|The Christian Community|
Christian Community altar in Helsinki
|Orientation||Anthroposophy, Esotericism, Liberal Christianity|
|Members||approximately 100,000 worldwide|
The Christian Community (German : Die Christengemeinschaft) is an esoteric Christian denomination. It was founded in 1922 in Switzerland by a group of ecumenically oriented, mainly Lutheran theologians and ministers led by liberal theologian Friedrich Rittelmeyer, who had been the most prominent representative of liberal Lutheranism in Germany during the First World War and whose early theological work had focused on the concept of a socially engaged "Christianity of deeds" (Tatchristentum). Rittelmeyer and the other founders were inspired by Rudolf Steiner, the Austrian philosopher and founder of anthroposophy. The community has its historical roots partially in the broader liberal Christian tradition, and partially in the esoteric and gnostic tradition as well as German new humanism; while inspired by anthroposophy, Steiner emphasized that The Christian Community was a separate movement founded by Rittelmeyer, and most anthroposophists are not members of The Christian Community. Christian Community congregations exist as financially independent groups with regional and international administrative bodies overseeing their work. There are approximately 100,000 worldwide. The international headquarters are in Berlin, Germany. Its first priests included three women, and it was one of the first Christian denominations to practise the ordination of women. Women such as Maria Darmstädter played a major role in the development of The Christian Community.
The Christian Community is led by the "circle of priests," with leaders known as coordinators appointed within the circle. A first coordinator (Erzoberlenker) is consulted by two second coordinators (Oberlenkers). There are also third coordinators (Lenkers) on the regional level and a synod of priests.
The Christian Community is primarily a liturgical community, and practises freedom of teaching. It does not have an official theology or articles of belief, does not accept the concept of Christian dogmas, and does not engage in missionary work. The community also views other religions as equally valid as Christianity. Its rejection of Christian dogmas and its views of other religions have led some theologians of other denominations to question whether The Christian Community is truly Christian.The Christian Community in Germany was banned by the Nazis in 1941 and its leader Emil Bock imprisoned due to the community's alleged "Jewish" and "Masonic" nature, but the community continued its activities in Switzerland and England, and was reestablished in West Germany after the war.
The Christian Community does not require its members to conform to any specific teaching or behaviour.Seven sacraments are celebrated within the Community: the Eucharist, generally called the Act of Consecration of Man, and six other sacraments: Baptism, Confirmation, Marriage, The Last Anointing, Sacramental Consultation (replacing Confession), and Ordination. There is also a special Sunday service for children of school age.
Rituals and sacraments are the same wherever they are celebrated. Services are generally celebrated in the language of the country in which they celebrated. The Act of Consecration of Man lasts approximately one hour. Sunday services are longer than weekday services because they contain a sermon in addition to holy communion. For the sacramental wine used in communion non-fermented grape juice is used rather than alcoholic wine. Three Christmas services are celebrated, one on December 24 (at midnight) and two on December 25. There are also added prayers for different liturgical seasons of the year.
Some chapels have an organ, and occasionally the organ has quarter tones in addition to the conventional (equal temperament) tuning.
The Christian Community practices a complete freedom of teaching. The Priests may exert this freedom of teaching, provided that they do not contradict the sacraments which they celebrate. There is no official theology, nor articles of belief. Whatever is taught or written is a personal view.
Basic tenets of some priests of the Christian Community are 1) free will, 2) reincarnation and 3) focus on Christ. For example, Jesus of Nazareth is seen as merely a physical vessel that enabled the spiritual being called Christ to influence the world.
The ideology of some priests of the Christian Community could be summarized with the following points:
Anthroposophy is a philosophy founded in the early 20th century by the esotericist Rudolf Steiner that postulates the existence of an objective, intellectually comprehensible spiritual world, accessible to human experience. Followers of anthroposophy aim to develop mental faculties of spiritual discovery through a mode of thought independent of sensory experience. They also aim to present their ideas in a manner verifiable by rational discourse and specifically seek a precision and clarity in studying the spiritual world mirroring that obtained by scientists investigating the physical world.
The Eucharist is a Christian rite that is considered a sacrament in most churches, and as an ordinance in others. According to the New Testament, the rite was instituted by Jesus Christ during the Last Supper; giving his disciples bread and wine during a Passover meal, Jesus commanded his disciples to "do this in memory of me" while referring to the bread as "my body" and the cup of wine as "the new covenant in my blood". Through the eucharistic celebration Christians remember both Christ's sacrifice of himself on the cross and his commission of the apostles at the Last Supper.
Rudolf Joseph Lorenz Steiner was an Austrian philosopher, social reformer, architect, esotericist, and claimed clairvoyant. Steiner gained initial recognition at the end of the nineteenth century as a literary critic and published philosophical works including The Philosophy of Freedom. At the beginning of the twentieth century he founded an esoteric spiritual movement, anthroposophy, with roots in German idealist philosophy and theosophy; other influences include Goethean science and Rosicrucianism.
In Christian denominations that practice infant baptism, confirmation is seen as the sealing of Christianity created in baptism. Those being confirmed are known as confirmands. In some denominations, such as the Anglican Communion and Methodist Churches, confirmation bestows full membership in a local congregation upon the recipient. In others, such as the Roman Catholic Church, confirmation "renders the bond with the Church more perfect", because, while a baptized person is already a member, "reception of the sacrament of Confirmation is necessary for the completion of baptismal grace".
