OF RELIGION Field Guide to the

Religious Lingo Lexicon


The following lexicon is a collection of terms which may be unfamiliar to many who do not have exposure to much contemporary religious debate. The definitions provided are brief and relatively value-neutral—more information may be provided by links to articles on specific movements, groups, teachers, or ideas.

The Field Guide also features separate Lexicons for the Mormon and Seventh Day Adventist denominations, for words that are used in a unique way by members of those groups.


Biblical passages quoted below are from the King James Version (KJV) unless otherwise noted.  



See: British-Israelism definition.


"Beasts of the field"

A number of passages in the KJV Old Testament refer to the "beasts of the field." Most Bible scholars assume this is just another name for either four-footed animals of any kind, or for wild animals. However, certain racist Bible teachers allege that this term is actually a reference to all races other than Caucasians in general or Northern European "whites" in particular. All other races are alleged to have been created prior to the creation of Adam, and to not be made "in the image of God" … with the exception that some also have a special explanation for the origin of the modern Jewish people. See: Identity definition.


Bible Codes

It is alleged by some writers that the Old Testament, in the original Hebrew manuscripts, contains "hidden messages." The theory is that these can be discerned by a process of starting with a given letter and going forward or backward to the next letter in the hidden message by skipping a prescribed number of letters each time. Some Jewish researchers have thus claimed to have found the names of many of the famous Jewish sages of centuries past "encoded" in the first five books of the Bible, what they would refer to as the Torah (thus the alternate name for this process, Torah Codes.)

More recently, some Christian authors have claimed to be able to use the same system on both the Torah and the prophetic books of the Old Testament. And they thus have found, they claim, "amazing" groupings of words and phrases which intersect, and tell a "word picture" of some event in the distant or recent past. The implication of all of this is that such secret, encoded wordings could only have been caused by God, and therefore substantiate the validity of the Bible as a supernatural document.

Most legitimate Bible scholars and mathematicians are highly skeptical of the validity of these claims. There are many sites on the Internet that examine the claims. Here’s one.



British-Israelism is the belief that the Anglo-Saxon inhabitants of Great Britain, as well as those who migrated from there to other parts of the British Commonwealth and to the United States, are the direct descendants of the ancient Israelite tribes of Ephraim and Mannasseh. The term "Anglo-Israelism" is sometimes used as an alternative designation of this belief. The importance of this identification to those who believe in it, is that these peoples would thus be the legitimate inheritors of the promises by God to the patriarch Abraham that his descendants would have great physical blessings, including “possessing the gates of their enemies.”


Brownsville Outpouring

Also called the Pensacola Outpouring. A hyper-charismatic "revival," a clone of the Toronto Blessing movement and with similar roots, begun in 1995 at the Brownsville Assembly of God Church in Pensacola, Florida and continuing to the present. BAOG Pastor John Kilpatrick invited evangelist Steve Hill to speak at the church on Father's Day that year, and the service turned to pandemonium when such manifestations as people weeping, falling to the ground, and shaking violently occurred. These were believed to be evidence of an "outpouring" of the Holy Spirit.

Here is a telling comment  from one webpage which examines the Outpouring, and provides some very poignant quotes.

At the district conference referred to earlier, Kilpatrick admitted to the assembled pastors that he has been so "drunk in the spirit" that he actually struck his youth pastor's car with his own. He said that while driving he had hit many garbage cans sitting at the curb on several occasions because he was so "drunk." He added that his wife (a visitor to Toronto, by the way) has been so drunk she couldn't cook. Sometimes, his drunken stupors are so severe that he has to be taken from the service in a wheel chair, Kilpatrick said.

It is not just "outsiders" who question the Brownsville Outpouring. The following is a short excerpt from a 1997 article titled Scriptural and Theological Concerns about the Revival at Brownsville A/G--and other churches like it  by an Assemblies of God minister who has serious concerns about his denomination's acceptance of these manifestations.

I myself was a polio victim 45 years ago and use a wheel chair. I've had to struggle firsthand with the doctrine of divine healing. I have come to what I feel is a balanced faith message. But some in my own denomination would disagree with me. The same is true with signs and wonders. Every Assemblies of God church did not have manifestations like "slaying in the Spirit" or "jerking and shaking in the Spirit." But since "Pensacola," more churches want the success and the numbers they've attracted.

...I am convinced that most of what is happening at Pensacola that I saw and what I have observed firsthand at [our] Church is a by-product of psychological-conditioning, the power of suggestion and mass-hysteria. Most of the people are innocently participating and desperately wanting something visible and tangible from God. Their lives are hurting and humdrum and in need of a life-changing experience. They might feel excited and refreshed now but eventually having to seek an emotional and physical experience continually, will get old and routine.

God's physical touch is offered as a quick fix. Getting into "the River of the Spirit" or asking God for "His fire to fall" in your life is said to change you drastically.

What used to come from in-depth, intensive Bible study, scripture memorization and disciplined living can now be achieved from an experience with God. "Let God knock you over and do spiritual surgery on you while you are lying on the ground. You'll be changed, made new, happier and more joyful if you come up to the altar and receive this experience. Just come forward and drink of this River and you'll never be the same." This is the song of the "Pensacola Revival." I only wish it were that easy for every Christian.

... I have felt it necessary to resign my pastoral position at [our] Church. I see this "revival" in a different way than the others. I really feel very uncomfortable around the atmosphere caused by people falling over backwards, shaking, jerking, jumping up and down, and other manifestations.

I love to teach and preach God's Word. In fact it's my personal opinion that a greater, longer-lasting change, comes more from sound Scriptural, stirring, solid Bible preaching and teaching, than supposed physical manifestations.

I only hope and pray there is still room in the Assemblies of God for me and others like me. Only time will tell. I had to leave a church I pastored for ten years because of the hyper-faith controversy. Many in the church thought I should be healed from my disability. It became such a big issue I felt it best to resign. When you have a severe physical deformity that causes daily pain and frustration, it makes it very difficult to be in a place where miracles and God's power to heal are constantly promoted. Being only human, there are deep hurts of frustration at the place of feeling terrible, that you've done all you think you can to get a miracle and still nothing happens.

You can come to a place of resolve and accept God's sovereign will, then only to be told "it is God's will you be healed if you have enough faith," or "get in on the real move of God, if you want a miracle. " etc.... A disabled person can only take so much.

Now at [our] Church I am so uncomfortable, because of the "revival controversy," I must resign.



