Roman Catholic Theology

Authored by: Lawrence S. Cunningham

The Routledge Companion to Modern Christian Thought

Print publication date:  March  2013
Online publication date:  October  2013

Print ISBN: 9780415782173
eBook ISBN: 9780203387856
Adobe ISBN: 9781136677922


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Even though the adjective “Roman” is of modern coinage when speaking of Catholicism, we will understand the term “Roman Catholic” to mean that tradition which accepts that the bishop of Rome (the pope) is the legitimate head and linch-pin of the world's college of bishops. In that sense, the Catholic theological tradition was common for a millennium, even though the “style” of theology in the Greek-speaking East and the Latin-speaking West that held to the Nicene Creed had its own nuances, differences, and emphases. Even though there was a tragic split between East and West (formalized in 1054, but with a history that goes back much earlier), the Western Church always valued the testimony of the great fathers of the East, like Saints Athanasius, John Chrysostom, and the Cappadocians. It is because of that general continuity in the first millennium that we will begin this entry with the rise of the medieval scholastics, who were to give a foundational shape to Catholic theology for the subsequent centuries in a fashion quite different from theologians in the Christian East.

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