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(461 words)

Author(s): Pollack, Detlef
[German Version] ( in religious studies). Religious roles represent a set of behavioral expectations developed by a religious community; they relate to the perception of particular religious functions, such as administration of the cult, proclamation of religious teaching, dissemination of the teaching, care for personal salvation or the salvation of others. Typical religious roles include those of priest (Priesthood), teacher, missionary, pastoral practitioner, monk (Monasticism), nun, guru, shaman …

Church in Socialism,

(1,030 words)

Author(s): Pollack, Detlef
[German Version] term for the political position of the Evangelical churches in the German Democratic Republic. While the SED (Socialist Unity Party) state used the formula to oblige the churches to accept socialism, for the churches it served a variety of functions. In the first instance, the churches used it to signal their renunciation of public opposition to GDR socialism and thus their fundamental loyalty to the system of ¶ the GDR. At the same time, the formula avoided acclamation. It did not signify a preferential option for socialism. Above all, it put forward a claim to join in the shaping of society and to occupy a legitimate place within society. The Evangelical churches in East Germany wanted to be church “not beside, not against, but in socialism,” as they declared at the synods of the Bund der Evangelischen Kirchen (Union of Evangelical Churches) in the GDR in Eisenach in 1971 and Schwerin in 1973 ( Kirche als Lerngemeinschaft, 172, 185). Thus, the slogan “church in socialism” was not just a renunciation of the confrontational political program of the churches in the 1950s but also an “immigration formula” (Falcke, 233). While the SED state repeatedly attempted to make the churches toe the line, and if that was impossible to ostracise them, it was the church's goal to resist both being forced into line and being marginalized. In its opening to society, the formula recalls the theological self-description of the Evangelical churches in East Germany as the “church for others” (


(212 words)

Author(s): Pollack, Detlef
[German Version] A group is a limited number of persons between whom repeated direct personal contact is possible over a long period of time. Groups differ from simple systems of interaction by virtue of their durability, and from organizations in the lesser degree of regulation of interactions. At the same time, groups also manifest division of responsibilities, role differentiation and hierarchialization (Hierarchy). This, however, is not what characterizes small groups, but rather a feeling of …

Groups, Church

(404 words)

Author(s): Pollack, Detlef
[German Version] Alongside or in the context of church structures, spontaneous and unplanned groups often form on the fringes of the church, which are based on the personal relationships among the members of the group and are capable of combining their interests in personal social relationship with topical interests (prayer circles, home groups [House church], peace groups [Peace movement], women's groups, environmental groups…

Value Change

(464 words)

Author(s): Pollack, Detlef
[German Version] The expression value change usually refers to the change of attitude from materialistic to post-materialistic values that took place in highly industrialized Western societies in the 1960s and 1970s. Ronald Inglehart, whose work substantially influenced the theory of value change, spoke of a “silent revolution.” What he meant was that despite structural continuity during these decades, a change in fundamental cultural orientation took place among the populations of Western Europe and…


(25,084 words)

Author(s): Hauschild, Wolf-Dieter | Brenner, Beatus | Dehn, Ulrich | Pollack, Detlef
[German Version] I. General – II. Church History and Denominations – III. Non-Christian Religions – IV. S…

Systems Theory

(3,570 words)

Author(s): Pollack, Detlef | Hesse, Heidrun | Herms, Eilert | Dinkel, Christoph | Evers, Dirk
[German Version] I. Religious Studies Systems theory considers religion one social system alongside others, like the economy, law (Law and Jurisprudence), politics, and education and analyzes it in terms of the function it discharges. The evolutionary approach of systems theory assumes that in primordial local communities the function of religion was nonspecific and was fulfilled in combination with other functions – military, economic, and familial. The transition to modern societies witnessed a dif…


(3,401 words)

Author(s): Pollack, Detlef | Ludwig, Frieder | Münch, Richard | Gräb, Wilhelm | Hock, Klaus
[German Version] I. Study of Religion – II. History – III. Sociology – IV. Practical Theology – V. Missiology…


(3,425 words)

Author(s): Polkinghorne, John | Pollack, Detlef | Hübner, Jürgen | Kubon-Gilke, Gisela | Leiner, Martin
[German Version] I. History and Cosmology – II. Religious Studies – III. Evolution and Creation – IV. Social Sciences – V. Ethics…