The following text is from Irving Hexham's Concise Dictionary of Religion, first published by InterVarsity Press, Carol Stream, USA, 1994, second edition, Regent College Press, Vancouver, 1999.
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Copyright © Irving Hexham 1994, 1998.
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For further information about the book and the sources used to compile this text see the PREFACE.
For a Religious Studies READING LIST
Cross-references are indicated by the use of CAPITAL LETTERS.
LALITAVISTARA: one of the most important texts in MAHYNA BUDDHISM which tends towards a FORM of BUDDHIST BHAKTI and gives a very different account of the BUDDHA's life which emphasizes the "play" or "sport" of a divine BEING. The date of the text is unknown.
LANKVATARA STRA: one of the nine major texts of MAHAYANA BUDDHISM and an important source for Chinese and Japanese Buddhism. It contains conversations of the BUDDHA which are represented as presenting the ORTHODOX teaching of BUDDHISM. The text contains a strong critique of HINDU PHILOSOPHY. An early FORM of the text was translated into Chinese around 420 prior to that nothing is known about its history.
LAO TZU (6th century B.C.): the greatest of the TAOIST masters about whom very little is known although LEGENDS abound. He was an older contemporary of CONFUCIUS. Traditionally he is the author of the Tao Te Ching or Book of Lao-Tzu.
LARES: Roman DEITIES of the land, possibly ANCESTORS, which came to be associated with cross-roads.
LAUD, William (1573-1645): English ARCHBISHOP of CANTERBURY and strong opponent of PURITANISM who sought to promote ROMAN CATHOLIC style DOCTRINE and LITURGY in the CHURCH OF ENGLAND. He was executed for corruption and various crimes.
LAW, William (1686-1761). English spiritual writer who was greatly appreciated by John WESLEY, George WHITEFIELD, and Henry VENN. Among his writings are On Christian Perfection (1726), and A Serious Call to a Devout and Holy Life (1728). He was inspired by the teaching of Thomas a'Kempis and GREEK ORTHODOX spiritual writers.
LAWRENCE, Brother (1605-1691): French MYSTIC and Lay Brother of the Carmelite Order known for his HOLY and PRAYERFUL life. The Practice of the Presence of God is a modern anthology of his writings.
LAYMAN: a member of a religious COMMUNITY or movement who is not a PRIEST or CLERGYMAN.
LEACH, Ronald Edmund (1910-1987): British anthropologist who popularized STRUCTURALISM and the work of Claude LÉVI-STRAUSS. He wrote extensively on the interpretation of the BIBLE his best known work in this area being Genesis as Myth (1966). Among his many works Rethinking Anthropology best represents his viewpoint (1961).
LEE, Ann (1736-1784): originally a SHAKING QUAKER she withdrew from her husband in 1766 and assumed leadership of the local Shakers. Her cardinal doctrines were: CONFESSION as the door to the regenerate life, CELIBACY its rule and cross. "Mother Ann, the Word," as she was called, and seven followers emigrated to New York in 1774 and the movement grew rapidly. She formulated the characteristic BELIEFS of the Shakers; celibacy, COMMUNISM, pacifism, MILLENIALISM, elitism, and spiritual manifestations through barking, dancing, and shaking.
LEE, Witness (?): Chinese follower of Watchman NEE who founded the controversial LOCAL CHURCH which encourages a FORM of communal living and various liturgical practices such as "PRAYER reading" the BIBLE.
LEGENDS: a short prose narrative often tied in with a particular place or locality which tells an apparently HISTORICAL story which has little basis in actual fact. Legends often contain mysterious, MAGICAL and SUPERNATURAL elements.
LEIBNIZ, Gottfried Wilhelm, Baron von (1646-1716): German RATIONALIST PHILOSOPHER, mathematician, and inventor of Calculus whose work led to the development of SYMBOLIC LOGIC. He taught that the UNIVERSE is made up of ultimate entities known as monads. GOD is the supreme monad responsible for the state of the universe. He is eternal and absolute truth who created this world as the best possible world. EVIL is a problem but is to be understood as a the consequence of freedom which makes the world a far better place than if humans lacked the ability to choose.
LENIN, Vladimir Ilyich (1870-1924): Russian intellectual heir of MARX and ENGELS and professional REVOLUTIONARY who founded the Soviet Communist Party and eventually led it to power. His works include Imperialism the Highest Stage of Capitalism (1916) and Materialism and Empirico-Criticism (1908).
LESSING, Gotthold Ephraim (1729-1781): German ENLIGHTENMENT PHILOSOPHER, publicist, playwright, critic, and art theorist. He worked for the free and democratic development of the German people and their CULTURE and was highly critical of the possibility of HISTORICAL knowledge especially of religious events.
LEVELLERS: an extremist SECT during the PURITAN REVOLUTION and English Civil War which advocated civil and religious equality.
LÉVI-BRUHL, Lucien (1857-1939): French philosopher and armchair ANTHROPOLOGIST who wrote Primitive Mentality (1922) which he claimed lacked LOGICAL distinctions.
