Protestant-Catholic dialogue, long popular on the Continent, is now gaining currency here. There are values in this dialogue, but they will be jeopardized if a sentimental approach obscures both its purposes and its possibilities. The contemporary American dialogue is due for ignominious collapse unless it is reoriented.
THE AMERICAN VERSION
The American version of the dialogue got off on the wrong foot. It was meshed into the outmoded liberalism of a generation ago. This has already produced superficiality which, in turn, will assure failure. The dialogue commenced in the sentimental vein that all participants are fellow Christians and that, therefore, the positions they hold are ultimately bound to be one. Such sentiments carry an aura of truth but are really deceptive and, in the long run, damaging to genuine confrontation.
The assumption of ultimate oneness is merely an extension of a vapid liberalism which insisted that “we are all heading for the same place, however our various routes may differ.” To such minds, theological differences were inconsequential. These men were too lazy to assess the differences and too flabby to care about the consequences. Differences between creeds, such liberals felt, are due to prejudice. If prejudice could be overcome, the differences would automatically disappear.
FLATTERY AND FOOD
How could prejudice be overcome? Why, by getting together. Let men of different creeds gather around a table—preferably piled high with good food. Let them get to know the other fellow, call him by his first name, come to realize he does not have horns. In such an atmosphere men would soon understand that their labels did not matter, that beneath it all they were one. The warm glow of brotherhood would melt ...1
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