The Christian Community

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The Christian Community
Kristiyhteiso hki.jpg
Christian Community altar in Helsinki
Classification Christian
Orientation Anthroposophical
Founder Friedrich Rittelmeyer
Origin1922
Membersapproximately 100,000 worldwide

The Christian Community (German : Die Christengemeinschaft) is a Christian denomination. It was founded in 1922 in Switzerland by a group of mainly Lutheran theologians and ministers led by Friedrich Rittelmeyer, [1] [2] inspired by Rudolf Steiner, the Austrian philosopher and founder of anthroposophy. [3] 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.

German language West Germanic language

German is a West Germanic language that is mainly spoken in Central Europe. It is the most widely spoken and official or co-official language in Germany, Austria, Switzerland, South Tyrol in Italy, the German-speaking Community of Belgium and Liechtenstein. It is one of the three official languages of Luxembourg and a co-official language in the Opole Voivodeship in Poland. The languages that are most similar to the German are the other members of the West Germanic language branch, including Afrikaans, Dutch, English, the Frisian languages, Low German/Low Saxon, Luxembourgish, and Yiddish. There are strong similarities in vocabulary with Danish, Norwegian and Swedish, although those belong to the North Germanic group. German is the second most widely spoken Germanic language, after English.

Christianity is an Abrahamic monotheistic religion based on the life and teachings of Jesus of Nazareth. Its adherents, known as Christians, believe that Jesus is the Christ, the Son of God, and the savior of all people, whose coming as the Messiah was prophesied in the Hebrew Bible, called the Old Testament in Christianity, and chronicled in the New Testament. It is the world's largest religion with about 2.4 billion followers.

A Christian denomination is a distinct religious body within Christianity, identified by traits such as a name, organization, leadership and doctrine. The Catholic Church, Eastern Orthodox Church and Oriental Orthodoxy, meaning the large majority, all self-describe as churches, whereas many Protestant denominations self-describe as congregations or fellowships. Divisions between one group and another are defined by authority and doctrine; issues such as the nature of Jesus, the authority of apostolic succession, 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.

Contents

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. There is no additional ordination for the leadership. The priesthood of the Christian Community has always been open to women.

Ordination of women discussion of womens possibilities for priesthood

The ordination of women to ministerial or priestly office is an increasingly common practice among some major religious groups of the present time. It remains a controversial issue in certain Christian denominations where "ordination" has for almost 2,000 years been limited only to men.

Practice

The Christian Community does not require its members to conform to any specific teaching or behaviour. [2] [4] 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. [5]

Eucharist Christian rite

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 the Passover meal, Jesus commanded his followers 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.

Baptism Christian rite of admission and adoption, almost invariably with the use of water

Baptism is a Christian rite of admission and adoption, almost invariably with the use of water, into Christianity. The synoptic gospels recount that John the Baptist baptised Jesus. Baptism is considered a sacrament in most churches, and as an ordinance in others. Baptism is also called christening, although some reserve the word "christening" for the baptism of infants. It has also given its name to the Baptist churches and denominations.

Confirmation rite where baptism is confirmed in several Christian denominations

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".

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.

Tenets

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. [6]

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.

Reincarnation concept of rebirth in some religions and cultures

Reincarnation is the philosophical or religious concept that the non-physical essence of a living being starts a new life in a different physical form or body after biological death. It is also called rebirth or transmigration, and is a part of the Saṃsāra doctrine of cyclic existence. It is a central tenet of Indian religions, namely Jainism, Buddhism, Sikhism and Hinduism, although there are Hindu groups that do not believe in reincarnation but believe in an afterlife. A belief in rebirth/metempsychosis was held by Greek historic figures, such as Pythagoras, Socrates, and Plato. It is also a common belief of various ancient and modern religions such as Spiritism, Theosophy, and Eckankar, and as an esoteric belief in many streams of Orthodox Judaism. It is also found in some beliefs of North American Natives.

The ideology of some priests of the Christian Community could be summarized with the following points:

Soul The incorporeal essence of a living being.

