Glossary of religious & spiritual terms
Religious terms starting with the letter "F"
- Faith: A system of religious belief. There are many and they conflict with each other.
- Faith group: a general, inclusive term that might be used to refer to a religion, denomination, sect, cult, or informal group.
- Faith-formula movement: (a.k.a. Word of Faith movement, Health
& Wealth Gospel, Positive Confession, Name it and Claim it, and ). A group of
conservative Protestant para-church ministries which focus on "anointed"
ministers and the health, wealth, and success of their viewers and donors.
MinistryWatch estimates that their total income is in excess of a half billion
dollars annually. 2
- Faith tradition: A synonym for "faith group."
- Fall of mankind: The belief, based on a literal translation of
Genesis, that when Adam and Eve ate the forbidden fruit in the Garden of
Eden they lost communion with God and brought themselves and all their
descendents (including the present and future generations) into a
condition of sin and misery. Many religious liberals reject this belief,
and interpret Genesis symbolically to indicate the rise of Adam and Eve
from a pre-human state to full humanity, becoming aware for the first time of the differences
between good and evil -- that is, developing a moral sense and becoming fully human.
- Fallibilism: The belief that no belief, theory, view,
postulation, etc. can be proven with absolute certainty. Any of our beliefs
are subject to change in the future.
- "Fall-sin-redemption" model. This is a key theological
belief about sin and salvation that is held by many Christians. It
consists of a series of beliefs:
- Adam and Eve disobeyed God in the Garden of Eden when they
ate of the fruit of the tree of knowledge of good and evil.
- By their actions, sin entered the world for the first time, and
produced a gulf between God and our first parents.
- Through the concept of imputation, -- the transfer of sin and punishment from the guilty to the innocent -- Adam and Eve's sin has been
assigned to their children, their grandchildren, and all the way down through over 200 generations to
present-day humanity. Not a single person since our first parents has
- Because of the incarnation in which God took human form in the body of
Jesus, and because of Jesus' sinlessness, he had the power to forgive sin.
- Persons can be saved today by repenting of their sin, and trusting Jesus as
Lord and Savior. They will then attain
Heaven when they die. They become a new creation. Through a
process of sanctification God helps them change and become more like
Christ. The other alternative is to not trust Jesus; they will then be tortured in Hell for all eternity.
Some liberal/progressive Christians reject this model. In part, this is because
they view the Garden of Eden story as a religious myth, and Adam and Eve's
actions as symbolizing
the rise of humanity -- not its fall.
- False Memory: A recollection of an event that never happened, or
a very heavily distorted recollection of an event that did occur. During the
1980s and 1990s, false memories were created in tens or hundreds of
thousands of North American adults through the use of suggestive techniques
like hypnosis, "truth drugs," guided imagery, etc. Most "memories" were
generated during therapeutic sessions; some during mutual support groups;
still others through individual self-hypnosis. Tens of thousands of innocent
parents and relatives were accused of child sexual abuse as a result of
false memories. Some victims of recovered memory therapy
were driven to suicide by the memories. The therapeutic technique still
continues at a low level and new victims are still being created. However,
it has largely been discredited and abandoned by counselors and therapists.
- Familiar spirit: An evil spirit who can allegedly possess the
body of a human, and communicate with them. Belief in evil spirits is
widespread among many religious conservatives, but has been abandoned by
mental health experts for over a century.
- Fantasy Role Playing Games: (acronym
RPG) A game like
Dungeons and Dragons in which individuals play the roles of
characters that they have selected. Typically, these characters live in a
pre-scientific, often medieval society, and are subjected to many
challenges. Some conservative Christians have expressed concern that some
characters are non-Christian; some parents are concerned about stories of
suicides among RPG players. Fortunately, studies have indicated that players tend to be
more stable and less likely to commit suicide than the average person.
- Faqih: A Muslim term for a man skilled in Shari'ah law who has
the authority to issue fatwas.
