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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Rabbi, Rabbinism

(2,099 words)

Author(s): Schlüter, Margarete
1. Definition The term “rabbi” denotes a Jewish scholar and minister. The origin of the term is to be found in Heb. rab (master, great one). It seems originally to have been a form of address meaning “my master” or “my teacher” (see Matt. 23:7). In the second half of the first century a.d., it then became a title preceding the proper name. Rabbi Judah ha-Nasi (i.e., Judah the Patriarch, ca. 135–ca. 220) was simply known as the Rabbi. He was traditionally the redactor of the Mishnah. Other patriarchs held the honorary title rabban, “our teacher,” for example, Rabban Johanan ben Zakkai (d. ca. 80), one of the most important leaders after the destruction of the temple. The title “rabbi” indicated that the one who bore it was a scholar who had studied the written and oral Torah in the schools, who had …


(4,742 words)

Author(s): von Freyhold, Michaela | Pityana, N. Barney | Udodesku, Sabine | Paris, Peter
1. Sociological Aspects 1.1. Term and Types The term “racism” was coined around 1930 to define and criticize a doctrine holding that there are hereditary cultural and psychological differences between peoples that make those of Europe, especially Northwest Europe, biologically superior to all others. The inner distinctions of talent and character were believed to express themselves in external attributes such as skin color or the shape of the skull. This doctrine also included a belief that the superio…


(5 words)

See Mass Media

Rahner, Karl

(832 words)

Author(s): Vorgrimler, Herbert
Karl Joseph Erich Rahner (1904–84) was a Roman Catholic dogmatician, a philosopher of religion, and a Jesuit. After completing the studies customary for the order in Feldkirch, Pullach, and Valkenburg (Netherlands), Rahner was directed to the study of philosophy and was able to participate in Martin Heidegger’s exclusive seminar in 1934–36. After failing to gain his doctorate under the neoscholastic philosopher M. Honecker in Freiburg, Rahner earned his doctorate and inaugural doctorate (Habilitation) in theology in Innsbruck. After the National Socialist authorities interrupted his academic work through a Gauverbot (district prohibition, i.e., expulsion), he engaged in pastoral and lecturing activities. In 1949 Rahner became professor of dogmatics and the history of dogma in Innsbruck. From 1961 John XXIII and the Viennese cardinal F. König assigned Rahner to help prepare Vatican II. Although Rahner was under preliminary censorship by the Vatican in 1962–63, in 1964–65 he b…


(430 words)

Author(s): Söhnen-Thieme, Renate
The Ramayana (Skt. “vehicle or romance of Rama”) is, with the Mahabharata, one of the two great epics of ancient India. Tradition ascribes it to the poet Vālmīki. Written between the fourth century b.c. and the second century a.d., it contains some 40,000 couplets in Sanskrit, divided into seven books. The older books (2–6) describe an important episode in the life of the king’s son Rama. Because of an intrigue on the part of his stepmother, who wanted to see her own son crowned, he was banished for 14 years into the wilderness, where his wi…


(9 words)

See Old Believers; Russian Orthodox Church 41–3


(638 words)

Author(s): Greschat, Hans-Jürgen
1. Background The Rastafarian movement is a new religion from Jamaica, with adherents also in Britain, the United States, and Africa. Its name comes from Ras (Prince) Tafari (family name), the name of Haile Selassie (lit. “might of the Trinity,” 1892–1975) of Ethiopia before he was crowned emperor in Addis Ababa in 1930, an event followed closely by the press in Jamaica. In 1928 he had assumed the title negus (king) and was hailed as a descendant of King Solomon and as the Lion of Judah and King of Kings. Earlier the renowned Jamaican Paul Bogle (ca. 1822–65), a black preacher and freedom fighter, and Marcus M. Garvey (1887–1940), a black Moses also from Jamaica who wished to take his people back to Africa, had predicte…


(2,563 words)

Author(s): Dierken, Jörg | Brown, Robert F.
1. Term “Rationalism” and its cognates in European languages derived in the 17th century from Lat. ratio, “reckoning,” also “reason,” “plan,” or “theory”; also “the faculty that calculates and plans.” In religion the term designates standpoints based on reason that are critical of beliefs and practices relying on authority and revelation. More broadly, rationalism is any philosophical position affirming the ability of thinking, apart from sensory experience, to discover fundamental truths about the world or re…

Rauschenbusch, Walter

(2,101 words)

Author(s): Evans, Christopher H.
Walter Rauschenbusch (1861–1918) was the best-known exponent of the Social Gospel movement in North America. His formative theological writings reflected a distinctive synthesis of evangelical and liberal Protestantism that addressed systemically the social and economic problems of the late 19th and early 20th centuries. Rauschenbusch’s theological writings helped define the Social Gospel movement at its point of greatest public influence in North America and played a major role in the subsequent development of theological liberalism and Christian social ethics. Rauschenbusch was born in 1861 in Rochester, New York, the youngest child of August and Caroline Rauschenbusch. His father was a fifth-generation Lutheran clergyman from Germany who became a Baptist after emigrating to the United States in the 1840s. Spending his boyhood with his family in Rochester and in Germany, Rauschenbusch received a postsecondary diploma from a gymnasium in Gütersloh, Germany, in 1883. He earned a bachelor of arts degree from the University of Rochester in 1884 and a bach…


