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Reconciliation is a theological and philosophical term, but it is also often used in everyday language , politics, and psychology .


The weak verb to reconcile developed from the Middle High German word versuenen , which belongs to the root word atonement . The form of atonement formed from this persisted into the 19th century. The umlaut ö that is used today comes from Bavarian and Swabian : In the late Middle Ages , a ue before an n changed to ö.

Faith and Theology


In the Christian faith, the gap between God and man created by sin must be atoned for. God became man in Jesus Christ in order to bring people back to himself and to reunite them with him. This becomes particularly clear through the suffering and resurrection of Jesus Christ: The Son of God suffers voluntarily in order to reconcile people with God. This becomes clear, for example, in the words he spoke about the cross: "Father, forgive them, for they do not know what they are doing" (Lk 23:34). The apostle Paul takes this up in his letters: “God showed his love for us in the fact that Christ died for us when we were still sinners” (Rom. 5: 8). Paul links reconciliation with Jesus Christ's death on the cross: it is not God's vengeance, but his love for people that is expressed. Thus Paul writes elsewhere: "It was God who in Christ reconciled the world to himself, not counting men for their wrongdoings and entrusting us with the word of reconciliation" (2 Cor 5:19). For the Bible it is important that people do not have to agree to forgive God, but that he is merciful. Christians are charged with spreading the message of this reconciliation. The most important prayer of Christians, the Lord's Prayer , says: “Forgive us our debts, as we also forgive our debtors”. Many parables of Jesus also speak of forgiveness (see list of parables of Jesus ). In the Sermon on the Mount , Jesus asks those who follow him to love even their enemies . The message and the example of Jesus are understood by the Christians as a turning point in salvation history, as the climax of reconciliation: Because God has forgiven people , they should also willingly forgive all other people. But this message is based on the Old Testament, in which God is described as merciful and forgiving (cf. Psalm 78:38; 103: 8f.).

From this basic message, theology developed the doctrine of the reconciliation of God and man through Jesus Christ, which is known as soteriology and is differentiated in the various denominations. The doctrine of satisfaction according to Anselm of Canterbury from the 12th century, for example, was very influential for Catholic and Protestant theology , which tries to explain the reparation of guilt of sin through Christ's suffering on the cross and thereby to convey mercy with the righteousness of God. The reconciliation is not well expressed in it. In the course of the 20th century in particular, the biblical message of reconciliation in soteriology was brought to bear again. In Catholic theology, individual reconciliation is traditionally closely linked to repentance and confession , but absolution by the priest cannot replace the reconciliation of people with one another. There is absolution only in the believer's conscience through faith; it does not protect against secular punishments. The sacrament of penance makes it clear that the church is a community of people who take guilt and sin seriously and want to overcome them before God and with one another: Christians also face their guilt before the ecclesiastical community represented by the priest and allow themselves to be reconciled with God to speak. Confession is therefore often referred to as the sacrament of reconciliation .


The great Jewish holiday of Yom Kippur should be emphasized , on which - in a somewhat abbreviated form - reconciliation with the Eternal is achieved by reconciling with one another: the repentant admission of sins is a condition for atonement. “The Day of Atonement frees from sins against God, but from sins against one's neighbor only after the injured person has been asked for forgiveness,” says the Talmud .

Hawaiian tradition

A special tradition is Hoʻoponopono : It is a psycho-spiritual procedure of the old Hawaiians , the application of which goes back well over eight hundred years and which is used again today mainly in a modern- esoteric form. As a spiritual purification , a correction of wrongdoing ( sins ), it is a multi-level prayer and breathing exercise. Traditionally, the procedure in which everyone involved in a problem was present (including the ancestors in spirit ) was led by a kahuna with healing powers, a kind of shaman . The higher beings called on to help were predominantly nature spirits, but also a family spirit called 'aumakua. The esoteric forms, the founder of which was the kahuna Morrnah Simeona , can be performed alone.


In Hegel's philosophy, reconciliation means mediation which, at the end of the dialectic, eliminates the contradictions in a synthesis . The unity of concept and being is to be achieved.


In society and politics, reconciliation is seen as a possible component of coming to terms with the past and / or resolving conflicts . Numerous truth and reconciliation commissions were established. The determination of the truth regarding the real event is considered necessary both in dealing with the past and in resolving conflicts. Sometimes monuments are also erected for the purpose of reconciliation, e.g. B. the Vietnam Veterans Memorial .


  • Michael Bongardt, Ralf K. Wüstenberg (ed.): Reconciliation, punishment and justice. The heavy legacy of injustice states. Edition Ruprecht, Göttingen 2010, see among others: Joachim Gauck : Reconciliation, punishment and justice as social and political challenges. Pp. 17-18, ISBN 978-3-7675-7132-7 (= contexts , volume 40, edited by Michael Bongardt ).
  • Axel Montenbruck : civil religion. A legal philosophy II. Basic elements: reconciliation and mediation, punishment and confession, justice and humanity from a legal perspective. 3rd considerably expanded edition. University Library of the Free University of Berlin, 2011 (open access)
  • Adrian Schenker, Otfried Hofius , Dietrich Korsch, Hans-Richard Reuter: Reconciliation I. Old Testament II. New Testament III. Theological history and dogmatic IV. Ethical. In: Theological Real Encyclopedia . 35 (2003), pp. 16–43 (theological overview)
  • Heinrich Rieker : Don't shoot, we don't shoot either! Reconciliation of opponents of war in no man's land 1914–1918 and 1939–1945 , Donat , Bremen 2006, ISBN 978-3-938275-18-4 .

See also

Individual evidence

  1. ^ Friedrich Kluge: Etymological dictionary of the German language. Walter de Gruyter, Berlin 1975, Lemma reconciliation.
  2. ^ Bernhard Knorn: Reconciliation and Church . Theological approaches to realizing peace with God in the world (=  Frankfurter Theologische Studien . Volume 74 ). Aschendorff, Münster 2016, ISBN 978-3-402-16061-9 . Gunther Wenz: History of the Doctrine of Reconciliation in Protestant Theology of Modern Times (=  Munich monographs on historical and systematic theology . Volume 11 ). tape 2 . Kaiser, Munich 1986, ISBN 3-459-01639-6 .
  3. Pali Jae Lee, Koko Willis: Tales from the Night Rainbow. Night Rainbow Publishing, Honolulu, Hawaii 1990, ISBN 0-9628030-0-6 .

Web links

Wiktionary: reconciliation  - explanations of meanings, word origins, synonyms, translations
Wiktionary: Reconciliation  - explanations of meanings, word origins, synonyms, translations