The word charismatic comes from the Greek word charisma, which is usually translated in the KJV as "gift." Paul uses charisma in I Corinthians 12 to designate the supernatural "gifts" made available by the Holy Spirit. The term charismatic when applied to religious groups, teachers or customs usually implies that the participants believe that the spiritual gifts described in the New Testament are all available to Christians in modern times and should be expected as a natural part of each Christian's life. This would include the more "supernatural" gifts such as healing and "speaking in tongues." See: Pentecostal definition for the connection between the terms charismatic and Pentecostal. Also See: Pentecostal and Charismatic—What's the Difference? article for further discussion.


Conspiracy Theories

A number of religious ministries and secular groups promote a view of world history which is based on the theory that there are one or more networks of extremely powerful individuals behind the scenes of world events, conspiring together to manipulate either western civilization or the whole world for their own nefarious purposes. These Conspiracy Theories take many forms. Some postulate a Communist overthrow of America from within. Others insist that the United Nations is poised to impose external domination on the US, putting protestors into internment camps. Still others focus on an alleged long-term international conspiracy of financial masterminds who have been allegedly plotting for over 100 years to establish a New World Order which will be the fulfillment of the prophecies of Revelation.



The word cult has historically had no particularly negative connotation. It could be used by historians and sociologists to refer to any "system of religious worship or ritual" of the past, such as the "cult of Diana of the Ephesians." Some writers have used it as an alternative to the word "sect" to indicate a religious group that has broken away from a larger religious denomination.

In addition, the term cult is used in a more contemporary sense to indicate "devoted attachment to, or extravagant admiration for a person, principle, etc." In this context one could even refer to the "cult of Elvis fans" or the "cult of strict vegetarianism."

But in the past 25 years or so the term cult has taken on more negative connotations in media reports and religious literature. Some writers and speakers use it specifically to indicate a small religious group believed to be dangerous to themselves or others. Other writers use it to indicate a group which has beliefs contrary to the standard, historically-accepted theological positions of a particular religion such as Christianity or Judaism.

Since there is no standard definition for the term cult when used in these ways, it is important when using the term in discussions about contemporary religion to carefully define how the word is being used. For more clarification on the term cult, and for a description on how it is used on this site, See the article Cult, Occult, New Age—What's the Difference?



The term deliverance in religious use describes the process by which a person believed to be under the control of an evil supernatural entity called a demon is delivered from the control of that demon. In the New Testament, Jesus and some of His disciples are described as "casting out demons" from individuals, and thus "delivering" them from "demon possession."

Certain religious groups, such as the Roman Catholic Church, have a specific ritual which they use in attempts to deliver people from what is perceived as demonic possession. Such a ritual is usually performed by a specific religious official such as a priest, and is referred to as an exorcism. In modern times, some teachers use the term demon possession to indicate that someone is totally under the control of the evil entity, and demon influence to indicate that some portion of the person's life is affected externally by one or more demons. See: Deliverance Ministry definition.


Deliverance Ministry

Someone who has a deliverance ministry believes they have the ability to discern demon influence or possession in the lives of others, and power to "deliver" others from this influence or possession. See: Deliverance definition.


Dominion theology

See: Kingdom Now definition.



An adjective indicating the efforts to promote unity or cooperation among religious groups, particularly among the various denominations which refer to themselves as "Christian." It can range from aggressive attempts to merge denominations, to less threatening plans to just hold joint public ecumenical worship services for special occasions such as Thanksgiving.



A movement of deliberate efforts to diminish concern about the differences among religious denominations, and thus to promote unity among them. This term is used in many conservative religious groups as a hostile, critical label to put on those from their own background whom they believe to be "watering down" the doctrinal distinctives of the group in efforts to break down barriers between their group and others. A charge that someone in their ranks is promoting ecumenism is taken very seriously by those who have strong concerns about the doctrines of other groups. Broad-based movements such as Promise Keepers do seem to be built on the theory that ecumenism is good … thus they can appeal to such widely divergent groups as Catholics and Methodists.



The word eisegesis is a theological term used to describe an approach to interpreting a passage in the Bible by "reading into" the passage a meaning that is not evident at all by the passage itself or the context in which it appears in the Bible. Thus eisegesis is usually perceived as a negative term, and indicates that the person using the method of eisegesis is not being intellectually honest. They are, rather, coming to the passage with a pre-conceived notion on a particular doctrinal matter, and wishing to force the passage to fit that preconceived notion. The opposite of eisegesis is exegesis. See: Exegesis definition and Hermeneutics definition.



Eschatology is the branch of Theology dealing with the ultimate outcome of history. It includes doctrines related to such topics as death, resurrection, the "afterlife," and future prophetic events such as the events surrounding the return of Christ.



The word exegesis is a theological term used to describe an approach to interpreting a passage in the Bible by critical analysis. It includes using the context around the passage, comparison with other parts of the Bible, an understanding of the language and customs of the time of the writing, and other factors in an attempt to clearly understand what the original writer intended to convey. In other words, it is trying to "pull out" of the passage the meaning inherent in it. The opposite of exegesis is eisegesis. See: Eisegesis definition and Hermeneutics definition.


Five-fold Ministry

The term five-fold ministry is a catch-phrase in certain Charismatic circles to indicate a belief that something was missing in the leadership--the ministry--of institutional Christian churches until recently. This concern was based on the following scripture:

Eph 4:11-13

It was he [Christ] who gave some to be apostles, some to be prophets, some to be evangelists, and some to be pastors and teachers, to prepare God's people for works of service, so that the body of Christ may be built up until we all reach unity in the faith and in the knowledge of the Son of God and become mature, attaining to the whole measure of the fullness of Christ. (NIV)

Both the Catholic and most Protestant groups have always had the three "roles" of evangelist, pastor, and teacher as part of their systems. But it was typical for them to consider that the roles of Apostles and Prophets ceased in the first century. The usual reasoning was that these roles were necessary for the establishment of the Church, but once it was established they were no longer needed.

There have been a number of movements in the past 100+ years which have insisted that this assumption is incorrect, and that to fully function as the Body of Christ, "the Church" at large needs active, contemporary Apostles and Prophets, restoring the "five-fold" nature of leadership in the Church. In recent decades, this notion has become very prominent in some Charismatic circles, and there are a number of individuals who identify themselves as an Apostle or a Prophet and/or are recognized by others in their own circle as fulfilling that role--even though "outsiders" may find the claims spurious or even, in some cases, laughable.


Fourth Wave

Some recent writers are beginning to refer to the Hebrew Roots movement (See: Hebrew Roots definition) as the Fourth Wave of a series of four movements they consider necessary elements to the restoration of the Full Gospel. See: Third Wave definition for an explanation of the first three of these waves/movements.



Gematria is a Jewish system of mystical rules for Biblical interpretation which relies on calculating the "numerical value" of various words and passages and then comparing these numerical values to other words and passages. Each letter of the Hebrew alphabet has a corresponding number. The numerical equivalent of each of the letters in a word is combined, and the total noted. Then an elaborate system of juggling these numbers is used to find "hidden meaning" in the words. Gematria is an integral part of the teachings of the Kabbalah. See: Kabbalah definition.


