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Office, Removal from

(164 words)

Author(s): Pirson, Dietrich
[German Version] As a rule, a church office is conferred for an unlimited time and cannot be withdrawn, since the task associated with the office is perceived as essentially long-term. Therefore, loss of office is considered in church law to be permitted only in exceptional circumstances. Catholic church law lists as such situations renuntiatio, translatio, amotio, and privatio (cf. CIC cc. 184–196). The relevant law of the Protestant churches relating to ministers recognizes, in addition to loss of office on the basis of a decision in the course of chu…

Parish Law

(283 words)

Author(s): Pirson, Dietrich
[German Version] is the embodiment of legal obligations that arise from the division of a church area or a diocese into parishes (Parish/Diocese) territorially separated from one another. In parish law, the holder of a benefice is solely responsible for all public worship activities taking place in the parish (Pulpit qualification), and thus also for all official activities (Ministerial offices) requested by church members living in the parish. For the members, parish law means that they do not ha…


(490 words)

Author(s): Pirson, Dietrich
[German Version] I. Concept The origin and history of the term are still obscure. In the 18th century, “splitting of the church” and schism were equivalent terms. In lexicography of the time, the term then meant the “status of the Catholic Church in which, in the wake of the election of multiple popes, the supreme authority of the Church is divided and, thus, the unity of the Church dissolved,” especially in the so-called Great Schism of 1378 to 1417 (Papacy: II). “Church schism” also served to desc…

Oath of Secrecy, Church Officials

(208 words)

Author(s): Pirson, Dietrich
[German Version] The oath of secrecy is the term used for the duty of clergy and church officers not to report, or comment on, facts and events of a confidential nature that they have come to know in the exercise of their office. The obligation of the oath in relation to the church forms part of the official relationship regulated by church law. The content of the oath goes materially further than the pastoral seal of the confessional. It does not include facts that are in any case public knowledg…

Ius divinum

(1,037 words)

Author(s): Pirson, Dietrich
[German Version] In ancient times, law in its totality seemed authorized by the deity; in more developed legal cultures, constitutive decisions by secular lawmakers and law dictated by religion went their separate ways. Roman law underwent this process of development. There it was customary to use the expression ius divinum to denote an objectively defined domain, primarily cultic law, in contrast to ius humanum. I In the development of Western law, this terminology led to the use of ius divinum to denote a law prior to and thus ranking above all human legislation. Accordi…

Legislation, Church

(1,397 words)

Author(s): Pirson, Dietrich
[German Version] I. Historical Development – II. Current Church Polity I. Historical Development 1. A distinctly legislative function within the church became common only after a long process of development. From the start, the church established rules, commonly called canons, governing the behavior of its members and the performance of their duties. These rules were not understood as the result of legislative decisions but as an expression of what was considered mandatory by virtue of the authority of Chr…

Power of the Keys

(1,129 words)

Author(s): Pirson, Dietrich
[German Version] The phrase power of the keys( potestas clavium) denotes the church’s authority to exclude individual members from communion (Communion of churches) and receive them back into communion, thus implicitly to determine their access to eternal salvation. The authority to act in this manner, to “bind and loose” on earth in a way that binds or looses “in heaven,” is based on Jesus’ words to his disciples in Matt 18:18 and John 20:23. The use of the expression power of the keys for this authority derives from another context, Matt 16:19, where Jesus confers the autho…

Banns of Marriage

(112 words)

Author(s): Pirson, Dietrich
[German Version] At an early stage in the development of legal systems, it was common practice to make public announcements of legal proceedings that were of general concern; this practice extended to projected marriages. When the church expanded its authority to include marriage, it published the banns of forthcoming marriages, primarily to bring any obstacles to light. Following Luther's instructions ( Traubüchlein, 1529), the churches of the Reformation used the publishing of banns as an occasion for liturgical intercession,…

Church Law

(5,536 words)

