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Natural Theology

(2,264 words)

Author(s): Link, Christian
[German Version] I. Philosophy of Religion The notion and theme of “natural theology” are of philosophical origin and thus antedate Christian theology. They go back to the Middle Stoa (Stoics, Panaetius), whose division of theology into three genera – mythical, ¶ natural, and political or civil – can be traced through Augustine of Hippo and Thomas Aquinas to the dawn of the Enlightenment. Natural theology plays a critical role in this triad: because it claims to represent the divine in accord with its own nature, it seeks to bring out …

Extra Calvinisticum

(288 words)

Author(s): Link, Christian
[German Version] In the mirror of Lutheran denominational polemics, the term designates a Reformed doctrinal decision concerning Christology which can already be identified in Athanasius, Gregory of Nyssa, and Peter Lombard, and which J. Calvin formulated in terms of the divine Logos, despite his full in-dwelling in the humanity of Christ, as also remaining outside ( extra) Christ and “as in the beginning, filling the whole world” ( Inst. II:13:4). The scope of this disputed doctrinal formulation became apparent in…

Testimonium spiritus sancti internum

(332 words)

Author(s): Link, Christian
[German Version] The doctrine of the testimonium was formulated by Calvin ( Inst.I 7) and included in various Reformed articles of faith (I, 3; Confessio Gallicana 4). It means that the unimpugnable validity and authority of Scripture (Holy Scriptures) does not depend on the judgment of the church (in the form of an agreement or consensus) but on the testimony of the Spirit (Spirit/Holy Spirit). J.H. Alsted honored it as the foundation of all theology. It does not mean that the “self-evidence” of Scripture is joined by …

Covenant Theology

(1,733 words)

Author(s): Link, Christian
[German Version] I. Terminology – II. Historical Development – III. Results I. Terminology Covenant theology or federal theology (Ger. Föderaltheologie), an old Reformed doctrinal system whose origins are to be sought in Zürich, Heidelberg and Herborn, is the broad attempt to comprehend and portray as a unity the history of God with humanity attested in the OT and NT by means of the biblical covenant concept (Covenant). Correspondingly, the whole substance of dogma, from the creation…

Soul, Sleep of the

(275 words)

Author(s): Link, Christian
[German Version] According to Augustine of Hippo ( De haeresibus 83; MPL 42, 46), the notion of a sleep or death of the soul was already current among the “Arabs” in the time of Origen. This means that souls in the “intermediate sate” share the fate of their mortal bodies, rising to life again with them only on the Last Day. This idea, with various rationales, was later advocated by Pope John XXII, the Renaissance savant P. Pomponazzi, a few Anabaptist groups, A. v. Karlstadt, and Luther. The arguments f…

Zeal (Divine)

(306 words)

Author(s): Link, Christian
[German Version] The theological concept of YHWH’s zeal (האָנְקִ/ qinʾāh) stands at the center of the struggle to assure that only the biblical God be worshiped (Monotheism and polytheism); it is intimately associated with his holiness (Josh 24:19; Sacred and profane: V). It gives expression – first and foremost in the cult – to God’s intolerant demand for exclusivity, championed against the religion of Baal by the prophetic and Levitical “YHWH alone movement” of the 9th century (2 Kgs 9f.) and reflected…


(811 words)

Author(s): Link, Christian
[German Version] I. Dogmatics – II. Fundamental Theology I. Dogmatics The terms infralapsarianism and supralapsarianism designate the alternate positions in the 17th-century dispute between the various schools of Reformed theology regarding the understanding of predestination. The controv…

Creatio continua

(566 words)

Author(s): Link, Christian
[German Version] (“continuous creation”) aims to express the idea that the created world is dependent at each moment in its temporal existence on the active presence of God for its maintenance and subsistence. ¶ The term interprets the conservatio and at the same time shifts it in the closest conceivable proximity of the concept of initial creation (VI): “For God, creation and ma…

Testimonium spiritus sancti internum

(303 words)

Author(s): Link, Christian
[English Version] . Die von Calvin (Inst. I,7) formulierte, in die ref. Bekenntnisschriften (: I.,3.; Confessio Gallicana 4) aufgenommene Lehre vom T. besagt, daß die unverbrüchliche Geltung und Autorität der Schrift nicht vom Urteil (einer Übereinkunft oder einem Konsens) der Kirche abhängt, sondern auf dem…


(255 words)

Author(s): Link, Christian
[English Version] . Die nach einer Mitteilung Augustins (D…

Natürliche Theologie

(2,010 words)

