A Primer on Vatican II

Danny E. Olinger

Ordained Servant: October 2010

Roman Catholicism Today

Also in this issue

The Huguenot Christian, Part 1

Dr. Robert B. Strimple: A Tribute

The Unaccommodated Reformation: A Review Article

The One Certainty

In the last major review article[1] written before his death in early 2009, former Missouri-Synod Lutheran minister turned Roman Catholic priest Richard John Neuhaus examined two books about the history and continuing meaning of the Second Vatican Council. The first was John O'Malley's What Happened at Vatican II[2] and the second was Vatican II: Renewal Within Tradition, edited by Matthew Lamb and Matthew Levering.[3] The two books, according to Neuhaus, represent the main lines of the disagreement within Catholicism on the meaning and lasting impact of Vatican II. Both view Vatican II as a watershed event in confronting modern science, historical scholarship, and the world, but they differ on the significance.

O'Malley presents the progressive understanding of Vatican II, that the Council was more than the sixteen documents it produced. It was a sea change in regard to the spirit and theology of Roman Catholicism, an outworking of Pope John XXIII's stated goal at the Council of "aggiornamento" or "updating." New definitions deriving from a new spirit were implemented for the Church in its worship, ecumenical relations, and outreach to the world.

Neuhaus saw O'Malley spinning a marvelously interesting tale: a sociological, psychological, and linguistic study of the workings of the Council that made for entertaining reading.[4] However, Neuhaus also observed that O'Malley "comes very close to saying explicitly what is frequently implied: that the innovationists practiced subterfuge, and they got away with it."[5] Neuhaus summed up O'Malley's argument: "The council was a radical break from tradition and proposed what is, in effect, a different Catholicism."[6]

On the opposite side, Lamb and Levering maintain that Vatican II reconciled Christian faith with modern science through a hermeneutic of reform, not through a rupture from past teaching. The "spirit of the council" approach of O'Malley is an indifferent matter when it comes to understanding the legacy of Vatican II. What counts is what the council actually said.

Neuhaus strongly endorsed Lamb and Levering's view, and argued that they held the undisputable trump card in the whole debate—they had Pope Benedict XVI on their side. In his essay "A Proper Hermeneutic for the Second Vatican Council" Benedict XVI writes that the problems in Vatican II's "implementation arose from the fact that two contrary hermeneutics came face-to-face and quarreled with each other."[7] The hermeneutic of discontinuity has caused confusion and is to be rejected. The hermeneutic of reform is not only a correct understanding of how to interpret Vatican II, but also is quietly bearing fruit.[8]

Even with Benedict's approval of the conservative hermeneutic of reform approach, Neuhaus recognized that nothing was simple regarding the interpretation of Vatican II. He acknowledged O'Malley's observation that "traditionalists" and "progressives" both pivoted before, during, and after Vatican II. Traditionalists entered the Council reluctant to change and often decried the novel character of the Council while it was taking place. Once the Council ended, however, they immediately changed their tune and stressed the Council's continuity. Progressives insisted before and during the sessions that they were working in continuity with the church's tradition. Once the Council ended, they stressed the newness of Vatican II's declaration.[9]

Evangelical Protestants also find themselves split over Vatican II. They agree with O'Malley that real change occurred. They cite the opening up of the Bible in Catholic worship, the ecumenism of the trenches in cultural causes ("The Manhattan Declaration"), and doctrinal statements such as "Evangelicals and Catholics Together." But, like Lamb and Levering they conclude that Catholicism has not changed. The pope is still the head of the church, tradition is just as important as Scripture, and believing in justification by faith alone is still anathema.

If Roman Catholics themselves are deeply divided over the significance and meaning of Vatican II, and Evangelicals waver back and forth in reaction, what should be the understanding of Reformed believers? Many do not even know where to start, much less on which side they should come down, or even if it makes a difference.

