Three Views Of Vatican Ii

Ad Limina Apostolorum, by Karl Barth (John Knox, 1967, 79 pp., $1.50), Vatican Council II: The New Direction, by Oscar Cullmann (Harper & Row, 1968, 116 pp., $6), Ecumenism or the New Reformation?, by Thomas Molnar (Funk and Wagnalls, 1968, 208 pp., $5.95), are reviewed by David H. Wallace, professor of biblical theology, California Baptist Theological Seminary, Covina.

Professors Karl Barth and Oscar Cullmann, who have brought such distinction to the theological faculty of Basel University, were invited to attend Vatican II as Protestant observers. Owing to illness Barth did not attend, but Cullmann was present at all sessions of the council. Barth journeyed to Rome after recovery to visit with several leading Roman Catholic figures and assess the council from a Protestant standpoint. Both theologians wrote down their evaluations of Vatican II, and both reports are characterized by sober theological discrimination, irenic criticism, caution about future prospects, and expressions of charity towards Roman Catholics in their renewal today.

Barth’s opening remarks are a salty, humane description of his encounter with Pope Paul. He confesses that he returned to Basel just as evangelical as he was upon leaving. “Any optimism about the future is excluded,” he says. “But calm, brotherly love is called for.…” Barth raises a number of probing questions about the declarations of Vatican II. Concerning the schema on freedom, Barth asks why no recourse to Scripture was sought on this issue, and then he reproaches Rome for its diplomatic concordats with civil governments that have suppressed Protestant freedoms. While Vatican II professed to stand in the tradition of Trent and Vatican I, it nevertheless assigned ...

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