Christian social teaching

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Christian social ethics (including social doctrine , social science (s) , social doctrine or social ethics , social theory , rarely social sciences) deals with the whole range of human coexistence. It is defined as the “science of the moral and legal order of society as a prerequisite for human self-realization ”. As theological ethics , Christian social ethics is either part of moral theology or stands alongside it.

Social ethics examines the social and political relationships, structures and norms with regard to general ideas of distributive, commutative and participatory justice and develops solutions for existing justice deficits. One of their main goals is the formation of moral judgments about the social dimension in which man lives, hence their central question: "Are given institutional structures fair?"

In Catholic theology is called because of the magisterial imprint mostly from the Catholic social teaching . In Reformed Protestantism, the Calvinist work ethic is dominated by the achievement principle.

Catholic social teaching

The Catholic social doctrine comprises the statements of the Roman Catholic Church on the social question and human coexistence in general. It negotiates a godly social order to ensure a good life on the basis of reason and divine revelation. Catholic social teaching is based on the principles of personality , solidarity and subsidiarity as well as the common good .

The starting point of modern social teaching was the encyclical Rerum Novarum by Pope Leo XIII. Over time it has been renewed and adapted. So the church confessed to democracy and opened its horizon of observation in the direction of global conditions. The Universal Declaration of Human Rights was recognized in 1963 with the Peace Encyclical Pacem in Terris . Laudato si ' expanded the subject of social teaching in the direction of environmental ethics .

Numerous social associations support the dissemination of Catholic social teaching in the economic, social and political areas, such as the Association of Catholic Entrepreneurs .

Protestant social ethics

Protestant social ethics has no church teaching post in the Catholic sense. The joint statements on social and political questions by Protestant Christians, based on their faith, result in a decentralized and descriptive substrate of common principles and statements that form Protestant social ethics, whereby the orientation towards the biblical concept of justice can be used as a common basis.

Protestant theology no longer considers a social doctrine with reference to the continued effect of original sin in all social spheres to be impossible. So she has left both her quietism and the alliance of throne and altar. Before the end of the First World War, Protestantism in Germany was strictly monarchist , i.e. in this sense politically harmless; in contrast to Catholicism, only minorities turned to the social question and the problems of the working class .

However, a broad, not officially ecclesiastical movement in the area of ​​diakonia and inner mission, especially from the middle of the 19th century ( Wichern , 1848) , had a major influence on social thinking in Germany and the concrete socio-political design in the Empire ( Theodor Lohmann ). There were close personal connections and overlaps, for example between the Evangelical Social Congress and the influential Association for Social Policy .

The founder of religious socialism in Germany was the Protestant theologian Christoph Blumhardt (1842-1919), in Switzerland Leonhard Ragaz . The Swiss theologian Karl Barth , probably the most important innovator of Protestantism in the 20th century, was a student of both theologians and represented socialism as a rational decision by Christians for a contemporary witness to Christ. He also pointed to similarities between the biblical preaching of Jesus Christ and Marxism .

In contrast, Max Weber underlined in The Protestant Ethics and the Spirit of Capitalism the influence of Protestant social ethics on the capitalist social order.

Orthodox social doctrine

The orthodox social doctrine is far less developed than in the other denominations, but has come to the fore, especially since the collapse of communism . In 2000, the Moscow Synod of Bishops published “The Basics of the Social Doctrine of the Russian Orthodox Church ”. In June 2016, the Pan-Orthodox Council devoted the longest chapter in the council paper to a common, orthodox social doctrine.

Influence on the social market economy

The fathers of Catholic social teaching were often quoted by several political directions, e. B. Oswald von Nell-Breuning . Under today's concept of order, the social market economy comes closest to its demands.

The foundations for the conception of the social market economy were created during the Nazi regime. The close connections between circles of the Confessing Church and the new ordoliberal conceptions are striking ( Bonhoeffer , Thielicke , Constantin von Dietze , Lampe, Röpke , Böhm and others). Hence, one can rightly speak of the roots of the social market economy in Protestant social ethics and Catholic social teaching.

