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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Micah, Book of

(442 words)

Author(s): Thiel, Winfried
1. Man and Date Micah was from Moresheth-gath in the Judean hill country. He was also active in Jerusalem. He was a younger contemporary of Isaiah, and his message is similar. He prophesied between 734 and 712 b.c. Nothing is known of his status. He has been described as a poor farmer, a worker on the land, and a village landowner or elder (H. W. Wolff). 2. Contents and Redaction The book is divided into three parts (chaps. 1–2, 3–5, 6–7) and carries a message structured according to the schema of disaster and salvation. Scholars dispute how much comes from Micah himself. T…

Middle Ages

(10,034 words)

Author(s): Dinzelbacher, Peter | Clark, Anne L.
1. Church History 1.1. Terminology In his theology of history Joachim of Fiore (d. 1202) referred to his own age as the media aetas (middle age) of the Son of God, between the past age of the Father and the coming age of the Spirit. Not until humanism, however, do we find the idea, albeit negative, of a period between antiquity and renaissance. Johannes Andreae of Aleria (1417–75) spoke of the media tempestas (middle time) in a 1469 letter. Christopher Cellarius (1638–1707), especially in his Historia medii…

Middle Axioms

(361 words)

Author(s): Ritschl, Dietrich
Preparing for the world conference on practical Christianity at Oxford in 1937, the ecumenist and social thinker Joseph H. Oldham (1874–1969) described “middle axioms” as guidelines for the action of Christians in specific political situations, guidelines to which non-Christians could also subscribe out of their own moral convictions. Such axioms could not be deduced directly from higher Christian principles (“broad criteria,” e.g., love), but they are in harmony with them and are more concrete, though not so concrete as actual directives for action, or …

Middle Class

(6 words)

See Bourgeois, Bourgeoisie

Middle East Council of Churches

(951 words)

Author(s): Niilus, Leopoldo | Habib, Gabriel
1. Formation After lengthy ecumenical efforts on the part of the Orthodox and Protestant churches of the Middle East, the Middle East Council of Churches (MECC) was founded in 1974 as the successor of the largely Protestant Near East Christian Council, which had been founded in 1964. In 1990 the seven Roman Catholic churches of the region became members of the MECC, making it the ecumenical representative of the great majority of the 12 to 14 million Christians of the region. The MECC headquarters…


(417 words)

Author(s): Schlüter, Margarete
The term “midrash” (pl. midrashim), first found in 2 Chr. 13:22; 24:27, comes from Heb. dāraš, which in the Bible means “seek, inquire, search out” (Judg. 6:29; Deut. 4:29), especially “seek and read from the book of the Lord” (Isa. 34:16), to set one’s heart “to study the law [ tôrâ] of the Lord” (Ezra 7:10; cf. at Qumran 1QS 5:11 and 6:6). In the Mishnah the main meaning is “explain” or “expound” a verse of Scripture ( m.  S–eqal. 1:4). The understanding of prerabbinic interpretation (e.g., in the Bible itself or at Qumran) as midrash is debated, but in rabbinic lite…

Military Chaplaincy

(3,031 words)

Author(s): Heikkilä, Markku | Adams, Edgar G. | Müller-Kent, Jens
1. General Military chaplaincy has a centuries-long tradition in the churches of both East and West. In the main Protestant churches the Reformation age set the guidelines for worship in the armed forces and for the work of military chaplains (Pastor, Pastorate; Protestantism). For various reasons military chaplaincy has undergone considerable changes in recent decades. Changes in relations between armed forces, church, and state; the religious neutrality of most states; political changes, especially in the formerly socialist countries (…


(1,357 words)

Author(s): Karrer, Martin
Millenarianism, or chiliasm, was originally the expectation of a thousand-year reign of salvation in which the elect would reign with Christ before the end of world history. It has now become a comprehensive term for programs with a religious origin or reference that aim at a final future salvation within the world. 1. NT The term “millenarianism” took its origin from the solution that the Book of Revelation proposed for the contradictions that early Christians were experiencing: they were facing severe tribulations, yet they believed in the presen…

Ministry, Ministerial Offices

(3,688 words)

Author(s): Brand, Eugene L. | Kühn, Ulrich
Ministry, carrying forth Christ’s mission in the world, is fundamentally the task of the church, the whole people of God, and is conferred on each Christian in baptism. Certain persons, however, are called and ordained to ministries of leadership within the church itself. These ordained ministries, sometimes referred to as offices or holy orders, are understood differently in the various branches of the Christian church. 1. Roman Catholicism The Roman Catholic Church now has three levels of holy orders, in contrast to the seven orders that existed until Vatican …


