Christian Cyclopedia

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Existing forever, without beginning or end in time. See God; Hereafter.

Eternal Life.

Spiritual life; the union of a Christian with God through faith in Christ Jesus, esp. the perfect enjoyment thereof in heaven. That eternal life is a present possession of every Christian is clearly taught in Scripture (Jn 3:16; 6:47; 1 Jn 5:11). Eternal life begins for us when the Father reveals the Son to us and enables us to call Him Lord by the Holy Ghost (1 Co 12:3). See also Hereafter.

Eternally Begotten.

Term used to describe the eternal generation of the Son by the Father. See Christ Jesus, I A.

Eternal Object.

Term in A. N. Whitehead's* philos. corresponding to “idea” in Plato* or “form” in Aristotle.*


(Aethelber[h]t; Aedilberct; ca. 552–616). King of Kent ca. 560; married Bertha (a Christian), daughter of Frankish king Charibert (Haribert); baptized by Augustine* of Canterbury 597; 1st Christian Eng. king.


(Aethelberht; Aegelbriht; Albert; d. ca. 794). King of East Angles and Christian martyr; said to have wooed Elfthryth, daughter of Offa of Mercia, and to have been slain at the instigation of Offa or Offa's queen, Cynethryth; buried at Hereford.


(Aethelber[h]t; d. 866). King of Kent 855, Wessex 860.

Ethical Culture.

Movement begun 1876 when F. Adler* founded the New York Soc. for Ethical Culture, based on 3 assumptions: sex, purity, and the principle of devoting the surplus of one's income beyond that required for one's own needs to the elevation of the working classes and continued intellectual development. He called the soc. the new religion of humanity, whose heaven is on earth, whose god is the good, and whose ch. is the universe. The soc. approached religion from the practical moral standpoint and encouraged its adherents to live a good life by following the dictates of duty. The movement declared its indep. of all creeds, called for deed rather than creed, and required of its mems. only recognition of the ethical aim as the highest goal of life.

Ethical culture socs. were organized in Chicago 1882, Philadelphia 1885, St. Louis 1886, Brooklyn 1906. Other socs. and fellowship groups were est. elsewhere in Am. The Am. Ethical Union was formed in the late 1880s; its organ: Ethical Culture Today.

Socs. were est. in Ger., Fr., It., Eng., Austria, Japan, Switz., India, New Zealand, and other countries. The Internat. Union of Socs. for Ethical Culture was est. 1896 but survived among Eur. nations only in Eng. The Internat. Humanist and Ethical Union was formed 1952 in Amsterdam.

Stress is laid on moral instruction of the young. Ethical culture schools open to all were est. in NYC Ethical culture socs. have been active also in soc. reform.

Services include music, inspirational readings, meditations (instead of prayer), and addresses.

After Adler's death John Lovejoy Elliott (1868–1942) was sr. leader of the New York soc. After Elliott's death it was headed by 5 leaders.

See Religious Bodies (US), Bibliography of.

Ethical Formalism.

Term applied to the method of rational reflection of I. Kant* whereby he tried to determine ethical standards.


1. Term for a. discipline concerned with such concepts as good, bad, duty, obligation; b. set of moral principles or values; c. philos., study of behavior and principles of conduct. J. M. Reu* defined ethics as “the science of the moral as it is to be realized first of all in the life of the individual and then also within the community of other personal beings.”

2. Ethics has been variously classified, e.g., naturalistic ethics bases moral principles on empirically verifiable factors; theistic ethics claims approval of deity for moral principles; Christian ethics emphasizes voluntary acceptance of the divine will as norm by free human personalities and application of that will in individual and soc. life. These designations are not mutually exclusive. See also Theology.

