Christianity Vocab

Apocalypticism:

The belief that the world will soon come to and end; this belief usually includes the notion of a great battle, final judgement, and reward of the good.

Apostle:

One of Jesus’s twelve disciples; also, any early preacher of Christianity.

Baptism:

The Christian rite of initiation, involving immersion in water or sprinkling with water.

Bible:

The scriptures sacred to Christians, consisting of the books of the Hebrew Bible and the New Testament.

Bishop:

“Overseer” (Greek); a priest and church leader who is in charge of a large geographical area called a diocese.

Canon:

“Measure,” “rule” (Greek); a list of authoritative books or documents.

Ecumenism:

“Good gift” (Greek); the Lord’s Supper.

Evangelical:

Emphasizing the authority of scripture; an adjective used to identify certain Protestant groups.

Evangelist:

“Good news person” (Greek); one of the four “authors of the Gospels (Matthew, Mark, Luke, and John).

Filioque:

“And from the Son”; a Latin word added to the Nicene Creed in the Western Church to state that only the Holy Spirit proceeds from both Father and Son. The notion, which was not accepted by Orthodox Christianity, contributed to the separation between the Western and Eastern churches.

Gospel:

“Good news” (Middle English); an account of the life of Jesus.

Icon:

“Image” (Greek); religious painting on wood, as used in the Orthodox Church; also spelled ikon.

Incarnation:

“In flesh” (Latin); a belief that God became visible in Jesus.

Indulgence:

“Kindness-toward” (Latin); remission of the period spent in purgatory (a state of temporary punishment in the afterlife); this is part of the Catholic belief and practice.

Lent:

“Lengthening day,” “spring” (Old English); the preparatory period before Easter, lasting for days.

Messiah:

“Anointed” (Hebrew); a special messenger sent by God, foretold in the Hebrew scriptures and believed by Christians to be Jesus.

Original Sin:

An inclination toward evil, inherited by human beings as a result of Adam’s disobedience.

Orthodox:

“Straight opinion” (Greek); correct belief.

Orthodoxy:

The major Eastern branch of Christianity.

Patriarch:

“Father source” (Greek); the bishop of one of the major early sites of Christianity (Jerusalem, Rome, Alexandria, Antioch, Constantinople, and Moscow).

Pope:

“Father” (Latin and Greek); the bishop of Rome and head of the Roman Catholic Church; the term is also used for the Coptic patriarch of Alexandria.

Predestination:

The belief that because God is all-powerful and all-knowing, a human being’s ultimate reward or punishment is already decreed by God; a notion emphasized in Calvinism.

Protestant Principle:

The right of each believer to radically rethink and interpret the ideas and values of Christianity, apart from any church authority.

Redemption:

“Buy again,” “buy back” (Latin); the belief that the death of Jesus has paid the price of justice for all human wrongdoing.

Righteousness:

Being sinless in the sight of God; also called justification.

Sacrament:

“Sacred action” (Latin); one of the essential rituals of Christianity.

Sin:

Wrongdoing, seen as disobedience to God.

Testament:

“Contract”; the Old Testament and New Testament constitute the Christian scriptures.

Trinity:

The three “Persons” in God; Father, Son, and Holy Spirit.

 

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