Evangelical theology

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Protestant theology is a scientific discipline. It is divided into the sub-disciplines of the Old Testament , New Testament , Church History , Systematic Theology ( dogmatics and ethics ) and practical theology . Sometimes mission theology , canon law and other sub-disciplines are also included. "Evangelical" is the self-designation of the churches that emerged from the Reformation . Protestant theology relates in a special way to the Gospel or the Bible and to the confessional writings, whereby the canon of the Lutheran confessional writings is concluded ( BSLK ), while in the churches of Reformed tradition around the world new confessional texts are being formulated again and again, to which Reformed theologians refer can relate to their reasoning.

Theological research also seeks dialogue with other sciences in its reflection.

An essential function of theological training is preparation for church activities.

University of Wittenberg, 19th century


In its sub-disciplines, Protestant theology deals on the one hand with historical questions and uses the methods of historical studies and other historical sciences, on the other hand with the exegesis of the Bible, for which methods from literary studies are used. In addition, she accompanies today's life of the church in a critical and reflective manner ( practical theology ), incorporating knowledge of psychology , sociology , pedagogy and other human sciences into her theories. Furthermore with the basic questions of the Christian faith and morals and ethics ; as a systematic theology , it is also in constant dialogue with philosophy and the natural sciences . Consistent and scientific work with recognized methodologies is the focus here. Protestant theology serves the church as an organization by giving prospective pastors the theoretical knowledge they need for their work. It is precisely under the latter aspect that it faces the churches as a corrective authority and is not obliged to become a teacher. That is one of the reasons why it finds its place in the state universities. The lecturers should be independent of the respective churches.

Eminent theologians

Some Protestant theologians have particularly shaped the image of Protestant theology, such as August Hermann Francke , Albrecht Ritschl , Ernst Troeltsch , Friedrich Schleiermacher , Johann Hinrich Wichern , Friedrich Gogarten , Adolf von Harnack , Theodor Zahn , Albert Schweitzer , Adolf Schlatter , Paul Tillich , Karl Barth , Emil Brunner , Rudolf Bultmann , Dietrich Bonhoeffer , Helmut Thielicke , Kurt Aland , Dorothee Sölle , John Stott .

Basic texts of the more recent evangelical theology

Certain texts have become particularly effective in the course of Protestant theology. The following table shows a selection of important texts, sorted by theologians in the order of their year of birth. The text selection is based on Wilfried Härle.

Names Important texts
Friedrich Daniel Ernst Schleiermacher (1768–1834) About religion. Speeches to the educated among their despisers (1799)

Brief description of the theological studies ( 2 1830)

The Christian faith. Volume 1 ( 2 1830/31)

David Friedrich Strauss (1808–1874) The old and the new faith (1872)
Sören Kierkegaard (1813–1855) Fear and trembling (1843)

The Sickness to Death (1849)

Albrecht Ritschl (1822-1889) Teaching the Christian Religion (1875)
Martin Kähler (1835–1912) The so-called historical Jesus and the historical, biblical Christ (1892)
Johann Georg Wilhelm Herrmann (1846–1922) Our Faith in God (1912)
Adolf von Harnack (1851–1930) The essence of Christianity (1899/1900)
Ernst Peter Wilhelm Troeltsch (1865–1923) The absoluteness of Christianity and the history of religion (1902)
Albert Schweitzer (1875–1965) The history of the life of Jesus research (1913)
Rudolf Otto (1869–1937) The Holy (1917)
Friedrich Gogarten (1887–1967) Between the Times (1921)

Doom and Hope of Modern Times (1953)

Rudolf Bultmann (1884–1976) What's the point of talking about God? (1925)

New Testament and Mythology (1941)

Werner August Friedrich Immanuel Elert (1885–1954) Law and Gospel (1948)
Karl Barth (1886–1968) The word of God as a task of theology (1922)

The Doctrine of the Word of God - Prolegomena to Church Dogmatics (1932)

The humanity of God (1956)