3. Early Gk. thinkers often compared physical and moral health. Socrates* stressed close relationship bet. proper behavior and proper thought. Plato* built ethics on a metaphysical basis but conceived of it largely as citizenship in a free state in which individuals are guided by wisdom, courage, temperance, and justice. Aristotle* gives a list of virtues that form a golden mean bet. vices (see also Eudaemonism). Epicureans advocated a life of simple, refined pleasures. Early Stoics (see Stoicism) favored a life of virtue and inner equilibrium affected by neither pleasure nor pain. Later Stoics (e.g., Epictetus* and Marcus* Aurelius) considered each man a part of the whole world and condemned class distinctions as irrational. Skeptics (see Skepticism) questioned all knowledge and actions. Neoplatonists regarded mystic union with the ultimate One, the Absolute, as the highest good. See also Neoplatonism; Plotinus.

4. J. J. Rousseau* held that man should obey his impulses in a strictly natural environment. L. A. Feuerbach* also developed a principle of egoism, holding that ethics consists in obeying the natural impulse. E. H. Haeckel* added altruism (duty to society) to egoism. Utilitarianism* (T. Hobbes,* J. Bentham*) holds that whatever is useful is good and that the highest good for the individual or the greatest happiness of the greatest number must be selected by reason. See also Mill, John Stuart.

5. The ethics of evolutionism* is in a continual state of flux. That which is considered ethical today is the result of acts with favorable results in past evolutionary stages, and both past and present are parts of development toward an ideal (H. Spencer*). Elements of naturalism,* utilitarianism,* and evolutionism are present in empiricism.* See also Aesthetics.

6. I. Kant* sought a universal principle for behavior and found it in superindividual reason and the categorical* imperative. Later theologians (e.g., F. D. E. Schleiermacher*) took cognizance of his philos. ethics in their presentations. Am. representatives of idealistic ethics include B. P. Bowne,* W. E. Hocking,* and J. Royce.*

7. RC morality is a matter of works; the higher form of morality culminates in vows of poverty, chastity, and obedience; the lower form allows unrestricted use of all things natural. Ref. theol. makes salvation depend on an absolute divine decree and considers God's will as revealed in Scripture to be the unconditional law for moral development. Modernism was nomistic in its emphasis on the Sermon on the Mount.

8. Luth. theol. emphasizes that man does not become good by doing good, but must be good before he can do good (see also Justification). Love created in the heart by the Holy Spirit motivates Christian life. Christian ethics is not submission to God's will but harmony with it.

9. RC ethics in the 1960s stressed personal freedom, sought a middle way bet. unrestrained capitalism and totalitarian socialism, and continued to emphasize natural law. Angl. ethics stressed the doctrine of incarnation, emphasized that the incarnate Christ incorporates us in a new society, and sought synthesis bet. faith and reason. Luth. ethics usually distinguishes bet. society under law and the Christian believer under grace. Prots. in gen. emphasize freedom and justice. Reinhold Niebuhr and others stress relevance of sin and grace to politics.

10. Situation(al)* ethics emphasizes importance of love in determining proper action in given situations.

See also Decalog; Grace, Means of, II 2; Moral Philosophy; Moral Theology; Social Ethics. EL

L. S. Keyser, A System of General Ethics, 3d ed., rev. (Burlington, Iowa, 1926); N. Hartmann, Ethics, tr. S. Colt, 3 vols. (London and New York, 1932); O. A. W. Piper, Die Grundlagen der evangelischen Ethik, 2 vols. (Gütersloh, 1928–30); A. Nygren, Filosofisk och kristen etik (Lund, 1923); H. E. Brunnet, Das Gebot und die Ordnungen (Tübingen, 1932), tr. O. Wyon, The Divine Imperative (London, 1937); J. M. Reu and P. H. Buehring, Christian Ethics (Columbus, Ohio, 1935); H. Thielicke, Theologische Ethik (Tübingen, 1951– ), abridged and tr., Theological Ethics, ed. W. H. Lazareth (Philadelphia, 1966– ); N. H. Söe, Kristelig etik, 4th ed. (Copenhagen, 1957), tr. Christliche Ethik, ed. W. Thiemann, 2d ed. (Munich, 1957); D. Bonhoeffer, Ethics, ed. E. Bethge, tr. N. H. Smith (New York, 1955); W. Elert, The Christian Ethos, tr. C. J. Schindler (Philadelphia, 1957); G. Hillerdal, Teologisk och filosofisk etik (Stockholm, 1958); R. Niebuhr, Essays in Applied Christianity, sel. and ed. D. B. Robertson (New York, 1959); A. Gyllenkrok, Systematisk teologi och vetenskaplig metod, reed särskild hänsyn till etiken, with Eng. summary, Systematic Theology and Scientific Method with Particular Reference to Ethics (Uppsala, 1959); M. Warnock, Ethics since 1900 (London, 1960); H. R. Niebuhr, The Responsible Self (New York, 1963); R. M. Hare, The Language of Morals (New York, 1964).


