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(1,009 words)

Author(s): John Charles Maraldo
The Baptists, with 26 million members, form one of the world’s largest Protestant bodies but constitute more a religious movement than a well-defined Church or sect. 1. Origins and history. In the 16th century, printed translations of the Bible into the vernacular, humanism and the Reformation attracted the attention of laymen to primitive Christianity and thus to the problem of the baptism of believers. Both Luther and Calvin taught that baptism was a confession of faith and that faith was necessary to obtain divine forgiv…

Methodist Churches

(1,834 words)

Author(s): John Charles Maraldo
Methodism, born of the revivalist movement in England in the early 18th century, today claims more than 14 million members who basically share their founder’s belief in God’s saving grace and justification for all. 1. Origins and history. The religious quarrels of the 17th century, as well as the after-math of rationalism and the writings of English deists, brought about the doctrinal indifference, sober piety and the general loss of fervour which characterized the Anglican Church at the beginning of the next century. In November 1…


(1,742 words)

Author(s): John Charles Maraldo
1. The term. The word “syncretism” was first used by Plutarch ( De Fraterno Amore, 19) to describe a combination of Cretan communities against a common enemy, a rare and in fact historically uncertain event, as the Cretans were usually fighting among themselves. The term began therefore by signifying a political alliance in which mutual differences were overlooked in the face of a threat to all. The term then occurs again in the 16th century in Erasmus ( Opus Epistolaram), who derived it from a verb συν-ϰίφάννυμι (which does not occur in classical Greek) and transposed it …