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, 1998.0
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For further information about the book and the sources used to compile this text see the PREFACE.
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Cross-references are indicated by the use of CAPITAL LETTERS.
EARLY CHURCH: the formative period of the CHRISTIAN CHURCH before the emergence of the centralized authority of the ROMAN CATHOLIC CHURCH in the West. Usually the term refers to CHRISTIANITY during its first few centuries.
EASTER: the oldest and most important CHRISTIAN celebration which commemorates the DEATH and RESURRECTION of JESUS CHRIST.
EBIONITES: an early CHRISTIAN HERESY referred to by IRENAEUS whose BELIEFS are obscure. They are thought to have been a poor JEWISH CHRISTIAN SECT which rejected PAULINE CHRISTIANITY and affirmed the Gospel of Matthew.
ECCLESIASTES: part of the "Wisdom Literature" which also contains the Book of Psalms in the HEBREW BIBLE ascribed to King Solomon. The famous passages from this book are: "To everything there is a season...A time to be born, and a time to die" and "Vanity of vanity, all is vanity"
ECCLESIASTICAL: of the CHURCH.
ECCLESIASTICUS: a book of wisdom containing many Proverbs found in the SEPTUAGINT which is not regarded as part of the CANON of the HEBREW BIBLE.
ECKENKAR: a NEW RELIGIOUS MOVEMENT founded in 1965 by Paul TRITCHELL (1908-1971) who popularized his ideas through his books The Tiger's Fang (1967), Eckenkar (1969), as well as Brad STEIGER'S biography In My Soul I Am Free (1968). Tritchell claimed to be the 971st ECK Master who was revealing a long secret tradition to the world. His teachings included REINCARNATION, soul travel and a variety of YOGIC and OCCULT BELIEFS and practices. After Tritchell's death he was succeeded by Darwin GROSS as the 972nd ECK Master. Gross married Tritchell's widow but following their divorce in 1978, the group split and Gross was succeeded by Harold KLEMP who became the 973rd ECK master. In origin Eckenkar is an offshoot of Kirpal Singh's RUHANI SATSANG and the SELF REVELATION CHURCH and owes many of its ideas to the Indian SANT MAT tradition.
ECLECTIC: to take ideas and practices from any TRADITION and arbitrarily join them together as though they belonged to a unified system. The term is used in RELIGION and PHILOSOPHY to describe people and systems which borrow widely without any real unified structure.
ECSTASY: literally means "standing outside of oneself" and has traditionally been applied to those PSYCHIC or spiritual states which are supposed to seize MYSTICS and/or PROPHETS.
ECUMENICAL: derived from the Greek "oikoumene" which meant the "entire inhabited world." Today it refers to the WORLDWIDE MOVEMENT to unite various CHRISTIAN DENOMINATIONS into one CHURCH, or Church movement, such as the WORLD COUNCIL OF CHURCHES.
ECUMENICAL MOVEMENT: the twentieth century movement to unite CHRISTIAN CHURCHES which began with the World Missionary Conference held in Edinburgh in 1910 and led to the founding of the WORLD COUNCIL OF CHURCHES in 1938.
EDDINGTON, Sir Arthur Stanley (1882-1944): British physicist and astronomer who contributed to the general theory of RELATIVITY. He was very interested in the PHILOSOPHICAL implications of SCIENCE and speculated about BELIEF in GOD.
EDDY, Mary Baker (1821-1910): See BAKER-EDDY.
EDEN: the place of origins in the HEBREW BIBLE where the first humans, ADAM and EVE, lived in PARADISE before the FALL.
EDERSHEIM, Alfred (1825-1889): Austrian JEWISH BIBLICAL scholar who CONVERTED to CHRISTIANITY. His works include: The Life and Times of Jesus the Messiah (1883).
EDHAS: SACRED wood burnt for SACRIFICIAL fires in HINDUISM.
EDWARD VI OF ENGLAND (1537-1553): the only son of King Henry VIII whose reign saw the REFORMATION of the CHURCH OF ENGLAND.