Reformed believers should not be either ignorant or indifferent to the impact of Vatican II upon the Roman Catholic Church. O'Malley is correct when he asserts that Vatican II changed the spirit and theology of the Roman Catholic Church. In fact, Vatican II has further removed Rome from a biblically based Christianity and has necessitated a new understanding of Catholicism.[10]

The hope of this paper is to serve as a primer on Vatican II with the dual purpose of defending O'Malley's thesis and providing a Reformed critique. The paper will look at the historical setting of the Council, the workings of the Council, the documents that the Council produced, and the aftermath.

Historical Setting

At the start of the twentieth century, Rome was dealing with its own modernist uprising. In such books as The Religion of Israel (1901) and The Gospel and the Church (1902), Catholic priest Alfred Loisy sought reconciliation between critical methodology and Catholic doctrine. Loisy openly admitted that he had lost all faith in orthodoxy, such that from the Apostle's Creed he could only affirm that Jesus suffered under Pontus Pilate. Loisy also lambasted any notion of divine revelation, any belief that God had revealed himself in his Word.[11]

In response in 1907, Pope Pius X issued the papal decree Lamentabili and the papal encyclical Pascendi, both of which condemned the methodology of modernism as anti-Christian. A year later, Loisy was excommunicated and in 1910 the "Anti-Modernist" oath became a requirement for those entering the Roman priesthood.[12] The message was clear that a denial of traditional Catholic teaching among the clergy would not be tolerated.

The hostility towards modernism seemed to abate with the pontificate of Pius XII, whose 1943 encyclical Divino Afflante Spiritu granted permission for the limited use of new literary, philological, and historical methods of biblical exegesis. "At points," says O'Malley, "it hinted at something like aggiornamento."[13]

What did not hint at an updating, however, was Pius XII's 1950 encyclical Humani Generis, which condemned the multiplying theological falsehoods and novelties that were threatening to undermine Catholic teaching. Pius XII was particularly concerned about loose views circulating on ecclesiology (one could be in the church outside of communion with the pope) and creation (the advocacy of evolution). The crackdown that resulted from Humani Generis put such theologians as Henri de Lubac, Yves Congar, and Karl Rahner on the forbidden to publish or censored list.[14] Behind the placid façade that Catholicism presented to the world, O'Malley writes: "a clash of epic proportions was waiting to happen."[15]

Pius XII's successor, John XXIII, did not wait even three months before announcing in January 1959 that he intended to convoke a council. He declared that while there must be conformity with the past, doctrine should be made more intelligible given advances in modern methods of research and philosophical thought.

Workings of the Council

In his opening speech on October 11, 1962, John XXIII immediately set the tone for the Council by proclaiming that, rather than condemning error with severity, the validating of the Church's teaching should be done through the medicine of mercy. Elaborating, he said, "The substance of the ancient doctrine of the depositum fidei is one thing, and the manner of presenting is another."[16] Along with the Council speaking in a softer, more positive tone, John XXIII also advocated "collegiality," the bishops working together with the Roman Curia.[17] In order to maintain the peace of the Church, three issues—clerical celibacy, birth control, and the reform of the Curia—were withheld from consideration because of their potential divisiveness.[18]

John Courtney Murray, whose essays appeared in the New Yorker under the pseudonym Father Xavier Rynne,[19] declared that the "development of doctrine" was the issue under all the issues at Vatican II.[20] The standard line in Catholicism was to affirm John Henry Newman's 1845 Essay on the Development of Christian Doctrine, in which Newman attempted to show that the teaching of the church could evolve and yet remain true to its historical roots at the same time.[21] However, the reality for Vatican II was what the magisterium defined as proper development was proper development.

Thus, a power struggle emerged between the Curia and the bishops as a whole. When the composition of the ten conciliar commissions was announced at the first plenary meeting of the Council on October 13, 1962, the list of nominees suggested by the Curia was challenged. Reading a prepared statement, Cardinal Lienart moved to delay the vote until the commissioners got to know one another. Lienart's motion received overwhelming support, and a message was sent that this was not going to be a council dictated by the Curia alone.[22] Vatican II would be marked by the doctrine of collegiality, a move that John XXIII supported.

