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Expression of denominational diversity: signs in Wiesbaden

Evangelical ( church Latin evangelicus ; abbreviation: ev.) Is an adjective derived from the noun Evangelium .


“Gospel” is a takeover of the ancient Greek εὐαγγέλιον (“Good News”) into Church Latin. In the 11th century, the adjective evangelicus initially had the meaning " according to the message of the ( New Testament ) Gospels". In this sense, evangelical councils are already being used in the Middle Ages .

Development of today's importance

Martin Luther used the terms "gospel" and "evangelical" in connection with Paul ( Gal 1,7  EU etc.) to refer to the message of salvation solely through faith in Jesus Christ. The church was “evangelical” for Luther when it preached this message. He has refused to use the terms “Lutheran” and “Protestant” for a particular church party.

From this pre- denominational usage, the denominational meaning of the word evangelical developed in the course of the Reformation . Since 1653 it has been introduced as an official self-designation in the context of unification efforts of the Lutheran (Martin Luther) and the Reformed churches ( Huldrych Zwingli , Johannes Calvin ). Since the Union of 1817 , the word Protestant has also included the United Churches . In addition, it is used by many Protestant free churches as a self-designation ( Association of Protestant Free Churches , Protestant-Free Churches , Protestant-Methodist etc.). It is also a synonym for the word Protestant . In the same way, both words can indicate membership of a Protestant church .

Differentiation from "evangelical"

The term evangelical must be distinguished from the relatively new term evangelical , which was transferred back into German from the English-language evangelical . The English word evangelical originally means evangelical . In German today, this usually denotes a movement within Protestantism that emerged from Pietism , in whose conception of faith personal piety and the Bible as the authority of faith play a central role. Evangelical piety is therefore sometimes characterized by a certain proximity to Christian fundamentalism , but not to be directly equated with it.

See also


  • Albrecht Geck : Why is the Protestant Church called and why is it Protestant? In: Frauke Büchner: Perspektiven Religion. Workbook for upper secondary level . Göttingen 2000, pp. 228-229.

Web links

Wiktionary: evangelical  - explanations of meanings, word origins, synonyms, translations

Individual evidence

  1. Duden: The dictionary of origin. Mannheim 2007, Lemma Protestant.
  2. a b Friedrich Kluge : Etymological dictionary of the German language. De Gruyter, Berlin / New York 1975, Lemma evangelical.
  3. ^ A b W. Maurer: Art. Evangelisch, in: The religion in history and present. 3rd edition 1958–1963, Volume 2, Col. 775 f.
  4. Neukirchener Aussaat: What actually is Protestant? an orientation . Neukirchen-Vluyn, ISBN 978-3-7615-6241-3 .
  5. ^ Hermann Mulert: denominational studies. Verlag Alfred Töpelmann, Berlin, 2nd edition 1937, p. 343.