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Half Right, from the Beginning

The great Oratorian priest Louis Bouyer died last month. He was one of those guys who seemed to have read everything and written about it. When he was a visiting professor at St. Joseph's Seminary in Dunwoodie, NY, he told my dissertation mentor (who was then a faculty member at Dunwoodie) that his secret to intellectual life was "read a book every day and write a book every year."

Bouyer was raised in the French Lutheran Church and converted to Catholicism at the age of 26. Much of his published work showed his continuing respect for what the Protestant Reformers got right. I was much impressed by his book The Spirit and Forms of Protestantism which attempted to show both the power as well as the fragmenting of the original genius of the Reformation. Luther's notion of salvation by grace alone and Calvin's appreciation for God's sovereign providence were genuinely in the Catholic tradition and were unfortunately deformed by Calvin and Luther's often unconscious attachment to nominalist philosophy, among other things. Spirit and Forms has been available in a reprint by Scepter Publishers for some time, but Bouyer's other shorter book, The Word, Church and Sacraments in Protestantism and Catholicism has only recently been republished by Ignatius Press. This is an excellent gift for intellectual Protestants--it both validates their best insights and makes clear that those insights can only survive in a Catholic framework.

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Comments (1)

Jason A.:

I thought Bouyer had died years ago. Had I known he was still alive, I would have tried to contact him with a zillion questions about "Spirit and Forms." Mark Brumley has a nice piece on the book at the IgnatiusInsight web site.

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