Encyclopedia of Christianity Online

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Subject: Religious Studies

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

The Encyclopedia of Christianity Online describes modern-day Christian beliefs and communities in the context of 2000 years of apostolic tradition and Christian history. Based on the third, revised edition of the critically acclaimed German work Evangelisches Kirchenlexikon. The Encyclopedia of Christianity Online includes all 5 volumes of the print edition of 1999-2008 which has become a standard reference work for the study of Christianity past and present. Comprehensive, reflecting the highest standards in scholarship yet intended for a wide range of readers, the The Encyclopedia of Christianity Online also looks outward beyond Christianity, considering other world religions and philosophies as it paints the overall religious and socio-cultural picture in which the Christianity finds itself.

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Labor

(6 words)

See Social Partnership; Work

Laicization

(401 words)

Author(s): Drössler, Bernd T.
In Roman Catholic canon law “laicization” denotes the removal of the spiritual status that is conferred by ordination (Clergy and Laity). The legal consequence is the loss of the rights and duties associated with clergy status (e.g., Missio canonica). On the basis of 1983 CIC 290–93, laicization may take place by an invalidation of ordination, in punishment for an offense, or as an act of grace. A distinction must be made between the loss of clergy status and the setting aside of the obligation of celibacy, which is an obstacle to marriage. In the case of invalidation a judgment or an…

Laity

(6 words)

See Clergy and Laity

Lamaism

(5 words)

See Tibetan Religions

Lamentations, Book of

(755 words)

Author(s): Kaiser, Otto
1. Name, Place in Canon, Authorship The Book of Lamentations consists of five songs. The book’s usual name in modern Bible versions comes, by way of the Vg (Lamentationes) and the LXX ( Thrēnoi [ Ieremiou]), from Jewish tradition, in which it is called qı̂nôt, “laments for the dead” ( b.  B. Bat.  15a). In Hebrew MSS and printed copies it is usually named after the first word: ʾêkâ, “alas, how.” Though Lamentations is placed among the Megilloth (i.e., festal scrolls), the LXX, followed by dependent and modern versions, inserts it after the Book of Jeremiah on the ba…

Language

(2,300 words)

Author(s): Phillips, Craig A.
1. General Definitions Language is a cognitive faculty and behavior that is central to human life. Languages are complex systems that communicate knowledge, information, thoughts, ideas, and human experience. There are many kinds of languages, ranging from the speech of concrete human communities to elaborate symbolic, mathematical, musical, and computational systems. Although researchers continue to question and investigate the possibility of language in nonhuman populations, it is still clear that language separates human beings from all other species. Language is a soc…

Language and Theology

(8,922 words)

Author(s): Dalferth, Ingolf U.
In many respects language is an area of focus in theology: anthropologically as a basic dimension of human life (Anthropology), phenomenologically as a form of faith and religion (Phenomenology of Religion), theologically as the place and means of revelation (Revelation; Word of God), methodologically as the medium and material of theological reflection (Exegesis, Biblical; Hermeneutics), and practically as the instrument and medium of religious communication. Theories of theological language ma…

Laos

(1,454 words)

Author(s): Gern, Wolfgang
1. Geography and Demographics Laos—in full, the Lao People’s Democratic Republic—is a landlocked nation in Southeast Asia dominated ¶ by jungles, with high mountains along its eastern border. Its longest borders are with Viet Nam to the east and Thailand to the west, with shorter borders also with China (north), Cambodia (south), and Myanmar (west). Ethnically, the largest groups in 2001 were the Lao Loum (or Valley Lao, 68 percent), Lao Theung (Hill Lao, 22 percent), and Lao Soung (Mountain Lao, which includes Hm…

Lapsi

(646 words)

Author(s): Mühlenberg, Ekkehard
The lapsi were apostates from the Christian faith during the persecution under Decius (249–51). An edict of the emperor in February 250 ordered the whole population to show loyalty to the gods of the Roman Empire by an act of sacrifice (Roman Religion). Local commissions supervised the execution of the edict and gave a certificate (libellus) for compliance. A shocking number of Christians yielded. Since the edict applied only for a set time, however, many sought readmission to the church’s fellowship. As might be expected, the question of readmission g…

Last Judgment

(1,058 words)

Author(s): Otte, Klaus
1. Term The term “last judgment,” based on the “last times” of 2 Esdr. 7:73, is used for the last and definitive consummation of history. It is also called the universal judgment, for it pertains to all, both good and bad. It is the judgment of Christ insofar as it brings into play his nature and his action. Since the last judgment is not the mere completion of an immanent process but is subject primarily to the sovereignty of God, it is also called the judgment of God. 2. Bible 2.1. There is as yet no monographic account of the last judgment in the OT. Exposition of the OT tries to …

Latin America and the Caribbean

(8,817 words)

