The Christian Community

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Church interior of the Johannes Church of the Christian Community in Dresden

The Christian Community , Movement for Religious Renewal, is a Christian church that sees itself as an independent religious community that is close to anthroposophy . It was founded on September 16, 1922 in Dornach ( Switzerland ) by a group of 45 theologians, pastors and students, predominantly of Protestant origin, under the direction of Friedrich Rittelmeyer , following suggestions by Rudolf Steiner , who designed the cult .


Interior of the Andrieskerk of the Christian Community in Amsterdam

The Christian community is represented in 32 countries and has around 35,000 members worldwide.

There are around 140 municipalities in Germany, 14 in Switzerland and 6 in Austria. Today there are municipalities in all five continents. In 2002 the Christian community in Germany had about 10,000 members and 50,000 friends. According to another source, there are 20,000 members. It should be noted that for the Christian community the baptized children do not count as members, but only adults who must join independently in any case.

In Switzerland, the Christian community is represented in Aargau, Basel, Bern, Biel, Lucerne, Graubünden, Geneva, Kreuzlingen, Lausanne, Schaffhausen, St. Gallen, Losone, Lugano and Zurich.

There has been a seminary in Stuttgart since 1933, one in Hamburg since 2001 , and another in Vaughan near Toronto in Canada since 2019 (previously in Spring Valley, Rockland County , New York, United States since 2003 ).


There is no official, binding doctrine: There is neither a “power to teach”, nor do the bearers of the driving offices have “authority to issue instructions” to the pastors (who are given the same “power of ordination”), but every priest has freedom to teach and is considered to be a full representative of the Christian community, "as long as it does not contradict the cult that is practiced by it".

The Christian community bases its understanding of Christianity on the one hand on the entire Christian tradition , on the other hand essentially on anthroposophy, which, in accordance with the New Testament, sees the death and resurrection of Jesus Christ as the decisive central event in human history. It is the only Christian church community in Germany that openly incorporates anthroposophical ideas in its discussion of religious issues. She sees herself “in the development of Christianity at the point where a third great Christian age dawns”.

Your liturgical texts with the revised Credo come from Rudolf Steiner and are regarded as inviolable.

Differences from the Christian tradition


Christ is referred to in the liturgy as the Son of God - in the Trinity : Father, Son and Holy Spirit. According to the Creed, the Holy Spirit “prepared the Son of Mary for the covering of Christ”; Christ was then crucified, risen and "since that time" "Lord of the heavenly forces on earth" and "executor of the fatherly deeds of the world ground".

According to some theologians of the Christian community, this is to be understood as meaning that Christ - in contrast to the Christian tradition - incarnated himself for three years in Jesus of Nazareth and experienced earthly death in him. After his death on the cross and overcoming it, he became the “I” of the newly emerging earth, whose aura had changed and which thereby also entered a path of spiritualization. The second coming of Christ will be gradual, as ethereal , astral and cosmic Christ .

Image of man and redemption

The Creed describes Christ as the one through whom “men obtain the resurrection of their dying earthly existence”. “In death he became the supporter of the dead souls who had lost their divine being. [...] He will one day unite for the progress of the world with those whom He can wrest from the death of matter through their behavior. "

According to some, the human being is at his core, the “I”, a spiritual being, in this sense an “image of God”. This ego gradually develops from a god-made germ in continuous incarnations into a creative individuality (“likeness of God”).

Creation doctrine and eschatology

At the beginning, the Creed speaks of God as the “reason for existence”, who “fatherly precedes his creatures”.

Instead of the creation of a “finished” world, anthroposophy postulates an evolutionary , perpetual world process, which the theologians of the Christian community usually also represent. In an earlier world state, mind and physique were not yet separated (and the physique was less firm than it is today). The cosmos undergoes a gradual development towards a world of the spirit, understood as the "resurrection of the flesh" towards a (re) integration with God.


