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(251 words)

Author(s): Fahlbusch, Erwin
The word “piety” is a general one for a religious disposition and attitude (“inner religiosity,” involving fear of God, godliness, zeal for God, etc.), and also for religious practice. It engages mind and will, as well as emotions, and expresses itself in a (“pious”) lifestyle. It can refer not merely to individuals but also to the religious mentality that characterizes religious societies, whether congregations or religious orders. It may also denote the collective practices of larger populatio…

Newman, John Henry

(889 words)

Author(s): Fahlbusch, Erwin
John Henry Newman (1801–90), leading theologian of the Oxford Movement, was initially an Anglican but in midlife joined the Roman Catholic Church, becoming a priest and, in 1879, a cardinal. Newman grew up with five siblings in a bourgeois London family in which he often felt misunderstood and lonely, finding solace in the Bible and other religious and theological works. In the autumn of 1816 he experienced an “inner conversion,” convincing him he was one of the chosen and was destined for a lif…


(419 words)

Author(s): Fahlbusch, Erwin
Sacramentals are rites in the Roman Catholic Church (Rite 2) that are meant to denote God’s presence in the world by declaring his sovereignty over persons or things and by seeking his aid. They are “sacred signs which bear a resemblance to the sacraments” but are of less importance than sacraments; they are instituted by the church, not by Christ ( Sacrosanctum concilium [ SC] 60; 1983 CIC  1166–72). They display and promote the church’s pastoral task of sanctifying the world for God and permeating all spheres of life ( consecratio mundi; Roman Catholic Church 5). They prepare belie…

Catholicism (Roman)

(5,529 words)

Author(s): Fahlbusch, Erwin
1. Term and Phenomenon 1.1. Whereas the phrase “Roman Catholic Church” denotes a specific Christian organization (Church 3.2; Hierarchy; Church Government), we may use the word “Catholicism” for a historical form of Christianity that culturally and socially transcends any single ecclesiastical form. In both personnel and substance, it is still closely related to the Roman Catholic Church. It embodies expressions of the church’s life, work, and organization. We may consider Catholicism the range of f…

Order of Salvation

(1,765 words)

Author(s): Fahlbusch, Erwin
1. General Sense The concepts of the order and economy of salvation refer generally to the hidden decree and plan of God for the salvation of the world. They refer as well to all that God has done, and does, between the beginning and the end of the times to fulfill his saving purpose (see Eph. 1:10; 3:9), that is, salvation events in history (Salvation History), the sum of saving acts, and saving education in faith. 1.1. Eastern Developments The Greek church fathers worked out their theology in reflection on the mysteries of the divine economy. This economy embraces the …


(273 words)

Author(s): Fahlbusch, Erwin
Traditionally the term “polemics” has been used for theology after the Reformation that serves to uphold a confessional or denominational position (Ecumenical Theology 4). It can be used more broadly, however, for any militant theology. It presupposes a basic confessional decision, inquires into specific dissent in theological discourse, and examines the points at issue. In the comparative study of denominations its task is to examine denominational differences critically and to overcome them by…


(639 words)

Author(s): Fahlbusch, Erwin
1. Legal The term “representation” denotes acting on behalf of another based on legal stipulation, private statutes, or plenipotentiary arrangements. The legal representative (e.g., parent, guardian, trustee) acts in the name of the other within defined legal limits. It makes no difference whether willingness to do so is expressly stated or arises naturally out of the circumstances. The essential point is that the representative, in the absence of the one represented, acts alone but does so legally in the name of the other and not in his or her own name. 2. Sociological Sociologically (…

Armenian Apostolic Church

(702 words)

Author(s): Fahlbusch, Erwin
This is the most widespread Monophysite church. Of about 4 million members worldwide, some 3.5 million live in Armenia, 440,000 in Georgia, and the rest in other countries of the former Soviet Union, as well as the United States, Turkey, and Iran. The heartland of the church is Armenia, where the catholicos resides in the ancient monastery of Echmiadzin, Armenia. The broad dispersion of this much-tested church has taken place in the course of a lengthy history. Even before Constantine (emperor 306–37), ancient Armenia between the Caucasus and Mesopotamia…

