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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.
SABBATARIAN: someone who rigidly keeps the SABBATH. The term is usually applied to CHRISTIANS who argue that Sunday should be observed as a SACRED day.
SABBATH: the SACRED day requiring a complete cessation from all work in JUDAISM (both ANCIENT and MODERN) commanded by GOD in Genesis 2:2-3 and seen as part of God's COVENANT with the people of ISRAEL. In CHRISTIANITY the Sabbath became SUNDAY which was to commemorate the RESURRECTION of CHRIST.
SABELLIANISM: an early CHRISTIAN HERESY which insisted on the unity of the Godhead by arguing that the persons of the TRINITY were actually different modes or operations of GOD.
SACH-KHAND: the realm of TRUTH and harmony in the SIKH TRADITION which is attained after many REBIRTHS through the repetition of the divine name.
SACRAMENT: a Rite in which GOD (or Gods) is (are) uniquely active. AUGUSTINE OF HIPPO defined a CHRISTIAN sacrament as "a visible sign of an invisible REALITY." The Anglican BOOK OF COMMON PRAYER speaks of them as "an outward and visible sign of an inward and invisible GRACE." Examples of sacraments would be BAPTISM and the MASS.
SACRED: that which is set apart; a synonym of HOLY. It refers to that which belongs to GOD, the deity or SUPERNATURAL as opposed to the SECULAR or profane. The sacred person, object or place must always be treated with the great care and respect. Often purification Rites must be performed before that which is sacred can be approached.
SACRIFICE: the act of dedicating a person, animal or thing to a deity to either influence the deity or create a bond of friendship. Sacrifices may take many FORMS but often involves the spilling of blood and killing of the victim if it is a human or an animal. Literal sacrifices persist in HINDUISM and many other religions such as AFRICAN RELIGIONS but have been abandoned in CHRISTIANITY, JUDAISM and ISLAM where the language of sacrifice is now used to express the act whereby a devotee dedicates their life to the service of GOD.
SADDUCEES: originating in the second century B.C. They were a religious and political GROUP, which rejected such BELIEFS as the RESURRECTION, ANGELS and SPIRITS, that disappeared after the destruction of Jerusalem in 70. In the NEW TESTAMENT they are depicted as the opponents of JESUS.
SAINT: a Greek term used in the NEW TESTAMENT to refer to a believer in CHRIST. Subsequently it came to mean a HOLY person.
SAINT-SIMON, Claude-Henri (1760-1828): French SOCIALIST philosopher who sought to promote a new FORM or RELIGION devoid of the supernatural trappings of CHRISTIANITY. He strongly influenced August COMTE whose works develop Saint-Simon's program. His books include the Reorganization of European Society (1814) and The New Christianity (1825).
SAIVISM: the WORSHIP of SIVA in HINDUISM. The CULT of SIVA appears to have roots in the INDUS VALLEY CIVILIZATION before the ARYAN invasions. In classical HINDUISM two very different FORMS of aivism emerged. The first gave it ideological sophistication through the NON-DUALISM of SANKARA and VEDNTA out of which a TANTRIC TRADITION also developed. The second major tradition of aivism was a TAMIL version which emphasized BHAKTI and a dualistic type of MONOTHEISM.
SAKTI: the HINDU CONCEPT of POWER or the creative force of GOD which is usually seen as female and represented by KALI and SIVA.
SAKTISM: the CULT of SAKTI where female deities become the focus of popular PIETY.
SKYAS: the Indian tribe to which GAUTAMA (BUDDHA) belonged.
SALISBURY, John of (1115-1180): English ecclesiastic, SCHOLASTIC philosopher and political theorist.
SALMAN (7th century): semi-legendary figure who is seen in ISLAM as an ideal seeker after TRUTH because of his CONVERSION after contact with MUHAMMAD.
SALVATION ARMY: an EVANGELICAL CHRISTIAN movement founded in nineteenth century Britain by William "General" BOOTH to work among the poor and oppressed. From the beginning, the evangelistic efforts of the Army concentrated on practical steps to improve the lot of the poor as well as proclaiming the Gospel to them. A strong but non-moralistic stance was taken against alcohol and other forms of drug abuse as well as providing homes for the homeless and meeting other chronic SOCIAL needs. Although a numerically small group, the Army has gained great respect throughout the world.
SALVATION: deliverance from disease, EVIL or spiritual bondage. JUDAISM and ISLAM regard it as obedience to the law of GOD as expressed in their respective SCRIPTURES. CHRISTIANITY sees salvation as the forgiveness of SIN and reconciliation with GOD through the death of CHRIST. HINDUISM and BUDDHISM essentially see salvation as release from SASRA through a breaking of the bonds of KARMA.
SAMADHI: a BUDDHIST term meaning concentration which is used in connection with MEDITATION that refers to the act of focusing one's attention on a single object.
SAMARITANS: the descendants of the Northern kingdom of ISRAEL who intermarried with local people thus gaining the scorn and enmity of ORTHODOX JEWS who retained their racial purity. They refused to recognize the TEMPLE in JERUSALEM as the center of WORSHIP, and built their own Temple on Mount Gerizim. The Samaritans accept their own version of PENTATEUCH but reject other parts of the HEBREW BIBLE.
SAMAVEDA: the second of Four Collections of VEDIC HYMNS consisting essentially of verses from the G VEDA arranged in LITURGICAL FORM to be sung during RITUALS of SACRIFICE.
SAMKHYA: one of the Six TRADITIONAL schools of HINDU PHILOSOPHY. It is dualistic teaching the TRANSMIGRATION of SOULS and a complex cosmology based on periodic cycles of CREATION and destruction.
SAMSARA: the wheel of REBIRTH in YOGIC RELIGIONS. It is the passing through successive lives as a consequence of the actions of KARMA. Bondage is implied and LIBERATION seen as release from both the bonds of Karma and Sasra.
SAMURAI: Japanese warrior class who lived by the CONFUCIAN ethic and adopted ZEN BUDDHISM.
SAN CH'ING: Chinese name for the Three Supreme TAOIST deities who rule the UNIVERSE.
SANCTIFICATION: from the Latin word sanctus meaning HOLY. Sanctification describes the process believed by CHRISTIANS to occur when new life is imparted to the believer by the HOLY SPIRIT following their BAPTISM or CONVERSION. It implies release from the compulsive power of SIN and guilt and a gaining of the ability to love GOD and one's neighbor.
SANGHA: the Order of Monks in BUDDHISM.
SANKARA (788-838): Indian BRAHMIN philosopher and advocate of VEDNTA who founded a number of Monasteries in India and seems to have regarded IVA and VISHNU as equal manifestations of the UNIVERSAL SPIRIT. He taught the illusory NATURE of the separate EXISTENCE of the SPIRIT of man from the BRAHMAN and emphasized that MY existed from all eternity as the only material or substantial CAUSE of the external world. His views were savagely attacked by RMNUJA who accused him of being a crypto-BUDDHIST and claimed that his intellect was warped through sexual perversions.