Generational Curse

Some teachers involved in deliverance ministries believe that individuals can "inherit" misfortune and a tendency to specific types of moral weaknesses and sins from their ancestors by what is referred to as a generational curse. Some view this as a demon who is given power to harrass succeeding generations of individuals who were particularly given to certain kinds of sins. Others view it as more of a "genetic inheritance." It is not believed to have any connection with actual physical or chemical causes, such as a genetic tendency to alcoholism. It is rather viewed as a completely spiritual issue.

Under this theory, therefore, some people are "predestined" to commit certain kinds of sins or have certain moral weaknesses. The solution offered is to have a deliverance ministry "discern" what generational curses may be involved in the life of the individual seeking help, and then to renounce the curses specifically. For those who believe the cause is an actual demon, the deliverance ministry will attempt to "cast it out." See: Deliverance definition, Deliverance ministry definition, Spiritual Warfare definition.


Hebrew Name

See: Sacred Name definition.


Hebrew Roots

Hebrew Roots is a broad term for ministries which emphasize the need for studying the scriptures from a perspective of the ancient Hebrew, Middle Eastern context they were written in, rather than trying to fit what is read into a modern Western worldview. Such ministries particularly allege that the teachings and life of Jesus can only be understood correctly by realizing that He was a Jewish rabbi living in a Jewish society. And thus one needs to understand the first century customs, traditions, teachings, and beliefs of the Jews in order to understand the Gospel.

Some such ministries also teach that not only should Christians study these things, but they should personally adopt many of the customs and beliefs of modern Judaism. Still others reject modern Judaism as a role model and attempt to reconstruct a life-style they believe to reflect the beliefs, customs and practices of ancient Israel before the time of Christ. See: Hebrew Roots Movement article for more details on the various branches of this movement.


Heretic, Heresy

Although the word heretic is commonly used by religious groups to indicate someone who teaches a belief contrary to the group's doctrinal understanding, the Greek word that is translated heretic in the King James Bible actually means someone who causes division. The New Testament condemns those who are heretics by this definition.

But this does not necessarily mean that it condemns people whose understanding on a variety of Biblical matters differs from some central "doctrinal statement" endorsed by any particular group. It rather indicates that those who hold differing views should not use those differences as a crowbar to separate the Christian fellowship of which he is a part.

Thus a heresy as defined Biblically is not just an understanding on some doctrine that differs from an officially-accepted interpretation, but an understanding that is used to divide brethren. In Romans 14, the Apostle Paul notes that it is acceptable for people in a fellowship to have different beliefs about disputable matters, but not to allow these differences to cause irreparable divisions in the group.

The information noted above about heresy and heretics is intended to clarify the implication of the Greek underlying the words in the King James Bible. However, in the English language, the words do, indeed, carry a different connotation. In most religious groups, if someone is called a heretic, it means to those in authority that that person has rejected one or more beliefs that are considered fundamental to the doctrinal understanding of the group.



Hermeneutics is a theological term for the science of careful, analytical interpretation of the meaning of passages in the Bible. The Bible is not just one document, a narrative written by one writer at one point in history. It is a collection of writings by numerous writers, created over a period of over 1000 years. And these writings include history, narrative description, poetry, revelation, symbolic dreams and visions and more. In order to clearly understand what a Biblical writer was attempting to convey to the reader, a number of factors must be considered.

Is the passage intended to be a literal description of events, or a symbolic representation of something? Is the passage declaring a principle applicable for all time for all people, or was it intended to be relevant to just a certain group of people at a certain time and place? These and many other considerations need to be incorporated in the effort to understand how the passage may apply to the Bible student of the 21st century. See: Exegesis definition, Eisegesis definition.



A hierarchy is "a system of church government by priests or other clergy in graded ranks." The church is viewed as being divided sharply into two spiritual "classes" of believers. The superior class is the clergy, who are in charge of worship, who do all of the teaching and counseling, and who make and enforce the rules within Christian fellowships. And the inferior class is made up of the laity, or laymen, who obey the clergy in all matters, and whose main function within the Body is to provide the tithes and offerings by which the clergy are supported. In a hierarchical system, each rank of the clergy is in subjection to all of those in any of the ranks above them.

In some church organizations, this hierarchical system of "graded ranks" can be extremely elaborate. The 1911 edition of the Encyclopedia Britannica lists the ranks which were already established in the Catholic Church as early as the third century A.D. They included the primary ranks of bishops, presbyters, deacons, subdeacons, acolytes, exorcists, readers and doorkeepers. In addition, there were a number of "minor ranks" below those which included the copiatae (grave-diggers), the psalmistae (chanters), and the parabolani who had the extremely risky job of visiting the sick in times of plague.

The Protestant churches have not customarily had as many ranks in their governmental systems as those listed above. And many religious groups limit the ranks to pastors, elders and deacons. However, no matter how many ranks are involved, most of these hierarchical systems do tend to be based on the premise that an individual will "work their way up" through these ranks in order to reach the levels of most authority, power and control over those ranks of clergy below them, and the laity below all of the clergy.

Some Bible students and teachers are convinced that this whole notion of dividing the Body of Christ, the Church, into two "classes" of believers, and developing a system of graded ranks of power for the clergy class, is not found in the New Testament, but is rather an imitation of secular or pagan systems of government. Jesus said, "He who would be greatest among you shall be the servant of all." And He also said that those in positions of responsibility in the Body should not "lord it over" the rest of the members. Thus it is suggested that authority in the Body was intended by Jesus to be an authority of example and influence of older, more spiritually mature Christians, and developing maturity in everyone else toward that level of spiritual growth. From this perspective, the words "elder" or "deacon" or "evangelist" are not titles of an office of power, but descriptions of function within the Body.


Holy Ghost Glue

After people are "slain in the spirit" at some Charismatic meetings, they sometimes feel inexplicably "stuck to the floor" and unable to rise for some time. This is believed by those involved to be a manifestation of the power of God, and is often referred to as "Holy Ghost glue."


Holy Laughter

Holy Laughter is a phenomenon that occurs at certain Charismatic gatherings. Some participants (from a handful to almost the whole audience at times) find themselves laughing uncontrollably for no particular reason, sometimes even to the point of falling out of their chairs and rolling on the floor in convulsions of laughter. This can occur no matter the topic being addressed by the current speaker from the pulpit--even when the speaker is expounding on such matters as eternal Judgment and Hell. It is taught in such settings that this is a "supernatural manifestation" that indicates a special infilling of the individual by the Holy Spirit.