EDWARDS, Jonathan (1703-1758): a staunch CALVINIST and probably the greatest American philosopher of all time and an outstanding REVIVALIST PREACHER and theologian who played the key role in the GREAT AWAKENING, 1734-1735. His early writings covered various subjects, i.e. SOCIOLOGY and PSYCHOLOGY of RELIGION, see Concerning Religious Affections (1746); philosophical works, see The Freedom of the Will (1754) which was a reply to John LOCKE, and theological treaties, such as Original Sin (1758). Like AUGUSTINE, he combined a highly intellectual speculative outlook with personal PIETY and devotion to GOD.
EFFABLE: capable of being expressed in words. It is the opposite of ineffable which cannot be expressed.
EGOTISM: the teaching that in REALITY all actions are performed out of self-interest. Ayn RAND and others have developed this viewpoint into a systematic theory that all actions ought to be performed out of self-interest. Traditionally the great WORLD RELIGIONS have condemned egotism as either sinful or undesirable.
EIGHTFOLD PATH: the BUDDHIST exposition of the means by which a believer may gain ENLIGHTENMENT. Although not found in the earliest Buddhist texts, it is generally accepted as a basic tenant of BUDDHISM and usually consists of a three fold division between FAITH, MORALITY and MEDITATION. It consists of: right understanding; right thought which refers to FAITH; right speech; right bodily action; right livelihood which refer to MORALITY; right effort; right mindfulness; and right concentration which refer to MEDITATION. It is thus a systematic summary of Buddhist BELIEF which may be expanded into much longer treaties.
EINHEITLICHE WELTANSCHAUUNG: German philosophical term meaning "UNIFIED WORLDVIEW."
EINSTEIN, Albert (1879-1955): German/Jewish mathematician and physicist who emigrated to America and whose work radically changed our ideas about space and time. Together with Max PLANCK'S quantum theory, Einstein's work on RELATIVITY laid the foundations for modern physics. Popular misunderstandings of his work has promoted the idea that everything, morals, truth, etc., is RELATIVE and have helped boost religious developments like the NEW AGE MOVEMENT.
ELDERS: generally any learned or authoritative figures in religious traditions. Specifically laity who assist the Minister in PRESBYTERIAN and CONGREGATIONAL forms of CHURCH GOVERNMENT to run CHRISTIAN CONGREGATIONS.
ELECTION: the teaching found in both the HEBREW BIBLE and the NEW TESTAMENT that human salvation ultimately depends on an ACT of GOD who, in His mercy, chooses peoples and individuals to fulfill His purpose and lead them to SALVATION.
ELEUSINIAN MYSTERIES: information about these RITES, which took place as part of a MYSTERY RELIGION at Eleusis near Athens, is fragmentary and unreliable. Initiation lasted two years and involved vows of secrecy. The CULT was suppressed in the fourth century A.D.
ELIADE, Mircea (1907-1988): Rumanian historian of RELIGION whose original ambition was to be a novelist. He became professor of Religious Studies at the University of Chicago in 1956 from where he exercised a vast influence on the development of RELIGIOUS STUDIES. Eliade's early novels, only recently translated into English, are said to have a FASCIST tinge raising doubts about some of his philosophical assumptions. His work reflects an interest in a highly MYTHICAL abstract SPIRITUALITY which has been strongly criticized by ANTHROPOLOGISTS and HISTORIANS for its detachment from empirical reality. It includes: Yoga, Immortality and Freedom (1936), The Myth of the Eternal Return (1954) and Patterns in Comparative Religion (1958).
ELIOT, T.S. (1888-1965): British poet, critic, playwright, and a staunch ANGLICAN, whose poem The Wasteland (1922), crystallized the SPIRITUAL desolation and alienation following the First World War. His most successful play was Murder in the Cathedral (1935) which depicted the martyrdom of Thomas BECKETT. His essays include The Idea of a Christian Society (1939).
ELOHIST: term used by scholars of the HEBREW BIBLE to refer to the literary TRADITION within the text which is believed to be characterized by the use of "Elohim" as a name for GOD.
EMANATIONISM: the view that the UNIVERSE flows from the BEING of GOD rather like the rays of the sun shine forth from the sun. This viewpoint is found in YOGIC philosophies and such Western systems as NEO-PLATONISM and GNOSTICISM.
EMERGENT EVOLUTION: the idea that out of inert MATTER, life and consciousness eventually emerge ultimately evolving to a DIVINE godlike state.
