게시판  검색  자료실  사이트맵  예수와나?

[ 뒤로 ] [ ] [ 위로 ] [ 다음 ]


종교 탐방



1. The relationships of Christianity

1) Historical views.

From the perspectives of history and sociology, the Christian community has been related to the world in diverse and even paradoxical ways. This is reflected not only in changes in this relationship over time but also in simultaneously expressed alternatives ranging from withdrawal from and rejection of the world to theocratic triumphalism. For example, early Christians so consistently rejected imperial deities that they were known as radical atheists, while later Christians so embraced European monarchies that they were known as reactionary theists. Radical medieval Franciscans proclaimed that true Christians should divest themselves of money at the same time that the papacy expended great sums to manipulate the political landscape of Europe. Another classic example of this paradoxical relationship is the early monastic withdrawal from the world that at the same time preserved and transmitted classical culture and learning to medieval Europe. In the modern period some Christian communities regard secularization as a fall from true Christianity; others view it as a legitimate consequence of a desacralization of the world initiated by Christ.

The Christian community is always part of the world in which it exists. Thus, the church has served the typical religious function of legitimating social systems and values and of creating structures of meaning, plausibility, and compensation for society as it faces loss and death. The Christian community has sometimes exercised this religious function in collusion with tribalistic nationalisms (e.g., the "German Christians" and Nazism) by disregarding traditional church tenets. When the Christian community has held to its teachings, however, it has opposed such social systems and values (e.g., the stance of the Confessing Church of Germany against Nazism). Given the inherent fragility of human culture and society, religion in general and the Christian community in particular frequently are conservative forces.

However, the Christian community is not always a conservative force. Its ability to criticize the world was bitterly acknowledged by those Romans who attributed the fall of their empire to Christian undermining of their "civil religion." Contemporary black theology and Latin-American liberation theology share the conviction that God takes the side of the oppressed against the world's injustices. From the perspective of theology or faith, the criticism of the world of which the Christian community itself is a part is the exercise of its commitment to Jesus Christ. For the Christian community, the death and Resurrection of Jesus call into question all structures, systems, and values of the world that claim ultimacy.

The relationship of the Christian community to the world may be seen differently depending upon one's historical, sociological, and theological perspectives because the Christian community is both a creation in the world and an influence upon it. This complexity led the American theologian H. Richard Niebuhr to comment in Christ and Culture (1956) that "the many-sided debate about the relations of Christianity and civilization . . . is as confused as it is many-sided."

2) Church, sect, and mystical movement.

An influential effort to reduce this confusion to manageable and meaningful patterns was articulated by the German scholar Ernst Troeltsch. He organized the complex relationships of the Christian community to the world into three ideal types of religious social organization: church, sect, and mystical movement. The church is described as a conservative institution that affirms the world and mediates salvation through clergy and sacraments. It is also characterized by inclusivity and continuity, signified by its adherence to infant baptism and historical creeds, doctrines, liturgies, and forms of organization. The objective-institutional character of the church increases as it relinquishes its commitment to eschatological perfection in order to create the corpus Christianum, the Christian commonwealth or society. This development stimulates opposition from those who understand the Gospel in terms of personal commitment and detachment from the world. The opposition develops into sects, which are comparatively small groups that strive for subjective, unmediated salvation and that are related indifferently or antagonistically to the world. The exclusivity and historical discontinuity of the sect is signified by its adherence to believers' baptism and efforts to imitate what it believes is the New Testament community. Mystical movements are the expression of a radical religious individualism that strives to interiorize and live out the personal example of Jesus. They are not interested in creating a community but strive toward universal tolerance, a fellowship of spiritual religion beyond creeds and dogmas. The Methodist Church exemplifies the dynamic of these types. The Methodist movement began as a sectarian protest against the worldliness of the Church of England; its success stimulated it to become a church, which in turn spawned various sectarian protests, including charismatic communities. (see also Index: sectarianism, mysticism)

Niebuhr further developed Troeltsch's efforts by distinguishing five repetitive types of the Christian community's relations to the world. Niebuhr's types are: Christ against culture, Christ of culture, Christ above culture, Christ and culture in paradox, and Christ the transformer of culture. The first two are expressions of opposition to and endorsement of the world, while the last three share a concern to mediate in distinctive ways the opposition between the first two.

Opposition to the world is exemplified by Tertullian's question, "What has Athens to do with Jerusalem?" This sharp opposition to the world was expressed in the biblical disjunction between the children of God and the children of the world and between "the light" and "the darkness" (1 John 2:15, 4:4-5; Revelation); and it has continued to find personal exponents, such as Leo Tolstoy, and communal expressions, such as the Hutterites.

Endorsement of the world emerged in the 4th century with the imperial legal recognition of Christianity by the Roman emperor Constantine. Although frequently associated with the medieval efforts to construct a Christian commonwealth, this type is present wherever national, social, political, and economic programs are "baptized" as Christian. Thus, its historical expressions may be as diverse as the Jeffersonian United States and Hitlerian Germany.

The other three types that Niebuhr proposed are variations on the theme of mediation between rejection and uncritical endorsement of the world. The "Christ above culture" type sees a continuity between the world and faith. This was probably best expressed by Thomas Aquinas' conviction that grace or the supernatural does not destroy nature but completes it. The "Christ and culture in paradox" type views the Christian community's relationship to the world in terms of a permanent and dynamic tension in which the Kingdom of God is not of this world and yet is to be proclaimed in it. A well-known expression of this position is Martin Luther's law-gospel dialectic, distinguishing how the Christian community is to live in the world as both sinful and righteous at the same time. The conviction that the world may be transformed and regenerated by Christianity ("Christ the transformer of culture") has been attributed to expressions that have theocratic tendencies, such as those of Augustine and John Calvin.

Efforts by scholars such as Troeltsch and Niebuhr to provide typical patterns of Christian relations to the world enable appreciation of the multiformity of these relationships without being overwhelmed by historical data. These models relieve the illusion that the Christian community has ever been monolithic, homogeneous, or static. This "many-sidedness" may be seen in the Christian community's relationships to the state, society, education, the arts, social welfare, and family and personal life. (C.H.Li.)


The relationship of Christians and Christian institutions to forms of the political order has shown an extraordinary diversity in the course of church history; there have been, for example, theocratically founded monarchies, democracies, and communist community orders. In various periods, however, political revolution, based on theological foundations, to eliminate older "Christian" state forms has also belonged to this diversity. (see also Index: theocracy)

In certain eras of church history the aspiration for the Kingdom of God stimulated political and social strivings for its realization that included elements of power and dominion. The political power of the Christian proclamation of the coming sovereignty of God resided in its promise of both the establishment of a kingdom of peace and the execution of judgment.

The church, like the state, has been exposed to the temptation of power. The attempt to establish a kingdom of peace resulted in the transformation of the church into an ecclesiastical state. This took place in the development of the Roman Papal States, but it also occurred to a lesser degree in several theocratic churches and was attempted in Calvin's ecclesiastical state in Geneva in the 16th century. In these cases the state declared itself a Christian state and the executor of the spiritual, political, and social commission of the church; it understood itself to be the representative of the Kingdom of God. This development took place in both the Byzantine and the Carolingian empires as well as in the medieval Holy Roman Empire.

The struggle between the church, understanding itself as state, and the state, understanding itself as representative of the church, not only dominated the Middle Ages but also continued into the Reformation period. The wars of religion in the era of the Reformation and Counter-Reformation discredited in the eyes of many the theological and metaphysical rationales for a Christian state. In the period of the Enlightenment, this led to the idea of the relationship of church and state as grounded upon ideas of natural law and, with Friedrich Schleiermacher among others, to the advocacy of legal separation of church and state.

i) The history of church and state.

(1) The church and the Roman Empire.

In the early church the attitude of the Christian toward the political order was determined by the imminent expectation of the Kingdom of God, whose miraculous power was already beginning to be visibly realized in the figure of Jesus Christ. The importance of the existing political order was, thus, negligible, as expressed in the saying of Jesus, "My kingship is not of this world." Orientation toward the coming kingdom of peace placed Christians in tension with the state, which made demands upon them that were in direct conflict with their faith. (see also Index: Roman Republic and Empire)

This contrast was developed most pointedly in the rejection of the emperor cult and of certain state offices--above all, that of judge--to which the power over life and death was professionally entrusted. Although opposition to fundamental orderings of the ruling state was not based upon any conscious revolutionary program, contemporaries blamed the expansion of the Christian Church in the Roman Empire for an internal weakening of the empire on the basis of this conscious avoidance of many aspects of public life, including military service.

Despite the early Christian longing for the coming Kingdom of God, even the Christians of the early generations acknowledged the pagan state as the bearer of order in the old eon, which for the time being continued to exist. Two contrary views thus faced one another within the Christian communities. On the one hand, under the influence of Pauline missions, was the idea that the "ruling body"--i.e., the existing political order of the Roman Empire--was "from God . . . for your good" (Romans 13:1-4) and that Christians should be "subject to the governing authorities." Another similar idea held by Paul (in 2 Thessalonians) was that the Roman state, through its legal order, "restrains" the downfall of the world that the Antichrist is attempting to bring about. On the other hand, and existing at the same time, was the apocalyptic identification of the imperial city of Rome with the great whore of Babylon (Revelation 17:3-7). The first attitude, formulated by Paul, was decisive in the development of a Christian political consciousness. The second was noticeable especially in the history of radical Christianity and in radical Christian pacifism, which rejects cooperation as much in military service as in public judgeship.

(2) The church and the Byzantine, or Eastern, Empire.

In the Byzantine Empire the emperor Constantine granted himself, as "bishop of foreign affairs," certain rights to church leadership. These concerned not only the "outward" activity of the church but also encroached upon the inner life of the church--as was shown by the role of the emperor in summoning and leading imperial councils to formulate fundamental Christian doctrine and to ratify their decisions. (see also Index: Eastern Orthodoxy)

In the Byzantine era there evolved the concept of what has been called caesaropapism, a system in which the harmony between church and state shifted more and more in favour (in terms of power) of the emperor. His ecclesiastical authority was endowed with the idea of the divine right of kings, which was symbolically expressed in the ceremony of crowning and anointing the emperor. This tradition was later also continued in the Russian realms, where the tsardom claimed a growing authority for itself even in the area of the church. (see also Index: Russian Orthodox church)

(3) The church and Western states.

