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.
Cross-references are indicated by the use of CAPITAL LETTERS.
MACAULAY, Thomas Babington (1800-1859): perhaps the greatest English literary historian of the nineteenth century who served the British East India Company in India where he urged educational REFORMS based on the English model. Although he grew up in an EVANGELICAL home, he had a strong aversion to CHRISTIANITY which found expression in his influential History of England (1848).
MACAULAY, Zachary (1768-1838): Scottish ANGLICAN LAY-MAN who devoted his life to the abolition of slavery and Father of the historian Thomas Babington MACAULAY.
MACCABEES, BOOK OF: found in that part of the HEBREW BIBLE regarding the APOCRYPHA which tells of the exploits of Judas Maccabeus (d. 160 B.C.) and his family who freed the Jews from Syrian rule during the second century B.C.
MACHEN, John Gresham (1881-1937): American PRESBYTERIAN scholar who taught at Princeton Theological School before being pressured to resign over his support for FUNDAMENTALISM and his continued support for the independent Presbyterian Board of Foreign Missions. Subsequently he helped in establishing the Westminster Theological Seminary. His many books include Christianity and Liberalism (1923) and What is Faith (1924).
MACHIAVELLI, Niccolo (1469-1527): Italian political philosopher whose work The Prince (1513) marks the beginning of modern political thought devoid of religious influences.
MACKINTOSH, Hugh Ross (1870-1936): Scottish PRESBYTERIAN theologian who popularized German LIBERAL THEOLOGY in Britain. He is best known for his Types of Modern Theology (1937) and The Christian Doctrine of Forgiveness (1927).
MACLAINE, Shirley (1935-): popular actress and film star turned MYSTIC. In many ways she is the Madame BLAVATSKY of the late twentieth century, interpreting distorted FORMS of YOGIC RELIGIONS to a mass audience using very Western ideas. Her religious BELIEFS are to be found in her best selling biographies Out on a Limb (1983), Dancing in the Light (1985) and Its all in the Playing (1987).
MADHVA (1197-1276): Indian philosopher and chief exponent of the Dvaita school of VEDNTA DUALISM. Stories about his life involving MIRACLES appear to reflect the influence of the CHRISTIAN Gospel. His followers regarded him as the true mediator between GOD and man.
MDHYAMIKA: a school of MAHYNA BUDDHISM founded by NGRJUNA the central BELIEF of which is the negation of all empirical CONCEPTS. The school greatly influenced the development of various other Mahyna schools of PHILOSOPHY including the YOGCRA and the RELIGION of Tibet.
MAGI: they appear to have been a group--or tribe--of Persian PRIESTS and OCCULTISTS who probably embraced ZOROASTRIANISM.
MAGIC: the production of effects in the world by means of invisible or supernatural CAUSATION. Action based on a BELIEF in the efficacy of SYMBOLIC FORM which perform in an automatic manner. Magical belief holds that if a RITUAL is performed correctly then the desired result will of necessity be attained. The appropriate magical action leads automatically to an intended end. In the past magic was seen as separate from and essentially to a more primitive thought FORM than RELIGION but recent scholarship has tended to blur the distinction between religion and magic.
MAHBHRATA: an Indian epic which is important in HINDU mythology. It is the "Great Story" which records the HISTORY of the descendants of Bhrata. The epic is about 100,000 verses long and includes numerous sub-sections. The main story is clearly older than the historic text which was compiled sometime between 400 B.C. and 400 A.D. There is no scholarly consensus as to whether the epic is based on historical events, or purely artistic invention. The central theme develops from the MYTHS of VISHNU'S AVATRS. The Goddess Earth is oppressed by DEMONS and over-population and in danger of being submerged in the ocean. To relieve her, the GODS take human FORM and descend to earth headed by Vishnu who is born as KRISHNA and who declares the THEOLOGY of the epic in the BHAGAVAD-GTA . The story then focuses on the HISTORY of the dynasty and its response to crisis over four generations.
MAHBODHI SOCIETY: founded in Ceylon in 1891 by a BUDDHIST PRIEST, Angarika Dharmapla, the SOCIETY aimed at restoring the Buddhist TEMPLES of India and reviving BUDDHISM in the land of its birth.
MAHKYAPA THERA (6th century B.C.?): a prominent disciple of the BUDDHA who is referred to in many BUDDHIST Canonical writings. Little is known about his life.
MAHSATIPATTHANA SUTTA: often considered the most important SCRIPTURE in the PALI CANON of BUDDHISM it consists of discourses believed to have been delivered by the BUDDHA to his Monks on mindfulness and the FOUR HOLY TRUTHS. Recital of the SCRIPTURE at the time of death is believed to be particularly beneficial.
