What are the different types of churches


1. Definition and denomination


Churches (K.) are organized communities of Christians. Their common characteristic is faith in Jesus Christ and his message contained in the New Testament, the worldwide proclamation of this message, the celebration of the liturgy and the sacraments, in particular baptism and the Eucharist or the Lord's Supper, as well as diakonia, acting according to the Gospel . The community of the disciples of Jesus was not yet a K. According to the self-understanding of all Christians, the K. is the liberation from sin and promises redemption of Christ between his ascension and his return at the end of time. She lives from the Holy Spirit. It differs from → parties, associations and → interest groups in that it is not founded by people, but is a foundation of Christ that listens to God's word. It makes a public claim. She understands her mission as a service to the unity of humanity.

In common parlance, the term K. has different meanings. It can use the universal or local sk. (Diocese or Landesk.) Think that the Amtsk. or simply the building, usually crowned by a tower, in which the Christian community gathers for worship. The theology, which only after the Reformation in the 16th century thematized the self-reflection of K. and developed an ecclesiology, speaks of K. preferably in pictures as the people of God, the body of Christ or the community of saints, who are known as "K. on the way "but always also the congregation of sinners, consequently who is in need of repentance and renewal.


In the Creed of the Council of Constantinople (381), which is common to all Christians, four characteristics of the C. are mentioned: It is the "one, holy, catholic and apostolic C.". The term "Catholic" (= general, global) only became a denomination after the Reformation. While the Reformation congregations, formed by Luther and Calvin, emphasize the general priesthood of all believers and explain the visible structures of the congregation as not necessary for salvation, the Catholic ecclesiology underlines the visibility and hierarchical structure of the congregation as well as the apostolic succession, i.e. H. the sacramental acceptance into the ecclesiastical office going back to the apostles, made visible in the sign of the laying on of hands. The Orthodox K., which split off from the Catholic K. as early as 1054 as a result of the Oriental Schism, adheres to the hierarchical structure of the patriarchate and to the apostolic succession. Today, Christians largely perceive the fact that the unity of K. was lost as a historical tragedy, a human guilt and a nuisance, the overcoming of which demands their effort and patience.

2nd story


The Catholic K. looks back on almost 1300 years of history in Germany. Anglo-Saxon missionaries began the German mission in the 7th century. In the 8th century Bonifatius founded monasteries, which were the religious, cultural and scientific centers of the Middle Ages, and established dioceses in HE, TH and BY. Among the historical events that have a formative influence on the current figure of the Catholic K. in D, the Reformation of the 16th century stand out: the secularization of ecclesiastical territories and property in 1803, the Kulturkampf 1871-1879 and the Battle of National Socialism. Secularization, the founding of the Prussian-Protestant dominated German Empire in 1871, which excluded the Catholic lands of the Habsburg monarchy, and Bismarck's Kulturkampf pushed the Catholics into the status of a minority not only in terms of denomination, but also in cultural, political and social terms. For decades they felt they were subtenants in the building built by Protestants for the German Empire. They learned so inevitably to use the freedom guarantees of the modern constitutional state in order to defend themselves against the attacks of the state on the freedom of the K. It was mainly Catholic lay people who, following the turmoil in Cologne in 1837/38 and the arrest of Cologne Archbishop Clemens August von Droste-Vischering by the Prussian government, formed associations to defend church freedom. With the political mobilization in 1848, the organizational expansion of the association began. From March 1848, the establishment of associations and the publication of newspapers and magazines were no longer subject to the approval of state authorities. In October 1848 these associations met in Mainz for their first general assembly. They motivated the German bishops to meet for the first time in the same year and to form the Fulda Bishops' Conference. The Mainz general assembly of the associations was the beginning of the German Catholic Days, the 98th of which will take place in Mannheim in 2012. The Catholic Days still pursue a twofold goal. On the one hand they want to profess their faith and clarify what is required of Catholics in view of social and political developments, and on the other hand they want to articulate the positions, offers and demands of Catholics in the opinion-forming process of a pluralistic society.