Conversely, the theocratic claim to dominion by the church freely developed in the sphere of the Roman Catholic Church after the state and administrative organization of the Roman Empire in the West collapsed in the chaos following the barbarian ethnic migrations. In the political vacuum that arose in the West because of the invasion by the German tribes, the Roman Church was the single institution that still preserved in its episcopal dioceses the Roman provincial arrangement. In its administration of justice the church largely depended upon the old imperial law and--in a period of legal and administrative chaos--was viewed as the only guarantor of order. The Roman popes used this power, which was in fact allotted to them by circumstances, to develop a specific ecclesiastical state and to base this state upon a new theocratic ideology--the idea that the pope was the representative of Christ and the successor of Peter. From this perspective the Roman popes detached themselves from the power of the Byzantine emperor, to whom they were indeed subordinate according to prevailing imperial law.

The Roman bishops beginning with Gregory I the Great (reigned 590-604) turned to missionizing the peoples of the West. Under Gregory the church in Spain, Gaul, and northern Italy was strengthened, and England was converted to Roman Christianity. Succeeding popes convinced the rulers of the Frankish (Germanic) kingdom in the 8th century of their leadership role; they also succeeded in winning them as protectors of the papal dominion. These rulers were the first of the German kings to join themselves to the Roman Church. The relationship created a new area of tension. Whereas rulers considered the pope as a member of the Christian state and therefore under its protection and laws, the popes saw rulers as members of the church and therefore subject to the rule of God through St. Peter's successors. Moreover, the emperor Charlemagne claimed for himself the right to appoint the bishops of his empire, who were more and more involved in political affairs. These conflicting perspectives were the cause of interminable struggles between popes and rulers throughout the Middle Ages.

In the course of this development, the process of the feudalization of the church--unique in church history--occurred. Ruling political leaders in this system occupied significant positions in the church; by virtue of patronage this development encompassed the whole imperial church. At the conclusion of this development, bishops in the empire were simultaneously the reigning princes of their dioceses; they often were much more interested in the political tasks of their dominion than in the spiritual.

In the great church-renewal movement, which extended from its beginnings at the monastery at Cluny (France) in the 10th century and lasted until the reign of Pope Gregory VII in the 11th century, the papal church rejected both the sacred position of the king and the temporal position of bishops, who were awarded their rights and privileges by the king. This renewal movement proclaimed the freedom of the church from state authority as well as its preeminence over worldly powers. This struggle, now remembered as the Investiture Controversy, was fought out as a dramatic altercation between the papacy and the empire. The church did not, however, gain a complete victory in terms of papal claims of full authority over the worldly as well as the spiritual realms.

With the weakening of the Holy Roman Empire, the European nation-states arose as opponents of the church. The papal ideology had developed with respect to controlling emperors and was not suited to deal effectively with kings of nation-states. This was first clearly evident with the humiliation of Pope Boniface VIII by King Philip of France and the subsequent Babylonian Captivity of the church, when the papacy was forced to reside in Avignon (1309-77).

Contributing to the strengthening of the nation rulers' right of ecclesiastical supervision was the problem of papal schism, initiated upon the return of the papacy to Rome by the deposition of one pope and the election of another, with both claiming legitimacy. Popes and counter-popes reigning simultaneously mutually excommunicated one another, thus demeaning the esteem of the papacy. The schisms spread great uncertainty among the believers of the empire about the validity of the consecration of bishops and the sacraments as administered by the priests they ordained. The schism also fueled desires for a parliamentary form of church government and contributed to the rise of the 15th-century conciliar movement, which posited the supreme authority of ecumenical councils in the church. (see also Index: antipope)

The 16th-century Reformation forced the church to face its purely spiritual tasks and placed Reformation law as well as the legal powers of church leadership in the hands of the princes. Under King Henry VIII a revolutionary dissociation of the English Church from papal supremacy took place. In the German territories the reigning princes became, in effect, the legal guardians of the Protestant episcopate--a movement already in the process of consolidation in the late Middle Ages. The development in the Catholic nation-states, such as Spain, Portugal, and France, occurred in a similar way.

The democratic ideas of the freedom and equality of Christians and their representation in a communion of saints by virtue of voluntary membership had been disseminated in various medieval sects (e.g., Cathari, Waldenses, Hussites, and the Bohemian Brethren) and were reinforced during the Reformation by groups such as the Hutterites, Mennonites, and Schwenckfelders and the followers of Thomas Müntzer. Under the old ideal of an uncompromising realization of the Sermon on the Mount, there arose anew in these groups a renunciation of certain regulations of the state, such as military service and the acceptance of state offices (judgeship), a radical pacifism, and the attempt to structure their own form of common life in Christian, communist communities. Many of their political ideas--at first bloodily suppressed by the Reformation and Counter-Reformation states and churches--were later prominent in the Dutch wars of independence and in the English Revolution, which led to a new relationship between church and state.

In the Thirty Years' War (1618-48), confessional antitheses were settled in devastating religious wars, and the credibility of the feuding ecclesiastical parties was thereby called into question. Subsequently, from the 17th century on, the tendency toward a new, natural-law conception of the relationship between state and church was begun and continued. Henceforth, in the Protestant countries, state sovereignty was increasingly emphasized vis-à-vis the churches. The state established the right to regulate educational and marriage concerns as well as all foreign affairs of the church. A similar development also occurred in Roman Catholic areas. In the second half of the 18th century Febronianism demanded a replacement of papal centralism with a national church episcopal system; in the German Reich an enlightened state-church concept was established under Josephinism (a view advocated by Joseph II [reigned 1765-90]) through the dismantling of numerous ecclesiastical privileges. The Eastern Orthodox Church also was drawn into this development under Peter the Great.

(4) Separation of church and state.

The separation of church and state as proclaimed during the French Revolution in the latter part of the 18th century was the result of Reformational strivings toward a guarantee for the freedom of the church and the natural-law ideas of the Enlightenment; it was aggravated by the social revolutionary criticism against the wealthy ecclesiastical hierarchy. The separation of church and state was also achieved during and after the American Revolution as a result of ideas arising from the struggle of the Puritans against the English episcopal system and the English throne. After the state in France had undertaken the task of creating its own political, revolutionary substitute religion in the form of a "cult of reason," which was foreshadowed by Rousseau's discourse on "la religion civile," a type of separation of church and state was achieved. The French state took over education and other hitherto churchly functions of a civic nature.

From the late 18th century on, two fundamental attitudes developed in matters related to the separation of church and state. The first, as implied in the Constitution of the United States, was supported by a tendency to leave to the church, set free from state supervision, a maximum freedom in the realization of its spiritual, moral, and educational tasks. In the United States, for example, a comprehensive church school and educational system has been created by the churches on the basis of this freedom, and numerous universities have been founded by churches. The separation of church and state by the French Revolution and later in the Soviet Union and the countries under the Soviet Union's sphere of influence was based upon an opposite tendency. The attempt was to totally exterminate the church and to replace it with nationalism.

In contrast to this, National Socialism in Germany under Hitler showed paradoxical contradictions. On the one hand, Nazi propaganda pursued a consciously anti-Christian polemic against the church; it proceeded to arrest those clergy opposed to the Nazi worldview and policies. On the other hand, Hitler placed the greatest value upon concluding with the Vatican in 1934 a concordat that granted the Roman Catholic Church more special rights in the German Reich than had ever been granted it in any earlier concordat. The concordat with the Vatican represented the first recognition of the Hitler regime by a European government and was viewed by Hitler as a method of entrance into the circle of internationally recognized political powers.

In Germany the old state-church traditions had already been eliminated in the revolution of 1918, which, with the abolition of the monarchical system of government, also deprived the territorial churches of their supreme Protestant episcopal heads. In the German Weimar Constitution the revolution had earlier sanctioned the separation of church and state. State-church traditions were maintained in various forms in Germany, not only during the Weimar Republic but also during the Hitler regime and afterward in the Federal Republic of Germany. Thus, through state agreements, definite special rights, primarily in the areas of taxes and education, were granted to both the Roman Catholic Church and the Evangelical (Lutheran-Reformed) churches of the individual states.

Even in the United States, however, the old state-church system, overcome during the American Revolution, still produces aftereffects in the form of tax privileges of the church (exemption from most taxation), the exemption of the clergy from military service, and the financial furtherance of confessional school and educational systems through the state. These privileges have been questioned and even attacked by certain segments of the American public.

ii) Church and state in Eastern and Western theology.

The two main forms of the relationship between church and state that have been predominant and decisive through the centuries and in which the structural difference between the Roman Catholic Church and Eastern Orthodoxy becomes most evident can best be explained by comparing the views of two great theologians: Eusebius of Caesarea and Augustine.

(1) The views of Eusebius of Caesarea.

Eusebius of Caesarea (c. 260-c. 340) was the court theologian of Emperor Constantine the Great, who formed the Orthodox understanding of the mutual relationship of church and state. He saw the empire and the imperial church as sharing a close bond with one another; in the centre of the Christian empire stood the figure of the Christian emperor rather than that of the spiritual head of the church.

Eusebius made this idea the basis of his political theology, in which the Christian emperor appears as God's representative on Earth in whom God himself "lets shine forth the image of his absolute power." He is the "Godloved, three times blessed" servant of the highest ruler, who, "armed with divine armor cleans the world from the horde of the godless, the strong-voiced heralds of undeceiving fear of God," the rays of which "penetrate the world." Through the possession of these characteristics the Christian emperor is the archetype not only of justice but also of the love of humankind. When it is said about Constantine, "God himself has chosen him to be the lord and leader so that no man can praise himself to have raised him up," the rule of the Orthodox emperor has been based on the immediate grace of God.

This religious interpretation of the Christian emperor reinterpreted in the Christian sense the ancient Roman institution of the god-emperor. Some of Eusebius' remarks echo the cult of the Unconquered Sun, the Sol Invictus, who was represented by the emperor according to pagan understanding. The emperor--in this respect he also resembled the pagan god-emperor who played the role of the pontifex maximus(high priest) in the state cult--took the central position within the church as well. He summoned the synods of bishops, "as though he had been appointed bishop by God," presided over the synods, and granted judicial power for the empire to their decisions. He was the protector of the church who stood up for the preservation of unity and truth of the Christian faith and who fought not only as a warrior but also as an intercessor, as a second Moses during the battle against God's enemies, "holy and purely praying to God, sending his prayers up to him." The Christian emperor entered not only the political but also the sacred succession of the Roman god-emperor. Next to such a figure, an independent leadership of the church could hardly develop.

