The ecumenical structure, if it is to have any solidity, must be built on a sound theological basis. Of this fact we have fittingly been reminded by two distinguished European theologians, Bishop Gustav Aulén and Professor Wilhelm Niesel, in books which have appeared in recent months. The voices of these scholars will command not only respect but also, it is to be hoped, response, for their approach is one of depth as they earnestly address themselves to the present ecumenical situation. The value of their contributions is enhanced by candor in analysis coupled always with charity of temper. The cause of unity is never well served by theological double-talk or evasion of doctrinal issues.
In his book Reformation and Catholicity, Bishop Aulén emphasizes that “the Reformation confession, like that of the ancient church, is a defence of the biblical confession of Christ. Its biblical character is obvious and unquestionable.” It is true that, in contrast to the Nicene Creed, the Reformation confession does not enjoy universal recognition. Is it not presumptuous, then, to designate it as a principal Christian confession? Bishop Aulén replies that the claim is justified “on the basis that it stands in positive agreement with the confession of the ancient church and especially with that of the New Testament.” Indeed, he contends that these “three chief confessions of Christendom” are in reality one: “They are all confessions of Christ as Kyrios.”
He points out that the appeal to the authority of Scripture on the part of the Reformation was nothing new, but was in fact “in line with the constant practice of the Christian church through the centuries.” That the Reformation returned the Bible to its central place in the life of the ...1
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