Encyclopedia of Christianity Online

Get access 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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(541 words)

Author(s): Mühlenberg, Ekkehard
The term “Docetism” (from Gk. dokeō, “seem”) includes a variety of meanings throughout the history of dogma, covering heretical (Heresies and Schisms) claims and doctrines about Christ (Christology). At the root of all of them lies the denial of the truth and reality of the material, earthly, and corporal existence of Christ, with the concurrent assumption that he lived among humans only in appearance, our perception of him being no more than a delusion of the senses. The earliest reference to this concept is found in the letters of Ignatius of Antioch (d. ca. 107) to the churches o…


(4 words)

See Dogmatics


(3,126 words)

Author(s): Peters, Albrecht
1. History of the Term Like the verb dokeō, its cognate noun dogma in classical Greek has a double sense: (1) from the transitive “believe, think,” it may denote a way of thinking (in philosophy, medicine, or law); (2) from the intransitive “seem good,” it may denote a resolution or edict. Thus the LXX, Philo, and Josephus use it with reference to the law, and Luke uses it both for imperial edicts (Luke 2:1; Acts 17:7; see also Heb. 11:23 var.) and for the resolutions of the apostolic council (note the use of dokeō in Acts 15:22–29, dogma in 16:4), with an emphasis on universality and a…

Dogma, History of

(888 words)

Author(s): Meijering, Eginhard P.
The task of the history of dogma is to trace the development of the dogmas that the church has formulated. The task is closely tied to that of the history of theology, for theologians have influenced the formulation of the dogmas. No history of dogma was possible in the early church or the Middle Ages because the content of the Christian faith was then regarded as unalterably fixed from the beginning. This immutability was presupposed even in the heresies that were combatted, for, in the eyes of the orthodox, heretics were always ultim…


(4,851 words)

Author(s): Fischer, Hermann
1. Concept Protestant theology, unlike Roman Catholic theology, has not developed any clear-cut concept of dogma and hence has not achieved any precise definition of dogmatics. Instead, many different accents exist. At the same time, some basic lines of understanding have emerged from the various practices of dogmatics. According to the assumptions and conditions of modern critical consciousness, dogmatics is the theological discipline that, on the basis of the biblical witness and against the bac…


(985 words)

Author(s): Hubbeling, Hubertus G. | Josuttis, Manfred
1. Philosophy The term “dogmatism” was coined in French philosophy and was understood by M. de Montaigne and B. Pascal as the opposite of skepticism. Dogmatism denotes the uncritical appeal to a doctrine whose truth has not been demonstrated and whose presuppositions have not been adequately evaluated. Thus the German Enlightenment saw dogmatism ¶ in the pedantic metaphysics of the schools that built on principles that were part of an outdated philosophical approach. Of the many meanings of the term “dogma,” dogmatism stresses the pejorative one of an unproved opinion. In the epistem…


(880 words)

Author(s): Hinnebusch, John F. | O.P.
Domingo de Guzmán, founder of the Order of Friars Preachers (the Dominicans), was born about 1170 at Caleruega, Castile, and died on August 6, 1221, at Bologna. He was canonized on July 3, 1234. Dominic, born of the lowest rank of nobility, was educated in the arts and theology at the cathedral school of Palencia. Ordained a priest, he joined the cathedral chapter at Osma about 1196, where he lived the monastic life of an Augustinian canon regular and ministered in the cathedral. In the early 1200s, however, his cloistered life …

Dominican Republic

(880 words)

Author(s): Wipfler, William L.
1. The island of Hispaniola, later to be divided into the Spanish-speaking Dominican Republic and the French Creole–speaking Republic of Haiti, was the first territory to be settled by Spain following discovery by Columbus in 1492 and settlement the following year. Santo Domingo, its capital city, was established in 1497 and became the principal center for launching the exploration, conquest, and evangelization of Latin America. The full horror of Spanish rule, and the tension between colonialism and mission, manifested itself already in the first decades. In…


(1,478 words)

Author(s): Frank O.P., Isnard W.
1.1. The Dominican preaching order (Ordo Fratrum Praedicatorum, O.P.) arose between 1206 and 1217 through the vision of Dominic (originally Domingo de Guzmán). Dominic was born in approximately 1170 at Caleruega, Castile, and before 1200 was a canon at the cathedral of Osma. In 1206, with Bishop Diego of Osma, he was in the south of France along with papal legates in the struggle against heresy. Struck by the religious need, he and his bishop aimed to make conversions (§§1–2) and began to preach…

Donation of Constantine

(581 words)

Author(s): Schilling, Johannes
The Donation of Constantine (Constitutum or Donatio Constantini) was a document forged sometime between roughly a.d. 750 and 850, probably with the participation of the Roman clergy. It is first attested in the False Decretals (ca. 850, attributed to Isidore of Seville), then in many versions and MSS. It is linked to a fifth-century story involving Pope Sylvester I (314–35) and Emperor Constantine (306–37). According to the story, Constantine was healed of leprosy and, in gratitude, became a Christian and gave the Roman church …