The soul, in many religious, philosophical, and mythological traditions, is the incorporeal essence of a living being. Soul or psyche comprises the mental abilities of a living being: reason, character, feeling, consciousness, memory, perception, thinking, etc. Depending on the philosophical system, a soul can either be mortal or immortal. In Judeo-Christianity, only human beings have immortal souls. For example, the Catholic theologian Thomas Aquinas attributed "soul" (anima) to all organisms but argued that only human souls are immortal.

New Testament Second division of the Christian biblical canon

The New Testament is the second part of the Christian biblical canon, the first being the Old Testament. The New Testament discusses the teachings and person of Jesus, as well as events in first-century Christianity. Christians regard both the Old and New Testaments together as sacred scripture.

See also

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Holy orders sacraments of the Catholic Church

In the Christian churches, holy orders are ordained ministries such as bishop, priest, or deacon, and the sacrament or rite by which candidates are ordained to those orders. Churches recognizing these orders include the Catholic Church, the Eastern Orthodox, Oriental Orthodox, Anglican, Assyrian, Old Catholic, Independent Catholic and some Lutheran churches. Except for Lutherans and some Anglicans, these churches regard ordination as a sacrament. The Anglo-Catholic tradition within Anglicanism identifies more with the Roman Catholic position about the sacramental nature of ordination.

Sacramental bread Communion bread used in the Christian ritual of the Eucharist (the Lords Supper)

Sacramental bread, sometimes called altar bread, Communion bread, the Lamb or simply the host, is the bread used in the Christian ritual of the Eucharist. Along with sacramental wine, it is one of two "elements" of the Eucharist. The bread may be either leavened or unleavened, depending on tradition.

Ex opere operato is a Latin phrase meaning "from the work worked" referring to sacraments deriving their power from Christ's work rather than the role of humans. The phrase is commonly misunderstood to mean that sacraments work automatically and independently of the faith of the recipient. However, in order to receive sacraments fruitfully, it is believed necessary for the recipient to have faith. In modern usage, the phrase often refers to the idea that sacraments are efficacious in and of themselves rather than depending on the attitude either of the minister or the recipient. For example, Confirmation might be held to bestow the Holy Spirit regardless of the attitude of both the bishop and the person being confirmed.

Sacred mysteries

Sacred mysteries are the areas of supernatural phenomena associated with a divinity or a religious ideology. Sacred mysteries may be either:

  1. Religious beliefs, rituals or practices which are kept secret from non-believers, or lower levels of believers, who have not had an initiation into the higher levels of belief.
  2. Beliefs of the religion which are public knowledge but cannot be easily explained by normal rational or scientific means.

Independent Catholicism is a movement of clergy and laity who self-identify as Catholic and form "micro-churches claiming apostolic succession and valid sacraments", in spite of not being affiliated to the historic Catholic churches such as the Catholic Church or the Old Catholic Churches. The term "independent Catholic" derives from the fact that "these denominations affirm both their belonging to the Catholic tradition as well as their independence from Rome."

Eucharistic theology branch of Christian theology

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.

Charismatic Episcopal Church

The Charismatic Episcopal Church, more officially known as the International Communion of the Charismatic Episcopal Church (ICCEC), is an international Christian denomination established as an autocephalous communion in 1992. The ICCEC states that it is not a splinter group of any other denomination or communion, but is a convergence of the sacramental, evangelical, and charismatic traditions that it perceives in the church from the apostolic era until present times.

Reserved sacrament

During the Liturgy of the Eucharist, the second part of the Mass, the elements of bread and wine are considered to have been changed into the veritable Body and Blood of Jesus Christ. The manner in which this occurs is referred to by the term transubstantiation, a theory of St. Thomas Aquinas, in the Roman Catholic Church. Members of the Orthodox, Anglican, and Lutheran communions also believe that Jesus Christ is really and truly present in the bread and wine, but they believe that the way in which this occurs must forever remain a sacred mystery. In many Christian churches some portion of the consecrated elements is set aside and reserved after the reception of Communion and referred to as the reserved sacrament. The reserved sacrament is usually stored in a tabernacle, a locked cabinet made of precious materials and usually located on, above, or near the high altar. In Western Christianity usually only the Host, from Latin: hostia, meaning "victim", is reserved, except where wine might be kept for the sick who cannot consume a host.