Altar of the Christian Community in Helsinki

The Christian community sees itself as a cultic community. Its central celebration is the act of consecration , which formally shows similarities to the Catholic Eucharist in its liturgy with the main parts "Gospel Reading - Sacrifice - Transformation - Communion" . Any interested adult can take part in the act of consecration (with the conversion of bread and wine into the body and blood of Christ and communion ) without any further requirements.

According to the Christian community, believers are given the transforming Christ powers in the sacraments . The exercise in communal life with one another extends, among other things, to consciously comprehending this. In principle, no knowledge or experience limits are assumed.

In the Christian community one speaks of the “circle of the sacraments”: the six other sacraments cluster around the central sacrament, the “act of consecration” with / without sermon , which adults can attend on Sundays, but also up to daily. Ordination, confirmation and baptism can only be performed once in a person's life, and the last unction can also be performed several times if it is a matter of new diseases which, according to human judgment, lead to death. The sacrament of confession (processing and affirmation of one's own biography) and the sacrament of the altar (the change of bread and wine into the body and blood of Christ) can be deepened in the repetition through the free initiative of the individual person.

The sacrament of baptism is carried out in the Christian community with the substances water, salt and ashes. The Trinitarian baptismal formula is not used in the traditional wording ("in the name of the Father, the Son and the Holy Spirit"). The person to be baptized is not poured over the water, but only moistened. This baptism is not recognized by most other Christian churches. In contrast to the traditional Christian view, baptism has nothing to do with the forgiveness of sins, as dealing with sin and redemption is assigned to the life of adults. It orientates people towards the relationship to the “Church of Christ Jesus”, which is understood as interdenominational. One does not become a member of the Christian community through baptism, but through one's own decision as an adult.

Community grave at the Jena North Cemetery

The other sacraments of the Christian community are:

In addition, there are cultic acts:

  • The Sunday action for the children
  • The cultic celebration at the end of the day (for example at conferences)
  • The great form of the sermon
  • The funeral : 1. blessing ceremony , the second ground or cremation
  • The children's burial

The sacraments are carried out by the priest in a fixed manner and in liturgical robes with sometimes different wording and colors depending on the season. The ordination of women has existed since the foundation. The cult is carried out in the respective national language.


Legal and economic organization

Michael Church of the Christian Community in Bremen

The overall movement of the Christian community is registered in economic and legal terms as a foundation under Dutch law under the name Stichting de Christengemeenschap (international) - usually called the Foundation - which acts as the carrier of the overall movement. Within the Foundation there are 18 regions as independent units. The main forum of the Foundation is the Council . This meets every two years and elects an Executive Committee from among the members of the Council, which advises on economic decisions between Council meetings. The full-time management in Berlin carries out the practical implementation and daily decisions.

In Germany, the municipalities are regionally united to form public corporations . The Christian community thus has the same rights and obligations as the other religious communities recognized as corporations under public law. However , the Christian Community expressly waives the right to collect church taxes by the state. It is financially supported by voluntary contributions and donations from its members and friends. The salary of the priests depends on the economic situation of the community and is based on a socially influenced basis.

In Austria, the Christian community is a state-registered religious denomination community . Applications for state recognition as a religious community have so far been rejected; a complaint to the European Court of Human Rights was upheld in 2009 because of unfairly justified discrimination against recognized religious communities.

In Switzerland the Christian Community is organized as an association ; in the canton of Basel-Stadt it is publicly recognized as a religious community, although neither under public law nor under special law.

All legal and economic questions are dealt with jointly by responsible parishioners and priests. The economic cooperation of the municipalities and regions is supervised by so-called coordinators . The cult is given the special responsibility of the priests.

Spiritual organization

The Christian community is structured hierarchically in its priesthood. However, the hierarchy does not concern a “spiritual authority” graded by degrees of ordination - there is only one ordination, all priests have basically the same authority to ordain and freedom of instruction - but is an internal order which has the task of sending parish priests and the proper exercise of the cult Has. The individual communities are grouped into different regions, each of which has a driver assigned. At their head are two top links and the arch- top link , who are responsible for the whole of the Christian community. Together with four leaders, they form the actual governing body: the so-called circle of seven based in Berlin .