See also


  • Arno Anzenbacher : Christian Social Ethics , UTB (Schöningh), Paderborn 1998, ISBN 3-8252-8155-8 . ( "Principles", pp. 178–213 ; PDF; 374 kB)
  • Erwin Bader : Christian social reform . Contributions to social philosophy in a changed world; with the text of the new social encyclical, Herder, Vienna (inter alia) 1991, ISBN 3-210-25108-8 .
  • Michelle Becka, Bernhard Emunds et al .: Social ethics as criticism , Nomos, Baden-Baden 2020, ISBN 978-3-7489-0814-2 .
  • Bernhard Emunds (ed.): Christian social ethics. Orientation from which practice? . Nomos, Baden-Baden 2018, ISBN 978-3-8487-5122-8 .
  • Albrecht Geck: Socio-ethical and socio-political approaches in Schleiermacher's philosophical and theological systematics , in: Friedrich, Martin / Friedrich, Norbert / Jähnichen, Traugott / Kaiser, Jochen-Christoph (ed.), Social Protestantism in Vormärz. Bochum Forum for the History of Social Protestantism 2, Münster 2001, 133–146.
  • Harald Jung: Social Market Economy and Secular Order , EThD Vol. 21, Berlin 2009.
  • Marianne Heimbach-Steins (Ed.): Christian social ethics . A textbook Volume 1: Basics. Pustet, Regensburg 2004. ISBN 3-7917-1923-8 .
  • Marianne Heimbach-Steins (Ed.): Christian social ethics . A textbook. Volume 2: Concretions. Pustet, Regensburg 2005. ISBN 3-7917-1924-6 .
  • Friedhelm Hengsbach , Bernhard Emunds , Matthias Möhring-Hesse : Beyond Catholic social teaching. New drafts of Christian social ethics . Düsseldorf 1993.
  • Manfred Hermanns : Social ethics through the ages. Personalities - Research - Effects of the Chair for Christian Social Studies and the Institute for Christian Social Sciences at the University of Münster 1893–1997. (= Treatises on social ethics, edited by Anton Rauscher and Lothar Roos; Vol. 49). Schöningh, Paderborn - Munich - Vienna - Zurich 2006. ISBN 978-3-506-72989-7 .
  • Joseph Höffner : Christian social teaching . 3rd edition of the new edition. ed., arr. and supplemented by Lothar Roos. Erkelenz: Altius Verlag 2011, 351 pp. ISBN 978-3-932483-33-2 . Translations into Span., Engl., Ital., Port., Jap., Korean., Russ., Lit., Chin., Polish., Croat., Slow.
  • Martin Honecker : Outline of social ethics . de Gruyter, Berlin 1995, ISBN 3-11-014474-3 .
  • Christoph Hübenthal : Foundation of Christian social ethics . (= Forum Sozialethik , edited by Christoph Hübenthal and Werner Veith; Vol. 3) Aschendorff, Münster 2006, ISBN 3-402-00572-7 .
  • Walter Kerber : Social Ethics . Kohlhammer, Stuttgart 1998, ISBN 3-17-009967-1 (basic philosophy; 13).
  • Alfred Klose , Wolfgang Mantl , Valentin Zsifkovits (eds.): Katholisches Soziallexikon , 2. completely revised. (1st edition: 1964), Tyrolia, Innsbruck, Vienna (among others) 1980, ISBN 3-222-11300-9 .
  • Ulrich HJ Körtner : Protestant social ethics. Basics and subject areas . 3rd improved edition. Vandenhoeck and Ruprecht, Göttingen 2012, ISBN 978-3-8252-2107-2 .
  • Reinhard Marx , Helge Wulsdorf: Christian social ethics . Contours-Principles-Fields of Action. Bonifatius, Paderborn 2002. ISBN 3-89710-203-X .
  • Reinhard Marx: Das Kapital , Ein Plädoyer für den Menschen, Knaur, Munich 2010, 320 pages, ISBN 978-3-426-78360-3 .
  • Elmar Nass: Christian social ethics: orientation that wins people (again) , Kohlhammer, Stuttgart 2020, ISBN 978-3-1703-7056-2 .
  • Ursula Nothelle-Wildfeuer : Joseph Cardinal Höffner and Christian Society. His contribution to their further development (Church and Society Green Series No. 448, published by the Catholic Central Social Science Center) . JP Bachem Medien, Cologne 2018, ISBN 978-3-7616-3200-0 .
  • Josef Thesing / Rudolf Uertz (ed.): The foundations of the social doctrine of the Russian Orthodox Church . German translation with introduction and commentary, Sankt Augustin 2001, ISBN 3-933714-41-9 .
  • Ernst Troeltsch : The social doctrines of the Christian churches and groups , UTB-Taschenbuch (2 vol.), Stuttgart 1994, (Neudr. D. Edition Tübingen 1912), ISBN 3-8252-1811-2 .
  • Markus Vogt : Global Neighborhood: Christian Social Ethics Facing New Challenges. Don-Bosco-Verlag, Munich 2000, ISBN 3-7698-1270-0 .
  • Markus Vogt: What is “sustainability”? , in: Church and Society 338. Published by the Kath. Sozialwissenschaftlichen Zentralstelle Mönchengladbach, Cologne 2007.
  • Günter Wilhelms : Christian social ethics . Schöningh, Paderborn 2010, ISBN 978-3-506-76891-9 .
  • Matthias Zimmer : Person and order. Introduction to the social market economy. Herder, Freiburg 2020 ISBN 978-3-451-39984-8 .

Web links

Christian social ethics
Catholic social teaching
Protestant social ethics
Orthodox social doctrine

Individual evidence

  1. Johannes Messner, "Social Ethics", in: Alfred Klose et al. (Ed.): Catholic Social Lexicon . Innsbruck et al., 1980, ISBN 978-3-7022-1396-1 , text column 2673.
  2. Andreas Lienkamp : Systematic introduction to Christian social ethics , in: F. Furger and others (eds.): Introduction to Social Ethics , Münster 1996, pp 44-45.
  3. Arno Anzenbacher, Christian Social Ethics - Introduction and Principles. Paderborn / Munich 1998, ISBN 978-3-8252-8155-7 , p. 15.
  4. Full text published in German: The foundations of the social doctrine of the Russian Orthodox Church with introduction and commentary , ed. by Josef Thesing and Rudolf Uertz, translated by Chr. Christova, Sankt Augustin 2001.
    See: Karl-Heinz Peschke : Christian Social Doctrine, Russian-Orthodox . In: The new order, No. 4/2004 (vol. 58) (PDF; 285 kB), pp. 312-314.
  5. Positive response to the Orthodox Council , , June 27, 2016
  6. ^ Alfred Klose, Gerhard Merk, Remaining and changeable in Catholic social teaching , Duncker & Humblot, 1982, ISBN 3-428-05160-2 , page 65
  7. Traugott Roser, Protestantism and Social Market Economy , LIT Verlag, 1998, ISBN 3-8258-3445-X , page 234 wwN
  8. cf. on this already Blumenberg-Lampe, C., The economic policy program of the 'Freiburg circles.': Draft of a liberal-social post-war economy, Berlin 1973
  9. See more closely: Harald Jung: Social market economy and worldly order (= EThD 21). Berlin 2009