- Fard: A Muslim term for an act that
is absolutely obligatory. A Muslim who denies a fard becomes an unbeliever.
- Fascism: A political concept in which the state is considered
paramount, and individual freedoms and human rights are of minor importance.
- Fast; Fasting: The act of doing without food and/or water for
an interval of time -- generally to attain a spiritual goal. Muslims
are expected to fast completely between sunrise and sunset during the
lunar month of Ramadan, where it is medically possible. The practice is widespread among followers of
many religions, including Native American Spirituality, Islam,
- Fatalism: The belief that any effort to improve oneself or the
world is useless because everything is predetermined by blind, irrational
- Fatwa: This is an Islamic term that literally means "an
answer to a question." Traditionally, it has been a recommendation, an
opinion issued by a Muslim scholar on a specific subject.
- Feminist Theology: A rejection of the patriarchal, sexist,
homophobic, and other teachings in the Bible which are considered immoral
by most of today's religious and secular ethical standards. It promotes a theology
which stresses human rights, sexual enjoyment, feminine ordination, and
equality. It often involves re-interpreting the Bible in gender-neutral terms.
- Feng Shui: A belief, originating in Taoism, that structures and
objects in one's environment need to be properly aligned in order to maximize health and
- Fideism, Fideist: From the Latin word "fides" which means "faith." A person who relies on faith rather than reason in matters related to religion and philosophy. Some have traced this belief back to Tertullian in the second century CE, although that is controversial.
- Filioque: The Niceno-Constantinopolitan
or Constantinopolitan Creed was written and adopted at
the Council of Nicea in 325 CE, and then modified by the Council at Chalcedon
in 451 CE, and later modified during the sixth century CE
with the addition of
the filioque. This phrase states that they Holy Spirit
proceeded from the Father and the Son. The Eastern Orthodox churches have
historically rejected the filioque, citing John 15:26 as proof that the Holy
Spirit proceeded only from the Father. Friction over the filioque was a
major cause of the split between the Roman Catholic Church and Eastern
Orthodoxy which was formalized in 1054 CE.
- Final Solution: The German Nazi plan for the total extermination
of every Jew in Europe.
- Fiqh: A Muslim term describing allowable and forbidden
- First Temple Period: The interval from 850 to 586 BCE during
which time the Jerusalem Temple was in place.
- Five hindrances: A Buddhist list of feelings that prevent one's
spiritual progress: Lust, aversion, sloth, restlessness, and skepticism.
- Five poisons: A Buddhist list of five harmful influences
commonly found in life: ignorance, hate, pride, craving and envy.
- Five precepts: A Buddhist list of activities to avoid: Killing,
stealing, sexual misconduct, lying and the taking of intoxicants.
- Five ways: These are the five proofs of the existence of God as
derived by Thomas Aquinas from Greek Pagan metaphysical thought.
- Flying bishops: This is an informal Anglican term used in the Church of
England and the Episcopal Church, USA. It refers to bishops that are
nominated to provide Episcopal duties in parishes which refuse to accept
women as clergy. The parishes have to petition their bishop for such
- Foreknowledge: An attribute of God that he is able to know all
things: past, present and future.
- Form criticism: A method of analyzing biblical verses which
involves studying the literary forms used in the passage. It often seeks
to uncover the oral traditions behind Bible passages.
- Fortune telling: A method of divination: predicting the future.
Often performed using cards, tarot cards, runes, palm reading, tea leaf
- Foundationalist, Foundationalism: "... the belief that all
beliefs are ultimately set upon an unalterable foundation."
- Four constituents: In Buddhism, the fundamental components
which make up the universe: earth, water, wind and fire.
- Four noble truths: A Buddhist list of basic truths about
suffering -- that:
- Suffering exists.
- It comes from one's attachment to desires.
- It can be overcome by ceasing one's attachment to desire.
- The Eightfold Path is the way to achieve freedom from suffering.
