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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Religious Drama

(982 words)

Author(s): Davies, J. G.
1. Origin Without question, drama in its origins was religious. In classical Greece theaters were built within the leading sanctuaries because the performances were deemed religious events. Indeed it was its connection with pagan deities that led the church to be so hostile to the stage. According to Tertullian (d. ca. 225), “The entire apparatus of the shows is based upon idolatry” ( De spec.  4), as well as promoting profligacy and immodesty. Not surprisingly, actors wanting to be baptized had to give up their profession. 2. Development 2.1. This negative attitude to plays per…

Religious Educational Theory

(4,327 words)

Author(s): Nipkow, Karl Ernst | Simon, Werner
Religious educational theory can conveniently be divided into two parts, Protestant and Roman Catholic. Although nothing at the theoretical level makes this distinction necessary, it is helpful because of the markedly different settings of these two streams of Christianity. 1. Protestant The Protestant Reformation, because of its effect of producing difference and diversity within Christianity, created a new context for religious education. As a result, religious education became a focus of theoretical discussion. ¶ The concept of religious education embraces primaril…

Religious Foundation

(163 words)

Author(s): Primetshofer, Bruno
The term “religious foundation” (Ger. Stift) refers to a college of clergy (canons and prebendaries) who are responsible for choral services (Choir; Prayer) and who are supported by an endowment. In a diocese the chapter of the cathedral church is counselor of the bishop and, according to the relevant law, may have the right to elect the bishop. In the later Middle Ages the monasteries of the older orders (Benedictines; Cistercians) partially took over the organization of these foundations, with the…

Religious Instruction

(2,966 words)

Author(s): Wegenast, Klaus
1. Historical Data Religious instruction in schools occurred first in the Latin and native-language schools of the 16th century. It centered on the catechism, doctrine, and their biblical basis. J. A. Comenius (1592–1670), Pietism, and the Enlightenment regarded Holy Scripture as the alpha and omega in all schools. We see this value in the German tradition, for example. H. J. Hübner’s (1668–1731) Zweymal zwey und funfzig auserlesene Biblische Historien (Twice 52 selected biblical stories, 1713/14), A. H. Francke’s (1663–1727) Kurtzer und einfältiger Unterricht (Short and simp…

Religious Liberty (Foundations)

(6,384 words)

Author(s): Witte Jr., John
Overview In its most basic sense, religious liberty is the freedom of individuals and groups to make their own determinations about religious beliefs and to act upon those beliefs peaceably without incurring civil or criminal liabilities. More fully conceived, religious liberty embraces a number of fundamental principles of individual liberty—freedom of conscience, freedom of association, speech, worship, and exercise, equal protection and treatment under the law (Law and Legal Theory), freedom f…

Religious Liberty (Modern Period)

(9,260 words)

Author(s): Gunn, T. Jeremy
1. A Modern Consensus By the beginning of the 21st century, a broad consensus had emerged internationally among most human rights scholars and advocates, religious leaders, international organizations, and the majority of political officials that religious liberty and tolerance should be described as positive values. The rhetoric supporting religious liberty is now so pervasive that even those governments that do not respect it in theory or practice rarely repudiate it explicitly. Rather than reject…

Religious Orders and Congregations

(13,576 words)

Author(s): Rapley, Elizabeth | Roberson, C.S.P., Ronald G. | Ryan S.S.M., Adele Marie | Bexell, Oloph
Christian monasticism—the withdrawal of believers from other church members for the sake of prayer and ascetic devotion—is known from almost the earliest days of Christianity. In the Roman Catholic tradition, this practice led to the development and spread of an enormous variety of religious orders and congregations, many of which focused ultimately on vocations other than monastic (e.g., charity, education, mission, and social justice). Although not organizing its monastic life as the Roman Cat…

Religious Socialism

(2,129 words)

Author(s): Strohm, Theodor
1. Beginnings Like socialism in general, religious socialism is a political and social movement that sought to replace the existing order by a new and more just social order. Triggered by the drastic social effects of the industrial revolution (Industrial Society) but largely irrelevant after World War II, it involved the idea that the Christian faith has crucial relevance for the carrying out of political, economic, and social tasks (Politics; Economy; Society). Rooted in the older Christian trad…

Religious Studies

(1,134 words)

