CHRISTIANITY DIVIDED: Protestant and Catholic Theological Issues by

CHRISTIANITY DIVIDED: Protestant and Catholic Theological Issues

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KIRKUS REVIEW

How far ahead of its time this volume is here in the United States is suggested by a recent statement of one of the foremost Catholic ecumenicists who categorically states that ""the dialogue"" between the faiths in this country is still on the hierarchical level, which is to say that translating it into effective action on any lower level is remote -- at least from the Catholic point of view. But because Christianity Divided is essentially written for the ""professionals"", its appearance in this year before the Vatican council is to convene, may result in accelerating the pace towards achievement of this objective. Aware of the hazards involved in such a discussion the editors have undertaken to go beyond the generalities, which have been discussed in the proliferation of books on the subject happily appearing in the past few years, to more specific questions. The frank exchange of views ""in an atmosphere of Christian charity"", the editors are sure ""need not lead either to an increase in hostility or doctrinal compromise on either side"". Knowing well that there is a wide gamut of subjects to be studied, the editors have nevertheless selected five topics which satisfy the ""ground rules"" for this debate traditional significance and contemporary relevance. The general areas are Scripture and Tradition, the Bible, Hermeneutics, the Church, the Sacraments and Justification. To discuss those subjects from both the Protestant and Catholic sides, the editors have selected writings of theologians well known in this country and others who will be unfamiliar to American readers, including several who have not been translated into English before. Among the well known are Karl Barth, and Gustave Weigel. Others prominent in their fields include Schillebeeckz, Geiselmann, Kung, Van Ruler and Thurian. Reading through this adventurous book, one cannot help but envision the privilege to be enjoyed by sitting in on what might be called a ""United Faiths"" plenary session with these theologian representatives debating these basic issues with rebuttals. Only the opening section of this important book provides some form of a rebuttal in print. Those who have ""arrived"" theologically will note that the current catch phrase of the field, ""hermeneutics"", gets full attention. (Translated this means the art of methodology of interpretation as distinguished from ""exegesis"" which applies the principles of the procedure of the other in the actual exposition of a text). Generally the editors do a commendable job of introducing each section with a prefatory note about the problem and also outlining the standing of the author. Commendable in purpose, to advance ""the dialogue"" -- the distinctions and ideas may unfortunately be beyond the hierarchical level at this time. But its publication should make available to others, laity included, views which need to be heard before any progress can be made. The intelligent laity will welcome the opportunity to read what otherwise might be unavailable to them without permission on a subject which is of obvious concern to the Holy Sees. Those in a position of influence will help the cause of promoting the reading of Christianity Divided particularly in hierarchical and clerical circles. Certainly the book will have an impact on Catholic and non-Catholic circles sympathetic to the cause of bringing about the unity of faiths.

Pub Date: Oct. 25th, 1961
Publisher: Sheed & Ward