Movement among natives of cen. and S Afr. aimed at dethronement of white supremacy. Began ca. 1892, when the Afr. membership of the Wesleyan Meth. Ch. (British) in Pretoria, Transvaal, withdrew and, under leadership of M. M. Mokone, founded an indep. Ethiopian ch.; its slogan: “Africa for the Africans.” In 1896 this ch. applied for membership in the African* Methodist Episcopal Church. James Mata Dwane was sent to Am. to unite with the A. M. E. Ch. on behalf of this ch. He represented only part of the Ethiopian Movement, in which ca. 15 different organizations sprang up. He returned as authorized supt. of the work in S Afr. The S Afr. or Cape Colony Conf. was organized 1897. Am. Bp. Henry McNeal Turner (1834–1915) organized the Transvaal Conf. 1898; later he organized the Sierra Leone, Liberia, and S Afr. confs. By 1904 Bp. Levi J. Coppin organized several Annual Conferences. Meanwhile Dwane approached the Angl. Ch., which formed the “Ethiopian Order” 1900, ordained Dwane deacon, and made him Provincial of the order. Much religious, racial, and social unrest among the natives resulted from the Ethiopian Movement.

Ethiopic Church

(Abyssinian Church). Tradition associates the origin of Christianity in Ethiopia (Abyssynia) with the return of the treasurer of Queen Candace (Acts 8:26–39) to his homeland. But Christianity did not take permanent root in Ethiopia until the 4th c., when Hezana ('Ezana; Aizanas; [Ta]zana), king of Aksum, is said to have become Christian, probably under influence of Frumentius.* By ca. 500 the ch. in Aksum was apparently Monophysite (see Monophysite Controversy), perhaps partly as a result of an influx of those exiled from the Roman Empire for religious reasons, partly as a result of dependence for apostolic succession on the Coptic* Ch. of Alexandria. The Aksumite empire disappeared from hist. after the 6th c.; Muhammadanism spread; the ch. declined. We know little about the Abyssinian Ch. from ca. 650–1268, when, after several changes of govt., the old dynasty was restored; under an able, energetic, and ambitious patriarch (abuna) the ch. then took a new lease on life. From the 13th to the 17th c. and in the 19th c. the RC Ch. tried to gain control of the Ethiopic Ch. In 1951 the Coptic Ch. freed the Abyssinian Ch. from the requirement that the abp. be a Copt; a native Abyssinian, Basil, was made abp. In 1959 a separate patriarchate, under the “Pope of Alexandria, Patriarch of the See of St. Mark,” was est. for Ethiopia. Head of the Ethiopic Ch. is called catholicos-patriarch. There are many monastic communities for men; cloisters for women are rare. The typical ground plan of Abyssinian chs. is round or octagonal. Saints, esp. Mary, are venerated. The order of service perpetuates with variations the Egyptian form of the E rite. There is a colony of the Abyssinian Ch. in Jerusalem. Ties to the imperial throne of Ethiopia are traditionally very close. The Abyssinian Ch. belongs to the WCC Recent yrs. have seen a measure of assimilation to E Orthodoxy. See also Africa, E 2; Jacob Baradaeus; Mark, Liturgy of Saint. ACP.


Character; moral nature; guiding beliefs; ideals; standards.


(aetiology; aitiology; from Gk. aitia, “cause”). Science, investigation, or theory of causes.

Edited by: Erwin L. Lueker, Luther Poellot, Paul Jackson
©Concordia Publishing House, 2000, All rights Reserved. Reproduced with Permission

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Content Reproduced with Permission

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