Catholic and Protestant: Contrary or Complementary?

Avery Dulles

in The Catholicity of the Church

Published in print October 1987 | ISBN: 9780198266952
Published online November 2003 | e-ISBN: 9780191600555 | DOI:
Catholic and Protestant: Contrary or Complementary?

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In the first period after the Reformation, Roman and Protestant churches alike claimed to be catholic. Subsequently, Hegel and others postulated an evolutionary process in which the catholic phase of Christianity was merely objective, sparking the Protestant phase as its subjective antithesis. They predicted a coming synthesis that would be simultaneously Protestant and Catholic. Catholics, for their part, frequently identified Protestantism with false individualism. In the twentieth century, many Protestants found the Catholic Church guilty of self‐glorification and called for it to be purified by what Tillich called the Protestant principle. Vatican II took account of some of the criticisms, but insisted that the Church's sacramental, hierarchical, and dogmatic structures are needed to preserve her catholic substance. Although Catholics and Protestants have come to a deeper appreciation of each other's concerns, their differences seem too fundamental to be resolved by dialogue.

Keywords: Catholic principle; Protestant principle; Tillich; Vatican II

Chapter.  7291 words. 

Subjects: Christian Theology

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