God the Future of Man, by Edward Schillebeeckx, translated by N. D. Smith (Sheed and Ward, 1968, 207 pp., $4.95), is reviewed by John Warwick Montgomery, chairman, Division of Church History and History of Christian Thought, and director of the European program, Trinity Evangelical Divinity School, Deerfield, Illinois.
Query: Is the change in posture of the post-Vatican II Roman church a good thing? Answer of most Protestants: Definitely—there is now less superstition, less use of Latin, more toleration, and so on.
But, though we naively dislike facing it, ecclesiastical changes in a sinful world invariably produce gray, not lily white or jet black. Even the Roman church cannot be regarded as an old western movie (despite Bishop Sheen’s famous appearance in a cowboy hat), with the good guys clearly separated from the heavies. A practical example is Dominican Robert Campbell’s survey of Roman Catholic youngsters entering De Paul University; whereas five years ago 90 per cent held that Christ is God and 73 per cent that extramarital intercourse is wrong, the corresponding percentages this year were only 64 and 47.
An equally jolting example of the negative side of current Roman Catholic change is the work of the Dutch theologian Schillebeeckx, whose influence on the controversial new “Dutch Catechism” has been very strong, and who is endeavoring to substitute existential for Thomistic categories of interpretation in such areas as sacramental theology (a perfect example of getting rid of one devil and thereby opening the door for seven others). God the Future of Man is the product of the author’s 1967 lecture tour in the U.S., and further develops his ideas vis-à-vis American radical theology and the new hermeneutic.
Ought the ...1
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