Author(s): Pirson, Dietrich | von Tiling, Peter
1. Term The church has to do its work in the world under secular conditions. It must present itself in the world as a historical entity, using secular means to ensure that it endures and does justice to its task. Thus it must have a specific constitution and specific standards of action for itself and its members. The term “church law” comprises all the provisions that serve the continued existence of the church and its life and work according to its commission. Yet this normative element, which i…


(2,613 words)

Author(s): Zachhuber, Johannes | Pirson, Dietrich | Pemsel-Maier, Sabine
[German Version] I. Fundamental Theology During recent decades, the concept of reception, originally at home in aesthetics and literary studies, has developed into a highly successful fundamental concept of communication; it emphasizes the decisive role of the recipient in the process of communication (Iser, Jauß). In this sense it also concerns theology, to which the concept is not new but has had its meaning and role more clearly defined. A fundamental distinction must be made. First, there is reception…


(5,886 words)

Author(s): Knuth, Hans Christian | Dahm, Karl-Wilhelm | Marhold, Wolfgang | Pirson, Dietrich
[German Version] I. Concept – II. History – III. Theology – IV. Sociology – V. Law – VI. Statistics I. Concept The term “clergy” refers to persons who are ordained and who are ordinarily called to full-time (recently also part-time or non-stipendiary) service to carry out the preaching office. Etymologically, “clergy” is derived from the Gk kleros, meaning “lot” or “inheritance,” possibly a reference to the tribe of Levi having the Lord as their lot (Deut 18:2). The etymological derivation of the German term Pfarrer is not completely clear. If it is derived from Lat. parricus, “fold…

Church Polity

(28,214 words)

Author(s): Löhr, Winrich | Dingel, Irene | Ohst, Martin | Weitlauff, Manfred | Pirson, Dietrich | Et al.
[German Version] I. Early Church – II. Middle Ages – III. Reformation – IV. Modern Period – V. Present – VI. Practical Theology I. Early Church The church polity projected and in part realized in early Christianity is one of the most significant institutional inventions of Late Antiquity. Since it has survived into the present, with many modifications and variations, it also represents an element of continuity between the ancient world and the modern world. Church polity as used here means all the institutions affecting the external organization of early Ch…

Canon Law/Church Law

(11,049 words)

Author(s): Schöllgen, Georg | Kalb, Herbert | Puza, Richard | Pirson, Dietrich | Engelhardt, Hanns | Et al.
[German Version] I. History – II. The Present – III. Orthodox Church – IV. The Study of Canon Law and Church Law – V. Practical Theology – VI. Oriental Orthodox Canon Law I. History 1. Early Church. The church has had laws ever since Christians recognized the need for a generally recognized authority to regulate the uncertainties, problems, and controversies involving church discipline brought about by the rapid expansion of Christianity. After the death of the initial authority figures (e.g. the fou…


(4,531 words)

Author(s): Jackson, Bernard | Landmesser, Christof | Martin George | Gruber, Hans-Günter | Martin Petzolt | Et al.
[German Version] I. Old Testament and Judaism – II. New Testament and Early Christianity – III. Church History – IV. Sociology – V. Systematic Theology and Social Ethics – VI. Law – VII. Practical Theology I. Old Testament and Judaism In the Hebrew Bible, the dissolution of a marriage is the husband's unilateral act. It was originally executed through a divorce formula, pronounced orally (Hos 2:4), but Deut 24:1, 3 knows of the practice of prepa…


(10,960 words)

Author(s): Nehring, Andreas | Otto, Eckart | Deming, Willoughby Howard | Schäfer, Rolf | Nave-Herz, Rosemarie | Et al.
[German Version] I. Religious Studies – II. Old Testament – III. New Testament – IV. Church History – V. Sociology – VI. Systematic Theology – VII. Law – VIII. Practical Theology – IX. Judaism – X. Islam I. Religious Studies The term marriage denotes a relationship entered into between two or more persons of different sex, ritually formalized, intended to be permanent, and recognized by society. In all cultures, definitions of economic and sexual rights and the conveyance of social status to children (Child/Childhood) are part of the socially ¶ defined framework of marriage…