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United Nations

(1,870 words)

Author(s): Pierard, Richard V.
1. Origins The concept of an association of all the nations of the world to keep the peace and promote international cooperation seems to have originated with British foreign secretary Edward Grey (1905–16) and was promoted during World War I by U.S. president Woodrow Wilson (1913–21) in his statement of war and peace aims (the Fourteen Points). A commission at the Paris Peace Conference of 1919 drafted the covenant for the League of Nations (LN, Société des Nations), and it was included in all the peace treaties. The LN, with headquar…

German Christians

(1,525 words)

Author(s): Pierard, Richard V.
1. Definition The German Christians (GCs) were clergy and laypeople in the Protestant church of Nazi Germany who believed that the National Socialist revolution would restore the church to its rightful place at the heart of German culture and society. Distinguishing between the “invisible” and the “visible” church, they argued that the church on earth was based on divinely ordained distinctions of race and ethnicity (Racism). The GCs set out to build a heroic, manly, doctrinally free “people’s chu…

Fellowship Movement

(1,250 words)

Author(s): Pierard, Richard V. | Ohlemacher, Jörg
1. Definition The Fellowship Movement (Gemeinschaftsbewegung) is an umbrella concept encompassing a wide variety of pietistic and theologically conservative groups in Germany. The term arose in the 1880s and referred essentially to the merging of vestiges of the pietistic awakening earlier in the 19th century with Holiness and revivalistic influences from Britain and North America. This blending resulted in the flowering of religious and charitable organizations, both within and outside the framework of the established regional Protestant churches. As voluntary societies …

Church Struggle

(3,470 words)

Author(s): Pierard, Richard V.
1. Term The phrase “church struggle” (CS, Ger. Kirchenkampf) refers to the conflicts between rival factions within the German Evangelical (or Protestant) Church (GEC), as well as to their opposition to the dictates of the National Socialist state during the years of the Third Reich, 1933–45. It also applies to the Roman Catholic Church’s struggle against the Nazi Party and state, even though this was not as intense as the differences among the Protestants. Recent scholarship has made it clear that, in …

German Missions

(2,596 words)

Author(s): Pierard, Richard V.
Although spreading the gospel message to all peoples has been a hallmark of the Christian faith from the very beginning, the identification of missionary work with individuals from a specific nationality is a post-Reformation and primarily Protestant phenomenon. Because the Roman Catholic Church was an international body, individuals who served in religious or missionary orders were theoretically part of the larger community, although many of these bodies actually had a national basis. Examples …

Inner Mission

(1,449 words)

Author(s): Pierard, Richard V.
The term “Inner Mission” (Innere Mission) refers generally to the organized charitable endeavors of the German Protestant churches. It is often conflated into the larger conception of charitable or social service (Diakonia), and some writers even refer to it as a social gospel. Essentially a conservative concept, Inner Mission (IM) included conscious efforts (1) to cope with the harmful effects of the industrial system, which caused the masses to fall victim to the power of sin; (2) to bring about the…

Soviet Union

(2,550 words)

Author(s): Pierard, Richard V.
1. Background The 74-year Soviet period was a significant interlude in the vast sweep of Russian history. Its origins lay in the deepening unrest during the reign of the last czar, Nicholas II (1894–1917), and the crisis of World War I. A variety of political movements existed, some of which operated underground and were supported by exiles. They ranged from moderate conservatives and liberals to radical agrarian socialists who wanted to remake Russia along the lines of the rural peasant land comm…

Worldwide Church of God

(1,215 words)

Author(s): Pierard, Richard V.
The Worldwide Church of God (WCG), founded in 1933, is a North American Adventist church that strongly emphasizes biblical prophecy. Although it deviated from Protestant orthodoxy in a number of ways, a major doctrinal and organizational transformation occurred in the late 1980s and early 1990s that converted it into an evangelical denomination. Subsequently, a number of schisms resulted in an exodus of half its adherents. The most recent (2004) estimated membership is 63,000 worldwide. 1. Founder and Successors The WCG was virtually the personal extension of its founder,…

World Evangelical Alliance

(1,812 words)

Author(s): Pierard, Richard V.
Overview The World Evangelical Alliance (WEA) is an association of 128 national evangelical alliances, grouped, for administrative purposes, into seven regional associations (Africa, Asia, Caribbean, Europe, Latin America, North America, and South Pacific). The North America branch comprises the Evangelical Fellowship of Canada and, in the United States, the National Association of Evangelicals. In 2006 the WEA also included 8 affiliate members (independently incorporated organizations that work …

Civil Religion

(4,737 words)

Author(s): Pierard, Richard V.
1. Definition Also known as civic, public, political, or societal religion and as public piety or religion-in-general, civil religion refers to the widely held body of beliefs or religiopolitical traits that are tied to a nation’s history and destiny. It is a kind of generic faith that relates the political society as well as the individual citizen to the realm of ultimate meaning and existence. In turn, it enables the people to view their polity in a special manner, thereby providing meaningful s…

Peale, Norman Vincent

(214 words)

