Evangelical Catholic

The term Evangelical Catholic is used by Christian believers who consider themselves both "catholic" and "evangelical." Evangelical Catholic (catholic is the noun with evangelical modifying) can refer to: evangelical Protestant Christians who consider themselves catholic Christians identified with the historic Christian Church, who believe that the early ecumenical councils and the Protestant Reformation were both part of the progressive illumination of the Holy Spirit; Roman Catholics who want to identify themselves more closely with evangelical Protestants with similar ecumenical ideals and "progressive illumination"; Catholics who simply want to define themselves according to a penchant for evangelism. Evangelical Catholics may include Eastern Rite Catholic Churches or other churches that are not Roman Catholic, such as Anglican, Lutheran, Reformed, Baptist, or Pentecostal.

Lutheran Evangelical Catholicity

In Lutheranism, the term evangelical catholic has special meaning. Lutheranism can be regarded as Protestant, but never Reformed . Lutheran Protestantism differs historically from all other kind of Protestantism in that Lutheranism is the only historical Protestant denomination that confesses belief in the efficacy of sacraments: regeneration in Holy Baptism, Confession as the sacrament of Absolution, and The Real Presence of Christ in Holy Eucharist. The Augsburg Confession stresses that "in doctrine and ceremonies nothing has been received on our part against Scripture or the Catholic Church." In early Lutheranism, the Gnesio-Lutherans like Joachim Westphal and Andreas Musculus had a strong understanding of the sacraments but were strongly opposed to any compromise with Calvinism and Zwingli as with the Roman Catholic Church. In the era of Lutheran orthodoxy, theologians Martin Chemnitz and Johann Gerhard (the latter's Confessio Catholica) were deeply rooted in patristic theology) saw the continuity of Catholicism in Lutheranism, which they understood not as a re-formation of the Church, but rather a renewal movement within and for the Catholic Church, from which they had been involuntarily and only temporarily separated. The only real evangelical feature of Lutheranism is characterized by justification by faith, as defined by Law and Gospel and simul iustus et peccator. The term evangelical has a very different origin and meaning in Lutheranism than in Evangelicalism. Thus it can be also in the names of church bodies like Evangelical Lutheran Church in America without any specific meaning. After Enlightenment Schleiermacher created in his theological system a contradiction of Protestantism and Catholicism, which changed radically traditional Lutheran understanding and deepened gap to orthodox Lutheran evangelical catholicity .

The term Evangelical Catholic is often used instead of High Church Lutheranism (as are the terms Anglo-Catholic and Old Catholic in their respective traditions) because it is a theological term and genuinely Lutheran. Evangelical Catholic Lutheranism is not strictly defined, and can mean, for example, the theologically, biblically, and socially conservative ultra-high church Lutheranism of the strongly Roman Catholic-oriented Anglo-Lutheran Catholic Church and the more Eastern Orthodox-oriented Evangelical Catholic Church, the relative high church Confessional Lutheranism found in the Lutheran Church - Missouri Synod and Arthur Carl Piepkorn, the Evangelical Catholic Orthodoxy of Gunnar Rosendal, the more theologically-liberal high ecclesiology of Carl Braaten, the very liberal Evangelical Catholicism of Nathan Söderblom, even more liberal Catholicism of Friedrich Heiler, or ecumenical vision of Hans Asmussen and Max Lackmann. The Evangelical Lutheran Church in Canada defines its doctrinal basis as such: "We derive our teachings from the Holy Scriptures and confess the three ecumenical creeds of the Christian church. We hold to orthodox catholic theology as enunciated in the ecumenical councils of the first five centuries of Christianity.

Some small, specifically Evangelical Catholic Lutheran, church bodies include the Evangelical Catholic Church, Anglo-Lutheran Catholic Church, Lutheran Orthodox Church, Evangelical Marian Catholic Church, International Lutheran Fellowship, and Association of Independent Evangelical Lutheran Churches. Nordic Catholic Church in Norway has roots in High Church Lutheranism.

Among other church bodies

In recent years, the term Evangelical Catholic, has been adopted by high church elements of the Methodist and Reformed Churches. This is especially apt among the Reformed, given that one of the older documented uses of the term is by John Williamson Nevin and Philip Schaff, during their efforts (from roughly 1841 forward) to repristinate the theology of the German Reformed Church in the United States. In 1849 the Mercersburg Review was founded as the organ of their "Mercersburg Theology".

Beginning in 1851, William Augustus Muhlenberg, Episcopal clergyman of Lutheran background and father of Ritualist movement in Episcopal Church in the United States of America also published a periodical called "The Evangelical Catholic."

Already earlier, there was an evangelical revival in Roman Catholic Church in Germany, involving Boos, Gossner and Feneberg. This evangelical revivalist movement contributed also to German Lutheranism.

Lusitanian Catholic Apostolic Evangelical Church in Portugal has its origins in Old Catholic movement of the 19th century. Today it belongs to the Anglican Communion.

In England, Ulric Vernon Herford (1866-1938), Mar Jacobus, Bishop of Mercia & Middelesex, founded The Evangelical Catholic Communion. His succession line was brought to the United States in the 1960s and continues in Evangelical Apostolic Church of North America.

New Church Bodies

In the end of 20th century, Convergence Movement has formed some new church bodies, like Charismatic Episcopal Church. One of the new Catholic Evangelical church is the King's Family of Churches. It governs by an Episcopal polity, embraces the Charismatic renewal, use different liturgical versions in worship, both Anglican and Lutheran, and it has a strong focus in missions and church planting according to its Mission Statement .

Apart from the Convergence Movement, The Evangelical Old Catholic Communion has its roots in Independent Catholicism.

See also

Further reading

  • Brodd, Sven-Erik: Evangelisk katolicitet. Ett studium av innehall och funktion under 1800- och 1900-talet. Uppsala 1982.
  • Pryzywara, Erich: Evangelische Katholizität - Katholische Evangelizität. Katholische Krise. Düsseldorf 1967
  • Aulén, Gustaf: The Catholicity of Lutheranism. A Contribution to the Ecumenical Discussion (World Lutheranism Today. A Tribute to Anders Nygren 15 November 1950. Lund 1950)


External links

Roman Catholic links

Lutheran links

Other links

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