The following text is from Irivng Hexham's Concise Dictionary of Religion, first published by InterVarsity Press, Carol Stream, USA, 1994, second edition, Regent College Press, Vancouver, 1999.

To order contact REGENT BOOKSTORE Copyright Irving Hexham 1994, 1998. For further information about the AUTHOR. 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.


FA HSIEN (late 4th or early 5th century): famous Chinese BUDDHIST MONK who left China in 399 to visit India in search of BUDDHIST SCRIPTURES. Returning to China in 414 he initiated a period of intense translation of the manuscripts he had collected. His adventures were recorded in The Narrative of Fa Hsien which was translated into English in 1869.


FABIANS: members of the Fabian Society, an important British SOCIALIST society founded in 1883 which favored an evolutionary SOCIALIST "permeation" of CAPITALIST institutions and opposed the REVOLUTIONARY doctrine of MARX.


FACT: any unit of BEING which is capable of bearing MEANING.


FAITH: In CHRISTIAN thought two tendencies concerning the Faith may be observed: first, faith is regarded as BELIEF or mental assent to the TRUTH; and second, faith is understood as the orientation of the total person best described as TRUST, confidence, or loyalty. The THEOLOGICAL system of Thomas AQUINAS was based on such an intellectualistic model of faith. His teachings are basic to the doctrine of ROMAN CATHOLICISM where faith is to be regarded as an act of intellectual assent to SUPERNATURAL truths based on their divine AUTHORITY. LUTHER rejected this view of faith arguing instead that it is the response of the total person to the Gospel. Other religious systems sometimes make use of the word "faith" when translating texts into English, but only PURE LAND BUDDHISM has a view of faith similar to the CHRISTIAN one. The other usages distort both the meaning of faith and the beliefs of the religion concerned. In addition to faith being used in this way, it is possible to speak about "the faith" of a group, meaning the complex of beliefs and practices belonging to a particular RELIGION. In general though, faith usually refers to Christianity.


FALL OF MAN: a term used in CHRISTIAN THEOLOGY to denote humanities original rebellion against GOD as described in the Biblical story of ADAM and EVE found in Genesis 3. Theologians argue about whether the story it to be taken literally or whether it is symbolic of the human condition. Most agree that the essential point of the Christian understanding of the human situation is that SUFFERING and EVIL entered the world as a result of a wrong moral choice on the part of human beings. Other religious TRADITIONS either do not share this pessimistic view of the human condition or view it as an ONTOLOGICAL and not a MORAL problem. JUDAISM does not see the human condition as a result of an act of rebellion while HINDUISM expresses a far more radical pessimism based on the essential nature of the existence within the bounds of KARMA.


FALLACY: arguments which seem correct but upon examination prove false. They are arguments which are PSYCHOLOGICALLY persuasive but logically wrong through mistakes in relating, inferring, or concluding, while reasoning. TRADITIONAL logic identified fallacies as either "formal" or "informal." A formal fallacy appears valid but actually breaks the rules of reasoning. Informal fallacies are harder to discover but can usually be exposed by counter examples. They result from either carelessness and inattention to the subject matter or through ambiguity in the language used. As a result, informal fallacies may be classified as fallacies of relevance and fallacies of ambiguity.


FALSIFIABILITY: a variant of the VERIFICATION PRINCIPLE developed by Sir Karl POPPER who argued that while we cannot absolutely prove that something is true, it is possible to falsify theories and BELIEFS thus eliminating error. He made falsification the test of TRUTH in his theory of SCIENCE and used it to distinguish between science and pseudo-science.


FALWELL, Jerry (1934): American FUNDAMENTALIST leader, Pastor of Thomas Road BAPTIST CHURCH and founder of Liberty University. He achieved national attention through his involvement with the MORAL MAJORITY which he also founded. Author of The Fundamentalist Phenomenon (1981).




FANON, Franz (1925-1961): French speaking PSYCHOANALYST and political philosopher from Martinique who developed the idea of NEGRITUDE and a theory of violence as a therapeutic process of religious intensity. He is the author of various books including Black Skin, White Masks (1952) and The Wretched of the Earth (1961) both of which contributed to the theory of terrorism and LIBERATION THEOLOGY.