Although this phenomenon has been reported in isolated instances for the past 100 years or so, it first attracted wide-spread attention in the early 1990s as one of the typical manifestations involved with the "Toronto Blessing" movement. The most prominent individual connected with the Holy Laughter phenomenon is South African evangelist Rodney Howard-Browne, who styles himself "Joel's Bartender." This is a reference to the prophecy in Joel 2 regarding the pouring out of the Holy Spirit. Those who are overcome with Holy Laughter at Howard-Browne's meetings are viewed as being "drunk with the Holy Spirit," and in some cases literally do behave as if physically intoxicated, to the point where some are unable to drive home from meetings.

Commentary about this phenomenon and related outbursts at hyper-Charismatic meetings is available in The Sickness Unto Death: Spiritual Drunkenness and False Revival by Bill Randles.



Hundred-fold Blessing

Within the Word Faith movement, a number of preachers use a gimmick called the Hundred-fold Blessing in order to increase donations from their live audience at an evangelistic campaign or from called-in pledges for religious fund drives. The preacher will indicate that God has told him expressly, by direct revelation, that for a very limited time He will bless anyone who gives sacrificially with a miraculous return on their contribution in the near future that will be one hundred times the amount of that contribution. The audience or viewers are urged to not "miss their blessing," and to hurry and put money in the offering plate or call in their offering pledge. Anecdotal stories are shared by the preacher of people who have accepted the hundred-fold challenge in past evangelistic campaigns or religious television pledge drives and who have miraculously received unexpected monetary windfalls or gifts of cars or other expensive items. See: Word Faith Movement article.



The term hyper-charismatic is often used to designate those Charismatic teachers and groups in recent decades which attribute extremely unusual, non-biblical manifestations in their meetings to the action of the Holy Spirit. This would include individuals being "glued to the floor" for a period by a supernatural force for no apparent reason, people uncontrollably making animal sounds such as crowing like a rooster or barking like a dog in the midst of a worship service, and other such phenomena. Hyper-Charismatic is often also used to designate those teachings which make vaunted claims that the average Christian can control with absolute certainty his circumstances, including his health and physical prosperity, through the power that he can obtain by mastering certain "keys" allegedly found in the Bible..



Identity is a term used to designate a racist religious movement whose fundamental tenet is that Northern European whites are the true descendants of the tribes of ancient Israel. They further teach that only these peoples have full access to a covenant relationship with the Creator God. Thus they declare that they need to reach these peoples with the "truth of their identity" as True Israel.


Jewish Roots

See: Hebrew Roots definition.



The Kabbalah is a Jewish system of philosophy which is based on mystical methods of Biblical interpretation and finding "hidden meanings" in the passages of the Bible, such as gematria. Developed particularly by certain Jewish rabbis of the Middle Ages, it includes extensive occultic elements. The word itself is a Hebrew word meaning "received lore or tradition." In English it is spelled in various ways, including Cabala, Kabala, Qabbalah and Kabbala, See: Gematria definition, Occult definition.


Kansas City Prophets

The Kansas City Prophets is a designation of a group of men believed by some to be modern Prophets who are affiliated with the Metro Vineyard Church in Kansas City. This church was known as the Kansas City Fellowship (KCF) under Pastor Mike Bickle in the 1980s when Bickle received what he believed to be a revelation from God that his ministry was to be the center of a modern "prophetic and apostolic" movement that would be part of the restoration of the Five-Fold Ministry to the Church at large. Bickle surrounded himself with a number of men who claimed prophetic abilities, including Paul Cain, John Paul Jackson and Bob Jones (not the same Bob Jones of Bob Jones University).

These men conducted many prophetic gatherings, offering prophetic pronouncements to individuals (personal prophecy), to groups (predictions about future "moves of God" the group could expect, for instance) and to the public at large about events that might affect many people, such as earthquakes. This gathered the Kansas City Prophets a wide following and support in some Charismatic circles.

This enthusiasm waned a bit in the early 1990s when it became obvious that quite a large percentage of the alleged prophecies failed. Around the same time, "Prophet" Bob Jones was exposed for immorality and stepped out of the limelight. A pastor in the Kansas City area wrote a scathing indictment of the movement which led to widespread negative publicity.

At this point, Vineyard founder John Wimber stepped in and offered to bring the prophetic ministry under the "covering" of his ministry and oversee a dampening of the "excesses" that had been evident in the ministry. The KCF thus became an official Vineyard congregation, and the ministry continued unabated. All of these men, including Jones who has been pronounced "restored" still function in what they believe to be the role of Prophet, and their pronouncements are still accepted by many as being inspired by God.


Kingdom Now

Kingdom Now is the designation of a religious movement that teaches that Christians do not need to wait for the Return of Christ to the earth to set up His millennial kingdom—they can expect a powerful manifestation of that Kingdom right now … or at least in the near future. They believe that Christians will soon come, through the power of God, to have dominion over earthly society, and only then will Jesus return. This dominion will not be limited to spiritual influence, but actual social, political and economic control. The ideas behind this movement are sometimes referred to as Dominion Theology and Reconstructionism.


Latter Rain

The term Latter Rain is used by a variety of Pentecostal and Charismatic writers to indicate a major outpouring of the Holy Spirit, evidenced by supernatural manifestations, to come before the Return of Christ. The term comes from the Biblical references to the "early" (or "former") season of rainfall and "latter" season of rainfall necessary in Palestine to create a bountiful harvest. Thus in metaphor, the "early rain" of the Holy Spirit would have been the manifestations in the first century described in the Book of Acts. And the Latter Rain would be a modern repetition of this. Click this link for an overview of this teaching .



The term legalism is used by many authors to describe any belief system which implies that a Christian receives salvation and right standing with God by carefully following a list of expected behaviors which has been constructed by the creators of the system. Some teachers have used the term to describe those who accept various Old Testament Biblical laws and principles, such as tithing, as being applicable in some way to Christians. But if acceptance of those laws or principles are not being viewed as a method to "earn" or "preserve" salvation, this is not really related to the specific concept of legalism. It is entirely possible for a religious group to reject any or all of the Ten Commandments, but to substitute for them a list of forbidden activities such as card-playing or dancing, and still be proponents of a legalistic system.


Manifest sons of God

One of the doctrines promoted by the more radical members of the Latter Rain movement (See: Latter Rain definition) of the 1940s was that there would come a time, before the return of Christ, when a certain group of humans called the Manifest Sons of God would achieve physical immortality and be capable of great supernatural feats.


Messianic Jew

The term Messianic Jew refers to a person who is Jewish by either birth or conversion, who has come to believe that Jesus of Nazareth is the Messiah—Anointed One—predicted in the Old Testament scriptures to come as Savior of Israel. Many Christians mistakenly assume that all "Messianic Jewish" groups are part of a specific religious movement that has a common theology.

