Lubac, Henri de
LUBAC, HENRI DE
Theologian, cardinal; b. Cambrai, Feb. 20, 1896. After the study of law, Henri Marie-Joseph Sonier de Lubac entered the Society of Jesus in 1913 at the novitiate of Saint Leonard (Great Britain). During his study of letters (Canterbury 1919–20), philosophy (Jersey 1920–23), and theology (Ore Place, Hastings 1924–26; Lyon-Fourviere 1926–28) he had as fellow students Yves de montcheuil (1899–1944) and Gaston Fessard (1897–1978). De Lubac published many of their works after their deaths. Stimulated by their friendship, his thought developed through contact with such great masters as the philosopher Maurice blondel (1861–1949), whose more important correspondence he would later publish, and Léonce de grandmaison (1868–1927), Pierre rousselot (1878–1915), Joseph marÉchal (1878–1944), and Joseph Huby (1878–1949).
After ordination to the priesthood (1927), and following his tertianship (Paray-le-Monial, 1928–29), de Lubac taught fundamental theology at the Catholic Faculty of Lyon (not at Fourvière, as legend has it), where he succeeded Albert Valensin, brother of Auguste, many of whose works de Lubac also published posthumously [notably Auguste Valensin: Textes et documents inédits (Paris 1961)].
The following year, de Lubac founded the chair of the history of religion at Lyon and became acquainted with Jules Monchanin (1895–1957) who initiated him to "Mahayanasutralamkara" and who had a decisive influence over his thought [cf. Images de l'abbé Monchanin (Paris 1967)]. While in residence at the Jesuit theologate at Fourvière (Lyons), he founded in 1940, with J. danÉlou the collection Sources chrétiennes, which would become famous. Having fought during World War I and been seriously wounded in 1917, he nurtured and enlivened a spiritual resistance movement against Nazism during World War II with his confreres Pierre Chaillet and Gaston Fessard, publishing the journal Témiognage chrétien [cf. R. Bedarida, Les armes de l'espirit: Témiognage chrétien, 1941–1944 (Paris 1977)]. From its inception he collaborated as advisor and author on the collection of monographs Théologie published at Fourvière. From 1947 to 1950, he was director of Recherches de Science religieuse, a review founded by P. L. de Grandmaison. In 1950, the authorities of his order barred him from teaching (until 1959) and theological research (a measure that would be progressively relaxed). They were not, however, implementing the directive of the encyclical humani generis (1950), but the "mots d'ordre" of a small group of theologians who prosecuted the so-called Ecole de Fourvière and Nouvelle Théologie. Later this same group attempted to have his theology condemned by the Council. Pope pius xii, who did not condemn de Lubac or his ideas, sent him words of encouragement through a letter dictated to his confessor, P. A. Bea, S.J.
In August 1960, Pope john xxiii, who knew of the affair as nuncio at Paris, named him consultor of the preparatory commission to the Ecumenical Council of Vatican II. As a peritus on the theological commission, de Lubac participated thereafter in all the work of the council (1962–65). And the same superior general who had prohibited de Lubac from teaching asked him to defend the thought of his friend and confrere, Pierre teilhard de chardin (1881–1955), fearing that it might be condemned by the council. Lubac defense of Teilhard, which demonstrated an exact understanding of his thought, was decisive to his exoneration.
Named as a member of the International Theological Commission (1969–74), de Lubac became a consultor to the Pontifical Secretariats for Non-Christians and for Non-Believers. He sought to understand the true sense of the conciliar teachings, and to guard against a "paracouncil" which would make Vatican II an absolute point of departure for drawing the Church in an unjustified direction. During this period he traveled through North and South America and received numerous doctorates honoris causa. A founding member of the review Concilium, from which he retired in November 1965, he also contributed to the foundation of the international Catholic review communio, with the later Cardinal J. Ratzinger, and Louis Bouyer, M. J. Le Guillou, and H. U. von balthasar and served as a member of the French editorial committee until May 1977. john paul ii, who developed ties of friendship with de Lubac during the Council, created him cardinal in 1983.
Works. Like the opening of an opera, de Lubac's Catholicisme (1938; Eng. 1950) brings to our understanding nearly every theme of his truly "organic" theology. He considers in this book how the Spirit of God works through society and history in order to make humanity the Body of Christ according to the design of the Father, Who has created humanity in His image as persons and who has loved them, from that time on, as they are in themselves. The created and incarnated spirit which is man is henceforward an impulse toward God, who is his origin and calls him to Himself, while the Church, as the Body of Christ, is missionary. Moved by "the natural desire for God," the primordial act of the human spirit is the fundamental "certitude" of the original "faith," which in other words is "the knowledge of God" which envelops and critiques (via negativa ) affirmations of God.
Correlatively, atheism merits theological reflection. De Lubac treats of oriental and occidental atheism, as well as both the atheism that is anterior to Christ, that of Buddhism, and that which is posterior to Christ and specifically anti-Christian, that of Feuerbach, Nietzsche, and Comte, which he distinguishes from that of Proudhon: this latter is formed through a reaction against a Church dominated by an "unsupportable reactionary narrowness of a certain kind of Catholicism found during the Restoration" (H. U. von Balthasar, Henri de Lubac, 65). Concerning anti-Christian atheism, de Lubac discerns the shadow of Joachim of Flora of the twelfth century. The theory of Abbot Joachim, according to which the spirit realizes the design of God apart from the incarnated Word, in effect inspired Lessing and the Enlightenment which would secularize it, as well the progressive movements up to our day. It risks contaminating the Church when it admits an "atheistic hermeneutic of Christianity" (Athéism et sens de l'homme, 23 ff.).