Author(s): Pierard, Richard V.
[German Version] (May 31, 1898, Bowersville, OH – Dec 24, 1993, Pawley, NY), American preacher and promoter of “positive thinking.” The son of a Methodist minister, Peale was educated at Ohio Wesleyan University (B.A. 1920), and studied theology at Boston University. After graduating in 1924, he was assigned to a Methodist parish in Brooklyn, New York. Following great success Peale took a church in Syracuse, ¶ NY, in 1927. In 1932 he was called to Marble Collegiate Church in New York City, where he spent the remainder of his ministerial career. Through the Ins…

Moral Re-Armament (MRA)

(721 words)

Author(s): Nolte, Paul | Pierard, Richard
[German Version] I. Europe – II. North America I. Europe Moral Re-Armament (MRA) emerged from an evangelistic movement founded in 1921 by F.N.D. Buchman (from 1929 known as the “Oxford Group”), that in 1938 renamed itself Moral Re-Armament. From England it spread in the 1920s and 1930s to the Netherlands, Germany and Switzerland, Scandinavia (Den-¶ mark, Norway, Sweden), and to North America. It combined pietistic traditions with new fundamentalism (II, 2), and a striving for inner change of the human being through Christian resolve together with …


(1,343 words)

Author(s): Heesch, Matthias | Pierard, Richard V.
[German Version] I. Terminology and History Utopians aspire to achieve fundamental improvement of human life from a rational, religious, or technological perspective – often in combination. To present their ideas, they frequently make use of a form somewhere between a philosophical or theological treatise and a narrative account, called a utopia after the eponymous Utopia of T. More (1516). But the theme is much earlier, going back to Plato’s Politicus: society should correlate with the three divisions of the soul, in such a way that representatives of the nous (philosophers) are i…

Moral Majority

(270 words)

Author(s): Pierard, Richard
[German Version] was the name of a religiously-oriented political organization in the United States, but the term itself is applied to any intolerant moralistic movement. Its founder, Jerry Falwell, a politically conservative Baptist pastor and television preacher from Lynchburg, Virginia, had a large following among fundamentalists (Electronic church). Courted by Republican Party functionaries who recognized the voting potential of conservative Christians, Falwell founded the Moral Majority, Inc.…

Trade Unions

(3,524 words)

Author(s): Brakelmann, Günter | Jähnichen, Traugott | Pierard, Richard V.
[German Version] I. History The emergence of trade unions is associated with the development of modern capitalistic industrial society. The nascent unions considered themselves primarily representatives of the economic and social interests of their organized members but also as representatives of the unorganized workers in the various trades and professions. By virtue of their organizational goals and structures, they were organized as opponents to the employers and thus formed an integral part of t…


(1,764 words)

Author(s): Pierard, Richard
[German Version] I. General The term separatism describes political and religious phenomena. In its political sense, separatism is understood to be the secession of a state or a political group with the aim of joining another group or becoming independent. Examples are the efforts of the Rhineland ¶ occupied after World War I to separate from the state of Germany, or the American Civil War of the American southern states who wished to secede from the confederate northern states (North America). Another form of separation is fought for by cult…

Voluntary Work and Associations

(4,301 words)

Author(s): Pierard, Richard | Guder, Darrell | Schibilsky, Michael
[German Version] I. Importance in Europe A voluntary association (Ger. ehrenamtliche Vereinigung)serves the common interest of its members. Voluntarism has to do with the freedom of the will ( voluntas; Free will), and when individuals work together of their own free will in order to accomplish a task, this leads to the creation of a voluntary association. Membership in it is neither compulsory nor acquired by birth, and its activities do not contribute to the livelihood of its members. Since human beings have a natural dis…

Protestants and Other Americans United for Separation of Church and State

(187 words)

Author(s): Pierard, Richard V
[German Version] Formed in 1947 and now known as Americans United, this is the foremost advocacy group in the United States for freedom of religion and the constitutional separation of church and state (I, 5). It is a nonsectarian organization that draws support from mainline and Evangelical denominations, Baptists, Seventh-Day Adventists, Unitarians, ¶ and Jews. Its original objective was that of combating Roman Catholic efforts to secure public funding for their parochial schools, but its focus quickly widened to encompass a wide variety of thre…

International Baptist Theological Seminary

(269 words)

Author(s): Pierard, Richard
[German Version] The Southern Baptist Foreign Mission Board (FMB; Southern Baptist Convention [SBC]) founded the school in 1948 to provide leadership training. The FMB bought a villa in Zürich-Rüschlikon and opened the Baptist Theological Seminary in 1949. It offered a four-year Bachelor of Divinity (B.D.) course but other programs were available. All its presidents, beginning with Norwegian-born Josef Nordenhaug (1903–1969), were Southern Baptists, while the FMB chose the trustees, many of whom w…


(2,576 words)

Author(s): Betz, Hans Dieter | Frey, Jörg | Marquardt, Manfred | Thiede, Werner | Pierard, Richard
[German Version] I. Religious History 1. Since the dawn of time, human birth has been associated with many religious ideas, rituals, and customs, including the idea of rebirth or regeneration. As a rite of passage (Rites of passage), birth is not merely a natural process; it can repeat a previous birth, view death as a passage to new life, or distinguish within a lifetime between a corporeal and a spiritual birth, separated by a ritual death. The Greek terminology is not uniform, using ἀναγεννᾶν/ anagennán, ἀναβιοῦν/ anabioún, μεταγεννᾶν/ metagennán, πάλιν γίνεσϑαι/ pálingínesthai, an…
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