself. The rest would remain ignorant, be damned, and spend eternity in Hell.

bulletUnidentified Flying Objects: (acronym: UFOs). Objects seen flying in the sky whose source and nature cannot be determined. Much of the public believes that these are advanced space ships, perhaps extraterrestrial. Some conservative Christians have speculated that these ships are piloted by demons. A number of religions have been founded that are based on beliefs that UFOs are piloted by an advanced civilization of creatures who are trying to communicate with humans.

bulletUnipersonality: The belief that Jesus had both a divine and a human nature within his personality.

bulletUnitarian: There are two distinct and unrelated meanings for this term, which are often confused by non-Unitarians:

bulletA monotheistic belief which was widespread in the early Christian movement, that God is a unity, not a trinity. A series of church councils voted in favor of the belief that God is a Trinity, composed of the Father, Son, and Holy Spirit. Unitarianism then became a heresy and was suppressed. 

bullet A religious movement, the American Unitarian Association (AUA), which featured a lack of dogma, a belief in the inherent goodness of people, and the obligation for each member to seek out and develop his or her own system of beliefs and ethics. In North America, the AUA merged with the Universalist Church to form the Unitarian Universalist Association (UUA) They strongly support human rights, personal freedoms and behavior choices. Unlike many other faith groups, leaders do not tell the membership what to believe. They help them with the tools to figure things out for themselves. Many couples in interfaith marriages find the UUA a welcoming home that they can both embrace.

UUA members have been accused of being anti-Christian. In fact, about 10% of the membership considers themselves to be Christian; the rest are un-Christian but not anti-Christian. All promote the freedom of everyone to follow their own religious beliefs.

bullet Universal atonement: The belief that Jesus died for all humans, and not just for the small minority of humans who are saved.

bulletDerived from the Greek word apocatastasis, which means "complete salvation". A Christian belief that everyone would eventually reach heaven after death. It was promoted in the 2nd and early 3rd centuries of the Christian church by Clement and Origen. Traditional Christianity has taught that universalism is a heresy. They believe that heaven is reserved for a small minority of people, and that the vast majority will go to Hell to be tortured for all eternity without mercy. Many Christian individuals and denominations are drifting towards Universalism because an eternity in Hell seem to many people to be incompatible with a loving, just deity.

bulletA liberal religious group which merged with the American Unitarian Association  to form the Unitarian Universalist Association.

bulletA concept in Judaism that "God created the entire universe as a single entity, that all people were created for a common moral purpose, and that God chose the Jews to convey a moral message to all humanity so that the redemption available to all people through God might occur." 1

bulletUniversism: This is a progressive natural philosophy which emphasizes the personal search for truth and understanding of the universe. They have abandoned the rigid teachings of organized religion in favor of relative truth, and acceptance of uncertainty. Universists apply personal reason and experience to the fundamental questions of human existence, derive inspiration from the natural uncertainty of the human state, and deny the validity of revelation, faith and dogma."

bullet Unpardonable sin: Matthew 12:31-32 discusses a sin so serious that a person committing it cannot be pardoned. Unfortunately, the passage is ambiguous, and there have been many conflicting interpretations about what exactly this sin is. A section of this web site describes 33 interpretations of what the unpardonable sin is... all different.

bulletUpanishads: One of the holy texts of the Hindu religion.

bulletUpsherin: A Yiddish word meaning to "shear off." It is a traditional Jewish celebration of a boy's third birthday. This marks the beginning of his formal education and his obligation to keep the commandments and perform mitzvot (good deeds.)

bullet Untermensch, Untermenschen: German for subhuman. Nazi category for Jews, Roma, and others.

bulletUsul: A required, foundational belief within Islam. One example is the unity of God.

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The following information source was used to prepare and update the above essay. The hyperlink is not necessarily still active today.

  1. "On the theory of Jewish Universalism," at:

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Copyright © 1996 to 2011 by Ontario Consultants on Religious Tolerance
Originally published on: 1996-MAR-11

Last update: 2011-AUG-20
Author: B.A. Robinson
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