Holy Church or Holy Writ? (6)

This entry of Rome into the Ecumenical Movement of our time has completely changed the ecumenical situation. We are all now no longer confronted only with the Anglican concept of a future Re-united Church, based on that minimum of doctrine which East and West, Catholicism and Protestantism have in common, and with the concept of church unity that underlies the World Council of Churches. These concepts presuppose that Rome would eventually give up her claims and cease to be Roman. We are now confronted with a plan for reunion in an ecumenical church in which all churches, without giving up any of the treasures each of them possesses, but spiritually and theologically renewed and enriched by what they can mutually accept, would come together under the renewed office of the supreme shepherd of all Christians, who would rule the Universal Church together with the universal college of bishops.

Holy Church or Holy Writ? The 1967 Anuual Inter-Varsity Lecture in Queensland (Australia) (for full bibliographic information, see the first post in this series.

Note: A lot of water has flowed under the bridge since Sasse delivered these comments, but with the recent (i.e. 2009) announcement of special provisions for Anglicans who wish to enter communion with Rome, including the provision of their own bishops and Anglican liturgical usages, offered by Pope Benedict XVI, one can see how prescient Sasse was even at this early date after Vatican II.


  1. What might also be notable is the drive to canonize John Henry Newman. I'm hoping to read Pelikan's prolegomena to his history of doctrine, which discusses Newman's ideas on the development of doctrine.

    I always wonder what Anglo-Catholics think of Newman. It seems odd to keep fighting the battle when your general has surrendered...

  2. Yes, that is a significant development, Phil.
    Coming after the special provisions for Anglicans it would surely put the last nail in the coffin of CofE-RC relations. If I was still an Anglican I would be feeling quite demoralised by all of this - not to mention what's happening in the US.

    In regard to Pelikan, while I don't wish to seem critical of him as he was a great scholar, I never find his works as helpful as they should be.

    Another good discussion of development of doctrine is that by the English Catholic theologian, Aidan Nicholls, 'From Newman to Congar'.

  3. I need to brush up on my reading then. Thanks for this blog (I thoroughly enjoy Sasse) and for the reading suggestions.

    Blessed Advent.

  4. You're welcome, Jon. Thanks for the kind comments. If memory serves correct there is a chapter of this book available at Nicholls' website, which I haven't visited recently, but a Google search should locate it.


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