Sacramentum Mundi Online

Get access Subject: Religious Studies

Edited by: Karl Rahner with Cornelius Ernst and Kevin Smyth.
Advisor for the online edition: Karen Kilby, Durham University

Sacramentum Mundi Online is the online edition of the famous six volume English reference work in Catholic Theology, edited (in 1968-1970) by Karl Rahner, one of the main Catholic theologians of the 20th century. Sacramentum Mundi: An Encyclopedia of Theology was originally published by Herder Verlag, and is now available online at Brill.

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(1,358 words)

Author(s): Elmar Klinger
1. The term modalism, which has been in use since the 19th century, possibly in connection with the philosophy of Spinoza, is now used in theology for a trinitarian heresy. It designates the doctrine which holds that in the relationship of Father and Son to the history of salvation, the divinity of the Son (however precisely described) is not based on a reality distinct from the Father, but only on a virtual distinction. Hence contrary to the various theologies of the Logos, Jesus himself is not God, but a “manifestation” of the divine. 2. Historically, modalism appears at the beginning…

Modern Church History

(6,569 words)

Author(s): Viktor Conzemius
1. The denominational age. From the historical standpoint, the traditional division at about 1500 does not represent a clear-cut beginning of the modern era. True, the modern State crystallized in the 16th century out of a process already begun in the late 13th century, but it was only in the, 17th century that the world which lasted till, the French Revolution emerged. Human life was still governed to a large extent by the medieval rhythm. Man’s biological vulnerability, his vigorous enjoyment of …


(3,769 words)

Author(s): Roger Aubert
A. The Term and Concept Modernism, in the strict theological sense, is a general term for the manifold crisis in the doctrine and discipline of the Church at the end of the 19th and the beginning of the 20th century. In its extreme forms it was the occasion of the condemnation pronounced by Pius X in 1907, in the decree Lamentabili and the encyclical Pascendi. The term “modernism” was in use since the 16th century to characterize the tendency to esteem the modern age more highly than antiquity. In the 19th century it was used by some Protestants in a religiou…


(781 words)

Author(s): Gerd Haeffner
The word “monism” goes back to Christian Wolff ( Psychologia Rationalis, para. 32), but an equivalent idea is found as early as Aristotle ( Metaphysics, 986b 21). The reality it denotes is a doctrine which seeks to explain reality (as a whole or in part) by a single principle intrinsic to it, despite its unmistakable multiplicity and variety. This can be done by reducing all kinds of being to one (monism of kind; relative monism). Or it can be done by denying the multiplicity of independent beings (substances) by point…


(2,076 words)

Author(s): Karl Rahner
1. Notion. Monogenism is the doctrine which affirms that the whole of mankind, at least those who lived after original sin, stem biologically from one single pair of ancestors. Monogenism is thus opposed to polygenism, according to which the evolutionary transition from beast to man took place in a number of cases, though it is assumed that the starting-point in the animal world was one and the same species. Thus the differentiation of the various races of man took place solely within the biologi…


(959 words)

Author(s): Aloys Grillmeier
Monophysitism is the doctrine that there is only “one nature” (φύσις, ύπόστασις) in Christ, as developed in discussion of the relationship between Godhead and humanity in Christ from the 4th to the 6th century, chiefly on the basis of Alexandrian presuppositions The starting-point is the kerygma about Jesus as the one Son of God become man, or the profession of faith in the true divinity and true humanity of the one Christ. Theological reflection tries to explain how this unity in diversity exis…


(1,638 words)

Author(s): Heinz Robert Schlette
Monotheism in general means an understanding of “the divine” (or the transcendent, the numen, the metaphysical first cause), in which its mysterious nature is represented as personal, accessible to prayer, essentially one, whose being is only remotely similar and comparable to the beings of the world. This description of monotheism stems from the historical forms it took in the great religions of Judaism, Christianity and Islam, where we find a notion of God which is expressed most explicitly and clearly in monotheistic terms…


(1,031 words)