Author(s): Prien, Hans-Jürgen | Lampe, Armando
In current U.N. usage the “major area” (i.e., continent) “Latin America and the Caribbean” includes the entire continental landmass south of the United States, plus the collection of islands roughly enclosing the Caribbean Sea. Besides the Caribbean (also called the West Indies), this major area comprises the regions of Central America (here referring to the eight countries from Mexico south to Panama) and South America. 1. Latin America 1.1. Term “Latin America” was from the beginning a cultural-historical rather than a geographic term. Although the origin of t…

Latin American Council of Bishops

(963 words)

Author(s): Beozzo, José Oscar
1. Origin The idea of founding the Consejo Episcopal Latinoamericano (CELAM, or Latin American Council of Bishops) was proposed at the first General Conference of Latin American Bishops, held at Rio de Janeiro, July/August 1955. Leading concerns of the Roman Catholic Church that led to the founding were the shortage of priests and the need to take steps against “the Protestant threat.” On September 24, 1955, Pope Pius XII (1939–58) founded CELAM for the purpose of coordinating the various bishops’…

Latin American Council of Churches

(1,009 words)

Author(s): Schwindt, Juan | Lopes, Sergio Marcos Pinto | Plou, Dafne Sabanes
The Consejo Latinoamericano de Iglesias (CLAI), or Latin American Council of Churches, is an ecumenical body covering the continent and including Latin America and the Hispanic Caribbean. It consists of 150 churches and ecumenical organizations. The latter are associate or fraternal members. Its headquarters is in Quito, Ecuador. 1. History The Panama Conference (1916) is traditionally recognized as the starting point of the ecumenical movement in Latin America. That conference was convened as a Latin American response to the great Edinburgh mi…

Latin American Councils

(2,192 words)

Author(s): Henkel, Willi | Dussel, Enrique
1. Colonial Period 1.1. Significance Soon after their arrival in Latin America in the 15th century, missionaries from Europe met together to seek common answers to their problems. Thus some ten juntas (i.e., high-level meetings) took place in Mexico that one might call forerunners of the Latin American councils. Technically, councils involve the participation of several bishops. The Latin American councils dealt with the introduction of Indians to the Christian faith, the administration of the sacraments in the context of mis…

Latin American Theology

(9,208 words)

Author(s): Schubeck S.J., Thomas L.
1. Origins For most of their 500-year presence in Latin America, Roman Catholic theologians and missionaries have employed methods and concepts taken largely from Western European theology. Most missionaries who came to Latin America had been previously schooled in scholastic theology, principally in the theological and philosophical writings of Augustine (354–430; Augustine’s Theology), Thomas Aquinas (ca. 1225–74; Scholasticism), and the Dominican theological school at Salamanca, Spain, founded by Francisco de Vitoria (ca. 1480–1546). Scholastic theology predom…

Latvia

(3,385 words)

Author(s): Talonen, Jouko
1. General Situation Latvia, the central country of the Baltic States (Estonia to the north, Lithuania to the south), is bordered by Russia and Belarus on the east. A democratic parliamentary republic, Latvia is a member of the United Nations, the World Trade Organization, the Council of Europe, and the Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe. In 2001 the six largest ethnic groups were the Latvians (57.6 percent, vs. 75.5 percent in 1935), Russians (29.6 percent, vs. 10.6 percent in 1935), Belorussians (4.1 percent), Ukrainians (2.7 percent), Poles (2.5 per…

Laughing and Crying

(717 words)

Author(s): Winkler, Klaus
Laughing and crying reveal a person’s inner feelings and emotional capacities. It is not surprising, then, that from antiquity they have been the theme of philosophical reflection and adduced in interpretation of what is human. In keeping with modern differentiation of the academic disciplines, they have been taken up in interdisciplinary studies making use of philosophy, theology, aesthetics, literary studies, psychology, and sociology. They bring out both the comic and the tragic aspects of human life. In all the detailed inquiries the main concern must be to see in l…

Lausanne Movement

(2,632 words)

Author(s): Green, Jay D.
The Lausanne movement is an international, transdenominational movement of evangelicals associated with the Lausanne Committee for World Evangelization and dedicated to the study, promotion, and fulfillment of cooperative evangelism worldwide. The movement derives its name and spirit from the International Congress on World Evangelization, held at Lausanne, Switzerland, in July 1974. 1. Background The history of the Lausanne movement must be understood in the context of attempts to build a global strategy for evangelism before 1974. Since World Wa…

Law

(6,408 words)

Author(s): Würthwein, Ernst | Hübner, Hans | Peters, Albrecht
1. OT 1.1. Term The idea of law has many nuances in the OT, which we see from the different words used for it. Thus we have mišpāṭı̂m (ordinances), huqqı̂m (statutes), miṣwôt (commandments), dĕbārı̂m (words), and others. These terms cover civil and criminal law and both the ethical and the cultic sphere. More comprehensively after Deuteronomy we find tôrâ, which originally denoted only the direction of the priest in cultic, legal, and moral questions (Deut. 33:10; Hos. 4:6; Mic. 4:2; Jer. 18:18; Ezek. 7:26; Mal. 2:6–7) but in Deuteronomy is used for the whole revelati…
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