Christian Cyclopedia

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For current information see CIA World Factbook. A. Early Christian Hist.. 1. Christianity entered Ger. possibly as early as the 2d c. and spread in the Roman provinces of Ger. in the 3d c.; Gothic invasions 3d-6th c. led to a return to paganism. Subsequent missionaries to the Alemanni* include Fridolin (largely a shadowy figure, said to have been an Irish Celt of the 6th or 7th c.), Columban* (see also Celtic Church, 8; preached among the Alemanni ca. 610), Gall,* and Pirmin.* Christianity entered the Roman provinces of Raetia and Noricum before the time of Constantine* I and spread after Constantine I and Theodosius* I. Agil* and Eustace* came soon after 615 but had little success. Emmeram* was active in the 7th or 8th c., Rupert* and Kilian* of Würzburg ca. the end of the 7th c., and Corbinian* in the 1st part of the 8th c. Amandus* helped introd. Christianity among the Frisians. Wilfrid* evangelized south Saxons. Willibrord* is said to have been active throughout N Ger. Boniface* was active in Bavaria, Hesse, and Thuringia in the 8th c.

2. Two Anglo-Saxon monks, apparently both called Hewald (or Herwald) and distinguished as “the fair” and “the dark,” engaged in unsuccessful miss. work among the Saxons near the end of the 7th c. Charlemagne* imposed Christianity on the Saxons in ca. 33 yrs. of military campaigns 772–ca. 805; the spiritual work was done by representatives of the ch. in bishoprics at Bremen, Verden, Minden, Münster, Paderborn, and Osnabrück, and later at Hildesheim and Halberstadt. Christianity was spread 919–973 by Henry* I and Otto* I among Wends in Holstein, Mecklenburg, Pomerania, and parts of Saxony and Lusatia chiefly by conquest, compulsion, and colonization. Pomerania submitted 1121 to Boleslav III (1086–1138; “Wry-mouthed”; king of Poland 1102–38) and Otto* of Barnberg est. the ch. 1124–28. The Gospel was first brought to the Prussians (Letts) 997 by Adalbert* of Prague; ca. 1209 the monk Christian* came to the Prussians. The crusade of the Teutonic Knights (see Military Religious Orders, c) and their allies ended 1283, with most of the Prussians slain and Christianity est. by real missionaries.

B. Germany and the Luth. Ch. Orders that supplied followers of M. Luther* include Augustinian* Hermits, Benedictines,* Carmelites,* Dominicans,* Franciscans,* and Premonstratensians.* M. Zell began ev. preaching in Strasbourg 1521; a 1523 resolution of the city council permitted only ev. preaching. Henry* of Zutphen began ev. preaching in Bremen 1522. Melchior Mirisch, an Augustinian prior who had studied at Wittenberg, began ev. preaching at Magdeburg 1522, and N. v. Amsdorf* with C. Cruciger (see Cruciger, 1) organized the Reformation there 1524. By 1535 Bremen, Brunswick, Goslar, Göttingen, Rostock, Hamburg, Lüneburg, and Hanover had declared for the Reformation. John* the Constant issued a directive August 16, 1525, making Ernestine Saxony ev. The ch. in Hesse adopted the principles of the Saxon* visitation 1528. George* of Brandenburg-Ansbach successfully undertook the Reformation in his Franconian territories. Other Ger. provincial chs. that followed the same or a similar pattern include those of Nürnberg, Brunswick-Lüneburg, Ostfriesland, Schleswig, Holstein, and Silesia. Albert* of Prussia introd. the Reformation in Prussia. Other areas wen for the Reformation included Württemberg, Augsburg, Anhalt, Pomerania, Westphalia, Albertine Saxony, Brandenburg, Mecklenburg, Quedlinburg, Naumburg, Brunswick, the Palatinate, and Cologne. By 1555 Prots. were as strong as RCs See also Augsburg, Peace of; Reformation, Lutheran.

C. Later Developments.

1. RCs tried hard to halt the spread of Lutheranism and reconquer lost ground. Activity of Jesuits and of the courts of Austria and Bavaria, virulent persecution and suppression of Protestantism, and the Thirty* Years' War saved a large portion of Ger., esp. S Ger., for Rome. (See also Counter Reformation.) Areas that became Calvinistic in the 2d half of the 16th c. and early in the 17th c. include the Palatinate, Bremen, Nassau, Anhalt, Lippe-Detmold, and Hesse-Cassel. John* Sigismund, Elector of Brandenburg, turned Ref. 1613, but the people remained Luth.

2. Union bet. Luths. and Ref. in Prussia was decreed and effected 1817 by Frederick* William III, with gen. approval; Luths. and Ref. united also in Nassau, Baden, the Palatinate, Anhalt, and to some extent in Hesse. The new ch. thus brought into existence was called Evangelical. But some Luths. and some Ref. refused to have anything to do with it. See also Germany, Lutheran Free Churches in; Prussian Union.