LÉVI-STRAUSS, Claude (1908-): French ANTHROPOLOGIST and originator of structuralism. Although immensely influential in anthropology, he did very little fieldwork and is more a philosopher and armchair anthropologist in the tradition of Sir James FRAZER than an empirical scientist. His works include Totemism (1963), The Savage Mind (1966) and Structural Anthropology (1963).
LEVIATHAN: a HEBREW word meaning "coiled or twisted" which is used to refer to a sea monster in the HEBREW BIBLE.
LEVIRATE MARRIAGE: the marriage of a man to his brother's widow, provided no son has been born to the deceased man. This is practiced in many societies and is mandated in Deuteronomy 25:5-10 and the HEBREW BIBLE.
LEVITES: the descendants of JACOB's son, Levi, who became an Order of PRIESTS in ANCIENT JUDAISM.
LEWIS, Clive Staples (1898-1963): novelist, poet, literary critic and CHRISTIAN APOLOGIST. An ANGLICAN LAY-MAN who taught at both the universities of Oxford and Cambridge. He is best known for his Narnia Chronicles (1950-1569, 5 Vols.), The Screwtape Letters (1941), and Mere Christianity (1952). The story of his CONVERSION is told in Surprised by Joy (1955) and the ponderous The Pilgrims Regress (1933).
LI: Chinese concept developed in CONFUCIANISM which denotes the proper procedure whereby Rites must be performed.
LI CHI: the Book of Rites and Ceremonies which is one of the Five Classics in CONFUCIANISM.
LIBATIONS: the pouring of liquid offerings, such as water, blood or wine, in religious RITUAL.
LIBERAL: someone who seeks the mean and deplores DOGMA.
LIBERAL PROTESTANTISM: a loose designation for a wide range or religious thought unified more by a temper of mind than specific BELIEFS. It originated in the nineteenth century and reached its height in America in the decades preceding the Second World War. It was characterized by: (1) an eagerness to discard old ORTHODOXIES when judged IRRATIONAL in the light of modern knowledge or irrelevant to the central core of religious experience; (2) a confidence in the power of human REASON guided by experience; (3) a BELIEF in freedom; (4) a BELIEF in the social NATURE of human existence; (5) a FAITH in the benevolence of GOD and the goodness of creation. Liberal Protestantism enthusiastically endorsed BIBLICAL CRITICISM. The movement is generally traced back to the German THEOLOGIAN Frederick SCHLEIERMACHER and seen in the work of Albrecht RITSCHL who manifested a drive for the relevant. By the early twentieth century Liberal Protestantism was characterized by an emphasis on the fatherhood of God and brotherhood of man.
LIBERATION: in YOGIC RELIGIONS such as HINDUISM and BUDDHISM the goal of the devotee is expressed by many terms all of which assume the cessation of REBIRTH and freedom from the bonds of KARMA. This aim may generally be termed liberation.
LIEH-TZU (4th century B.C.): Taoist philosopher and TRADITIONAL author of the Book of Lieh-tzu which argues that because life is fleeting and ends in death it is futile, therefore, HEDONISM is the only possible response.
LINGAM: the main emblem of IVA and an object of WORSHIP in HINDUISM: the Ligam is a phallus. The origin of Ligam worship may be traced back to pre-ARYAN India and the DRAVIDIANS south.
LINGYATS: a HINDU SECT within aivism originating with the teachings of Basava (12th century) which concentrated on the LINGAM as the one true symbol of divinity. In theory the Sect rejects CULT images, the CASTE system and many ritual practices found in HINDUISM. The THEOLOGY of the GROUP is a FORM of qualified NON-DUALISM which sees the world as created by IVA to whom every SOUL must return. Members of the Sect wear a Ligam around their neck.
LIMBO: an intermediary state between HEAVEN and HELL according to traditional ROMAN CATHOLICISM.
LITURGY: a term used to describe the order or structure of WORSHIP in CHRISTIANITY.
LIVINGSTONE, David (1813-1873): MISSIONARY, explorer and opponent of the slave trade. In 1838, he joined the London Missionary Society and became passionately interested in Africa. Reports of his explorations and experiences aroused wide interest in England. His principal work was Missionary Travels and Researches in South Africa (1857).
LLOYD-JONES, David Martyn (1899-1981): a distinguished Welsh physician who became a BAPTIST minister in 1929 was one of the great twentieth century Preachers. His popular Biblical expositions including Studies in the Sermon on the Mount (1959-1960) and his multi-volume Lectures on Romans (1955-1968), as well as his lectures on PURITAN THEOLOGY helped revitalize British and American EVANGELICALISM by encouraging a revival of evangelical scholarship allied to pastoral concerns.
LOCKE, John (1632-1704): philosopher whose Essay Concerning Human Understanding (1690) developed a CHRISTIAN EMPIRICISM. He was strongly influenced by CALVINISM and became the "Father" of modern political LIBERALISM through his advocacy of religious and political toleration evidenced in his Letter on Toleration (1698) and Two Treaties on Government (1690). A avid student of the BIBLE, he was working on several Biblical commentaries when he died.
