Encyclopedia of Christianity Online

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

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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.

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Mendicant Friars

(6 words)

See Dominicans; Franciscans


(3,701 words)

Author(s): Rempel, John D.
1. History The Dutch and German term “Mennists,” used in derision to designate the followers of the Dutch Anabaptist leader Menno Simons (1496–1561), was translated into English as “Mennonites,” which is used in most countries today as their name. Similarly, the term “Anabaptist” was originally one of derision. In the 6th-century Justinian Code “Anabaptist” described dissident religious movements that “rebaptized” people who had received infant baptism. Justinian’s ancient laws against them were invoked against the new dissidents of the 16th century. 1.1. Genesis The origin of…

Menno Simons

(1,550 words)

Author(s): Koop, Karl
Menno Simons (1496–1561) was an Anabaptist reformer who gave leadership to the nonviolent wing of the Anabaptist movement in the Low Countries. Adherents of Mennonite bodies throughout the world recognize him as one of their primary founders. 1. From Priest to Anabaptist Leader Only a few details are known concerning Menno Simons’s background. He was born in the village of Witmarsum in the Dutch province of Friesland. His parents were farmers, his father, Simon, coming from the neighboring village of Pingjum. Menno may have received some…


(6 words)

See Christological Titles 31


(834 words)

Author(s): Kippenberg, Hans G.
1. Religious Aspects The term “Messiah” derives from the biblical title māšı̂aḥ, “the anointed.” Anointing confers legitimacy upon a person as king or high priest. The Jewish view rested on the divine promise of an eternal kingship to the descendants of David (2 Sam. 7:12–16; monarchy in Israel). When Israel came under foreign rule in the sixth century b.c., this promise lay behind the hope that Zerubbabel of the house of David might be the king of the age of salvation (see Hag. 2:20–23; Zech. 3:8; 6:12–13). The promise was handed down up to the rise of Christianity (e.g., Pss. Sol.  17; Q…


(808 words)

Author(s): Brown, Robert F.
Moral philosophy comprises not only ethics as such—namely, systems of rules or beliefs that govern human conduct, or ought to—but also their underlying bases. The latter sphere, metaethics, concerns the philosophical status, internal logic, and ultimate justification of systems of ethical norms, beliefs, and discourse. It wrestles with such issues as whether ethical principles derive from empirical study of the natural world or from rational cognition of an autonomous domain of value. Put differ…


(1,156 words)

Author(s): Schwarz, Elisabeth
Since Aristotle (384–322 b.c.; Aristotelianism), the metaphor (Gk. metaphora, “transfer”) has been understood as a rhetorical stylistic device involving the replacement of one term or group of words by another that is more illustrative—for example, “evening of life” for “old age” (Rhetoric). The replacement is taken out of its normal semantic context and transferred into the place of the term with which it is comparable in some decisive sense, though without that comparison being articulated explicitly…


(3,216 words)

Author(s): Hofmeister, Heimo | Brown, Robert F.
1. Term and Concept The term “metaphysics” derives from the Gk. expression ta meta ta physika (lit. “the things that come after physics”), which stands as the title of a work by Aristotle (384–322 b.c.; Aristotelianism). The name was long attributed to a bibliographic accident, to placement of the book after the Physics in the Aristotelian canon. But the name in fact fits the sequence that knowledge takes according to Aristotle. In controversy with the earlier Ionian and Eleatic philosophies, Aristotle speaks of the archē, or ground of being, the first principles that in the…


(2,368 words)

Author(s): Wainwright, Geoffrey
1. Origins and Spread Having its origins in Anglicanism (Anglican Communion), Methodism ranks among the most recent of the larger ecclesial communities; in 2000 it numbered some 70 million members and adherents worldwide. Through its own pneumatological emphases it contributed—at least indirectly—to the rise of the even younger family of Pentecostal churches. The beginnings of Methodism lie in the movements for revival and renewal within the Church of England in the 18th century, especially in the evangelistic work of the Wesley brothers, John (1…

Methodist Churches

(3,190 words)

Author(s): Hale, Joe
1. Origins The beginnings of Methodism may be traced to the experience and work of John Wesley (1703–¶ 91) and his brother Charles (1707–88) in England. After studying at Oxford, the two brothers crossed the Atlantic in 1735 to serve as missionaries in the American colony of Georgia, but they returned feeling that their mission was a failure. Later back in London, both brothers in May 1738 made the discovery of God’s grace and received an assurance of faith that launched them on a revival that spread throughout E…


(2,504 words)

Author(s): Bastian, Jean-Pierre
1. General Situation The United Mexican States is the second largest and second most populated country in Latin America, behind Brazil. Mexicans are an ethnic mix (Sp. mestizaje) of whites, native Indians, and blacks. There is also a white minority, as well as indigenous minorities (e.g., Mayas, Otomís, Tojolobales, Chamulas, Lakandones, Tzotziles, Tzeltales, and Huicholes) who make up between 10 and 20 percent of the population. Politically, Mexico is a federal republic with 31 states and 1 federal district. It became a parliamentary de…
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