(4 words)

See Franciscans


(1,243 words)

Author(s): Krych, Margaret A.
The basic definition of a minority is numerical. It is the smaller number of persons or the smaller part of a group, as in the lesser number of persons voting for a choice not selected in a democratic process of decision. 1. In Sociological Perspective “Minority” is often used in a sociological sense, usually for a group that is a numerical/statistical minority within a larger society and that has identifiable characteristics (such as age, giftedness, religion, social behavior, skin color, ethnic or racial heritage, language, immigrant sta…

Minor Prophets

(467 words)

Author(s): Mommer, Peter
The Minor Prophets, or Book of the Twelve (Gk. Dōdekaprophēton; Lat. Prophetae Minores, first so designated by Augustine, De civ. Dei  18.29), conclude the second part of the canon (§1) in the Hebrew Bible, namely, the Prophets. Unlike the tradition of the Reformation, the older tradition understands the 12 writings as a single book (see Sir. 49:10; B. Bat.  14b/15a) and organizes them according to a chronological principle. The first group includes ¶ the prophets dating (either actually or allegedly) to the eighth century: Hosea, Joel, Amos, Obadiah, Jonah, an…


(216 words)

Author(s): Strohmaier-Wiederanders, Gerlinde
The word “minster” (Ger. Münster) derives from the ecclesiastical Lat. monasterium (Gk. monastērion) by way of OEng. mynster. It originally denoted a monastery church or a monastery. It came to be applied to cathedrals that were monastic foundations (e.g., York, Lincoln, Lichfield, also in southern Europe). But since monastic churches could also serve as parish churches, it might also have a more general use, especially when houses for the clergy surrounded the church in the monastic style. From the early Middle Ages we also find a use for colleges of secular canon…


(3,480 words)

Author(s): Colpe, Carsten | Böcher, Otto | Grözinger, Albrecht
1. Basic Considerations 1.1. Distinctions No systematic hermeneutical examination of miracles in the larger sense can avoid articulating exactly which elements are to be addressed as objective facts and which as part of the concept itself. Because arguments on the two sides can no longer be adduced in support of one another, the modes in which the two aspects are examined necessarily also diverge. The remaining conceptual content prompts even further distinctions, depending on whether one is dealing with a simple or a complex concept. Only simple concepts mu…


(7 words)

See Relief and Development Organizations


(553 words)

Author(s): Schlüter, Margarete
“Mishnah,” deriving from Heb. šānâ, “repeat, learn,” means (1) a single item of learning (pl. Mishnayot); (2) the teachings of an individual Tanna; and especially (3) the collection of traditional material, mainly Halakic, of Tannaitic Judaism, which attained quasi-canonical authority soon after its final redaction about a.d. 200, on which all the later decisions of religious and civil law are founded, and which forms the basis of the Talmud. Originally given orally, the Mishnah as oral teaching stands equally beside the written Torah, or Miqra (from qārāʾ, “read”), which…


(7 words)

See Relief and Development Organizations

Missio canonica

(478 words)

Author(s): Drössler, Bernd T. | Phan, Peter C.
In Roman Catholic usage missio canonica (canonical sending) is formal ecclesiastical commissioning ¶ for the permanent discharge of ecclesiastical offices (Ministry, Ministerial Offices) or for some specific functional activity as a special ministry. 1. In Roman Catholic canon law missio canonica denotes the jurisdictional commissioning of clergy relative to specific tasks and ministries, but also the orderly calling of all church members (Clergy and Laity) to responsible cooperation in the church’s ministry of sanctification, proclama…


(2,885 words)

Author(s): Scherer, James A.
Missiology is systematic reflection on the work of mission (usually Christian mission), including the mission or sending of God (missio Dei), of Jesus Christ, of the apostles, of the church, or of other mission organizations. In the broadest sense it includes the study of the theology of mission (foundation, goal, and means; Mission 1–2), particular mission theories, mission principles and practice, and the social, cultural, or political aspects of mission. As an academic discipline, it includes research, writing, t…


(10,463 words)

Author(s): Skreslet, Stanley H. | Gensichen, Hans-Werner | Scherer, James A.
1. Theology of Mission: Historical Development 1.1. Definition As a branch of missiology, the theology of mission is a discipline of faithful questioning that focuses on the basis, methods, and purpose(s) of Christian witness in all its forms. Most theologians of mission consider Scripture to be the normative text from which the proper foundation of mission should be drawn. In some traditions, definitive guidance for contemporary reflection on mission is also sought from patristic sources and/or magiste…
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