Sacramentum Mundi Online

Get access Subject: Religious Studies

Edited by: Karl Rahner with Cornelius Ernst and Kevin Smyth.
Advisor for the online edition: Karen Kilby, Durham University

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Sacramentum Mundi Online is the online edition of the famous six volume English reference work in Catholic Theology, edited (in 1968-1970) by Karl Rahner, one of the main Catholic theologians of the 20th century. Sacramentum Mundi: An Encyclopedia of Theology was originally published by Herder Verlag, and is now available online at Brill.

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(1,160 words)

Author(s): Antonia Ruth Schlette
1. Meaning. “Race” as a scientific term with a definite meaning is used nowadays only in biology. Race (varietas) is, in the biological (and human biological) classification, a subgroup of the species; it is defined as a population or group of populations which are distinguished from other populations of the same species by sharing certain hereditary characteristics. The differences in characteristics as well as in disposition are determined by the difference in genes. Races (genetic populations) display particul…


(1,948 words)

Author(s): Konrad Hecker
1. Meaning. Rationalism is a self-understanding of the spirit which defines itself on the one hand by the positive content of its spiritual existence, and on the other hand, by the type of reflection in which conscious being gives an account of itself. In the latter sense, the rationalistic mentality, the temper of a whole epoch, is characterized by the effort to reduce the whole spiritual being to concepts in a conclusive and perspicuous coherence — as Wittgenstein said, whatever can be said at …


(1,426 words)

Author(s): Alois Halder
The “real” and the “actual” are often used synonymously and the general term “reality” applied to both. But they were distinct concepts originally and in the course of history, though as central philosophical terms not readily definable. In medieval terminology, realitas was one of the transcendentals convertible with entity, unity, goodness, etc. It means that anything which has being in any sense at all has a concrete content, determination and essential constitution (see St. Thomas Aquinas, De Veritate, 1, 1 c : “nomen rei exprimit quidditatem sive essentiam entis”; cf. 1 Sententi…


(4 words)

See Salvation.


(966 words)

Author(s): Johannes Baptist Lotz
1. The concept. Reflection was first studied by the neo-Platonists under the heading of ἐπιστροφή, and their approach was taken up and developed by St. Augustine, St. Bonaventure and St. Thomas Aquinas. According to Aquinas, the mind knows truth insofar as it turns back on itself ( supra seipsum reflectitur) , in which act it grasps not only its activity but its nature, which is to assimilate itself to things (De Veritate, q. 1, a. 9; cf. Contra Gentiles, IV, cap. 11; In Librum de causis, prop. 13 and 15). At the beginning of modern times, Descartes’s effort to establish the val…


(13,872 words)

Author(s): Joseph Lortz
The Reformation was a many-sided event, not merely a religious one. Martin Luther, the homo religiosus, was undoubtedly at the centre, but many non- theological factors (Humanism, politics, economics) contributed largely to its origin, form and extent. It was part of the shift in European thought and experience which had begun in the 14th century. Nonetheless, at its core it was a religious movement, and also a theological event, in the great trends launched by Luther, Calvin and also Zwingli. Thus the Reformation is not just a chapter of world hist…

Reform - Reform Movements in the Church

(4,289 words)

Author(s): Viktor Conzemius
Part of Reform: 1. Reform Movements in the Church 2. Survey of the Great Reform Movements 1. Biblical Foundation. By justification man is changed from the sinner he was into the just man he was not. In a real sense, therefore, he ceases to be a sinner. This righteousness, however, is not a fixed possession but is constantly exposed to the world’s opposition and within the range of man’s free decision (Gal 2 : 11 if. , 5:24-25; 1 Pet 5:8-9). Besides the personal sins of those who are already justified and the host…

Reform - Survey of the Great Reform Movements

(14,544 words)

Author(s): Hubert Anton | Jean Leclercq | Friedrich Kempf | Giuseppe Alberigo | Piergiorgio Camaiani
Part of Reform: 1. Reform Movements in the Church 2. Survey of the Great Reform Movements A. Carolingian Reform The Carolingian Reform denotes the efforts proceeding directly from the ruling house in the 8th and 9th centuries, or at least promoted by it, to rid of their shortcomings and depravities the Church institutions, the inner life of the Church, the morals of the Christian people and also the worldly sector of the corpus christianum, and to subject them to the obligatory norm of the Christian faith, the norma rectitudinis. The beginnings of the efforts towards reform, which f…

Reign of God

(5,951 words)

Author(s): Peter H˜ünermann
The message of the kingdom of God (βασιλεία τοῦ θεοῦ), which mostly appears in Mt as that of the kingdom of heaven (βασιλεία τῶν οὑρανῶν), is the central element in the preaching of Jesus. Mk sums up his message in the words “The time is fulfilled, and the kingdom of God is at hand; repent, and believe in the gospel” (Mk 1:15). This announcement of the kingdom of God, more precisely, of the lordship or reign of God, since βασιλεία means primarily the exercise of royal power, sovereignty and dign…


(1,578 words)

Author(s): Francis O' Farrell | Jörg Splett
1. Introduction. Relation, from the Latin referre, bring back, indicates the respect or reference of one thing to another, their mutualinter-directedness, which is of decisive importance for the being and understanding of the world, since the unity of the multiplicity in the uni-verse is one of the basic elements of human experience. The multiplicity in unity of the world was called “cosmos” by the Greeks, meaning both the established order and the principle of order, the Logos (from λέγω, collect, gl…


