Formal principle and material principle are two categories in Christian theology to identify and distinguish the authoritative source of theology (formal principle) from the theology itself, especially the central doctrine of that theology (material principle), of a religion, religious movement, tradition, body, denomination, or organization. A formal principle tends to be texts or revered leaders of the religion, while a material principle is its central teaching. Paul Tillich believed the identification and application of this pair of categories in theological thinking to have originated in the 19th century.As early as 1845 the Protestant theologian and historian Philip Schaff discussed them in his The Principle of Protestantism. They were utilized by the Lutheran scholar F. E. Mayer in his The Religious Bodies of America in order to facilitate a comparative study of the faith and practice of Christian denominations in the United States. This is also treated in a theological pamphlet entitled Gospel and Scripture by the Commission on Theology and Church Relations of the Lutheran Church—Missouri Synod.
Christianity is a religion based on the life and teachings of Jesus of Nazareth, as described in the New Testament. Its adherents, known as Christians, believe that Jesus Christ is the Son of God and savior of all people, whose coming as the Messiah was prophesied in the Old Testament.
Theology is the critical study of the nature of the divine. It is taught as an academic discipline, typically in universities and seminaries.
Religion is a cultural system of designated behaviors and practices, morals, worldviews, texts, sanctified places, prophecies, ethics, or organizations, that relates humanity to supernatural, transcendental, or spiritual elements. However, there is no scholarly consensus over what precisely constitutes a religion.
The Bible is a collection of sacred texts or scriptures. Varying parts of the Bible are considered to be a product of divine inspiration and a record of the relationship between God and humans by Christians, Jews, Samaritans, and Rastafarians.
Athanasius of Alexandria, also called Athanasius the Great, Athanasius the Confessor or, primarily in the Coptic Orthodox Church, Athanasius the Apostolic, was the 20th bishop of Alexandria. His intermittent episcopacy spanned 45 years, of which over 17 encompassed five exiles, when he was replaced on the order of four different Roman emperors. Athanasius was a Christian theologian, a Church Father, the chief defender of Trinitarianism against Arianism, and a noted Egyptian leader of the fourth century.
The pope, also known as the supreme pontiff, is the Bishop of Rome and ex officio leader of the worldwide Catholic Church. Since 1929, the pope has also been head of state of Vatican City, a city-state enclaved within Rome, Italy. The current pope is Francis, who was elected on 13 March 2013, succeeding Benedict XVI.
The magisterium of the Catholic Church is the church's authority or office to give authentic interpretation of the Word of God, "whether in its written form or in the form of Tradition." According to the 1992 Catechism of the Catholic Church, the task of interpretation is vested uniquely in the Pope and the bishops, though the concept has a complex history of development. Scripture and church tradition "make up a single sacred deposit of the Word of God, which is entrusted to the Church", and the magisterium is not independent of this, since "all that it proposes for belief as being divinely revealed is derived from this single deposit of faith."
Churchmanship is a way of talking about and labelling different tendencies, parties, or schools of thought within the Church of England and the sister churches of the Anglican Communion.
Sola Scriptura is a theological doctrine held by some Christian denominations that the Christian scriptures are the sole infallible rule of faith and practice.
Sola fide, also known as justification by faith alone, is a Christian theological doctrine commonly held to distinguish many Protestant churches from the Catholic Church, as well as the Eastern Orthodox Churches and Oriental Orthodox Churches.
The Westminster Confession of Faith is a Reformed confession of faith. Drawn up by the 1646 Westminster Assembly as part of the Westminster Standards to be a confession of the Church of England, it became and remains the "subordinate standard" of doctrine in the Church of Scotland and has been influential within Presbyterian churches worldwide.
The five solae of the Protestant Reformation are a foundational set of principles held by theologians and clergy to be central to the doctrine of salvation as taught by the Lutheran and Reformed branches of Protestantism. Each sola represents a key belief in the Lutheran and Reformed traditions in contradistinction to the teaching of the Roman Catholic Church. These Reformers claimed that the Catholic Church, especially its head, the Pope, had usurped divine attributes or qualities for the Church and its hierarchy.
The following outline is provided as an overview of and topical guide to Christian theology:
In Christian theology, justification is God's act of removing the guilt and penalty of sin while at the same time making a sinner righteous through Christ's atoning sacrifice.
Christian tradition is a collection of traditions consisting of practices or beliefs associated with Christianity. These ecclesiastical traditions have more or less authority based on the nature of the practices or beliefs and on the group in question.
Liberal Christianity, also known as liberal theology, covers diverse philosophically and biblically informed religious movements and ideas within Christianity from the late 18th century onward. Liberal does not refer to progressive Christianity or to political liberalism but to the philosophical and religious thought that developed and grew as a consequence of the Enlightenment.
Accommodation is the theological principle that God, while being in His nature unknowable and unreachable, has nevertheless communicated with humanity in a way which humans can understand and respond to. The concept is that scripture has accommodated, or made allowance for, the original audience's language and general level of understanding. Often included in these ideas is the notion of human sinfulness or capacity; so in other words God accommodates himself to the human capacities of those to whom biblical revelation is given.