FARABI, Abu Nasr Muhammad (d. 950 aged about 80): famous Turkish philosopher who settled in Baghdad who wrote commentaries on ARISTOTLE, his "teacher." He was also influenced by NEO-PLATONISM and PLATO'S Republic. He argued that REASON was superior to FAITH and that PROPHECY was a gift which supplemented RATIONAL faculties.


FAREL, Guillaume (1489-1565): French Swiss PROTESTANT REFORMER who worked closely with John CALVIN.


FARRER, Austin Marsden (1904-1969): English ANGLO-CATHOLIC theologian philosopher and close friend of C. S. LEWIS. His best known book is The Glass of Vision (1948).


FARRER, Frederick William (1831-1903): English ANGLICAN theologian who wrote a popular book titled Life of Christ (1874) and strongly influenced F. D. MAURICE.


FATE: the BELIEF that human affairs are destined by COSMIC powers, either GOD or GODS or the workings of the UNIVERSE.


FATHERHOOD OF GOD: developing an idea implicit in the HEBREW BIBLE and CHRISTIAN THEOLOGY that GOD is viewed as a loving Father.


FTIHAH: the title of the opening Sura of the QUR'N.


FATIMA (7th century): daughter of MUHAMMAD who married Ali b. Abi Tlib. Shi'a Imms claim decent from Muhammad through her sons. In some Shi'a circles, Fatima has become an object of DEVOTION similar to the VIRGIN MARY in ROMAN CATHOLICISM.


FATWA: a decree, ruling given by a muft, or a legal scholar, on a point of law in ISLAM.


FERGUSON, Marilyn Grasso (1938-): popular American publicist and advocate of the OCCULT and YOGIC RELIGION which she first encountered through TRANSCENDENTAL MEDITATION. Her best selling book The Aquarian Conspiracy (1980), was largely responsible for giving FORM to the NEW AGE MOVEMENT and creating a consensus about its reality and importance as a SPIRITUAL force.


FESTIVALS: all religious TRADITIONS celebrate various feast days or festivals. These usually recall historical events associated with the HISTORY of the religion and are intended to inspire devotees to greater devotion.


FETISH: a term derived from the Portuguese "feitico" meaning "skillfully made" and originally applied by sailors to objects of devotion found in West Africa. Later it came to be applied to any object believed to have SACRED significance and the ability to protect its owner from EVIL.


FEUERBACH, Ludwig Andreas (1804-1872): German MATERIALIST philosopher famous for his statement "A man is what he eats" which he used to explain English victories over Irish rebels. He studied under HEGEL whose idealism he rejected in favor of a thorough-going materialism. Subsequently he strongly attacked religious BELIEFS, especially those of PROTESTANT CHRISTIANITY as represented by SCHLEIERMACHER, by arguing that the idea of GOD is an outward projection of man's inner nature. Thus the HOLY Family reflects the inadequacies of actual human families and subconsciously compensates for them in the imagination of the believer. His work had a profound influence on MARX who accepted and improved upon his basic criticisms of religion. His most important works are: The Essence of Christianity (1840) and The Essence of Religion (1846).


FICHTE, Johann Gottlieb (1762-1814): German philosopher who promoted his own version of KANTIAN thought and a rabid NATIONALISM which found expression in his Address to the German Nation (1808-1809). His writings are seen by many as one of the intellectual roots of modern RACISM.


FIDEISM: BELIEFS that rest entirely on FAITH without RATIONAL support and often using arguments that deny the VALIDITY of rationality.


FILIAL PIETY: the supreme virtue in CONFUCIAN ETHICS associated with the honoring of elders and the ancestors.


FILIOQUE CLAUSE: the doctrinal formula found in Western CHRISTIAN CREEDS meaning "and the Son" which affirms the double procession of the HOLY SPIRIT from "the Father and the Son."


FINAL CAUSE: the end REASON for a process, as the purpose which GOD had in mind in CREATING the UNIVERSE.


FINITE: having specific limits or boundaries. Opposed to infinite.