The founding management from 1922

On February 24, 1925, Rittelmeyer took over the newly created office of Archoberlenker.

The ore top link

Parish membership

One does not become a member of the Christian community through birth, baptism or confirmation, but through one's own decision as an adult, as in the so-called voluntary churches . Admission takes place through a conversation with a priest from the local community. On the part of the Christian community, some pastors suggest - not presupposing - to give up membership in other churches.


The foundation of the cult was made with decisive help from Rudolf Steiner (1861–1925), who in Stuttgart and Dornach from 1921 to 1924 in several courses and lectures gave suggestions for a “renewed Christian-religious work”. After three weeks of joint preparation in Breitbrunn am Ammersee , the 45 founders traveled to Dornach, where the founding steps were carried out in the Goetheanum from September 6 to 22, 1922. The day of its foundation in the strict sense is September 16, when Friedrich Rittelmeyer (1872–1938) celebrated the first act of consecration and ordained the first twelve priests. The Christian community spread quickly in numerous German cities, soon also in Prague , Switzerland, Austria, Norway, Holland, Sweden and England. The first seminary was founded in Stuttgart in 1933, and the first own churches in Dresden and The Hague in 1936 . After the Gestapo banned the Anthroposophical Society in Germany in November 1935, the Christian community was initially banned due to its character as a Christian association. It was not until 1941 - after the flight of Hitler's deputy Rudolf Hess to England - that the Christian community was banned in Germany; some priests were temporarily detained.

After the war, former National Socialists also came to the Christian Community, according to Friedrich Benesch , who was ordained a priest in 1947 and from 1957 worked for decades as a seminar leader for the Christian Community in Stuttgart. He worked in Transylvania as a member of the German People's Party of Romania (DVR) and district leader; He kept quiet about his “brown” past throughout his life; it was only made public in 2004. Werner Georg Haverbeck , once head of the Reich Agency for National Work of the NSDAP , was ordained a priest in 1950. In 1959 he was given leave of absence from his priesthood because of “leftist tendencies”. In 1983 he was accepted back into the priesthood, but retired at the same time. In 1978 and 1983 he was able to publish two more books with Urachhaus Verlag, but until his death in 1999 he never distanced himself from his ethnic past and with his book Rudolf Steiner - Lawyer for Germany , published in 1989, made his contribution to the debate about political assessment that is still going on today Steiners.

After the end of the war, new congregations were founded (gradually also outside of Europe), new churches were built, e.g. B. in Bochum in 1966, and in 1953 a new seminar building in Stuttgart - the first one was destroyed in the war - was built. In 1990 it was possible to start again in Prague. Today there are active groups or churches in North and South America, Asia, Europe, Africa and Australia.


The Christian Community has seminars in the German-speaking area in Stuttgart and Hamburg, and a proseminar (extra-occupational seminary) in Krefeld (until 2013 in Cologne). The course is designed for three years and includes various internships in communities, but also in schools, hospitals, retirement homes or in the hospice movement . The preparation for the priestly ordination can then follow as a six-month training together with the students of the other seminaries of the Christian community. There is also a seminary in Toronto, Canada.


The Christian community sees itself as a part of the one Church of Jesus Christ to which "all belong who feel the saving power of Christ". Other Christian communities are also recognized as part of this one church.

On the other hand, there are theological reservations from the point of view of other Christian churches, due to which the Christian Community is neither a member of the World Council of Churches nor of the Working Group of Christian Churches in Germany (ACK). She has tried to be accepted into the ACK, but according to her own information she has been asked not to submit this application officially because the unanimous "yes" of all member churches is currently not to be expected.

The baptism of the Christian community is also not recognized by the member churches of these communities. The Christian community, on the other hand, recognizes the baptisms of the churches mentioned and affirms the constitutional basis of the WCC: “The Christian community sees itself as part of the one Church of Jesus Christ and in this sense recognizes the Evangelical Church. She affirms the basic formula of the World Council of Churches. "

The Christian Community is a member of the interreligious working group of churches and religious societies (AKR) in Berlin.

