RELIGIOUS TERMS AND SYMBOLS
Terms in this set (44)
The cross is the most common symbol of Christianity. You see them all over the place. The cross symbolizes Christianity as a religion, as well as the crucifixion of Jesus Christ. Another form of the cross you might see is the crucifix, which will include a figure of Jesus, nailed to the cross through both hands and feet, usually with a crown of thorns on his head and a placard with the letters INRI, which is a Latin acronym for the phrase, "Jesus the Nazarene, King of the Jews."
This is another common symbol of Christianity. Many Christains display this on the back bumper of their vehicles. The ichthys is actually the ancient Greek word for "fish." The ichthys commonly contains the Greek letters, ΙΧΘΥΣ , which mean, "Jesus Christ, God's Son, Savior." The fish is a symbol of Christianity for several reasons. Many of the Apostles were fisherman, Jesus performed many miracles involving fish, and the most popular reason, in Matthew 4:19, Jesus says, "Come, follow me, and I will make you fishers of men." The ichthys symbolizes the Christian's mission to spread the "good news".
The Star and Crescent
The Star and Crescent is recognized as a symbol if the Islamic faith. This symbol, however, is older and was originally used by the people of Central Asia and Siberia as a symbol of their sky gods. The Star and Crescent were adopted as a symbol of Islam during the Ottoman Empire, when the Turks conquered Constantinople in 1453. The city of Constantinople had been using this symbol as, in honor of the Goddess Diana. When the Turks took over, they had stolen their flag and symbol as well, claiming it for the Islam.
Allah (in Arabic)
This one is pretty straight forward. This is the Arabic word for "Allah," Allah is the one deity of the Islamic faith.
The Star of David
The Star of David is a common symbol of the Jewish faith. The two interlocking triangles represent to tribes of Judah and Benjamin. It is believed that this was the symbol of the line of David, and the star was represented on David's shield, though this has not been proven.
The Menorah is another common symbol of Judaism. A menorah is a nine-branched candelabrum, used in the celebration of Hanukkah. The menorah made its first appearance in the book of Exodus, when God revealed its design to Moses. The original menorah was made from a single piece of gold and had only seven branches. It was used as a light for the temple. Today's menorah has nine branches, comemorating a miraculous event during the rebuilding of the temple in Jerusalem. The Jews only had enough oil to light the temple for one day, but somehow, it lasted eight days, allowing them enough light to finish their work.
Om or Aum
The Om, or Aum, is a very important symbol of the Hindu religion. It is a mantra, uttered by many Hindus at the start of every day, and commonly written in the head of letters. Om, or Aum is made up of three Sanskrit letters, a, u and m. The syllables come together to make the sound, Om, meaning Brahman, the supreme God of Hinduism.
People usually think of the Swastika as the symbol of the Nazi regime during World War II, but the Swastika is actually a Hindu religious symbol, and for various other purposes, dating as far back as the Paleolithic Era. The Swastika was most commonly used to symbolize good luck.
The Wheel of Dharma
The Wheel of Dharma, also called the Dharmachakra, is a common symbol of the Buddhist philosophy. The Wheel can have eight, twelve, twenty-four, or thirty-one spokes. The circle represents the perfection of the teachings of dharma. The spokes represent different teachings, rules or laws of Buddhism, depending on the number of spokes. The hub symbolizes discipline, and the rim mindfulness, or samadhi, which holds everything together.
The Khanda is the symbol of Sikhism. The Khanda is made up of three important symbols; the double edged sword, a circle (the Chakkar), and two crossed kirpans (curved swords). The double edged sword represents the belief on a single God. The Chakkar represents that God has no beginning or end. The two kirpans represent God's spiritual authority and his political power. The entire symbol is meant to represent God as a whole.
The Yin and Yang
The Yin an Yang is a commonly used symbol of Asian philosophy. It symbolizes perfect harmonic balance. Neither side can exist without the other, as in nature, there would not be light without dark, good without evil, male without female, etc.
The Torii Gate
The Torii Gate is a symbol of the Shito religion. The symbol of the Torii Gate represents the transition between our world and the world of the gods. A physical Torii Gate usually marks the entrance to a sacred Shinto shrine. By passing through the Torii Gate, you pass from the profane, to the sacred place.
The Ahimsa Hand
The Ahimsa Hand is a common symbol of Jainism, a religion born in India, known for non-violence. The Jains believe that all life is sacred, some go to extreme measures to avoid even stepping on a bug!This symbol represents the Jains vow of ahimsa (non-violence). The wheel in the palm represents dharma (see The Dharma Wheel), and in the center of the wheel rests the word, ahimsa
The Baha'i Nine Pointed Star
The Nine Pointed Star is the symbol of the Baha'i Faith. The number nine is very significant to the Baha'is for numerous reasons, ranging from numerology to patterns in their theology, and the architecture of their temples
Judaism, Christianity, and Islam. All three faiths trace their origins to the patriarch Abraham who rejected the polytheism of ancient Sumer to embrace a belief in one, invisible, deity. Sometimes referred to as "the desert religions."
the philosophical position that the existence or non-existence of God or a First Cause is unknowable.