Catholic, Catholicity

(2,292 words)

Author(s): Fahlbusch, Erwin
1. Term and Usage The word “catholic” (Gk. katholikos, “relating to the whole, comprehensive,” from katholou, “on the whole, generally”) has appeared often in philosophy from the time of Plato and Aristotle (Greek Philosophy). Theology adopted it in the lexical sense and developed its basic meaning with reference to the church, its teaching, and its members. 1.1. Though it does not occur in the NT, “catholic” as a predicate used of the church is found in Ignatius of Antioch (ca. 35-ca. 107), who distinguishes between the whole church, where Christ is, and the partial or …


(4,190 words)

Author(s): Fahlbusch, Erwin | Laeyendecker, Leo
1. Terminology The term “denomination” refers broadly to any class of persons called, or denominated, by the same name. In the context of Christianity, “denomination” may be defined as “an organized Christian church or tradition or religious group or community of believers or aggregate of worship centers or congregations, usually within a specific country, whose component congregations and members are called by the same name in different areas, regarding themselves as an autonomous Christian church distinct from other denominations, churches and traditions” ( WCE , 824). In 19…


(1,835 words)

Author(s): Heinemann, Heribert | Fahlbusch, Erwin
1. Church Law 1.1. Hierarchy derives from Gk. hiera archē, denoting holy origin or rule. Dionysius the Pseudo-Areopagite seems to have been the first to use the term in theology to expound and rank the ministry. His works The Celestial Hierarchy and The Ecclesiastical Hierarchy at the end of the fifth century give clear evidence of a Neoplatonic origin, which he tries to fuse with Christian doctrine. For him the ecclesiastical hierarchy is a reflection of the celestial hierarchy. As the latter comprises three “triads” with three “choirs”…

European Theology (Modern Period)

(11,905 words)

Author(s): Schwarz, Hans | Fahlbusch, Erwin
1. Survey 1.1. Theology between Church and Academia 1.1.1. Origins The rise of theology in Europe is intimately connected with the development of the universities. They grew out of the scholastic period, noted for its summas, commentaries, and collections of sentences. Disputations brought scholars together, which ultimately led to the development of a transregional alliance of thinkers and writers. The papacy granted the right to establish universities, as well as assisted them financially. Through its supranational character the papacy legitimated the…

Everyday Life

(3,787 words)

Author(s): Fahlbusch, Erwin | Bukow, Wolf-Dietrich
1. Usage 1.1. In common usage “everyday life” denotes the reality that recurs each day and that everyone experiences. It is that which in individual activity and lifestyle belongs to the daily rhythm and is repeated year by year. It applies to the people, things, institutions, and environment that we accept mechanically and instinctively, that we take for granted, that are familiar, that we treat as routine. The phrase, which has a temporal side (= what is always the same), characterizes our lifestyle and behavior (everyday food, clothes, speech, culture, duties, the ¶ daily round). It …


(5,716 words)

Author(s): Fahlbusch, Erwin | Carter, David | Napiórkowski, Stanislaw Celestyn
1. Content and Problems 1.1. Devotion to Mary and Mariology The NT witness names Mary as the mother of Jesus of Nazareth (see Matt. 1:16, 18, 20; 2:11, 13; 12:46; 13:55; Mark 3:31; 6:3; Luke 1:26–56; 2:4–7, 16, 19, 34, 48, 51; 8:19; John 2:1, 3, 5, 12; 6:42; 19:25–26). In the Roman Catholic tradition, believers’ devotion to Mary finds expression in acts of trust, thanksgiving, praise, invocation, and intercession, as well as in liturgical actions and canticles, statues, other artistic and literary representations, feast days and shrines, and i…