In the view of other Christian associations

Assessment by the major churches

The baptism of the Christian community is not recognized by the Evangelical Church in Germany as in principle by the Roman Catholic and Orthodox churches.

There have been various discussions between representatives of the Protestant Church and the Christian community, the results of which have also been published. From such conversations z. B. the publication of the Evangelical Oberkirchenrat Stuttgart (ed.) On the question of the Christianity of the Christian community - contributions to the discussion emerged.

In its online encyclopedia, the Evangelical Central Office for Weltanschauung questions comes to the conclusion that the Christian community is “dependent on anthroposophical convictions” - not least because of the binding religious wording - “from biblically acquired basic insights to which the Christian churches are committed”, alienated, and sees in the baptism of the Christian community, u. a. because of the assumption of a prenatal existence of the soul contained therein, a different understanding of baptism. From the point of view of the Evangelical Central Office for Weltanschauungsfragen, "the 'Christian Community - Movement for Religious Renewal' 'is an anthroposophically interpreted Christianity alongside the denominational churches."

Criticism within the anthroposophical movement

The Christian community encounters some contradictions within the anthroposophical movement. Shortly after it was founded, there were violent disputes and misunderstandings between anthroposophists and priests of the Christian community. Individual pastors recruited their parish members almost exclusively from members and friends of the Anthroposophical Society. Rudolf Steiner had to say a “clarifying word” with regard to the appropriate distinction between the two movements and here clearly demarcated them from each other.

The "Forum Free Christians", the "Forum Kultus" and the "Initiative, Free Christian Working Community" assume that the Christian community has a "cultic claim to sole representation for the anthroposophical movement" and deny its justification. They see the two-tier system of clergy and laypeople as an ancient way of cultural history. Furthermore, they also use rituals that the Christian community claims for themselves, and they have partially adapted the wording of these for their own lay priestly use. They claim that Rudolf Steiner originally gave the rituals for free use by lay priests. In 1999 the Christian community clearly opposed this initiative and its “illegal appropriation of rituals” from the point of view of the Christian community.


On the part of the Christian community

From the literature, which can hardly be surveyed any more - a bibliography does not exist - only newer titles are cited which deal with the history or the aims of the Christian community in the narrower sense. The script by Johannes Lenz is meant as the “first leading orientation”; The presentation by Hans-Werner Schroeder can be regarded as the actual standard work with detailed information on the entire “in-house” literature.