Orthodox theologians have understood the coexistence of the Christian emperor and the head of the Christian church as symphonia, or "harmony." The church recognized the powers of the emperor as protector of the church and preserver of the unity of faith and limited its own authority to the purely spiritual domain of preserving the Orthodox truth and order in the church. The emperor, on the other hand, was subject to the spiritual leadership of the church as far as he was a son of the church. (see also Index: Eastern Orthodoxy)

The special position of the imperial ruler and the function of the Byzantine patriarch as the spiritual head of the church have been defined in the Epanagogethe judicial ruling establishing this relationship of church and state. The church-judicial affirmation of this relationship in the 6th and 7th centuries made the development of a judicial independence of the Byzantine patriarch in the style of the Roman papacy impossible from the beginning.

The Epanagoge, however, did not completely subject the patriarch to the supervision of the emperor but rather directed him expressly "to support the truth and to undertake the defense of the holy teachings without fear of the emperor." Therefore, the tension between the imperial reign that misused its absolutism against the spiritual freedom of the church and a church that claimed its spiritual freedom against an absolutist emperor or tsar was characteristic for the Byzantine and Slavic political history but not the same as the political tension between the imperial power and the politicized papacy that occurred in the West.

(2) The views of Augustine.

Augustine's City of God attempted to answer the most painful event of his century: the fall of Rome. Augustine responded to the existential shock and dismay his contemporaries experienced with the collapse of their world by a literary demolition of their nostalgic paganism. From Augustine's perspective the "splendid vices" of the pagans had led inexorably to the fall of an idolatrous world. In sharp contrast to this "earthly city," epitomized by Rome but everywhere energized by the same human desires for praise and glory, Augustine projected the "most glorious city" of praise and thanks to God, the heavenly Jerusalem, a historical image of which was the new Rome of the Catholic Church. However, Augustine did not simply identify the state with the earthly city and the church with the city of God. He perceived that the state existed not simply in opposition to God but as a divine instrument for the welfare of humankind. The civitas dei and the civitas terrena finally correspond neither to church and state nor to heaven and earth. They are rather two opposed societies with antagonistic orders of value that intersect both state and church and in each case show the radical incompatibility of the love of God with the values of worldly society.

(3) Later developments.

Based upon Augustine's views, the historical development of the church in the Latin West took a different course, one away from the Byzantine imperial church. In the West a new power was formed--the Roman Church, the church of the bishop of Rome. This church understood itself as the successor of the extinct Roman Empire. In the political vacuum of the West that was created by the invasion of the Germans and the destruction of the Roman state and administrative apparatus, the church became great and powerful as the heir to the Roman Empire. Only within this vacuum could the idea of the papacy develop in which the great popes, as bishops of Rome, stepped into the position of the vanished emperors. (see also Index: Roman Catholicism)

It was in this context that the judicial pretense of the "Gift of the emperor Constantine"--the Donation of Constantine--became possible, to which the later development of the papacy was connected. The Donation attempted to reconstruct the history of the Roman papacy in retrospect in order to make legitimate the newly gained ecclesiastical and political position of the popes after the extinction of the Western Roman imperial reign. This fabrication entered papal ideology in written form through the mid-9th-century resource for canon law known as the Pseudo-Isadorian Decretals. The exposure of the Donation as a forgery did not occur until the 15th century. The Donation is the account of Constantine's purported conferring upon Pope Sylvester I (reigned 314-335) of the primacy of the West, including the imperial symbols of rulership. The Pope returned the crown to Constantine, who in gratitude moved the capital to Byzantium (Constantinople). The Donation thereby explained and legitimated a number of important political developments and papal claims, including the transfer of the capital to Byzantium, the displacement of old Rome by the new Rome of the church, papal secular authority, and the papal right to create an emperor by crowning him. The latter would be used to great effect when Pope Leo III crowned Charlemagne king of the Romans in 800. The force of this action was of great significance throughout the Middle Ages as popes exerted authority over the emperors of the Holy Roman Empire, and it explains the symbolic significance of Napoleon's taking the crown from Pope Pius VII's hands to crown himself. (see also Index: Constantine, Donation of, False Decretals)

This was the point of separation from which the developments in the East and in the West led in two different directions. The growing independence of the West was markedly illustrated by the Donation of Pepin (Pepin, father of Charlemagne, was anointed king of the Franks by Pope Stephen III in 754), which laid the foundation of the Papal States as independent of any temporal power and gave the pope the Byzantine exarchate of Ravenna. At this time the development of two different types of a Christian idea of the state and of the church began, and it subsequently ended in the schism between Rome and Byzantium in 1054.

The idea of the church as a state existed not only in the Roman theocracy and in the papal idea of the church, but it also appeared in a new democratic form and in strict contrast to its absolutist Roman model in some Reformation church and sect developments and in Free churches of the post-Reformation period. The sects of the Reformation period renewed the old idea of the Christian congregation as God's people, wandering on this Earth--a people connected with God, like Israel, through a special covenant. This idea of God's people and the special covenant of God with a certain chosen group caused the influx of theocratic ideas, which were expressed in forms of theocratic communities similar to states and led to formations similar to an ecclesiastical state. Such tendencies were exhibited among radical Reformation groups (e.g., the Münster prophets), Puritans in Massachusetts, and various groups of the American Western frontier. One of the rare exceptions to early modern theocratic theology was Luther's sharp distinction of political and ecclesial responsibilities by his dialectic of law and gospel. He commented that it is not necessary that an emperor be a Christian to rule, only that he possess reason.

The latest attempt to form a church-state by a sect that understood itself as the chosen people distinguished by God through a special new revelation was undertaken by the Mormons, the "Latter-day Saints." Based on the prophetic direction of their leaders, they attempted to found the state Deseret, after their entrance into the desert around the Great Salt Lake in Utah. The borders of the state were expected to include the largest part of the area of the present states of Utah, California, Arizona, Nevada, and Colorado. The Mormons, however, eventually had to recognize the fact that the comparatively small centre state, Utah, of the originally intended larger Mormon territory, could not exist as a theocracy (though structured as other secular models) under a government of Mormon Church leaders. Reports (some apparently spurious) by federal agents hostile to the church and widespread revulsion toward the Mormon practice of polygyny mitigated against federal sanction of the church leadership as the governmental heads of the proposed state. Utah eventually became a federal state of the United States.

The enlightened absolutist state of the 18th century basically took over the secularized form of the old Christian government that consciously took into account the equality of Christian denominations.


Ever since the Reformation, the development of Christianity's influence on the character of society has been twofold. In the realm of state churches and territorial churches, its influence has been a strong element in preserving the status quo of society. Thus, in England, the Anglican Church remained an ally of the throne, as did the Protestant churches of the German states. In Russia the Orthodox Church continued to support the feudal society founded upon the monarchy, and even the monarch carried out a leading function within the church as protector. (see also Index: established church, England, Church of, Russian Orthodox church)

Though the impulses for transformation of the social order according to the spirit of the Christian ethic came more strongly from the radical Free churches and sects, churches within the established system of state and territorial churches made positive contributions in improving the status quo. In 17th- and 18th-century Germany, Lutheran clergy, such as August Francke (1663-1727), were active in establishing poorhouses, orphanages, schools, and hospitals. In England, Anglican clergymen, such as Frederick Denison Maurice and Charles Kingsley in the 19th century, began a Christian social movement in the throes of the Industrial Revolution. Their movement brought a Christian influence to the conditions of life and work in industry. Johann Hinrich Wichern proclaimed, "There is a Christian Socialism," at the Kirchentag Church Convention in Wittenberg, Ger., in 1848, the year of the publication of the Communist Manifesto, and created the "Inner Mission" in order to address "works of saving love" to all suffering spiritual and physical distress. The diaconal movements of the Inner Mission were concerned with social issues, prison reform, and care of the mentally ill. Only in tsarist Russia did the church fail in matters concerning social problems and the Industrial Revolution. (see also Index: Lutheranism)

The Anglo-Saxon Free churches made great efforts to bring the social atmosphere and living conditions into line with a Christian understanding of human life. Methodists and Baptists addressed their message mainly to those segments of society that were neglected by the established church. They recognized that the distress of the newly formed working class, a consequence of industrialization, could not be removed by the traditional charitable means used by the state churches. The fact that in Germany, in particular, the spiritual leaders of the so-called revival movement, such as Friedrich Wilhelm Krummacher (1796-1868) and others, denied the right of self-organization to the workers by claiming that all earthly social injustices would receive compensation in heaven caused Karl Marx and Friedrich Engels to separate themselves completely from the church and its purely charitable attempts at a settlement of social conflicts and to declare religion with its promise of a better beyond as the "opiate of the people." This reproach, however, was as little in keeping with the social-ethical activities of the Inner Mission and of Methodists and Baptists as it was with the selfless courage of the Quakers, who fought against social demoralization, against the catastrophic situation in the prisons, and, most of all, against slavery.

i) The problem of slavery and persecution.

The fight against slavery has passed through many controversial phases in the history of Christianity. Paul recommended to Philemon that he accept back his runaway slave Onesimus, "no longer as a slave but more than a slave, as a beloved brother . . . both in the flesh and in the Lord" (verse 16). Although the biblical writings made no direct attack upon the ancient world's institution of slavery, its proleptic abolition in community with Christ--"There is neither Jew nor Greek, there is neither slave nor free, there is neither male nor female; for you are all one in Christ Jesus" (Galatians 3:28)--has been a judgment upon the world's and the Christian community's failure to overcome slavery and all forms of oppression. Medieval society made only slow progress in the abolition of slavery. One of the special tasks of the orders of knighthood was the liberation of Christian slaves who had fallen captive to the Muslims; and special knightly orders were even founded for the ransom of Christian slaves. (see also Index: Galatians, The Letter of Paul to the, Middle Ages)

With the discovery of the New World, the institution of slavery grew to proportions greater than had been previously conceived. The widespread conviction of the Spanish conquerors of the New World that its inhabitants were not really human in the full sense of the word and therefore could be made slaves in good conscience added to the problem. The attempt of missionaries, such as Bartolomé de Las Casas in 16th-century Peru, to counter the inhuman system of slavery in the colonial economic systems finally introduced the great basic debate concerning the question of human rights. A decisive part in the elaboration of the general principles of human rights was taken by the Spanish and Portuguese theologians of the 16th and 17th centuries, especially Francisco de Vitoria. Even modern natural law, however, could still be interpreted in a conservative sense that did not make slavery contrary to its provisions. Puritanism, however, fought against slavery as an institution. In German Pietism, Nikolaus Ludwig, Graf von Zinzendorf, who became acquainted with slavery on the island of Saint Croix in the Virgin Islands, used his influence on the King of Denmark for the human rights of the slaves. The Methodist and Baptist churches advocated abolition of slavery in the United States in the decisive years preceding the foundation of the New England Anti-Slavery Society in Boston in 1832 by William Lloyd Garrison. In regard to the fight against slavery in England and in The Netherlands, which was directed mainly against the participation of Christian trade and shipping companies in the profitable slave trade, the Free churches were very active. The overcoming of the institution of slavery did not end racial discrimination. Martin Luther King, Jr., Baptist pastor and Nobel laureate, led the struggle for civil rights in the United States until his assassination in 1968. In South Africa in the 1980s, Desmond Tutu, Anglican archbishop and Nobel laureate, exemplified a continuing Christian struggle for human rights. (see also Index: Americas, abolitionism)

The fight against slavery is only a model case in the active fight of the Christian churches and fellowships against numerous other attempts at desecration of a Christian understanding of the nature of humanity, which sees in every human being a neighbour created in God's image and redeemed by Christ. Similar struggles arose against the persecution of the Jews and the elimination of members of society characterized by political or racist ideology as "inferior." In Germany the members of the Confessing Church fought against the practices of National Socialism, which called for the elimination of the mentally ill and the inmates of mental and nursing institutions, who were considered "unfit to live."

ii) Theological and humanitarian motivations.