The 1870s and 1880s were marked by the Kulturkampf.* See also May Laws.

3. Before WW I the Luth., Ref., and Ev. Chs. in Ger. were organized as state chs., their govt. gen. being in the hands of consistories (see Consistory) and supts, appointed by the secular governing body, which provided, in greater part, for the support of the congs, out of the nat. revenues and more or less controlled ch. affairs. The const., of the Ger. Rep., adopted at Weimar August 1919 by the Nat. Assem., declared ch. and state separate and all religious denominations equal (religious freedom having been est. already during the time of the Empire by the several state constitutions and by imperial law). There is no longer a state ch. But many among the clergy and laity seem to desire some kind of state support and control and a Volkskirche (People's Ch., Nat. Ch.), which the masses would regard as their ch.

4. Paul von Hindenburg (1847–1934; field marshall; pres. of the Rep. 1925–34) protected the rights of the ch. Adolf Hitler (1889–1945) came to power as chancellor January 1933. It was at first felt that the rights of chs. would be protected also by him. A wave of religious revival followed. Ludwig Müller (1883–1945; a leader of Deutsche Christen) was elected Bp. of the Reich September 1933. His attempt to unite the Ger. Prot. chs. in harmony with Nazi (National Socialist) party principles led to opposition by Martin Niemöller (b. 1892; leader of Pfarrernotbund) and others. Opposition to Nazi control of the ch. led to surveillance by police, arrests, imprisonment, and execution. Activities of chs., schools, and military ministries were curtailed. By the end of WW II the chs. were exhausted. See also Barmen Theses; Kirchenkampf; Socialism, 3.

WW II led to the division of Germany:

East Ger. (Ger. Dem. Rep.). Area: ca. 41,800 sq. mi. Proclaimed 1949; proclaimed fully sovereign 1954. Ethnid composition: ca. 99% German. Language: German. Religion: traditionally 80% Prot.

West Ger. (Federal Rep. of Ger.). Area: ca. 96,000 sq. mi. Proclaimed 1949. Ethnic composition: mostly German. Language: German. Religions: Prot. 44%; RC 45%.

5. Hardships endured during WW II drew Prot. groups closer together. Efforts were made to unite all Ger. Prots. The EKD (Evangelische Kirche in Deutschland) was organized July 13, 1948, as a fed. of Luth., Ref., and Ev. (or United) chs. The VELKD (Vereinigte Evangelisch-Lutherische Kirche Deutschlands) was organized July 8, 1948; its purpose is to strengthen Luth. consciousness through an organic union of all Luths. Of the 27 chs. in EKD (as of 1962), 13 are Luth.: the chs. of Saxony, Hanover, Bavaria, Schleswig-Holstein, Thuringia, Mecklenburg, Hamburg, Braunschweig, Lübeck, Schaumburg-Lippe, Württemberg, Eutin, and Oldenburg (all except the last 3 belong to VELKD); 12 Union (or United) chs.: Berlin-Brandenburg, Province of Saxony, Pomerania, Silesia, Westphalia, Rhineland, Hesse-Nassau, Kurhessen-Waldeck, Baden, the Palatinate, Anhalt, and Bremen (Luths. predominate in Pomerania, Berlin-Brandenburg, Crown Province of Saxony, Rhineland, Silesia, Westphalia, Hesse-Nassau, Kurhessen-Waldeck, Anhalt, and Bremen); 2 Ref.: NW Ger. and Lippe. See also Union Movements, 8–9.

6. Free conferences at Bad* Boll, Ger., were arranged 1948 by representatives of the LCMS and Luth. chs. in Ger. These conferences were a Begegnung (meeting of minds). The conferences were enlarged for 1949 to include representatives of additional Luth. groups in Eur. and Am.

See also Roman Catholic Church, The, D 10–11.

A. Hauck, Kirchengeschichte Deutschlands. 5 vols. in 6, 8th ed. (Berlin, 1954); K. Brandi, Deutsche Reformation und Gegenreformation, 2 vols. (Leipzig, [1927–30]); J. Lortz, Die Reformation in Deutschland, 2 vols., 3d ed. (Freiburg, 1949); R. Seeberg, Die Kirche Deutschlands im neunzehnten Jahrhundert, 2d ed. (Leipzig, 1904); Die evangelische Christenheir in Deutschland: Gestalt und Auftrag, ed. G. Jacob (Stuttgart, [1958]).

Edited by: Erwin L. Lueker, Luther Poellot, Paul Jackson
©Concordia Publishing House, 2000, All rights Reserved. Reproduced with Permission

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