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Glossary of religious and spiritual terms

Starting with the letter "Mo" to "My"

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Continued from a list of words beginning with the letters "Ma" to "Mi"

bullet Modalism: (a.k.a. Sabellianism, modalistic monarchianism, or modal monarchism): A Christian belief about the nature of God that rejects the Trinity. It regards God as a indivisible unity -- a single being who is perceived by humans at various times in different modes or aspects: as Father, Son and Holy Spirit. Modalism is now considered a heresy by most Christians. Sabellianism is named after Sibellius, a third century CE priest and theologian.

bulletMohammed: See: Muhammad, the preferred spelling.

bullet Mohel: An individual who conducts a circumcision.

bulletMoksha: A Hindu term that means liberation and release from samsara -- the changing world and the repeated cycle of birth and rebirth. "...this liberation seemed to involve some sort of absorption into the Universal Spirit or the Absolute and the loss of one's individual identity." 1

bulletMonarchianism: A Christian heresy which taught that God is a single entity and that Jesus was a pure man, born of a virgin, who was adopted by God.

bulletMonastery: A building where an intentional religious community lives according to a lifestyle which often includes vows, religious exercises, contemplation, meditation, and prayer.

bulletMonism:
bulletA religious term for the belief that what people perceive as deity, humanity and the rest of the universe is in fact all of one substance. Divisions among the body, mind, flesh, spirit, material, physical are not real. All are simply aspects of one supreme being.

bulletA legal term for the theory that national and international law exist as a single structure with the latter being supreme.

bulletMonolatry: Belief that multiple deities exist, although only one is to be worshiped.

bulletMonophysite: A a person or religious group which believes in Monophysitism. The Ethiopian Church holds to this belief and is thus regarded by many Christian denominations as heretics or schismatics. They prefer the term "non-Chalcedonian" rather than "monophysite."

bulletMonophysitism: A belief that Jesus Christ only had a single nature, and that it was divine. This contrasts with Diophysitism and the hypostatic union.

bulletMonotheist: One who believes in the existence of only one deity, usually male. See also henotheism.

bulletMorality: A system which differentiates between right and wrong conduct. In practice, it often refers to sexual conduct.

bullet Moral Rearmament: An organization founded in 1938 by Frank Nathan Daniel Buchman (1878 - 1961). It was preceded by "A First Century Christian Fellowship" at the time of World War I, and "The Oxford Group" in 1929. The Oxford Group was the source of Alcoholics Anonymous and other 12 step programs. The goal of all of the groups was to change society one person at a time, by promoting absolute purity, unselfishness, honesty and love. Buchman's principles continue today in the group Initiatives of Change International. See: http://www.iofc.org/ 2

bullet Mormonism: This is a group of about 100 denominations that trace their spiritual ancestry back to The Church of Jesus Christ which was founded by Joseph Smith in New York state during 1830 CE. The largest Mormon denominations are The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints (LDS) and the Reorganized Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints, now called the Community of Christ. They teach that Jesus spent time in Central and South America after his crucifixion, spreading the gospel to Aboriginal peoples throughout the Americas. Smith stated that as a result of an angelic visitation, he was shown the location of golden plates containing the Book of Mormon, one of the denominations' sacred texts. He also found the Urim and Thummin which enabled him to translate the plates into English. Both later disappeared. The LDS announced that it had abandoned the practice of polygyny during the 19th century, but -- in secret -- continued the practice into the early 20th century. They were a racist organization, discriminating against African Americans over ordination to the priesthood until 1978. They continue, along with many conservative Christian faith groups, as a sexist organization in their refusal to ordain women. They and the Roman Catholic Church actively oppress the LGBT community. They have about 11 million members worldwide and are growing rapidly.