FINNEY, Charles Grandison (1792-1875): American CLERGYMAN, educator and creator of modern EVANGELISM. He abandoned a legal career to become a PRESBYTERIAN MINISTER and revivalist preacher following a profound CONVERSION experience. Later he abandoned many CALVINIST teachings and moved towards an ARMINIAN theology. He founded Oberlin College where he was professor of theology from 1837-1875 and president from 1851-1866. In his Lectures on Revival (1835) he stresses the techniques needed to create REVIVALS. A tendency to psychologize CHRISTIAN experience is also found in his Systematic Theology (1847).


FIQH: the legal order of ISLAM as exercised in the courts and expounded by the various legal schools: jurisprudence.


FISH: the symbol of the EARLY CHRISTIAN CHURCH derived from the acronym of the Greek word "Ichthys" which reads JESUS CHRIST, SON OF GOD, SAVIOR.


FITNAH: originally a term used to speak about the persecution borne by the early followers of MUHAMMAD. In time it came to be applied to sedition or conspiracy against an ISLAMIC State and eventually hostility to ISLAM.


FIVE PILLARS OF ISLAM: the fundamental duties of a devout MUSLIM. These are: (1) confession of the FAITH by reciting the phrase "There is no GOD but ALLAH and MUHAMMAD is His PROPHET;" (2) PRAYER five times a day at dawn, noon, mid-afternoon, evening and night; (3) FASTING during the month of RAMADAN; (4) ZAKT or almsgiving; and (5) the AJJ a pilgrimage to MECCA at least once in one's lifetime.


FLAGELLATION: whipping or other harsh punishment for the purpose of mortifying the flesh and promoting SPIRITUAL well-being. The practice is found in many religious TRADITIONS. It was popular in medieval CHRISTIAN MONASTICISM but has fallen into disuse among most CHRISTIAN groups today.


FLEW, Anthony (1923-): probably the leading British AGNOSTIC, HUMANIST, philosopher of the 1960s and 1970s. The author of many books on RELIGION and PHILOSOPHY including God and Philosophy (1966) and The Presumption of Atheism (1972). His work presents a strong yet academically fair challenge to CHRISTIAN BELIEF.


FLOOD: the story of a UNIVERSAL flood is found in Genesis 6-9, as well as many other ancient documents, and also in the MYTHOLOGIES of Native Americans and many other peoples.


FLORENCE, COUNCIL OF: a general COUNCIL of the CHRISTIAN CHURCH held in Florence from 1438-1445 to heal the rift between the ROMAN CATHOLIC and ORTHODOX CHURCHES. It established the important principle that unity does not depend on uniform LITURGICAL styles but collapsed after the Fall of Constantinople to the Turks in 1453 without agreement on doctrinal issues.


FLUX: change, becoming, movement; e.g. as a flowing river.


FOLK RELIGION: popular RELIGIONS, BELIEFS and practices--sometimes referred to as "LITTLE TRADITIONS"--which operate alongside and often in opposition to a dominant religious TRADITION which is the official religion of a SOCIETY. Such religions often involve magic, healing, prophetic movements and local charismatic leaders or healers. Folk religion is often regarded as a threat by the dominant tradition which may take active steps to suppress its practice.


FOOD: many religions have strict food laws which create social barriers or boundaries between the believer and non-believers. The most obvious example is to be found in JUDAISM where the Laws of Leviticus are applied to daily life. Similar rules are found in ISLAM and still other rules apply to PRIESTS in BUDDHISM, HINDUISM and MONASTIC Orders in CHRISTIANITY.


FORD, Henry (1863-1947): American inventor and automobile manufacturer who is credited with the expression "History is bunk."


FOREKNOWLEDGE: the CHRISTIAN BELIEF that GOD knows the past, present and future in one simple and eternal act of cognition.


FORM: an important PHILOSOPHICAL term referring to the essential REALITY of things. It is particularly important in PLATONISM where form, which is TRUE and ETERNAL, is contrasted with appearance, which is TEMPORAL and DECEPTIVE.


FORM CRITICISM: from the German "FORMGESCHICTE." A method of analysis and interpretation of pre-literary oral TRADITIONS based on the conviction that ancient writers frequently collected, arranged and edited materials, stories, LEGENDS, etc., already circulating in the CULTURE in which they lived. Form criticism was first applied to the HEBREW BIBLE before being applied to the NEW TESTAMENT. It seeks to discover the "original" oral story behind the literary documents.


