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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(2,212 words)

Author(s): Schiller, Theo | Mudge, Lewis S.
Overview Liberalism is one of the great political and ideological trends of the last three centuries (Ideology; Politics), its high point being in the 19th century, when it had two rivals, conservatism (after the French Revolution) and socialism (in the course of industrialization). Socialism was weakened by fascism and German National Socialism, but after 1945 it revived both ideologically and structurally in the rivalry between Western democracy and Soviet Communist party dictatorship (Marxism 1). At the heart of liberal thinking stands the individual, who in virtue…

Liberal Theology

(6,071 words)

Author(s): Graf, Friedrich Wilhelm | Mudge, Lewis S.
1. Term The term “liberal theology” is widely used in modern Protestantism and Judaism, but only marginally in 19th- and early 20th-century Roman Catholicism. It shares the imprecision of the concept of liberalism in politics and culture. Three aspects of its usage call for consideration: in modern Judaism and Christianity, as a doctrine of faith, and as a polemical concept. 1.1. In Modern Judaism and Christianity In modern Judaism and Christianity theologians are called liberal who view the Enlightenment and modern culture as legitimate expressions of the Jud…

Liberation Theology

(5,012 words)

Author(s): Schubeck S.J., Thomas L.
1. Origin and Development The seeds of liberation theology were sown on Latin American soil in the early 1960s. Young Catholic and Protestant theologians reflected on the people’s life of faith within the context of the people’s resistance to oppressive living and working conditions. Shortly after the birth of liberation theology in 1968, similar types of theologies arose in other regions of the world, from North America (black liberation theology), Africa (South African liberation theology), India,…


(1,128 words)

Author(s): Hoeben, Harry C.
1. General Situation The Republic of Liberia was founded as a colony in 1822 (Colonialism) in order to serve as a settlement for former American slaves (Slavery). American and British warships brought increasing numbers of freed slaves to it, ignoring the rights of 16 native peoples (including the Kpelle, Gio, Mano, and Loma from the Mande language family; and the Bassa, Grebo, and Klao from the Kru language family). In 1847 Liberia became an independent republic, with a constitution modeled on tha…


(197 words)

Author(s): Ritschl, Dietrich
This broad term denotes deviation from an accepted norm, doctrine, or morality. Its use is for the most part derogatory. Libertines include the following: 1. In Acts 6:9 the members of a synagogue who had been slaves abroad and were now freedmen (KJV: “libertines”). They promoted the persecution of Stephen. 2. The Genevan patriots who had fought for the city’s independence and who at first supported J. Calvin but then (as Perrinists) opposed his strict church order (Church Discipline) and the French influx. 3. A movement of spiritualists (Loists) in Antwerp against whom M. Lu…


(662 words)

Author(s): Scharfenberg, Joachim
For centuries theologians used the term “libido” to refer to the largely evil element of desire. During the 19th century A. Moll (1862–1939) introduced it to the field of medicine, and S. Freud (1856–1939) eventually made it the central concept in his doctrine of desire (Psychoanalysis). Freud distinguished between the source, partially from impulses in erogenous zones in the body, and the goal, a release of libidinous energy, though with a possible switch from activity to passivity. The object of libido is a variable entity that constitutes what Freud called the destinies…


(792 words)

Author(s): Vöcking, Hans
1. General Situation Libya, or the Socialist People’s Libyan Arab Jamahiriya, is the easternmost of the four Maghreb countries in northwest Africa. Tunisia and Algeria are neighbors to the west, the Mediterranean to the north, Niger and Chad to the south, and Egypt and the Sudan to the east. Settled first by Berbers, Libya was ruled successively by Carthage, Rome, the Vandals, and the Ottomans. Italy ruled the country from 1911 to 1943, then the British and French military governors until Libya bec…


(3,059 words)

Author(s): Starke, Ekkehard | Schubert, Hartwig von
1. Bible and Theology 1.1. OT 1.1.1. In the OT Yahweh is consistently the source of life (e.g., Ps. 36:9; Jer. 2:13; 17:13; Job 33:4). He is the one who gives life to all creatures (see Gen. 1:1–2:4a or 2:4b–25) and also the one who takes it away (Ps. 104:29). Thus all life stands related to God as Lord of life and death. He himself is “the living God” (e.g., Deut. 5:26; Josh. 3:10; also Ps. 18:46 etc.). In oaths in Israel we find the formula “as the Lord lives” (Judg. 8:19; Ruth 3:13, etc.). Life is the supreme good that nothing can surpass or relativize. As Ecclesiastes says, “Whoe…

Life and Work Movement

(5,681 words)

Author(s): Conway, Martin
1. Background From the beginning, the exercise of Christian obedience through social responsibility has been one of the key features of the worldwide ecumenical movement. Indeed, Christians have often found it easier to respond to the needs of contemporary society than to resolve the internal divisions within what the Holy Spirit founded at Pentecost as the one church of Jesus Christ. The flagship of this movement has been the World Council of Churches (WCC), though it is far from being the only significant instrument of the ecumenical movement. At every level of th…


(1,307 words)

Author(s): Stollberg, Dietrich
1. Place Christian ethics and moral theology each deal with the shaping of life, individual as well as communal. Yet the whole practice of the church is an expression of the Christian lifestyle. Lifestyle is therefore also a central theme in pastoral theology. Religious instruction and pastoral care especially help to shape a lifestyle that is consonant with faith, adapted to the individual, related to society, and in keeping with the situation. This lifestyle does not have to be equated with middle-class convention or with what is gener…


