Encyclopedia of Christianity Online

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Subject: Religious Studies

Editors: Erwin Fahlbusch, Jan Milič Lochman, John Mbiti, Jaroslav Pelikan and Lukas Vischer

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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Law and Gospel

(2,154 words)

Author(s): Kolb, Robert
1. Luther’s and Melanchthon’s Distinction 1.1. The concepts of law and gospel, each with a wide range of definitions and theological functions in the Bible, assumed a distinctive use within the theology of reformers Martin Luther (1483–1546; Luther’s Theology) and Philipp Melanchthon (1497–1560) as a dialectical description of God’s judgment on sinners and his restoration of life for his elect children. Though the two colleagues placed different accents on elements of this dialectic, the use each mad…

Law and Legal Theory

(5,634 words)

Author(s): Jr., John Witte
1. Definition The term “law” does not admit of easy or universal definition. Viewed in its broadest social terms, law consists of all norms that govern human conduct—moral commandments, state statutes, church canons, family rules, commercial habits, communal customs, and others—and all actions taken to formulate and respond to those norms. Viewed in narrower political terms, law consists of the social enterprise by which certain norms are formulated by legitimate political authorities and actualiz…

Law, International

(6 words)

See International Law

Law, Natural

(6 words)

See Natural Law

Lay Apostolate

(834 words)

Author(s): Droel, William | Pierce, Gregory F. Augustine
1. History For many centuries in Europe, the church (both Roman Catholic and eventually also Protestant, depending on the country) was closely intertwined with secular social structures. On matters of public policy, for example, church officials would regularly consort with the monarchy or the local lord or ruler, and religious holy days were celebrated as secular holidays. Likewise, the early guilds were organized as much around religious affiliation as they were around specific occupations. As society began to separate from the church, becoming more and more autonom…

Laying on of Hands

(781 words)

Author(s): Senn, Frank C.
The gesture of laying hands on or over a person or an object conveys varied significance as an act of blessing, confirming, consecrating, commissioning, ordaining, setting apart for special use, absolving, healing, and other related uses. The act is understood to convey the transmission of authority, special grace, or spiritual power from someone recognized as specially authorized or charismatically endowed. In the OT, laying on of hands is used to transmit a vital force (Gen. 48:14–20), to identify the offerer (Leviticus 1–8) or the transfer of sin (Lev. 16:21) in the sacrificial …

Lay Movements

(5,535 words)

Author(s): Minus, Paul M.
Overview Overview Until recently, the Christian laity has tended to be defined simply as the nonordained church membership. The long-standing second-class status of the laity within the churches has been reinforced by society’s low opinion of nonprofessional laity in all fields. Developments within the churches and society alike have led to a more positive view. Today Christian laity are increasingly regarded as baptized followers of Christ who are endowed with gifts of the Holy Spirit that fit them for service both within the church, …

Lay Preaching

(430 words)

Author(s): Stein, Albert
The obvious meaning of the phrase “lay preaching” is church proclamation by members of the congregation who are not ordained. The primitive Christian community was acquainted with speaking at worship as the Spirit freely prompted (1 Corinthians 14). In the early church, however, speaking was by right of office. The wandering preachers of the Waldenses and mendicant orders encountered prohibitions from the 12th century onward. The Reformation allowed lay preaching in case of need. Martin Luther (1483–1546) and article 14 of the Augsburg Confess…

Lebanon

(1,853 words)

Author(s): Steppat, Fritz
1. General Situation The modern state of Lebanon was created by declaration of France, which held a mandate over it when the Ottoman Empire collapsed in 1920. It was first called Grand Liban, but in 1926 the constitution named it the Republic of Lebanon. Apart from coastal states that were occupied by the Crusaders in the 12th and 13th centuries, this area of the Near East had been under Muslim rule for almost 1,300 years. Because of the inaccessibility of the high parts of Lebanon and the politics of the Muslim rulers, the communities of…

Lectionary

(5 words)

See Readings, Scripture

Lector

(1,497 words)

Author(s): West, Fritz
The office of lector (Lat. “reader”) is necessitated by the public reading of Scripture, an essential element in both Jewish and Christian worship. The development of the role of lector in these two religious traditions exhibits striking similarities. 1. Jewish Setting By the fourth century b.c. the Israelites knew the public reading of the law (§1; Neh. 7:73b–8:12). The worship of the synagogue, however, provides the first evidence for lectors as a regular feature of Jewish prayer life. Both the Torah and the haftarah were read in the liturgy of the…

Legate

(4 words)

See Nuncio

Legislation

(6 words)

See church law 6

Legitimation

(878 words)

Author(s): Huber, Wolfgang
Those who can accredit themselves, or who have letters of accreditation, can command legitimation. In this sense legitimation means justification before others or institutions by appeal to an authority that is recognized on both sides (Law and Legal Theory). In a narrower sense the term denotes the justification of a social order, especially of a legal type. In the modern period this focus has given rise to the problem that classic ideals of legitimation have lost their obvious cogency. As long …

Leisure

(916 words)

Author(s): Prahl, Hans-Werner
1. History Like Fr. loisir, the Eng. term “leisure” derives from Lat. licere, “be permitted.” In the ancient Greek polis the political and literary ruling class evolved the idea of scholē (rest, leisure), a period of freedom from work so as to make possible personal development, with a view to political and social office. The work of citizens was a-scholia (busyness, lack of leisure), whereas that of slaves was ponos (labor, toil). Ancient Rome put up huge buildings in which people could pass the time together. Under Constantine the Circus Maximus, the largest R…

Lent

(5 words)

See Church Year

Leo I

(910 words)

Author(s): Markschies, Christoph
Leo I (d. 461), known as Leo the Great, was pope beginning in the summer of 440. Not much is known about Leo’s early years. Suggestions that he was born in Tuscany remain improbable as long as other signs point to an urban Roman origin. Before becoming pope, he was (arch)deacon at the papal ¶ court, and as early as 440 Empress Galla Placidia entrusted him with a political mission to Gaul. Leo devoted a great deal of energy to his urban Roman congregation, particularly through his sermons, and encouraged the production of narrative and pictorial cyc…

Lesotho

(738 words)

Author(s): Baker, Kenneth
1. General Situation The Kingdom of Lesotho, an enclave within the Republic of South Africa, is a small constitutional monarchy. Its capital is Maseru. The chief crops are corn, wheat, sorghum, and barley, with herding also important. Water is its most important natural resource, which, after completion of a major hydropower plant in 1998, it has been selling to South Africa. Other exports are clothing, footwear, wool, and mohair. South Africa employs large numbers of mine workers, whose earnings in 1996 accounted for one-third of Lesotho’s gross domestic product. During the early 1…

Leuenberg Agreement

(1,448 words)

Author(s): Rusch, William G.
The Leuenberg Agreement is a statement resulting mainly from theological conversations between Lutheran and Reformed churches in Europe. The drafting process was completed on March 16, 1973, and the agreement came into effect on October 1, 1974. The churches that officially subscribe to the Leuenberg Agreement grant to each other pulpit and table/altar fellowship and commit themselves to common witness and service on the basis of the agreement. Since 1974 over 100 European Lutheran, Reformed, Un…

Levites

(5 words)

See Priest, Priesthood
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