FORM-MATTER GROUNDMOTIVE: a term used in the CHRISTIAN PHILOSOPHY of Herman DOOYEWEERD to signify the encounter between the old pre-Homeric Greek RELIGION of life and the later cultural religion of the OLYMPIC GODS. The older religion deified the eternally flowing stream of life which is unable to fix itself in any individual form but out of which transitory beings are generated whose existence is limited by an individual form with the result they are subjected to the fate of death. This is the MATTER motive of Greek thought which found its most pregnant expression in the worship of DIONYSUS. The form motive found in the later Olympian religion valued measure and harmony and rested on the essential DEIFICATION of the CULTURAL aspect of Greek society and the personification of cultural powers though the Olympian Gods. Its greatest expression was in the WORSHIP of the law-giver--the Delphic God-- APOLLO.


FORMAL: pertaining to the theory of logical validity. Not material or concrete.




FORMLESS: an Indian religious CONCEPT signifying those levels of the UNIVERSE where MATTER is absent. It is the higher form of TRANCE.


FOSDICK, Harry, Emerson (1878-1969): American BAPTIST Minister who taught practical THEOLOGY and played a prominent role promoting theological LIBERALISM in the FUNDAMENTALIST controversy. A great popularizer he promoted BIBLICAL CRITICISM, the PSYCHOLOGY OF RELIGION, and a psychologically orientated personal PIETY. He influenced American preaching through his "problem orientated" homiletical style. His works include: The Modern Use of the Bible (1924) and On Being a Real Person (1943).


FOUCAULT, Michel (1926-1988): very influential French philosopher who promoted a highly RELATIVISTIC conception of the prevailing assumptions about what is to count as knowledge and as acceptable discourse. His views are expounded in The Order of Things (1970), The Archaeology of Knowledge (1972) and various other works. He lived consistently with his beliefs--died of AIDS in 1988.


FOUR HOLY TRUTHS: the four principles of existence discovered by the BUDDHA. They are: suffering, the cause of suffering, the cessation of suffering, and the path which leads to the cessation of suffering. See DUKKHA.




FOX, George (1624-1691): English MYSTIC and PROPHETIC figure who suffered considerable persecution for his FAITH and founded the QUAKERS or SOCIETY OF FRIENDS in 1652. Disillusioned by existing CHURCHES and systems of THEOLOGY, he stressed the need for direct communion with GOD through what he called the "inner light." His essentially CHRISTIAN ORTHODOXY and personal PIETY can be seen from his published Journal.


FOX, Matthew (1940-): ROMAN CATHOLIC PRIEST and speculative theologian of doubtful ORTHODOXY whose works have been censured by his CHURCH but taken up by the NEW AGE MOVEMENT. In 1977 he founded the INSTITUTE IN CULTURE AND CREATION SPIRITUALITY in Chicago which he moved to California in 1981. Through this Institute he propagated his views and gave a platform to such people as the self-styled WITCH STARHAWK and other NEO-PAGAN leaders like the self-proclaimed VOODOO PRIESTESS Luisha TEISH, various NEO-SHAMAN and YOGA practitioners.


FOXE, John (1516-1587): English Protestant and author of Acts and Monuments of Matters Happening in the Church--popularly known as Foxe's Book of Martyrs--which documented ROMAN CATHOLIC persecution of PROTESTANTS. For at least two centuries this book was the most important and widely read religious work in English, after the BIBLE and The Pilgrim's Progress.


FRANCIS OF ASSISI (1181?-1226): founder of the Franciscan Order and son of a wealthy textile merchant. In 1202, while taking part in a feud in a nearby city, he was imprisoned for over a year. This experience led him to reflect on life and make a PILGRIMAGE to Rome in 1205. After a VISION, he began to rebuild the CHURCH of SAINT DAMIAN near Assisi. His father, assisted by the local Bishop, attempted to forcibly restore him to a secular vocation but he persisted in his religious convictions whereupon his father disowned him. In 1209 he began preaching brotherly love, apostolic poverty and REPENTANCE. This led to the founding of his Order and his original Rule. In 1224 he retired to a HERMITAGE to spend the remainder of his life in PRAYER. During this time he composed his Canticle to the Sun and is alleged to have borne the STIGMATA. He was CANONIZED two years after his death.