EMERSON, Ralph Waldo (1803-1882): American essayist and leader of the TRANSCENDENTALIST movement. He was minister of the UNITARIAN SECOND CHURCH of Boston (1829-1832) but resigned over THEOLOGICAL issues to become an independent lecturer and writer. His PHILOSOPHY drew on YOGIC religions to combined RATIONALISM and MYSTICISM. It also encouraged a strong emphasis on self-reliance and a BELIEF in the ability of the individual to overcome all problems. Although much more profound, he was the forerunner of Dale CARNEGIE and other "POSITIVE THINKERS" which characterize American popular PIETY. His influence can be seen in the so-called NEW AGE MOVEMENT and a host of other popular spiritual movements seeking inner truth.
EMPIRICISM: the view that all knowledge is ultimately derived from experience. It is contrasted with RATIONALISM which holds the view that the mind may arrive at true knowledge by the use of reason alone without appeal to experience.
ENCYCLOPEDISTS: the eighteenth century French INTELLECTUALS who contributed to the Encyclopédie which became a thirty-five volume work conceived to record all known human knowledge. Edited by Denis Diderot, the project was highly SKEPTICAL and strongly critical of both the existing POLITICAL order and RELIGION.
ENGELS, Friedrich (1820-1895): German industrialist who became patron, close friend and collaborator to Karl MARX in founding MARXISM. Engels contributed many ideas to the Marxist movement including what was to become known as DIALECTICAL MATERIALISM. From 1842 he ran his family's factory in Manchester, England where he was also a rapacious landlord. While in Manchester he wrote The Condition of the Working Class in England (1845), supposedly based on his own experiences but actually written from outdated Poor Law Reports. This work is full of factual errors and deliberate attempts to exaggerate the true situation. As a militant ATHEIST, he welcomed DARWIN'S theory of EVOLUTION as positive proof of his own anti-religious views.
ENGLAND, CHURCH OF: also known as ANGLICANISM. The origins of English CHRISTIANITY are unknown, but the presence of British BISHOPS at the COUNCIL OF ARLES (3l4) indicates the existence of an organized CHURCH. Following the Roman withdrawal and Teutonic invasions, CHRISTIANITY retreated to the Celtic lands, but in the late sixth and early seventh centuries, Roman and Celtic missions began the RECONVERSION of England. The SYNOD OF WHITBY (663-664) secured the observance of Roman forms. The English Church was largely isolated from continental ECCLESIASTICAL affairs until the NORMAN INVASION of 1066. However, distance from Rome, the conflict between England and France, and Papal decline made English submission more nominal than real. It was an easy matter for King Henry VIII (1491-1547) to use his divorce from Catherine of Aragon as grounds for detaching England from Papal obedience. The parliament of 1532-1536 created King Henry "Supreme Head on Earth of the Church of England." Under Edward VI (1537-1553), the Church underwent a LITURGICAL and doctrinal REFORMATION. The accession of MARY TUDOR (1516-1558) inaugurated a period of Roman reaction, during which many of the Edwardian reformers were martyred. Elizabeth I (1558-1603) restored a PROTESTANT settlement, but her aim was a comprehensive, national, EPISCOPAL Church, with the monarch as Supreme Governor. Moderate PROTESTANTISM reflected in the Church's doctrinal basis, the THIRTY-NINE ARTICLES of Religion and in the writings of Richard HOOKER, gave Anglicanism its classic Via Media statements. The post-Restoration Church had its High and Low wings. Like most PROTESTANT DENOMINATIONS, the Anglican Church was affected by DEISM in the eighteenth century, but the key movement of this period was the EVANGELICAL Revival. Medieval spirituality was revived by the OXFORD MOVEMENT, led by John Henry NEWMAN and John KEBLE, with an emphasis on the Church, APOSTOLIC SUCCESSION, SACRAMENTAL GRACE, and ASCETIC HOLINESS. The movement was seen by many people as a Romanizing tendency. Since the mid-nineteenth century, due to the activity of the CHRISTIAN SOCIALISTS, the Church has become increasingly aware of its social responsibilities and in the mid-1960s it witnessed the beginning of an EVANGELICAL revival among its clergy.
