Encyclopedia of Christianity Online

Get access Subject: Religious Studies
Editors: Erwin Fahlbusch, Jan Milič Lochman, John Mbiti, Jaroslav Pelikan and Lukas Vischer

Help us improve our service

The Encyclopedia of Christianity Online describes modern-day Christian beliefs and communities in the context of 2000 years of apostolic tradition and Christian history. Based on the third, revised edition of the critically acclaimed German work Evangelisches Kirchenlexikon. The Encyclopedia of Christianity Online includes all 5 volumes of the print edition of 1999-2008 which has become a standard reference work for the study of Christianity past and present. Comprehensive, reflecting the highest standards in scholarship yet intended for a wide range of readers, the The Encyclopedia of Christianity Online also looks outward beyond Christianity, considering other world religions and philosophies as it paints the overall religious and socio-cultural picture in which the Christianity finds itself.

Subscriptions: see brill.com

Cao Dai

(755 words)

Author(s): Colpe, Carsten
Cao Dai is the religion of the Vietnamese god Cao Dai, whose name means “great palace.” The full self-designation is (Dai-Dao) Tam-Ky Pho-Do, or “(Great Way of) the Third Forgiveness of God.” Along this way, the unity of all religions is to be recovered, a unity that had already been divided in a “first forgiveness” under the forerunners of Confucius, Lao-tzu, and Buddha Sakyamuni, and then in a “second forgiveness” under these founders themselves plus Jesus Christ. Around this focus, many in th…

Cape Verde

(500 words)

Author(s): Jenkins, Paul
1. General Situation Cape Verde is a volcanic archipelago of 15 islands, lying 620 km. (385 mi.) from the West African mainland. The first Portuguese discoverers (ca. 1460) found the islands uninhabited. The present mestizo, Creole-speaking population is descended from Portuguese settlers and African slaves, the first of whom were brought to Cape Verde about 1500. Climatically, Cape Verde is almost continuously under the influence of the northeast trade winds and thus belongs to the Sahel zone. Repeated periods of catastrophic drought can be docum…

Capital and Labor

(7 words)

See Social Partnership


(2,210 words)

Author(s): Müller, Rudolf Wolfgang
1. Term 1.1. The word “capitalism” has often been a highly controversial one, not only in political contexts but ¶ also in sociology and academia generally, though much less so in English, Italian, and Japanese circles than, for example, in Germany. The word has often been used to make accusations, and thus it has become regarded as an ideological term. Nazism demagogically equated it with Western countries (“capitalist plutocracy”) or with the Jewish population ( jüdisches Wucherkapital, “Jewish usury capital”). After the fall of the Soviet empire and state socialism, t…

Capital Punishment

(6 words)

See Death Penalty

Cappadocian Fathers

(936 words)

Author(s): Wendebourg, Dorothea
The term “the three great Cappadocian Fathers” refers collectively to the three Eastern church fathers (all from the region of Cappadocia in central Asia Minor) who completed the development of the early doctrine of the Trinity and also provided decisive initiatives for the theology and practice at least of the Eastern church: Basil the Great of Caesarea (d. 379), his brother Gregory of Nyssa (d. ca. 395), and their friend Gregory of Nazianzus (d. 389/90). Amphilochius of Iconium (d. 395) is sometimes included in this group. The Trinitarian teaching of the Cappadocian Father…


(4 words)

See Franciscans


(323 words)

Author(s): Grote, Heiner
“Cardinal” is the title of the highest dignitaries below the pope in the Roman Catholic Church. Cardinals were originally priests of the principal churches (sing. cardo) in or near Rome, from whom the pope sought help in leading the whole church. The beginnings of the College of Cardinals date back to the 12th century. The ranks of cardinal bishops, cardinal priests, and cardinal deacons reflect this origin. In the last few centuries the patriarchs of the Uniate churches of the East have also become cardinal bishops. The number of cardinals was fixed at 70 by Sixtus V in 1586. John XXIII (d. …

Cargo Cult

(540 words)

Author(s): Greschat, Hans-Jürgen
1. “Cargo cult” refers to a religious group that believes that material wealth can be gained through the exercise of proper ritual worship. The word “cargo” in this phrase refers to various goods of European origin (e.g., dishes, knives, rice, canned food, glass beads, razor blades, hydrogen peroxide, rifles, axes, and cotton goods) and the money with which to buy such items. Believers in the cult typically have no access to such goods but expect that they will soon acquire them supernaturally. 2. The cults belong to Melanesia, though there are similar phenomena in other cultures (e.g., …


