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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(227 words)

Author(s): Böckenförde, Werner
According to the 1983 CIC, the vicar-general is the permanent representative of the diocesan bishop in administering the diocese. He is appointed by the bishop (can. 477.1). If he is not himself an auxiliary bishop, his office terminates with a vacancy in the see. It may also be suspended by the diocesan bishop (481, along with 409.2). In his role as representative, the vicar-general has ordinary executive authority. By virtue of his office he can perform any administrative act that legally is the responsibility of the “local ordinary” (134.2), as lon…

Viet Nam

(2,752 words)

Author(s): Phan, Peter C.
1. General Situation The Socialist Republic of Viet Nam, in southeast Asia, is bordered on the west by Cambodia and Laos, on the north by China, and on the east by the China Sea. Its two principal geographic regions, the Red River delta in the north and the Mekong River delta in the south, are connected by a narrow, mountainous strip. Its capital is Hanoi, though Ho Chi Minh City (formerly Saigon) is the largest city. In 2007 the population was estimated at 85 million. Though there are 54 ethnic groups, the population is largely homogeneous, with the Viet, also known as the Kinh…


(9 words)

See Church Year 42; Holy Week 6

Vineyard Christian Fellowships

(1,247 words)

Author(s): Brown, Candy Gunther
The Vineyard church movement began in Southern California and appealed primarily to post-World War II Baby Boomers who felt dissatisfied with what they perceived as the routinization and cultural irrelevance of evangelical churches. Kenn Gulliksen, a leader in the Jesus People movement of the 1960s, started the first Vineyard in Los Angeles in 1974 as a home Bible study group under the umbrella of Calvary Chapel. In 1977 John Wimber, former jazz musician and manager of the Righteous Brothers, st…


(6 words)

See Force, Violence, Nonviolence

Virgin Birth

(1,437 words)

Author(s): Williams, Rowan D.
1. Bible Virgin birth is the usual way of referring to what is more accurately called the virginal conception of Jesus. According to the accounts by Matthew (1:18–25) and Luke (1:26–38), the conception of Jesus was the direct creative act of the Holy Spirit without the cooperation of a male partner. The use of Isa. 7:14 LXX by Matthew brought an apologetic feature into the discussion. Only in the 19th century was it realized how ambivalent the Hebrew is. Whether the tradition was familiar to other NT writers is open to question. Rom. 1:3 insists on the descent of Jesus from David “accor…


(1,140 words)

Author(s): Wells, Samuel
1. Approaches Ethics is often thought of as a battleground between two competing notions of the good. The first strives to find a universal foundation by identifying actions that are always right or always wrong. This approach is sometimes called deontological ethics (Deontology). But debate starts as soon as someone utters the words “it depends.” It is constantly pointed out that an action that in some circumstances may be very fitting may in other circumstances be disastrous. For example, if a Nazi guard were to ask, “A…


(864 words)

Author(s): Colpe, Carsten
1. Cultures that have loanwords from Lat. visio (a seeing, view) often use them for visionary hallucinations. Such a vision, which takes place when the person is awake, is not a dream. Psychokinetic phenomena may accompany it, and it may include paranormal information. If the visionary is religiously inclined, it might seem to contain a revelation. The vision itself is not a revelation and must be interpreted. The visionary might be the interpreter, or some other person might be. Interpretation imparts mystical knowledge, falling between the rational and the occult (Occultism). 2. A …


(847 words)

Author(s): Bromiley, Geoffrey W. | Winter, Jörg | Venables, Mary Noll
1. Biblical The words “visit” and “visitation” often indicate divine involvement with humans, sometimes by way of theophany. God not only observes human life, he also acts in our world. God’s visitation may bring blessing to God’s own people or to the whole earth (Ps. 65:9). More often, divine visitation punishes offenses, as in Job 35:15 and Ps. 59:5 (KJV). The Decalogue contains the familiar reference to God “visiting the iniquity of the fathers upon the children” (Exod. 20:5 RSV). Isaiah 26:14 (RSV) tells us that God will visit with destruction. ¶ The idea of visitation for punishme…

Visser ’t Hooft, W. A.

(2,545 words)

Author(s): Hjelm, Norman A.
1. Early Life Willem Adolf Visser ’t Hooft (1900–1985)—known to all as Wim—is often characterized as the person who shaped much of the modern ecumenical movement. Also, though, he himself was deeply shaped by that same movement (Ecumenism, Ecumenical Movement). Born September 20, 1900, in Haarlem, the Netherlands, Visser ’t Hooft grew up in a family that was closely associated with the legal profession, his grandfather having been presiding judge of the district tribunal in Haarlem, and his father a lawyer. He was a voracious reader a…


(893 words)

Author(s): Stegmaier, Werner
1. “Vitalism” (Ger. Lebensphilosophie, “philosophy of life”), a term used in several senses, designates: 1. an individual philosophy, mostly unexpressed and with indefinite general principles, in which persons or groups find their identity (Worldview); 2. a philosophy of vitalist biology, especially H. Driesch’s (1867–1941) philosophy of the organic, in which he advanced, in opposition to the mechanism of physics and the evolutionary theory of C. Darwin (1809–82), the creative totality of the organic; 3. from the 18th century onward, a pragmatic “direction to live r…