relating to the Church of England. An ancient name for the English people was "Angles." The Church of England traces its beginning to 597, the year in which Pope Gregory I sent St. Augustine to Canterbury. The Church of England remained under papal authority until 1534 when Henry VIII declared himself the Supreme Head of the Church because of conflicts with Pope Clement VII.
the belief that every material form of reality (plants, animals, stones, thunderstorms, earthquakes) have an indwelling spirit; often includes belief in the continued existence of individual disembodied human spirits capable of helping or harming the living.
a mode of life that excludes physical pleasures and self-indulgence. Many religions regard asceticism (fasting, abstaining from sexual activity, wearing inadequate clothing) as a means of reaching a higher spiritual state.
disbelief in any deity or supernatural power.
indignity offered to God, from Greek blasphemia, "a speaking ill, impious speech, slander." Religions define blasphemy in terms of their own beliefs, often designating prophets and holy objects along with God as subjects not to be profaned. Many countries have anti-blasphemy laws.
the teaching that suffering is inherent to life and that the way to escape suffering and repeated existence is to limit one's desires and expectations. There are various sects with varying beliefs.
a system of teachings characterized by central emphasis on the practice and cultivation of the cardinal virtues of filial piety, kindness, righteousness, propriety, intelligence, and faithfulness.
relating to a church. Greek ekklesiastikos referred to the ancient Athenian political assembly. First century Christians writers adopted the word to mean "assembly of believers," or "church."
having to do with a bishop. Like "ecclesiastic," the English word bishop derives from a Greek word, episkopos, "watcher, overseer. The Greeks used their word to refer to government officials. First century Christian writers used bishop or episkopos to refer to church elders. In time bishop came to mean the chief administrator of a diocese (administrative district governed by a bishop) with the power to ordain. Episcopal is the adjective for bishop.
having to do with the Christian gospel/New Testament writings. The word is also used to describe a type of Christian belief that emphasizes the inerrancy of scripture and salvation through personal conversion.
the sacrament of the Lord's Supper, a rite in which bread and wine are consecrated and consumed in symbolic union with Christ. The word comes from a Greek word meaning "grateful."
worldwide. As applied to religion, the word's current use to mean cooperation among religious groups began with a 20th century movement promoting the idea of an inter-confessional Christian unity. Now an "ecumenical" group cooperating on some matter of general social benefit might include representatives from non-Christian religions.
the study of matters relating to the ultimate destiny of mankind and the world.
the belief that salvation is to be obtained by means of secret knowledge and that the material world is evil. Gnostic mystery religions abounded in the Roman Empire. The early Christian church was fragmented into various sects, many of which taught a Gnostic version of the new religion.
the story of Christ's life and teachings as told in the first four books of the Christian New Testament. The literal meaning of the word is "good news."
a religious opinion, or adherence to such an opinion, that is contrary to an established religious teaching. The word comes from Greek hairesis, "action of taking, choice, sect." Originally a heresy was simply a difference of opinion. It became a religious crime, often punished by death.
a body of social, cultural, and religious beliefs and practices found chiefly in India. It includes a belief in reincarnation and transmigration of souls.
in Roman Catholicism, a remission of punishment, especially punishment in Purgatory (in Catholic belief, Purgatory is an intermediate place of purification for souls that departed stained with minor sins not deserving of eternal punishment in Hell).
the Roman Catholic doctrine that the Virgin Mary was conceived without Original Sin (the sin of Adam and Eve conveyed to all human beings). This is not the same thing as the Virgin Birth, "the belief that Jesus was divinely begotten and miraculously born of a virgin mother."
a holy war on behalf of Islam. The Christian equivalent word is crusade, "a campaign or war sanctioned by the Church against unbelievers or heretics." Literal crusades were common in the Middle Ages and were directed against Christian heretics as well as non-Christians. Now the term is used figuratively to mean "any remedial activity pursued with zeal and enthusiasm." The same meaning is becoming attached to jihad.
not in holy orders. In a monastery there are monks who pray and do intellectual work, and those who do manual work and attend to secular affairs. The latter are called lay brothers. The term has spread to non-religious professions. Someone who lacks professional knowledge of a particular profession is called a layman. In a church setting one may speak of the clergy and the laity (non-clerical members of the church).
the doctrine or belief that there is only one God.
the viewpoint that all traditional beliefs are unfounded and that human life has no meaning.
in agreement with the official doctrine of a given religion. The word is from Greek orthodoxein, "to have the right opinion." The noun is orthodoxy. Departure from orthodoxy is called heterodoxy.
This is a term difficult to define in even such a superficial treatment as this. For the early Christians, a pagan was a believer in polytheistic religion. The word originally meant "country dweller." The rural population was slower to adopt Christianity than the city dwellers, probably because their religion was closely bound to agricultural cycles. Nowadays there are religious groups that identify themselves as Pagans. Modern paganism is earth-centered and can include polytheistic beliefs. The word heathen is used pejoratively to mean a person without religion. Like pagan, heathen also points to the fact that non-city dwellers tended to reject religious change. Heath comes from a word meaning "field." Heathen was originally an adjective meaning "of the heath."
belief in more than one god.
not holy. Anything not related to religion and spirituality is profane. The word can also be used as a verb meaning "to treat something sacred with irreverence."
worldly, not sacred. Similar to profane, secular refers to anything that is not specifically religious.
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