Decisive impulses for achieving changes in the social realm in the sense of a Christian ethic have been and are initiated by men and women in the grasp of a deep personal Christian experience of faith, for whom the message of the coming Kingdom of God forms the foundation for faithful affirmation of social responsibility in the present world. Revival movements have viewed the Christian message of the Kingdom of God mainly as an impulse for reorganization of the secular conditions of society in the sense of a Kingdom of God ethic. Under the leadership of an American Baptist theologian, Walter Rauschenbusch (1861-1918), the so-called Social Gospel movement spread in the Anglo-Saxon countries. A corresponding movement was started with the Christian social conferences by German Protestant theologians, such as Paul Martin Rade (1857-1940) of Marburg. The basic idea of the Social Gospel--i.e., the emphasis on the social-ethical tasks of the church--gained widespread influence within the ecumenical movement and especially affected Christian world missions. In many respects modern economic and other forms of aid to developing countries--including significant ecumenical contributions from the World Council of Churches, the World Alliance of Reformed Churches, the Lutheran World Federation, and the Roman Catholic Church--have now succeeded the Social Gospel. (see also Index: revivalism)

There is concern on the part of some Christians that these developments reduce the Christian message to a purely secular social program that is absorbed by political programs. Others in the Christian community believe that faithful responsibility in and to the world requires political, economic, and social assistance to oppressed peoples with the goal of their liberation to a full human life.


i) Intellectualism versus anti-intellectualism.

In contrast to Tertullian's anti-intellectual attitude, an exactly opposite attitude toward intellectual activities has also made itself heard from the beginning of the Christian Church (e.g., by Clement of Alexandria). It also has its basis in the nature of Christian faith. In the 11th century Anselm of Canterbury expressed it in the formula fides quaerens intellectum ("faith seeking understanding"), a formula that has become the rallying point for scholastics of all times. Because people have been endowed with reason, they have an urge to express their experience of faith intellectually, to translate the contents of faith into concepts, and to formulate beliefs in a systematic understanding of the correlation between God, humankind, and creation. Christians of the 1st century came from the upper levels of society and were acquainted with the philosophy and natural science of their time. Justin Martyr, a professional philosopher, saw Christian revelation as the fulfillment, not the elimination, of philosophical understanding. The Logos term of the opening chapter of the Gospel According to John is the point of departure for the intellectual history of salvation. The light of the Logos (a Greek word meaning "word" or "reason," with the sense of divine or universal reason permeating the intelligible world) had made itself manifest in a number of sparks and seeds in human history even before its incarnation in the person of Jesus Christ. (see also Index: education, history of )

These two contrasting opinions have stood in permanent tension with one another. In medieval Scholasticism the elevation of Christian belief to the status of scientific universal knowledge was dominant. Theology became the instructor of the different sciences, organized according to the traditional classification of trivium (grammar, rhetoric, and dialectic) and quadrivium (music, arithmetic, geometry, and astronomy) and incorporated into the system of education as "servants of theology." This system of education became part of the structure of the universities that were founded in the 13th century. The different sciences only gradually gained a certain independence.

With the Reformation there was widespread concern for education because the Reformers desired everyone to be able to read the Bible. Their concern was the beginning of universal, public education. Luther also argued that it was necessary for society that its youth be educated. He held that it was the duty of civil authorities to compel their subjects to keep their children in school so "that there will always be preachers, jurists, pastors, writers, physicians, schoolmasters, and the like, for we cannot do without them."

Open conflict between science and theology occurred only when the traditional biblical view of the world was seriously questioned, as in the case of the Italian astronomer Galileo (1633). The principles of Galileo's scientific research, however, were themselves the result of a Christian idea of science and truth. The biblical faith in God as Creator and incarnate Redeemer is an explicit affirmation of the goodness, reality, and contingency of the created world--assumptions underlying scientific work. Thus, in the 20th century, William Temple, archbishop of Canterbury, could assert that Christianity is an avowedly materialistic religion. Positive tendencies concerning education and science have always been dominant in the history of Christianity, even though the opposite attitude arose occasionally during certain periods. Thus the German astronomer Johannes Kepler (1571-1630) spoke of celebrating God in science.

The attitude that had been hostile toward intellectual endeavours was less frequently heard after the Christian Church had become the church of the Roman Empire. But the relationship between science and theology was also attacked when the understanding of truth that had been developed within theology was turned critically against the dogma of the church itself. This occurred, for instance, after the natural sciences and theology had turned away from total dependence upon tradition and directed their attention toward experience--observation and experiment. A number of fundamental dogmatic principles and understandings were thus questioned and eventually abandoned. The struggle concerning the theory of evolution (e.g., the Scopes Trial in Tennessee in 1925) has been a conspicuous modern symptom of this trend.

The estrangement of theology and natural science in the modern period was a complex development related to confessional controversies and wars in the 16th and 17th centuries and philosophical perspectives in the 18th and 19th centuries. The epistemological foundation of faith was radically called into question by the Scottish philosopher David Hume. Building upon Hume's work, the German philosopher Immanuel Kant advocated freedom from any heteronomous authority, such as the church and dogmas, that could not be established by reason alone. Scholars withdrew from the decisions of church authorities and were willing to subject themselves only to critical reason and experience. The rationalism of the Enlightenment appeared to be the answer of science to the claim of true faith that had been made by the churches, which had become untrustworthy through the religious wars and the influence of philosophy.

ii) Forms of Christian education.

The Christian Church created the bases of the Western system of education. From its beginning the Christian community faced external and internal challenges to its faith, which it met by developing and utilizing intellectual and educational resources. The response to the external challenge of rival religions and philosophical perspectives is termed apologetics--i.e., the intellectual defense of the faith. Apologetic theologians from Justin Martyr in the 2nd century to Paul Tillich in the 20th have promoted critical dialogue between the Christian community, the educated world, and other religions. The internal challenges to the Christian community were met not only by formulating the faith in creeds and dogmas but also by passing this faith on to the next generations through education. (see also Index: religious education, educational system )

In the early Middle Ages a system of schools was formed at the seats of bishops to educate clergy and to teach the civil servants of the government and administrative offices. The school at the court of Charlemagne (which was conducted by clergy), the medieval schools of the religious orders, cathedrals, monasteries, convents, and churches, the flourishing schools of the Brethren of the Common Life, and the Roman Catholic school systems that came into existence during the Counter-Reformation under the leadership of the Jesuits and other new teaching orders contributed much to the civilization of the West. Equally important were the schools and educational reforms started by the German Reformers Luther, Philipp Melanchthon, Johann Bugenhagen, John and August Hermann Francke, and the Moravian reformers John Amos Comenius and the Graf von Zinzendorf. The church was responsible for the system of schools even after the Reformation. Only in the 18th century did the school system start to separate itself from its Christian roots and fall more and more under state control.

With the separation of church and state, both institutions have entered into tensely manifold relationships. In some countries the state has taken over the school system completely and does not allow private church schools except in a few special cases in which constant control is maintained regarding religious instruction as a part of the state's educational task. Other countries (e.g., France) maintain school systems basically free of religion and leave the religious instruction to the private undertakings of the different churches. In the American Revolution the concept of the separation of state and church was a lofty goal that was supposed to free the church from all patronization by the state and to make possible a maximum of free activity, particularly in the area of education. On the other hand, the Soviet Union used its schools particularly for an anti-religious education based upon the state philosophy of dialectical materialism, practicing the constitutionally guaranteed freedom of anti-religious propaganda in schools, though the churches were forbidden to give any education outside their worship services.

A second issue that results from the separation of church and state is the question of state subsidies to private church schools. These are claimed in those countries in which the church schools in many places take over part of the functions of the state schools (e.g., in the United States). After the ideological Positivism and the Materialism of the 19th century faded away in many areas, it was realized that religious life had had an important role in the cultural development of the West and the New World and that the practiced exclusion of religious instruction from the curricula of the schools indicated a lack of balance in education. Based on new insights, it has therefore been maintained in the 20th century that religion should be adopted as a subject among the humanities. State universities in the United States, Canada, and Australia, which did not have theological faculties because of the separation of church and state, founded departments of religion of an interdenominational nature and included non-Christians as academic teachers of religion. (see also Index: government support)

The Christian system of education led to the early founding of universities. The university was a creation of medieval Europe and spread from there to other continents after the 16th century. The universities that had been formed in the beginning through the unification of schools for monks and schools for regular clergy succeeded in gaining their relative independence by agreements with church and state. The universities represented the unity of education that was apparent in the common use of the Latin language, the teaching methods of lecture and disputation, the extended communal living in colleges, the periodically changing leadership of an elected dean, the inner structure according to faculties or "nations," and the European recognition of the academic degrees.

The advent of humanism and the Reformation created a new situation for all systems of education, especially the universities. Humanists demanded plans to provide designated places for free research in academies that were princely or private institutions and, as such, not controlled by the church. On the other hand, the Protestant states of the Reformation created their own new state universities, such as Marburg in 1527, Königsberg in 1544, and Jena in 1558. As a counteraction, the Jesuits took over the leadership in the older universities that had remained Roman Catholic or else founded new ones in Europe and overseas.