This is not so. There are a wide variety of theological perspectives among groups which identify themselves as Messianic Jewish. Some keep almost all their distinctively "Jewish" beliefs and customs—including Sabbath observance, avoiding pork and other "unclean meats," wearing prayer shawls with fringe and the like—and merely add the belief in Jesus as Messiah. Others adopt most of the beliefs and customs of standard Protestant theology, including observance of Sunday as the primary day of worship, celebrating such traditional holidays as Christmas and Easter, and eating ham and shellfish.


Modern Apostles and Prophets

Those groups, particularly in the Charismatic movement, which teach of the need for restoration of the five-fold ministry have in recent decades come to endorse groups of individuals who are believed to be actual apostles and prophets, with the authority and prestige such titles imply.


New Age

New Age is an adjective that describes the collection of beliefs and practices that are based on the idea that Mankind is about to enter into a "new age"of peace, prosperity and spiritual enlightenment brought about by Man=s own efforts to change himself. Many New Age teachers believe Man will be able to do this as a result of contact with "higher spiritual beings" who will teach him to be "at one" with the universe. Examples of New Age beliefs and activities include reincarnation and Transcendental Meditation. See: Cult, Occult, New Age—What's the Difference? Article.



The Occult is the collection of beliefs and practices that are based on the idea that there is a supernatural world that Man can tap into in order to control the environment,or other people, through secret, special knowledge and rituals. Occultic activities include such things as fortune-telling, astrology and voodoo. See: Cult, Occult, New Age—What's the Difference? Article.


Pensacola Outpouring

See: Brownsville Outpouring



Pentecostal comes from the word Pentecost, the English word for one of the annual Biblical Holy Days outlined in Leviticus 23. The word means "fiftieth," as the proper day for the observance is determined by counting fifty days from a Sabbath during the earlier Feast of Unleavened Bread. In Acts 2 in the New Testament, the disciples of Jesus were gathered together on this annual Holy Day in Jerusalem when they first received the empowerment of the Holy Spirit after Jesus' resurrection. The most noticeable feature of this occasion was that each of the disciples "spoke with other tongues" and those in the audience, who were from many other nations, were surprised to hear them speak in their own native languages.

The term Pentecostal when applied to religious groups, teachers or customs usually implies that the participants believe that all Christians should expect to experience the same empowerment of the Holy Spirit, particularly evidenced by the gift of speaking in "other tongues." This is usually conceived by such believers to be a separate event from conversion or water baptism.

Pentecostal and Charismatic are sometimes used interchangeably to designate the same groups, teachers and phenomena. However, most students of religious history tend to use the term Pentecostal to refer to the more "old fashioned," "unsophisticated" groups which developed out of a "Holy Spirit" movement begun around the turn of the century. And they use the term Charismatic to refer to a more sophisticated branch of this general belief system that has developed since the 1950s. See: Charismatic definition, Pentecostal and Charismatic—What's the Difference? article.


Personal Prophecy

In some Charismatic settings, certain individuals are believed to have "prophetic gifts" that allow them to receive direct, Divine "prophetic words" for other individuals. These are often in the nature of specific guidance for life choices of the individual. They are not at all the same as "counseling," in which an individual might ask for guidance from a spiritual advisor such as a pastor in order to understand what Biblical principles might be relevant to solving a personal or family problem. Rather, the person offering the personal prophecy often does so without a request from the individual at all, and may have never met the individual before or know anything about their personal life.

Such personal prophecies are often given in large public meetings such as "Prophetic Conventions," to complete strangers called out of the audience by one of the alleged "Prophets." Such prophetic words might be about the choice of a mate, confirmation of a calling to a certain type of ministry, reassurance that a health problem such as infertility is going to be removed, or admonishment about a hidden sin the person offering the personal prophecy believes that God has revealed to them.

Some observers of the Charismatic scene in recent decades have issued strong warnings that the highly subjective nature of such prophecies and the total lack of any accountability of the one offering such prophecies, has led to extreme instances of spiritual abuse. Lives have been wrecked when people have ignored their own common sense and leading of the Holy Spirit and followed instead the pronouncements of alleged "prophets" in order to make serious life choices. Others have been devastated by totally erroneous personal prophecies given about them in public regarding an alleged secret sin, such as an addiction to pornography.



Petra was an ancient city in what is now Jordan. The city itself is now in ruins and uninhabited except by tourists—and roaming Bedouin tribesmen who may pitch their tents there on occasion. But it was a significant trading center in Roman times. Many of the city's magnificent buildings, including palaces and temples, were literally carved out of the beautiful rose limestone cliffs of the area. Petra was used as the location for the filming of the end of the movie "Indiana Jones and the Last Crusade"… the "Holy Grail" was found by Indiana in one of the buildings carved into the cliffs of Petra.

Some obscure Bible passages are interpreted by a number of prophecy commentators as indicating that some group of Christians will be transported supernaturally to Petra during the "End Times" as a place of safety. (See: "Place of Safety" definition.) Herbert Armstrong, founder of the Worldwide Church of God, for instance, strongly hinted for many years that 144,000 members of that Church, which he taught was the only True Church on earth, would be whisked to Petra in 1972 to escape what he believed would be a 3 1/2 year period of the Great Tribulation. See: Tribulation definition.


"Place of Safety"

Some prophecy commentators believe that "the Church" will be snatched up (raptured) to heaven (See: Rapture definition) to escape harm while the rest of the earth endures the Great Tribulation. (See: Tribulation definition) Some others, however, who do not accept this rapture doctrine, believe that some Christians will be protected during this time by being supernaturally gathered to a Place of Safety somewhere on earth. Even some who do believe in the rapture teach that a remnant of Jewish believers, converted after the rapture, will be taken to such a place at some point during the Tribulation period. One common speculation regarding the location of such a place is Petra. See: Petra definition.


Positive confession

Positive confession is a term used by teachers of the Word Faith movement (See: Word Faith definition) to indicate what they believe is a prerequisite to receiving the blessings of God. They admonish their audience that there is both positive and negative power actually in the words of a Christian. Whatever the Christian "confesses" or affirms determines the result he will get. According to the principle of Positive Confession, if he is sick, and speaks about his condition in a negative way, admitting with his mouth his feelings, he will hinder healing from coming to him. If instead he "confesses" positively that he is healed already, even though the symptoms are still present, then his body will manifest that healing. If he speaks negatively—has a "negative confession"—about his financial problems, he will stay in poverty. If he has a "positive confession" that declares he is financially prosperous, even though he is still deeply in debt, that prosperity will be manifested in his life. See: Word Faith Movement article


Power Evangelism

Power evangelism is a term used to indicate evangelistic efforts in public settings which depend as much or more on alleged "supernatural manifestations" as on preaching from the Bible. Such manifestations would include claims of supernatural healing and delivering people from demonic possession, people falling over "slain in the spirit," and other related physical and psychic phenomena.