With a capacity for both affirming and denying God, the human spirit has a history-determining destiny that he beyond at the same time that it belongs to him. According, in effect, as the human spirit considers itself called to filial adoption by God, as rising to the center of the cosmic becoming, or as receiving the revelation of God through Jesus Christ, the created spirit of man is moved by an identical movement in its own depths: it directs itself and is guided toward an end which is gratuitous. This is respectively, elevation to the supernatural life; the Spirit; and Jesus, the Son of God. This end is prepared: with regard to supernatural elevation, it is the natural desire of God; with regard to the spirit, the world; and with regard to Jesus Christ, it is Israel and the chosen people. But because it is gratuitous, this end goes beyond all that has been prepared: the desire for God, the world, Israel, and all that transforms within.
It is well suited to de Lubac's purpose to consider separately the problematic of the spiritual, treated in Surnaturel (1946) and Mystére du surnaturel (1956), that of anthropogenesis, undertaken during his studies of Teilhard de Chardin, and that of the connection between the old and the new covenant, developed in Histoire et Espirit (1950) and in Exégèse Médiéval (1959–65). These three problematics clarify one another without ever recurring, though de Lubac treated all three together in his Pic de la Mirandole (1974).
This kind of analogy between movement and structure finds its principle and its end in the Lord Jesus. The universe is Christ-like by its constitution and destination, for man finds his final reality in Christ and knows of no movement of the Spirit that could go beyond Christ (contra Joachim of Flora). Furthermore, as in clear in Corpus Mysticum (1944, 1968), one part of de Lubac's Christology is implicitly eucharistic: in His singular Body through which He places Himself into human history and becomes cosmic, Jesus fulfills the destiny of humanity thanks to the eucharistic offering of Himself through which he is united to the Church, His spouse and body. Consequently, the ecclesiology of de Lubac is also eucharistic. Thence its Marian dimension, the reciprocal interiority of the particular churches within the universal Church is also the human subject who believes in the God of the Trinity, bringing to completion the primordial consciousness of God and the movement of the human spirit toward God; it is in this sense that all believe and become persons [cf. La Foi chrétienne (1969, 1970)].
Influence. Henri de Lubac never defended his work as an original theological contribution. He only gave, he said, his voice to the tradition. As a matter of fact, he showed it to be living. The originality of his work is that of the tradition itself. His influence is both discrete and diffuse—not that of a school, but more that of a master. One can see it in the ecclesiology of Vatican II which is eucharistic (J. Ratzinger), and in the dogmatic perspective—not rationalistic—of Dei verbum. Instead of imposing from outside the ideas of theological reflection, the apologetic of de Lubac is dogmatic, inviting the scientific study of religion to leave its methodological neutrality, which is fallacious, to abandon the idea of a "transcendent unity of religions," as well as that of a diffraction of the religious into the cultural, and to raise in their proper relief and contrast the great spiritual options, which lead the Christian to better perceive the absolute novelty of Christ. In brief, de Lubac's apologetic is dogmatic in being historic [cf. M. Sales in his admirable Der Gott Jesu Christi (Mainz 1982)]. Just as he has overcome the opposition, born in the sixteenth century, between the natural and supernatural ends of the human spirit, de Lubac has also overcome the division between positive and speculative theology, which had appeared in the same century.
Correlatively, all historical questions have been renewed. In effect, de Lubac observes a unity between history and the Spirit everywhere. Exegesis should also become a renewed being [cf. M. van Esbroeck, Herméneutique, structuralisme et exégèse. Essai de logique kérygmatique (Paris 1978); P. Piret, Exégèse et Philosophie (Brussels 1987)], as should moral theology, which can depart from its positivism and its Kantian transcendentalism thanks to his doctrine of the supernatural. For all of these reasons and in diverse manners it is clear that the Modernist crisis is overcome from within and in principle: history and Spirit are reconciled. If one agrees that this crisis recovered vigor after Vatican II and has not since ceased to rage (cf. G. Chantraine, Vraie et fausse liberté du théologien 1969), one will know that de Lubac's work has not ceased to be fertile.
Bibliography: k. n. neufeld and m. sales, Bibliographie Henri de Lubac, S. J. 1925–1974 (Einsiedeln 1974); "Bibliographie de Henri de Lubac (corrections et compléments) 1942–1989," Théologie dans l'histoire, 2:408–416. j. p. wagner, La théologie fondamentale selon Henri de Lubac (Paris 1997). h. de lubac, At the Service of the Church: Henri de Lubac Reflects on the Circumstances That Occasioned His Writings (San Francisco 1993); Théologie dans l'histoire (Paris 1990). h. u. von balthasar, The Theology of Henri de Lubac: An Overview (San Francisco 1991). j. a. komonchak, "Theology and Culture at Mid-Century: The Example of Henri de Lubac," Theological Studies 51 (1990): 579–602. s. wood, Spiritual Exegesis and the Church in the Theology of Henri de Lubac (Grand Rapids, Mich. 1998). L'homme devant Dieu: Mélanges offerts au père Henri de Lubac, 3 (Paris 1963–64). d. l. schindler, ed., "The Theology of Henri de Lubac: Communio at Twenty Years," Communio 19 (1992): 332–509.