In overseas areas, Christian education has had a twofold task. First, its function was to lay an educational foundation for evangelization of non-Christian peoples by forming a system of education for all levels from grammar school to university. Second, its function was to take care of the education of European settlers. To a large extent the European colonial powers had left the formation of an educational system in their colonies or dominions to the churches. In the Spanish colonial regions in America, Roman Catholic universities were founded very early (e.g., Santo Domingo in 1538, Mexico and Lima in 1551, Guatemala in 1562, and Bogotá in 1573). In China, Jesuit missionaries acted mainly as agents of European education and culture (e.g., astronomy, mathematics, and technology) in their positions as civil servants of the court. (see also Index: colonialism)

Since the 18th century, the activities of competing Christian denominations in mission areas has led to an intensification of the Christian system of education in Asia and Africa. Even where the African and Asian states have their own system of schools and universities, Christian educational institutions have performed a significant function (St. Xavier University in Bombay and Sophia University in Tokyo are Jesuit foundations; Doshisha University in Kyoto is a Japanese Presbyterian foundation).

In North America, Christian education took a different course. From the beginning, the churches took over the creation of general educational institutions. The various denominations did pioneer work in the field of education; a state school system was established only after the situation had consolidated itself. In the English colonies, later the United States, the denominations founded theological colleges for the purpose of educating their ministers and established universities dealing with all major disciplines, including theology, often emphasizing a denominational slant. Harvard University was founded in 1636 and Yale University in 1701 as Congregational establishments, and the College of William and Mary was established in 1693 as an Anglican institution. They were followed during the 19th century by other Protestant universities (e.g., Southern Methodist University, Dallas, Texas) and colleges (e.g., Augustana College, Rock Island, Ill.). In addition, many private universities were based upon a Christian idea of education according to the wishes of their founders.

Christian education has been undertaken in a variety of forms. The system of Sunday schools is nearly universal in all denominations. Confirmation instruction is more specialized, serving different tasks, such as preparation of the children for confirmation, their conscious acknowledgment of the Christian ethic, of the Christian confessions, of the meaning of the sacraments, and of the special forms of congregational life. ( E.W.B./C.H.Li.)


The Christian community has fostered the development of a Christian culture in all areas of life. In this development the arts have played major roles in expressing, communicating, and deepening the faith of the community. At times some art has been rejected because either the content or the form was perceived as incompatible with the faith of the community. For example, the antipathy of the early church, especially in Orthodox realms, to theatre was related to the perception that the Greek theatre was preoccupied with ancient myths and deities and that comedy excused immorality. Instrumental music also was rejected in Orthodoxy because of both its accustomed role in pagan cults and the belief that God should not be praised with "dead" materials. The Orthodox community did not completely reject dramatic and musical art, however, but transformed them into the service of the church through rich liturgical dramas and extraordinary choir music. (see also Index: religious art)

The didactic use of art, succinctly expressed by Pope Gregory I the Great in the phrase "images are the books of the laity," was present in the architecture and art of the churches constructed up to the modern period. The symbolic significance of the church building in the shape of a cross, its deep entrances leading into sacred space, the carefully engineered proportions of the building, the use of light and shadow in relation to statues and stained glass, the smells of candles and incense, not to mention the liturgy itself--all these forms, colours, sights, sounds, and smells worked to communicate a sense of the sacred. The sculptures and stained-glass windows were graphic presentations of biblical stories and moral instructions to which the preacher could point and to which the largely illiterate congregation could return for reflection and edification. The very location of the church in the centre of medieval towns and villages gave physical expression to the community's faith in God's presence in the world.

Until the Renaissance the arts were patronized by and in service to the Christian community. Since then there has been a growing independence of artists from the church. In the modern period the older "Christ against culture" concerns of the early church have once again been raised. The Christian community has by and large not found the criterion of religious subject matter satisfactory for its decisions about art. While the music of Richard Wagner may be regarded as inappropriate for the church because of his preoccupation with Teutonic gods and goddesses, a painting such as Picasso's "Guernica" depicting human sin and evil may be appropriate. At the same time a musical, literary, plastic, or graphic representation of Jesus may either vitiate and trivialize the faith of the community, as in modern sentimentalized "portraits" of Jesus, or profoundly express that faith, as in Matthias Grünewald's "Isenheim Altarpiece" portraying the Crucifixion (see photograph).

The Christian community, sensitized by its Jewish roots and the Hebrew prohibition of idolatry, has been aware that the beauty of the holy may be twisted into the holiness of beauty. Thus, at various times in history there have been iconoclastic reactions to art. But for the most part the Christian community has appreciated and contributed to the didactic, expressive, and symbolic representation of faith and the human condition. (C.H.Li.)


i) Curing and caring for the sick.

(1) Healing the sick.

The Christian Church has administered its concern for the sick in a twofold manner: both by healing the sick and by expressing concern and caring for them. The practice of healing has retreated into the background in modern times, but healing played a decisive role in the success of the early church and was important in missionary apologetics. In the Gospels, Jesus appears as a healer of body and soul. The title "Christ the Physician" was the most popular name for the Lord in missionary preaching of the first centuries. Even the Apostles are characterized as healers. The apologetics of the church of the 2nd to 4th century used numerous miraculous healings as arguments for the visible presence of the Holy Spirit in the church. The Fathers of the first centuries interpreted the entire sphere of charismatic life from the basic concepts that Christ is the physician, the church the hospital, the sacraments the medication, and orthodox theology the medicine chest against heresy. Ignatius of Antioch called the Eucharist the "medication that produces immortality."

The history of charismatic healing has hardly been explored. Miracles of healing remain a characteristic attribute of the great Christian charismatics of the Roman Catholic Church as well as of the Eastern Orthodox. Healing within the church began to retreat only in connection with the transformation of the church into a state church under Constantine and with the replacement of free charismatics by ecclesiastical officials. (see also Index: faith healing )

The early basis for healing was generally a demonological interpretation of sickness: healing was often carried out as an exorcism--that is, a ceremonial liturgical adjuration of the demon that was supposed to cause the illness and its expulsion from the sick person. The development of exorcism is characteristic in that the office of the exorcist eventually became one of the lower levels of ordination, which led to the priesthood. Traditionally, exorcisms were connected not with the rite of baptism alone; the Rituale Romanum (Roman Ritual) contains many liturgical formulas for cases of demoniacal possession. Only the Enlightenment in the 18th century repressed the practice of exorcisms within the Roman Catholic Church.

In the churches of the Reformation, exorcism never completely vanished; in Pietistic circles several exorcists have appeared; e.g., Johann Christoph Blumhardt the Elder (1805-80). With the motto "Jesus is Conquerer," Blumhardt transformed his healing centre at Bad Boll, Ger., into an influential resource for international missionary work. His son, Christoph Friedrich Blumhardt (1842-1919), continued his father's work and in sympathy with working-class needs included political action as a member of the Württemberg Diet. Since the latter part of the 19th century, different groups of the Pentecostal and charismatic movements have re-accepted the use of exorcistic rituals with great emphasis and--pointing to the power of the Holy Spirit--they claim the charisma of healing as one of the spiritual gifts granted the believing Christian. After the basic connection between healing of the body and healing of the soul and the psychogenic origin of many illnesses was acknowledged theologically and medically, different older churches, such as the Protestant Episcopal Church and even the Roman Catholic Church in the United States, have reinstituted healing services.

In terms of spiritual healing, one church has stood out in this respect in North America. Mary Baker Eddy (1821-1910), the founder of Christian Science, referred particularly to healing through the Spirit as her special mission. Based on her experience of a successful healing from a serious illness by Phineas Quimby, a pupil of the German hypnotist Franz Mesmer, she wrote her work Science and Health with Key to the Scriptures and founded the Church of Christ, Scientist. According to the instructions of its founder, Christian Science today carries out a practice of "spiritual healing" throughout the world.

(2) Care for the sick.

From the beginning another concern besides healing was care for the sick, an element of the earliest commandments of Christian ethics. At the Last Judgment, Christ the Judge will say to the chosen ones on his right hand: "I was sick and you visited me," and to the condemned on his left hand: "I was sick and you did not visit me." To the condemneds' surprised questions as to when they saw Christ sick and did not visit him, they will receive the answer: "As you did it not to one of the least of these, you did it not to me." (see also Index: health care)

The first office created by the church in Jerusalem was the diaconate; it spread rapidly throughout the entire church. The care of the sick was carried out by the deacons and widows under the leadership of the bishop. This service was not limited to members of the Christian congregation but was directed toward the larger community, particularly in times of pestilence and plague. Eusebius included in his Ecclesiastical History the report that while the heathen fled the plague at Alexandria, "most of our brother-Christians showed unbounded love and loyalty" in caring for and frequently dying with the victims.

During the Middle Ages the monasteries took over the care of the sick and created a new institution, the hospital. The growing number of pilgrims to the Holy Land and the necessity of care of their numerous sick, who had fallen victim to the unfamiliar conditions of climate and life, led to knightly hospital orders, the most important of which was the Order of the Hospital of St. John of Jerusalem (later called the Knights of Malta). The service for the sick, which was carried out by the knights besides their military service for the protection of the pilgrims, was not elaborate.

In connection with the orders of mendicant friars, especially the Franciscans, civil hospital orders were formed. Even the hospital in Marburg that was founded by St. Elizabeth of Hungary (1207-31) on the territory of the Knights of the Teutonic Order was influenced by the spirit of St. Francis. Other hospitals were founded as autonomous institutions under the leadership or supervision of a bishop. The meaningful centralization of the different existing institutions became necessary with the growth of cities and was most frequently undertaken by city councils. The laity began to take over, but the spiritual and pastoral care of the patients remained a major concern.

In the realm of the Lutheran Reformation, the medieval nursing institutions were adapted to new conditions. The church constitutions in the different territories of Reformed churches stressed the duty of caring for the sick and gave suggestions for its adequate realization. The office of the deacon was supplemented by that of the deaconess; and these offices of service were considered part of the polity of the church of the New Testament. The Counter-Reformation brought a new impulse for caring for the sick in the Roman Catholic Church, insofar as special orders for nursing service were founded--e.g., the Daughters of Charity, a non-enclosed congregation of women devoted to the care of the sick and the poor, by Vincent de Paul, who was a notable charismatic healer. A great number of new orders came into existence and spread the spirit and institutions of ecclesiastical nursing care throughout the world as part of Roman Catholic world missions.