SANKEY, Ira David (1840-1908): singing American EVANGELIST who worked closely with MOODY. His sentimental HYMNS or "Gospel Songs" became the standard music of many EVANGELICAL Churches until the 1970s.
SANNYASIN: a person who has moved on to the last of the four stages of life in classical HINDUISM to become a wandering HOLY man. The term was adopted by RAJNEESH to refer to initiates of his organization.
SANSKRIT: the classical language of India which became the HOLY language of HINDUISM although the earliest HINDU SCRIPTURES such as the G VEDA and many later BHAKTI are not actually written in it. It is also the original language of many early BUDDHIST texts although most of these have preserved in translation only.
SANTAYANA, George (1863-1952): Spanish born American materialist philosopher who believed that although MATTER is the source of all things, the realm of the SPIRIT exists and that RELIGION is important because of the order and psychological comfort its RITUAL gives to life. His books include Realms of Being (1940).
SAOSHYANTS: the SAVIOR figure in ZOROASTRIANISM.
SARGENT, William (1918-): British psychiatrist whose book The Battle for the Mind (1957) was a sustained attack on CHRISTIAN CONVERSION as a FORM of BRAINWASHING. His work was a response to the success of the BILLY GRAHAM CRUSADE in England in 1951.
SARIPUTRA [sriputta] (6th century B.C.): chief disciple of GAUTAMA (BUDDHA).
SARTRE, Jean-Paul (1905-1980): French novelist and radical nihilistic, EXISTENTIAL philosopher whose novels, such as Nausea (1938), spoke to a generation of Europeans following the Second World War. A student of HEIDEGGER, his major philosophical works were Being and Nothingness (1943) and Critique of Dialectical Reason (1960).
SASANA: a BUDDHIST term for what is usually translated as RELIGION in the West.
SATAN, CHURCH OF: an American NEW RELIGIOUS MOVEMENT founded by Anton La Vey in 1966. Intensely INDIVIDUALISTIC it teaches indulgence, vengeance, physical gratification and the attainment of personal power.
SATAN: in the Book of Job in the HEBREW BIBLE the meaning is "the adversary." The term developed to mean the DEVIL or personalized force of EVIL who entices mankind away from the service and love of GOD.
SATANISM: ESOTERIC religious GROUPS and individuals who WORSHIP SATAN. They are often associated with RITUAL SACRIFICE and unconventional sexual practices. Satanic groups include the CHURCH OF SATAN, and various RITUAL MAGIC organizations.
SATI [Suttee]: a HINDU woman who commits SUICIDE on her husband's funeral pyre. The
practice was condemned by the SIKHS and various Hindu REFORMERS such as Ram Mohan ROY. It
was banned by the British in 1829 as a result of agitation by CHRISTIAN MISSIONARIES and
is illegal in modern India although considerable evidence exists that it still
SATORI: the Japanese term for BUDDHIST ENLIGHTENMENT.
SATURN: the Roman GOD of agriculture.
SAUTRANTIKA: a HINAYNA school of BUDDHIST PHILOSOPHY which rejected the ABHIDHARMA and taught that the STRAS alone were authoritative. It emerged during the second century.
SAVONAROLA, Girolamo (1452-1498): Italian REFORMER whose oratorical skill brought him temporary fame before he was burnt as a HERETIC for his criticism of the ROMAN CATHOLIC CHURCH in 1490.
SAYYID: the title given to the physical dependents of MUHAMMAD through his daughter FATIMA.
SCAPEGOAT: the RITUAL found in the HEBREW BIBLE, (Leviticus 16) whereby on the day of ATONEMENT the HIGH PRIEST transfers the SINS of the people of ISRAEL onto a goat which is then driven into the desert to die. Analogous practices are found in other cultures. Today the term is applied to any individual or GROUP that takes the blame for the actions or misfortunes of another.
SCARAB: the beetle AMULET of ancient Egypt.
SCENARIO: term popular with futurists to denote a possible future or model of the future based on present trends and historical ANALOGIES.
SCHAEFFER, Francis August (1912-1983): highly successful CHRISTIAN EVANGELIST in the REFORMED TRADITION and founder of the L'Abri Community. A self-professed FUNDAMENTALIST influenced by Princeton THEOLOGY and the PHILOSOPHY of DOOYEWEERD, he moved from a religious GHETTO to embrace the world as a speaker comfortable with heated debate leading a REVIVAL of EVANGELICAL interest in philosophy and the Arts. His books, which include The God Who is There (1968), The Church at the End of the Twentieth Century (1970) and True Spirituality (1971), fail to convey the full impact of his CHARISMATIC personality.
SCHELER, Max (1874-1928): German PHENOMENOLOGIST and philosopher who CONVERTED to ROMAN CATHOLICISM. His work stressed the spiritual NATURE of REALITY and strongly influenced both CONZE and STOKER. His major book is On the Eternal in Man (1921).
SCHELLING, Friedrich Wilhelm Joseph, (1775-1854): German philosopher and spokesman of ROMANTICISM whose PANTHEISM saw NATURE as a self-motivated, vitalistic, force. His vague spirituality and interest in MYTH contributed to the development of German NATIONALISM and RACISM. His works include Ideas for a Philosophy of Nature (1797), Philosophy of Religion (1804) and Of Human Freedom (1809).
SCHISM: a division of opinion used to describe religious dispute that leads to the CREATION of a NEW RELIGIOUS MOVEMENT.
SCHLEIERMACHER, Friedrich Daniel Ernst (1768-1834): the most important German PROTESTANT theologian of the nineteenth century and the founder of modern LIBERAL THEOLOGY. He rose to fame following the publication of his Speeches on Religion to its Cultural Despisers (1799) where he defines RELIGION as the "feeling" or "sense" of ABSOLUTE dependence and separates the study of religion from SCIENCE and other academic disciplines. His work set the tone for the rejection of NATURAL THEOLOGY and the development of non-traditional theological systems which reinterpreted CHRISTIANITY in terms of the MODERN age a project he began in The Christian Faith (1821-1822).
SCHLICK, Moritz (1882-1936): German philosopher and acknowledged leader of the VIENNA CIRCLE.
SCHOLASTIC: derived from SCHOLASTICISM it became a term of abuse following the PROTESTANT REFORMATION implying dead arguments based on LOGIC unrelated to real life.
SCHOLASTICISM: a term applied to medieval CHRISTIAN PHILOSOPHY.
SCHOPENHAUER, Arthur (1788-1860): the first German and modern Western philosopher to draw upon Indian PHILOSOPHY for inspiration. Deeply pessimistic, he embraced the concept of MY and rejected all appeals to HISTORY as a basis for philosophy. A scathing critic of HEGEL who he saw as a pedestrian lackey of the Prussian State, he developed a CONCEPT of the will which influenced such thinkers as NIETZSCHE, FREUD and MERLEAU-PONTY and saw women as the servants of men. His major work is The World as Will and Idea (1819 and 1844).
