Encyclopedia of Christianity Online

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

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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Pastoral Care of the Sick

(2,537 words)

Author(s): Piper, Hans-Christoph | Davis, Russell H.
1. Biblical, Theological, Historical Contexts Care of the sick is an essential act of Christian kindness, with roots in the NT. To visit the sick is to minister to Christ himself—“I was sick and you took ¶ care of me” (Matt. 25:36). The sick are subject to social isolation and, at times, ostracism. Counter to this tendency are the hortatory injunctions for the sick to call for the elders of the church and for the elders to pray and to anoint so that the sick may be saved and, if they have sinned, be forgiven (Jas. 5:14–16). Ministry to the sick is rooted in an understanding of Christian co…

Pastoral Epistles

(2,710 words)

Author(s): Hultgren, Arland J.
1. Origins The term “Pastoral Epistles” is applied to three letters within the Pauline corpus, namely, 1 Timothy, 2 Timothy, and Titus. The term is regarded as fitting, since these three offer instructions for pastoral oversight of congregations and specify the qualities and duties expected of church leaders. Paul Anton (1661–1730) is given credit for coining the term for the three letters, although Thomas Aquinas (ca. 1225–74) had referred to 1 Timothy as “a pastoral rule” much earlier. Each letter identifies its author as Paul in the very first verse and then designate…

Pastoral Letters

(472 words)

Author(s): Beal, John P. | Sebott, Reinhold
Pastoral letters are official letters from pastors, and especially bishops, to all members of their church or diocese. Models are the NT letters of Paul and the other apostles, the letters of the postapostolic period, and the Easter letters of the Alexandrian bishops. For all Christian denominations, pastoral letters typically respond to concerns or problems within the community, exhorting the faithful to live according to the full implication of the gospel. In the Roman Catholic Church pastoral letters, or episcopal letters, are circular communications sent by a b…

Pastoral Psychology

(839 words)

Author(s): Everett, Tony S.
Pastoral psychology may be described as a discipline that seeks to integrate religious beliefs and the practices of ministry with psychological methods and insight regarding the human condition. Historically, the church has utilized available contemporary knowledge about the nature of human experience as a key source for practical ministry in community. For example, Arnobius of Sicca (3d-4th cent.) integrated ancient views of human nature with a theological understanding of faithful practice. Ambrose (ca. 339–97) described human relationships in his attempt to edu…

Pastoral Theology

(4,413 words)

Author(s): Cole Jr., Allan Hugh
1. Protestant Tradition 1.1. Term The phrase “pastoral theology” is imprecise; no single definition is universally accepted, particularly in Protestant traditions. Currently, it is understood principally in three related ways, but with different emphases: (1) a theology and practice of pastoral care and counseling; (2) an approach to theology concerned with relating Christian faith claims to the broader world, giving particular attention to methods of pastoral reflection and practice; and (3) an acad…

Patriarchal Narrative

(5,376 words)

Author(s): Robinson, Robert B.
The patriarchal narrative (better, “ancestral narrative,” since both women and men are thematically important) narrows the account of human interaction with God begun with creation (Primeval History [Genesis 1–11]) to the story of the family of Abraham and Sarah. At the beginning of the narrative (Gen. 12:1–3, 7), God’s promise to Abraham and Sarah of offspring, a land, protection, and blessings to themselves and to all nations through them establishes the scope of the narrative—a narrowly focused family history ultimately embracing all nati…

Patriarch, Patriarchate

(1,573 words)

Author(s): Plank, Peter
1. Biblical Usage The LXX coined the Gk. word patriarchēs, which derives from patria (family, tribe). In the OT it may be used for any group leaders, but in the NT it refers specifically to Abraham (Heb. 7:4), the 12 sons of Jacob (Acts 7:8–9), and David (2:29). 2. Jewish History From the third century to the fifth, the nasi (prince), the head of the Tiberias Sanhedrin, was called patriarchēs in Greek documents. The office, which was a hereditary one in the family of the editor of the Mishnah, Judah ha-Nasi (d. ca. 220), lasted until after 415 and was recognized and supported by t…

Patristics, Patrology

(1,257 words)

Author(s): Bienert, Wolfgang A. | Wilken, Robert
1. Term Patristic theology came into use among Lutherans in the later 17th century (Orthodoxy 1) in an effort to provide evidence from early Christian tradition that the teaching of the Reformers was in agreement with that of the church fathers. Patristics, which was distinguished from both biblical theology and systematic theology, served to stress continuity between the Reformation and the early church. The term “patrology” occurs for the first time in the title of a work by the Lutheran theologian Johann Gerhard (1582–1637): Patrologia, sive de primitivae ecclesiae Christian…

Patronage, Ecclesiastical

(437 words)

Author(s): Muster, Michael
1. The term “patronage” covers the rights, privileges, and duties that by special law certain persons enjoy in relation to churches or ecclesiastical offices. One of the rights is that of presentation, that is, putting a name forward for an ecclesiastical appointment. Another right has to do with the control of endowments. An honorary position in the church is also a privilege. The most important duties are those that have to do with buildings and endowments. There are also patronage situations involving no obligations. 2. Patronage originated with the building and endowing of …