The Kulturkampf, in which the Catholic K. should be subjected to state supervision and the Catholics were denounced as ultramontane, Rome-oriented Germans with dubious Reich loyalty, deepened the rifts between the denominations. After the First World War, Catholics became friends with → democracy and the constitutional constitution more quickly than Protestants. In the Weimar Republic it was they who tried in the center alongside and with the Social Democrats and the Liberals to stabilize the democracy that was hostile to the right and left. Through the Catholic social doctrine and Heinrich Brauns, a priest and center politician who served in 12 governments for over seven years as labor minister, they contributed a great deal to the development of the German welfare state.

The National Socialist struggle in 1933 led to a quick and inglorious end of the center. The inhuman ideology and politics of the National Socialist dictatorship led the Christians to look for new, ecumenical ways for their political engagement at the end of the Second World War. The → Basic Law and the legal order Ds are certainly not their work alone. But in the recognition of pre-state human rights and in the implementation of the solidarity and the → subsidiarity principle, they bear clear traces of their commitment, their experiences, value orientations and hopes. In the → GDR, however, the battle continued soon after 1945 - now under communist auspices. Until 1989, the SED regime did not give the K.n the opportunity to participate in shaping public life beyond pastoral letters and pulpit declarations. The Christians were considered second class citizens.


The Evangelical K., more precisely the Evangelical K.n, originated during the Reformation in the first half of the 16th century. Instead of the renewal of the whole of Christendom striven for by the reformers Luther, Zwingli and Calvin, there were divisions and denominations. The Augsburg Religious Peace in 1555 granted the sovereigns the ius reformandi. The principle "cuius regio eius religio" from then on determined the denomination of the respective territory. If a subject did not want to join the denomination of the sovereign, he had the right to emigrate. This regulation was confirmed in the Peace of Westphalia in Münster and Osnabrück in 1648.

For the inner church life of the Protestant Landesk.n. The development of the sovereign royal regiment was extremely important. After the elimination of the old episcopal and papal constitution, Luther claimed the sovereigns as "emergency bishops". Their rights in social affairs were then established in the 17th and 18th centuries from the nature of state sovereignty itself. So the sovereign became the Summepiscopus and the K. became the Staatsk. The sovereign regiment lasted until the end of the First World War. It made the K. so much an area of ​​state administration and the pastors so dependent on princes and lords that "the freedom to take a critical stance was more and more lost" (P. Althaus).

Until the middle of the 19th century, there was no overall organization of the Protestant regional knots. On the Kntag in Wittenberg, which in September 1848 unsuccessfully discussed a confederation of the Evangelical Ks, the "Central Committee for the Inner Mission of the German Evangelical K" was established. established, through which the Protestant K. received a work organization for the whole church for the first time, even if only for the area of ​​diakonia. Four years later, the German Evangelical National Conference was founded in Eisenach, a coordination body for all German Protestant regional regimental authorities without the right to make decisions. Even the German Evangelical Association, which was founded in Wittenberg after the end of the sovereign regiment in 1922, had no opportunity to intervene in the internal legal sphere of the regional regiment. For example, German Protestantism "took no active part in the intellectual and political foundations of the new democratic-republican state [...]" (E. Wilkens).

→ National Socialism was no less dangerous for the Protestant K. than for the Catholic one. It initially led to a split in German Protestantism into the "German Christians", who, under Reich Bishop L. Müller, wanted to turn the Protestant K. into an aid organization for the implementation of the aims of the Nazi state, and into the Confessing K. Called for resistance to National Socialism and at their synods in Barmen and Berlin-Dahlem in 1934 established the establishment of an emergency church regiment instead of the official but unauthorized regiment of the German Evangelicals.

Source: Andersen, Uwe / Wichard Woyke (ed.): Concise dictionary of the political system of the Federal Republic of Germany. 7th, updated Aufl. Heidelberg: Springer VS 2013. Author of the article: Manfred Spieker