canon: core collection of scriptures designated by a religious group as legitimate or authoritative.

capitalism: economic and social system based on the private ownership of wealth, property, material goods, and other capital, as well as the means of its production and distribution, which is related to the free market, competition, and the profit motive.

Cartesianism: reason is the source and test of knowledge, in contrast to the focus on experience in empiricism.

Catholic: universal; typically used for the Roman branch of Christianity in distinction from the Greek or Eastern Orthodox and Protestant branches that separated from it.

celibacy: principle of abstaining from sexual intercourse or even any sexual activity, generally motivated by spiritual concerns.

charisma: power, charm, talent, appeal that inspires devotion in others; can be understood as divinely given.

Christianity: beliefs and practices of followers of Jesus of Nazareth, who hold him to be the sole son of God; grounded in the principle of love.

cognitive science: study of the mind’s processes; cognitive studies of religion draw from a wide range of psychological, anthropological and other approaches including focus on the evolutionary interplay among biological, social, and cultural components that shape and perpetuate mental processes.

communism: typically applied to a political philosophy of more extreme than moderate sharing of resources by a society for the welfare of all.

communitas: word popularized by American anthropologist Victor Turner to refer to feelings of connection and solidarity with a group.

comparativist: a person or approach that seeks to analyze similarities (and differences) between two objects of study; in religious studies, it often applies to approaches that seek out common themes across different religious traditions.

Confucianism: moral and ethical approach to life based on the teachings of the Chinese scholar Confucius; grounded in maintaining orderly relationships through the cultivation of human virtues.

contemporary: living at the same time, e.g. Karl Barth was a contemporary of Paul Tillich; occurring in the present, e.g. contemporary attitudes.

cosmology: a branch of philosophy and subset of metaphysics that deals with the origin (cosmogony) and nature of the cosmos; now mostly under the disciplines of science in the West.

creationism: belief that the universe, earth, humans, and other living organisms were created by divine act rather than natural processes; typically refers to the literal truth of a Biblical account of creation in opposition to evolution.

creed: formal statement of belief, e.g. Nicene Creed in Christianity.

cult: sect; veneration directed at a person or object; commonly used as a pejorative term for someone else’s religious group, which is seen to be strange or sinister.

culture: the collectively shared beliefs, activities, and values of a social group.

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  1. (C)Hillary Rodrigues and John S. Harding 2008; Courtesy Routledge


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