Patron Saints

(8 words)

See Saints, Veneration of, 7


(4,084 words)

Author(s): Roloff, Jürgen
1. Sources Paul is one of the best-known figures from the early days of Christianity and perhaps from all later antiquity. This knowledge derives from the nature of the sources. The NT canon contains seven letters of Paul that are undoubtedly authentic. In the probable order of their composition, these are 1 Thessalonians, 1 and 2 Corinthians, Galatians, Romans, Philemon, and Philippians. The letters were public or official rather than private, for as we see from the greetings, Paul wrote them in …


(3,824 words)

Author(s): Schwerdtfeger, Johannes | Kinnamon, Michael | Lienemann, Wolfgang
1. Sociology 1.1. Problem of Definition The word “peace” has many meanings, making a comprehensive definition impossible. Definitions aim to make a word univocal and tend to stress one specific content. Peace might be a nonwarring state in national relations, an absence of violence (Force, Violence, Nonviolence), a state of actualized social justice (Righteousness, Justice, 3), a psychological factor in persons or their relations with others, a state of law in a country or between countries, an organi…

Peace Churches

(798 words)

Author(s): Rempel, John D.
The Anabaptists (whose descendants are Mennonites, Hutterites, and Amish), the Quakers (Friends, Society of), and the Brethren (a movement originating in Germany in the late 17th cent., soon transplanted to Pennsylvania) are the historic peace churches (HPC). While each has a separate theological and historical identity, they share common impulses. Jesus’ teaching of love of enemies and his nonresistant death inspired these believers to do likewise because of their conviction that the Holy Spirit was at work in their lives no less than in the early church. The public and collecti…

Peace Education

(2,431 words)

Author(s): McElwee, Timothy A.
1. Perspective and Origins Writing from the context of the civil strife and military rule of his Brazilian homeland in the 1960s, Paulo Freire suggested in his classic study Pedagogy of the Oppressed (1968) that theory without practice is verbalism, and practice without reflection is activism. Instead, he advocated the “radical interaction” between reflection and action and stressed that if one is sacrificed, the other suffers. Perhaps no more succinct and insightful summary can be found to illustrate the critically important …

Peace Movements

(1,580 words)

Author(s): Burkholder, J. R.
1. Identification and Classification Across the centuries of Christian history, the most consistent and enduring peace witness has been that of the so-called historic peace churches: the Anabaptists (existing today as Mennonites, Hutterites, and Amish), the Quakers, and the Brethren. Here, however, attention is focused on other organized efforts to bring together persons opposed to war and violence, usually including the religiously motivated. American peace historian Charles Chatfield has identified two general orientations among peace groups: (1) internat…

Peace of Augsburg

(8 words)

See Augsburg, Peace of

Peace Research

(2,046 words)

Author(s): McElwee, Timothy A.
1. Philosophy of War and Science of Peace War is often viewed as a failure of moral imagination and diplomatic ability. At least from the days of ancient Greece and the writings of Thucydides (d. ca. 400 b.c.) and Plato (427–347), humanity has sought to overcome the problem of war because of its profound impact on society. In the 16th and 17th centuries, based in part on suggestions by Niccolò Machiavelli (1469–1527) and Thomas Hobbes (1588–1679) that human beings are by nature predisposed to greed and violence, realists began …

Peasants’ War

(1,450 words)

Author(s): Blickle, Peter
The Peasants’ War (1524–25) is one of the outstanding events in German history. L. Ranke called it the greatest natural event of the German state. It was also a turning point in the historical process, according to K. Marx and F. Engels. It has thus attracted the attention of many generations of students of history. 1. Course After a first outbreak of fighting in Hegau (near the German Black Forest) in the summer of 1524, the war began in earnest in January 1525 in Upper Swabia. Peasants from various estates and territories assembled by the thousands …


(2,722 words)

Author(s): Beckmann, Hans-Karl
1. Term The term “pedagogics” goes back to Gk. paideia, which denotes the method and result of education in both theory and practice. In modern usage emphasis lies on the relation between the practical and the theoretical. 2. History Historically, a distinction has often been made between theory and practice, that is, the intellectual, social, and academic aspects and the practices in various fields and institutions. This distinction has also been relevant for the term “pedagogy.” 2.1. Antiquity In the West poets like Homer (9th/8th cent. b.c.) and Pindar (ca. 522–ca. 438) were t…


(1,893 words)

Author(s): Holze, Heinrich
1. Definition Pelagianism is an important theological trend that was an offshoot of a fourth-century ascetic movement (Asceticism 2). It takes its name from Pelagius (ca. 354-after 418), a British (Irish?) monk, who went to Rome in about 385. 2. Pelagius’s Teaching The preaching of Pelagius had a practical ascetic thrust. He attacked a Christianity that had no results. With his demand that the whole church should be holy, he gained numerous adherents among the clergy and nobility, among them Celestius (5th cent.). In a commentary on Paul’s epistles (406–9), Pelagius took iss…
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