Formal and material principles of theology

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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. [1] As early as 1845 the Protestant theologian and historian Philip Schaff discussed them in his The Principle of Protestantism. [2] 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. [3] 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. [4]

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 Study of the nature of deities and religious belief

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.

Contents

F.E. Mayer's findings

Eastern Orthodoxy

Bible collection of sacred books in Judaism and Christianity

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 Patriarch of Alexandria

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.

Roman Catholicism

Pope leader of the Catholic Church

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."

Lutheranism

Anglicanism

Churchmanship schools of thought within the Anglican Church

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.

  • Low Church—the Bible as the only source and the all sufficient norm of religious truth. [11]
  • High Church – "doctrinal authority rested successively in Christ, in the teaching church, in the Scriptures, and in the councils." This is called the consensus fidelium ("agreement of the faithful"). [11]
  • Broad Church—along with the Bible and the consensus fidelium is included "God's self-disclosure in the religious and moral development of the human race as a whole, in the religion of Israel, the person of Christ, and the life of His mystical body, the church." [11]
  • Low Church – "the doctrine of God's grace which faith apprehends without the addition of human works." [11]
  • High Church—the worship of the church and apostolic succession. [12]
  • Broad Church—a life which conforms to the ethical teachings of Jesus. [13]

Zwinglianism

Calvinism

Methodism

Footnotes

  1. Paul Tillich, A History of Christian Thought from Its Judaic and Hellenistic Origins to Existentialism, Carl E Braaten, ed., (New York: Simon & Schuster, 1967), 280
  2. Philip Schaff, The Principle of Protestantism as Related to the Present State of the Church, John W Nevin, trans., (Chambersburg, PA: Publication Office of the German Reformed Church, 1845), 54–94.
  3. FE Mayer, The Religious Bodies of America, 4th ed, (Saint Louis: Concordia Publishing 1961), passim.
  4. Gospel and Scripture
  5. Mayer (1961), p. 11.
  6. Mayer (1961), p. 13. Cf. also, On the Incarnation 54:3, p. 25:192B.
  7. Mayer (1961), p. 40.
  8. Mayer (1961), p. 47.
  9. Mayer (1961), p. 144.
  10. Mayer (1961), p. 144–47.
  11. 1 2 3 4 5 Mayer (1961), p. 276.
  12. Mayer (1961), pp. 276–77.
  13. Mayer (1961), p. 277.
  14. Mayer (1961), p. 201–3.
  15. Mayer (1961), p. 203.
  16. Mayer (1961), p. 207.
  17. 1 2 Mayer (1961), p. 289.

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