ENLIGHTENMENT : a movement characterized by the historian TROELTSCH (1865-1923) as the beginning of the really modern period of European CULTURE. It had its roots in PROTESTANT CHRISTIANITY and was strongly influenced by PIETISM finding its clearest expression in the work of KANT who defined "the Enlightenment" in his book Religion Within the Limits of Reason (1793) as man's emergence from a self-inflicted state of minority. Kant wrote: "Have the courage to make use of your own understanding, is therefore the watchword of the Enlightenment." The Enlightenment originated in the Netherlands and England in the mid-seventeenth century but reached its high-water mark in French RATIONALISM and MATERIALISM finding political expression in the French REVOLUTION. Its richest philosophical and political results were achieved in Germany under the influence of Kant. Although many branches of the Enlightenment were self-consciously ANTI-CHRISTIAN and a distinctive form of Enlightenment Christianity developed in Protestant countries, other branches of PROTESTANTISM were influential in promoting concerns similar to those of the Rationalists. Enlightenment Christianity as such was characterized by a retreat from DOGMAS, SACRAMENTS and CEREMONIES, FAITH in PROVIDENCE, obligation to "virtue" and a tendency to subordinate Christian dogmas to current ideas from SCIENCE and CULTURE.
ENLIGHTENMENT : the attainment of a state of SPIRITUAL knowledge, AWARENESS or BLISS in YOGIC RELIGIONS. The revelatory experience of the BUDDHA and attaining NIRVNA in BUDDHISM.
ENTHUSIASM: the original Greek word means "rapture" or being possessed by a GOD. The word was used disparagingly in the seventeenth century to depict the religious attitude of the PURITANS and in the eighteenth century the METHODISTS. Today the word has the general sense of a passionate eagerness in any pursuit.
EPHESUS: one of the great cities of the ancient world located in what is now Turkey. It was famous for its Goddess DIANA and featured prominently in the HISTORY of early CHRISTIANITY.
EPHESUS, COUNCIL OF: known as the Third ECUMENICAL COUNCIL held in 431. It approved the WORSHIP of the VIRGIN MARY.
EPICTETUS (60-138 B.C.): STOIC philosopher whose work greatly influenced Marcus AURELIUS and some early CHRISTIAN thinkers.
EPICUREANISM: a Greek PHILOSOPHICAL school founded by EPICURUS which taught detachment from the world through contentment and the attainment of happiness through the recognition that the absence of pain and distress is the greatest pleasure. They rejected BELIEF in the AFTERLIFE and sought the GOOD life on earth through the cultivation of WISDOM.
EPICURUS (341-270 B.C.): Greek philosopher who cultivated friendship and rejected both SKEPTICISM and IDEALISM in favor of an emphasis on immediate experience. SENSE DATA is the basis of knowledge, the feeling of pleasure, the ultimate GOOD. He taught a form of atomic theory and argued that BODY and SOUL are interdependent neither of which can survive without the other.
EPIPHANY: from the Greek meaning "manifestation." It became a celebration in the CHRISTIAN CHURCH marking the appearance of CHRIST to the world and was celebrated on the sixth day of January.
EPIPHENOMENALISM: the theory that PHYSICAL PHENOMENA are entirely responsible for our mental states and actions so that thoughts in the brain are entirely determined by physical and not mental causes. The theory undermines TRADITIONAL religious teachings about FREE WILL and MORAL RESPONSIBILITY.
EPISTEMOLOGY: comes from the Greek words "episteme" meaning knowledge and "LOGOS" or discourse and is applied to that part of PHILOSOPHY concerned with issues surrounding the origins and nature of human cognition and knowledge.
EQUALITY: the idea that humans are "created equal" is popular but fraught with difficulties and needs to be interpreted in terms of equality of opportunity rather than a crude determination to make everyone equal despite natural talents and abilities.
EQUIVOCATION: using a term with two meanings as if it had only one. In other words, the misleading use of language or ambiguity.
ERASMUS, Desiderius (1469-1536): Dutch CHRISTIAN-HUMANIST who exercised a profound influence on the PROTESTANT REFORMERS although he never left the ROMAN CATHOLIC CHURCH and after first encouraging LUTHER, became a strong critic of his THEOLOGY. His most famous books are: The Praise of Folly (1509); Education of a Christian Prince (1516) and Diatribe on Free Will (1524) which was an attack on Luther's views.
ERHARD SEMINAR TRAINING: See EST.
ERHARD, Werner (1935-): born Jack Rosenberg, American OCCULTIST and founder of EST (ERHARD SEMINAR TRAINING) an ECLECTIC type of self-development and SPIRITUAL technology based largely on ideas and practices derived from ZEN BUDDHISM and SCIENTOLOGY.