- Freemasonry: A spiritual, fraternal order for men which
originated in guilds of stone cutters. Freemasons see Freemasonry as
supplementing and not in conflict with their religious belief. They are
heavily involved in charitable works, like the Shriner's hospitals. Many
conservative Christians view Freemasonry as anti-Christian and condemn
membership in the Masonic Order. Freemasons, like dozens of other groups
ranging from the Roman Catholic Church to Quakers, have been accused of
ritual abuse. However, no hard evidence has been
found to confirm this.
- Freethinker: This
originally referred to persons who doubted the Trinity -- the concept that
a Godhead existed composed of single entity involving three personalities: a Father, Son and Holy Spirit.
supported the concept of a single indivisible deity. The meaning of the
term has since changed its meaning to include persons who reject religious
beliefs in general, and who follow their own spiritual and ethical path.
- Free will: When used by Christian theologians, means the
ability of an individual to freely choose their own actions. This is denied by Calvinists, who say
that God cannot be truly sovereign if humans have complete free will.
- Friday, good: The Friday before Easter Sunday. This
commemorates the execution of Jesus by the occupying Roman Army circa 33
- Frum: A religiously observant Jew.
- Funchpevan: The conservative wing of Protestant Christianity. The word is derived from FUNdamentst, CHarismatic, Pentecostal, and EVANgelical. Coined on 2011-JAN-25 by the sponsors of this web site.
- Fundamentalist: Within Christianity, this is a term
used since the 1920's to refer to the most religiously
conservative groups within Protestant Christianity. Within
Judaism, Islam and other religions, the term is used to refer to the
extreme conservative wing who Karen Armstrong defines as "embattled
forms of spirituality, which have emerged as a response to a perceived
crisis" 1 - namely the fear that modernity
will erode or even eradicate their faith and morality.
Christianity can be traced to
the late 19th Century as a reaction against liberal movements of Biblical criticism and
analysis. A 1909 publication "The Fundamentals: A testimony to the
truth" proposed five required beliefs for
conservative Christians; they are listed elsewhere in this glossary under "Evangelicals", items 1 to
5. Fundamentalists generally believe that other wings of Christianity,
and other religions, are in error. The largest Protestant denomination in the U.S., the Southern
Baptist Convention, has recently transitioned to fundamentalism. Bob
Jones University, the General Association of Regular Baptists,
the Moody Bible Institute and other organizations are also fundamentalist.
Among the most generally known leaders are James Dobson, Jerry Falwell, Bob Jones
and Hal Lindsey. See the term "Modernism."
The term has three additional meanings in general usage that cause great
- A "snarl" word, used by some non-fundamentalists to imply intolerance,
bigotry, lack of flexibility and an anti-intellectual bias.
- When applied by the Western media to Muslims, it often means
"anti-American". Sometimes it means "radical fundamentalist
extremist Muslim terrorist." who form a very small percentage of Muslims.
- When used by conservative Muslims themselves, it refers to a person who strictly follows
the teachings of Mohammed, and who promotes the concept of theocratic government.
- Fur: An important, but not a foundational belief, within Islam.
A believer can reject such a belief and still remain a Muslim.
- Futurism, Futurist: Attempts to predict the future. In
Christianity, the term applies particularly to the interpretation of
biblical books such as Daniel and
Revelation in order to foretell events in our
The following information sources were used to prepare and update the above
essay. The hyperlinks are not necessarily still active today.
- Karen Armstrong, "The Battle for God," Kop Pub., (2000)
reviews or order this book safely from Amazon.com online book store
- "A critical look at the 'Word of Faith' ministries," Ministry
Watch Reflections, 2003-OCT, at:
http://www.ministrywatch.com/ This is a PDF file. You may require software to read it. Software can be obtained free from:
- Ian Kane, "Logic Nest", we blog. at:
Copyright © 1996 to 2011 by Ontario Consultants on Religious Tolerance
Originally written on: 1996-MAR-11
Last update and review: 2011-AUG-20
Author: B.A. Robinson