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Three Estates Doctrine
(269 words)

[German Version]

The three estates doctrine is a schema used by Luther in several important passages to describe the status of Christians living in the world (e.g. Vom Abendmahl Christi, Bekenntnis, 1528, WA 26, 262–509). God ordained three estates, the status oeconomicus, politicus, and ecclesiasticus, to preserve and maintain the world. Instead of “estates,” Luther also speaks of “orders,” “institutions,” or “hierarchy,” in polemic against the Roman view of hierarchy and estate with its distinction between clergy and laity. What was fun…

Cite this page
Honecker, Martin, “Three Estates Doctrine”, in: Religion Past and Present. Consulted online on 12 August 2022 <>
First published online: 2011
First print edition: ISBN: 9789004146662, 2006-2013

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