Author(s): Link, Christian
[English Version] I. Religionsphilosophisch Begriff und Thema der n.Theol. sind philos. Herkunft und somit älter als die christl. Theol. Sie gehen auf die mittlere Stoa zurück (Panaitios), deren Einteilung der Theol. in die drei Genera der mythischen, natürlichen und polit. (zivilen) Theol. sich über Augustin und Thomas von Aquin bis in die Anfänge der Aufklärung verfolgen läßt. Innerhalb dieser Trias kommt der n.Theol. eine ausgesprochen krit. Funktion zu: Weil sie das Göttliche gemäß seiner eigen…

Natural Theology

(1,602 words)

Author(s): Link, Christian
1. Term

Innocence, State of

(1,215 words)

Author(s): Link, Christian
1. Biblical The dogma of the state of innocence represents an attempt to develop systematically what the Bible has to say about the creation of humanity according to (or “in”) the image of God (Gen. 1:26–27; 1 Cor. 11:7). It shows that the emergence of sin was the decisive event in human history that triggered the events of salvation history (…

Creatio ex nihilo

(1,915 words)

Author(s): Groß, Walter | Link, Christian
[German Version] I. Bible – II. Dogmatics


(1,077 words)

Author(s): Link, Christian | Felmy, Karl Christian
[German Version] I. Dogmatics In general, the term synergy denotes theological conceptions that consider spiritual or ethical cooperation of the human will with divine grace a causal factor in human salvation (Pelagius/Pelagians/Semi-Pelagians). The Reformers followed Augustine of Hippo in rejecting synergism, seeing justification based solely on God’s free grace ( sola gratia) as the only foundation of salvation. Despite the 1999 Joint Declarationon the Doctrine of Justification by the Vatican and the Lutheran World Federation, it remains debatable whether and to what extent the traditional Catholic understanding of synergism based on volitional acceptance of grace can fit into this framework – is it really compatible with the sole efficacy of God? The same is true of the Orthodox notion of theosis (see II below), which postulates a cooperation of grace and personal free will. These questions were already being debated in the 16th century. Melanchthon originally champ…


(1,050 words)

Author(s): Link, Christian | Felmy, Karl Christian
[English Version]


(4,895 words)

Author(s): Röhser, Günter | Link, Christian | Rudolph, Ulrich
[German Version] I. Bible 1. Old Testament and early Jewish apocalypticism. Predestination refers traditionally to God’s foreordained final determination regarding the eschatological salvation or damnation of each individual. In this sense, it represents a subset of a universal notion of divine predetermination (Determinism and indeterminism: II) taken to its logical individual and soteriological extreme, as is found in both Judaism and Christianity. The Old Testament does not speak of predestination in …


(4,480 words)

Author(s): Röhser, Günter | Link, Christian | Rudolph, Ulrich
[English Version] I. Biblisch 1.Altes Testament und frühjüdische ApokalyptikP. bez. traditionell die zeitlich vorgängige, endgültige Festlegung von Menschen durch Gott im Hinblick auf ihr eschatologisches Heil oder Unheil. Sie stellt darin eine Teilmenge einer allg. Vorstellung von göttlicher Vorherbestimmung (Determination [Determinismus/Indeterminismus: II.]) in individueller und soteriologischer Zuspitzung dar, wie sie sich auch im jüd.-christl. Raum findet. Eigentliche Prädestinationsaussagen kenn…


(7,050 words)

Author(s): Seybold, Klaus | Hartman, Lars | Link, Christian | Börner-Klein, Dagmar
[German Version] I. Old Testament – II. New Testament – III. Dogmatics – IV. Judaism I. Old Testament Election, especially in compounds such as doctrine of election, election idea, election tradition, is a term from biblical theology based on the theological use of the Heb. verb בחר/ bḥr, especially in Deuteronomy, which has become established since K. Galling's monograph (1928). It has become the comprehensive term for the foundation of Israel's existence and involves “the philosop…

Fear of God

(3,873 words)

Author(s): Nielsen, Kirsten | Becker, Jürgen | Link, Christian | Börner-Klein, Dagmar | Dan, Joseph | Et al.
[German Version] I. Old Testament – II. New Testament – III.  Christianity – IV.  Judaism – V. Islam I. Old Testament In the OT, fear of God occurs in various reactions to the encounter with God. Fear of God encompasses both the immediate reaction of a person gripped by horror before the holy God (the numinous) and the behavior of the pious person toward God in the form of obedience and praise. Consequently, fear of God can also designate veneration of God and piety (religion). The scope of the fear of God corresponds to the breadth of the concept of God (God: II). The God of Israel is not only a nume…
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