Gentle Conflict

Conflict With Rome, by G. C. Berkouwer, transl. by D. H. Freeman, Presbyterian & Reformed, Philadelphia, 1957. 319 pp., $5.95.

As in The Triumph of Grace in the Theology of Karl Barth so in this volume Berkouwer has given us penetrating analyses on an even more important question with a clarity and ease of expression that leaves little to be desired.

The Conflict With Rome never mentions persecution in Colombia and Spain, avoids all reference to tax support for parochial schools and never raises its voice above a dignified discussion of theology. The subjects are, rather, the Roman claim to all inclusive authority, grace and assurance, Mariolatry, the incarnation, and the witness of the patristic writers.

In an exceptionally interesting and generously informative way Berkouwer shows how the Romish view of sin (which minimizes depravity and speaks well of man) and infused grace depends on a theory of the incarnation detached from the specific purpose of redemption and considered as a cosmic principle of union between God and man. This union is now most complete in the prolongation of the incarnation which is the body of Christ, to wit, the Roman church. Berkouwer succeeds most admirably in making even the hasty reader understand the coherence of the Roman system.

If it be the duty of a reviewer to search out something for adverse criticism, perhaps a few points may be found:

First, in rejecting Rome’s claim that the Reformation, as a revolt against all ecclesiastical authority, was too individualistic, Berkouwer judges that the recent excessive individualism is a departure from Reformation principles. The reviewer agrees that there has been a widespread departure from Reformed principles, but he believes that it ...

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