Theology in History

Henri de Lubac, S.J., is one of the pioneers of Vatican II, well known for his recovery of the fathers of the Church that helped make possible Vatican II's "ressourcement."But, as priest and teacher, he well knew that Christians could not live in the 3rd or 4th centuries -- that however much they must learn from Irenaeus and Augustine, they had to be witnesses to their own age.A book of his essays, written from the 1940s to the 1970s, is published under the title, "Theology in History" (Ignatius Press). It contains some trenchant and moving essays written during the Nazi occupation of France. In some of them de Lubac addresses Nietzsche's critique of Christianity which, in an adulterated form, was influencing the ideology of the Nazis and the French right wing.In an essay, "Spiritual Warfare" (from 1943), de Lubac writes:

When Nietzsche exclaims, speaking of us Christians, "They would have to sing me better songs to teach me to believe in their Savior -- his disciples would have to look more saved," how dare we be indignant? ... Are our hearts the hearts of people resurrected with Christ? Are we, in the midst of the century, witneses to the Beatitudes? In brief, we discern well the blasphemy in Nietzsche's terrible sentence. But does it not oblige us to discern as well in ourselves, what has been able to push Nietzsche to blasphemy?

Rev. Robert P. Imbelli, a priest of the Archdiocese of New York, is Associate Professor of Theology Emeritus at Boston College.

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