MAHVASA: a PALI chronicle which outlines the HISTORY of BUDDHISM in India, before its introduction into Ceylon, and its growth there until the fourth century.
MAHVASTU: an important SANSKRIT biography of the BUDDHA written from the viewpoint of the Lokottaravda school of BUDDHISM. The meaning of which is "the Great Event." According to the teachings of this SCRIPTURE the Buddhas are "Exalted BEINGS" who are "above the world" and therefore only appear to conform to a worldly EXISTENCE. This teaching is a transitional one in the development of the MAHYNA. The text is usually dated around the third century.
MAHVRA (550-420 B.C.?): the founder of historical JAINISM and a reformer of the ancient Jain religious TRADITION. His name means "the Great Hero." Leaving home around the age of 30, he became an ascetic who attained LIBERATION after 13 years austerity. Following his ENLIGHTENMENT, he organized the Jain RELIGION. His death came about through RITUAL SUICIDE involving starvation.
MAHYNA: the "Great Tradition." One of the TRADITIONAL schools of BUDDHISM. The origins of Mahyna are difficult to determine but lie somewhere between the first century B.C. and the first century A.D. As a religious system it has a universalist emphasis which gives a greater role to Lay-men than its main rival HNAYNA and, in doing so, the importance of COMPASSION is emphasized alongside WISDOM.
MAHDI: the "Guided One" or messianic IMAM in Shi'ism which is used in a general sense within ISLAM to refer to an awaited descendant of MUHAMMAD who will restore the purity of Islam.
MAHINDA (3rd century B.C.): BUDDHIST MONK said to be the son of the Emperor AOKA who evangelized the island of Ceylon and converted its people to BUDDHISM.
MAIMONIDES, Moses (1135-1204): the greatest medieval JEWISH philosopher, theologian and exponent of ARISTOTLE. His books, The Guide for the Perplexed and Mishnah Torah were first published in Arabic.
MALINOWSKI, Bronislaw Kaspar (1884-1942): Polish-born English ANTHROPOLOGIST who developed a method of field research of a qualitatively new kind. He lived for an extended period among the people he was studying, speaking their language, and participating in their activities (but never attempting to alter their ways). Invented what is now called "participant-observation." Wrote: Argonauts of the Western Pacific (1922).
MALTHUS, Thomas Robert (1766-1834): English economist and Curate at Albury, Surrey (1798). Aroused controversy by the argument he put forth in his book An Essay on the Principle of Population (1798), in which he predicted inevitable famine.
MANDALA: a symbolic FORM which involves symmetrically arranged circles within larger concentric circles used in RITUAL and MEDITATION by devotees of TANTRA in HINDUISM and BUDDHISM.
MANI (216-277): Iraqi religious PROPHET who claimed to fulfill BUDDHIST, CHRISTIAN and ZOROASTRIAN teachings. Essentially he taught a FORM of DUALISM which sharply distinguished between mind and MATTER, advocated ASCETICISM and promoted CELIBACY. His work had a great influence on AUGUSTINE OF HIPPO before his CONVERSION to CHRISTIANITY.
MANICHAEISM: a RELIGION which thrived during third century in Persia founded by MANI who taught that there are two irreconcilable warring principles of GOOD which is spiritual, and EVIL which is material, in the UNIVERSE. It is a synthetic religious system incorporating elements of BUDDHISM, ZOROASTRIANISM, GNOSTICISM and CHRISTIANITY with an elaborate COSMOLOGY involving light particles in the realm of darkness and their LIBERATION by the Father of Light.
MAJUR: the BODHISATTVA who personifies WISDOM in MAHYNA BUDDHISM. One of the two most important Bodhisattvas in this TRADITION. The other BEING Avalokitevara who personifies compassion. There is no mention of him in the PALI CANON or early SANSKRIT works but he is the principle figure in the LOTUS SUTRA where the Bodhisattva Maitreya seeks instruction from him. He is very important in Chinese, Japanese, Tibetan, Javan and Nepalese BUDDHISM where wise rulers are regarded as his INCARNATION.
MANNHEIM, Karl (1893-1947). Hungarian SOCIOLOGIST who sought to relate styles of thought, or worldviews, to specific historical times and social GROUPS, and to show their social function. Wrote Ideology and Utopia (1936).
MANTRA: an "instrument of thought" in HINDU and BUDDHIST MEDITATION which takes the form of a properly repeated HYMN or sound believed to have the ability to invoke the presence of a particular divinity or create a religious state.
MANU: the Father of the human race in HINDU mythology. He is also said to have given the VEDAS to men and to be the great law giver.
