Christianity Key Words

Ascension

Going or being taken up; the event forty days after the resurrection when Jesus returned to glory in heaven.

Atonement

Making amends or payment for a wrong. The belief that reconciliation between God and humanity that was brought about by the death of Jesus as a sacrifice.

Baptism

The sacrament through which people become members of the Church. It involves the use of water as a symbol of the washing away of sin.

Believers’ baptism

Initiation into the Church, by immersion in water, of people old enough to understand the ceremony/rite and who have made the decision to live a Christian life.

Bible

Source of wisdom and authority; a holy book containing both the Old and New Testaments.

Catholic

The tradition within the Christian Church which is led by the Pope; also called the Roman Catholic Church.  (Note: The term ‘catholic’ refers to the communion of all Christians, the universal Church, although it is not a term included on this specification).

Catholic Agency for Overseas Development (CAFOD)

A Christian charity that provides emergency and long-term aid to the developing world.

Christ

Literally means ‘Anointed One’ in Greek; the Hebrew equivalent is Messiah. The leader promised by God to the Jews; Christians believe Jesus to be the Christ.

Christian Aid

A Christian charity that provides emergency and long-term aid to the developing world.

Christmas

The festival/celebration to remember the birth of Jesus.

Church

  • The People of God/Body of Christ, among whom Christ is beloved to be present and active.
  • Members of a particular Christian denomination/tradition, eg Roman Catholic, Methodist.
  • A building in which Christians worship.

Creation

Bringing the world into existence; the belief that the world is God’s loving creation.

Crucifixion

The death of Jesus; a form of the death penalty used by the Romans.

Easter

Festival/celebration of the resurrection of Jesus; the Easter season ends with Pentecost (50 days after Easter Sunday) which remembers the coming of the Holy Spirit to earth following the ascension.

Eucharist/Holy Communion

Literally ‘thanksgiving’; a sacrament in which the death and resurrection of Jesus are celebrated, using bread and wine.

Evangelism

Preaching the gospel (the good news about God) to convert people to the Christian faith.

Evil

The opposite of good; a cause of suffering and against the will of God.

The Father

The first Person of the Trinity, the belief in God as creator and sustainer of the universe.

Food banks

Places in local communities where people in need can go to collect food; often run/supported by local churches and religious charities.

Grace

The unconditional and generous love that God shows to people who do not deserve it.

Heaven

Belief that after death Christians can enter a state of being with God for eternity.

Hell

Belief in a place of eternal suffering, or a state after death of being in separation from God.

Holy Spirit

The third Person of the Trinity; believed to be present with believers since Pentecost and active on earth.

Incarnation

Literally ‘in flesh’, or ‘enfleshed;’ belief that God took on human form in the person of Jesus.

Infant baptism

Sacrament of initiation of babies and young children into the Church.

Informal prayer

Spontaneous prayers spoken from the heart which are personal and unique to the person/people at the time.

Iona

Place of pilgrimage founded by St Columba in the fourth century.

Jesus

Believed by Christians to be the Son of God, he was a first century Jewish teacher living and travelling in Palestine/Israel.

Judgement

The belief that God will decides whether each person should receive eternal life or eternal punishment based on their earthly life.

Just

Fair or equal treatment, a state of justice. Belief about the nature of God as treating all people justly.

Liturgical worship

A church service which follows a set structure or ritual.

Law

Rules or commands which must be followed; the law of God is revealed in the Bible.

Lourdes

Place of pilgrimage where the Virgin Mary appeared to St Bernadette in a series of visions and it is claimed that miraculous healings have taken place.

Lord’s Prayer

The prayer taught to the disciples by Jesus; also known as the ‘Our Father’ and widely said by Christians in both church services and privately.

Mission

Literally ‘sent out’; the duty of Christians to spread the gospel (the good news about Jesus).

Non-liturgical worship/informal worship

A service which does not follow a set text or ritual; sometimes spontaneous or charismatic.

Omnipotent

The belief that God is ‘all powerful’.

The Oneness of God

The belief that God is one singular divine being (who can be manifest in the Three Persons of the Trinity).

Original sin

Belief human nature is flawed, and that we all have the tendency to sin; traditional belief held by some Christians that this came from Adam & Eve’s eating of the forbidden fruit as recorded in Genesis 3.

Orthodox

A denomination/tradition of the Church popular in some parts of Eastern Europe. There are two main Orthodox Churches – Greek and Russian.

Persecution

Facing hostility and ill-treatment; some Christians face punishment and death for practising their faith.

Pilgrimage

A religious journey to a holy site/sacred place, it is an act of worship and devotion.

Prayer

Communicating with God through words of praise, thanksgiving or confession, or requests for his help or guidance; listening to and speaking to God.

Private worship

A believer giving God praise and worship on their own.

Protestant

Christian denominations in which authority is generally based on the Bible, rather than Church tradition/teaching. (eg Anglican, Methodist, Baptist).

Reconciliation

Making up and rebuilding relationships between two groups/sides after disagreement.

Resurrection

  • Being raised from the dead; the event three days after the crucifixion when it is believed that God raised Jesus from the dead.
  • The form that many Christians believe the afterlife will take, referring to either physical or spiritual bodies.

Sacrament

The outward and visible sign of an invisible and spiritual grace. (eg Baptism and the Eucharist are recognised as sacraments by most Christians).

Salvation

Being saved; belief that through God’s grace, Jesus’ death and resurrection brought about salvation for humanity. Saving of the soul and being able to enter eternal life in heaven.

Set prayers

These are prayers written throughout the centuries which many Christians worldwide use (eg The Lord’s Prayer).

Sin

Behaviour which is against God’s laws and wishes/against Christian principles of morality.

The Son

The second Person of the Trinity; Jesus believed to be God incarnate.

Son of God

A title used for Jesus; the second Person of the Trinity. Shows the special relationship between Jesus and God.

Street pastors

A Christian organisation involving people working, mainly at night, on city streets giving care to those who need it.

Suffering

An effect of evil; undergoing pain and hardship.

Tearfund

A Christian charity that provides emergency and long-term aid to the developing world.

Trinity

The belief that God as One includes God also being manifest in three Persons: the Father, Son and Holy Spirit.

Word

In the Bible, John 1 describes God creating the world through his eternal Word. This links the eternal Word to Jesus in the statement: ‘”The Word was made flesh and dwelt among us” (John 1:14).

Worship

Showing adoration and reverence; offering praise to God.

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