(1,022 words)

Author(s): Jörg Splett
1. Notion and forms. In the tradition of philosophical thought, knowledge is described as the coming together of the knower and the known (“in cognitione cognoscens et cognitum in actu sunt [fiunt] idem”). The truth brought about (“actuated”) in this act is due both to the known object (in the widest sense) and to the knowing subject (“quidquid recipitur ad modum recipientis recipitur”). If the subjectivity of knowledge is isolated and made dominant, and truth determined only by the knower, the various forms of relativism ensue. Metaphysical relativism would be the denial of any …


(1,685 words)

Author(s): Ernst Niermann
1. An approach to the controverted enon of veneration of relics must be sought in the corporeal structure of freedom and its exercise generally. The tension which thus characterizes it involves the indubitable danger of magical fetishism on the one hand, and on the other a demand for purity of intention which is hostile to the body and to linguistic and other forms of expression. Nevertheless the full development of freedom requires the combination found in embodied action or animated sign (see Symbol). The right, and limits, to veneration of relics can only be determined as …

Religion - Concept of Religion

(10,460 words)

Author(s): Norbert Schiffers | Werner Post | Willi Oelmüller
Part of Religion: 1. Concept of Religion 2. Science of Religion 3. Theology of Religions A. Religion in General There can be no easy-going approach to the subject of religion today, above all if one considers it the quintessence of one’s relationship to God. The word religion seems to have fallen into discredit. But if one refuses to accept this devaluation, one must analyse the difficulties involved in the term and then offer philosophical and theological reasons for continuing to use it. 1 . The notion and its difficulties. The question of the theology of religion is now put expl…

Religion - Science of Religion

(17,797 words)

Author(s): Günter Lanczkowski | Wilhelm Keilbach | Osmund Schreuder
Part of Religion: 1. Concept of Religion 2. Science of Religion 3. Theology of Religions A. Introduction 1. The “science of religion" , a term first used by the Oxford professor Friedrich Max Müller (1823-1900), is the scientific discipline, often called “comparative religion”, whose task is the empirical investigation of all religions, from those of the advanced cultures to those of the “primitives” (rather, non-literate peoples). It takes in all their past and present forms, and their relationship to civilization,…

Religion - Theology of Religions

(3,775 words)

Author(s): Heinz Robert Schlette | Adolf Darlap
Part of Religion: 1. Concept of Religion 2. Science of Religion 3. Theology of Religions A. The Plurality of Religions The fact that after vigorous discussions Vatican II on 28 October 1965 voted a Declaration on the Relationship of the Church to the Non-Christian Religions represents a very important event in the history of the Church. In view of the past history of the Church’s attitude to these religions (which cannot be gone into here), which for dogmatic, psychological, social and cultural reasons had been ent…

Religious Act

(2,481 words)

Author(s): Johann Baptist Metz
The religious act is one of the central concepts of the philosophy of religion and theological anthropology. The precise analysis of the concept will be determined by the (actual historical) self-understanding of man and the corresponding anthropology. We discuss here the religious act in the light of modern Catholic philosophy of religion and add some theological reflections. 1. Derivation and primary definition. If one takes seriously the general axiom, actus specificatur ab objecto , the religious act is seen at once to have a uniquely special character. Its obje…

Religious Customs

(1,421 words)

Author(s): Heinrich Schauerte
1. A custom is an action influenced by community tradition, which is usually repeated in the same form on similar occasions. It is called religious custom when it has a religious content, and comprises the communal expression of religious life outside the official liturgy of the Church. It shows how the objective salvific event penetrates the subjective experience of the people, in different ways in each age, nation and district. Those with mystical religious leanings produce subjective piety. T…

Religious Experience

(981 words)

Author(s): Jean Mouroux
1. The meaning of the problem. a) There is religious experience wherever there is living contact with God. In this sense, all religions admit a certain form of religious experience, because the personal movement towards God, which is essential to all religions, implies the quest of this Very contact:men were created in this world to search for God, to try to touch him and discover him (Acts 17:27). Religious experience is therefore a normal element of the life of religion, and may show itself in vari…

Religious Feeling

(1,065 words)

Author(s): Alejandro Roldán
Feeling can be interpreted as the experience of one’s condition in knowing and willing, or as a fundamentally unified act of the person (in the religious act). But since Tetens and Kant, it has also been interpreted as a third, function, not reducible to cognition and striving. This last view has had supporters in neo-scholasticism (e.g., J. Fröbes, T. Haecker, A. Roldán). Using the criterions of “intentional relation” and “formal object” (Thomas Aquinas, De Veritate, q. 22, a. 1O, c), Some authors add to truth and goodness, as objects of intellect and freedom, a thir…

Religious Freedom

(2,412 words)

Author(s): Heinz Robert Schiette
Religious freedom is the right of man, as a person, to decide freely for or against religion, to express freely his mind on religious matters, for or against, and to confess it openly by worship, propaganda, educational efforts and so on. Religious freedom is therefore a right which belongs not only to individuals but also to religious groups as such in their own way. It is primarily asserted against the State, and represents one of the fundamental rights of man, that is, one of the rights of th…
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