MARA: the EVIL One in BUDDHIST SCRIPTURES who sought to distract the BUDDHA and so prevent him from attaining ENLIGHTENMENT. His name means "the Killer" or the one who destroys morality and the HOLY life. In the Indian religious tradition this CONCEPT of a DEVIL-like figure is unique to BUDDHISM although it is clearly connected with FOLK RELIGION and ideas about DEMONS.
MARCEL, Gabriel (1889-1973): French philosopher, novelist and convert to ROMAN CATHOLICISM often described as a theistic existentialist. His major works are Being and Having (1932) and his The Mystery of Being (1950-1951, 2 Vols.).
MARCION (85-160): Early CHRISTIAN HERETIC and founder of the MARCIONITE CHURCH who rejected the HEBREW BIBLE and taught, on the basis of the THEOLOGY of PAUL, that only some portions of the NEW TESTAMENT were authentic. He emphasized the importance of LOVE and rejected all legalism. He claimed that the DEMIURGE created humans whom he also cursed through the law, but the GOD of LOVE had sent JESUS to overcome the law and save mankind.
MARCUS Aurelius (121-180): Emperor of Rome who was unique in being a STOIC philosopher famous for his Meditations.
MARITAIN, Jacques (1882-1973): French CHRISTIAN philosopher and leading exponent of NEO-THOMISM. After World War II he became the French ambassador to the VATICAN but moved to Princeton University in 1948. He developed his political PHILOSOPHY based on the distinction between the PERSON and an INDIVIDUAL. As an individual the human being exists as part of a greater whole. As a person the human has inherent spiritual VALUE and FREEDOM. Marxism and Fascism, he argued, value the individual while CHRISTIANITY respects the person. His many works include True Humanism (1936).
MARTIN, David (1939-): English SOCIOLOGIST who was one of the first writers to challenge the SECULARIZATION THESIS of the 1960s. His work includes A Sociology of English Religion (1967), The Religious and the Secular (1969), and A General Theory of Secularization (1978).
MARTYR: a term used in CHRISTIANITY to refer to witnesses who died for their FAITH in the RESURRECTION of CHRIST. It has come to be applied to all who suffer and die for their religious BELIEFS.
MARX, Karl (1818-1883): German JEWISH philosopher, newspaper editor and writer who founded Marxism and modern communism. After being expelled from Prussia for his revolutionary activities in 1849, he settled in England where he did most of his writing. A student of HEGEL, his early writings reveal (in his notebooks) that he never really departed from HEGELIAN philosophy. His most famous but little read work is Das Capital (1867, 1885 and 1895, 3 Vols.). Other voluminous writings include The Communist Manifesto (1847). To date no complete collections of his works have been published in English or any other language.
MARY, (1st century): the Mother of JESUS OF NAZARETH. See VIRGIN BIRTH.
MASS: the ROMAN CATHOLIC term for the EUCHARIST or Lord's Supper which is a CHRISTIAN RITUAL commemorating the death and RESURRECTION of JESUS OF NAZARETH.
MATERIALISM: the doctrine that MATTER is the ultimate SUBSTANCE of the UNIVERSE which usually takes the form of an atheistic PHILOSOPHY.
MATHER, Cotton (1663-1728): American PURITAN theologian and member of the illustrious Mather family of New England. He was a prolific writer with a keen interest in the new emerging SCIENCES: an early advocate of Smallpox inoculation. He was remarkably tolerant of various religious opinions despite his unfortunate involvement in the SALEM WITCHCRAFT trials.
MATTER: the physical component of the UNIVERSE.
MATTHEW, GOSPEL: traditionally the first CHRISTIAN Gospel or life of JESUS OF NAZARETH which is written from a decidedly JEWISH perspective with a strong emphasis on the fulfillment of PROPHECY.
MAURICE, Fredrick Denison (1805-1872): English theologian and one of the founders of CHRISTIAN SOCIALISM. The son of a Unitarian Minister, he gradually accepted ANGLICANISM and was ordained in 1834. Deeply moved by the social and political ethos of his age, he sought to apply CHRISTIAN principles to social life. His book The Kingdom of Christ: or Hints to a Quaker Concerning the Principle, Constitution and Ordinances of the Catholic Church (1838), was one of the most important theological works of the nineteenth century. It influenced many very different people including Abraham KUYPER and Henry CALLAWAY.
MAWLID al-NABI: the birthplace or birthday of MUHAMMAD. In MECCA the site of his birth is a honored sanctuary.
MAYA (6th century B.C.): the Mother of the BUDDHA.
MAYA: originally meaning "the creative and transforming power of a GOD" this term has come to be translated "illusion" and plays an important role in HINDUISM especially VEDNTA where the world is not really real.