Karl Barth et al Theological declaration on the current situation of the German Protestant Church ( Barmer Theological Declaration 1934)
Paul Tillich (1886–1965) Systematic Theology, Volume 1 (1951)
Paul Althaus (1888–1966) The Christian Truth (1947)
Emanuel Hirsch (1988–1972) World Consciousness and Faith Secret (1967)
Emil Brunner (1889–1966) Our Faith: A Christian Teaching (1939)
Dietrich Bonhoeffer (1906–1945) Succession (1937)

Resistance and Surrender (1944)

Erwin Metzke (1906–1956) Sacrament and Metaphysics (1948)
Helmut Gollwitzer (1908–1993) Revolution as a theological problem (1970)
Gerhard Ebeling (1912-2001) The essence of the Christian faith (1959)
Wolfhart Pannenberg (1928–2014) Dogmatic Theses on the Doctrine of Revelation (1961)
John Hick (1922-2012) Verification in the afterlife (1963)
John B. Cobb (* 1925) / David Ray Griffin (* 1939) Process Theology (1976)
Jürgen Moltmann (* 1926) The God of Hope (1967)

Political Theology (1984)

Dietrich Ritschl (1929-2018) "Story" as the raw material of theology (1976)
Dorothee Sölle (1929-2003) Believe in God atheistically? (1968)
Eberhard Jüngel (* 1934) The world as possibility and reality (1969)

The Human Man (1985)

- Agreement of Reformation Churches in Germany ( Leuenberg Agreement ) (1973)
Falk Wagner (1939–1998) The Reality of God as Spirit (1977)
Walter Altmann (* 1944) Conversion, Deliverance, and Justification (1983)
Rosemary Radford Ruether (* 1936) Can a Male Redeemer save women? (1983)
Eilert Herms (* 1940) Revelation (1985)
Wolfgang Huber (* 1942) Good Theology (2004)
Ingolf Ulrich Dalferth (* 1948) Full grave, empty faith? On the dispute over the raising of the crucified Christ (1998)


The study of Protestant theology comprises 9 to 10 semesters , depending on the federal state and regional church . In addition, there are 2 semesters for learning the languages ancient Hebrew and ancient Greek , depending on requirements . In addition to Hebraicum and Graecum (one of the two languages ​​for the MA as well as a combined BA and MA with theology as a major, with theology as a minor, neither of the two), the Latinum is required for the course , but usually no semester is added for learning. As a rule, a Philosophicum and a Biblicum are also taken during the course .

The course Evangelical theology can with the first ecclesiastical examination or the diploma to complete. In addition, a Magister / BA - MA degree is also possible. The related studies teaching degree is called "Protestant religious doctrine " and closes with the first state examination from.

The basic course comprises four to five semesters - plus the "language semester" - in which the focus is on biblical sciences and the history of the church and dogma. The basic course concludes with the intermediate examination or preliminary diploma examination, which usually consists of a written and an oral examination as well as a six-week term paper.

In the four-semester main course , the subjects are treated roughly equally, but the students are free to set priorities themselves.
In the diploma or examination course, the standard period of study is supplemented by an additional semester to prepare for exams. The prerequisite for completing the course (except MA) is membership in a Christian church that belongs to the ACK .

After graduating with a diploma, first church examination, MA (main subject) or master’s degree, a doctorate to become a Dr. theol. and habilitation possible.

History of the Protestant theological schools

16th Century

Protestant theology not only ties in with the dogmas and symbols (such as the creed ) of the early church , but is also shaped by the career of the great reformers. Martin Luther , Ulrich Zwingli , Philipp Melanchthon and Johannes Calvin deserve special mention .

In particular, justification from faith ( sola fide ) is a central evangelical theme. In addition, the Reformation weighted any shortcomings in scholasticism more strongly and shifted the emphasis of theology to Scripture and “what Christ does” ( sola scriptura ).

In the so-called confessional age , the western church is split into Lutheranism , Calvinism and Roman Catholicism , with Anglicanism as “via media”, in which both Catholic and Protestant content, forms and beliefs are important, “standing in the middle “, Moderately mediating between the two poles of tradition and writing, represents a special or mixed form. In 1648 the Thirty Years' War ended in the Peace of Westphalia .

