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‘On Recognizing the Augsburg Confession ROBERT JENSON L ‘That the search for mpprochement between the Roman Catholic and Latheran commenions takes the form of « proposal for Roman Catho- lic recognition ofthe CA isto be greeted with oy. It pus the ball in the right court. ‘The Latheran reformer, begining with observed “abuses” in the Ifo of the medieval church, proposed new doctrinal regulations to safeguard that chiracter of the gospel which they baieved. wat abused by the abuses. The Church's proclamation, they ssid, most ‘be such as to open the sort of righteousness that falth grasp and i, rather than the sort coastiteted by works, Theie advocacy of this proposal, polemic as it was against dominant practice, was found Intolerable by most of the contemporary church and by nearly all te ‘fciakdom; very quickly tho Reformers were expelled fr their wawill- Ingness fo refrain. The separation was prtctiilly sealed at the Dict ‘of Augsburg; ti the Lutheran statement presented in the course of those proceedings whose reception is now, matt spproptiately, again weighed. It was this reecton—and it slonel—which made the Lutheran concerns “church divisive” Insofar, eheefore, as the eocesastial in- stitutions descended from the parties then divided acknowledge their ‘origin, tis for Roman Catholics to deide whether what wa then done was well or ill done—not necessary who wat to blame—and ‘what couse is now to be taken in the consequent situation. Latherans ‘am ony stand anxiously ready to ast the decison in any way they an. On their ovm behalf, Latherane continue to wait for their insight to be acknowledged as needled within the whole Church or to be ‘THE ROLE OF THE AUGSBURG CONFESSION convincod ofits legitimacy. Latherans should not—it mast promptly ‘be noted—walt forall the Church to agre on one or another forms lation of any one dctrine bu should only ask to be allowed to pursue 1 spocfc reforming activity in those pats of the empisial church ‘now closed to them. If, of couse, Latherane no longer ae a reforming sroup, thelr existence is past, and the sooner this ie adated the Deter, Just by these dialectics of th sitstion, there are ways in which Roman Catholic recognition of the CA. could be eatied out that would rob it of is great hope. The thest ie not remote, two such ferors seem to appear inthe arguments ofthe very persons who have ‘most powerfully promoted recognition’ posibity: Wolthat Pannen Derg, inthis volume, and Viazens Pi, in tis volume and in the remarkable book’ that has provided the scholarly bass of the current Aisusson. It snot the office ofa Latheran waiter to decide whether recognition is posible for Roman Catholic authorities, but it may be his office to warn against arguments for ste posbility that could render the venture nigtory. ri ‘Wolthart Pannenberg argues that the CA can be accepted by Roman, Catholicism because it never intended to devertbe any disagreements at the dogmatic lovel and thus ean be church-divisive only if self deceived. If, he says, we take the CA at its own sel-