MEAD, Margaret (1901-1978): highly influential American ANTHROPOLOGIST. Her first study was made in Samoa, in 1925-1926 where she investigated the then fashionable topic of adolescence and extolled the virtues of pre-marital sex. In recent years the validity of her early work has been severely challenged by Derik Frieman in his book Margaret Mead and Samoa (1983). Among her many books are Coming of Age in Samoa (1928) and Blackberry Winter (1972).
MEAN: an important CONCEPT in Confucianism where the idea of universal harmony is a central concept. It is the harmony which underlies our moral NATURE and pervades the UNIVERSE forming a unity between man and nature. The Doctrine of the Mean was one of the four key texts in Chinese education and was traditionally ascribed to the grandson of CONFUCIUS.
MEANING: the connotation, sense, significance of a thing. The result of the mind's evaluation of FACTS. In the PHILOSOPHY of DOOYEWEERD "meaning" takes on a special significance as an alternative to the notion of SUBSTANCE. The character of created REALITY which points to GOD. In his sense reality is meaning.
MECCA: the birthplace of MUHAMMAD and HOLY city of ISLAM which ought to be visited on a pilgrimage by all MUSLIMS once in their lifetime.
MEDINA: the "city of the PROPHET" where MUHAMMAD found refuge after being driven out of MECCA in 622 A.D. After he conquered Mecca he retained Medina as his capital. Although not part of prescribed PILGRIMAGE, it is frequently visited by pilgrims who visit Muhammad's tomb. It is the second most HOLY city in ISLAM.
MEDITATION: a religious practice found in the YOGIC and ABRAMIC TRADITIONS which involves many different techniques to attain a spiritual state often described as communion with the divine or, in the case of BUDDHISM, the trans-divine.
MEEKNESS: a spiritual virtue mentioned by JESUS OF NAZARETH in the SERMON ON THE MOUNT and one of the supreme social virtues in China, Korea and Japan where submission to AUTHORITY was taught by Confucianism, TAOISM and adapted by BUDDHISM.
MELANCHTON, Phillip (1497-1560): German CHRISTIAN humanist, PROTESTANT REFORMER and close associate of Martin LUTHER.
MENCIUS (371-289 B.C.): Chinese Confucian philosopher regarded as second only to CONFUCIUS himself and author of the Book of Mencius one of the four texts which became the basis of Chinese education. He was educated by Tzu Ssu, grandson of Confucius, and became a teacher. He argued that government is for the GOOD of the people and praised the ideal King who was a philosopher ruled by morality. He opposed MO-TZU's doctrine of universal LOVE with his own teaching about humanity and righteousness.
MENDELSSOHN, Moses (1729-1786): popular German JEWISH philosopher who defended the idea that it is possible to demonstrate both the EXISTENCE of GOD and the IMMORTALITY of the SOUL. He played a leading role in Jewish emancipation and German CULTURE and is often referred to as "the Third Moses."
MENNONITES: essentially CONSERVATIVE and usually EVANGELICAL CHRISTIANS descended from the ANABAPTIST movement of the sixteenth century. In recent years some MENNONITES have claimed an ethnic identity apart from religious BELIEFS. The movement owes its name to Menno SIMONS (1492-1559) whose followers eventually fled persecution and settled in Russia beginning in 1788. They began to emigrate to North America in the 1870s. Their THEOLOGY stresses community and is strongly pacifist.
MERCURY: the Roman GOD of traders identified with the Greek God HERMES.
MERCY: one of the great virtues in the ABRAMIC RELIGIONS which is often seen to be in tension with the justice of GOD.
MERIT: an important CONCEPT in BUDDHISM. Merit counteracts the effects of KARMA and can be acquired by MEDITATION and through acts of charity or DEVOTION. It can be transferred to and from ones ancestors and other BEINGS thus promoting welfare in this life and ensuring spiritual PROGRESS beyond the grave or REBIRTH in the Western PARADISE. The doctrine plays an important role in the development of MAHYNA BUDDHISM where the BODHISATTVA accrues merit which is transferred to the devotee.
MERLEAU-PONTY, Maurice (1908-1961): French philosopher and phenomenologist who rejected the DUALISM of Rene Descartes in favor of a structural theory of REALITY. His books include The Structure of Behavior (1942) and The Primacy of Perception (1964).
MERTON, Thomas (1915-1968): French born American ROMAN CATHOLIC Trappist Monk and CHRISTIAN MYSTIC. His many works include Ascent to Truth (1951) and The Seven Story Mountain (1948).
MESSIAH: a HEBREW word meaning "anointed" that is applied to a man sent by GOD to restore the fortunes of the people of ISRAEL. CHRISTIANS believe that JESUS OF NAZARETH is the expected Messiah.
