With all the stress over this election and coming apocalyptic disasters, I thought it would be good to take a break and have a little fun. And what do theologians and word geeks like me do for fun? Make lists like this.
So in case you ever wondered what a theological or spiritual term really means, here you go. Just remember: don’t take this (or anything in life) too seriously. If you take life too seriously, you’ll never get out alive!
With that in mind, here is my dictionary of theological and spiritual terms, which is always in progress:
Apostasy – Leaving the one true faith. Not to be confused with a Pasta sea, which is a large mass of floating noodles.
Armageddon – Popular movie made to give Aerosmith yet another hit single.
Arminianism – Belief system created to refute Calvinism. Not to be confused with Armenianism, a movement arguing for the national sovereignty of Armenia.
Bibliolatry – Worship of the Bible. Most popular among people who haven’t actually read it.
Calvinism – Belief system created to help John MacArthur sell books.
Chakras – Centers of energy in the body which need to be “cleansed” from time to time, preferably by a healer who needs your money.
Charismatic – someone who believes worship shouldn’t be a spectator sport.
Chemtrails – Poisons released into the atmosphere to make New-Agers even nuttier than they already are.
Creationist – Someone who is proud to have flunked out of middle school.
Disincarnate – Fancy New-age term for a ghost.
Divination – Popular form of self-affirmation where an object (such as a candle or a pendulum) is consulted to tell a person that what he or she already believes is, in fact, the truth.
Dogma – An important theological truth; especially one which barks and wags its tail.
Double Predestination – Doctrine showing that God loves nothing more than a nice barbecue.
Election – Process whereby God chooses a people for salvation. Not to be confused with the debacle witnessed in American politics once every four years.
Episcopal – Church for people who like the Catholic liturgy, but don’t want to be told what to believe.
Eschatology – the study of things that haven’t happened yet. Created to help theologians pay their bills.
Faith Alone – Protestant shorthand for “It’s okay to be a total D-bag, as long as you believe the right things.”
Four Horsemen of the Apocalypse – Donald Trump, Hillary Clinton, Joel Osteen and Franklin Graham.
Fundamentalist – Someone whose theology is more conservative than my own.
Gospel – Greek word meaning “good news,” usually understood to mean, “Unless you change what you believe and follow what I say, you’re going to be tortured for eternity.”
Heaven – Where I hope to go after I die. A place populated mostly by beautiful women and cute, furry animals.
Hell – Where people I hate or disagree with go when they die. It involves standing in line to pay bills, only to be handed another bill, and so on.
Heretic – Someone whose beliefs are different than mine.
Higher Consciousness – a New-Ager’s way of saying “I’m cooler than you.”
Inerrancy – Doctrine that everything in the Bible is literally true – unlike, say, the Koran.
Jesus Loves You – First half of a popular bumper sticker. The second half reads “Everybody else thinks you’re an asshole.”
Just War Theory – List of ways we can disobey Jesus and still be good Christians.
Karma – Vehicle which often runs over dogmas.
Law of Attraction – Theorem explaining how the number of meaningless platitudes I can string together is directly proportional to the number of books I will sell.
Left Behind – The weaker side of my posterior.
Meditation – Politically-correct term for prayer.
Metaphysics – The detailed study of things which may or may not actually exist.
Mortal Sin – Roman Catholic shorthand for “Go to hell. Go directly to hell. Do not pass go, do not collect $200.”
Mysticism – Euphemism for multiple personality disorder.
Navel-Gazer – A mystic, particularly one who believes differently than I do.
New Thought – euphemism for “Reality is what we say it is.”
Occult – Term for any spiritual idea or practice that I don’t understand.
Om – Universal word signifying connection with the Divine. Usually followed by “nom nom nom.”
Pelagianism – Fancy way of saying “I’m going to heaven because I work harder than you.”
Pentecostal – Someone who believes sensuality is only appropriate during worship.
Progressive – Someone who believes all religions are equally valid, with the exception of traditional Christianity.
Psychic – Someone who makes a living telling people things they already know.
Praise and Worship – Popular love songs from a decade ago, re-written to include the word “Jesus.” Also called Christian rock.
Prosperity Gospel – When Jesus said “Blessed are the poor,” He was just joking around. Seriously, who says crazy stuff like that?
Quaker – What you get when you give a Pentecostal a heavy dose of sedatives.
Rapture – Scariest ride at most Christian amusement parks.
Reprobate – Theological term for a Detroit Lions fan.
Sacrament of Reconciliation – Roman Catholic “get out of hell free” card. More commonly called confession.
Satanism – Worship of the self. Not to be confused with the Church of Satan, an organization created to keep 40-year-old metalheads from being homeless.
Secular Humanist – Anyone whose theology is more liberal than my own.
Sermon on the Mount – The part of the gospel where Jesus teaches proper sexual technique.
The Seven Seals – Latest attraction at SeaWorld.
Sin – Anything particularly enjoyable.
Spiritual, Not Religious – Popular phrase meaning “I like to think of myself as a good person, but don’t want to spend time with people who might challenge what I believe.”
Substitutionary Atonement – Popular form of child abuse, where a father punishes his firstborn son for the failures of his brothers and sisters.
Theologian – Someone who was created to keep bookstores in business.
Theosis – The process of becoming one with God. Not to be confused with caninosis, the process of becoming one with a dog.
Transubstantiation – Fancy Roman Catholic term that means, “We really do nom on Jesus!”
Truth – Whatever I happen to believe at the moment.
Universal Consciousness – Polite way of saying “Everybody else gets it, what’s wrong with you?”
Vibrational Frequency – The speed needed for a small, electronic device to produce physical pleasure.
Word of Faith – The promise that the seed you plant will produce growth in your pastor’s wallet.
Worship Leader – The evangelical Protestant equivalent of a rock star.
Yogi – A Hindu spiritual leader. The most famous yogi popularized the phrase, “Only you can prevent forest fires.”
Zealot – Someone who takes his or her faith more seriously than I do.
Zen – Form of Buddhism which emphasizes paradox, while also being careful not to emphasize it.