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Thomists of various stripes famously disagree about how to interpret Aquinas thought on the question of the final ends of man. Is man naturally proportioned to the supernatural life of grace, and if so in what sense? This superb volume of essays is essential reading for anyone interested in the controversy surrounding Henri de Lubac's Surnaturel, his questionable understanding of Aquinas on this issue, and the theology of grace and nature more generally. The volume shows on multiple fronts in a dispute that is both charitable and academically rigorous why there is not yet acquired consensus on the historical and theological theses of Surnaturel, and many of the essays give nuanced critiques of de Lubac s views. This book will be theologically controversial, and influential, for some time to come. --Fr. Thomas Joseph White, O.P., Regent College
When the Jesuit theologian Henri de Lubac published Surnaturel in 1946, he irrevocably altered the Thomist understanding of grace. Even more, he changed Thomism itself, which now gives Thomas priority of place over his later commentators by embedding him in the patristic tradition he knew so well. Finally, and most crucially, man is now seen as inherently open to the supernatural. No longer is grace seen as topping out nature, like icing atop a layer cake. Unfortunately, de Lubac had made his case so convincingly that problems soon followed in his overpowering wake. After Vatican II, grace came to be seen as so intrinsic to man that the supernatural gifts of revelation, the Church, and the sacraments seemed, at best, merely symbolic reminders of an already realized redemption. Clearly the time has come, after the doldrums of the post-Vatican II Church, for a reassessment of Surnaturel, magnificently supplied here in this fascinating collection of essays by noted Carmelite, Dominican, Jesuit and lay scholars. Every chapter displays the art of the medieval disputatio to thrilling effect. As with medieval theology at its best, these contributions are all vigorously agued; but they are also uniformly charitable. This book is truly graceful in so many senses of that word. --Edward T. Oakes, S. J., Dominican House of Studies, Washington, DC