21 January 2010

The Discovery of God

I'm coming into a great appreciation for the work of Henri de Lubac.  De Lubac is one of the many theologians of Vatican Two who came to publicly oppose the "Spirit of Vatican Two" hijacking of the Council's renewal agenda.  A prominent member of the ressourcement movement ("back to the sources"), de Lubac shows Catholic theologians how to be at once responsive to modern developments in theological research and faithful to the Tradition of the Church.  He is at once a great theologian, an excellent philosopher, and a mystic.

If you are looking for a substantial introduction to the Church's philosophical grounding for her theological worldview, you really can't do much better than de Lubac's The Discovery of God.  By no means an easy read, Discovery will set you up with years of intellectual challenges and pull you through centuries of hard ecclesial thinking about all things human and divine.  This book is steeped in the Patristic and Thomistic tradition, but also makes good use of more modern and contemporary philosophical insights, including phenomenology (philosophy of experience).

Two excerpts:

The universe through which God reveals himself is not only his work:  it is his creature.  It is not merely a thing which God in his omnipresence made out of nothing; and for that very reason it is a being which exists and lives only on the life and being which it is continuously borrowing from its Author.  Or rather--since the classical metaphors of "loan" and "source" are either too feeble or too strong--the universe live and exists only in God.  In Eo vivimus et sumus.  God is "his own being," but he is also "the being of all" (Pseudo-Dionysus). He is incomprehensible, inaccessible, and at the same time familiar and close to us.  "The root and principle of every creature," he is the Being present par excellence (Aquinas).  (87)


Infinite intelligibility--such is God.  The incomprehensible is the opposite of the unintelligible.  The deeper we enter into the infinite, the better we understand that we can never hold it in our hands. . .(Whatever is understood by science is limited by the understanding of the knower.)  The infinite is not a sum of finite elements, and what we understand of it is not a fragment torn from what remains to be understood.  The intelligence does not do away with the mystery nor does it even begin to understand it; it in no way diminishes it, it does not "bite" on it:  it enters deeper and deeper into it and discovers it more and more as a mystery.  (117)

Great stuff!

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