Author(s): Colpe, Carsten
1. Term The prophets of Israel with their criticism of Canaanite worship, as well as the philosophers of antiquity with their attacks on Greek myths, held aloof from what we now call religion, an attitude that is essential in the study of religion. The same applies to Islamic geographers, Christian missionaries, European explorers, and students of mythology from the days of the Enlightenment, also of comparative linguistics from the days of Romanticism, especially when new knowledge was brought to light. The whole complex of what might be called religion in the form of a secta, lex, latr…


(4 words)

See Arminianism


(3,700 words)

Author(s): Buck, August
1. Term and Problem The idea of Renaissance, or rebirth, has its roots in the longing for youthful renewal that comes when the present grows old and shows a need for reform. In the Christian tradition we find regeneration in the NT with respect to baptism and the Eucharist (Sacrament). In Italy in the 12th and 13th centuries, this sacramental idea of renewal in the Spirit inspired a living hope of salvation such as we find especially in Joachim of Fiore (ca. 1135–1202) and his prophesying of the dawn of the age of the Holy Spirit (Eschatology). Cola di Rienzo (1313–54) thou…


(4 words)

See Penitence


(639 words)

Author(s): Fahlbusch, Erwin
1. Legal The term “representation” denotes acting on behalf of another based on legal stipulation, private statutes, or plenipotentiary arrangements. The legal representative (e.g., parent, guardian, trustee) acts in the name of the other within defined legal limits. It makes no difference whether willingness to do so is expressly stated or arises naturally out of the circumstances. The essential point is that the representative, in the absence of the one represented, acts alone but does so legally in the name of the other and not in his or her own name. 2. Sociological Sociologically (…

Reproduction Technology

(2,913 words)

Author(s): Lammers, Stephen E.
Overview Reproduction technology (RT) is not a single technology but a series of technologies that can be used in order to bring about the birth of a desired child or the birth of a child with (at least some) desired characteristics. These characteristics may be sought for their own sake or in order to avoid illness for the child or to assist another already living human being. Reproduction technology accomplishes these goals by various means that are used to (1) assist women in becoming pregnant…


(1,089 words)

Author(s): Senn, Frank C.
1. Term and Form 1.1. Term “Requiem” is the Roman Catholic Mass for the dead. The name derives from the introit for the Mass, “Requiem aeternum dona eis, Domine, et lux perpetua luceat eis” (Eternal rest grant to them, O Lord, and let perpetual light shine on them; cf. 2 Esdr. 2:34–35). The Requiem Mass may be used as a funeral service before burial or as a memorial service after burial. 1.2. Origin The origin of the Requiem Mass can be traced to the early Christian practice of celebrating the Eucharist on the mensa (Lat. “table”) over the grave of the deceased on the third day after bu…

Rescue Mission

(6 words)

See Inner Mission

Residence, Duty of

(321 words)

Author(s): Stein, Albert
The duty of residence is that imposed by church law upon the holders of ecclesiastical offices, which stipulates that they should reside in the place where they minister (the clergy in manses or vicarages) and leave this place only on some task or on leave or with permission of some kind. The duty of residence came into canon law in the Middle Ages because of the scandals associated with pluralism, simony, and nonresidence. It was given greater emphasis at the Council of Trent. Today the 1983 CIC  lays down the rules for the various ministers, while Protestant churches may have …

Resistance, Right of

(3,010 words)

Author(s): Kaufmann, Arthur | Lienemann, Wolfgang
1. Legal Considerations 1.1. States That Employ Unlawful Means The classic understanding of the right of resistance was developed in connection with the problem of tyrannicide in antiquity by Aristotle (384–322 b.c.; Aristotelianism) and Cicero (106–43), in connection with medieval Christian natural law by Thomas Aquinas (ca. 1225–74; Thomism), and during the Reformation by M. Luther (1483–1546; Luther’s Theology) and P. Melanchthon (1497–1560; Reformers 3.1.1). The key issue is that such resistance may direct itself against a state that e…


(4 words)

See Rehabilitation


(1,534 words)

Author(s): Schwartz, Werner
1. Term Responsibility has to do with relations. It speaks of the account we must give for our actions; we are answerable for them. Originally, in law, it meant responsibility to a judge. Have we fulfilled our duties? Have we observed generally acknowledged precepts? In theology we are responsible both to God as the Judge of the world and also to others and to our own conscience. Education will prepare people to accept responsibility by showing them the relevant norms, equipping them with powers o…
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