The Second Vatican Council and the New Catholicism, by G. C. Berkouwer (Eerdmans, 1965, 520 pp„ $5.95), is reviewed by Heiko A. Oberman, professor of the history of dogma, Harvard Divinity School, Cambridge, Massachusetts.
A tidal wave of Vatican Council bulletins has flooded the market with “council books.” Some offer day-to-day developments; others lend color to the hard lines of theological debate by presenting some of the many anecdotes that circulated in the corridors of St. Peter’s Basilica. The interconfessional interest in the council was heightened by the presence of a number of Protestant observers, some of whom took up their pens to record their reactions. A book by the former dean of Harvard Divinity School, professor emeritus Douglas Horton (United Church of Christ), and one by Robert McAfee Brown (Presbyterian), Stanford professor of religion, show how these Protestants were able to enter into the suspense of curial maneuverings and unexpected developments with a sharp eye for the relevance of new developments within the Roman Catholic Church for the ecumenical situation in the United States.
The book before us is not a “council book” in the way the others are, for its scope is more extensive. It introduces the reader to the background of the so-called new Catholicism: its breakaway from traditional tenets in Roman Catholic thought, its development until the beginning of the sixties, its contribution to conciliar thought, and its achievements on the council floor.
The author, Gerrit C. Berkouwer, professor of systematic theology at the Free University of Amsterdam, is well known in this country for such books as his multi-volume Dogmatic Studies, Conflict with Rome, and The Triumph of Grace in the Theology of ...1
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