Christian Cyclopedia

About the Cyclopedia


System of philosophy* which ascribes existence to ideas or thought perceptions rather than to material objects; i. e., the essence of the world as a whole and of its various parts does not consist in phenomena that can be perceived with senses, but in “ideas” of external perceptions. The metaphysical idealism of Plato* holds that there existed in the divine mind ideas, patterns, according to which individual things are formed. Reality belongs to the idea rather than to the phenomenon. The degree of reality attributed to any phenomenal form is to be measured on the scale in which it embodies the original idea. Modern psychological idealism tries to answer the question: Do things exist in themselves (realism*), or do only the ideas we have of them exist? It holds that there is no reality indep. of consciousness. A person cannot be sure of the reality of a tree, but only of his personal perception, mental picture, idea, of a tree.

Modern idealism was developed esp. by such Ger. philosophers as G. W. v. Leibniz* (ideas are innate; there is disparity bet. mind and matter), I. Kant* (critical or transcendental idealism), J. G. Fichte* (subjective idealism), F. W. J. v. Schelling* (transcendental idealism), G. W. F. Hegel* (absolute idealism), R. H. Lotze* (teleological idealism).

More recent idealists include F. H. Bradley,* B. Bosanquet,* J. Caird,* Maine de Biran,* B. Croce,* J. Royce,* W. E. Hocking,* G. H. Howison,* J. M. E. McTaggart,* H. Rashdall.*

Sometimes the term “idealism” is used in reference to the formation of ideals as goals.

See also Monism; Nominalism.

J. Royce, The Religious Aspect of Philosophy (New York, 1885); N. Hartmann, Die Philosophie des deutchen Idealismus, 2 vols. (Berlin, 1923, 1929); W. Lütgert, Die Religion des deutschen Idealismus und ihr Ende, 4 vols. (Gütersloh, 1923–30); N. K. Smith, Prolegomena to an Idealist Theory of Knowledge (London, 1924); J. H. Muirhead, The Platonic Tradition in Anglo-Saxon Philosophy: Studies in the History of Idealism in England and America (London, 1931); G. W. Cunningham, The Idealistic Argument in Recent British and American Philosophy (New York, 1933); W. E. Hocking, Types of Philosophy, rev. ed. (New York, 1939); A. C. Ewing, Idealism: A Critical Survey (London, 1933).


(Identitätsphilosophie). Term applied to monistic philos. (as of F. W. J. v. Schelling*) which fails to distinguish bet. subject and object and holds that spirit and nature are fundamentally identical, namely, the Absolute.


(pl. of Gk. idioma, “peculiarity”). Attributes, or properties. In Christology communicatio idiomatum refers to the communication of attributes resulting from the communion of natures (communio naturarum) in Christ by virtue of the personal union. See also Christ Jesus, I; Hypostatic Union.


(from Gk. eidolon, “image of a god,” and latreia, “worship”). 1. Idol worship; worship of a false god instead of, or besides, the true God.* It may take various forms.

One may commit idolatry without really knowing the true God (Gl 4:8), or knowing Him, turning from Him to idolatry (2 K 17:7–18; gross, or coarse, idolatry).

2. Some presume to know and worship the true God but at the same time to worship 1 or more other gods (2 K 17:33; Is 42:8; 48:11).

3. The least apparent form of idolatry (fine idolatry) is to fear, love, or trust in anyone or anything else as we should fear, love, and trust in God alone, Mt 10:28, 37; Pr 3:5.

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

Internet Version Produced by
The Lutheran Church--Missouri Synod

Original Editions ©Copyright 1954, 1975, 2000
Concordia Publishing House
All rights reserved.

Content Reproduced with Permission

Stay Connected! Join the LCMS Network:

Contact Us Online
(Staff Switchboard)
(Church Info Center)
1333 S Kirkwood Rd
Saint Louis, MO 63122-7226 | Directions


Featured Publication

The Lutheran Witness

LCMS Communications

Interpreting the contemporary world from a Lutheran Christian perspective.
Visit TLW Online