Key Issue In Roman Dialogue

Holy Writ Or Holy Church, by George H. Tavard (Harpers, 1959, 250 pp., $5), is reviewed by Geoffrey W. Bromiley, Professor of Church History at Fuller Theological Seminary, and Warren C. Young, Professor of Christian Philosophy at Northern Baptist Theological Seminary.

The issue of authority, or specifically the relationship of the Bible to the Church, is still the key issue in Roman Catholic debate. In a new study, the Augustinian George Tavard has assembled in short compass a mass of relevant material, especially from the critical Reformation period. He argues that an original synthesis of Scripture in the wider sense, and Church tradition as its developing exegesis, disintegrated in the later Middle Ages. The Reformers with their sola Scriptura then took one side of the resultant antithesis, and such rash or less perspicacious Romanists as, for example, Stapleton and even Bellarmine, took the other with their two source theory. Trent, however, worked back implicitly to the original synthesis, as did also many Anglican Reformers in their less perfect way. The author hopes that with a fresh evaluation of Trent in this light, and perhaps with some Anglican aid, Protestants may come to see that Luther was forced into an exaggeration, even though it was with some reason, and that the time has now come for all of us to readopt the fuller and harmonious synthesis.

We must be grateful to the author for his diligent research, his suggestive comments, his abandonment of many earlier Romanist heroes, his admission that men like Jewel were largely right in their understanding, his attempt to break through the iron crust of Trent to something more dynamic and satisfying, and his mainly irenic spirit. Unfortunately, ...

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