ERIGENA, Johannes Scotus (815?-877): Irish SCHOLASTIC philosopher who translated the works of PSEUDO-DIONYSIUS from Greek and promoted a form of CHRISTIAN PANTHEISM. His works strongly influenced later medieval thinkers.
ESCHATOLOGY: literally this means "discourse about the last things." It refers to that part of a RELIGION which deals with the final end of man and the world or UNIVERSE.
ESOTERIC: from the Greek term meaning "inner" or "hidden." Today it refers to secret teachings which either belong to secret societies or lie behind the official BELIEFS which a religious group proclaim to the world. Thus many NEW RELIGIOUS MOVEMENTS are based upon claims that they and they alone know the "true" meaning of a religious teacher's message and that the apparent teaching conceals its real meaning.
ESP: extra sensory perception. Claims by individuals to experience para-normal PHENOMENA such as TELEPATHY, PROPHECIES, significant or prophetic DREAMS, VISIONS, powers to LEVITATE and affect physical objects by mental power. Although most claims of this nature clearly belong to the realm of PSEUDO-SCIENCE, sufficient examples exist in the experience of many people to leave open the possibility that some powers of this nature do exist. There are two main problems with such claims: first, they clearly violate the known laws of MODERN SCIENCE; second, they are often made in connection with bizarre theories derived from YOGIC RELIGIONS and SPIRITUALISM devoid of all RATIONAL justification.
ESSENCE: the sum total of those ATTRIBUTES which cannot be removed from a BEING without destroying the being itself; e.g. rationality is the TRADITIONAL definition of human beings.
ESSENES: an ancient JEWISH SECT dwelling in the vicinity of the Dead Sea about which little is known despite much speculation. They are generally believed to be associated with the DEAD SEA SCROLLS although some scholars question this assumption. Since the nineteenth century various ESOTERIC religious movements have claimed continuity with the Essenes and used their name to propagate their own views. Such groups must be recognized as NEW RELIGIOUS MOVEMENTS lacking historical justifications for their claims which are wild speculations.
EST: Erhard Seminar Training founded in 1971 by Werner ERHARD on the basis of SPIRITUAL practices derived from ZEN BUDDHISM and SCIENTOLOGY. The movement, which has operated under a variety of names, organizes intense weekend seminars intended to break down inhibitions and bring the individual in touch with their true selves. Many participants report OCCULT experiences and encounters with SPIRIT BEINGS towards the end of the seminar which is officially non-religious. Generally EST has helped promote a type of SELF ENLIGHTENMENT and has promoted views which, in turn, helped promote the NEW AGE MOVEMENT.
ETERNAL LIFE: in CHRISTIANITY participation in the life of GOD through the NEW BIRTH is referred to as "eternal life." What is important here is the quality of life not its timelessness. Eternal life is the gift of God to believers in response to their acceptance of forgiveness for SIN through the WORK OF CHRIST.
ETERNAL PROGRESSION: the MORMON DOCTRINE of existence which theorizes a SPIRITUAL EVOLUTION FORM for humanity resulting in the DEIFICATION of men who become "Gods." The idea was summed up by the MORMON APOSTLE, Lorenzo Snow, who said "As man is, God was. As God is, man will become."
ETERNAL RECURRENCE: the idea that time is cyclic and all events ultimately repeat themselves.
ETERNITY: the opposite of time, what is timeless. In CHRISTIAN teaching "eternity" is associated with the AFTERLIFE and realm of GOD.
ETHICS: SCIENCE of conduct and correct action. Answers questions such as: How can I know what is right and wrong? How should I act in this situation? What do we mean by the term "GOOD?"
ETHIOPIAN CHURCH: the ancient CHRISTIAN CHURCH of Ethiopia which was founded by at least the third century and flourished for centuries as a genuine African expression of CHRISTIANITY cut off from contact with the West through ISLAM.
EUCHARIST: a term derived from the Greek word meaning "to give thanks" which is applied to the SACRAMENT of the Lord's Supper, HOLY COMMUNION or "the Breaking of Bread."
EUCLID (300 B.C.): Greek MATHEMATICIAN and "Father" of GEOMETRY.
