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(769 words)

Author(s): Heron, Alasdair I. C.
Jacobus Arminius (1560–1609, from 1603 professor at Leiden) rejected the Calvinist doctrine of predestination. Salvation, he taught, certainly depends solely on God’s grace, but we receive from God the freedom to receive this grace or to reject it. Thus his view was more Erasmian and humanistic than Reformed. His opponents accused him of Socinianism (Unitarians) and semi-Pelagianism (Pelagianism). In 1604 he engaged in public debate with his colleague Franciscus Gomarus (1563–1641), who champion…


(491 words)

Author(s): Heron, Alasdair I. C.
The Lat. word filioque translates “and from the Son.” It is an addition to the Niceno-Constantinopolitan Creed that was adopted by the Western church in the Middle Ages but was emphatically rejected by the Eastern church. Along with other factors, this difference led to the schism between East and West in the 11th century, and it is still an unresolved, though ecumenically less acute, problem. The confession made by the Council of Constantinople in 381 declared that the Holy Spirit “proceeds from the Father.” A few decades later Augustine (Augustine’s Theolo…

Descent into Hell

(559 words)

Author(s): Heron, Alasdair I. C.
According to the Apostles’ Creed, Jesus Christ “descended into hell.” The statement that between his death (§2.2) and resurrection came his descent ad inferna or ad infernos was adopted into the confession only around a.d. 400, probably to stress the full humanity of Christ, both body and soul, in opposition to heretical views (e.g., of Arius and Apollinarius; Arianism; Christology 2). The descent, however, had already been associated with ideas that would greatly affect its interpretation in personal piety, literature, and art. In the NT the basis was found partly in such texts as Mat…


(2,276 words)

Author(s): Heron, Alasdair I. C.
1. Term Calvinism is not to be equated either with John Calvin’s theology or with that of the Reformed churches in general, though the latter are especially influenced by it. In the narrower sense the term denotes the main forms of classic Calvinism as they arose in the 16th and 17th centuries. In the broader sense it stands for the outworking of Calvinistic impulses that, in spite of many changes, may still be detected in the Reformed tradition and in other communions like the Anglican, in the Me…

Extra calvinisticum

(314 words)

Author(s): Heron, Alasdair I. C.
Lutheran orthodoxy coined the term “extra calvinisticum” for the Calvinist teaching (Calvin’s Theology; Calvinism) that the deity of Christ exists and works outside (extra) the spatial and historical limitations of his humanity (Christology 2.4). As God, he is omnipresent (Ubiquity); as man, however (as against the Lutheran doctrine of ubiquity), he is localized in heaven, even after his ascension to the right hand of the Father (see Calvin Inst.  2.13.4 and Heidelberg Catechism q. 48). The Christological distinction was rooted in the Protestant eucharistic controvers…


(1,543 words)

Author(s): Colpe, Carsten | Heron, Alasdair I. C.
1. Religious History The word “hell” comes from Old Ice. hel, the term in Nordic mythology for the place of the dead in the underworld and for its female ruler. All the dead are there or under her rule except for those killed in battle. The idea was not negative from the outset, as the etymology also shows, for the meaning of the root is “hide, conceal.” The concept became a negative one only with the demonization of virtually all pre-Christian material by the repressive methods of missionaries and by those who after conversion engaged in committing German myt…


(3,514 words)

Author(s): Perlitt, Lothar | Hübner, Hans | Heron, Alasdair I. C.
1. OT 1.1. Translation and Usage The Hebrew word bĕrît, “covenant,” occurs 287 times in the OT, only in the singular. Even the latest attempts (e.g., by E. Kutsch) have not convincingly clarified its etymology. Showing a derivation from a Semitic root, however, would not necessarily throw light on its semantic function (J. Barr), which can and must be understood in terms of its semantic field and the relevant context. In translation, the LXX does not use synthēkē (agreement, contract) but almost always diathēkē (last will and testament). The Vg (Jerome [ca. 345–420]), howeve…


(3,641 words)

Author(s): Smend, Rudolf | Merk, Otto | Heron, Alasdair I. C.
1. The OT Canon 1.1. Presuppositions and Preparatory Stages Long before the OT writings became canonical in any strict sense (measuring up to a kanōn, i.e., a standard or rule), many of them claimed and received an authority that was already related to canonicity and that logically prepared the way for it. Priests, prophets, and wise men spoke with great, if not final, authority. Many of their sayings were remembered and gave instruction and direction to later generations, even if in changed or supplemented form. The …


(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…


(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…