Preterism is the belief that most of the prophecies in the New Testament, including most of those in the Book of Revelation, were fulfilled by climactic events in the first century, primarily at the time of the destruction of the Jerusalem Temple in 70 AD. This includes the Tribulation, the Battle of Armageddon, and the resurrection of the saints.


Prooftext, prooftexting

A prooftext is a verse or short passage from the Bible used by someone as part of their proof for a doctrinal belief they wish to substantiate to others. However, since verses and passages may rely extensively on the context in which they appear for correct interpretation, pulling these out of their context and having them stand alone in a "proof" can at times be very misleading. In addition, a set of such prooftexts can completely ignore other passages which, if added to the mix, might well lead to an entirely different conclusion. Thus someone who relies strongly only on a list of prooftexts in order to make a doctrinal argument may have a very weak case for their argument. Noting that a religious teacher relies heavily just on prooftexting is viewed in theological circles as a very negative evaluation. See: Hermeneutics article, Hermeneutics definition.


Prosperity Gospel

Teachers in the Word Faith movement promote an idea often called the Prosperity Gospel, which indicates that not only did Jesus' death and resurrection provide spiritual salvation, but included a promise of physical health and prosperity to those who believe. Certain New Testament passages are taken as absolute guarantees that God's will for every Christian is to be permanently healthy and prosperous, and that poverty and sickness are attempts by the Devil to steal these guaranteed blessings. Believers are encouraged to use the Word of Faith to rebuke this attempt and to claim the rightful blessings. See: Word Faith movement article, Word Faith definition.


Rapture, Secret Rapture

Rapture is an English word that means "snatched up" or "caught up." It comes from the same Latin root as "raptor," the kind of bird such as eagles who "snatch up" their prey. Although the word rapture is not used in the KJV Bible, or any common modern English translation, the idea is present in the following passage:

1Thes 4

16 For the Lord himself will come down from heaven, with a loud command, with the voice of the archangel and with the trumpet call of God, and the dead in Christ will rise first.

17 After that, we who are still alive and are left will be caught up together with them in the clouds to meet the Lord in the air. And so we will be with the Lord forever.

Thus this "catching up" is called by many Bible teachers "The Rapture of the Church." Some teach that this will occur only at the return of Christ to set up a Millennial kingdom. But those who teach the doctrine of the Secret Rapture are convinced He will come secretly to snatch away all true believers and take them to heaven to wait there while the rest of mankind suffers through the Great Tribulation. (See: Tribulation definition) Many teach they will then return with Him when He comes to put an end to the Battle of Armageddon, and reign with Him on earth during the Millennium.



See: Kingdom Now definition.



Rhema is a Greek term that is often translated "word" in English versions of the New Testament. In many Charismatic/Pentecostal circles, however, it takes on a special meaning. The Greek word logos is also translated "word" in many English translations. These Charismatic folks insist that there is a very special difference between these two types of "words."

The logos kind of word is viewed as being the Biblical "written word." But a rhema word is a special, modern "revelation" to someone. It may be in the form of a flash of insight into some spiritual matter that is not clearly covered in scripture. Or it may be an intuitive understanding that a particular scripture verse or passage has immediate application to a current circumstance, even though in context in the Bible it may have nothing at all to do with the topic of the circumstance. Such rhema words are sought after to give daily guidance to the life of the Christian.

There is, however, no real linguistic validity to this theory that the Bible deliberately makes such a distinction between these two Greek words. And much of what passes for rhema words in many Charismatic circles appears to be extremely idiosyncratic, unsubstantiated, highly fanciful inventions of the subconscious of the person claiming to have the rhema word. Yet many of these "modern revelations" are collected and posted on Internet sites as being amazing evidence of a Great Move of God.


Sabbatarian Christian

A Sabbatarian Christian is an individual who believes that the fourth commandment, "Remember the Sabbath Day to keep it holy," has not been changed by the New Covenant and is applicable to Christians as well as Jews. They also believe that this day, the Sabbath that Jesus and the apostles observed, was historically the day known on modern calendars as Saturday, and was kept from sundown to sundown. Thus most Sabbatarians rest from their regular work from sundown on Friday until sundown on Saturday. Most also set aside the Saturday Sabbath as the day they meet with others of like belief for regular weekly worship services.


Sacred Name

Sacred Name is a term used by some Bible students to designate the Hebrew name of the Creator by which He identified Himself to Moses at the "burning bush." Those who hold the Sacred Name doctrine do not use the common words "God" or "Lord" when speaking of Him, but rather use what they believe to be the correct pronunciation of His name given in the original Hebrew manuscripts of the Old Testament. In the manuscripts, only the letters for the four consonant sounds are used to indicate this name. Scholars disagree what vowel sounds were inserted between these letters. So there is considerable disagreement among Sacred Name groups on just what version of the Name should be used. The most common choice is "Yahweh," but variants include "Yahveh," Yahowah," "Yehovah," "YodHayVovHay," and more.


Satan's Seed

The doctrine of Satan’s Seed alleges that Cain was not the son of Adam, but rather the offspring ("seed") of a sexual encounter between Eve and Satan the Devil in the form of the "serpent" in the Garden of Eden. (Thus the doctrine is sometimes referred to as "Serpent’s Seed.") This theory further states that the descendents of Cain are, therefore, the descendents of the Devil himself, not just "spiritually" in terms of attitude, but literally in terms of their physical bodies.

The primary aim of this doctrine is to account for certain races of people on earth in our time—primarily those who are called, by most people, "Jews." The proponents of the Satan’s seed theory allege that the modern Jews are imposters, not descended from Abraham at all but rather from the genealogical line of Cain. Since the biblical account seems to indicate that all mankind today is descended from Noah, as only Noah’s family survived the flood, there is a need to account for how the Satanic line of Cain passed through the flood. This is usually accomplished by postulating that the Noachian flood did not actually cover the whole planet, but rather was localized in the Middle East. Thus descendants of Cain survived elsewhere.


Seed Faith

Several decades ago, television evangelist Oral Roberts pioneered teaching of a principle he called Seed Faith that is now used by many Word Faith teachers. Roberts alleged that God purposes to return to the Believer blessings in direct proportion to the amount of monetary giving ("planting seed") he does to religious causes. Thus if a Christian is in financial distress and wishes to pray for help from God to escape his financial problems, he needs to "plant an amount of seed" that is in proportion to his need.

