Philip Melanchthon on “What Does ‘Catholic’ Mean?”

Philip Melanchthon (1497-1560) was essentially Martin Luther’s right-hand man. He writes this in the work titled On The Nature of Catholicity.

What does “catholic” mean? It means the same as universal. Kath’ holou means “universally” and “in general.” […] It is one thing to be called catholic, something else to be catholic in reality. Those are truly called catholic who accept the doctrine of the truly catholic church, i.e., that which is supported by the witness of all time, of all ages, which believes what the prophets and apostles taught, and which does not tolerate factions, heresies, and heretical assemblies. We must all be catholic, i.e., accept this word which the rightly thinking church holds, separate from, and unentangled with, sects warring against that Word.1

So, at the end of the day, we can maybe say, “We’re too catholic to be Catholic.”

  1. McGrath, Alister E.. The Christian Theology Reader, John Wiley & Sons, Incorporated, 2016.
News Reporter
From Madison, Wisconsin. B.A. Biblical Studies: Moody Bible Institute, Chicago. M.Div. Student at Tyndale Seminary in Toronto, Ontario.

1 thought on “Philip Melanchthon on “What Does ‘Catholic’ Mean?”

  1. It’s hard for people to understand the difference between Roman Catholic and “catholic”. Good quote from Martin’s right hand man.

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