(1,010 words)

Author(s): von Stritzky, Maria-Barbara
1. General On the basis of observation that the sun’s light makes life and development possible by its brightness and warmth, light in human thought and religion has become a symbol for life, happiness, fame, deliverance (Soteriology), and salvation. 2. Antiquity 2.1. Near East and OT In the Near East and Egypt light religions arose through cultic veneration of light, which in the form of the sun, moon, and stars was viewed as a symbol or manifestation of deity (e.g., Re in Egypt, Shamash in Babylon, Sin in Ur, El and Baal in Canaan). In contrast, the OT sees the sun and moon only as li…


(4,323 words)

Author(s): Ineichen, Hans | Stoellger, Philipp
1. Language as a Theme Language is a theme in various disciplines. In addition to philosophy, especially the philosophy of language, a number of empirical disciplines focus on language as a topic of research—traditional philology, linguistics, and related disciplines such as sociolinguistics and psycholinguistics. We are familiar with language in everyday use, in conversation and agreements. Linguistics and the philosophy of language take ordinary speech as the starting point of their deliberations. Linguistics directs its interest to the structure of language as a …


(244 words)

Author(s): Schnitker, Thaddeus A.
“Litany” (Gk. litaneia, “entreaty”), a term for petitionary prayer, denotes a whole literary genus in the history of religion in which one or more petitions or invocations of persons or gods are presented by one or several people, and the other participants answer with a set refrain (e.g., Psalm 136). The Kyrie of the Mass is the relic of a litany. The All Saints Litany is another form of the genus, which M. Luther (1483–1546) used as the basis of his Latin Litany (1529). In the Roman Catholic liturgy litanies are sung on certain occasions. Anglican churches (Anglican Communi…


(812 words)

Author(s): Faundez, Antonio
According to the UNESCO “Monitoring Report on Education for All” (October 2001), nearly 900 million adults worldwide are illiterate, and there are fears that the number may soon reach a billion people. Illiteracy affects men and women in both individual and social life, hinders the development of both the person and society, and represents a denial of the right to education (Rights, Human and Civil). 1. Agents In the 19th century, workers’ unions and political groups began to teach workers to read and write with a view to enabling them to exercise their politi…

Literary Criticism

(4,226 words)

Author(s): Phillips, Craig A.
¶ Literary criticism seeks to appraise the value, quality, form, or meaning of literary and other artistic productions or cultural artifacts. “Criticism” is derived from the Gk. verb krinō, “discern, judge.” In some cases literary criticism is synonymous with hermeneutics or other methods of interpretation. In other cases such criticism focuses on more formal issues, including an investigation of the text or artifact’s lexicography, form, plot, or structure. In the latter decades of the 20th century the discipline of lit…

Literature, Biblical and Early Christian

(9,082 words)

Author(s): Schmitt, Hans-Christoph | Paulsen, Henning | May, Gerhard
1. OT 1.1. Task Viewing the OT as literature means engaging in critical literary analysis (Exegesis, Biblical) of the individual books. There is then an attempt to achieve ¶ a synthetic picture of the development of the entire literature of Israel from its early beginnings to the age of the Maccabees. This study will also take account of Israel’s life settings. First, however, this endeavor must survey the forms and genres of the preliterary tradition. 1.2. History of Research H. Gunkel (1862–1932) initiated this kind of study, at least in outline (Die israelitische Litera…


(1,570 words)

Author(s): Editors, The
1. Historical Overview Ancient Baltic culture can be traced to around 2500 b.c., when local cultures began to merge with newly arrived Indo-Europeans. The pre-Christian religion, largely known from a few shrines still being uncovered by archaeologists, was Indo-European in origin and, while it changed considerably over time, had a certain correspondence to the pantheons of other religions (Paganism). In about a.d. 1240 Mindaugas (d. 1263) became the ruler of Lithuania and was able to unite the unruly duchies of the area. In 1251 he was, largely for politic…

Liturgical Books

(2,777 words)

Author(s): Bieritz, Karl-Heinrich | Lathrop, Gordon W. | Marshall, Paul V.
1. Development and Types 1.1. The Bible is the oldest and most basic liturgical book for Christian worship. With the OT the first churches took over from the synagogue the liturgical reading of Scripture, a practice that is inseparably linked to the formation of the NT canon. Just as the Hebrew Scriptures and then the Greek translation of those Scriptures were the primary books to be read in the assembly, so the churches began to assemble lists of books and collections of books, later included in the f…

Liturgical Movement

(4,409 words)

Author(s): Seasoltz,O.S.B. R. Kevin
The modern liturgical movement involved an effort to enrich the experience and appreciation of the liturgy among baptized Christians. Although its foundations were laid in the 18th and 19th centuries, as an organized movement it took shape in the 20th century in various Western countries and passed through phases with varying purposes and tactics. Liturgical scholars generally consider that it ended in the late 1960s, following the Second Vatican Council. It was a movement in the sense that it g…

Liturgical Vessels

(1,660 words)

Author(s): Senn, Frank C.
Liturgical vessels are containers used to hold materials that are essential to liturgical celebrations, such as scrolls and books (Liturgical Books), bread and wine, water and oil, candles and incense. These vessels often acquire an ornate design that reflects the sanctity lent to them by their sacred contents. Some vessels, like the ark of the covenant in ancient Israel, acquire a holiness of their own (Sacred and Profane). 1. Vessels of the Word The ark of the synagogue is a recess or closet in which are kept the scrolls of the Torah used in public worship. This was ori…
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