17th and 18th centuries

In the time of Pietism and the Enlightenment , the Reformation approaches were subjected to a fundamental criticism. Fundamental areas of conflict arose from the questions to theology that were now confidently submitted. By leading philosophers of the Enlightenment, the foundations of the creed and the Bible were, for example, provided as the sole source of divine revelation in question.

The fact that both Georg Wilhelm Friedrich Hegel and Friedrich Schleiermacher taught at the newly founded University of Berlin has shaped Protestant theology just as much as the proclamation of the Prussian Uniate Church of King Friedrich Wilhelm III. (Prussia) . In the upheaval in theology after the First World War, dialectical theology emerged .

Universities and high schools in the age of denominationalism

The most important Protestant training centers ( universities ) for the German-speaking area were separated between the Lutheran and Reformed denominations until the beginning of the 19th century. Some of them were - especially for the training of Reformed theologians - in the area of ​​today's Netherlands or in the neighboring "foreign countries". Lutheran universities also existed in Scandinavia. The English and Scottish universities developed independently in the field of Protestant theology. A study of Protestants at Catholic universities - also at the non-theological faculties - was excluded by a matriculation oath or doctoral oath according to a bull by Pope Pius IV (1564) with a few exceptions ( Padua , Bourges , Orléans , Angers , Ingolstadt ). In 1732, the theological candidates in Brandenburg-Prussia were banned from studying in Switzerland, England and Holland, which King Friedrich Wilhelm I considered particularistic.

At high schools or academic grammar schools ( grammar school Illustre , Archigymnasium, scholars' school , academy ), the material of the university artist faculty was taught and propaedeutic theological lectures were held. In contrast to the universities, these educational establishments did not have the imperial privilege of awarding academic degrees.

The language of instruction and science at all training centers was Latin until the 18th century . Doctoral theses were published in Latin in the 19th century.



Utraquists and Brothers Union


  • College and Academy Klausenburg ( Cluj-Napoca ), founded in 1557 and 1566, reorganized after 1718 (Kingdom of Hungary)
  • Lewartów Gymnasium ( Lubartów ), founded as a Reformed school, Socinian in 1588 , closed in 1598 (Kazimirski rule in the Kingdom of Poland, Lesser Poland Province)
  • Raków Gymnasium (Gymnasium bonarum artium), founded in 1602, open to students of various denominations, called " Sarmatian Athens", closed in 1638 (Sienieński rule in the Kingdom of Poland, Lesser Poland Province)
  • Influence around 1600/15 on some professors and students at the Altdorf Academy ( Ernst Soner , Martin Ruarus , Johannes Crellius and others)

See also


  • Heinz Zahrnt : The thing with God. Protestant theology in the 20th century . Piper, Munich 2002, ISBN 3-492-20890-8 .
  • Hermann Fischer : Systematic Theology, Conceptions and Problems in the 20th Century (Basic Theology Course; Vol. 6). Kohlhammer, Stuttgart 1992, ISBN 3-17-010027-0 .
  • Hermann Fischer: Protestant Theology in the 20th Century , Kohlhammer, Stuttgart 2002, ISBN 3-17-015754-X .
  • Theological training in the EKD. Documents and texts from the work of the Mixed Commission for the Reform of Theology Studies / Expert Commission I (Parish Office, Diploma and Magister Theologiae) 2005–2013, ed. by Michael Beintker and Michael Wöller with the collaboration of Michael Beyer and Alexander Dölecke, Evangelische Verlagsanstalt, Leipzig 2014, ISBN 978-3-374-03755-1 .
  • Roman Heiligenthal, Thomas Martin Schneider (Ed.): Introduction to the study of Protestant theology . Kohlhammer, Stuttgart 2004, ISBN 3-17-018045-2 .

Web links

Individual evidence

  1. Wilfried Härle: Basic texts of the newer Protestant theology . 2nd Edition. Evangelische Verlagsanstalt, Leipzig 2012.