The Council in Action: Theological Reflections on the Second Vatican Council

By Hans Kung; Cecily Hastings | Go to book overview

12
"Early Catholicism" in the New Testament as a Problem in Controversial Theology

THERE WAS A TIME when Catholic theology, under various kinds of pressure from scripturally based Protestant theology, had the idea that there were important points on which it needed to withdraw behind the ramparts of ecclesiastical tradition. That time is past. Not only because Catholic theology is making itself at home once more in Scripture (with dogmatic theology rather slow and hesitant and keeping its distance, but still following along resolutely in the more daring footsteps -- more daring over all difficulties, external and internal -- of exegesis) so that today it often represents Protestant requirements as emphatically as does Protestant theology.1 Nor only because Protestant theology -- and not only dogmatic theology, but also and indeed especially that exegesis which has undergone the effects of form criticism -- has become conscious in a new and undreamt-of fashion of the importance of tradition,2 while historical research today is more disposed than was the age of the Reformation itself to take a positive view of the pre-history of the Reformers' Church and their theology.3 The chief reason of all is that Protestant theology today -- or exegesis, at any rate, to whose findings, however uncomfortable, dogmatic theology has to accommodate itself -- has been supporting Catholic theology in an astonishing way, in so far as it has been doing what Catholic theology has always done; discovering "Catholicism" in the New Testament itself.

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