How many Jewish sects are there

From a Jewish sect to a world religion

The origins of the religious movement of Jesus Christ, Christianity and the Church are for its followers the Church of the Nativity in Bethlehem and the Church of the Holy Sepulcher and Resurrection in the Old City of Jerusalem. They stand for the key dates in the life of Jesus, for birth, death and resurrection. Christmas here, Good Friday and Easter there. Even those who never had anything with Christian faith in mind know about these places. And yet an origin of Christianity lies at least as much in the north of today's State of Israel, in Galilee and above all on the Sea of ​​Galilee. Where at best there are still ruins, there were fishing villages where Jesus worked and where his first followers lived. From there his message of God's radical love for people went out into the world.

Sea of ​​Galilee near Capernaum

The actions of Jesus during the few years in which he appeared in public are markedly different from those of other prophets of his time. Because Jesus not only spoke spectacularly, he also worked as a symbol. The Berlin Protestant church historian Christoph Markschies is convinced that this is the reason for much of what moved the circles that became the first Christian communities and gradually the early church. He is convinced that the movement of Jesus of Nazareth was a special one "in that this prophet was also someone who could deal with illnesses in a special way, that is, he could make sick people well. He gave them the impression that they were in the encounter get well with him. " Action followed Jesus' words.

Rapid influx

After Jesus died on the cross (presumably in the year 31 of today's calendar), reports of the resurrection of their Lord put his followers in astonishing dynamism. They quickly gained popularity. The Christian communities often developed in the synagogues. A clear demarcation from Judaism was only made Gradually Paul, a Jew and a Roman citizen at the same time, becomes a Christian and one of the main ambassadors for the spread of the Christian faith.

Silhouette of christ

Paul and his companion Peter, who was one of Jesus' disciples, turned their focus to Rome, the capital of the kingdom. The Christian movement as a whole made this its own for centuries to come.

While the first spiritual centers were already developing, Christian communities were being founded beyond the Roman Empire. The "christianoi" - so soon the name - are not directly against the state authorities. Nevertheless, there were repeated persecutions of Christians by the Roman state in the first three centuries. "They help", says Christoph Markschies, "to stabilize the identity of the Christian community".

There is a decisive event in the 4th century. What sounds dynamic when it comes to the concept of the "Constantinian Turnaround" is a process initiated by Emperor Constantine (deceased 337). It culminates in Christianity becoming the state religion in 380. It is debatable how much the emperor is concerned with political calculation or personal religiosity.

Church and State

Constantine the Great

To this day, the relationship between church and state has sparked controversy. This topic became concrete with Constantine and has appeared again and again since then - also in the modern constitutional state. Christoph Markschies points out: "You always have to be clear: Our neat distinction between belief and politics is very modern. In the past, people were of the opinion: The question of what creed a people or a state has - if you use these modern terms may - is not irrelevant, but essential for state welfare. "

Church was never a monolithic structure. At the beginning it took centuries for the social and spiritual movement to get a philosophical superstructure. Since 325 there have been church-wide meetings, the "Ecumenical Councils", which shape and establish the teaching of the church. In 451 the Council of Chalcedon (now a district of Istanbul) deals with the question of the nature of Jesus Christ. In the dispute over the extent to which he was human or God, the churches of Egypt and Syria split off from the main Roman line. It will be well into the 20th century for patient dialogue to overcome this early split.

But Christianity experienced the deepest division in the 11th century. In a politically motivated dispute, West and East separate - Latin speaking and thinking from Greek speaking and thinking. For Christoph Markschies, the church split in the 11th century is "an expression of a process of alienation that has been fermenting for a long time".

On the threshold of the modern age

Luther monument in Wittenberg

The next big crisis within the church breaks out in the 16th century. In Rome, the construction of the new St. Peter's Basilica is growing - a status symbol that is intended to clarify the claim of the Roman Church as a universal Church. When funds become scarce, the church sells indulgences. These letters are supposed to guarantee the forgiveness of sins and thus protect the believer from hell. This challenges the German Augustinian monk Martin Luther (1483-1546). His biblical argument that a person can be justified by the grace of God alone sets the Reformation in motion. The established church system is shaking.

Since secular rulers also intervene in this trial of strength, debates and insults are soon followed by armed conflicts. Ultimately, a whole series of new Christian denominations grew out of the Reformation in Central and Eastern Europe - Lutherans, Reformed, Anglicans.

New thinking

All denominations are faced with the Enlightenment in the 18th century. It stands for a cognitive process that is aimed at the liberation from traditions, institutions, conventions and norms that cannot be justified with human reason. The autonomy of human reason should become the measure of all things. The Enlightenment was pioneered by a radical change in the natural sciences. Many debates about the correlation between faith and reason are only taking place in the present or are still pending.

Prof. Christoph Markschies

But the Enlightenment could basically never endanger the existence of the various churches. In large parts of the western world, however, the churches are in a similar situation as in the early days of Christianity, because they are losing support in their societies. Church historian Christoph Markschies takes this rather calmly. The church historian sees prospects for contemporary Christians in the return to the beginning: "The strength of the early church was that it saw the minority as an opportunity."