SCHWEITZER, Albert (1875-1965): German musical genius, philosopher, theologian and medical doctor who established a MISSIONARY hospital in French Equatorial Africa where he labored most of his life. His major theological work The Quest of the Historical Jesus (1909) demonstrated the failure of the LIBERAL theological enterprise and advocated a VISION of JESUS as an APOCALYPTIC teacher proclaiming the KINGDOM OF GOD.
SCIENCE: in English science has come to be associated with the physical sciences such as physics and chemistry but the MEANING of the term is much wider, namely the systematic classification of knowledge. Science as knowledge needs to be distinguished from both TECHNOLOGY and the SCIENTIFIC METHOD.
SCIENTIFIC METHOD: although there are many different methods used in various academic disciplines, the term scientific method refers to that process of systematic inquiry which proceeds in a logical manner and involves the testing of theories against the available evidence. It implies an initial SKEPTICISM and an openness of mind before the FACTS or relevant evidence.
SCIENTISM: the WORSHIP of SCIENCE or claim that only scientific knowledge is VALID or TRUE knowledge.
SCIENTOLOGY: a controversial NEW RELIGIOUS MOVEMENT founded by Ron L. HUBBARD who in many respects was a modern SHAMAN. It aims at applying religious PHILOSOPHY through a process of education and unique counselling to recover spirituality and increase individual ability. Hubbard originally developed a form of therapy known as DIANETICS. This dealt with workings of the human mind and aimed at relieving emotional traumas. In the process Hubbard came to believe that the human spirit animates the mind, is immortal, and can resolve its own problems. As aa result he created Scientology as a religious movement. Through Scientology, and the methods Hubbard taught, an individual discovers they are a SPIRITUAL being, or THETAN, and learn to becomes their own SAVIOR thus gaining spiritual freedom. Scientology uses the language of SCIENCE to promote a Westernized version of YOGIC RELIGION supported by the rich MYTHOLOGY found in Hubbard's science fiction novels. Although many attempts have been made to deny the religious NATURE of Scientology, it has too many features of actual RELIGIONS to be dismissed as a pious fraud or SECULAR PHILOSOPHY.
SCOFIELD, Cyrus Ingerson (1843-1921): American lawyer and PASTOR who edited the influential Scofield Reference Bible which he published in 1909 with the financial assistance of prominent businessmen. His "Bible" became the standard text of American FUNDAMENTALISM where it helped promote DISPENSATIONALISM, it also strongly influenced the PLYMOUTH BRETHREN movement.
SCOTT, Walter, Sir (1771-1832): Scottish leader of British ROMANTICISM whose poetry, novels and biographies created a idealized view of the middle ages which reinforced resistance to industrialization and SCIENCE. His first historical novel Waverly (1814) was followed by Rob Roy (1817) and Ivanhoe (1819), all of which encouraged NATIONALISM and a rejection of MODERNITY. Religiously his work contributed to the popularity of the OXFORD MOVEMENT and the revival of ROMAN CATHOLICISM in Britain.
SCRIPTURE: writings regarded as SACRED. They FORM the basis of religious BELIEF and practice and are usually regarded as either given by GOD through INSPIRATION or REVELATION.
SECT: an important term which is often loosely used to mean a religious GROUP that has broken away from an older TRADITION. Confusion is created by the fact that it is sometimes used theologically to refer to groups of questionable ORTHODOXY or outright HERESY. Sociologically the term has been contrasted with CHURCH and used of groups which live in tension with the surrounding SOCIETY. To facilitate operationalizing the term Rodney STARK defines a sect as "a religious group which lives in a state of relatively high tension with the surrounding society that has a prior tie with another religious organization and was founded by someone who left that organization."
SECULAR: what is profane. The worldly, civil, or non-religious as distinguished from RELIGION or the SACRED.
SECULARIZATION THESIS: a theory promoted in the 1960s by SOCIOLOGISTS such as Rodney STARK who argued that SECULARIZATION is a process linked to INDUSTRIALIZATION and urban life which leads to the disappearance of RELIGION in modern SOCIETY. Today, there seems considerable evidence that rather than causing religion to disappear, secularization leads to the growth of NEW RELIGIOUS MOVEMENTS causing Stark and others to revise their earlier ideas.
SECULARIZATION: the process by which a SOCIETY becomes increasingly SECULAR.
SELF: the INDIVIDUAL PERSON or ego. Our personal awareness of individuality.
SENECA, Lucius Anneus (5-65 B.C.): Roman moralist and STOIC philosopher who was the tutor and advisor of the Emperor Nero.
SENSE DATA: what is immediately known by the senses or that which is the given in direct awareness.
SEPTUAGINT: the name given to the Greek translation of the HEBREW BIBLE carried out in the second century B.C.
SERMON: a religious discourse intended to CONVERT non-believers or inspire the faithful to a more devout life.
SERMON ON THE MOUNT: the most famous sayings of JESUS OF NAZARETH which are found in Matthew 5 - 7.
SEVEN DEADLY SINS: in TRADITIONAL CHRISTIANITY these are pride, covetousness, lust, envy, gluttony, anger, and sloth.
SEVENTH DAY ADVENTISM: the name adopted in 1861 by a dynamic EVANGELICAL GROUP which began as a REVITALIZATION MOVEMENT expecting the imminent return of CHRIST and has now become a fast growing denomination with extensive MISSIONARY programs. They observe the SABBATH, FOOD laws based on the HEBREW BIBLE, VEGETARIANISM and avoid tea, coffee and alcohol. Unlike most MILLENARIAN movements they emphasize education and have an impressive record for medical work. Although some CHRISTIANS accuse them of HERESY, they are essentially ORTHODOX in their THEOLOGY.
SHAFI'I', Muhammad ibn Idrs (767-820): influential MUSLIM jurist who held that the QURA'N and HADTH were the twin basis of ISLAMIC law.
SHAFTESBURY, Anthony Ashley Cooper, Lord (1801-1885): English social REFORMER and prominent EVANGELICAL LAY-MAN who, with WILBERFORCE, worked hard to improve factory working conditions, opposed slavery, and sought to improve the lot of children.
SHAHRASTANI, Muhammad bin Abd al-Karim (1076-1153): Islamic scholar and author of The Book of Religious Sects which deals with various MUSLIM SECTS as well as other RELIGIONS and PHILOSOPHIES.
SHAKERS: originating in a QUAKER REVIVAL meeting in 1847 a group of people distinguished by their physical shaking during WORSHIP. They came under the leadership of "Mother" ANN LEE who was recognized as a female CHRIST. She eventually emigrated to America with her followers in 1774 where they established several colonies. The Shakers are a UTOPIAN GROUP known for their austere, utilitarian, architecture and furnishing which practice CELIBACY and communal living. Among their many achievements is the invention of the washing machine.
SHAMAN: a word of Northern Asiatic origin which means PRIEST or "Medicine Man."