The other important upfront decision was John XXIII's granting to the Secretariat the status of a full commission, which lessened again the powerful reach of the Curia.[23] After John XXIII's death on June 3, 1963, the new pope, Paul VI, continued his predecessor's vision for the Council.


During its sessions over four years, Vatican II produced sixteen documents, four constitutions, nine decrees, and three declarations.[24] While disagreements might take place about the proper understanding of Vatican II's legacy and continued teaching, there is universal agreement that it is around the four constitutions—Sacrosanctum Concilium (On the Sacred Liturgy), Lumen Gentium (On the Church), Dei Verbum (On Divine Revelation), and Gaudium et Spes (On the Church in the Modern World)[25]—that any study of the Council must revolve.[26] The constitutions possess the highest rank and provide the interpretative key for the proper exegesis of the decrees and declarations.

Sacrosanctum Concilium (On the Sacred Liturgy)

The opening topic of Vatican II was liturgy, and Sacrosanctum Concilium was the first document issued.[27] Increasingly the use of Latin in the liturgy had caused concern. Prayers were in a dead language that many in the church could not understand. The Mass was conducted in Latin with the priest's back to the congregation. The vast majority of bishops attending Vatican II, then, were eager to move worship services into modern times with the use of the vernacular.

Sacrosanctum Concilium took an ambiguous position on the use of Latin, but provided the higher principle that full and active participation by all in the liturgy was paramount. When the vote was taken on Nov. 14, 1962 to approve the document, 2,169 men voted yes and 46 men voted no.[28]

Dei Verbum (On Divine Revelation)

Dei Verbum represented a break with Catholic past regarding the doctrine of revelation. The opening draft of Dei Verbum put before the Council by the staunchly conservative Doctrinal Commission repeated the traditional position. The majority at the Council, however, overwhelmingly voiced their displeasure with the document, arguing that it was defensive in tone and suspicious of biblical scholarship. The document also was criticized for retaining a two source theory of revelation and a view of revelation that was propositional.[29] The debate was whether the document could be salvaged with major revisions or if the commission needed to start anew. John XXIII, who did not favor the document's traditional understanding, ordered that the document be withdrawn after a procedural motion to remove it failed.[30]

A new mixed commission was appointed and set about the task of rewriting the document with three main issues involved: (1) the relationship of Scripture and tradition; (2) the inerrancy of the Bible; and (3) the historical nature of the Gospels.[31] For the next three years, work on Dei Verbum continued until it was approved and promulgated on November 18, 1965.

The final text reflected the triumph of progressives in the Church. By moving away from revelation as propositional truth—seeing the Bible as giving information about God—to an inspired testimony to the living Word of God (Jesus), the Church no longer needed to protect the Bible from accusations of historical or scientific error.[32] Dei Verbum declared that Scripture is inspired, but inerrancy only concerns the religious message and not the historical information conveyed by its human authors.[33] The gospels may be accurate in portraying Jesus as resurrected from the dead, but they also may be wrong when they state that Jesus was at Bethany in the house of Simon the leper when he was anointed. What was at issue was no longer the nature of inspiration but the nature of revelation.[34]

In explaining the nature of revelation, Dei Verbum affirms the Catholic belief that the Bible and the church are one, excluding the Protestant belief in the sole authority of Scripture.[35] That is, Catholicism does not restrict divine revelation to the biblical text.[36] Revealed truth comes through the one channel of Scripture and tradition together, neither of which can function without the other.[37]

Since certainty is not to be found in Scripture alone—the doctrine of the formal insufficiency of Scripture[38]—the authentic interpretation belongs to the bishops with the pope (the magisterium). The way that Dei Verbum attempts to blunt the transcendence of the magisterium above Scripture is to declare that the magisterium is the servant of divine revelation and can only teach what is drawn from the single deposit of faith constituted by divine revelation.[39]

