A Bite in de Lubac’s theory on Nature and Grace? Part 8

On the other hand, de Lubac had another, contradictory, explanation that few critics saw.

He argued that there is no such thing as dynamical debita naturae. He completely abolished the category! He states,

“Every demand [i.e., dynamical debitum naturae] must be banished.”[1]

Therefore, he concludes, grace is absolutely free. It need not be given. If it is given, it is out of pure and free love.

Let us be quite clear: De Lubac abolishes the category absolutely. For him, sin has nothing to do with the abolition of the category. For him, it is erroneous to admit any debt in either order, even if men were without sin.[2] Hence, he admits implicitly that even his own above solution (that the just God could not frustrate de Lubac unless de Lubac sinned) is erroneous. Let us hear de Lubac at length and precisely:

“God could have refused to give himself to his creatures, just as he could have, and has, given himself. The gratuitousness of the supernatural order is true individually and totally. It is gratuitous in itself. It is gratuitous as far as each one of us is concerned. It is gratuitous in regard to what we see as preceding it, whether in time or in logic. Further—and this is what some of the explanations I have contested seem to me not to make clear—its gratuitousness remains always complete. It remains gratuitous in every hypothesis. It is for ever new. It remains gratuitous at every stage of preparation for the gift, and at every stage of the giving of it. No “disposition” in the creature can ever, in any way, bind the Creator.”[3]


It now sounds as though de Lubac has made grace both relevant and free! Incredible! Dance and sing. He has met the demands of both norms in this theological issue. Or has he? If he has, at what cost?

[1] Henri Cardinal de Lubac, Augustinisme et théologie moderne, no. 63, Théologie (Aubier, 1965), 47.

[2] See Mystery, 183f.

[3] Mystery, 236f. See also Augustinianism, 233; and Mystery, 84–86 and 130.