SHAMANISM: the indigenous RELIGION of Northern Eurasia where trance and the control of SPIRITS by exceptional individuals or SHAMEN who negotiate between this world and the spirit world is a central feature. Shamanism is found among hunting peoples and presupposes a BELIEF in a multiplicity of spirits and the survival of the SOUL after death. As a coherent religious system it is practically extinct although a REVIVAL of interest in Shamanism has occurred in various NEW RELIGIOUS MOVEMENTS including the UNIFICATION CHURCH and, in a certain sense, SCIENTOLOGY.
SHANG-TI: the supreme GOD or primal ancestor in Chinese RELIGION. The term was adopted by CHRISTIAN MISSIONARIES to speak about the GOD of the BIBLE.
SHAR'AH: CANON law in ISLAM based on the QUR'N, and ADTH the consensus of the community of the faithful and analogical reasoning from the three basic sources.
SHARIF: the nobility of ISLAM who are the descendants of MUHAMMAD.
SHAW, George Bernard (1856-1950): Irish playwright and critic who, along with others, was the dominant figure in the influential FABIAN SOCIETY to advance democratic SOCIALISM through gradual REFORM. A strident critic of established RELIGION, he promoted his own view of an evolutionary spirituality.
SHEKHINAH: a HEBREW word meaning the glory, indwelling or manifestation of GOD in the world.
SHEMBE, Amos (1907-1996): the son of Isaia SHEMBE and leader of the largest branch of the Zulu AMA-NAZARITE movement in South Africa which split into two rival factions after the death of Johannes Galilee SHEMBE. Under the leadership of Amos, the group has moved in a more CHRISTIAN direction with a greater emphasis on the BIBLE and person of JESUS.
SHEMBE, Isaia [Isaiah] (1867-1935): Zulu religious leader, healer and founder of the AMA-NAZARITES the largest independent religious movement among the Zulus. Regarded as God by many of his own people, Isaia Shembe is usually spoken of as a PROPHET by Europeans but this designation was vigorously denied by his son Amos and grandson Londa. His writings and sayings have been translated by Londa Shembe as The Prayers and Writings of the Servant of Sorrows Thumekile Isaiah Shembe making them the first SCRIPTURES of a NEW RELIGIOUS MOVEMENT in Africa to appear in English.
SHEMBE, Johannes Galilee (1904-1975): the successor of Isaia Shembe whose able leadership made the AMA-NAZARITES the second largest independent religious movement in Southern Africa.
SHEMBE, Londa iNsiKayakho (1944-1989): brilliant leader of the smaller and more progressive branch of the AMA-NAZARITES who called himself the "Third Shembe" thus identifying his work and personality with that of his grandfather Isaia SHEMBE. He strongly rejected the idea that the AMA-NAZARITES were simply a FORM of Africanized CHRISTIANITY, insisting instead that they were an AFRICAN RELIGION in their own right. He was brutally assassinated on April 7th 1989.
SHEN: a term for SPIRITS in Chinese RELIGION.
SHEOL: the place of departed SPIRITS often referred to as the "underworld" in the HEBREW BIBLE.
SHI''ISM: there are two major divisions in ISLAM: (1) SUNNI who are in the majority and claim to be the ORTHODOX GROUP and (2) the SHI'A, or followers of MUHAMMAD'S son-in-law ALI, who believe that the spiritual and temporal head of ISLAM should reside with the descendants of the PROPHET. The Shi'a are the dominant group in Iran and Iraq.
SHINGON: a highly MYSTICAL and syncratistic Japanese BUDDHIST religious movement founded in 806 by KB DAISH. It incorporates the GODS and even demons from other religious TRADITIONS within its MYTHOLOGY as manifestations of the BUDDHA whose body is the entire COSMOS and is distinguished by its use of the MANDALA or diagram representing the vitality and potentiality of the UNIVERSE.
SHINRAN (1173-1262): Japanese BUDDHIST scholar and REFORMER who founded JOD Shinsh the "True PURE LAND FAITH." He studied TENDAI BUDDHISM at Mount Hiei before leaving to follow HNON. Shinran developed a radical doctrine which emphasized the importance of FAITH rather than the number or recitations of religious formulas. He advocated the marriage of Monks and sought to minimize the gulf between Clergy and Laity.
SHINSHUKYO: an ESOTERIC SHINTO religious movement founded by Yoshimura Masamochi in the late nineteenth century to restore SHINTO ORTHODOXY and promote divine healing. Its best known Rites are a fire walking ceremony and bodily purification using boiling water.
SHINTAI: a SACRED object representing the deity kept in a SHINTO TEMPLE.
SHINTO: the way of KAMI or the GODS which is the TRADITIONAL RELIGION of JAPAN central to Japanese CULTURE and national identity. It is based on pre-historic religious practices, a PRIESTHOOD and household Rites.
SHOLOKOHV, Mikhail Alekandrovich (1905-1982): Russian novelist and supposed author of And Quiet Flows the Don (which is a profound analysis of the effect of REVOLUTION on Cossack SOCIETY) and a hardline Communist. Rumors persist that he was not the true author of the novel which it is claimed he stole from a prison camp inmate thus explaining its anti-communist sentiments.
SHRINE: a HOLY place--usually attracts PILGRIMS.
SHU'AYB (?): a PROPHET mentioned in the QURA'N popularly identified with Jethro, Father-in-law of MOSES.
SHU CHING: on of the Five CONFUCIAN classics known as the Book of History or Book of Records preserving an account of Chinese HISTORY.
SHUSHI SCHOOL: the ORTHODOX School of JAPANESE CONFUCIANISM introduced by ZEN monks in the fourteenth century and adopted by the Tokagawa Shogunate as the official system of Japanese morality.
SIBYLLINE ORACLES: a collection of PROPHECIES not to be confused with the PSEUDO-SIBYLLINE ORACLES. They were supposedly made by a PROPHETESS called Sibyl, and eventually gathered together in Rome where they were consulted in times of crisis, until their destruction in 405.
SIGN: an indicator. Anything which stands for or represents something else.
SIKHISM: growing out of various Indian movements which sought unity between the best in ISLAM and HINDUISM, which crystalized in the work of NNAK, the first of ten GURUS, who created and led the SIKH community. Nnak preached the unity of GOD and taught the centrality of BHAKTI type devotion using the repetition of the divine name. The CASTE system was repudiated and images banned from WORSHIP.
SIMON STYLITES (390-459): the first CHRISTIAN HERMIT to live in the desert on top of a pillar thus setting a "style" of ASCETIC life which became popular for several centuries. His rigorous discipline and powerful preaching is credited with making many PAGAN CONVERTS.
SIMONS, Menno (1496-1561): leader of the pacifist branch of the Dutch ANABAPTISTS whose followers became MENNONITES. He emphasized reflection on the earthly life of CHRIST and taught that the HOLY SPIRIT should be viewed as both Father and Mother of Christ.