In the realm of Protestantism, the Free churches led in the care of the sick. Methodists, Baptists, and Quakers all had a great share in this development, founding numerous hospitals throughout the world and supplying them with willing male and female helpers. German Lutheranism was influenced by these developments. In 1823 Amalie Sieveking developed a sisterhood analogous to the Daughters of Charity and was active in caring for the cholera victims of the great Hamburg epidemic of 1831. She was an inspiration to Theodor Fliedner, who founded the first Protestant hospital in Kaiserswerth in 1836 and created at the same time the female diaconate, an order of nurses that soon found worldwide membership and recognition. Florence Nightingale received training at Kaiserswerth, which was an important model for modern nursing schools.

Church hospitals and ecclesiastical nursing care still maintain a leading and exemplary role in the 20th century, although along with the general political and social development of the 19th century the city or communal hospital was founded and overtook the church hospital.

The most impressive example of the universal spread of care for the sick was the founding of the Red Cross by the Swiss humanitarian Henri Dunant. The religious influence of Dunant's pious parental home in Geneva and the shocking impression he received on the battlefield of Solferino in June 1859 led him to work out suggestions that--after difficult negotiations with representatives of numerous states--led to the conclusion of the "Geneva convention regarding the care and treatment in wartime of the wounded military personnel." In the 20th century the activity of the Red Cross has embraced not only the victims of military actions but also peace activity, which includes aid for the sick, for the handicapped, for the elderly and children, and for the victims of all types of disasters everywhere in the world.

ii) Care for widows and orphans.

From the beginning the Christian congregation cared for the poor, the sick, widows, and orphans. The Letter of James says: "Religion that is pure and undefiled before God is this: to visit orphans and widows in their affliction." Widows formed a special group in the congregations and were asked to help with nursing care and other diaconic (from diakonia, or faith active in love and service to all) congregational tasks as long as they did not need help and care themselves. (see also Index: widowhood)

The church had founded orphanages during the 4th century, and the monasteries took over this task during the Middle Ages. They also fought against the practice of abandoning unwanted children and established foundling hospitals. In this area, as in others, a secularization of church institutions took place in connection with the spreading autonomy of the cities. In the Reformed churches the establishment of orphanages was furthered systematically. In Holland almost every congregation had its own orphanage, which was sustained through the gifts of the members.

Following the great wars of the 17th century, the orphanages were reorganized pedagogically, notably by August Hermann Francke, who connected the orphanage in Glaucha, Ger., which he had founded, with a modern system of secondary schools. Francke's orphanage became a model that was frequently imitated in England and also in North America. An exemplary proponent of comprehensive Christian caring and curing for the whole person and community was the Alsatian Lutheran pastor Johann Friedrich Oberlin (1740-1826). Responsible for a remote and barren area in the Vosges Mountains, Oberlin transformed the impoverished villages into prosperous communities. He led in establishing schools, roads, bridges, banks, stores, agricultural societies (with the introduction of potato cultivation), and industries. His nursery schools were imitated in many areas through "Oberlin Societies." These efforts provided a significant contribution to the development of modern welfare, which in the 20th century is mainly the responsibility of state, communal, or humanitarian organizations but is still characterized strongly by its Christian roots. (E.W.B./C.H.Li.)

iii) Property, poverty, and the poor.

The Christian community's relation to the questions of property, poverty, and the poor may be sketched in terms of four major perspectives, which have historically overlapped and sometimes coexisted in mutuality or contradiction. The first perspective, both chronologically and in continuing popularity, is personal charity. This was the predominant form of the church's relationship to the poor from the 1st to the 16th century. The second perspective supplements the remedial work of charity by efforts for preventive welfare through structural changes in society. This concern to remove causes of poverty was clearly expressed in the Reformation but was soon submerged in the profound sociopolitical and economic changes of the time. The third perspective is a retreat into the charity models of the earlier Christian community. Because of the overwhelming effects of the process of secularization and the human misery caused by industrialization, the key to social welfare was expressed in the Pietist maxim that social change depended upon the conversion of individuals. The fourth perspective, present in churches of the modern period, envisions systemic social change to facilitate redistribution of the world's wealth. Personal charity is not neglected, but the major goal is to change the unjust structures of world society.

The early Christian community's teachings on property and poverty were marked by the tension between its expectation of support from the wealthy and its biblically rooted criticism of wealth. The solution was to place rich and poor in a symbiotic relationship oriented toward salvation. The rich supply the needs of the poor, who in turn provide the rich with the opportunity for good works and prayers for their salvation. (see also Index: wealth and income, distribution of)

Augustine's doctrine of charity became the heart of Christian thought and practice. Augustine portrayed the Christian pilgrimage toward the heavenly city by analogy to a traveler's journey home. The city of God, humankind's true home, is characterized by the love of God even to the contempt of self, whereas the earthly city is characterized by the love of self even to the contempt of God. It is the goal--not the journey--that is ultimately important. The world and its goods must be used for the journey, but if they are enjoyed they direct the traveler away from God to the earth. This imagery incorporates into the heart of Christian theology the great medieval themes of pilgrimage, renunciation, alienation, and asceticism; and the biblical and early Christian suspicion of riches receives systematic theological articulation. Pride and covetousness are the major vices; humility and almsgiving are the major virtues; and poverty is endorsed as the favoured status for the Christian life.

This view did not, however, lead to a rejection of property and its importance for society. Against both Marcionite denigration of the world and Gnostic communism, respect for private property was maintained as integral to a comprehensive ethic. It was clear that without property Christians could not care for the needy. And, although Gregory of Nazianzus (c. 330-c. 389) linked private property to the Fall, he understood that the abolition of private property would not cure sin. Property and wealth should be shared, not relinquished. Yet the paradox of 2 Corinthians 6:10 remained: How could a Christian be poor yet make many rich, have nothing yet possess everything? The answers given were communal property, charity to the needy, avoidance of avarice, and concentration upon heavenly treasure. In this way the early Christian community achieved an aristocratic attitude to riches. The solutions of institutionalizing poverty in priesthood and monasticism, while rationalizing poverty as poverty of the spirit and material wealth as God's provision for ministry, formed the basis for medieval care of the poor.

The medieval Christian community promoted almsgiving within a theological framework oriented to the future salvation of the individual. Although this framework was a stimulus to insightful and humane laws and actions, it did not result in the formulation of policies to deal with the major social and economic changes that accompanied the late medieval shift from rural-agricultural society to urban-commercial society. (see also Index: Middle Ages)

The most influential medieval thinker on the problem of property was Thomas Aquinas. Thomas saw community of goods as rooted in natural law because it makes no distinction of possessions. The natural law of common use protects every person's access to earthly goods and requires responsibility by everyone to provide for the needs of others. Private property, on the other hand, is rooted in positive law through human reason. In history, reason leads to the conclusion that the common good is served if everyone has disposition of his own property because there is more incentive to work, goods are more carefully used, and peace is better preserved when all are satisfied with what they have. Private property exists to serve the common good; thus, superfluous property is to be distributed as alms to the needy.

The other major effort to deal with property and poverty at this time was through rational direction and administration. As cities developed into political corporations, a new element entered welfare work: an organizing citizenry. Through their town councils, citizens began to claim the authority to administer the ecclesiastical welfare work of hospitals and poor relief. The process was accelerated by the Reformers, whose theology undercut the medieval idealization of poverty. According to the Reformers, righteousness before God was by faith alone apart from human works, and salvation was perceived as the foundation of life rather than its goal. Thus, the Reformation community found it difficult to rationalize the plight of the poor as a peculiar form of blessedness, and no salvific value either in being poor or in giving alms could be identified. When the Reformers turned to poor relief and social welfare, their new theological perspectives led them to raise questions of social justice and social structures. This was institutionalized in the "common chest" sections of Protestant church legislation, which spread throughout Europe from its origin in Wittenberg. The common chest--funded by church endowments, offerings, and taxes--was the community's financial resource for providing support to the poor, orphans, aged, unemployed, and underemployed through subsidies, low-interest loans, and gifts. The attempt to resolve social problems in the cities was a constitutive part of the early Reformation. (see also Index: city government)

In the following centuries the heirs of Luther and Calvin, although producing noteworthy examples of compassion and charity for the poor, nevertheless lost their "fathers' " vision of a social ethic that was preventive as well as therapeutic. Like their Roman Catholic counterparts, the Protestants made noteworthy efforts to serve the poor but ignored the root causes of poverty.

In the 18th and 19th centuries the social institutions of Pietism, the Inner Mission, and European revival movements inspired social concern for the masses of people pauperized and proletarianized by industrialism. The Methodists in England undertook adult education, schooling, reform of prisons, abolition of slavery, and aid to alcoholics. Famous missions arose in Basel, London, and Paris. The Young Men's Christian Association (YMCA; 1844), Young Women's Christian Association (YWCA; 1855), and the Salvation Army (1865) were only some of the numerous charitable institutions and organizations created to alleviate modern ills. In 1848 Johann Wichern, founder of the Inner Mission, proclaimed that "love no less than faith is the church's indispensable mark."

Yet this Christian social concern hardly was aware of and rarely attempted to expose the origins of the social ills it strove to remedy. Wichern himself was aware that poverty is social, not natural, but his orientation, like that of others, was toward renewing society through evangelization. This attitude--that society is changed by changing the hearts of individuals--is still prevalent.

In recent years, however, the Christian community, especially in its ecumenical organizations, has begun to analyze the social problems of property and poverty from the standpoint of justice and the perspectives of the poor and oppressed. In 1970 the World Council of Churches (WCC) established the Commission for the Churches' Participation in Development (CCPD). Initially involved in development programs and the provision of technical services, the CCPD focus has shifted to the psychological and political character of the symbiosis of development and underdevelopment. This focus was endorsed at the 1975 WCC Assembly at Nairobi, Kenya, as "a liberating process aimed at justice, self-reliance and economic growth." Other church bodies, such as the Lutheran World Federation and the World Alliance of Reformed Churches, share this perspective. Emergency relief and development projects--the modern equivalents of charity--have not ceased, but there is growing realization, due to the increasing participation of so-called Third World churches, that the biblical themes of justice and liberation entail the creation of social structures to enhance human life, economic structures for just distribution of goods, and political structures to promote participation and minimize dependence. The present WCC paradigm for this mission is the church in solidarity with the poor. (see also Index: economic development)

iv) Pastoral care.