(1,543 words)

Author(s): Brown, Robert F.
1. Term and Concept Realism in philosophy affirms that the objects of our senses and concepts exist independently of our sensing and conceiving them, and that they possess the properties we experience them as having. Normally these are spatiotemporal properties of physical objects, but not everything called realism fits this profile. Varieties of antirealism include idealism, phenomenalism, and critical perspectives lacking metaphysical commitment to any particular view of the nature of reality. Other disciplines use the term “realism” in ways paralleling its philosophical meaning. Literary realism depicts characters and situations in a straightforward, unvarnished manner, including the harsher aspects of life. Realism in art presents likenesses of objects and scenes as they naturally appear to the senses. Realism in politics pursues specific practical or material goals rather than general ethical or ideological aims. Realism in Christian theology refers primarily to the Roman Catholic …


(2,628 words)

Author(s): Wagner, Falk | Brown, Robert F.
1. Term and Issues The term “reason” derives from Lat. ratio. Earlier in history Gk. nous and logos expressed some of the same meanings. Reason is usually said to be an intellectual or mental ability or faculty, one distinguished from other psychological or bodily powers or activities of will, emotion, and sensation. Philosophers work with diverse concepts of reason and use the term in different ways. A number of issues arise in considering the nature, operations, and limitations of human reason. Is it a theoretical faculty, an ability to grasp the natures o…

Reception, Ecumenical

(1,767 words)

Author(s): Meyer, Harding | Rusch, William G.
1. Term and Usage The English word “reception” traces its meaning back to Lat. recipio, which can be translated “receive, accept, allow.” With these several meanings it can include the notion of receiving or accepting externally from something or someone other. “Reception” has become a technical term in several different areas. In legal history it denotes the process by which Roman law was adopted in the German lands during the 13th through 15th centuries. In literary criticism of the late 20th century, “reception” has been employed t…


(1,516 words)

Author(s): Sauter, Gerhard
1. Term The term “reconciliation” has been an important one in Christian theology, although it is used sparingly in the NT. It is most prominent in 2 Cor. 5:18–21. God has restored to himself the relationship with the world that human transgressions had irretrievably broken. Reconciliation really involves a new creation, in which a person “is in Christ” (2 Cor. 5:17; New Self). God accomplished this new creation by redeeming the world “in Christ.” Reconciliation is the same as atonement, which strictly means “at-one-ment.” But atonement has come to have a narrower use…


(5 words)

See Salvation; Soteriology


(625 words)

Author(s): Melià, Bartomeu
1. Caribbean and Central America As early as 1503 a law was passed for the gathering of Indians in Latin America into settlements called reductions, with the aim of introducing them to a “political and human life” as the precondition of their true Christianizing. A Spanish edict of 1578 describes the purpose as follows: “In order that, as the rational beings they are, they may be able to be truly Christian and political, it is essential that they be gathered and brought into settlements and not live scattered lives on the mountains and in forests.” We may distinguish three phases in the h…


(17,221 words)

Author(s): Lotz, David W.
1. Term In contemporary historiography “Reformation” is a specialized (but not exclusive) designation for the complex series of ecclesiastical, theological, political, and academic events that led, in 16th-century Europe, to the emergence and establishment of Protestant churches (“confessions”), with their distinctive patterns of belief and practice. The present article will principally use this understanding of the term. The term also refers to a wide variety of religious protests and proposals for reform (of church and society, of theolog…

Reformation Principles

(524 words)

Author(s): Slenczka, Notger
1. By the term “Reformation principles” the Formula of Concord and Protestant orthodoxy (§1) understand negatively slanted formulations of the doctrine of justification, above all sola fide, “by faith alone,” on the basis of Martin Luther’s (1483–1546) rendering of Romans 3:28 (see LW  ¶ 35.187ff.; Faith 3.5.3). This exclusion of works as a ground of justification does not mean the isolating of faith but singles out justifying faith because it receives the righteousness of Christ that is given by grace alone. The formula thus has the implication of solus Christus (Christ alone) and sol…

Reform Councils

(1,721 words)

Author(s): Schneider, Hans
1. Term and Prior History The term “reform councils” in the broad sense refers to all councils that dealt with the matter of reform in the church and that made reforming decisions. In the narrow sense it refers to the 15th-century councils of Pisa, Constance, Pavia-Siena, and Basel, which viewed it as their chief aim to reform the church “in head and members.” All through the Middle Ages church reform had been linked to councils and synods. Already in the Merovingian age reforming synods had sought to restore the law of God and the church’s order. In the 11…
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