SIN: tends to be understood in the West exclusively in the sense of the transgression of divine commandments. In COMPARATIVE RELIGION it has the much wider meaning of any departure from a divinely instituted order. Sin can only be moral if and when the underlying conception of GOD is also moral. In the many early ideas of sin, the element of RITUAL is more prominent than the ethical.
SIN ORIGINAL: in the classical CHRISTIAN TRADITION, original Sin refers to the UNIVERSAL and hereditary sinfulness of man since the FALL of MAN. It is contrasted with actual Sin, which is a self-conscious violation of GOD'S law.
SINAI: the desert mountain between Egypt and Palestine where MOSES is said to have been given the Ten Commandments in Exodus 20.
SINE QUA NON: Latin for an indispensable condition without which a thing cannot exist.
SKEPTICISM: the BELIEF that the possibilities of knowledge are severely limited and that TRUTH is very difficult if not impossible to attain. As a result skeptical theories may promote an abandonment of the search for certainty and the ADOPTION of systematic doubt.
SKEPTICS: name given to certain philosophers who doubt the adequacy of the senses and REASON to furnish reliable knowledge about the NATURE of things. They advocate withholding assent and the suspension of judgment.
SKINNER, Burrhus Frederic (1904-): American behaviorist psychologist famous for his experiments with rats using the "Skinner Box." His UTOPIAN novel Walden Two (1940) popularized views he developed in Beyond Freedom and Dignity (1971) where he argued that we should abandon the notion of "autonomous man" who is a free agent responsible for his or her actions.
SMART, Ninian (1927-): Scottish philosopher who introduced RELIGIOUS STUDIES to British universities and pioneered the teaching of world RELIGIONS in schools. His works include Reasons and Faiths (1958), Doctrine and Argument in Indian Philosophy (1964) and The World's Religions (1989), as well as the popular Long Search television series.
SMITH, Adam (1723-1790): Scottish moral philosopher and founder of the discipline of economics through his book The Wealth of Nations (1776) which is often seen as the textbook of CAPITALISM. Although he argued for a free market economy, Smith was highly critical of greedy businessmen and distrustful of both government indifference and the ability of capitalists to create monopolies.
SMITH, Joseph (1805-1844): American visionary and founder of MORMONISM. He claimed to have begun receiving spiritual VISIONS in 1820. As a result of the religious confusion created by competing SECTS he published The Book of Mormon (1830) which he said was translated with the help of an ANGEL from REFORMED Egyptian hieroglyphics written on golden plates. On April 6th 1830 he founded the CHURCH OF JESUS CHRIST OF LATTER DAY SAINTS. Teaching the importance of continuing REVELATION, he subsequently published Doctrine and Covenants (1835) and The Pearl of Great Price (1851) which together with The Book of Mormon provide the basis for the Church's doctrine and organization. Opposition to the practice of POLYGAMY, which he began openly teaching in 1843, led to his arrest and murder by a mob in 1844.
SMITH, Wilfred Cantwell (1916-): Canadian scholar of ISLAM and the HISTORY of RELIGION who is a prominent figure in RELIGIOUS STUDIES. His works include Modern Islam in India (1943) and Questions of Religious Truth (1967).
SMITH, William Robertson (1846-1894): Scottish Biblical scholar and author of The Religion of the Semites (1989) which was an early attempt to introduce CONCEPTS from ANTHROPOLOGY and SOCIOLOGY into Biblical studies. He was also responsible for popularizing the work of German BIBLICAL CRITICISM (especially that of WELLHAUSEN) into English.
SMUTS, Jan Christian (1870-1950): South African Prime Minister, Army general, statesman and philosopher. His work Holism and Evolution (1926) is credited by many as being an early statement of the PHILOSOPHY of the NEW AGE MOVEMENT.
SNAKE HANDLERS: an exotic religious practice which emerged in Tennessee in 1909 where the text of Mark 16:17-18, which speaks about "taking up serpents," was literally interpreted as a SIGN of BELIEF.
SOCIAL GOSPEL: the name given to the central idea of a widely influential movement within American PROTESTANTISM in the late nineteenth and early twentieth centuries. Its greatest spokesman was RAUSCHENBUSCH, a BAPTIST Minister, and later a theological professor. His premise was that personal EXISTENCE is basically SOCIAL and that a relevant CHRISTIANITY would "bring men under repentance for their collective SINS" and would proclaim a corresponding SOCIAL SALVATION. He appealed to the demand for Justice that was characteristic of the Hebrew PROPHETS and to the centrality of the KINGDOM OF GOD in the teachings of JESUS.
SOCIAL JUSTICE: a modern development of the idea of justice which gives individuals specific rights such as the right to education or health as opposed to older CONCEPTS of justice which simply guaranteed equality before the law.
SOCIALISM: a modern political system based on the idea of equality which advocates State intervention in the economy and SOCIETY to ensure SOCIAL JUSTICE. Socialism is opposed to CAPITALISM and ideas such as the free market economy which it sees as giving preference to the rich over the poor. MARXISM calls itself "Scientific Socialism" and is distinguished from other socialist theories in that socialism is seen as a step towards the ideal communist society and not as an end in itself.
SOCIALIST: someone who advocates SOCIALISM.
SOCIALIZATION: the process by which a child is incorporated into SOCIETY and becomes a member of a GROUP.
SOCIETY: the individuals who together form a SOCIAL GROUP.
SOCINIANISM: a RATIONALISTIC THEOLOGY which regards the BIBLE as REVELATION but argues that it contains nothing contrary to REASON and denies BELIEF in the SACRAMENTS of the CHURCH, the TRINITY, deity of CHRIST, ORIGINAL SIN, VICARIOUS ATONEMENT and RESURRECTION of the body.
SOCIOLOGIST: someone who studies SOCIETY using the methods of SOCIOLOGY.
SOCIOLOGY OF RELIGION: the applications of methods and theories derived from SOCIOLOGY to the study of RELIGION. Although today the sociology of religion is a minor field within sociology proper, the founding "Fathers" of sociology were all vitally concerned with religious questions.
SOCIOLOGY: the modern study of SOCIETY in a systematic and scientific manner. The term was first used by COMTE in 1830 but as an academic discipline it was first developed by SPENCER in the late nineteenth century. It involves the application of statistical and other techniques to understand the way people act and think as members of SOCIAL GROUPS. Other figures regarded as the founders of sociology are TOCQUEVILLE, MARX, Durkheim and WEBER.
SOCRATES (470-400 B.C.): Greek philosopher and teacher to PLATO who criticized the vice and folly of government and the weakness of popular THEOLOGY. Convicted of corrupting youth and being unfaithful to the GODS and the State, he was condemned to either go into exile or drink Hemlock (poison): he chose Hemlock. Plato idealizes him as a teacher of DIALECTIC and ARISTOTLE credits him with being the first philosopher to seek UNIVERSAL principles and precise definition. His method of inquiry involving question and counter-question is known as the SOCRATIC METHOD.
