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Early Catholicism

(1,085 words)

Author(s): Bartsch, Christian
1. Modern studies in church history and especially NT studies use the term “early Catholicism” to refer to the attempt on the part of the Reformation and Protestantism to understand and explicate their own manifest divergence from Catholicism also as a difference in history, that is, as a difference manifesting itself already during the first centuries of Christianity. Because Reformational Christianity had broken loose from what had hitherto been its own history, it had to answer for itself the question of its material and historical continuity as a church. (See S. Franck, Chronica [1531]; M. Luther, Wider Hans Worst [1541]; and the Historia ecclesiae Christi [1559–74] of the Magdeburg Centuriators.) 2. The term “early Catholicism” was itself decisively shaped by the particular form in which the Reformational question of the church was discussed during the 19th and early 20th century (esp. by R. Rothe, F. C. Baur, A. Schwegler, A. Ritschl, E. Troeltsch, and A. von Harnack). At that time the “social character” (Troeltsch) of the Lutheran and Reformed churches became a debated issue and was…