FRANCIS OF SALES (1567-1622): French ROMAN CATHOLIC PRIEST and MYSTIC whose book Introduction to the Devout Life (1607) is a classic of Catholic SPIRITUALITY.


FRANCISCANS: the MONASTIC Order founded by FRANCIS OF ASSISI in 1209 based on the Rule of POVERTY, PREACHING and PENANCE. Two modified versions of the original Rule, which relaxed its stricter obligations, followed and opened the Order to a wider selection of candidates but Francis always preferred his original, stricter Rule. For four centuries after his death conflict divided the Order over which Rule ought to be followed. The Order is noted for its charity works, hospitals, schools and MISSIONARY endeavors. Five members of the Order have become Popes and it has produced such outstanding philosophers as BONAVENTURE, DUNS SCOTUS and WILLIAM OF OCKHAM.


FRAZER, Sir James George (1854-1941): a British lawyer influenced by William Robertson SMITH who became the first ever professor of SOCIAL ANTHROPOLOGY at the University of Liverpool, England in 1907. He quickly retired from this post and devoted his life to writing. Although a prolific writer his "anthropology" was decidedly the "armchair" variety based on interpretations of works by MISSIONARIES, traders and travellers which tended to take BELIEFS and practices totally out of their social and historical context to create a grand theory. His influence on the development of COMPARATIVE RELIGION and popular religious ideas was considerable as can be seen by the continuing popularity of his major work The Golden Bough (published in twelve volumes between 1890 and 1915) which attempts to show underlying themes common to all religions. His other works include: Folklore of the Old Testament (1918) and The Fear of Death in Primitive Religion (1933-1936). Today his work remains popular with the public but has little scholarly value.


FREE THINKERS: people who refuse to reject the AUTHORITY of RELIGION in favor of a BELIEF in REASON as the ultimate and only AUTHORITY in human affairs. TRADITIONALLY free thinkers have been violently anti-religious although this need not necessarily be so.


FREEDOM: an important concept in Western PHILOSOPHY where it becomes the basis for moral choice and the basis of TRADITIONAL legal thought. It is characterized by a lack of restraint and the ability to make one's own decisions without interference. The concept runs into difficulties when we try to understand what is meant by "restraint" and what limits exist that inhibit our ability to act freely and, as a result, intense debate rages around the concept. In RELIGION it becomes an important issue in terms of the JUSTICE of GOD. Can humans freely choose to serve God or do they require DIVINE assistance? If God's GRACE is needed to bring men and women into His service, is it fair for God to judge those who do not respond when they lack the grace needed to enable them to respond? The issue is complex and has plagued both philosophers and theologians for centuries.


FREEMASONRY: an international organization whose principles are embodied in SYMBOLS and ALLEGORIES connected with the art of building and involving an oath of secrecy. The origins of the movement probably lie in twelfth century Europe. There are two major divisions: the Old Charges which date 1390 and 1400; and The Masonic Word, which is a Scottish institution of obscure origin. From the eighteenth century there developed "Speculative Masonry" or modern FREEMASONRY. The Grand Lodge was formed in 1717 to co-ordinate other Lodges. The origins of most Masonic ceremonies are obscure and probably date to the seventeenth century. The movement places considerable emphasis on social welfare activities and claims to be based on the fundamentals of all religions. In the eighteenth century it was closely associated with DEISM and even today a general deistic ethos generally prevails modified by the incorporation of religious symbols derived from ASSYRIAN and EGYPTIAN BELIEFS. The CHURCH OF ENGLAND, ROMAN CATHOLIC CHURCH and many EVANGELICAL denominations have condemned FREEMASONRY as UN-CHRISTIAN. Recently various sensational journalists have published exposes claiming that it is a closed club which often breaks the law to promote the interests of its members. Such claims are, of course, hotly denied by Masons.