SOCRATIC METHOD: the DIALECTICAL method supposedly used by SOCRATES. It involves patient questioning by a teacher to lead the pupil to recognize the TRUTH.
SODOM AND GOMORRAH: Cities mentioned in Genesis 18 and 19 which were destroyed by GOD because of their SIN which involved sexual perversion and inhospitability.
SOKA GAKKAI: a Japanese NEW RELIGIOUS MOVEMENT founded in 1930 by Tsunesaburo Makiguchi and Josei Toda as a lay association of BUDDHISTS. Active in politics the leaders were imprisoned during the Second World War for their pacifist stance. After 1947 the movement grew rapidly especially in Cities where its ADOPTION of BUDDHISM to the modern world appealed to many people.
SOLIPSISM: sometimes we idly fancy that the whole world is merely our dream. Solipsism is a theory, rather like this fancy, but based on argument.
SOLOVIEV, Vladimir (1853-1900): Russian philosopher and theologian who was an intimate of Dostoyevsky whom he greatly influenced. After strongly opposing the ROMAN CATHOLIC CHURCH, he joined it in 1896 through his desire to see a united CHRISTENDOM. Strongly influenced by German PHILOSOPHY, especially HEGEL, he sought to combine PANTHEISM with the CHRISTIAN doctrine of the INCARNATION. After the Russian REVOLUTION the influence of his writings is credited with turning Russian emigre intellectuals away from their earlier nihilism towards CHRISTIANITY. His works included The Crisis of Western Philosophy (1874), Critique of Abstract Principles (1880) and Stories of the Anti-Christ (1900).
SOLZHENITSYN, Aleksandr Isayevich (1918-): Russian novelist and CHRISTIAN thinker who was imprisoned and sent to a labor camp in Siberia for disrespectful references to STALIN. Released in 1953 he and wrote One Day in the Life of Ivan Denisovich (1962) followed by The Gulag Archipelago (1973) which graphically exposed the horrors of the Soviet system. Re-arrested in 1974, he was exiled to the West where his fame as a writer grew. His autobiography The Oak and the Calf (1979) is a moving testimony to endurance and FAITH.
SOMA: the name of a plant, regarded as divine, which is mentioned in VEDIC literature where it was valued for its hallucigenic powers by BRAHMINS who used it in RITUALS.
SON OF GOD: the title given to JESUS in the NEW TESTAMENT which in some passages clearly implies a special relationship between Jesus and GOD. In CHRISTIAN THEOLOGY it came to represent the deity of CHRIST in contrast to His humanity expressed by the title SON OF MAN.
SON OF MAN: a term found in the HEBREW BIBLE, especially in the Book of Daniel, meaning "the man" which is clearly linked to the idea of the MESSIAH and the KINGDOM OF GOD. CHRISTIANS have taken it as the counterpart of the title SON OF GOD and seen it as indicating CHRIST'S humanity.
SOPHISTS: wandering teachers of RHETORIC and PHILOSOPHY in the Greaco-Roman world. They rejected all RELIGION and gave rationalistic explanations to natural phenomena upholding ETHICAL and SOCIAL RELATIVISM.
SOPHOCLES (495-406 B.C.): Athenian poet and writer whose play Edipus Rex gave FREUD the idea for his famous complex.
SORCERY: the exercise of RITUAL MAGIC used with EVIL intent and often involving the use of physical objects, spells, potents and poisons.
SOREL, Georges (1847-1922): French Marxist journalist, philosopher, anarchist and revolutionary syndicalist who rejected RATIONALISM and through the work of BERGSON eventually developed a MYSTICAL NATIONALISM. Praising both STALIN and MUSSOLINI, he was adopted by the latter as the philosopher of FASCISM. Sorel was a complex figure, whose views constantly changed over time, and an advocate of the general strike and opponent of LIBERAL DEMOCRACY. His works include The Decomposition of Marxism (1908) and his famous Reflections on Violence (1916).
SOROKIN, Pitrim Alexandrovitch (1889-1968): Russian born SOCIOLOGIST of peasant parents who became a leading critic of Marxism and the Russian REVOLUTION. His major work Social and Cultural Dynamics (1937-1941) ranks with that of TOYNBEE and SPENGLER as an attempt to provide a general interpretation of HISTORY.
SOTAPANNA: a CONVERT to BUDDHISM who is guaranteed FREEDOM from REBIRTH in the HELLS or as anything other than a human with the ultimate hope of full ENLIGHTENMENT and LIBERATION.
SOTERIOLOGY: that division of THEOLOGY which deals with the SALVATION of man.
SOTO: one of the major divisions of ZEN BUDDHISM founded in China by Tung-shan in the ninth century. It teaches the unity of the ABSOLUTE and the RELATIVE EXISTENCE of all observable phenomena. It was introduced to Japan in the thirteenth century by Dgen and is based on the practice of ZAZEN MEDITATION.
SOUL: the immortal element in human beings sometimes regarded as our true SELF. The EXISTENCE of the soul is denied in BUDDHISM and certain FORMS of HINDUISM. Other HINDU philosophies teach the existence of the soul which is integral to the notion of TRANSMIGRATION. In early CHRISTIANITY, as seen in the three ECUMENICAL CREEDS, the central CONCEPT was the RESURRECTION of the body rather than the IMMORTALITY of the soul which gradually replaced the earlier emphasis.
SOUTHCOTT, Joanna (1750-1814): American MYSTIC who proclaimed herself a PROPHET. Many of her prophecies have been promoted by OCCULT GROUPS and recently some members of the NEW AGE MOVEMENT.
SPENCER, Herbert (1820-1903): English POSITIVIST philosopher, sociologist and LIBERAL who was the dominant intellectual figure in the latter half of the nineteenth century. Applying DARWIN'S views to SOCIETY, he developed a PHILOSOPHY of PROGRESS expressed in his First Principles (1862) and greatly contributed to the development of ANTHROPOLOGY and SOCIOLOGY. His ambitious Principles of Sociology (1876-1896, 3 Vols.) can be seen as a forerunner of General Systems theory because of his insistence on the self-regulating NATURE of SOCIAL SYSTEMS.
SPENGLER, Oswald (1880-1936): German historian and philosopher whose influential work The Decline of the West (1914-1922) helped set the tone for modern intellectual pessimism and EXISTENTIALIST PHILOSOPHY.
SPINOZA, Baruch [or Benedict] (1632-1677): Dutch materialist philosopher who was EXCOMMUNICATED for his free thought by the JEWISH community of Amsterdam. He believed that mastery over NATURE and the perfection of man was the purpose of knowledge. And considered DEMOCRATIC government the highest FORM of power. His work stimulated the development of modern ATHEISM and BIBLICAL CRITICISM. His works include Tractatus Theologicopoliticus (1670), and Ethica (1677).
