Glossary of Christian & Religious Terms
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Latin fides, "confidence" -- complete trust, confidence, reliance; allegiance, loyalty; unquestioning belief that does not require proof or evidence; firm belief in Christianity.


Hindu or Muslim ascetic who lives by begging.


Portable stool or desk used in praying; backless chair used by a bishop when officiating in a church not his own; a desk in an Anglican Church at which the litany is read.

Fall of Man

Original sin -- Adam's fall from God's grace as a result of giving into the temptation to eat of the fruit of the tree of the knowledge of good and evil, which led to the curses of all mankind.

False Prophet


Free and Accepted Masons

Family Bible

Large, oversized Bible with illuminated pages for recording births, marriages, and deaths.

Family of Love (Children of God)

Originally called Children of God, a cult founded by David Brandt Berg based on sexual promiscuity, rebellion against established systems of authority, and perverted interpretations of biblical scripture and Christianity. Due to international disrepute, the organization changed its name to Family of Love and its founder went into hiding. (See Children of God.)


Latin fanum, sanctuary or temple -- archaic term for a temple or church.


Capelike vestment worn by the Pope when celebrating a High Mass; maniple.


Uninhibited revelry celebrated in Austria and Germany prior to Lent.


To abstain from all or certain foods for religious or spiritual purposes; to eat very little or nothing.


Belief that all events are inevitable because they are determined by a fate or destiny beyond human control.

Father Confessor

Roman Catholic priest who hears confessions.

Fatidic (Fatidical)

Latin fatidicus, "prophesying" -- of divination or prophecy.

Feast of Lots



Companionship; friendly association; company; brotherhood; mutual sharing of activity, experience, or interest.


Ancient Roman holidays or festivals; any day except Saturday, Sunday, or one designated a festival or vigil.


Belief that faith alone is the basis of knowledge rather than reason.

Fiery Cross

A burning cross used by the Ku Klux Klan as an emblem or to inspire terror; wooden cross with charred or bloody ends used by ancient Scottish clans as a signal calling men to battle.


The sky, viewed poetically as a solid arch or vault.

First Fruits

The earliest produce or crops of the season (Exodus 23:16); first products, results, or profits of any activity.

Fisher of Men


Large fan carried by the Pope's attendants on ceremonial occassions.


To whip or flog oneself with a flagellum (whip) for religious discipline.


Slender spire over the intersection of the nave and transept on some Gothic churches.

Flock (Fold)

Members of a church.

Flood (Great Flood)

Genesis 7

Flying Buttress

Buttress connected with a wall at some distance by an arch or partial arch which serves to resist outward pressure.

Flying Dutchman

Fabled Dutch sailor condemned to sail the seas until Judgment Day, his ghostly ship considered a bad omen by those who think they see it.


A term for "popular antiquities," coined by W. J. Thomas in 1846; the traditional beliefs, legends, sayings, and customs of a people; the study and scientific investigation of such traditions.


A basin for holy water in a church; a bowl, usually made of stone, which holds the water used in baptismal services; a stoup.

Forbidden Fruit

Fruit of the tree of the knowledge of good and evil, forbidden by God for Adam and Eve to eat (Genesis 2:17); any sinful or forbidden pleasure.




To give up resentment against or stop being angry with; pardon or overlook sins, crimes, wrongdoing, offenses, etc.; give up all claim to punish or exact revenge; cancel or remit a debt.


Give up, renounce; abandon, leave.


Brother; title given to an Italian friar or monk.

Francis of Assisi

Born Giovanni Bernardone in Assisi, Italy (1181-1226), Italian preacher who lived in poverty, devoted himself to the care of lepers, rebuilt neglected churches, and founded the Francsican order of monks. In response to the general decadence of religious orders throughout the fourteenth century, Francis founded the order of the Friars Minor, or Franciscans (also known as the Gray Friars for their gray robes), in 1209, a religious order of the Roman Catholic Church approved by Pope Innocent III. In response to Jesus' Sermon on the Mount in Matthew 5, Francis dedicated his life and the order to living by the standards of the Gospels and imitating the life of the human Jesus, while still recognizing the authority of the Catholic Church (in opposition to the Cathars). The basic Franciscan principles were to preach the Gospel and obey it literally, care for the sick and suffering, foresake everything for Christ (wealth and learning), and to work in the world to support themselves. Various branches of the Franciscan order exist, including the Conventual and the Capuchin. St. Francis made the crib of the baby Jesus popular at Christmas and his day is celebrated on October 4.


Gum resin obtained from various Arabian and NE African trees, often burned as incense.


International secret society with principles of brotherhood, charity, and mutual aid. A freemason was originally a skilled mason (one who builds with stone, brick, or concrete blocks) who travelled from town to town without restraint by local guilds.


Someone who forms their opinions about religion independently of established belief, tradition, or authority.


A member of any mendicant order of the Roman Catholic Church, such as an Augustinian, Carmelite, Dominican (Black Friar), or Franciscan; a monk who makes his livelihood by toil or begging. A friary is a place where friars live, such as a monastery. Friar Minor is a member of the Franciscan order which follows the original rules of Francis of Assisi.


Robe worn by a monk, friar, or priest.

Frontal (Frontlet)

An ornamental band or phylactery worn on the forehead; an ornamental drapery or its border for the front off an altar; a facade.


Front view of a church.


Producing much; productive, prolific; producing results.


Religious beliefs based on a literal interpretation of all biblical scripture, regarded as fundamental to Christian faith and morals; the twentieth century American Protestant movement based on these literal beliefs.

        I am astonished that you are so quickly deserting the one who called you by the grace of Christ and are turning to a different gospel -- which is really no gospel at all. Evidently some people are throwing you into confusion and are trying tp pervert the gospel of Christ. But even if we or an angel from heaven should preach a gospel other than the one we preached to you, let him be eternally condemned! As we have already said, so now I say again: If anybody is preaching to you a gospel other than what you accepted, let him be eternally condemned! (Galations 1:6-9)

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  Reference Sources: Webster's New World Dictionary of the American Language, Second College Edition, published by Prentice Hall Press, ©1986 by Simon & Schuster, Inc.; Collier's Encyclopedia, ©1968 Crowell-Collier Educational Corporation; Larson's New Book of Cults, ©1982 and 1989 by Bob Larson, printed by Tyndale House Publishers, Inc.; Jewish Virtual Library (