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Eschatology

(8,330 words)

Author(s): Fahlbusch, Erwin | Preuss, Horst Dietrich | Karrer, Martin | Lochman, Jan Milič | Ciobotea, Dan-Ilie | Et al.
Overview Eschatology is traditionally the doctrine of the last things (from Gk. eschatos, denoting what is last in time). It is of particular interest in modern theology, which speaks of a new phase and of the “eschatologizing” of all theology. At the same time, the haziness of the term (it is also used outside theology) and its varied use seem to make it an example of linguistic confusion in theology. The word was used first by the strict Lutheran theologian Abraham Calovius (1612–86), who, at the end of his 12-volume dogmatics, dealt with de…

Church

(19,949 words)

Author(s): Fahlbusch, Erwin | Roloff, Jürgen | Ritter, Adolf Martin | Papandreou, Damaskinos | Döring, Heinrich | Et al.
1. Subject, Tasks, and Problems of Ecclesiology 1.1. The Church of Faith The early confessions, following the NT, relate the church to the Holy Spirit as an object of the faith that is the Spirit’s work (“I believe in the Holy Spirit, the holy church …”). The Niceno-Constantinopolitan Creed characterizes the church as one, holy, catholic, and apostolic, while the Apostles’ Creed ¶ speaks of “the holy catholic church, the communion of saints.” Theological reflection in dogmatics develops these statements of faith into the doctrine of the church (ecclesiology…

Church Growth

(5,350 words)

Author(s): Fahlbusch, Erwin | Möller, Christian | Sackmann, Dieter | Weber, Hans-Ruedi | Van Engen, Charles Van | Et al.
Overview The term “church growth” can refer to church renewal, church organizational and structural maturation, the empirically verifiable numerical growth of churches, and the theory of how and why churches grow or decline. The so-called church growth movement (see 5) began in the United States in the 1960s, although not everyone who studies the dynamics of church growth and decline would consider themselves part of this movement. Corresponding to Eng. “church growth” is Ger. Gemeindeaufbau, which to a large extent has become a programmatic word today in the German…
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