Key Terms- Christianity
1) Baptism- The sprinkling or immersion in water, the ritual by which a person is
initiated into membership in the Christian community. Baptism is considered a
cleansing from sin.
2) Glossolalia- Speaking in strange tongues, which is a principal feature of
3) Passion- The suffering and death of Jesus on the cross.
4) Pentecost- The fiftieth day after Easter, commemorated as the occasion when
Jesus’ followers experienced dramatically the presence of the Holy Spirit and the
ability to preach and be understood in different languages.
5) Sacrament- A ritual action seen as signifying divine grace. The most widely
accepted as sacraments are baptism and the Eucharist; the Catholic Church has
regarded these plus five others as sacraments since the thirteenth century.
6) Transubstantiation- The Catholic doctrine that the bread and wine of the Eucharist
are at the moment of consecration in the service miraculously transformed into the
body and blood of Christ.
7) Apostle’s Creed- A brief statement of Christian doctrinal belief dating from about
the third century but ascribed to the apostles or first generation followers of Jesus,
and often recited in unison by congregation.
8) Atonement- Christ’s restoration of humanity to a right relationship with God,
variously interpreted as divine victory over demonic power, satisfaction of divine
justice, or demonstration of a moral example.
9) Bishop- The supervising priest of a district called a diocese. In some branches of
Christianity the bishop has charge of ordaining priests as well as confirming
10) Canon-A standard. A scriptural canon is the list of books acknowledged as
scripture. The list of acknowledged saints is likewise a canon. Canon law is the
accumulated body of Church regulations and discipline. Clergy subject to the rule
of a particular cathedral or congregation are also sometimes termed canons.
11) Crucifix- A cross with an image of the suffering Jesus mounted on it.
12) Eucharist- The ritual re-enactment of Jesus’ sacrifice of himself, patterned after
his sharing bread and wine as his body and blood at his final Passover meal with
his disciples. The Orthodox term it the liturgy, Catholics the mass, and Protestants
the Lord’s Supper or Holy Communion.
13) Indulgences- Releases from specified amounts of time in purgatory, a realm to
which in Catholic doctrine the soul proceeds after death for an unspecified period
of preparation to enter heaven.
14) Logos- ‘Word’ in the sense of eternal divine intelligence and purpose, an idea
prominent in Greek thought at the time of Jesus.
15) Mysticism- A tradition cultivating and reflecting on the content of moments of
intensely felt spiritual union with the divine.
16) Nicene Creed- An ancient doctrinal formulation longer and more explicit than the
Apostles’ Creed and still in the use through regular recitation in the catholic mass.
17) Trinity-The conception of God as having three ‘persons’ or manifestations: as
father, as son and as Holy Spirit. The doctrine emerged during the late third
century and was adopted after vigorous debate in the fourth.