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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(2,024 words)

Author(s): Swanson, Herbert R.
1. General Features Thailand is a constitutional monarchy whose ruler, King Bhumibol Adulyadej (on the throne since 1946), is deeply revered by the nation. The official census of 2000 showed a population of 60,606,947, of which 68.9 percent was rural. By 2006 the population was estimated to be nearly 65 million, and the growth rate had dropped to 0.68 percent, from 2.76 percent in 1960. Economically, Thailand is a free-market nation, and its economy grew between 4.4 percent and 6.9 percent per year in the years 2003–5. Unemployment is less than 2.0 percent (2005 est.), and roughly 10 per…

Thanksgiving Day

(6 words)

See Harvest Festivals


(1,074 words)

Author(s): Böhler, Arno
1. Term Basic to theism is the distinction between God and the world. According to the various ways of seeing the relation between transcendent primal being and the contingent universe, we find different forms of theism. In a narrower sense, theism is the view in which God is conceived of as a free personal being who is characterized by a creative relationship to creation (God 3.4–6). The express referring of this personal being to his world distinguishes theism from deism. 1.1. Deism, too, differentiates the world from its underlying cause. Deists are open to the idea that …


(3,003 words)

Author(s): Gordon, T. David | Lowry, Joseph
1. OT Background As the word itself suggests, “theocracy” is a form of government in which, literally, “God rules.” As the term has historically been employed, it has been used to describe geopolitical governments in which the civil magistrates are expected to use their powers to promote obedience to the laws of God, or at least some of those laws. The purest expression of theocracy is found in ¶ ancient Israel (§1), where the theocracy is instituted by God himself at Sinai, when through Moses he delivers a covenant that charters the infant nation. Yahweh is Isra…


(2,747 words)

Author(s): Brown, Robert F.
1. Term The ancients wondered about the reasons for evil in the world, about its causes. In the Bible, Job wrestled with why he had undeserved miseries heaped upon him. In his dialogue The Nature of the Gods, Cicero asked why, if the gods care for human beings, the good fail to prosper or bad people not come to grief (3.79). There Cotta, Cicero’s spokesperson for Skepticism, who attacks the Stoic belief in providence, declares that “divine providence is either unaware of its own powers or is indifferent to human life. Or else it is…


(378 words)

Author(s): Colpe, Carsten
¶ “Theogony” (Gk. theogonia, “birth of the gods”), the title of an epic poem by Hesiod (ca. 700 b.c.), refers to the origin of the gods. Many of the almost 300 gods whose names and qualities Hesiod gives in this work make up the world, so that a theogony is also a cosmogony. When the world is constituted, it is ruled by the great gods (Uranus, Cronus, Zeus). Hesiod makes use here of the concept that northern Syria and Asia Minor employed: a succession of gods instead of a genealogical list or an anthropomorphizin…

Theologia crucis

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Author(s): Bernhardt, Reinhold | Willis-Watkins, David
1. Term and Development The theologia crucis, or theology of the cross, focuses on the saving significance of the cross of Christ (Salvation 3–7). With its roots in Paul, it has taken a central place in Western devotion and theology ever since the Middle Ages (esp. with Anselm’s satisfaction theory; Soteriology 2.2). The central role of the cross finds expression in church architecture, in Christian art, in music (Theology and Music), and in spirituality. 1.1. Martin Luther (1483–1546; Luther’s Theology) worked out the concept of theologia crucis in three writings in 1518: the He…

Theological Education

(2,419 words)

Author(s): May, Melanie A.
Overview Instruction or teaching has always been foundational for the Christian faith. Jesus Christ was himself called rabbi, teacher. Philip ran to the Ethiopian enunch, a court official of the Candace of Ethiopia, who said to him: “How can I [understand], unless someone guides me?” (Acts 8:31). In the earliest Christian communities, adults preparing for baptism, the catechumens, received oral instruction (“catechism,” from the Greek meaning “to make to hear,” and hence “to instruct”) on basic Christian beliefs. The pattern of educating th…


(5,483 words)

Author(s): Owen, John Michael
1. Concept Theology is nowadays mostly understood as the enterprise of rendering account for statements of faith in God, undertaken in the community of faith by disciplined thought and with reference to God’s revelation. Concepts of God and revelation can thereby themselves become problematic, and given forms of church fellowship (Church; Denomination), questionable. Some find that it better suits the task to engage in theology as an academic discipline (Theological Education) without any essentia…

Theology and Music

(3,757 words)

Author(s): Guthrie, Steven R.
Overview On the night he was betrayed, Jesus and his disciples broke bread together, prayed, and sang (Matt. 26:30; Mark 14:26). Ever since then, these three activities have continued to mark Christian gatherings. The ubiquity of music in Christian worship, and indeed in human society, has encouraged many theologians to give this practice their careful attention. Recent musicology has drawn attention to the diverse social functions of music, both in and beyond the culture of the West. Similarly, the dialogue between theology and music has taken many …

Theology in the Nineteenth and Twentieth Centuries

(39,941 words)

Author(s): Sauter, Gerhard | Kennedy, Arthur L. | Papanikolaou, Aristotle | Chapman, Mark D.
1. Protestant Theology 1.1. Theology in Confrontation with the Enlightenment, Romanticism, and Materialism 1.1.1. Theology in Relation to Church and State Protestant Despite the many similarities and convergent tasks that connected Protestant theology in many countries in the 19th and 20th centuries, there were significant differences, dependent on the relation of theology, church, and state or society. In central Europe and Scandinavia, theology was mostly an integral part of the state universities, except for countries where Protestants were a minor…