METAPHYSICS: the RATIONAL analysis of the necessary and universal aspects of BEING and the characteristics which must be shown by any thing which exists. It investigates what "to be" means and the universal or general principles found in anything that is. The name itself means "after physics" and is taken from ARISTOTLE'S writings. Traditionally CHRISTIAN THEOLOGY has promoted the study of metaphysics since the work of HUME and KANT has been increasingly unpopular with academic philosophers.
METEMAPSYCHOSIS: a Greek term meaning REBIRTH or TRANSMIGRATION of the SOUL from one body to another in a cyclic life pattern. As a religious PHILOSOPHY it appears to have originated in India around 600 B.C. and was taught by PYTHAGOREANS in Greece where it entered ORPHIC MYSTERIES and both PLATONISM and NEO-PLATONISM. In India it is found in HINDUISM and JAINISM but not BUDDHISM where the doctrine of REINCARNATION is similar but in important respects different.
METHODISM: a religious movement founded by John and Charles WESLEY and a GROUP of their friends in the eighteenth century which grew to be a major CHRISTIAN REVITALIZATION MOVEMENT that made a significant impact on the nineteenth century MISSIONARY movement and Christian enterprise throughout the world. The original movement is today a family of Churches loosely connected to the World Methodist Council and claims a membership of over 18 million and a community of 40 million. In 1839 John Wesley started a society in London to promote EVANGELICAL CHRISTIANITY in England. In 1841 he began the training of Lay-ministers and in 1769 sent his first missionaries to serve in America. Wesley and his followers finally broke away from ANGLICANISM in 1784 to establish their own CHURCH. With a few notable exceptions, such as Welsh METHODISM, the movement is strongly ARMINIAN in theology with a strong social concern. In the twentieth century Methodism has tended to encourage LIBERAL THEOLOGY and has moved away from its revivalist roots.
MEYKANDA (13th century): a Tamil SAINT and devotional writer. His book The Realization of Knowledge of iva which played a crucial role in the development of AIVISM.
MEYNELL, Hugo Anthony (1936-): Canadian ROMAN CATHOLIC philosopher known for his spirited defense of the COSMOLOGICAL ARGUMENT. His works include Freud, Marx and Morals (1981) and The Intelligible Universe (1982).
MICHELANGELO (1475-1564): the greatest of the RENAISSANCE artists famous for his religious sculptures and the painting of the ceiling in the Sistine Chapel in Rome.
MILL, John Stuart (1806-1873): British philosopher, essayist and political activist whose work still indirectly influences many academic disciplines including SOCIOLOGY, political SCIENCE, economics and the PHILOSOPHY of science. His best known works are probably Utilitarianism (1863) and The Subjection of Women (1871) while his neglected System of Logic (1843) has recently received renewed attention. Although he wrote little about RELIGION, his posthumous Three Essays on Religion (1874) revealed a cautious but SKEPTICAL interest.
MILLENARIAN MOVEMENTS: Generally, any religious movement that hopes for a SALVATION that is: (a) collective, to be enjoyed by all the faithful as a GROUP; (b) terrestrial, to be realized on this earth; (c) imminent, to come soon and suddenly; (d) total, to transform life on earth completely; (e) miraculous, to be brought about by, or with the help of, supernatural agencies.
MILLENNIALISM: the BELIEF in a thousand-year period (millennium) in which the KINGDOM OF GOD is to flourish and prosper. Millennialists tend to fall into two camps: (l) those who believe that the millennium will follow the PAROUSIA or "Second Coming" of CHRIST (premillennialism); (2) those who believe that the millennium will precede the Parousia of Christ (post-millennialism).
MILLER, William (1795-1883): American religious leader whose work led to the growth of several MILLENARIAN GROUPS the most important being SEVENTH DAY ADVENTISM. After a surprising CONVERSION from DEISM his study of the BIBLE led him to concentrate on the prophetic books and eventually declare that CHRIST would return around 1843. When this did not happen the date was rescheduled and further disappointments followed until his death. Miller explained his failures in terms of human error and possible mistranslations of the BIBLE.
MILLERITES: or Second Adventists, an American PROTESTANT SECT founded by William MILLER who calculated that the "Second Coming" of CHRIST would take place in 1843.
MILTON, John (1608-1674): English poet and PURITAN writer of questionable ORTHODOXY. His works include the classic poem Paradise Lost (1667) and The Doctrine and Discipline of Divorce (1643).
MIRACLE: unusual events which are seen as the intervention in human affairs of the divine. They are believed to confirm the spiritual power and AUTHORITY of a teacher or religious leader. Claims to miraculous powers exist in most religious TRADITIONS. The idea of miracles came under strong attack from DEISM and the PHILOSOPHY of the ENLIGHTENMENT where miracle was defined as an event which broke "the law of nature" and was, by DEFINITION, impossible.