EUHEMERISM: the idea that ancient GODS were originally CULTURE heroes elevated to DIVINE status by popular sentiment.
EUNUCH: a cruel ancient oriental practice of castrating males to be used as slaves often in attendance upon the wives of a King. The practice was condemned in the HEBREW BIBLE.
EUPHRATES: the great river of the ancient world which runs from its source in Armenia to the Persian Gulf. Many BIBLICAL stories and allusions refer to the Euphrates which figures prominently in the HEBREW BIBLE.
EVANGEL: the Gospel, or GOOD NEWS, of CHRISTIANITY.
EVANGELICAL: pertaining to the Gospel; one who is devoted to the GOOD NEWS, or "EVANGEL," of GOD'S REDEMPTION in JESUS CHRIST. Evangelical Christians are committed to the INSPIRED SCRIPTURES as the DIVINE rule of FAITH and practice. They affirm the fundamental doctrines of the Gospel, including the INCARNATION, VIRGIN BIRTH of CHRIST, His SINLESS life, substitutionary ATONEMENT, and bodily RESURRECTION as the grounds of God's forgiveness of SINNERS, JUSTIFICATION BY FAITH alone, and the spiritual REGENERATION of all who trust in Jesus Christ.
EVANGELIST: originally someone who spread the CHRISTIAN Gospel. More recently the term has been applied to anyone who has a message--religious, political, or social-- to spread and who does so with zeal.
EVANGELIZATION: originally the propagation of the CHRISTIAN Gospel. More recently the term has been generally applied to any FORM of propaganda aimed at making CONVERTS.
EVANS-PRITCHARD, Edward Evan (1902-1973): British ANTHROPOLOGIST who, along with Raymond FIRTH, trained under Bronislaw Kasper Malinowski (1884-1942). His first book Witchcraft, Oracles and Magic, Amongst the Azande (1937) is a masterpiece which demonstrates the inner coherence of seemingly IRRATIONAL BELIEF systems. Its publication led to a bitter dispute with Malinowski who disassociated himself from Evans-Pritchard's views and attempted to prevent him from obtaining an academic post. Evans-Pritchard's CONVERSION to CATHOLICISM in 1944 further raised the ire of the academic community but with the help of RADCLIFFE-BROWN, he obtained the Chair of SOCIAL ANTHROPOLOGY at the University of Oxford in 1946 from where he went on to establish the influential Oxford School of Social Anthropology.
EVIL: either frustration of human values, or--if SIN-- any want of conformity to, or transgression of, the law of GOD. All EVIL is sin or God's punishment for sin.
EVIL EYE: a popular FOLK BELIEF found in many cultures which attributes powers of EVIL to the look of certain individuals.
EVOLUTION: in modern times the theory of evolution was first advanced by Charles BONNET (1720-1793) who argued that an embryo already contains all the parts of the mature organism. Charles LYELL (1797-1874) speculated on the evolution of land animals in 1832 and his work influenced Charles DARWIN (1809-1882), who wrote The Origin of Species (1859). Prior to that, Herbert SPENCER in 1852 had defined a general theory of evolution from lower to higher forms of life and organization. What Darwin did was new; he described some of the processes by which new species developed and generalized these as NATURAL SELECTION. In the development of SOCIAL DARWINISM, the generalized natural history provided images for social action and change and came to justify ruthless competition on the basis of "natural selection" and "the survival of the fittest."
EX CATHEDRA: literally, "from the Chair." Refers to the POPE in his official office as head of the ROMAN CATHOLIC CHURCH. When the Pope speaks--ex cathedra--his judgements in matters pertaining to FAITH and practice are assumed by his followers to be INFALLIBLE.
EX NIHILO: literally: "out of nothing." The traditional CHRISTIAN BELIEF that GOD CREATED the world without recourse to pre-existing MATTER entirely by and from His own power and BEING. It is expressed in the words of the CREED which says "I believe in God the Father Almighty, Maker of Heaven and Earth and of all things visible and invisible, without Whom nothing was made that was made."
EX OPERE OPERATO: a medieval CHRISTIAN theological CONCEPT expressing the idea that the SACRAMENTS are effective regardless of the worth of either the Minister or the recipient. In this way they become at best mechanical, at worst MAGICAL. BAPTISM for example was believed to result in the SALVATION of individuals regardless of the personal FAITH or lifestyle of the person concerned. The idea was rejected by PROTESTANTS who insisted on the importance of personal faith and individual commitment and BELIEF.
