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Pro Ecclesia Vol 18-N2

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Pro Ecclesia is a quarterly journal of theology published by the Center for Catholic and Evangelical Theology. It seeks to give contemporary expression to the one apostolic faith and its classic traditions, working for and manifesting the church's unity by research, theological construction, and free exchange of opinion. Members of its advisory council represent communities committed to the authority of Holy Scripture, ecumenical dogmatic teaching and the structural continuity of the church, and are themselves dedicated to maintaining and invigorating these commitments. The journal publishes biblical, liturgical, historical and doctrinal articles that promote or illumine its purposes.

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ISSN: 1063-8512

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PHILIPP MELANCHTHON

ePub

Oswald Bayer

PHILIPP MELANCHTHON

The way that Luther and Melanchthon stand in apposition, side by side, has often been fashioned into an opposition, an opposition typifying the various eras that followed them. In Wittenberg,

during an academic disputation at the beginning of the 17th century, Leonard Hutterus, the “Lutherus redonatus” (Luther given back, i.e. Luther reborn), ripped Melanchthon's portrait from the wall and tread it underfoot. More than a half century later, in this same Wittenberg, Abraham Calov lamented, “God does not always let an Elisha follow Elijah … at times, according to God's judgment, a vital and faithful Lutheranism is followed by a fearfully cold-brained Philipp.” In 1660, in the anniversary happy realm of Lutheranism, only a single voice was to be heard publicly commemorating the one hundredth anniversary of Melanchthon's death … (one hundred years later the Preceptor of Germany would be celebrated with a wealth of academic speeches in both Wittenberg and Leipzig!). The anti-Melanchthon enmity took on a new quality in Pietism. In Gottfried Arnold's “Impartial History of Churches and Heretics” Melanchthon appears as the one who slipped the Scholastic theology and Aristotelian philosophy, which Luther had thrown out the front door, back in through the back door. It is Melanchthon who caused “the Lutheran break with the true Apostolic mode of teaching.” The break came, because he, being of the false opinion that the faith could not be preached without “scholarly learning [Gelehrsamkeit],” introduced the “liberal erudition” into theology. The Pietist Friedrich Wilhelm Zierold called him “a crafty Aristotelian dialecticus (logician/dialectitian), who wanted to measure the mystery of God by reason.” Craftiness, the attribute of the serpent in paradise, was also assigned to Melanchthon by Gottfried Arnold. Craftier than all others on the field of the Reformation, he flattered Luther with his scholarly learning. While the reformer was too weak to resist him, the Reformation fell from its pure state.2

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PHILIPP MELANCHTHON AND AMERICAN EVANGELICALISM

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Thomas Albert Howard

In a perceptive essay in Commonweal on American evangelical intellectual life, the Catholic historian James C. Turner observed that insofar as evangelicalism has generated a robust life of the mind in recent decades, it has done so not from its own indigenous revivalist and populist impulses, but by drawing heavily from more creedal and scholarly Christian traditions. An up-and-coming generation of evangelical scholars might still pray as evangelicals, Turner notes, “but [they] think as Calvinists or Anglicans, or sometimes even Catholics,” or, I might add, from a heady (perhaps distinctively American) mishmash of these and other traditions.1

Along with many others, Turner singles out the neo-Calvinism associated with the Dutch scholar and statesman Abraham Kuyper (1837–1920)—and its American epicenter, Calvin College in Grand Rapids, Michigan—as the preeminent influence on the much-discussed “evangelical mind.” But “Kuyperianism” is not without competitors. High-church Anglicanism—routinely accessed through the wardrobe of C. S. Lewis's influential writings—has long attracted evangelical scholars and writers. More recently, the intellectual appeal of Catholicism has become a noteworthy force; the prolific pen and acerbic wit of the late Richard John Neuhaus and his circles, in particular, have attracted more than a few young evangelicals, drawing them if not to Rome (although sometimes to Rome) at least to the intellectual bounty of Thomistic thought, the Catholic social encyclicals, and sacramental theology.2

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SCRIPTURE IN THE LIFE OF THE BAPTIST CHURCHES: OPENINGS FOR A DIFFERENTIATED CATHOLIC-BAPTIST CONSENSUS ON SACRED SCRIPTURE

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Steven R. Harmon

Over a quarter of a century ago, the Bishops' Committee for Ecumenism and Interreligious Affairs of the United States Conference of Catholic Bishops and the Interfaith Witness Department of the Southern Baptist Convention's Home Mission Board began a series of dialogues between Southern Baptist and Roman Catholic scholars.2 In the course of these dialogues a pair of papers by Roman Catholic theologian John Donahue and Baptist theologian William Hendricks highlighted the role of Scripture in the life of the church as a key locus of Catholic-Baptist convergence.3 Hendricks identified “the centrality of the Scriptures … for belief and practice” as “a guideline … Baptists and Roman Catholics share,” and Donahue contrasted the affirmation of the inspiration and trustworthiness of Scripture by both communions with modern tendencies toward the relativizing of biblical authority in other Christian groups.4 Both theologians also identified areas of divergence, notably the canon and the ecclesial structures by which its authority is mediated.5 Together they drafted the following joint epilogue to the pair of papers:

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