Glossary of religious and spiritual terms
Starting with the letter "Mo" to "My"
||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.|
|Mohammed: See: Muhammad, the preferred spelling.
||Mohel: An individual who conducts a circumcision.
|Moksha: 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|
|Monarchianism: 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
building where an intentional religious community lives according to a
lifestyle which often includes vows, religious exercises, contemplation,
meditation, and prayer.
|A 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.|
|A legal term for the theory that
national and international law exist as a single structure with the latter being
|Monolatry: Belief that multiple deities exist, although only
one is to be worshiped.
|Monophysite: 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."
|Monophysitism: A belief that Jesus Christ only had a single
nature, and that it was divine. This contrasts with
Diophysitism and the hypostatic union.
|Monotheist: One who believes in the existence of only one deity, usually male.
See also henotheism.
|Morality: A system which differentiates between right and wrong conduct.
In practice, it often refers to sexual conduct.
||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:
||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.|
|Mortal 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.
|Mosque: "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.
|Muhammad: Within Islam, he is considered the
final prophet. He is the founder of Islam.
|Multi-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.
|Multiverse: A concept accepted by some scientists that our
universe is only one of "multiple universes bubbling, colliding and
budding off each other." 3
|Murtadd: Literally: "one who turns the back."
In Islam, this refers to an
apostate -- one who rejects the religion.
|Murtad Fitri: Literally: apostate - natural. A person
born of a Muslim parent who later rejects Islam.
|Murtad Milli: Literally: apostate - from the community. A
person who converted to Islam and later rejected the religion.
|Muslim: a follower of Islam. It is sometimes misspelled
"Moslem" which is offensive to some Muslims.
|Mystery 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.
|Mystical union: This has been described as "a flow of life
between Jesus and his followers." 5
-- between Jesus and the Church.
||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
|Myth: A traditional story that is not literally true, but which generally
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.
||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|
The following information sources were used to prepare and update the above
essay. The hyperlinks are not necessarily still active today.
- "India Glossary: Moksha," at: http://www.wsu.edu:8080/
- "Religion: Less Buchmanism," Time Magazine, 1941-NOV-24, at: http://www.time.com/
- "One universe or many? Panel holds unusual debate," World
Science, 2006-MAR-30, at: http://www.world-science.net/
- "Cults ancient and modern," Arion journal, at: http://www.bu.edu/
- "Who we are as Christ's Mystical Body," Catholic Update, undated, at: http://www.americancatholic.org/
- "Watchman Fellowship's 2001 Index of Cults and Religions:
Mysticism," at: http://www.watchman.org/
- D.M. Murdock, "What is a Mythicist?" Stellar House Publishing, at: http://stellarhousepublishing.com/
Copyright © 1996 to 2011 by Ontario Consultants on
Originally written on: 1996-MAR-11
Last update: 2011-AUG-09
Author: B.A. Robinson