I am not sure whether such opportunities have been present in other places, but in Holland personal contacts between Roman Catholic and Reformed theologians since the last war have been highly instructive. During the occupation, we came together frequently because we felt a strong need of one another. After the war, we tried to continue something of the same spirit, and a series of conversations was carried on between Roman and Reformed theologians. In the conversations we attempted to review in an open and cordial way the great questions involved in the Rome-Reformation conflict.
There was voiced concern on the part of some lest in such conversations Reformed theologians would tend to minimize the depth of the gulf between us. But those who took part in the discussions know that within the cordial personal relationships, the profound differences of faith were continually manifest. Subjects as mariology, the primacy of the pope, the nature of the church, justification and good Works, all of which were repeatedly discussed, kept us from ever forgetting our tragic differences.
Misunderstandings were frequently cleared up. But even as we came to understand each other better, the differences between us became all the more marked. At the same time, it often struck us that misunderstandings of Rome from the side of Protestants are many and frequently form part of a long tradition of misunderstanding. But it struck us even more deeply that Roman Catholic thinkers carry on a persistent misinterpretation of the Reformation.
It is recognized by Roman scholars that a profound religious motivation was involved in the Reformation. Catholic apologists talk of the profound faith observable in Luther and Calvin, and speak appreciatively of ...1
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