A Christian denomination is a distinct religious body within Christianity that comprises all church congregations of the same kind, identifiable by traits such as a name, peculiar history, organization, leadership, theological doctrine, worship style and sometimes a founder. It is a secular and neutral term, generally used to denote any established Christian Church. Unlike a cult or sect, a denomination is usually seen as part of the Christian religious mainstream. Most Christian denominations self-describe as Churches, whereas some newer ones tend to use the terms churches, assemblies, fellowships etc, interchangeably. Divisions between one group and another are defined by authority and doctrine; issues such as the nature of Jesus, the authority of apostolic succession, biblical hermeneutics, theology, ecclesiology, eschatology, and papal primacy may separate one denomination from another. Groups of denominations—often sharing broadly similar beliefs, practices, and historical ties—are sometimes known as "branches of Christianity". These branches differ in many ways, especially through differences in practices and belief.
The real presence of Christ in the Eucharist is a term used in Christian theology to express the doctrine that Jesus is present in the Eucharist, not merely symbolically or metaphorically.
Liberal Christianity, also known as liberal theology, is a movement that seeks to interpret and reform Christian teaching by taking into consideration modern knowledge, science and ethics. It also emphasizes the authority of individual reason and experience. Liberal Christians view their theology as an alternative to both atheistic rationalism and to traditional theologies based on external authority.
Esoteric Christianity is an ensemble of Christian theology which proposes that some spiritual doctrines of Christianity can only be understood by those who have undergone certain rites within the religion. The term esoteric was coined in the 17th century and derives from the Greek ἐσωτερικός.
Eucharistic theology is a branch of Christian theology which treats doctrines concerning the Holy Eucharist, also commonly known as the Lord's Supper. It exists exclusively in Christianity and related religions, as others generally do not contain a Eucharistic ceremony.
In keeping with its prevailing self-identity as a via media or "middle path" of Western Christianity, Anglican sacramental theology expresses elements in keeping with its status as a church in the catholic tradition and a church of the Reformation. With respect to sacramental theology the Catholic tradition is perhaps most strongly asserted in the importance Anglicanism places on the sacraments as a means of grace, sanctification and forgiveness as expressed in the church's liturgy.
Friedrich Rittelmeyer was a Lutheran German minister, theologian and the principal founder and first leader of The Christian Community. Rittelmeyer came to prominence in the early 20th century as a leading academic liberal theologian and priest in Germany and wrote several books that advocated a socially engaged "Christianity of deeds" (Tatchristentum). During the First World War he eventually became one of the most high-profile clergymen in Germany to publicly oppose the war. From the 1910s his thinking was gradually influenced by the philosopher Rudolf Steiner, and in 1922 a group of mainly Lutheran priests and theology students led by Rittelmeyer founded The Christian Community as an ecumenically oriented Christian community inspired by Steiner's writings; The Christian Community is primarily a liturgical community with only a loose common basis of faith, and for that reason rejects Christian dogmas. Rittelmeyer saw it as a continuation of the liberal Christian tradition of which he was the foremost representative in Germany in the early 20th century.
Hermann Beckh was a pioneering German Tibetologist and prominent promoter of anthroposophy.
Emil Bock was a German anthroposophist, author, theologian and one of the founders of The Christian Community.
Lamentabili sane exitu is a 1907 syllabus, prepared by the Roman Inquisition and confirmed by Pope Pius X, which condemns errors in the exegesis of Holy Scripture and in the history and interpretation of dogma. The syllabus itself does not use the term 'modernist', but was regarded as part of the Pope's campaign against modernism in general and philosophical evolutionism in particular. The document specifically affirmed that the Sacrament of Reconciliation was instituted by Jesus himself, as in the Gospel of John 20:22–23.
The following outline is provided as an overview of and topical guide to Christianity:
Protestantism is the second-largest form of Christianity with a total of 800 million to 1 billion adherents worldwide or about 37% of all Christians. It originated with the 16th century Reformation, a movement against what its followers perceived to be errors in the Catholic Church. Protestants reject the Roman Catholic doctrine of papal supremacy and sacraments, but disagree among themselves regarding the real presence of Christ in the Eucharist and matters of church polity and apostolic succession. They emphasize the priesthood of all believers, justification by faith alone rather than also by good works, and the highest authority of the Bible alone in faith and morals. The "five solae" summarise basic theological differences in opposition to the Catholic Church.
A sacrament is a Christian rite recognized as of particular importance and significance. There are various views on the existence and meaning of such rites. Many Christians consider the sacraments to be a visible symbol of the reality of God, as well as a channel for God's grace. Many denominations, including the Catholic, Anglican, Lutheran, Methodist, and Reformed, hold to the definition of sacrament formulated by Augustine of Hippo: an outward sign of an inward grace, that has been instituted by Jesus Christ. Sacraments signify God's grace in a way that is outwardly observable to the participant.
The following outline is provided as an overview of and topical guide to the Catholic Church:
Peter Selg is a German psychiatrist. He was born in Stuttgart and studied medicine in Witten-Herdecke, Zurich, and Berlin. Until 2000, he worked as the head physician of the juvenile psychiatry department of Herdecke hospital in Germany. Selg is director of the Ita Wegman Institute for Basic Research into Anthroposophy and professor of medicine at the Alanus University of Arts and Social Sciences (Germany). He lectures extensively and is the author of numerous books.
In Reformed theology, the Lord's Supper or Eucharist is a sacrament that spiritually nourishes Christians and strengthens their union with Christ. The outward or physical action of the sacrament is eating bread and drinking wine. Reformed confessions, which are official statements of the beliefs of Reformed churches, teach that Christ's body and blood are really present in the sacrament, but that this presence is communicated in a spiritual manner rather than by his body being physically eaten. The Reformed doctrine of real presence is sometimes called mystical real presence or spiritual real presence.