Theology of History

(1,512 words)

Author(s): Ringleben, Joachim
1. Definition In general, the term “theology of history” denotes an express theory of history (beginning, end, course, unity, subject) in relation to God’s activity, or the theological interpretation of history (its totality, meaning, epochs, and present state). More broadly, it denotes the various efforts to relate history to religious themes. Specifically, it involves relating history to God’s own being and history (Trinity). Since concepts of its nature and validity are themselves historical, the borders are fluid. 2. Modern Theology of History Today the presupposition tha…

Theology of Religions

(2,000 words)

Author(s): Mortensen, Viggo
1. Term Theology of religions is a relatively new theological discipline that “attempts to account theologically for the meaning and value of other religions” (V.-M. Kärkkäinen 2003, 20). It studies the various religious traditions from the perspective of Christian faith and its foundational affirmation concerning Jesus Christ. Other terms have been suggested: “theologies of religions” (P. F. Knitter) or “theology of religious pluralism” (J. Dupuis). Yet “theology of religions” has gained an established status as a general title for this field of study. Because of globalizatio…

Theology of Revival

(14,503 words)

Author(s): McClymond, Michael J.
Overview The English word “revival,” together with its foreign equivalents (Ger. Erweckung, Fr. réveil, Sp. avivamiento, Chin. fen xing, Kor. bu hung), refers to a period of time in which a community of Christians undergoes renewal and revitalization. It has been defined as “a period of religious awakening: renewed interest in religion,” with “meetings often characterized by emotional excitement”; also, “revivalism” is “the spirit or kind of religion or the methods characteristic of religious revivals” (Webster’s Third New International Dictionary). To call a religious gat…

Theology of Revolution

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Author(s): Collet, Giancarlo
1. Historical Context The theology of revolution has been a theme for discussion when there have been political and social conflicts, when there has been awareness of the conditioning social structures, and when the church and theology have taken these factors into account (Modern Church History 1.4.4; Modern Period; Peace; Pluralism; Righteousness, Justice; Secularization; Society; Third World; War). Facing global situations that, instead of overthrowing unfairness and ¶ injustice, did more to stabilize or even sharpen them, the churches from the mid-1960s were…


(961 words)

Author(s): Scriba, Albrecht
Theophany in the OT denotes the direct manifestation of God in the earthly sphere. 1. From the days of Jeremiah, “theophany” has been a term for God’s visible coming with power and the accompanying earthly or cosmic reactions of terror. In the veneration of God the oldest manifestation is in the earthquake, when in giant human form God strides across the mountains (Mic. 1:3–4 and Amos 4:13). Clouds are viewed as the dust that is stirred up by him (Nah. 1:3; Ps. 18:9). We find ideas similar to those relating to Baal, the god of the tempest: Yahweh displays his power in the sto…


(2,130 words)

Author(s): Panagopoulos, Johannes | Kärkkäinen, Veli-Matti
1. Patristic and Eastern Orthodox Theology 1.1. Term The Gk. term theōsis (deification, divinization) became a common term in Greek Christian theology (Orthodox Christianity 7) under which to describe ¶ God’s economy with us and the world and to show the world what its final destiny is (Order of Salvation 1.1). In its proper use, theōsis cannot be equated with other terms in Western theology like “justification,” “redemption” (Soteriology), “reconciliation,” or “sanctification.” It can be understood only in relation to the total theological structur…


(1,357 words)

Author(s): Hoheisel, Karl | Mynarek, Hubertus
In distinction from Indian or pseudo-Indian theosophical societies (see 4) of the Blavatsky type, theosophy in the traditional sense represents the concern in all religions to penetrate the deepest mysteries of the deity. In the early church and the Middle Ages “theosophy” was another term for theology. It came to be restricted to special kinds of Christianity only in the 18th century and now applies analogously to non-Christian phenomena. 1. Features As distinct from metaphysics and philosophy, theosophy relies generally on revelation. If this is not found in the …

Thessalonians, Epistles to the

(2,250 words)

Author(s): Green, Gene L.
1. General Features In 316 b.c. Cassander, the king of Macedonia, founded Thessaloniki at the head of the Thermaic Gulf, naming it after his wife, Thessalonike, the daughter of Philip II and half sister of Alexander the Great. The city became one of the great ports on the Aegean. When the Romans conquered Macedonia at the battle of Pydna at the end of the Third Macedonian War (168), they divided the former kingdom into four districts and named Thessaloniki capital of the second. Various Macedonians o…

Third World

(8,437 words)

Author(s): Gern, Wolfgang | Ward, Kevin
1. Political, Economic, Social, and Cultural Problems 1.1. Term, Criteria, Groups 1.1.1. The African Caribbean (Martinique) doctor and freedom fighter Frantz Fanon (1961) is thought to have been the author of the term “Third World.” He based it on the Third Estate (i.e., the commoners) in the French Revolution and denoted by it the colonized and underdeveloped countries. I. L. Horowitz (1966) and then D. Nohlen and F. Nuscheler (1982) studied the significance of the term both practically and in terms of th…
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