(8 words)

See Latin America and the Caribbean

Caribbean Conference of Churches

(603 words)

Author(s): Payne, Clifford
1. Origin The Caribbean Conference of Churches (CCC) was inaugurated in November 1973 in Kingston, Jamaica. Its roots can be traced directly back to a consultation of mainline Protestant churches in Puerto Rico in 1957 on future ecumenical cooperation within Caribbean countries, which led to the establishment of the Caribbean Committee on Joint Christian Action (CCJCA) in 1959. CCJCA served as a catalyst for much ecumenical activity, including Christian education, family life education, youth work…


(6 words)

See Orders and Congregations


(711 words)

Author(s): Moser, Dietz-Rüdiger | Kutter, Uli
1. Terminology “Carnival” refers to pre-Lenten celebrations in Catholic countries. Signifying the abolition of fleshly pleasures, it derives from the equivalent terms carnislevamen, carnisprivium, carnetollendas, carnelevale, and carnevale (lit. “Farewell, flesh!”). In the Catholic mission areas of Japan, the word for carnival is shanikusai (or, “rejection of the flesh”). Only the Latin term “bacchanalia,” referring to the Roman feast of Bacchus (the wine god), clearly reflects the character of the modern carnival. 2. Theological Context and Debate The beginning of the …


(1,137 words)

Author(s): Nikolaus, Wolfgang
1. Term “Cartesianism” is the term for the philosophical and scientific teaching of Dutch, French, and German thinkers in the 17th century who adopted and developed the thinking of René Descartes. The main features of Cartesianism were Descartes’s rationalistic method, his axiomatic sum cogitans, his mechanistic explanation of the world, and his metaphysical dualism (see 2.2). 2. René Descartes 2.1. Life Descartes was born into a wealthy aristocratic French family in 1596 at La Haye, Touraine. After a scholastically shaped education at the Jesuit college …


(6 words)

See Orders and Congregations


(8 words)

See History, Auxiliary Sciences to, 8


(483 words)

Author(s): von Brück, Michael
Caste (Port. casta, “race, lineage”), which is fundamental to Hinduism, rests on the idea of ritual purity (Cultic Purity). It is also a socially and historically conditioned way of organizing society with a religious sanction. 1. Caste is based on racial distinction (the Sanskrit word for caste, varṇa, means “color”), which resulted from centuries-long struggles between the light-skinned ¶ Aryan conquerors and the dark-skinned original inhabitants. It is also based on a class and guild system that, through regional, economic, and religious differenti…


(661 words)

Author(s): Schwartz, Werner
1. The term “casuistry” denotes the methodical process of bringing individual, real-life cases under the established norms of a discipline or worldview or ethics. It has its roots in law. As in Roman and English law, general rules are developed on the basis of individual cases; these general rules in turn are applied to individual cases. The same procedure may then be adopted in other spheres in which human conduct is evaluated according to fixed norms. We find it in almost all religions in connection with ideas of sin and purification, as well as in broad ethical traditions. 2. Rabbinic Jewi…


(810 words)

Author(s): Brandenburg, Hugo
1. “Catacomb” refers to the underground Christian cemeteries (§4) in Rome, as well as in Naples and Syracuse, which consist mainly of a network of passages, the walls along which contain hundreds of simple tombs (loci), with chambers (cubicula) for more lavish interment (including vaulted tombs, or arcosolia) or as family burial plots. The wall tombs are shut off with brick or marble, on which there might be inscriptions, often with only the names of the dead. Light shafts (lucernaria) provided air and illumination and also served to mark important graves (e.g., of martyrs). The anci…


(1,827 words)

Author(s): Wegenast, Klaus
1. Term and History 1.1. “Catechesis” is the term for the instruction in the Christian faith that is connected with baptismal preparation or administration (Baptism). The underlying Greek word katēcheō, “teach by word of mouth” (originally used in drama), acquired in primitive Christianity the sense of communicating the content of the faith by instruction (1 Cor. 14:19; Gal. 6:6; Acts 18:25, etc.). In Heb. 6:1–2 the content is listed: “repentance from dead works and faith toward God … baptisms, laying on of hands, resurrection of the dead, and eternal j…
▲   Back to top   ▲