SPIRITISM: a mode of thought and more importantly behavior based on the BELIEF that the SPIRITS of the dead and other spirits interact and sometimes even communicate with the living. Such intercourse normally takes place through dreams, illness and unusual events which reveal the presence of a spirit. When the spirit disturbs the living, a SHAMAN or similar religious expert is called in to solve the problem and if appropriate directly contact the spirit or spirits concerned. Appeasement of the spirit often involves SACRIFICE and RITUALS which appear similar to GROUP therapy.
SPIRITS: disembodied entities which display the characteristics of INDIVIDUAL PERSONS that are sometimes regarded as the SOULS of dead ancestors. In most RELIGIONS, spirits are regarded as potentially dangerous and often as downright EVIL.
SPIRITUAL EXERCISES: generally any practices intended to increase the spiritual awareness of a practitioner. Specifically they are a system of devotional practices devised by LOYOLA and copied by various other religious leaders to promote CHRISTIAN MEDITATION.
SPIRITUAL HEALING: the BELIEF that through PRAYER or other SPIRITUAL exercises an INDIVIDUAL may be healed physically or psychologically. Such healing often involves the intervention of someone who is regarded as having a gift of healing or who is seen as being a SAINT.
SPIRITUALISM: a modern FORM of SPIRITISM dating from 1848, when two teen-age sisters, Margaretta and Katie Fox, of Hydesville, New York, reported "rappings" in their home. They interpreted these noises as messages from a peddler who had died in the house. Enthusiasm for spiritualism swept the North America spreading to Europe and Latin America. The teachings of SWEDENBORG and bitter rivalry between competing CHRISTIAN DENOMINATIONS and a growing awareness of the problems of BIBLICAL CRITICISM, as presented by FREE THINKERS like BRADLAUGH and PAINE, may be seen as a contributing factor to the growth of the spiritualist movement. After rapid growth in the 1850s, when by some estimates something like 75% of Americans visited spiritualists, enthusiasm declined. Spiritualist ideas have had an influence far greater than the number of committed spiritualists would suggest making an important contribution to the growth of NEW RELIGIOUS MOVEMENTS. In places like Brazil, spiritualism has encouraged the growth of SYNCRATISM between ROMAN CATHOLIC, TRADITIONAL AFRICAN and Native American religious TRADITIONS.
SPURGEON, Charles Haddon (1834-1892): popular English BAPTIST Preacher who promoted CALVINISM and whose printed SERMONS run to many volumes and are still studied for their style and eloquence.
STALIN, Joseph (1879-1953): Russian THEOLOGY student turned revolutionary who ruled Russia with an iron fist for almost thirty years causing untold suffering and the deaths of about 17 million including the murder of around 7 million in the Ukraine through enforced famine. As early as 1933 he sought a pact with HITLER which was formally endorsed in 1939 only to be undone by the German invasion of 1941. His daughter embraced CHRISTIANITY and fled to America in the 1960s.
STANLEY, Henry Morton, Sir (1841-1904): American journalist who set out on an expedition into central Africa to "find" David LIVINGSTONE. His Through the Dark Continent (1878, 2 Vols.) aroused public curiosity and stimulated the MISSIONARY movement.
STARK, Rodney (1940-): SOCIOLOGIST of RELIGION and early proponent of the SECULARIZATION thesis which he later repudiated. He is best known for his co-authored article "Hellfire and Delinquency" which found no correlation between religious BELIEF and delinquent behavior: a position which he now regards as wrong due to inadequate sampling. One of America's most creative sociologist his many books include the best selling introductory text Sociology (1985) and The Future of Religion (1985) which he wrote with William Sims Bainbridge.
STIGMATA: a strange phenomena where the wounds of CHRIST or blisters and sores appear on the bodies of living people. These marks are not susceptible to normal medical treatment and usually appear at times such as LENT. The first known case of stigmata was FRANCIS OF ASSISI.
STOIC: someone who lives by the PHILOSOPHY of STOICISM or more generally who acts in a brave and detached manner.
STOICISM: a school of PHILOSOPHY founded in the fourth century B.C. by Zeno of Citium which taught a PANTHEISTIC MONISM that identified GOD with the principle of UNIVERSAL REASON and advised everyone to accept their place in the scheme of life by doing their duty which was to follow the most RATIONAL path possible. The STOIC virtues were knowledge, reason, courage, justice, and self-discipline attained through the study of philosophy which leads to a virtuous life. Stoics taught the EXISTENCE of NATURAL law which is known to all people and the common humanity of mankind. Today the best known stoic is Marcus Aurelius whose works have been popularized by such POSITIVE THINKERS as Dale Carnegie.
STOKER, Hendrik Gerhardus (1899-): South African philosopher and student of SCHELER whose work was highly praised by HEIDEGGER. He attempted to develop a CHRISTIAN PHILOSOPHY based on the idea of CREATION similar to the philosophy of DOOYEWEERD. Unfortunately his work is marred by the fact that he supported a highly theoretical version of apartheid.
STONEHENGE: a circle of standing stones in Southern England the purpose of which is unknown although was probably used in some religious RITUAL. Popular imagination has associated the building of Stonehenge with the Druids but this is totally false historically. Today Stonehenge is a source of inspiration to various neo-PAGAN GROUPS.
STRAUSS, David Friedrich (1808-1874): radical German theologian and one of the founders of BIBLICAL CRITICISM. His book The Life of Jesus (1835) caused a storm by its denial of the supernatural and his use of MYTH, which he defined as a story contrary to the laws of NATURE, to reinterpret the BIBLE in SECULAR terms.
STRUCTURALISM: an interdisciplinary PHILOSOPHY developed by LÉVI-STRAUSS and PIAGET which focuses on the common structures underlying linguistics, MYTH and SOCIAL life.
STUPA: a SANSKRIT word meaning a rounded mound of stones or earth which seems to have played a role in Indian FOLK RELIGION but came to be regarded as a memorial in BUDDHISM where they became centers of popular PIETY.
SUBJECTIVE: related to the thinking subject. That which exists only when it is apprehended by an active mind; i.e. as a mirage on the desert, or snakes on Mars. Lacking OBJECTIVE ONTOLOGY.
SUBJECTIVISM: an emphasis on the SUBJECTIVE as a total PHILOSOPHY or way of knowing.
SUBSTANCE: a term originating with Greek PHILOSOPHY meaning the underlying and unchanging substratum of a thing that remains apart from apparent changes to its appearance. It is that which everything depends on, or, what is REAL.
SUDRAS: the lowest CASTE in the HINDU system consisting of people who perform the most menial occupations and live on the margins of SOCIETY.
SUFFERING, THE PROBLEM OF: the EXISTENCE of pain and suffering in the world whether it is individual misfortune or part of the NATURAL order such as storms and earthquakes and raises the question whether the UNIVERSE is essentially hostile to human life. This is often seen a problem for THEISM because it is posed in terms of the GOD'S goodness, knowledge and power but even if God does not exist, questions of MEANING and purpose would still exist.
SUFISM: an important MYSTICAL movement within ISLAM whose origins are obscure.
