People's Church

from Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia

With people's church is now usually referred to those churches to which larger parts of a nation belong. Volkskirchen in this sense are the Protestant regional churches and the Roman Catholic Church in Germany . A distinction must be made between the minority churches, which are often organized under private law. In many cases these see themselves as confessional churches.

To the subject

The term “Volkskirche” was coined by Friedrich Schleiermacher and has been understood quite differently in the course of history.

The term “Volkskirche” should not be confused with the terms state church or regional church . People's churches can also be state churches, but there are also state-free people's churches - for example the Catholic and Protestant churches in Germany. “Volkskirche” thus does not refer to the legal binding of the church to the state, but to the relationship of the church to the population or to the peoples of a state .

Different interpretations

In addition to the definition already mentioned in the introduction that the popular church denotes those churches that represent larger parts of the population, there are other interpretations of this term:

  • A people's church, as opposed to the "Winkelkirche", knows that it has a special obligation to the society in which it lives. This approach particularly emphasizes diaconal, pastoral, social, educational and missionary work as an offer for the “whole people”.
  • According to its understanding, a people's church as a mission church does not have to be a majority or mass church. With reference to Mt 28, she understands herself to be “go to all peoples ” ( Mt 28,19  LUT ) - regardless of her size - as a church sent to the people.
  • People's church as a contrast to the “pastor's church” emphasizes the community principle. What is called for here is, among other things, the participation of the entire church people in the church decision-making processes, i.e. a church with a grassroots democracy.
  • The Volkskirche as a contrast to the “dogma church” does not orient itself so much towards its dogmatic foundations and confessions in what it teaches and does. Rather, with this understanding of the national church, the church has the task of absorbing social developments in the field of science and culture. So it is no longer opposite of the people, but their integral part.

National Socialism and the Volkskirche

Under National Socialism, the term Volkskirche became a programmatic term for a "Germanized" church that was supposed to deny its connection to Judaism and make a Christian-emblazoned Nazi ideology its creed . At times it was thought of bringing all churches and free churches together under the organizational umbrella of such a people's church, with a so-called Reich Bishop at the head. The German Christians became ardent advocates of this idea, while the Confessing Church opposed this plan because, according to the New Testament, the church is always the community of believers and not “the people” in this sense.

See also


Individual evidence

  1. ^ Theodosius Harnack : The Free Lutheran People's Church: The Lutheran Church of Germany for Examination ... Deichert, Erlangen, 1870, DNB 361462271 , p. 110.
  2. Hans-Hermann Pompe: In the middle of life. The popular church, postmodernism and the art of creative mission. With a foreword by Wolfgang Huber. Neukirchener Aussaat, Neukirchen 2014, ISBN 978-3-7615-6114-0 .
  3. Heinz-Dietrich Wendland : The Crisis of the Volkskirche - Decay or Change of Shape? (= Humanities, Rheinisch-Westfälische Akademie der Wissenschaften, Volume 176). Westdeutscher Verlag, Opladen, 1971, ISBN 978-3-531-07176-3 ; 2nd edition: VS Verlag für Sozialwissenschaften, Wiesbaden, 2012, ISBN 978-3-322-98614-6 ; Reprint: Springer-Verlag, 2013, ISBN 978-3-32298613-9 , p. 74
  4. Erdmann Sturm : Introduction to Paul Tillich's socio-philosophical and ethical writings. In: Paul Tillich : Hauptwerke. Volume 3: Social Philosophical and Ethical Writings. Walter de Gruyter, 1998, ISBN 3-11-011537-9 , p. 1