For the third consecutive year, the news section ofCHRISTIANITY TODAY’s anniversary issue features a panel of 25 of the world’s foremost religious scholars responding to a timely question:
Do you see any hopeful basis of Protestant-Roman Catholic church unity?
KARL BARTH, professor, University of Basel: “Certain indications seem to point to a possible, perhaps already operative, inner renewal in today’s Roman Catholic church. The holy Scriptures are being read and studied, are being expounded academically and also in preaching with greater delight and accuracy than before. In connection therewith is a deepened attention to Jesus Christ, only Lord and Saviour, as the center and object of all church life and teaching. And we must not fail to appreciate a more earnest understanding of God’s free grace and therefore of the sinner’s justification by faith alone among some forward-moving Roman Catholic theologians, and also many efforts toward a more kerygmatic form of the mass. If and how all this will some day lead to a change with reference to a new interpretation of the Roman Catholic concepts of the mediatorial role of the virgin Mary and of the saints; of the merit of tradition; of the authority of the church, and particularly of the pope; and above all of the sacraments we cannot contemplate at the moment. In our opinion even the best Roman Catholics in no case could and would be expected simply to put aside these peripheral considerations. But neither can we expect them to find those central truths (Scripture, Christ, grace) better preserved and better championed in our Protestant churches than in their own. We ourselves would need to be, think, teach, and live more evangelically, if our Protestantism is to have any attraction ...1
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