Author(s): Aloys Grillmeier
Monotheletism, the doctrine of one will and activity in Christ, affirms that just as there is only one hypostasis (and ‘"nature”) in Christ, so too there is only one will (as faculty, θέλημα), one volition and only one mode of activity (ένέργεια — whence the term “mon-energetism”). This is the will, volition and activity of the Logos. 1. Antecedents. In Arianism and Apollinarianism, insofar as they affirmed that the Logos was the sole principle of spiritual life in Christ, Monotheletism followed automatically. The orthodox representatives of the “one n…

Morality - Concept

(1,991 words)

Author(s): Bernhard Häring
Part of Morality: 1. Concept 2. Moral Law 3. Duty The way the good is experienced depends to a large extent on the fundamental structure of the environment, society and community and on the whole view of life. The derivation of the word “morality”, as a comprehensive term for the human good, from the mores, customs, reflects a historical situation in which a uniform social milieu was universally recognized as setting the standard. A person who allowed himself to be guided by prevailing vailing custom was moral. That does not necessarily mean that n…

Morality - Duty

(2,115 words)

Author(s): Rudolf Hofmann
Part of Morality: 1. Concept 2. Moral Law 3. Duty 1. Terminology. The term “duty” is not used in a consistent way in philosophy and ethics and in theology. The more recent terminology tends to use “ought” for moral obligation and “duty” for the various concrete instances of this obligation. This reduction to the concrete comes about by way of an application to individual actions, as a deduction from special circumstances (occupation, social relationships, membership of a community, etc.), or through the li…

Morality - Moral Law

(2,050 words)

Author(s): Hans Remer
Part of Morality: 1. Concept 2. Moral Law 3. Duty When we think of the moral law, we are led to ask what is the force of the word “law” in this context. Originally law (Greek νόμος, Latin lex) was an ordinance (command) directed to the wills of the citizens, regulating their lives as a community and claiming their strict adherence while leaving it possible for them to disobey (enacted, “practical” Jaw). Later the notion of God, who as supreme power orders and directs not only the lives of all men, but also the entire universe (ОТ, S…

Moral Psychology

(1,285 words)

Author(s): Johannes Bökmann
1. Moral psychology should not be treated of as a division of general psychology; it should find its own formal object within the horizon of theological ethics or moral theology. This would avoid the psychologizing which is rightly felt to be out of place in the domain of religion and morals and provide the key to the understanding of moral psychology as a theological discipline. As to method, it would follow that only a dynamic psychology can be of use. A static, atomizing, positivist psycholog…

Moral Theology - Catholic

(4,358 words)

Author(s): Bernhard Häring
Part of Moral Theology: 1. Catholic 2. Protestant 3. Moral Systems Since some people regard the casuistic and canonist text-books of moral theology as a permanent and classical expression of Catholicism, we must first note that the Church managed for more than fifteen hundred years not only without that type of moral theology, but even without moral theology as a separate discipline at all. Was the Church less perfect or less concerned for the authenticity of Christian life when it did not possess any self-contained branch of study of that kind? Scripture does not resemble a text-book…

Moral Theology - Moral Systems

(2,310 words)

Author(s): Bernhard Häring
Part of Moral Theology: 1. Catholic 2. Protestant 3. Moral Systems Soon after the development of a new type of moral theology in the 17th century, where confessional practice was the main interest, the attention of theologians was concentrated on the “moral systems”. How did this come about? The law of Christ, as typified above all in the Sermon on the Mount, puts the accent on the commandments of perfection. This is the orientation to the end and goal which the seven times repeated “But I say to you” cont…

Moral Theology - Protestant

(2,118 words)

Author(s): Wolfgang Trillhaas
Part of Moral Theology: 1. Catholic 2. Protestant 3. Moral Systems Ethics, as treated in Protestant theology, offers at first sight no very consistent picture. The specific interest taken by the Reformation in this matter showed itself above all in polemics. The Reformers attacked the notion of merit arising from good works, and denounced all “holiness of one’s own making”, on the ground that man is of himself impotent to love God and do his will. But ethics was of minor interest to them compared to dogma.…