MISSION: the task of propagating a RELIGION or PHILOSOPHY in the BELIEF that it has a message which is vital to all people.
MISSIONARY: a PERSON who propagates a RELIGION. The nineteenth century saw a great surge of missionary activity among CHRISTIANS which led to the spread of CHRISTIANITY throughout the world. In recent years there has been a rebirth of missionary ISLAMIC activity and the development of HINDU MISSIONS. In the West missions promoting HINDUISM and BUDDHISM are often seen as CULTS or new religious movements.
MITHRA: ancient IRANIAN GOD whose CULT became popular in the Roman Empire.
MITHRAISM: an ancient Iranian RELIGION worshiping the GOD MITHRA which became popular as a MYSTERY RELIGION in the Roman Empire, especially among soldiers. The THEOLOGY appears to have been a complex FORM of DUALISM.
MODERNIST: proponents of theological MODERNISM who in the nineteenth and early twentieth centuries rejected the THEOLOGY and METAPHYSICS of traditional CHRISTIANITY in favor of a Kantian epistemology, evolution, BIBLICAL HIGHER CRITICISM, and COMPARATIVE RELIGION. They accommodated their FAITH to the latest theories of SCIENCE and promoted LIBERAL ETHICS based the brotherhood of man and the FATHERHOOD OF GOD. The inherent goodness of man and the inevitability of progress were AXIOMATIC while the BIBLE was seen as the record of the human religious experience
MODERNITY, MODERNISM, AND RELATED DEFINITIONS: various terms conveying essentially the same idea. The most important of these are: (1) Modern or which is new as opposed to that which is ancient, that which is innovative as opposed to that which is TRADITIONAL; (2) Modernism which is an explicit and self-conscious commitment to the modern in intellectual, cultural and theological affairs; (3) Modernization or a program committed to remaking SOCIETY, the political order and theological beliefs in support of the new; (4) Modernity or the quality and condition of being modern. All religious TRADITIONS have experienced the effects of modernity although they have been most noticeable in CHRISTIANITY where they have been associated with SECULARIZATION and explicit attacks of TRADITIONAL BELIEFS and VALUES in the name of SCIENCE.
MOFFAT, Robert (1795-1883): Scottish MISSIONARY to Africa. In 1825 he settled at Kuruman, Bechuanaland, which became the headquarters of all his activities for forty-five years. When he left in 1870, a whole region had been CHRISTIANIZED.
MOLTMANN, Jürgen (1926-). German LUTHERAN theologian and professor of systematic THEOLOGY at the University of Tübingen. He conceived the outline of a theological program which looks--in hope--to a GOD who liberates man in the future. Moltmann is particularly sensitive to the PHENOMENON of Auschwitz. The crucified GOD points to the God who identifies with the victims of HISTORY by dying on the Cross. Work: Theology of Hope (1967).
MONASTICISM: the abandonment of ordinary life and family responsibilities to live in celibate religious communities. The earliest example of monasticism is the Sagha in BUDDHISM from which it spread first into HINDUISM and then CHRISTIANITY.
MONISM: the metaphysical theory that there is one fundamental REALITY of which all other BEINGS are ATTRIBUTES, or modes, if they are real at all.
MONOPHYSITISM: a development of CHRISTOLOGY which taught that in CHRIST there was one divine NATURE as opposed to the ORTHODOX view that Christ was both human and divine. The teaching was condemned at the COUNCIL OF CHALCEDON but flourished in Coptic, Syrian, Armenian and various other branches of CHRISTIANITY.
MONOTHEISM: BELIEF in one and only one GOD who is both personal and TRANSCENDENT as opposed to DEISM, PANTHEISM, and POLYTHEISM.
MONTANISM: a prophetic movement in the second century led by women which preached the imminent return of CHRIST. It seemed to court martyrdom and practice extreme ASCETICISM. TERTULLIAN is often accused of having forsaken ORTHODOX CHRISTIANITY to join the Montanists. While it is true that he strongly defended their civil liberties, there is no solid evidence that he actually joined the group.
MOODY, Dwight Lyman (1837-1899): American EVANGELIST who gave up business to devote himself to evangelism. He made two tours in Great Britain (1873-75 and 1881-83). Founded Northfield Seminary for Girls (1879), Mount Hermon School for Boys (188l), and the Chicago Bible Institute (1889) which is now called Moody Bible Institute.
MOON, Sun Myung (1920-): Korean founder and prophetic leader of the UNIFICATION CHURCH. His followers are known as "Moonies." The Divine Principle is his major work.