Pastoral care has always been of special importance in the Christian community. The biographies of the great charismatic ministers, beginning with the Fathers of the Eastern Church and the Western Church, testify to surprising variations of this pastoral care. The principal interest of pastoral care--whether exercised by clergy or laity--is the personal welfare of persons who are hurt, troubled, alienated, or confused within the context of ultimate concerns and meanings. The historical expressions of pastoral care have focused on the predominant--but not exclusive--expressions of ultimate concern characteristic of the period in question. According to Paul Tillich, in The Courage to Be (1952), these concerns may be described in terms of the anxieties of death (early church), guilt (Middle Ages), and meaninglessness (modern period). Thus, Ignatius addressed the terror of death when he termed the sacrament "the medicine of immortality"; Luther responded to the conscience tortured by guilt and uncertainty by proclaiming the free forgiveness of sin by grace alone, apart from human accomplishment; and the modern Christian community has utilized the insights of psychology and psychiatry in developing pastoral counseling and therapy responsive to modern anxieties. Fundamentally, however, pastoral care has always attempted to respond to the totality of human needs in every age in consonance with the words of Jesus Christ: "I was hungry and you gave me food, I was thirsty and you gave me drink, I was a stranger and you welcomed me, I was naked and you clothed me, I was sick and you visited me, I was in prison and you came to me" (Matthew 25:35-36).

The first influential contribution to pastoral care after the New Testament was by Pope Gregory I the Great. His Pastoral Care written after he became bishop of Rome in 590, was so influential that it became customary to present it to new bishops upon their ordination. This textbook of the medieval episcopate emphasized the role of the pastor as shepherd of souls.

The medieval institutionalization of pastoral care in the sacrament of penance led to certain deficits in practice: the exclusion of the laity by emphasis upon the central role of the priest and the distortion of its original spiritual purposes of prayer, repentance, and forgiveness of sins by the introduction of paid indulgences. The indulgence abuse sparked the Reformation critique of the sacrament of penance. This in turn led to the Reformers' emphasis upon lay as well as clerical responsibility for pastoral care as expressed in their teaching of "the priesthood of all believers." The Reformation insistence upon justification by grace alone shifted the burden of proof for salvation from human accomplishment to divine promise. By "letting God be God," the Reformers claimed that persons were free to be human. This shift of theological focus, from an otherworldly achievement to a this-worldly trust in God, facilitated a renewed holistic awareness of human needs and pointed the way for the Christian community's appreciation of the benefits available in modern medicine and therapy. (C.H.Li.)


The tendency to develop an identifiable Christian culture is apparent even where Christian minorities live in a non-Christian environment--i.e., in an environment the life of which has been shaped and is characterized by a non-Christian religion. This is the case with most Christian churches in Asia and Africa. (see also Index: minority)

In some countries Christian minorities have had to struggle for their existence and recognition, and there are cases of persecutions of Christians. On the other hand, in some cases the situation of Christian minorities is ideally suited to demonstrate to outsiders the peculiar style of life of a Christian culture. This is particularly advantageous for the church within a caste state, in which the church itself has developed into a caste, with special extrinsic characteristics in clothing and customs. An example of this phenomenon is the Mar Thoma Church of South India.

A special problem presents itself through the coexistence of racially different Christian cultures in racially mixed states. The influence of the Christian black churches, especially of Baptist denominations, has been thoroughly imprinted upon the culture of North American blacks. The churches themselves were founded through the missionary work of white Baptist churches but became independent of their mother churches or were established as autonomous churches within the framework of the Baptist denomination. A similar situation exists in South Africa, where white congregations and separate black congregations have been established within the white mission churches; independent messianic black churches have appeared outside the older organized congregations. In the 20th century much tension exists in this area.

On the one hand, the Christian Church has from the beginning urged the overcoming of racism. In the early church, racism was unknown; the Jewish synagogues allowed black proselytes. The first Jewish proselyte mentioned in the Acts of the Apostles was a governmental administrator from Ethiopia, who was baptized by the Apostle Philip. The early congregations in Alexandria included many Ethiopians and blacks. Among the evangelizing churches, the Portuguese Catholic mission in principle did not recognize differences between races--whoever was baptized became a "human being" and became a member not only of the Christian congregation but also of the Christian society and was allowed to marry another Christian of any race. In contrast to this practice, the Catholic mission of the Spaniards introduced the separation of races under the term casticismo (purity of the Castilian heritage) in the American mission regions and sometimes restricted marriage between Castilian Spanish immigrants and native Christians. Like the Portuguese in Africa and Brazil, the French Catholic mission in Canada and in the regions around the Great Lakes in North America did not prohibit marriage of whites with Indians but tolerated and even encouraged it during the 17th and 18th centuries.

Consequently, the Christian churches led in endeavours for racial integration, with the exception of those churches that maintained racial segregation from the beginning, in deference to theological arguments deduced from the "order of the creation" and "predestination." The latter was the case in some Reformed churches of the United States and of South Africa. On the other hand, the ideologically and politically founded racial theory has been introduced into black churches in recent times. The demand for a black theology with a black Christ in its centre has been made and, just as much as a theologically and ideologically founded racial theory on the part of whites, aggravates the specifically Christian task of racial integration within the church.

The promise of recent liberation theologies such as black theology, Latin-American theology, and feminist theology is that of expanding awareness of the history and praxis of Christianity beyond the history of doctrines, the ideas of the elite, and the institutions that convey these ideas. Such reflection--which arises out of lived situations--reveals roles of the poor, the oppressed, and women that have too often been ignored and suppressed. These new orientations serve the church and the world not only by recalling hitherto unnoticed aspects of the past but also by strengthening peoples' awareness of their own causes.


The Christian understanding of sexuality, marriage, and family has been strongly influenced by the Old Testament view of marriage as an institution primarily concerned with the establishment of a family, rather than sustaining the individual happiness of the marriage partners. Until the Reformation the patriarchal family structure not only had been preserved but also had been defended from all attacks by sectarian groups. In spite of this, a transformation occurred from the early days of Christianity.

This transformation is evident in the New Testament departure from the Hellenistic understanding of love. The classical understanding of love, expressed in the Platonic concept of eros, was opposed in the Christian community by the biblical understanding of love, agape. Although erotic love has frequently been understood primarily as sexual desire and passion, its classical religious and philosophical meaning was the idealistic desire to acquire the highest spiritual and intellectual good. The early Christian perception of eros as the most sublime form of egocentricity and self-assertion, the drive to acquire the divine itself, is reflected in the fact that the Greek New Testament does not use the word eros but rather the relatively rare word agape. Agape was translated into Latin as caritas and thus appears in English as "charity" and, later, "love." The Christian concept of love understood human mutuality and reciprocity within the context of God's self-giving love, which creates value in the person loved. "We love, because he first loved us. If any one says, 'I love God,' and hates his brother, he is a liar; for he who does not love his brother whom he has seen, cannot love God whom he has not seen. And this commandment we have from him, that he who loves God should love his brother also" (1 John 4:19-21). Love is presented as the greatest of the virtues (1 Corinthians 13:13) as well as a commandment. The Christian community understood faith active in love primarily in terms of voluntary obedience rather than emotion and applied this understanding to every aspect of life, including sexuality, marriage, and family.

i) The tendency to spiritualize and individualize marriage.

Christianity has contributed to a spiritualization of marriage and family life, to a personal deepening of the relations between marriage partners and between parents and children, as well as between heads of households and domestic servants in large families. Marriage can be called the most intimate form in which the fellowship of believers in Christ is realized. In the early church, children were included in this fellowship. They were baptized when their parents were baptized, took part in the worship life of the congregation, and received Holy Communion with their parents. The Eastern Orthodox Church still practices as part of the eucharistic rite Jesus' teaching, "Let the children come to me, and do not hinder them." During the first decades of the church, congregational meetings took place in the homes of Christian families. The family became the archetype of the church. Paul called the members of his congregation in Ephesus "members of the household of God" (Ephesians 2:19). (see also Index: childhood)

In the early church the Christian foundation of marriage--in the participation of Christians in the body of Christ--postulated a generous interpretation of the fellowship between a Christian and a pagan marriage partner: the pagan one is saved with the Christian one "for the unbelieving husband is consecrated through his wife, and the unbelieving wife is consecrated through her husband"; even the children from such a marriage in which at least one partner belongs to the body of Christ "are holy" (1 Corinthians 7:14). If the pagan partner, however, does not want to sustain the marriage relationship with a Christian partner under any circumstances, the Christian partner should grant him a divorce. (see also Index: paganism)

Jesus himself based his parables of the Kingdom of God on the idea of love between a bride and groom and frequently used parables of a wedding that describe the messianic meal as a wedding feast. In Revelation the glorious finale of salvation history is depicted as the wedding of the Lamb with the bride, as the beginning of the meal of the chosen ones with the Messiah-Son of man (Revelation 19:9: "Blessed are those who are invited to the marriage supper of the Lamb"). The wedding character of the eucharistic meal is also expressed in the liturgy of the early church. It is deepened through the specifically Christian belief that understands the word of the creation story in Genesis "and they become one flesh" as indicative of the oneness of Christ, the head, with the congregation as his body. With this in mind the Christian demand of monogamy becomes understandable.

In the so-called ethical lists in the Letter of Paul to the Colossians and in 1 Peter, Christian marriage is distinguished from the marriage practices of its pagan environment by its stricter ethical demands. The rules concern the mutual relationship of the marriage partners, fidelity, as well as attitudes toward children and slaves of the house.

Christianity did not bring a revolutionary social change to the position of women, but it made possible a new position in the family and congregation. In the world of the early church, women were held in very low esteem, and this was the basis for divorce practices that put women practically at men's complete disposal. With the prohibition of divorce, Jesus himself did away with this low estimation of women. The decisive turning point came in connection with the understanding of Christ and of the Holy Spirit. Even the Jewish view of the patriarchal position of man was substituted by Paul with a new spiritual interpretation of marriage. "There is neither male nor female; for you are all one in Christ Jesus" (Galatians 3:28). In fulfillment of the prophecy in Joel 3:1, the Holy Spirit was poured out over the female disciples of Jesus, as well.

This created a complete change in the position of women in the congregation: in the synagogue the women were inactive participants in the worship service and sat veiled on the women's side, usually separated from the rest by an opaque lattice. In the Christian congregation, however, women appeared as members with full rights, who used their charismatic gifts within the congregation. In the letters of Paul, women are mentioned as Christians of full value. Paul addresses Prisca (Priscilla) in Romans 16:3 as his fellow worker. The four daughters of Philip were active as prophets in the congregation. Peter, in a sermon on Pentecost, spoke about men and women as recipients of the gifts of the Holy Spirit: "Your sons and your daughters shall prophesy" (Acts 2:17). Pagan critics of the church, such as Porphyry (c. 234-c. 305), maintained that the church was ruled by women. During the periods of Christian persecution, women as well as men showed great courage in their suffering. The fact that they were spontaneously honoured as martyrs demonstrates their well-known active roles in the congregations. In this, representatives of patriarchal, rabbinic, and synagogic traditions within the Christian Church saw a danger to congregational constitutions. Paul, on the one hand, included women in his instruction, "Do not quench the Spirit" (1 Thessalonians 5:19), but, on the other hand, carried over the rule of the synagogue into the Christian congregation that "women should keep silence in the churches" (1 Corinthians 14:34). In the 20th century the Roman Catholic Church still refuses to ordain women as priests.

ii) The tendency toward asceticism.