Sacred tradition, or holy tradition, is a theological term used in some Christian traditions, primarily those claiming apostolic succession, such as the Catholic, Eastern Orthodox, Oriental Orthodox, Assyrian, and Anglican traditions, to refer to the foundation of the doctrinal and spiritual authority of the Christian Church and of the Bible.
Prima scriptura is the Christian doctrine that canonized scripture is "first" or "above all" other sources of divine revelation. Implicitly, this view acknowledges that, besides canonical scripture, there are other guides for what a believer should believe and how he should live, such as the created order, traditions, charismatic gifts, mystical insight, angelic visitations, conscience, common sense, the views of experts, the spirit of the times or something else. Prima scriptura suggests that ways of knowing or understanding God and his will that do not originate from canonized scripture are perhaps helpful in interpreting that scripture, but testable by the canon and correctable by it, if they seem to contradict the scriptures.
The rule of faith is the name given to the ultimate authority or standard in religious belief. It was used by Early Christian writers as Tertullian. The phrase is sometimes used for early creeds.
Bibliolatry is the worship of a book or the description of a deity found in a book. In Christianity, bibliolatry is used to describe extreme devotion to the Bible or to biblical inerrancy. Supporters of biblical inerrancy point to passages interpreted to say that the Bible, as received, is a complete source of what must be known about God. Critics of this view call it a form of idolatry, pointing to verses to indicate that Jesus asked humanity to relate to God directly rather than seeking God's rules and spurning a relationship with the God who created them.
The doctrine of the clarity of Scripture is a Protestant Christian position teaching that "...those things which are necessary to be known, believed, and observed, for salvation, are so clearly propounded and opened in some place of Scripture or other, that not only the learned, but the unlearned, in a due use of the ordinary means, may attain unto a sufficient understanding of them". Clarity of scripture is an important doctrinal and Biblical interpretive principle for historical Protestants and, today, for many evangelical Christians. Perspicuity of scripture does not imply that people will receive it for what it is, as many adherents to the doctrine of perspicuity of scripture accept the Calvinist teaching that man is depraved and needs the illumination of the Holy Spirit in order to see the meaning for what it is. Martin Luther advocated the clearness of scripture in his work On the Bondage of the Will. Arminius argued for the perspicuity of scripture by name in "The Perspicuity of the Scriptures".
Lutheranism is a major branch of western Christianity that identifies with the teaching of Martin Luther, a 16th century German reformer. Luther's efforts to reform the theology and practice of the church launched the Protestant Reformation. The reaction of the government and church authorities to the international spread of his writings, beginning with the 95 Theses, divided Western Christianity.
Protestantism is the second largest form of Christianity with collectively between 800 million and more than 900 million adherents worldwide or nearly 40% of all Christians. It originated with the 16th century Reformation, a movement against what its followers perceived to be errors in the Roman Catholic Church. Protestants reject the Roman Catholic doctrine of papal supremacy and sacraments, but disagree among themselves regarding the real presence of Christ in the Eucharist. They emphasize the priesthood of all believers, justification by faith alone rather than by good works, and the highest authority of the Bible alone in faith and morals. The "five solae" summarise basic theological differences in opposition to the Roman Catholic Church.
The regulative principle of worship is a Christian doctrine, held by some Calvinists and Anabaptists, that God commands churches to conduct public services of worship using certain distinct elements affirmatively found in scripture, and conversely, that God prohibits any and all other practices in public worship. The doctrine further determines these affirmed elements to be those set forth in scripture by express commands or examples, or if not expressed, those which are implied logically by good and necessary consequence. The regulative principle thus provides a governing concept of worship as obedience to God, identifies the set of specific practical elements constituting obedient worship, and identifies and excludes disobedient practices.
Bible church is a type of Christian church which emphasizes the Bible as its standard, and focuses on the original inerrancy of scripture. It is typically a sort of non-denominational, evangelical Protestant church. Because Bible Churches are typically non-denominational, there is no unifying doctrine among these churches. Each Bible Church is independent and is therefore not committed to any particular catechism or Statement of Faith aside from their own. Nevertheless, many Bible Churches hold to a few commonalities.
In the Roman Catholic Church, heresy has a very specific meaning. There are four elements which constitute formal heresy; a valid Christian baptism; a profession of still being a Christian; outright denial or positive doubt regarding a truth that the Catholic Church regards as revealed by God; and lastly, the disbelief must be morally culpable, that is, there must be a refusal to accept what is known to be a doctrinal imperative. Therefore, to become a heretic in the strict canonical sense and be excommunicated, one must deny or question a truth that is taught as the word of God, and at the same time recognize one's obligation to believe it. If the person is believed to have acted in good faith, as one might out of ignorance, then the heresy is only material and implies neither guilt nor sin against faith.
Criticism of Protestantism covers critiques and questions raised about Protestantism, the Christian tradition which arose out of the Reformation. While critics praise Protestantism's Christ-centered and Bible-centered faith, Protestantism is faced with criticism mainly from the Catholic Church and some Orthodox Churches, although Protestant denominations have also engaged in self-critique and criticized one another.