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Authority

(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 potestas (of the government) and auctoritas (of the senate and individuals) has persisted in modern sociological and political thought (Sociology). Power is something enforced (by …

Apostasy

(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).…

Healing

(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…

Libertinism

(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 been slaves abroad and were now freedmen (KJV: “libertines”). They promoted the persecution of Stephen. 2. The Genevan patriots who had fought for the city’s independence and who at first supported J. Calvin but then (as Perrinists) opposed his strict church order (Church Discipline) and the French influx. 3. A movement of spiritualists (Loists) in Antwerp against whom M. Lu…

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…

Office of Christ

(231 words)

Author(s): Ritschl, Dietrich
From the days of the early church, with a view to interpreting the title “Christ,” it was the tradition, unformulated doctrinally, to speak of Christ’s priestly office (munus sacerdotale) and his kingly office (munus regium). The question was left open whether we should speak instead of a triplex munus by adding the prophetic office (munus propheticum). J. Calvin took this view in Inst.  2.15, though not in all his writings. So did the Catechismus Romanus 1.3.7, Lutheran orthodoxy, and, even more s…
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