Lamb and Levering see Dei Verbum's genius as offering a more nuanced position, one that recaptures the church's ancient understanding of revelation, but putting it into a more textured historical framework, thus integrating fresh exegetical insights but still avoiding the pitfalls of modern rationalism.[40] Vatican II historian John Komonchak writes, "Vatican II vindicated the historical-critical approach against the suspicions of the dogmatists—a fact most often pointed out as the real achievement of Dei Verbum, particularly when its history is thought to end with its promulgation."[41]

Lumen Gentium (On the Church)

Lumen Gentium changed the Roman Catholic philosophy of the church. No longer would the Roman Catholic Church be seen as the perfect society.[42] Rather than against the world, the Roman Catholic Church would be in the world. Protestants were no longer heretics, but departed brethren.

More time in the Council sessions was spent on debating Lumen Gentium than any other document, and it went through three drafts from 1962 until its approval in late 1964.[43] Understanding the church as an institution (one belongs to the church) was replaced with understanding that the church is mystery or sacrament (one participates in the life of the church). The church might embody the presence of the triune God, but it does not yet possess it in fullness, an error that led to the triumphalistic ecclesiology of the past.[44]

But, lest one think that Catholicism totally abandoned its exclusive stance, Lumen Gentium still maintained that in her bosom was where salvation was found. Neuhaus declares, Vatican II teaches that "if one believes that the Catholic Church is what she says she is, then one cannot be saved except by entering into and remaining in full communion with the Catholic Church[45]

In a hotly contested vote (1,114 to 1,074), the Council also determined to include in Lumen Gentium a Marian chapter. The debate was not whether to say anything about the Virgin Mary, but whether a separate document concerning her should be constructed.[46] Lumen Gentium teaches that Mary does not hinder in any way the immediate union of the faithful with Christ but on the contrary fosters it. That is, Mary always includes Jesus, and Jesus always includes Mary.[47]

Gaudium et Spes (On the Church in the Modern World)

If Lumen Gentium treated the nature of the Church, then Gaudium et Spes dealt with the mission of the Church.[48] Gaudium et Spes intended to demonstrate Catholicism's solidarity with humanity in regard to the problems evident in the modern world.[49] The debate at the Council was not whether the Church should address the world, but how it should do so. The French representatives believed the proper method was dialogue, while the German representatives urged proclaiming Christ. The "dialogue" proponents emphasized the incarnation aspects of creation whereas the "proclamation" proponents emphasized sin and the cross. The Council determined in Gaudium et Spes that the Church can do both.[50]

In addressing the world, the Church cannot impose upon others a law demanding that they vote a certain way. But, it does have a "responsibility to address the whole of humanity on issues that are of concern to all."[51]

William Shea puts into perspective the newness of this teaching in Catholic history. Since the fourth century, the Catholic ideal in regard to the church's place in society was that of a single true church in a single just state. That is, the church must be one with culture. Shea writes, "To put the matter with no subtlety whatsoever, they wanted a society and culture cheek and jowl with the Bishop of Rome, ordering everything and everyone in line behind them. This seems to me the specter that haunted modern popes until John XXIII. For good or ill he let go of the dream."[52]


Catholic scholars agree that something new happened at Vatican II. The previous two ecumenical councils—Trent (1545-63) and Vatican I (1869-70)—were legislative and judicial bodies that delivered sharp and unambiguous pronouncements. Vatican II did not meet to confront doctrinal heresy. Its tone was gentle and not sharp, and its pronouncements were often ambiguous and debatable. Protestants were declared separated brethren, although the anathemas of Trent towards any who believed in sola fide still stood. Latin was to be preferred in performing the Mass, but at the same time, communicating in a way that brought active participation to church members was emphasized as paramount. The Church was no longer a perfect society against the world, but a pilgrim people in the world, and yet it had a responsibility to speak to the world about the social problems of the world.