(785 words)

Author(s): Wyrwa, Dietmar
1. The Donatists were a North African schismatic church of the fourth and early fifth centuries. They fell into schism because, against the realities of their own time, they wished to be loyal to the ancient principles inherited from Tertullian (ca. 160-ca. 225) and Cyprian (ca. 200–258). With naive enthusiasm they clung to the ideal of a Spirit-filled church of saints and martyrs that could not tolerate anything unclean and that therefore had to suffer persecution. The main period also saw an infusion of social and revolutionary elemen…


(2,045 words)

Author(s): Mayer, Helmut | Schoberth, Wolfgang
1. Philosophical Aspects 1.1. As a look at everyday usage shows (Language 1), the “language game” (L. Wittgenstein) of doubt is very diverse. One may doubt the truth of a statement, the rightness of a decision to act, the motives of actions, one’s own feelings or those of others, perceptions of meaning, and religious or other beliefs of every kind. Philosophical tradition has taken over the broad claim that the essential meaning of doubt lies in the subjective impossibility of assessing truth claim…


(179 words)

Author(s): Schnitker, Thaddeus A.
In religion the dove has been viewed as a symbol of the vital spirit or soul and also of virtues and female deities. In Israel it was an animal to be sacrificed (Lev. 12:8). At Jesus’ baptism (Mark 1:10 and par.) the dove appeared as an embodiment of the Holy Spirit. The dove represents innocence in Matt. 10:16. Early Christian art first depicted it as the bird of the soul, then on the basis of Gen. 8:11 as a sign (§2) of peace and of God’s will for creation. From the early Middle Ages onward, it came to represent the Holy Spirit (obligatorily so for Roman Catholics si…


(431 words)

Author(s): Mauder, Albert
1. Literally an address of praise, the doxology in the narrower sense, which occurs in all major religions, is a magnifying of deity in short formulas either at the beginning or at the conclusion of acts of prayer. It is often oriented to acclamation by the worshipers (Prayer). In the OT, doxologies occur at the latest in the postexilic temple and in the prayer psalms of the developing synagogue (e.g., Neh. 8:6; Ps. 106:1; Isa. 25:1; 37:15–20). This cultic form was cultivated in early Judaism and adopted directly by the NT congregation. Along with the doxology of the Lord’s Prayer in Matt. 6:1…


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See Religious Drama


(2,126 words)

Author(s): Morgenthaler, Christoph
1. Biblical Data Biblical accounts of dreams are set in the context of the ancient Near Eastern understanding (K. Seybold), which viewed dreams according to basic types. One kind was the revelation (§1) or message dream, which was immediately understandable, like the “orthodox” theophanies of the official religion (e.g., that of Thutmose IV [1425–1417 b.c.], who once was told in a dream to clear sand away from the great Sphinx). Other types were the symbolic riddle dream (Symbol 3), which was indirect and needed illumination (e.g., in myths and epics); the dream understood as …


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See Substance Abuse


(867 words)

Author(s): Kippenberg, Hans G.
Dualism, in contrast to monism, assumes that two antagonistic principles underlie existence. It found classic expression in Zoroastrianism, in some tendencies in early Judaism, and in Gnosticism and its aftermath. In milder form it also appears implicitly in the worldviews of prescientific cultures. A characteristic of modern scientific culture is to find in such hostile factors as disasters and illnesses a challenge to human knowledge and ability. Prescientific cultures, however, push such anom…

Dutch Missions

(1,079 words)

Author(s): Honig, Anton G.
1. History and Current Situation 1.1. Christianity came rather late to the Netherlands, being introduced by the English missionaries Willibrord (658–739) and Wynfrith Boniface (ca. 675–754). In the Middle Ages the Dutch church did not produce any significant missionaries, nor did it have, like Spain and Portugal, any missionary commission from the papacy, since before achieving independence from Spain, Holland did not engage in any voyages of discovery or conquest (Colonialism). The Reformation brought a Calvinist state church (Reformed Churches) to the Netherland…


(781 words)

Author(s): Schwartz, Werner
1. In everyday parlance, “duty” denotes what we ought to do because an inner as well as an outer legal code of what is expected in social relations prescribes it, irrespective of our own subjective inclinations (Action Theory). 2. Stoicism introduced the term into the discussion of philosophical ethics, arguing that what is fitting for us (Gk. to kathēkon) is to act in harmony with the laws of nature and of the universe, which are reflected in human reason. By way of Cicero (106–43 b.c.), the concept of duty (Lat. officium, “dutiful or respectful action”) found its way into Christ…