The proponents of an ascetic theology demanded exclusiveness of devotion by faithful Christians to Christ and deduced from it the demand of celibacy. This is found in arguments for the monastic life and in the Roman Catholic view of the priesthood. The radical-ascetic interpretation stands in constant tension with the positive understanding of Christian marriage. This tension has led to seemingly unsolvable conflicts and to numerous compromises in the history of Christianity. Without doubt, from the beginning a strong ascetic tendency dominant in Christianity was emphatically directed against the oversexualization of the Hellenistic culture, against the decay of marital life in the Hellenistic world, against the spreading of pederasty and its social recognition and open institutionalization, against cultic and non-cultic prostitution, and against the more or less tolerated sodomy that was excused with pagan mythology.

In the light of the beginning Kingdom of God, marriage was understood as an order of the old passing eon, which would not exist in the approaching new age. The risen ones will "neither marry nor are given in marriage, but are like angels in heaven" (Mark 12:25). Similarly, Paul understood marriage in the light of the coming Kingdom of God: "The appointed time has grown very short; from now on, let those who have wives live as though they had none . . . for the form of this world is passing away" (1 Corinthians 7:29-31). In view of the proximity of the Kingdom of God, it was considered not worthwhile to marry; and marriage was seen to involve unnecessary troubles: "I want you to be free from anxieties" (1 Corinthians 7:32). Therefore, the unmarried, the widowers, and widows "do better" if they do not marry, if they remain single. But according to this point of view marriage was recommended to those who "cannot exercise self-control . . . for it is better to marry than to be aflame with passion" (1 Corinthians 7:9). With the waning of the eschatological expectation that formed the original context for the Pauline views on marriage, his writings were interpreted ascetically. While these texts have been used alone in the course of church history, however, they do not stand alone in the New Testament, which also portrays marriage feasts as joyous occasions and sexual intercourse between spouses as good and holy (Ephesians 5:25-33).

A demonization of sex in general occurred in dualistic Gnostic movements. This was particularly apparent in the ascetic branches of Gnosticism and especially in Manichaeism (an Iranian dualistic religion). The conscious renunciation by Christians of the customs of their oversexualized pagan environment supported these tendencies. Their motives are apparent in the biographies and letters of the great ascetics, such as Anthony and Jerome. Within the Roman Catholic Church the tension between the Christian high esteem and the ascetic devaluation of marriage led to a constantly challenged compromise: celibacy was demanded not only of ascetics and monks but also more and more of members of the clergy as a duty of their office. (see also Index: sexuality)

The Reformation rejected clerical celibacy because it removed men and women from service to the neighbour, contravened the divine order of marriage and the family, and denied the goodness of sexuality. Luther viewed marriage as not merely the legitimation of sexual fulfillment but as above all the context for creating a new awareness of human community through the mutuality and companionship of spouses and family. The demand that priests and monks observe celibacy was not fully accepted in the East. The early church, and following it the Eastern Orthodox Church, decided on a compromise at the Council of Nicaea (325): the lower clergy, including the archimandrite, would be allowed to enter matrimony before receiving the higher degrees of ordination; of the higher clergy--i.e., bishops--celibacy would be demanded. This solution has saved the Eastern Orthodox from a permanent fight for the demand of celibacy for all clergymen, but it has resulted in a grave separation of the clergy into a white (celibate) and a black (married) clergy, which led to severe disagreements in times of crisis within Orthodoxy.

The early Christian community's attitude to birth control was formed partly in reaction against secular attitudes of indifference to sexual exploitation and infanticide and partly against the Gnostic denigration of the material world and consequent hostility to procreation. In upholding its faith in the goodness of creation, sexuality, marriage, and family, the early church was also influenced by the prevalent Stoic philosophy, which emphasized procreation as the rational purpose in marriage.

The question of birth control entered a new phase through the invention and mass distribution of technical contraceptive devices on the one hand and through the appearance of a new attitude toward sexual questions on the other. In this situation an obvious differentiation of interpretation developed within Christianity: with a few exceptions--e.g., the Mormons -- the Protestant churches accepted birth control in terms of a Christian social ethic. In contrast, the Roman Catholic Church, in the encyclical of Pius XI Casti Connubii (1930) and in the encyclical of Paul VI Humanae Vitae (1968), completely rejected any kind of contraception. Modern economic and population concerns in connection with improved medical care and social and technological progress have once again confronted the Christian community with the issue of contraception. (see also Index: Protestantism)



i) Love as the basis for Christian ethics.

Christianity received the main commandment of its ethic from the Old Testament: "You shall love your neighbour as yourself" (Leviticus 19:18), but Jesus filled this commandment with a new, twofold meaning. First, he closely connected the commandment "love your neighbour" with the commandment to love God. In the dispute with the scribes described in Matthew, chapter 22, he quoted the commandment of Deuteronomy 6:5, "You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart, and with all your soul, and with all your might." He spoke of the commandment of love for neighbour, however, as being equal to it. With that he lifted it to the same level as the highest and greatest commandment, the commandment to love God. In the Gospel According to Luke, both commandments have grown together into one single pronouncement with the addition: "Do this, and you will live." Second, the commandment received a new content in view of God and in view of the neighbour through the relationship of the believer with Christ. Love of God and love of the neighbour is possible because the Son proclaims the Gospel of the Father and brings to it reality and credibility through his life, death, and Resurrection. Based on this connection of the Christian commandment of love with the understanding of Christ's person and work, the demand of love for the neighbour appears as a new commandment: "A new commandment I give to you, that you love one another; even as I have loved you, that you also love one another" (John 13:34). The love for each other is supposed to characterize the disciples: "By this all men will know that you are my disciples, if you have love for one another" (John 13:35). (see also Index: Matthew, Gospel According to, John, Gospel According to)

This is an ethic that does not base its norms on social, biologic, psychological, physiological, intellectual, or educational differences and levels but on an understanding and treatment of human beings as created in the image of God. Furthermore, the ethic does not deal with humanity in an abstract sense but with the actual neighbour. The Christian ethic understands the individual always as a neighbour in Christ.

The new element of the Christian ethic is the founding of the individual ethic in a corporate ethic, in the understanding of the fellowship of Christians as the body of Christ. The individual believer is not understood as a separate individual who has found a new spiritual and moral relationship with God but as a "living stone" (1 Peter 2:4), as a living cell in the body of Christ in which the powers of the Kingdom of God are already working.

The realization of Christian love leads to the peculiar exchange of gifts and suffering, of exaltation and humiliations, of defeat and victory; the individual is able through personal sacrifice and suffering to contribute to the development of the whole. In this basic idea of the fellowship of believers as the body of Christ, all forms of ecclesiastical, political, and social communities of Christianity are founded. It also has influenced numerous secularized forms of Christian society, even among those that have forgotten or denied their Christian origins.

From the beginning, the commandment contains a certain tension concerning the answer to the question: Does it refer only to "the disciples," that is, fellow Christians, or to "all"? The practice of love of neighbour within the inner circle of the disciples was a conspicuous characteristic of the young church. Pagans said: "Look, how they love each other" (Justin). Christian congregations and, above all, small fellowships and sects have stood out throughout the centuries because of the fact that within their communities love of the neighbour was highly developed in the form of personal pastoral care, social welfare, and help in all situations of life.

The Christian commandment of love, however, has never been limited to fellow Christians. On the contrary, the new factor in the Christian ethic was that it crossed all social and religious barriers and saw a neighbour in every suffering human being. Characteristically, Jesus himself explicated his understanding of the practical implications of the commandment of love in the parable of the Good Samaritan, a non-Jew who followed the commandment of love and helped a person in need whom the believing wanderers--a priest and a Levite--had chosen to ignore (Luke 10:29-37). A demand in the Letter of James, that the "royal law" of neighbourly love has to be fulfilled without "partiality" (James 2:9), points to its universal validity.

The universalism of the Christian command to love is most strongly expressed in its demand to love one's enemies. Jesus himself emphasized this with these words: "Love your enemies and pray for those who persecute you, so that you may be sons of your Father who is in heaven; for he makes his sun rise on the evil and on the good, and sends rain on the just and on the unjust" (Matthew 5:44-45). According to this understanding, love of the enemy is the immediate emission of God's love, which includes God's friends and God's enemies.

ii) Freedom and responsibility.

The Reformation revitalized a personal sense of Christian responsibility by anchoring it in the free forgiveness of sins. Luther summarized this in "The Freedom of a Christian Man" (1520): "A Christian is a perfectly free lord of all, subject to none. A Christian is a perfectly dutiful servant of all, subject to all." The second sentence expressed the theme of Christian vocation developed by Luther and Calvin. While the medieval church understood vocation in terms of the specific religious calling of priesthood and monastery, the Reformers expanded the concept of vocation to all Christians and to everyday responsibility for the neighbour and for the world. The Reformers emphasized that Christian service is not limited to a narrow religious sphere of life but finds means to help others in the everyday relationships of family, marriage, work, and politics.

Later Protestantism under the influence of Pietism and Romanticism restricted the social and communal orientation of the Reformers to a more individualistic orientation. This met, however, with an energetic counterattack from the circles of the Free churches (e.g., Baptists and Methodists) who supported the social task of Christian ethic (mainly through the Social Gospel of the American theologian Walter Rauschenbusch, who attempted to change social institutions and bring about a Kingdom of God), which spread through the whole church, penetrating the area of Christian mission. Love rooted in faith has continued to play an important role in the 20th century in the struggle between Christianity and all ideologies, such as Fascism, Communism, and jingoistic nationalisms.


[ Missions ]

[ ] [ 위로 ] [ Table of Contents ] [ Essence & Identity ] [ Philosophy ] [ Christian Community ] [ Bibliography ]


 게시판  검색  자료실  사이트맵  예수와나?

[ 뒤로 ] [ ] [ 위로 ] [ 다음 ] Homepage

This page was last modified 2001/09/21