The effect of this teaching was that people with the least money available to give were encouraged to give the most to the Oral Roberts ministry. People were even encouraged to make pledges for giving for the upcoming year that were beyond their current ability to meet, "stepping out in faith" that God would honor their seed with such a great blessing that they would be able to meet the pledge and still have abundance. This teaching was very effective in increasing donations to the Roberts ministry, and thus has been adopted by many current television ministries for their money-raising projects. See: Word Faith movement article, Word Faith definition.



The Shepherding movement was a particular style of church organization that was extremely popular in some Charismatic/Pentecostal settings in the 1960s and 1970s. The term denotes the concept that every believer needs to be under the direct supervision of a shepherd (sometimes referred to as a covering) to assist them in their spiritual growth. In a complete shepherding setting, a local congregation would be arranged in a pyramid form. At the bottom were the regular congregation members.

The congregation would be divided up into small "house groups" (sometimes called cell groups), each group having small group sessions during the week. Each member was directly accountable to a house group leader or person with a similar role. The house group leaders were each accountable to church elders over them. The elders were accountable to a group of pastors. The pastors were accountable to the apostles. And the apostles, who were at the top of the pyramid and presumed to be the "most spiritual" fellows in the church group, were accountable to one another.

If shepherding had been merely a wholesome "mentoring"-style arrangement in which spiritually mature Christians accepted the responsibility for encouraging and discipling and being a role model for new converts and the spiritually immature, it might have had a positive influence. But as practiced in many groups it became an incredibly authoritarian, arbitrary, oppressive system which dictated the every move of all those in the lower ranks. Even details of such personal matters as accepting a new job, choosing a mate, or buying a car were dictated by those in positions of "covering" the choices of those under them.

So many abuses proliferated around the country that the whole movement came under extreme criticism by outsiders. Even one of the most influential early advocates of the system, Bob Mumford, finally renounced much of the fruit of the Shepherding movement and it faded as an organized movement by the early 1980s. To this day, however, certain authoritarian sub-groups within the Charismatic movement, and even some ministries that are not overtly Charismatic, still adhere to the concept of "covering" relationships, and some of the abuses of the past can be seen in their midst.

A detailed overview of the Shepherding Movement and the five men most influential in its development is available on the Seek God website.


Signs and wonders

Those within the Charismatic movement who believe in the necessity of power evangelism refer to the manifestations that they expect to see and experience at such power evangelism events as "signs and wonders." These are often unusual physical phenomena such as people being "slain in the spirit," glued to the floor by "Holy Ghost glue," the "word of knowledge," and prophecy.


Slain in the Spirit

People are said to be slain in the Spirit at certain Pentecostal or charismatic meetings when they fall over backwards unconscious after being touched in some way (either directly, or perhaps with the wave of a hand or blowing of the breath) by someone ministering at the meeting. The implication is that they have been "overwhelmed" by the power of the Holy Spirit and thus their bodies have been "short circuited" and they cannot remain conscious.


Speaking in tongues

Speaking in tongues is a phenomenon within the Pentecostal/Charismatic movement in which individuals speak, either in their private prayers or in a public meeting, in what appears to be a language unknown to them. If they do this in private prayer, it is termed a "prayer language," and they may not have any idea during or after the prayer just what they said. It is believed that their "spirit" is in this way speaking directly to God’s Spirit without use of their conscious faculties. If they offer a message in one of these "unknown languages" publicly in a religious meeting, it is viewed as a communication directly from the Holy Spirit to the group. And it is expected that someone there will be given an "interpretation" of what the one speaking in tongues has said.

It is not usually claimed that such languages are specific human languages that are spoken somewhere on earth. A typical explanation is that they are "heavenly languages," perhaps spoken by angels. Nor is the "interpretation" that is given perceived as a "translation," but rather as a loose explanation of the intent of the message, given directly by the Holy Spirit to the interpreter. See: Speaking in Tongues article.


"Spirit of Prophecy"

During her lifetime, Seventh Day Adventist (SDA) prophetess Ellen G. White was said to have the Spirit of Prophecy. She had many alleged visions and revelations, including direct conversations with God, and her writings about these were considered inspired by the Holy Spirit in the same way as the writings of the Old and New Testament writers. One of the "proofs" offered to the world that the SDA denomination was the Remnant Church, the only true representative of God on earth, was that they had a living Prophetess. When Ellen White died in 1915, they had to adjust this explanation. Since that time it is common for Adventists to refer to the collected writings of Ellen as The Spirit of Prophecy.


Spiritual Warfare

The term Spiritual Warfare is used in certain Charismatic circles to denote activities they believe to be directly challenging evil supernatural entities. This has nothing to do with the kind of scriptural concept spoken of by Paul in which he admonished individual believers to "put on the whole armor of God" so that they may resist the wiles of the Devil. Paul does indeed use the symbolism of warfare in a number of places.

But modern Charismatic Spiritual Warfare is different. It does not consist of prayer and Bible study and such--it involves such things as bombastic verbal affirmations by evangelists, joined by the voices of thousands in their audience, that they have the power to "bind the Devil" and his power--or the power of his evil accomplices in the supernatural world--over cities. A common strategy of Spiritual Warfare ministries is called spiritual mapping. Bill Randles, in a highly critical look at the movement, describes spiritual mapping:

Spiritual mapping involves researching the secular and religious history of a city to determine the names and characteristics of "ruling spirits" over the area. In spiritual warfare knowing the name of the strongman is a must. If you are really right on, you can actually determine the address; the geographical location of the spirit! According to Dick Bernal, the way to take a city is fourfold. 1. Proclaim a fast with prayer. 2. Identify the principality over the city. 3. Determine its geographical location. 4. Call him/her by name. Bernal also tells us that God revealed to him the name of the principality over his city. "In prayer, the Holy Spirit impressed upon me that the title of the ruling principality over our area is "Self." " (Bill Randles, Making War in the Heavenlies: A Different Look, p. 13.)

Many grandiose claims have been made for the results of these efforts, but it is difficult to find any substantiation for such claims.


Third Wave

The development of the Pentecostal/Charismatic movement in the past 100 years is often described as happening in successive "waves" of manifestation of the power of the Holy Spirit, during which various facets of what is viewed as "first century Christianity" are alleged to have been "restored."

One common scheme defining these waves is to call the Pentecostal movement, starting in about 1910, the First Wave, in which the "gift of tongues" and eventually other supernatural manifestations such as "faith healing" were allegedly restored to the Church. However, these manifestations were mostly limited to a few small, new Pentecostal denominations.

The Charismatic movement, starting in the 1950s, is labelled the Second Wave. This was a period in which many of the Pentecostal manifestations were spread widely into mainstream denominations in America and around the world.