SUICIDE: most RELIGIONS discourage people from taking their own lives and the act is uncompromisingly condemned in the ABRAMIC RELIGIONS. Classical HINDUISM also opposed the practice but JAINISM and some FORMS of BUDDHISM allow for RITUAL suicide while the CONFUCIAN ethic in China and Japan encouraged SOCIETY to see suicide as a commendable act in situations of loss of face and failure to perform one's duty. The practice is widespread in many societies and can be seen as an indicator of SOCIAL well-being.
SUMMA: a medieval Latin word for literary compendium or work of SCHOLASTIC PHILOSOPHY.
SUMMUM BONUM: Latin for the highest or supreme GOOD.
SUNDAR SINGH (1889-1929): Indian EVANGELIST who converted to CHRISTIANITY from the SIKH RELIGION of his family after a VISION OF JESUS when he was thirteen years old. He adopted the dress of a HINDU HOLY man and sought to spread the GOSPEL in terms of Indian life and CULTURE.
SUNDAY, William Ashley, "Billy" (1862-1935): American REVIVALIST and FUNDAMENTALIST leader who opposed the theory of EVOLUTION and strongly advocated the TEMPERANCE MOVEMENT.
SUNDAY SCHOOL MOVEMENT: first begun in 1780 by an ANGLICAN Clergyman Robert RAIKES in Gloucester, England, to teach children to read and encourage PIETY. The movement quickly spread throughout the English speaking world and into continental Europe as the forerunner of UNIVERSAL education.
SUNNA: customary practice in the law of ISLAM. In the QUR'N it is used to speak about established decrees but later became attached to the deeds and attitudes of MUHAMMAD.
SUNNI: the majority party in ISLAM distinguished by its rejection of the claims of ALI. The name comes from the practice of finding solutions to problems not discussed in the QURA'N by appeal to the SUNNA of MUHAMMAD in MEDINA or to the HADTH in contrast to the SHI'ITES who believe in the AUTHORITY of inspired IMAMS.
SUNYATA: the BUDDHIST term for emptiness which is seen as the ultimate REALITY.
SUPEREROGATION: the ROMAN CATHOLIC teaching that certain acts such as sexual abstinence are to be admired and contribute to the spirituality of the individual. The teaching was strongly denied by the PROTESTANT REFORMERS who saw it as weakening the doctrines of JUSTIFICATION by FAITH and the PRIESTHOOD OF ALL BELIEVERS.
SURA: the MUSLIM name for the 114 Sections of the QUR'N.
SUTRA: a term in SANSKRIT meaning thread: used to refer to short, pithy sayings, verses or aphorisms in HINDU texts and the basic units of BUDDHIST SCRIPTURES.
SUTRAS: aphorisms concerning RITUAL practice, customs and PHILOSOPHY in HINDUISM, and the great works of the MAHYNA CANON in BUDDHISM.
SUTTA-PITAKA: one of the three major divisions of the BUDDHIST CANON consisting of dialogues and discourses full of parables and stories which encourage popular PIETY. The two other divisions are the VINAYA-PIAKA and the Adhidhamma-Piaka.
SUZUKI, David (1942-): Canadian geneticist turned popular journalist whose views about NATURE and ecology appear to express a BUDDHIST ethic shaped by Western ROMANTICISM.
SUZUKI, Daisetsu Teitaro (1870-1966): Japanese scholar who popularized BUDDHISM in the West through his writings on ZEN. His first book was a Japanese translation of SWEDENBORG'S Heaven and Hell (1910) while his later writings, including Mysticism, Christian and Buddhist (1957), display a firm grip of Western thought leading him to grapple with the problem of inter-religious communication. He travelled widely and in 1921 married an American. Professor of Buddhism at Kyoto University, he began the publication of the magazine Eastern Buddhist which he also edited.
SVETAMBARA: one of the two major religious divisions in JAINISM whose PRIESTS insisted on wearing white clothing and rejected the rival Digambara view which insists of RITUAL nudity. The movement originated in the third century B.C. and has its own CANON of SCRIPTURE and distinct style of TEMPLE architecture.
SWAMI: a title of honor and respect in HINDUISM.
SWASTIKA: the ancient HINDU SYMBOL of a broken cross which was believed to be a symbol bringing success. It signifies VISHNU and the EVOLUTION of the COSMOS and was deliberately adopted for its OCCULT significance by the German National Socialists in 1919 as a SIGN of good luck.
SWEDENBORG, Emanuel (1688-1772): Swedish scientist, philosopher, theologian and MYSTIC whose ideas strongly influenced ROMANTICISM and are in many ways the inspiration for the NEW AGE MOVEMENT and many similar religious groups, including MORMONISM and the UNIFICATION CHURCH. After a brilliant engineering career, he experienced strange dreams and visions leading to a religious crisis between 1743 and 1745. This culminated in a vision of CHRIST and religious CONVERSION. Renouncing SCIENCE, he spent the rest of his life propagating his new ideas and founded the NEW CHURCH known as the "New Jerusalem Church" or Swedenborgian Movement.
SWIFT, Jonathan (1667-1745): English ANGLICAN theologian and SOCIAL satirist famous for his novel Gulliver's Travels (1726).
SYLLABUS OF ERRORS: the Papal Encyclical Quanta Cura issued by POPE Pius IX condemning eighty EVILS of the modern world such as PANTHEISM, RATIONALISM, the reading of the BIBLE by the Laity, and LIBERALISM. At the time it was regarded as an INFALLIBLE pronouncement but has since been downgraded.
SYLLOGISM: the TRADITIONAL term used in DEDUCTIVE LOGIC for an argument with a specific structure that includes two PROPOSITIONS and a conclusion. On the basis of its formal structure a syllogism may be judged logically VALID. If the propositions are also true in terms of their correspondence to REALITY, then the syllogism is deemed sound. An example of a valid syllogism would be: All pigs have wings; All winged things fly; therefore pigs fly. This would be valid but is clearly untrue and therefore unsound. A sound syllogism would be one such as the classic example: All men are mortal; Socrates is a man; therefore Socrates is mortal.
SYMBOL: a word which like MYTH is almost impossible to define. In general it refers to a picture, word or thing that bears a certain MEANING for a person or GROUP. Thus a flag, cross, a picture of the BUDDHA, or a single word can all be symbols depending on their use and the meaning which is ascribed to them.
SYNAGOGUE: a place of WORSHIP in JUDAISM.
SYNCRETISM: the combining of teachings, practices and/or doctrines from different and apparently contradictory religious TRADITIONS to create a new interpretation of an existing tradition or a NEW RELIGIOUS MOVEMENT.
SYNOPTIC GOSPELS: the Gospels of Matthew, Mark and Luke which are the first three Gospels of the NEW TESTAMENT.
SYNOPTIC PROBLEM: one of the problems of BIBLICAL CRITICISM has been to devise an explanation for the fact that there is some identical and a great amount of similar material contained in the first three Gospels of the NEW TESTAMENT as well as materials peculiar to each.