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bulletMortal sin: A Roman Catholic classification of serious offenses against God or the church. Unless cleared by through confession and absolution, it would cause an individual to end up in Hell after death. Lighter offenses are called venial sins, and can be expiated by various good works and activities.

bulletMosque: "Masjid" is the name used by Muslims to refer to their house of worship. Mosque is the English version of that term. It literally means "place of prostration." There are about 1,209 masjids in the U.S. and on the order of 100 in Canada.

bulletMuhammad: Within Islam, he is considered the final prophet. He is the founder of Islam.

bullet Multiconfessional: Composed of many faiths or tolerant of many different religions. Generally used to refer to a country with religious diversity, a cemetery accepting persons of different faiths, an organization that accepts individuals of all beliefs, etc.

bulletMulti-faith (a.k.a. multifaith): An attempt to initiate dialog, cooperation, and understanding among individuals of many different faiths. It is occasionally used as a synonym for "interfaith." Unfortunately, the term "faith" is defined differently by various religious groups. For example, some conservative Christians regard a person who is not of their denomination to be from a different faith. Other conservative Christians would regard liberal Christians as being of a different faith. Still other Christians interpret "multifaith" as involving other religions, as in a Christian-Jewish-Muslim exchange.

bulletMultiverse: A concept accepted by some scientists that our universe is only one of "multiple universes bubbling, colliding and budding off each other." 3

bulletMurtadd: Literally: "one who turns the back." In Islam, this refers to an apostate -- one who rejects the religion.

bulletMurtad Fitri: Literally: apostate - natural. A person born of a Muslim parent who later rejects Islam.

bulletMurtad Milli: Literally: apostate - from the community. A person who converted to Islam and later rejected the religion.

bulletMuslim: a follower of Islam. It is sometimes misspelled "Moslem" which is offensive to some Muslims.

bulletMystery religion: This term is most often used to refer to a group of religions in ancient Greece and Rome which existed in competition with the official state religions. They "...offered personal salvation through initiation into an enlightened group bound by some special secret, often involving the promise of an afterlife, a recompense for present miseries. Hence mystery religions had great appeal to the powerless and dispossessed." 4 Some consider the primitive Christian movement to have been a mystery religion. Contemporary faith groups, such as Gnosticism, Mormonism, Wicca, other Neopagan groups, etc., are sometimes called mystery religions today.

bulletMystical union: This has been described as "a flow of life between Jesus and his followers." 5 -- between Jesus and the Church.

bullet Mysticism: From Greek "initiate into mysteries:" The belief and practice of a third form of knowledge -- the other two being faith and science. Mysticism involves "...inward perception of the mind, internal illumination, or special revelation..." 6 According to the Encyclopedia Britannica, mysticism is "the human being's direct experience or consciousness of ultimate reality."

bulletMyth: A traditional story that is not literally true, but which generally portrays fundamental spiritual and religious truths. There are probably on the order of 500 creation myths among the many faith groups in the world. Most, or all, do not represent reality. But many contain much wisdom.

bullet Mythicism, Mythicist: The belief that many gods, goddesses, god-men, heroes, and legendary individuals from the Torah, Christian Scriptures, or other holy texts are actually mythological characters who never actually lived. 7

References used:

The following information sources were used to prepare and update the above essay. The hyperlinks are not necessarily still active today.

  1. "India Glossary: Moksha," at: http://www.wsu.edu:8080/
  2. "Religion: Less Buchmanism," Time Magazine, 1941-NOV-24, at: http://www.time.com/
  3. "One universe or many? Panel holds unusual debate," World Science, 2006-MAR-30, at: http://www.world-science.net/
  4. "Cults ancient and modern," Arion journal, at: http://www.bu.edu/
  5. "Who we are as Christ's Mystical Body," Catholic Update, undated, at: http://www.americancatholic.org/
  6. "Watchman Fellowship's 2001 Index of Cults and Religions: Mysticism," at: http://www.watchman.org/
  7. D.M. Murdock, "What is a Mythicist?" Stellar House Publishing, at: http://stellarhousepublishing.com/

Copyright © 1996 to 2013 by Ontario Consultants on Religious Tolerance
Originally written on: 1996-MAR-11

Last update: 2013-AUG-17
Author: B.A. Robinson

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