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(388 words)

Author(s): Ritschl, Dietrich
Under the influence of S. Kierkegaard (1813–55), later philosophers and popular authors have often distinguished “fear” from “anxiety.” The former denotes a debilitating emotion in the face of specific dangers and threats; the latter, an emotional reaction to what is unknown and indefinite. The distinction as such makes sense, but it is linguistically artificial and does not stand up to more exact analysis of academic, popular, or poetic usage. Nor do etymological findings help. Fear and anxiety are largely interchangeable. In psychological and psychiatric literature we fin…


(947 words)

Author(s): Ritschl, Dietrich
Anxiety is an emotion that functions on different levels. Any adequate definition must therefore take account of these levels, explaining and distinguishing them, and finally weaving them philosophically or theologically into an anthropological whole. Concepts ¶ of anxiety depend on the interrelationship between these levels, even when they are viewed as a totality. The way of …


(1,071 words)

Author(s): Ritschl, Dietrich
1. Concept No single, comprehensive psychological theory of aggression can encompass the various phenomena covered by the term “aggression.” Three theories or groups of theories are most commonly cited, namely, impulse theory, frustration theory, and learning theories. But even this division is finally imprecise and not very helpful because of the overlapping of some features and many unanswered questions. The theories rest on deductions from questions put to empirically perceptible attitudes of a…


(904 words)

Author(s): Ritschl, Dietrich
Today the term “conflict” denotes a wide variety of collisions of impulses, interests, powers, and groups on the psychological, social, political, and international levels, with or without the use of force, and with or without a symmetry of the conflicting interests or parties. The exclusively negative evaluation of conflict today in popular parlance is only partly shared by ps…

Medical Ethics

(3,338 words)

Author(s): Ritschl, Dietrich
1. Problem Medical ethics (or ethics in medicine) is not a special ethics but the application of ethical theories, principles, and processes of decision (Ethics) to the themes and problems that in the broadest possible sense arise in relation to health and illness, health policy, suffering, healing, research, and the responsibility for the health of future generations. Hence it is not merely “doctors’ ethics,” as it was in ordinary parlance and literature up to a few decades ago. Distinct but over…

Middle Axioms

(361 words)

Author(s): Ritschl, Dietrich
Preparing for the world conference on practical Christianity at Oxford in 1937, the ecumenist and social thinker Joseph H. Oldham (1874–1969) described “middle axioms” as guidelines for the action of Christians in specific political situations, guidelines to which non-Christians could also subscribe out of their own moral convictions. Such axioms could not be deduced directly from higher Christian principles (“broad criteria,” …


(1,081 words)

Author(s): Ritschl, Dietrich
Healing deals therapeutically with sicknesses or injuries, whether of body or soul, in a living organism (Health and Illness). It does so in at least four ways: (1) It may be self-healing. The organism reachieves stability, the balance of all bodily and psychological functions and cycles. The aggression of infection, injury, sickness, and so forth is warded off, resolved, set aside, or addressed. Self-healing is also an important aspect of psychotherapy, though percentages are hard to ascertain. “Time heals” many ills. (2) Healing takes the form of restoration. The ideal state prio…


(912 words)

Author(s): Ritschl, Dietrich
1. Concept It is not surprising that the understanding of authority has greatly changed over the centuries in popular speech and philosophical, theological, legal, and educational reflection. The phenomenon of authority is too close to our self-regard, our anxieties and hopes, to remain static in conception. It is all the more interesting, then, that the Roman distinction between


(193 words)

Author(s): Ritschl, Dietrich
The early church distinguished between apostates and the weak who gave way under pressure. Until the Decian persecution (250/51), apostasy, like murder and adultery, ranked as an unforgivable sin. Then (against Novatian protests) penances were introduced (Penitence), and in later canon law distinctions were made. In contrast to heresy, apostasy was defined as a voluntary lapse from the Christian faith (1917 CIC 1325.2) or the Catholic faith (can. 646), or as a willful renunciation of orders or ordination vows (1983 CIC 751, 1364). Excommunication followed automatically. Whereas…


(523 words)

