Defining Religion

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one who believes in a false god or gods; currently pagan is used as a name for an adherent of one of the ancient polytheistic religions or the contemporary revival of those religions.


the belief that human beings have the ability to save themselves apart from God's grace and the work of Christ. The teaching is named for Pelagius, a British monk who traveled in the Mediterranean world around AD 400. Pelagianism was opposed by Augustine and condemned by the Council of Ephesus (AD 431).


a movement originating in early 20th century America which emphasizes the so-called Baptism in the Holy Spirit with the consequent charismatic gifts of speaking in tongues, faith-healing, and prophesying. Pentecostal denominations comprise perhaps the fastest growing branch of religion in the world today. (see Charismatic movement)


a set of Scripture lessons from the Old Testament, Epistles, and Gospels assigned to be read on each respective Sunday and holiday of the church year. A number of pericopes have been developed over the centuries. The pericope known as the Standard or Historic dates from about 600 AD.


a request. The Lord's Prayer contains seven requests or petitions. God wants us to bring all of our requests to him in prayer. "Do not be anxious about anything, but in everything, by prayer and petition, with thanksgiving, present your requests to God" (Philippians 4:6).


a Jewish sect that developed in the centuries following the return of the Jews from the Babylonian Captivity. The Pharisees were particularly concerned about the legal observance of Jewish religious rituals, but they were often more concerned with forms and outward observance than with the proper attitude of the heart. Jesus condemned them because of their hypocrisy and work righteousness (Matthew 23:13-38).


a movement that began among German Lutherans in the late 17th century as a reaction to a perceived spiritual deadness in the state church. Pietism tends to emphasize sanctification rather than justification, deeds rather than creeds, and subjective, human, religious experience rather than the objective truths of God's Word.


Plead means to ask for fervently, to beg. To plead for mercy is to ask for compassion or kindness or forgiveness. It implies that the person asking must depend on the other person for the help sought (is at that person's "mercy").


the teaching that the Christian Church some time in the future will experience a long, indefinite period of unsurpassed peace, prosperity, and success before Jesus returns on Judgment Day.


a societal shift in attitude beginning in the mid to late 20th century away from the "Enlightenment" reliance on human reason and scientific proof and acceptance of objective truth to a belief that truth is relative and determined by the community to which one belongs and by that community's experience and feelings.

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