The testimony of many is that such ambiguity left Roman Catholicism in confusion in the decades that followed Vatican II's conclusion. In A People Adrift Peter Steinfels notes that prior to Vatican II "when pastors opinionated politically in their pulpits, parishioners either nodded or nodded off, depending on their preexisting prejudices. Heaven and hell were not at stake."[53] After Vatican II, however, politically motivated homilies were common in that the Council had insisted that "this world was a place of God's presence and not a place of preparation for the next."[54]

Others concluded a general malaise had settled over Catholic proclamation in the post-Vatican era. Peggy Noonan states it well when she comments regarding preaching in the 1980s, "The Catholic Church could not decide if its job was public policy or the redemption of souls so it failed at both, offering pilgrims hungry for sustenance tepid homilies on defense spending. The nation's churches had nothing to say about sin."[55]

Whether Steinfels's and Noonan's observations remain true, Vatican II did not change Catholicism's position that the church and the Bible are one. Church power remains magisterial and legislative, not ministerial and declarative. But, Vatican II has added to the problem by adopting historical critical methodology and discrediting the authority of the Word of God. And yet, Rome feels safe in following this path because it believes infallible teaching rests with the Church. The historical limitations and errors of the Bible should not be a concern because the final word belongs not to the Bible, but to the magisterium speaking through the church. Consequently, the imperative of Rome more than ever remains "you must obey us." From the magisterium's ruling there is no appeal, not even to the self-attesting Christ of Scripture.

Some have argued that the triumph of liberalism in Roman Catholicism at Vatican II, particularly with worship in the vernacular, has released the Word of God in that Church. But, the questions remain, "What word was released?" and "Who remains authoritative in the church, God or man?"

Those very issues should be of interest particularly to members of the Orthodox Presbyterian Church (OPC) for both were at the forefront of the Presbyterian conflict. Part of the liberal theological agenda in Presbyterianism concerned a belief in the historical unreliability of the Bible. God did not work supernaturally in history. He did not reveal himself perfectly through human authors inspired by his Spirit. Rather, the Bible should be viewed as any other book, written by men and marked by human imperfections.

J. Gresham Machen led those who believed otherwise, that the Bible was different from other books. The Bible was God-breathed and inerrant. Scripture was the direct verbal self-revelation of God, the ipsissima verba Dei, the very words of God. Prior to Vatican II, the Roman Catholic Church agreed with that assessment of the Bible. It did not afterwards.

But where the PCUSA most directly resembled the teaching of Rome was in its declaration that Machen and others had to obey the declaration to cease in their support of the Independent Board of Presbyterian Foreign Missions. The question before Machen was whether to obey the voice of the church speaking through its general assembly or the voice of God speaking in the Bible. The PCUSA declared that its assembly was the official interpreter of the constitution and the Bible, and that members of the Presbyterian Church must obey its decisions fully. Machen appealed to the secondary standard of the PCUSA at that time, the Westminster Confession of Faith. Machen argued that the Bible itself is the final judge for doctrine and life (WCF 1.10), and that the declarations of assemblies and councils are only to be received when consistent with the Word of God (WCF 31.3).[56]

This is why Edwin Rian in The Presbyterian Conflict argued that Protestantism was the issue at stake with Machen's trial. He stated, "In this difference between the two parties lies the fundamental difference between Protestantism and Roman Catholicism."[57] He explained, "Roman Catholicism believes in an infallible Bible, but it adds to this an infallible church as the final interpreter in doctrine and in life."[58] Protestants, however, believe that the Bible is the supreme judge in faith and practice and all commands of councils must be tested by their adherence to Scripture. Consequently, Rian proclaimed, "The Protestant must obey the voice of God in the Bible rather than the voice of the church speaking through its councils."[59]

The demand upon Machen to submit to the General Assembly's declaration to desist from participation in the Independent Board apart from the Word of God was a denial of the Protestant principle that all church power is ministerial ("Thus says the Lord") and declarative. With his defrocking on charges that were based on a magisterial view of church power, Machen knew that the PCUSA had done more than tolerate theological liberalism in its bosom; it had also lost its Reformational heritage, its adherence to the principle of Sola Scriptura.

