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Catholic Evangelical

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In Lutheranism, the term evangelical catholic has special meaning. Lutheranism can be regarded as Protestant, but never Reformed [1]. 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.[2] The Augsburg Confession stresses that "in doctrine and ceremonies nothing has been received on our part against Scripture or the Catholic Church." [3] 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 [4].

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."[5]

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.

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