  • Johannes Lenz: The Christian Community - An Introduction ; o. O. and o. J. [1978] (32-page brochure not sold in bookshops)
  • Hans-Werner Schroeder: The Christian Community - Origin, Development, Objective ; Stuttgart: Urachhaus, 2001 2 , ISBN 3-87838-649-4
  • Michael Debus: Resurrection Forces in Fate. The Sacraments of the Christian Community ; Stuttgart: Urachhaus, 2006, ISBN 3-8251-7526-X
  • Rudolf F. Gädeke: The founders of the Christian community. A network of fate. 48 short biographies with illustrations and documents ; Pioneers of anthroposophy, 10; Dornach: Verlag am Goetheanum, 1992, ISBN 3-7235-0639-9
  • Wolfgang Gädeke: You can get by with few sins ... - Anecdotes from the Christian community ; Stuttgart: Urachhaus, 2002 2 , ISBN 3-8251-7158-2
  • Alfred Heidenreich: Departure. The founding history of the Christian community ; Stuttgart: Urachhaus, 2000; Original: Growing Point ; London 1965.
  • Tom Ravetz: Liberated from dogma. Paths of experience to the theology of the Christian community. Stuttgart 2010, ISBN 978-3-8251-7693-8
  • Rudolf Steiner: Lectures and courses on Christian-religious work , 5 volumes; Dornach: Rudolf Steiner Verlag:
    • Volume 1: Anthroposophical foundations for a renewed Christian-religious work ; Six lectures and two discussions; Stuttgart June 12 to 16, 1921; 1993, ISBN 3-7274-3420-1
    • Volume 2: Lectures and courses on Christian religious work. Spiritual knowledge - religious feeling - cultic action ; Twenty-nine lectures and discussion hours, Dornach September 26 to October 10, 1921; 1993, ISBN 3-7274-3430-9
    • Volume 3: Lectures on the Establishment of the Christian Community ; Nineteen lectures, talks and answers to questions in Dornach from September 6 to 22, 1922; 1994, ISBN 3-7274-3440-6
    • Volume 4: The essence of the working word ; four lectures with answers to questions, held in Stuttgart from July 11 to 14, 1923, Dornach 1994, ISBN 3-7274-3450-3
    • Volume 5: Apocalypse and Priestly Work . Eighteen lectures, discussions and answers to questions in Dornach from September 12 to 22, 1924, Dornach 1995; 2nd edition 2001, ISBN 3-7274-3460-0
  • Wolfgang Weirauch (Ed.): The Christian community today. Claim and reality ; Flensburger Hefte, 35; Flensburg 1991, ISBN 3-926841-42-7
  • Wolfgang Weirauch (Ed.): Knowledge and Religion. On the relationship between the Anthroposophical Society and the Christian Community ; Flensburg Hefte, 22; Flensburg 1988, ISBN 3-926841-13-3
  • Wolfgang Weirauch (ed.): Renewal of religion. The Christian Community. Sacraments. Church and cult ; Flensburger Hefte, 14; Flensburg 1986, ISBN 3-926841-07-9

From a traditional Christian point of view

  • Evangelischer Oberkirchenrat Stuttgart (Ed.): On the question of the Christianity of the Christian community. Contributions to the discussion . Markstein, Stuttgart 2004; 2nd edition 2005.
  • Lothar Gassmann: Anthroposophy and Christianity :
    • Volume 1: Biographical. Life and work of Rudolf Steiner, Friedrich Rittelmeyer, Emil Bock and Rudolf Frieling . Fromm, Saarbrücken 2011, ISBN 978-3-8416-0177-3 .
    • Volume 2: The teachings in comparison: Spirituality, understanding the Bible, image of God, Christosophy, salvation . Fromm, Saarbrücken 2011, ISBN 978-3-8416-0178-0 .
  • Hartmut Höfener: The Christian Community and the Evangelical Church in Germany against each other, next to each other or with each other? ; Standing committee “World Mission and Ecumenism” of the United Church Districts Dortmund and Lünen, 1996
  • Joachim Müller (Ed.): Anthroposophy and Christianity. A critical and constructive discussion . Paulus, Freiburg 1995, ISBN 3-7228-0360-8 .
  • Wilhelm Stählin (Ed.): Gospel and Christian Community . Johannes Stauda, ​​Kassel 1953.
  • Klaus von Stieglitz: Salvation of Christianity? Anthroposophy and the Christian Community - Presentation and Criticism . Cross, Stuttgart 1965
  • The Christian Community. In: Handbook of Religious Communities. Published on behalf of the United Evangelical Lutheran Church in Germany (VELKD) by Hans Krech and Matthias Kleiminger. 6., rework. and exp. Edition Gütersloher Verlagshaus, Gütersloh 2006, ISBN 3-579-03585-1 , pp. 272-286.


  • Maria Krehbiel-Darmstädter: Letters from Gurs and Limonest 1940–1943. Compilation and Ed. Walter Schmitthenner . Lambert Schneider, Heidelberg 1970 (without ISBN)

Web links

Commons : The Christian Community  - collection of pictures, videos and audio files