Now, nearly seventy-five years later, those same issues are evident in modern day Catholicism. Rather, than bringing Rome closer to a biblically-based Christianity, Vatican II has moved it further away.


[1] Richard John Neuhaus, "What Really Happened at Vatican II," First Things (October 2008): 23-27.

[2] John W. O'Malley, What Happened at Vatican II (Boston: Harvard University Press, 2007).

[3] Vatican II: Renewal Within Tradition, ed. Matthew Lamb and Matthew Levering (London: Oxford University Press, 2007).

[4] Neuhaus, 25.

[5] Ibid., 27.

[6]Ibid., 27.

[7] Pope Benedict XVI, "A Proper Hermeneutic for the Second Vatican Council," pp. ix-x in Vatican II: Renewal Within Tradition.

[8] Benedict, ix-x.

[9] Neuhaus, 27.

[10] This has been the consistent argument of Reformed theologian and Catholic critic Robert Strimple. See Strimple, "The Relationship Between Scripture and Tradition in Contemporary Roman Catholic Theology," Westminster Theological Journal 40 (Fall 1977): 22-38; "Roman Catholic Theology: Thirty Years after Vatican II," New Horizons 13 (October 1992): 3-6; and, most significantly, "Roman Catholic Theology Today," in Roman Catholicism, ed. John Armstrong (Chicago: Moody Press, 1994), 85-117.

[11] Roger Aubert, "Modernism," in Sacramentum Mundi, ed. Karl Rahner (NY: Crossroad, 1986), 971.

[12] The oath remained in place until its abrogation after Vatican II in 1967. See, O'Malley, 70.

[13] O'Malley, 84.

[14] Ibid., 87.

[15] Ibid., 89.

[16] Giuseppe Alberigo, A Brief History of Vatican II (Maryknoll, NY: Orbis), 23. Alberigo's unparalleled five volume History of Vatican II, ed. J. A. Komonchak (Maryknoll, NY: Orbis, 1995, 1997, 2000, 2003, 2006) is the major source of historical study on Vatican II.

[17] The Roman Curia is the name given the collection of secretariats, congregations, tribunals, councils, offices, committees, and commissions that officially assist the Pope in his governing of the Roman Catholic Church. See Richard McBrien, The Church (NY: HarperOne, 2008), 461.

[18] O'Malley, 6.

[19]The essays are collected in Xavier Rynne, Vatican Council II (NY: Ferrar, Straus and Giroux, 1968).

[20] O'Malley, 9.

[21] Catholic theologian Gregory Baum points out the historical and pastoral weaknesses of Newman's position in New Horizon (NY: Paulist Press, 1972). Baum comments, "If the present development, partly endorsed by Vatican II, were simply the passage from the implicit to the explicit, why would it give rise to so much conflict in the Church?" (26).

[22]O'Malley, 97. See also McBrien, 161.

[23] O'Malley, 116.

[24] The documents of Vatican II are available at www.vatican.va.

[25] The naming of the documents comes from the first words in the Latin text. This explains why, for instance, the Constitution on the Church in the Modern World is given the title, "Gaudium et Spes" ("The joys and hopes"). See Edward Hahnenberg, A Concise Guide to the Documents of Vatican II (Cincinnati: St. Anthony's Press), 66.

[26] O'Malley, 2.

[27] The reason that the Council proceeded first with the discussion of the liturgy was that it was the draft document deemed to be in the best shape at the opening of the Council. See Hahnenberg, 13ff.

[28] Hahnenberg, 16, 26.

[29] Harrington, 10.

[30] Hahnenberg, 28.

[31] Ibid., 29.

[32] The rejected first draft had maintained that the Bible is without error in all things religious and profane. Of the final document Hahnenberg comments, "DV avoids dividing the Bible into sacred and profane truths, and says instead that it depends on one's perspective. The whole Bible is without error—but with an eye to salvation, not with an eye to historical or scientific accuracy" (32-33).