MOORE, George Edward (1873-1958). English philosopher. Author of Principia Ethica (1903) and advocate of emotivism as an ethical system.
MOORE, Hannah (1745-1833): English religious writer who devoted herself to social and religious REFORM and set up Sunday schools. She shared the EVANGELICAL views of William WILBERFORCE and Zachary MACAULAY. Wrote An Estimate of the Religion of the Fashionable World (1790), and to counteract teachings of Thomas PAINE and the French REVOLUTION, a tract Village Politics (1792).
MORAVIANS: a PROTESTANT denomination that traces its origins to John HUSS (1372-1415). They broke with the ROMAN CATHOLIC Church in 1467 by ordaining their own Ministers. Although severely persecuted, the movement flourished. In the eighteenth century a religious REVIVAL broke out among the Moravians on the estates of Count von Zinzendorf where they had been given protection. Under his able leadership they became an aggressive and controversial religious movement building large followings in the Netherlands, Germany, Britain and in North America. After 1732 the movement played an important role in developing a MISSIONARY consciousness among Protestants and through its influence on John WESLEY, made a major impact on nineteenth century religious life.
MORE, Thomas (1478-1535): English ROMAN CATHOLIC who encouraged REFORM and CHRISTIAN living but was martyred for opposing the DIVORCE of King HENRY VIII on religious grounds. His most famous work is Utopia (1516).
MORGAN, Lewis (1818-1881): American ethnologist whose work Ancient Society (1877) had a strong influence on MARX and ENGELS.
MORMONS: the name given to members of the CHURCH OF JESUS CHRIST OF LATTER DAY SAINTS which was founded by Joseph SMITH in 1830. Mormons claim to represent true CHRISTIANITY which was "restored" on earth through the ministry of Smith (who was called a Prophet) after centuries of APOSTASY. Although increasingly similar to TRADITIONAL CHRISTIANITY, the Mormons are characterized by their doctrine of continuous REVELATION which allows them to add The Book of Mormon, The Pearl of Great Price, and Doctrine and Covenants to the BIBLE as well as the AUTHORITY of their living Prophet. Among their various doctrines is the BELIEF that GOD has a human body and the law of ETERNAL PROGRESSION states that believers eventually become GODS.
MORRIS, William (1834-1896): English SOCIALIST and writer whose views influenced the growth of ROMANTICISM and anti-industrial sentiments.
MOSCA, Gaetano (1858-1955): Italian SOCIOLOGIST whose analysis of Marxism led him to foresee Stalinism (see STALIN). His best known work is The Ruling Class (1939).
MOSQUE: place of WORSHIP in ISLAM where PRAYER must be offered facing MECCA.
MOSES (12th-13th century B.C.): the great law giver of the JEWS and the founder of the nation of ISRAEL who is traditionally credited with writing the PENTATEUCH. According to the HEBREW BIBLE, he was born of HEBREW parents and adopted by an Egyptian Princess and educated as an Egyptian prince. Later he was forced to flee Egypt and lived in Midian for a number of years before returning to Egypt to lead the Children of Israel out of bondage into the wilderness where they remained for 40 years after the death of Moses before entering the promised land. Although some modern scholars doubt the historicity of Moses it seems clear, as the philosopher Walter Kaufmann pointed out, that if he did not exist and perform the deeds traditionally attributed to him, he would have had to be invented to explain subsequent JEWISH HISTORY.
MOTT, John Raleigh (1865-1955): American MISSIONARY statesman and founder of the World Student Christian Federation in 1895. He chaired three important missionary conferences in Edinburgh (1910), Jerusalem (1928), and Madras (1938), which led to the founding of the WORLD COUNCIL OF CHURCHES. His most famous book is The Evangelization of the World in this Generation (1905).
MO-TZU (5th century B.C.): important Chinese philosopher, critic of Confucianism and opponent of MENCIUS. He taught RIGHTEOUSNESS and universal love based on the will of the supreme GOD. He was PRAGMATIC and UTILITARIAN in his approach to doctrine and deeply concerned about the welfare and prosperity of the people. The movement he founded declined after his death but was revived in the eighteenth century after the publication of PI YÜAN'S critical edition of his works with commentary in 1783.
MOURNING: RITUALS which accompany death. Most religious TRADITIONS make some allowance for a period of mourning which helps the bereaved come to terms with the death of a loved one, close friend or relative.