Author(s): Ritschl, Dietrich
The imprecise term “biblicism” is commonly used disparagingly (cf. “historicism”) to denote a particular way of dealing with the Bible, especially the expectation that it can be transposed directly into modern thought forms or lifestyles. European theologians who attempt to classify types of biblicism—for example, into broader and narr…

Mediating Theology

(839 words)

Author(s): Ritschl, Dietrich
1. “Mediating theologians” are attested in the history of dogma of the early church (Christology 2.1–2.2; Trinity), during the Middle Ages (Sacrament 2.3; Scholasticism), as well as during the Reformation and in connection with more recent British and 19th-century North American theology (§§3–5). Not every such theologian, however, has sought a genuine mediation between opposing positions or intellectual currents. The ideals of unity and harmony (e.g., G. Calixtus [1586–1656]; later, e.g., S. T. Coleridge [1772–1834], the so-called early Oriel school, the libera…


(197 words)

Author(s): Ritschl, Dietrich
This broad term denotes deviation from an accepted norm, doctrine, or morality. Its use is for the most part derogatory. Libertines include the following: 1. In Acts 6:9 the members of a synagogue who had…

Golden Age

(437 words)

Author(s): Ritschl, Dietrich
In his epic poem Works and Days (lines 109–201), the Greek poet Hesiod (fl. ca. 800 b.c.) tells the story of a golden age in which humans lived like gods with no cares, illnesses, or wickedness. This period was followed by successive declines into the silver age and then the bronze. A heroic age arrested the decline but was followed finally by the iron age, which was full of plague and evil. To the ancient idea of an ideal primitive age there correspond the myths in different cultures concerning an ideal place, paradise (an Iranian word), a garden (Eden, see Gen. 2:4–3:24), the mountain of Go…


(248 words)

Author(s): Ritschl, Dietrich
The term “act” figures in the philosophical analysis of becoming, of the phenomenon of change. Parmenides (d. after 480 b.c.) regarded all change as appearance, while Heraclitus (ca. 500 b.c.) considered all that is unchanged as appearance. Aristotle (384–322 b.c.) made an extensive analysis of becoming in his doctrines of substance and accident, dynamis and energeia, potency and act. These doctrines were greatly refined in medieval metaphysics, especially by Thomas Aquinas (1224/25–74), who related them to the doctrines of God and creation. A potency seems to precede every act (e.g., the power to think precedes the act of thought). Hence Scholasticism called “act,” thus viewed, actus secundus (in contrast to potentia activa). The principle that precedes the act, which a potency can shape (e.g., stone in sculpture), is called actus primus. On…

Holy Spirit

(4,686 words)

Author(s): Pratscher, Wilhelm | Ritschl, Dietrich
1. Biblical Data 1.1. OT and Early Judaism Statements about the rûaḥ (spirit) of Yahweh are of direct pneumatological interest. The working of the rûaḥ is at first ecstatic, equipping charismatic leaders (Judg. 3:10; 6:34; 1 Sam. 10:6; Charisma) and prophets (1 Sam. 10:6; 19:20–24) for their tasks. Time and again those concerned are gripped by the Spirit. More permanent endowment first appears in the case of David (1 Sam. 16:13). The great preexilic prophets appeal to the Word of Yahweh rather than to his Spirit (though see Hos. 9:7 and Mic. 3:8; Word of God). Perhaps they wished t…

Systematic Theology

(8,308 words)

Author(s): Ritschl, Dietrich | Sattler, Dorothea
1. Term The attempt is made here to describe systematic theology by comparing its understanding in Protestant and in Roman Catholic thought. 1.1. The term “systematic” as an attribute of theology is often viewed as unfortunate because it seems to imply that the full truth of the living God can be summarized in a system. The Anglican ¶ Church (Anglican Communion) did not use it for fear of theological system-building, but in Roman Catholic theology it encompasses the various disciplines of dogmatics, fundamental theology, moral theology, and canon law. …


(1,053 words)

Author(s): Ritschl, Dietrich | Hugen, Melvin D.
1. Definition In the broader sense, “counseling” refers to almost any oral or written assistance that is given by a qualified counselor to those who seek counsel. The spectrum reaches from educational and vocational counseling to medical c…


(4,080 words)

Author(s): Colpe, Carsten | Ritschl, Dietrich | Hailer, Martin
1. Religious History 1.1…
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