EXCLUDED MIDDLE: the LOGICAL law which states that "A" is either "B" or not "B."
EXCOMMUNICATE: to exclude or expel. Originally a form of discipline within the CHRISTIAN CHURCH whereby persistent offenders against CHRISTIAN ETHICAL standards or people who rejected ORTHODOX THEOLOGY were disfellowshiped from the CONGREGATION and publicly censured by the CLERGY. Excommunication involved the denial of the SACRAMENTS and by implication the loss of SALVATION.
EXEGESIS: refers to the process of interpreting a text. It is to be distinguished from translation on the one hand and from inquiry into the principles of interpretation, or HERMENEUTICS, on the other.
EXISTENCE: usually contrasted with ESSENCE in classical THEOLOGY and refers to the actuality in time and space of any subject, in contrast to its mere possibility or potentiality. In EXISTENTIALISM, the word "existence" refers to the unique way in which humans live their lives. Since the distinctive nature of human existence is choice of freedom, and freedom in turn cannot be defined as a "thing," Jean-Paul SARTRE has argued that "man has no essence" or "existence precedes essence."
EXISTENTIAL: an adjective frequently used in contemporary THEOLOGICAL and religious literature to signify something that is of ultimate significance for one's BEING.
EXISTENTIALISM: a PHILOSOPHICAL movement which emerged shortly before the Second World War united by common concerns, motifs, and emphasis. The most influential exponents were Martin HEIDEGGER, whose Being and Time appeared in 1927, Karl JASPERS, his second volume of Philosophie appeared in 1932, and Jean-Paul SARTRE. All the important leaders were indebted to the writings of Soren KIERKEGAARD--a once neglected Danish author--whose works were not translated into German until early in this century and into English much later. The movement may be characterized as follows. It begins with the conviction that Western PHILOSOPHY since the Greeks has been preoccupied with the idea of ESSENCE, that is with the general and UNIVERSAL features of anything, rather than with concrete. INDIVIDUAL essence being counted more real than EXISTENCE because it is unchanging. Consequently, Western philosophy has been INTELLECTUALISTIC and RATIONALISTIC. It is, therefore, irrelevant as far as illuminating life is concerned because it obscured the TRUTH about human existence rather than illuminating REALITY. Existentialism had a profound impact on NEO-ORTHODOX theologians, like Karl BARTH, Rudolf BULTMANN, Paul TILLICH, and Reinhold NIEBUHR as well as on some Roman Catholics like Gabriel MARCEL and Karl RAHNER. The self, they argued, is a unity of radical FREEDOM and limitedness. FAITH, therefore, is acceptance of this paradoxical unity. But faith is not the possession of a CREED, DOCTRINE, or BELIEF it is the decision to be oneself as this person in this specific situation. Thus decision is made possible by the unconditioned acceptance of the person by GOD which enables each individual to have the courage to be.
EXODUS: the "coming out" of ISRAEL from Egyptian bondage and the name of a book in the HEBREW BIBLE which relates this story that has the powerful connotation of freedom from slavery.
EXORCISM: the act of casting out DEMONS or EVIL SPIRITS in a RITUAL designed to free the individual from evil influences. In the ORTHODOX CHURCH exorcism is practiced prior to BAPTISM. As a result of RATIONALISM, BELIEF in EVIL spirits was largely discarded by most Western Churches in the nineteenth century. In recent years there has been a revival of the practice and an increasing demand for the services of exorcists by troubled individuals.
EXPLANATION: to explain, clarify, or describe something so that it is understood.
EXTINCTION OF OUTFLOWS: an synonym of ARAHANT in BUDDHISM signifying a person who has overcome worldly desires.
EZEKIEL (6th century B.C.): Biblical PROPHET and author of the Book of Ezekiel in the HEBREW BIBLE. His work is noted for its VISION of GOD and positive interpretation of the BABYLONIAN EXILE of the JEWISH people in terms of the SOVEREIGNTY of GOD.
EZRA (5th to 4th century B.C.): JEWISH religious leader whose activities are recorded in the Books of Ezra and Nehemiah in the HEBREW BIBLE. He was responsible for rebuilding the city of JERUSALEM and enforcing the RACIAL PURITY of the Jewish people.