[33] And yet, even the veracity of the religious message could be questioned because Dei Verbum declared that the entire Bible was time-conditioned, and thus, human and flawed. Post-Vatican II theologians such as Karl Rahner, Hans Kung, and a young Joseph Ratzinger would recognize this time-conditioning, that all words partake of historical limitations. See Strimple, "The Relationship Between Scripture and Tradition in Contemporary Roman Catholic Theology."

[34] Strimple, "Revelation," 95.

[35] Dei Verbum's full recognition of the historicity or time-conditioned character of all human writings—including the Bible—and its denial of Sola Scriptura make Mark Noll and Carol Nystrom's assertion in Is the Reformation Over? (Grand Rapids: Baker, 2004) that ecumenically-minded Roman Catholics and Evangelicals "trust equally in the full inspiration and final authority of the Bible" (231) rather empty on both accounts. Not only does Dei Verbum deny full inspiration, but it places the church above the Scripture in its interpretation. The Reformed position is that the Bible is fully inspired and that the unique authority of Scripture rests on the truth that Scripture's interpretation is not simply the first interpretation, but God's interpretation.

[36] Harrington, 24.

[37] Dei Verbum, no. 10.

[38] Strimple explains, "The 'formal insufficiency' of Scripture means that the Bible is not sufficient in itself to give anyone a knowledge of God's will because that cannot be understood apart from the authoritative understanding and interpretation of the Scripture. The debate in the Roman Catholic Church concerns only the question of the material sufficiency or insufficiency of the Scripture. All are agreed that no one can understand revelation except through the Church and through tradition." See Strimple, "Scripture," 24-25.

[39] Dei Verbum, no. 10.

[40] Lamb and Levering, 8-9.

[41] John Komonchak, "Vatican II as an Event," in Vatican II: Did Anything Happen? ed. David G. Schultenover (NY: Continuum, 2007), 42. Reformed theologians have been less enthusiastic about Dei Verbum. Robert Strimple says pointedly, "Scripture in the Protestant sense has not been affirmed" ("Scripture," 101).

[42] Albergio, 33.

[43] Hahnenberg, 40.

[44] McBrien, 165.

[45] "RJN 12.23.05 The 16th century ..." First Things Online, December 26, 2005.

[46] Hahnenberg, 51.

[47] Lumen Gentium, no. 52-69.

[48] Hahnenberg, 56.

[49] Alberigo, 25.

[50] Hahnenberg, 69.

[51] Guadium et Spes, no. 1.

[52] William M. Shea, "Modernity as a Stimulus of Reconciliation between American Evangelicals and Catholics," Horizons 31/1 (2004), 153.

[53] Peter Steinfels, A People Adrift: The Crisis of the Roman Catholic Church (NY: Simon and Schuster, 2003): 101.

[54] Ibid.

[55] Peggy Noonan, What I Saw at the Revolution: A Political Life in the Reagan Era (New York: Random House, 1990), 119.

[56] Westminster Confession of Faith 31.3, "All synods or councils, since the apostles' times, whether general or particular, may err; and many have erred. Therefore they are not to be made the rule of faith, or practice; but to be used as a help in both." Westminster Confession of Faith 1.10, "The supreme judge by which all controversies of religion are to be determined, and all decrees of councils, opinions of ancient writers, doctrines of men, and private spirits, are to be examined, and in whose sentence we are to rest, can be no other but the Holy Spirit speaking in Scripture."

[57] Edwin H. Rian, The Presbyterian Conflict (Willow Grove, PA: Committee for the Historian of the Orthodox Presbyterian Church, 1992), 144.

[58] Rian, 144.

[59] Ibid.

Danny E. Olinger is a minister in the Orthodox Presbyterian Church serving as the General Secretary of the Committee on Christian Education of the Orthodox Presbyterian Church. Ordained Servant Online, October 2010.

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Roman Catholicism Today

Also in this issue

The Huguenot Christian, Part 1

Dr. Robert B. Strimple: A Tribute

The Unaccommodated Reformation: A Review Article

The One Certainty

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