Since the 1980s, teachers in the Pentecostal/Charismatic movement have been declaring the move of the Holy Spirit has now led to the Third Wave, a term coined by church growth leader C Peter Wagner in 1983 . It includes many of the characteristics of the earlier waves, but there is much more emphasis on recognizing "Modern Apostles and Prophets" who claim direct, divine revelation and authority, and "Power Evangelism," in which the preaching of the Gospel is said to be accompanied by miraculous "signs and wonders." See: Pentecostal/Charismatic article.

Follow this weblink to a brief but more detailed description of the three waves .


Some teachers from the Third Wave movement have begun suggesting that there is now the beginnings of a Fourth Wave of restoration. See: Fourth Wave definition.


Toronto Blessing

A Vineyard church near the Toronto, Ontario airport began a series of revival meetings in January 1994 that were scheduled to last less than a week. The meetings have, instead, continued the present.

Unusual manifestations occurred during the initial meetings that caught the attention of those in some Charismatic circles around the country and eventually around the world. And people thus started arriving by the thousands to see for themselves. The manifestations included large numbers of people "slain in the spirit" (falling unconscious to the floor, allegedly under the power of the Holy Spirit), people shaking uncontrollably, people laughing hysterically for no obvious reason, people "glued" to the floor unable to get up for extended periods, and people making all sorts of unusual sounds such as barking like dogs and crowing like roosters. Those involved, including Toronto pastor John Arnott, have claimed that all of these phenomena are evidence of a powerful "move of the Holy Spirit."

The collection of phenomena have been dubbed the Toronto Blessing, and large numbers of people who have participated in the meetings in Toronto have returned to their home churches all over the world and "brought back" a similar outbreak in their own congregations. This whole movement has drawn considerable criticism even within Pentecostal and Charismatic circles, with many protesting that there is no proof that the manifestations are from God, and that some of them may well be even demonic.

Even the leadership of the Vineyard movement itself, which is characterized by quite a bit of similar phenomena, became so concerned that the particular outbreak at the Airport Vineyard church was indulging in excesses and was not subject to adequate spiritual oversight that they withdrew the church's affiliation with Vineyard. The Toronto group is now dubbed the Toronto Airport Fellowship.

A detailed overview, documentation, and commentary on the Toronto Blessing phenomenon is available in the free online version of the book Weighed and Found Wanting by Bill Randles.


Tribulation, Great Tribulation

The English word "tribulation" means great distress and misery. This word is used a number of times in the New Testament to describe a time of great trouble and suffering which is prophesied to come upon the earth before the Second Coming of Christ.

Matt 24:21

21 For then shall be great tribulation, such as was not since the beginning of the world to this time, no, nor ever shall be.

Rev 7:13-14

13 And one of the elders answered, saying unto me, What are these which are arrayed in white robes? and whence came they?

14 And I said unto him, Sir, thou knowest. And he said to me, These are they which came out of great tribulation, and have washed their robes, and made them white in the blood of the Lamb.

According to many prophecy teachers, this is not just referring to an indeterminate time period, but rather to a specific time period they call The Tribulation. The most common speculation, based on comparing prophetic passages in the Bible, is that it will last for seven years. Some of these teachers refer to the whole seven years as not just The Tribulation, but as The Great Tribulation. Others prefer to refer to the first half of the seven years as The Tribulation, and to the second half, when circumstances on earth become even more horrifying and miserable, as The Great Tribulation.


Vineyard Movement

The Vineyard Movement, represented officially by the Association of Vineyard Churches, is the current outgrowth of the work of the late John Wimber (1934-1997). Wimber's congregation in the late 1970s was affiliated with the Calvary Chapel churches. In the late 1970s, they left the Calvary group and affiliated with a group of seven churches called the Vineyard Fellowships under the leadership of a man named Ken Gullickson. In the early 1980s Gullickson turned the Vineyard group over to the leadership of Wimber, and it began a climb to explosive growth throughout the 1980s and 1990s.

Wimber had at one time taught "Church Growth" classes through Fuller Theological Seminary. Impressed in the early 1980s with what he believed to be credible evidence, in some evangelistic ministries, of dramatic supernatural manifestations, he began developing his own theory of Power Evangelism. According to this theory, it is absolutely necessary in our time for the preaching of the Gospel to be accompanied by powerful manifestations of healing, demonic deliverance, "words of knowledge," and other supernatural activities such as participants being slain in the spirit.

Thus Vineyard Churches typically include in their meetings such alleged manifestations. A gifted musician and promoter (he formed and managed the Righteous Brothers in the mid-1960s before his conversion), Wimber was also influential in the development and promotion of an extensive collection of contemporary Christian music. This continually growing music collection is now distributed through the non-profit Vineyard Music Group, one of the largest producers of tapes and song books of Praise and Worship music.


Word Faith, Word of Faith

The doctrine of Word Faith, sometimes referred to as Word of Faith, is a teaching promoted by some of the more radical elements of the Charismatic/Pentecostal movement. The term implies that Christians not only need faith "in God," but that they need to have faith in the power of the words they speak. If they use the "word of faith," according to a number of formulas which such teachers believe they have found in the Bible, they do not need to pray to God and request answers to their prayers most of the time. They need only search the Bible to find what they consider "unconditional promises" of God, and then merely "confess" with their mouth—using "the word of faith"—that the blessings they seek are theirs, and they shall have those blessings. Such blessings would include health and prosperity.

One of the typical sayings Word Faith adherents are supposed to internalize is "What I confess, I possess," or otherwise stated as "Confession brings possession." Critics sometimes refer to this as a "name it and claim it" doctrine. See: Word Faith movement article.


 Word of Knowledge

In Charismatic circles, someone is said to have a "word of knowledge" when they claim to know something about another person that could not have been known through the five senses. In other words, they are believed to have been given this piece of knowledge by direct divine revelation. Someone who is believed to be able to give such words of knowledge on a regular basis is said to have the "spiritual gift" of the "word of knowledge." This manifestation is often claimed by healing evangelists when they "call out" someone from the audience whom they do not know personally and explain that God has shown them that the person has a certain ailment. Investigative reporters have exposed a number of evangelists over the past few decades as falsifying this alleged gift, by secretly gathering information about audience members. The most notorious of these expose's was regarding televangelist Peter Popoff.


Unless otherwise noted, all definitions within quotes are from Webster's New World Dictionary, Second College Edition,1984, Prentice Hall Press .

Bibliographical details (and descriptions) of books cited in this section of the Field Guide can be found in the Field Guide Bibliography.




Unless otherwise noted, all original material on this Field Guide website
is © 2001-2011 by Pamela Starr Dewey.

Careful effort has been made to give credit as clearly as possible to any specific material quoted or ideas extensively adapted from any one resource. Corrections and clarifications regarding citations for any source material are welcome, and will be promptly added to any sections which are found to be inadequately documented as to source.


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