(4,457 words)

Author(s): Berner, Ulrich | Williams, Rowan D. | Fahlbusch, Erwin
1. Religious Aspect 1.1. Term The term “incarnation,” which is now used in religious discussion as well as Christian theology, is not always plainly distinct from related terms like “manifestation” or “epiphany.” There is thus no uniform usage, and the employment of the word is much debated. It seems best to limit its use to the idea that a ¶ divine being has embodied itself in human form and in this form lived on earth. A distinction might be made between continuous incarnation in an institutions or dynasty and a discontinuous incarnation in single individuals. 1.2. Non-Christian Examples I…


(4,583 words)

Author(s): Fahlbusch, Erwin | Wirz, Albert | Szabó, Eszter | Cone, James H.
Overview The “Slavs,” an ancient people of east-central Europe, were conquered and sold into bondage so frequently during the Middle Ages that their name eventually became synonymous with the state of servitude. “Sclavus,” their original title, came into MEng. as sclave, with the meaning “one bound to servility” attached as early as the ninth century. Evidently, by that time it already made no difference to which race these “slaves” belonged. By means of slavery, whether the ownership and dependence be physical or otherwise, certain people become the property of o…


(7,671 words)

Author(s): Fahlbusch, Erwin | Roloff, Jürgen | Mehedintu, Viorel | Wagner, Harald | Heron, Alasdair I. C.
Overview In common parlance the words “grace” and “gracious” denote a human attitude. A gracious person is kind, well-disposed, considerate, gentle, and ready to show favor, to pardon, or to show clemency. The terms also occur in courtly formulas. In a legal setting grace is shown by the authorities when a reprieve or amnesty is granted. The language of religion (cf. ideas of redemption in Buddhism, Hinduism, Islam, and Jainism) understands grace as divine assistance, the unmerited mercy of God, though also the mercy that may be expected on the basis of sacrifices or works. Grace is a ce…


(10,026 words)

Author(s): Fahlbusch, Erwin | Roloff, Jürgen | Stöhr, Martin | Ciobotea, Dan-Ilie | Wagner, Harald | Et al.
Overview What Christianity has to say about salvation (Soteriology) is essentially bound up with the name and history of Jesus Christ (Acts 4:12, “There is salvation in no one else …”). This verse expresses a universal claim and distinguishes it from, or even contradicts, what other religions and worldviews have to say about salvation. Christianity speaks of salvation as a gift of God’s love (Grace) for us and our world that transcends death, ¶ bestows life, and promises eschatological fulfillment (Eschatology; Hope). This understanding presupposes that human beings (…

Biblical Theology

(6,752 words)

Author(s): Barr, James | Fahlbusch, Erwin | Mbiti, John | Yagi, Seiichi | Schoenborn, Ulrich | Et al.
1. Concept and History 1.1. Concept “Biblical theology” is not one single and simple concept, for it may be understood variously, depending on what is set in contrast with it: 1.1.1. Biblical theology may be contrasted with dogmatic theology. It lies on the level, and uses the methods, of biblical scholarship (Exegesis, Biblical), rather than the level and the methods of dogmatics. The difference has been stated thus: biblical theology, which is descriptive and historical, seeks to state the theology implied by the biblical b…


(9,795 words)

Author(s): Fahlbusch, Erwin | Schnelle, Udo | Wainwright, Geoffrey | Leonard, Bill J. | Grethlein, Christian | Et al.
Overview In Christianity, baptism—either by plunging in water or by sprinkling with it—represents the first act of incorporation “into Christ” and into the fellowship of the church. Further acts of incorporation are confirmation (Initiation Rites 2) and the Eucharist. Other religious societies have similar rites (Initiation Rites 1). Jewish proselyte baptism incorporates the baptized not only into the religious fellowship but also into God’s covenant people. This matter is relevant in the dialogu…


(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 death, resurrection, t…


(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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