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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(573 words)

Author(s): Birmelé, André
The term “oikoumene,” from the present passive participle of the Gk. verb oikeō, “inhabit,” and used from the time of Herodotus (d. between 430 and 420 b.c.), means “the inhabited earth.” In the 20th century the Swedish archbishop N. Söderblom (1866–1931) was the first to use the term to describe the work of reconciling and uniting the separated churches (Reconciliation). The term caught on and resulted in its present use in the ecumenical movement (Ecumenism, Ecumenical Movement). In a basic study of the history and meaning of the term “ecumenical” (1953), W. A. Viss…

Old Age

(2,225 words)

Author(s): Thilo, Hans-Joachim | Jorgenson, John A.
1. Perspectives 1.1. In the OT the position of the elderly was one of honor (Lev. 19:32). Understanding is to be found only in the aged (Job 12:12 RSV), and righteousness and judgment are best preserved in the older generation (see Dan. 7:22). Old age and experience are synonymous (Sir. 25:6). The NT develops the same ideas. At 12 years of age Jesus was said to be increasing “in wisdom and in years, and in divine and human favor” (Luke 2:52). Eph. 4:13 sets as the goal of all perfection “maturity, to the measure of the full stature of Christ.” The NT sees life and death in…

Old Believers

(644 words)

Author(s): Hauptmann, Peter
“Old Believers” (Russ. Raskolniki, “Schismatics”) is the name given to those Christians in the Russian Orthodox Church who in the mid-17th century opposed the liturgical reforms of the Moscow patriarch Nikon (1605–81). They themselves took the name “Old Ritualists” or “Old Orthodox,” claiming to be the only ones to continue true Orthodoxy (Orthodox Christianity; Orthodox Church). Those reforms were avowedly to restore ancient uses but were in point of fact an importation of contemporary Greek pract…

Old Catholic Churches

(1,642 words)

Author(s): Oeyen, Christian
1. Self-understanding The Old Catholic Churches are a group of autonomous, episcopal, and synodal churches that confess the pluriformity and the essential doctrines and institutions of the church through its first millennium. They arose in various reforming movements and in resistance to the growing centralized power of the papacy in the Roman Catholic Church ( ¶ Pope, Papacy). As distinct from the modern Roman Catholic self-understanding, they stress the following axioms: 1. The test of catholicity is “what has been believed everywhere, always, and by all” (Vincent of Lérins). 2. “…

Old Roman Creed

(397 words)

Author(s): Wyrwa, Dietmar
“Old Roman Creed,” or “Romanum,” is the scholarly name for the earlier and shorter form of the Apostles’ Creed as we have it in its original Greek (with probably also a simultaneous Latin edition) in Marcellus (d. ca. 374) and Rufinus (ca. 345–411) and three MSS from the early Middle Ages. It was evidently the baptismal creed of the early Roman church (Baptism). The baptismal questions that have come down to us from Hippolytus (d. ca. 236) at the beginning of the third century are an almost exact prototype of this creed. Dating of the Old Roman Creed is difficult. A starting point…


(956 words)

Author(s): Editors, The
1. General Situation The Sultanate of Oman, with Muscat (or Masqat) as its capital city, lies in the southeast corner of the Arabian Peninsula, strategically located at the entrance to the Persian Gulf. Over 80 percent of the population lives in urban areas, the balance inhabiting largely desert areas. As early as the third century b.c., Oman (known before 1970 as Muscat and Oman) was an important and prosperous trading site, a harbor on routes to Vietnam and Indonesia. Since the settling of Arab tribes in Oman in the second century a.d., the population has been mostly Arab, with Per…

Oneida Community

(531 words)

Author(s): Barkun, Michael
The premier American example of a communal society based on perfectionism was the Oneida Community, founded by John Humphrey Noyes (1811–86). As the result of a visionary experience in 1834, Noyes came to believe that human beings could live lives without sin. This faith in the possibility of sinlessness became the basis for his communitarian ventures (Perfection; Perfectionists). In 1841 he converted a small group of friends and family in Putney, Vermont. By 1845 this group, living together, fo…

Ontological Argument

(10 words)

See God, Arguments for the Existence of


(1,435 words)

Author(s): Pöltner, Günther | Brown, Robert F.
1 Term and Concept Ontologia is a term coined in the 1600s, from Gk. ta onta (existing things) and logos (reason, doctrine). Its first use may have been in the Lexicon philosophicum (1613), compiled by Rudolf Goclenius the Elder (1547–1628). With the meaning “doctrine of being,” some authors used the term synonymously with “metaphysics.” Others treated ontology as one branch of metaphysics, alongside the other two branches, cosmology and rational or philosophical psychology. 2. Ontology in the History of Philosophy The topic of ontology (without the name) appears early in …