LOGICAL POSITIVISM: a FORM of RADICAL EMPIRICISM developed by the VIENNA CIRCLE which denied meaning to all metaphysical statements. The movement dominated Anglo-Saxon philosophy during the 1950s, 1960s and early 1970s.
LOGOS: a term used by HERACLITUS (4th century B.C.) to speak about the rational law or
principle which governs the universe. It was developed in STOICISM and PLATONISM
eventually finding its way into CHRISTIANITY where it is used at the beginning of the Gospel
of John and enabled CHRISTIAN APOLOGISTS to accommodate their religion to Greek
LO-HAN: a Korean and Japanese BUDDHIST term for ARAHANT or one who has achieved ENLIGHTENMENT.
LOLLARDS: the followers of John WYCLIFFE who were forerunners of the REFORMATION in the fourteenth and fifteenth centuries.
LONERGAN, Bernard (1904-1984): Canadian JESUIT PRIEST reckoned among the most important DOGMATIC THEOLOGIANS of this century. Instead of assuming that one or other contemporary philosophy or WORLDVIEW is correct, Lonergan sets out to determine the structure of the human mind which has given rise to the variety of philosophies and worldviews, on the basis of which each is to be criticized as inadequate. He applies this structure to theology through such works as Insight (1957), Method in Theology (1957) and The Way to Nicea (1976).
LOSSKY, Nikolai (1870-1965): Russian philosopher who argued that all things move towards GOD. His writings include The Intuitive Basis of Knowledge (1906) and History of Russian Philosophy (1951)
LOSSKY, Vladimir (1903-1958): Russian THEOLOGIAN and son of Nikolai LOSSKY who became the leading exponent of EASTERN ORTHODOXY in the West. His works include The Mystical Theology of the Eastern Church (1944) and the posthumous In the Image and Likeness of God 1967).
LOTUS SUTRA: probably the most important text of MAHYNA BUDDHISM. Its rich MYTHOLOGY and doctrine inspired the development of PURE LAND BUDDHISM and a variety of other BUDDHIST SECTS in China and Japan. It was translated into Chinese in the second century and stresses the omniscience and eternal power of the BUDDHA who draws all BEINGS to ENLIGHTENMENT.
LOU, Tseng-Tsiang (1871-1949): Chinese statesman and ROMAN CATHOLIC BENEDICTINE MONK who saw CHRISTIANITY as the completion of the CONFUCIAN TRADITION. His major work was Ways of Confucius and of Christ (1948).
LOVE: the supreme virtue in both CHRISTIANITY and CONFUCIANISM where the term is used in a remarkably similar way to mean "affection" or "the taking into the heart."
LOVEJOY, Arthur Oncken (1873-1962): American philosopher and historian of ideas who argued in favor of DUALISM. His major works are Revolt Against Dualism (1930) and The Great Chain of Being (1936).
LOYOLA, Ignatius (1495-1556): Spanish MYSTIC and religious innovator who founded the Society of Jesus or JESUITS. After being wounded in battle in 1521 he experienced a religious CONVERSION which led him to abandon his military career to become a "Soldier for Christ." For the next thirteen years he devoted himself to study and ASCETIC practices which led to a VISION of CHRIST, followed by the founding of the Jesuits in 1540.
LUCIFER: the DEVIL or source of evil in CHRISTIANITY.
LUKE (1st century): the author of the Gospel of Luke and Acts of the Apostles in the NEW TESTAMENT. He appears to have been a Roman physician with a keen sense of HISTORY and historical evidence.
LUMBINI: one of the Four HOLY places in BUDDHISM which in tradition is the birthplace of BUDDHA.
LUTHER, Martin (1483-1546): one of the most important figures in Western Christianity. He was a German THEOLOGIAN and Biblical scholar who reluctantly began the PROTESTANT REFORMATION as a result of his study of the BIBLE. The family of LUTHERAN CHURCHES are named after him and follow guidelines he established for ECCLESIASTICAL organizations. Ordained as a PRIEST in spring 1507, he taught moral PHILOSOPHY at the new University of Wittenberg. In November 1510 Luther and another MONK went on PILGRIMAGE to ROME where he was shocked by the worldliness of CHURCH leaders. The SALE of INDULGENCES provoked him to search the BIBLE for religious TRUTH where he discovered the principle of JUSTIFICATION BY FAITH. Seeking an internal REFORM of the ROMAN CATHOLIC CHURCH he taught that SCRIPTURE alone is the source of authority for the Church. Catholic theologians, led by John ECK, rejected his suggestions and began the active persecution of Luther's followers. The Reformation followed. See Luther's Works (56 Vols.) ed. by J. Pelikan and H. T. Lehmann.
LUTHERANISM: the religious movement and GROUP of PROTESTANT CHURCHES which traces its origin to Martin LUTHER and his teachings.