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Glossary of religious and spiritual terms

Words & phrases starting with the letter "V"

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  • Vajrayana (a.k.a. Tantric Buddhism, Mantrayana, Tantrayana, Esoteric Buddhism, or True Words Sect: A Sanskrit term meaning "Diamond Vehicle." A style of Buddhism designed to help a person attain enlightenment quickly -- generally within a single lifetime. It forms part of Mahayana Buddhism but is sometimes referred to as a third Buddhist path, along with the Theravada and Mahayana schools of Buddhism.
  • Values: Beliefs of an individual or group, usually concerning behavior, that they regard as moral or immoral, and in which they have an emotional investment. For example, a religious conservative may consider two cardinal values to be restriction on abortion access and restriction of civil rights for gays, lesbians and transsexuals, including depriving them of the right to marry. Meanwhile, a religious liberal may consider two prime values to be freedom of abortion access and equal rights for gays, lesbians and transsexuals including marriage equality.
  • Values voter: A term used to refer to religious and social conservatives whose voting is heavily motivated by a desire to restrict abortion access, deny human rights to homosexuals including the right to marry, etc. One implication of this term is that political liberal or moderate voters do not have moral and ethical values.
  • Vatican Council: The first Vatican Council of the Roman Catholic Church was held on 1869 and 1879. its most famous achievement was to declare that some proclamations by the pope on faith and morals are infallible. The second Vatican Council was held on 1962 to 1965, and introduced many liberalizing reforms, although it did not change any fundamental beliefs.
  • Vedas: A group of writings which form the oldest of Hinduism's sacred scriptures.
  • Venerable:
    • A generic term used to refer to a person who is greatly respected because of their age, character, or position of authority.
    • Roman Catholicism: used to refer to a person in the first stages of sainthood.
    • Eastern Othodoxy: used to refer to some saints.
    • Anglican Communion: used to address an archdeacon.
    • Buddhism: used for monks and nuns in the Theravadan tradition. It corresponds to "Reverend" in Christianity.
  • Venial sin: Within the Roman Catholic church, a minor transgression against God, the church or another human. The consequences of a venial sin can be compensated for through good works.
  • Virgin birth: The belief, as stated in the Gospels of Luke and Matthew, that Mary was a virgin when she conceived Jesus as a result of the intervention of the Holy Spirit. A common belief among Mormons was that God the Father came to earth and engaged in sexual intercourse with Mary. However, this teaching was never declared part of Mormon doctrine by the church. The Roman Catholic church teaches that Mary remained a virgin for the rest of her life, and had no more children.
  • Vishnu: One of the Gods in the Hindu trinity; the others are Brahma and Shiva. Krishna is one of eight or nine earthly incarnations of Vishnu. There are many points of similarity between the life of Krishna and Jesus. Some have speculated that many events in Jesus' life are mythical in nature, and were copied from Hinduism.
  • Vision quest: This is an attempt to make contact with a spirit in order to acquire supernatural powers or protection. It is usually restricted to male youth. They undergo rigorous physical challenges such as exposure to the elements and fasting in order to attain their vision. Quests are common throughout many Aboriginal cultures.
  • Vodun: A a benign religion which combines elements of African Native spirituality and Roman Catholicism. This religion is probably the most highly misrepresented religion in the world.
  • Voluntarism: The concept that belief is a matter of the will.
  • Voodoo: A popular name for a Hollywood-created, imaginary religion patterned partly on the religion of Vodun.
  • Vulgate: Latin for "common." Jerome's (circa 342-420 CE) translation of the Bible from the original Hebrew, Aramaic and Greek into Latin.


  1. "On the theory of Jewish Universalism," at: http://www.convert.org/book1.htm#1a

Copyright © 1996 to 2008 by Ontario Consultants on Religious Tolerance
Originally published on: 1996-MAR-11

Last update: 2008-OCT-15
Author: B.A. Robinson

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