FREUD, Sigmund (1856-1940). Austrian neurologist and founder of PSYCHOANALYSIS. Worked on the treatment of hysteria by hypnosis but later developed a method of treatment in which he replaced hypnosis by free association of ideas. Believed that a complex of repressed and forgotten impressions underlies all abnormal mental states such as hysteria and developed the theory that dreams are an unconscious representation of repressed desires, especially of sexual desires. Strongly ANTI-CHRISTIAN he authored The Future of an Illusion (1927) and Moses and Monotheism (1939), works which develop the projectionist theories similar to FEUERBACH. In many respects his technique of psychoanalysis can be seen as a FORM of SECULAR MYSTICISM reminiscent of JEWISH mystical thought.


FRIENDS, SOCIETY OF: known as QUAKERS. Their BELIEFS may be traced to R. BARKLAY'S (1648-1690) book Theologiae Verae Christianae Apologia (1676) which argued that CHRISTIANS ought to be guided by an "inner light." The founder of the movement proper was George FOX (1624-1691) who experienced a profound religious conversion in 1647 followed by a VISION in 1652. His first CONVERTS were called "Friends in Truth" but quickly acquired the derogatory nickname "Quaker" because of the trembling which characterized their WORSHIP. Quakers emphasize simplicity of worship and direct guidance from GOD. Over the centuries the role of the BIBLE has tended to diminish in Quaker congregations although a small group has remained faithful to Biblical authority. The Quakers have produced some outstanding leaders and social reformers such as William PENN and Elizabeth FRY.


FROEBEL, Friedrick Wilhelm August (1782-1852): German EDUCATIONALIST and originator of the "Kindergarten."


FROMM, Eric (1900-1980): German/American PSYCHOLOGIST who developed his ideas in terms of the work of both FREUD and MARX to apply psychoanalysis to society generally in the form of a new HUMANISM. He drew inspiration from BUDDHISM and the CHRISTIAN mystical tradition and is well-known for his psychological character studies of famous historical personalities. His books include: The Fear of Freedom (1941) and The Anatomy of Human Destructiveness (1973).


FRY, Elizabeth (1780-1845): English QUAKER and advocate of PRISON REFORM and practical help for the poor.


FUNDAMENTALISM: a CONSERVATIVE THEOLOGICAL movement which arose in American PROTESTANTISM in the 1920s in opposition to "MODERNISM." Fundamentalism should be understood primarily as an attempt to protect the essential doctrines or "fundamentals" of the CHRISTIAN FAITH from the eroding effects of modern thought. The doctrines considered essential by Fundamentalists include: the VIRGIN BIRTH of JESUS, His RESURRECTION and DEITY, His substitutionary ATONEMENT and SECOND COMING. Finally, they lay great stress on the authority of the BIBLE which is usually expressed in terms of its INFALLIBILITY and INERRANCY. The roots of fundamentalism go back to the nineteenth century when EVOLUTION, BIBLICAL CRITICISM, and COMPARATIVE RELIGION began to challenge the authority of the Biblical REVELATION. A significant offensive against MODERNISM was launched in 1910 with the publication of The Fundamentals a series of tracts written by conservative scholars to counter certain theological tendencies they considered dangerous. In a relatively short time the fundamentalist image became stereotyped as close-minded, belligerent, separatist, and uncultured. Even though the original Fundamentalists were well educated scholars--some from leading universities, such as Graham Gresham Machen at Princeton-- the movement as a whole quickly became identified with a rejection of education and a reactionary rural nostalgia for earlier times. Recently the term "fundamentalism" has been applied to MUSLIMS and members of other FAITHS who wish to retain their TRADITIONAL BELIEFS. Although there may be some merit is such usage, it is very misleading because many people identified thus are simply anti-Western. For example the Iranian REVOLUTION is usually described as "fundamentalist Islam" while the Saudis are seen as pro-Western and therefore more LIBERAL. In reality the Iranians interpret the QUR'N in a far more liberal and open manner than the Saudis who are much closer to CHRISTIAN fundamentalists in their religious beliefs and practices than the Iranians. The use of "fundamentalism" in this context is, therefore, not very helpful.




FURQN: a title of the QUR'N meaning "the distinguisher" or criterion.