Individual evidence

  3. According to Schroeder 2001: Die Christengemeinschaft , pp. 136, 190 f.
  4. (accessed on: March 6, 2012).
  5. ^ The Seminary of the Christian Community in North America
  6. Schroeder 2001: Die Christengemeinschaft , p. 74.
  7. Schroeder 2001: Die Christengemeinschaft , p. 120.
  8. Quoted here and in the following from the synopsis by Erik Dilloo-Heidger (Credo pp. 5–7)
  10. On May 31, 1949, the Council of the Evangelical Church in Germany decided not to recognize the baptism of the Christian community. On March 9, 1991, the Catholic Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith decided that the baptism of the Christian community was invalid. At best, something else could apply to the rare emergency baptism, which can be donated by pouring water over it and using the conventional baptism formula.
  11. ^ Maarten Udo de Haes: Baptism in The Christian Community. Church and Membership
  12. Judgment CASE OF VEREIN DER FREUNDE DER CHRISTENGEMEINSCHAFT AND OTHERS v. AUSTRIA of the European Court of Human Rights, 2009 (English)
  13. Basler Zeitung of September 8, 2010 Christian community recognized as a religious community
  15. ^ Helmut Zander : Anthroposophy in Germany. Vandenhoeck & Ruprecht , Göttingen 2007. p. 251.
  16. ^ Arfst Wagner: Anthroposophists and National Socialism. Problems of the past and the present. In: Flensburger Hefte , 3/91, Heft 32, Flensburg 1991, p. 45.
  17. Scharoun Church Bochum, also called Johanneskirche, Glockengarten, inauguration in 1966, based on designs by Hans Scharoun , with candlesticks by Wilhelm Wagenfeld , since 2012 a "nationally valuable cultural monument" according to the guidelines of the Federal Government Commissioner for Culture and the Media . Online with numerous Images . See Dietrich Scholle, Birgit Gropp arr.: The buildings of Hans Scharoun in Westphalia . Series: Westfälische Kunststätten, 120th ed. And Verlag Westfälischer Heimatbund , Münster 2016 ISSN  0930-3952 , pp. 37–47 with illus .
  18. ^ The creed of the Christian community
  19. a b Material service of the Evangelical Central Office for Weltanschauung questions. Stuttgart 1993, 267 u. a.
  20. a b Handbook of Religious Communities and World Views, p. 279.
  21. Does the Christian community belong to the ecumenical movement?
  22. Does the Christian community recognize the baptisms of other churches?
  23. Evangelischer Oberkirchenrat Stuttgart (Ed.): On the question of the Christianity of the Christian community. Contributions to the discussion. Markstein, Stuttgart 2004, p. 6
  24. ^ A b Encyclopedia entry about the Christian community in the online encyclopedia of the Evangelical Central Office for Weltanschauungsfragen, Berlin:
  25. z. B. Evangelischer Oberkirchenrat Stuttgart (Ed.): On the question of the Christianity of the Christian community. Contributions to the discussion. Markstein, Stuttgart 2004
  26. See Steiner's lecture on December 30, 1922
  27. In a meeting with the teachers of free Christian religious instruction at the Free Waldorf School in Stuttgart, Steiner said on December 9, 1922: “The Christian community has no other relationship to the Anthroposophical Society than Catholicism or the Quakers”; quoted from Karl Schubert's shorthand notes
  28. See also
  29. u. a. Hans-Werner Schroeder in the magazine "Die Drei" 2/1999 ( )
  30. cf. also on the individual rituals and the criticism
  31. Johannes Lenz: The Christian Community ; P. 3
  32. The letter writer consistently states that, for religious reasons, she does not want to or has not seized any possibility of escape, actually necessary as a baptized Jew in the Christian community, before the National Socialist persecution; in the case of the only failed attempt to escape to Switzerland, it remains unclear why it failed; later she declares failure to be correct. When she became aware in the Drancy assembly camp in 1942/1943 that her ordeal would end in Auschwitz, she was already seriously ill and was immediately deported there, with transport no. 47 on February 11, 1943. For this transport see [1] , including exchanges between the German authorities (e.g. Helmut Bone , Carl Oberg , Heinz Röthke ). The addressees of Mary's letters also come predominantly from the Christian community. Book with num. Note and personal descriptions, but without cpl. register