Anglican sacraments

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.

Anglican eucharistic theology

Anglican eucharistic theology is diverse in practice, reflecting the comprehensiveness of Anglicanism. Its sources include prayer book rubrics, writings on sacramental theology by Anglican divines, and the regulations and orientations of ecclesiastical provinces. The principal source material is the Book of Common Prayer, specifically its eucharistic prayers and Article XXVIII of the Thirty-Nine Articles. Article XXVIII comprises the foundational Anglican doctrinal statement about the Eucharist, although its interpretation varies among churches of the Anglican Communion and in different traditions of churchmanship such as Anglo-Catholicism and Evangelical Anglicanism.

Holy orders in the Catholic Church Sacrament in the Roman Catholic Church

The sacrament of holy orders in the Catholic Church includes three orders: bishop, priest, and deacon. In the phrase "holy orders", the word "holy" simply means "set apart for some purpose." The word "order" designates an established civil body or corporation with a hierarchy, and ordination means legal incorporation into an order. In context, therefore, a group with a hierarchical structure that is set apart for ministry in the Church.

In Christianity, concelebration is the presiding of a number of presbyters at the celebration of the Eucharist with either a presbyter or bishop as the principal celebrant and the other presbyters and bishops present in the chancel assisting in the consecration of the Eucharist. The concelebrants assist the principal celebrant by reciting the Words of Consecration together with him, thus effecting the change of the eucharistic elements. They may also recite portions of the Eucharistic Prayer. Concelebration is often practiced by ministers/priest of Churches that are in full communion with one another, e.g. the Anglican Communion and the Old Catholic Church.

Friedrich Rittelmeyer German theologian

Friedrich Rittelmeyer was a Protestant German minister, theologian and co-founder and driving force of The Christian Community.

Hermann Beckh was a pioneering German Tibetologist and prominent promoter of anthroposophy.

Receptionism

Receptionism is a form of Anglican eucharistic theology which teaches that during the Eucharist the bread and wine remain unchanged after the consecration, but when communicants receive the bread and wine, they also receive the body and blood of Christ by faith. It was a common view among Anglicans in the 16th and 17th centuries, and prominent theologians who subscribed to this doctrine were Thomas Cranmer and Richard Hooker.

Emil Bock German theologian

Emil Bock was a German anthroposophist, author, theologian and one of the founders of The Christian Community.

The Ecumenical Catholic Communion (ECC) is an American independent Catholic church. Its members understand themselves as following the Catholic tradition without being in communion with the Bishop of Rome. The ECC is a confederation of independent communities based in the United States and Europe. The membership of the ECC is about 10,000, including seven bishops, and more than 50 communities across 20 states In 2009, the Ecumenical Anglican Church (EAC), an independent church joined the ECC. The ECC is a member of the National Council of Churches (NCC).

Sacrament sacred rite recognized as of particular importance and significance

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 means by which God enacts his 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.

References

  1. Claudia Becker, Attempts of religious renewal in the modern trend by the example of the evangelic theologian Friedrich Rittelmeyer (1872–1938), Ph.D. dissertation, Freie Universität Berlin, 2000. Abstract (English) and text (German)
  2. 1 2 Johannes Hemleben, Rudolf Steiner: A documentary biography, Henry Goulden Ltd, 1975, ISBN   0-904822-02-8, pp. 134–138 (German edition: Rowohlt Verlag, 1990, ISBN   3-499-50079-5)
  3. Friedrich Rittelmeyer, Rudolf Steiner Enters My Life, ISBN   0-7661-3654-X
  4. Tom Ravetz: Free From Dogma. Theological Reflections in The Christian Community. Edinburgh 2009
  5. Evelyn Francis Capel and Tom Ravetz, Seven Sacraments in the Christian Community, Floris Books, 1999
  6. The Christian Community – An Introduction by Michael Tapp, retired priest in The Christian Community