MUHAMMAD (571-632): the founder ISLAM who was born in MECCA and claimed to be the last in a long line of PROPHETS. His message was that there is One GOD named Allah and that He is God's PROPHET. Through Muhammad the QUR'N was recited and written down by his followers. The first message of the QUR'N emphasizes Muhammad's relationship with God who created all people. After initial rejection and persecution he led his followers to MEDINA in 622 where he established a following of loyal tribesmen and built up a powerful army before returning triumphantly to Mecca in 630.
MUHAMMAD 'ABDUH (1849-1905): Egyptian mystical writer who sought to modernize ISLAM. He opposed the WORSHIP of SAINTS and other "medieval" practices which he saw as retarding social and economic development. Although he held Islam to be the perfect RELIGION, he respected both CHRISTIANITY and JUDAISM which he saw as incomplete versions of Islam.
MÜLLER, Friedrich Maximilian (1823-1900): German philologist and orientalist who became professor at Oxford University and one of the founders of COMPARATIVE RELIGION. His many activities include translating and editing the g Veda (1849-1874, 6 Vols.) and writing many books on religious issues including his famous Essay on Comparative Mythology. He made a considerable impact on the development of oriental studies and almost single handedly created the SCIENCE of RELIGIONS.
MÜLLER, George (1805-1898). German PASTOR, philanthropist, and leader in the Christian, or PLYMOUTH BRETHREN, in Britain. After a dissolute life, he was converted during a PRAYER meeting in 1825. In 1832 in Bristol, England, he began a ministry and in 1835 he opened an orphanage, for which he is chiefly remembered, and this grew from a rented house to a great complex of buildings. He was a leading representative of the moderate group known as the Open Brethren, in contrast to J. N. Darby and EXCLUSIVISM. Müller renounced a regular salary and refused throughout the rest of his life to make any requests for financial support. His ideas and example provide the basis for modern "Faith" MISSIONS. Works: A Narrative of the Lord's Dealing with George Müller (1905).
MÜNZER, Thomas (1490-1525): German ANABAPTIST leader who claimed INSPIRATION through the HOLY SPIRIT and prophetic gifts. He played a leading role in the PEASANT'S REVOLT and was eventually executed by the SECULAR authorities.
MURRAY, Andrew Jr. (1828-1917): South African Dutch REFORMED Minister and CHURCH leader who opposed theological liberalism and led an evangelical revival in the 1860s. An advocate of MISSIONS and EVANGELISM he opposed Afrikaner NATIONALISM and its political stance which led to apartheid. Mystically inclined he was greatly influenced by William LAW. His books Abide in Christ (1882), With Christ in the School of Prayer (1885) and Absolute Surrender (1895) are classics of devotional PIETY which continue to have a strong influence in EVANGELICAL and CHARISMATIC circles even today.
MUSLIM: a PERSON who submits themselves to GOD and belongs to the community of ISLAM.
MYSTERY RELIGIONS: a GROUP of RELIGIONS which flourished in the Greaco-Roman world which involved the secret initiation of the believer. Often BAPTISM, sometimes in the blood of cattle, was involved as well as BELIEFS about IMMORTALITY and the survival of the SOUL. The most famous mystery religions are the ELEUSINIAN MYSTERIES, ORPHISM, MITHRAISM and various FORMS of GNOSTICISM.
MYSTIC: one who claims to know GOD immediately through a FORM of SPIRITUAL inwardness, as against knowing through sensation or ratiocination, i.e. through logical processes.
MYSTICISM: the implications of this word are often unclear. In the study of RELIGION it refers to the immediate experience of a SACRED-human relationship, and in particular to the experiences of oneness with a DIVINE or trans-divine BEING or STATE. It is difficult to study and describe because MYSTICS tend to claim that their experience is self-authenticating, and that it cannot be satisfactorily expressed in words.
MYTH: a myth is a type of narrative which seeks to express in imaginative FORM a BELIEF about man, the world, and/or GOD or GODS which cannot adequately be expressed in simply PROPOSITIONS. Since this word is used in both contemporary scientific and theological literature, any DEFINITION of it appears to be arbitrary. In common language, the word is used to denote stories that have no basis in FACT. This meaning is too loose for anthropologists and philosophers. Myths can be contrasted with LEGENDS, fairy tales, etc. This implies no JUDGMENT on the TRUTH of the story; indeed, it is possible to have a true story serve as a myth. Critics of myth argue that it tends to open the door to IRRATIONALISM. Myth has been held to be a truer or deeper version of REALITY than SECULAR HISTORY, realistic description, or scientific explanation. This view ranges from irrationalism and post-CHRISTIAN supernaturalism to more sophisticated accounts in which myths are held to be fundamental expressions of certain properties of the human mind. Myth is both a very significant and difficult word. One very useful DEFINITION is a story with culturally formative power that functions to direct the life and thought of INDIVIDUALS and GROUPS or SOCIETIES.