A Bite in de Lubac’s theory on Nature and Grace? Part 10

I consider de Lubac’s discipleship of Ockham down into these loveless depths a rather serious “cost” for his thesis. But it is an inexorable cost. This horrific possibility is the hidden foundation on which de Lubac builds the gratuity of grace. So horrible is the foundation that few theologians even suspected it laid at the root of his effort to shore up the gratuity of grace.

In short, in the face of the issue of the gratuity of grace, de Lubac has two routes he takes. On the one hand, he simply implies that grace is in fact due (unless we sin). The implication is against the faith.

On the other hand, he contends that there is no such thing as dynamical debitum naturae. This contention implies that God could create an utterly meaningless world, a world in which innocents are damned. But how does the implication square with the wisdom of God? How does it square with revelation? Wisdom reveals: “You love all things that exist and you loathe none of the things which you have made, for you would not have made anything if you had hated it”? Wis 11:24.

Finally, if we totally gut the category of dynamical debitum naturae we have no viable way to identify the precise gratuity of grace. If everything is utterly gratuitously given, what constitutes the specific gratuity of grace? After all, the Church’s faith is that grace is gratuitous in contrast to what is required. But if there is nothing to which to contrast grace’s gratuity, how can we specify that gratuity? Is the Church howling out meaningless statements when she makes the contrast?

2 thoughts on “A Bite in de Lubac’s theory on Nature and Grace? Part 10

  1. Can you reference some of the writings that de lubac uses to work out his views? I’ve read snippets here and there, but not extensively.

    I’m also curious about context and subtext. Why did he become so popular and why did he have such an impact ? I don’t really know his history very well.

    And what was maybe his unspoken goal or project ?

    If that’s too far ahead of the discussion, let’s defer it –

    1. 1. On this topic: Surnaturel (French, 1946) was his first, never translated into English. Then there is an article in 1949: “Le mystère du surnaturel,” Recherches de science religieuse 35 (1949). Then a text in 1965, eventually translated into English in 2 volumes: The Mystery of the Supernatural; Augustinianism and Modern Theology. His “Brief Handbook on Nature and Grace” is alright but doesn’t advance the issue much. It does however, have a post-Vatican II lamentation on how degenerate theologians have foolishly come to deny the importance of “created grace”. A great lamentation from a man who saw the rebels after Vatican II come out of the woodwork. The pope at the time was not hands on in discipline. When that happens, the rebels go to work. It’s like Daddy is on a long vacation, and the liquor cabinet has been left unlocked. The kids beat and punch each other, smoke weed, drink, etc. What a heart-rending analogy.

      If you had to pick just one, I’d study the part of the 1965 text translated as The Mystery of the Supernatural. It’s a good translation.

      2. He was very deeply read in the tradition and is marvelous to go to for Spiritual Exegesis and other issues.

      3. One issue was this. He perceived that the modern reading of “man” was godless. By modern I mean both Enlightenment and also Catholic theological. He thought “pure nature” was a godless nature. He rightly judged a godless nature to be erroneous. Ergo, he saw himself as exorcizing the idea of pure nature. In its place, he puts man as an existent desire for supernatural beatitude. He gives lip service to pure nature but is rather blatantly contradictory with this lip service. I could go on with more posts to establish that but it is perhaps better to go to a new topic. I have 2 or 3 more slated. We’ll see. In fact, this blatant contradiction exhibits his monolithic desire to establish his thesis at any cost, even at the cost of bad argument. This loose use of reason goes hand in hand with his weapon, the weapon of the recent theologians: RHETORIC. In place of argumentation through logical rhetoric, they use what is commonly called just rhetoric, i.e., literary persuasion by way of poetry. This is what Balthasar, Kasper, Ratzinger, and sundry others did in the second half of the 20th century. De Lubac was truly a man of the Church, however. I think Kasper’s colors are flying high now, and so I cannot say the same for him. But although he was a man of the Church, de Lubac’s theology on this topic is disastrous. I believe I have spelled out one large set of disasters already. Perhaps another set of posts is in order to follow this out.

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