Henri de Lubac and the Shaping of Modern Theology: A Reader
by David Grumett

San Francisco: Ignatius, 2020. ISBN 978-1-6216-4342-5 (pb). 404 pp. $24.95/£20.11.

The French Jesuit Henri de Lubac (1896–1991) lived through the most pivotal events of twentieth-century Europe. He fought in the First World War, worked for the French Resistance during the Nazi occupation of France, and observed the rise and the fall of Communism in Eastern Europe. Being well acquainted with political theory and philosophy, he diagnosed the pathologies of modern materialist ideologies and presented a Christian alternative. Within the Church, too, de Lubac was a witness of his times. A leading ressourcement theologian, he brought patristic and medieval texts to bear on doctrinal questions. In the 1950s, he experienced internal exile within the Church, forbidden to publish theological writings. After de Lubac's rehabilitation, however, Pope John XXIII asked him to serve as a consultant for the Second Vatican Council. In 1983 Pope John Paul II named him a cardinal. De Lubac's theological writings are voluminous and wide-ranging, and this is the first time his most important texts have been combined into a single book. Annotated and arranged by theme, these passages address God, Christian faith, the Church, grace and nature, Scripture, the Eucharist, Buddhism, and the renewal of theology. Drawing on a wide range of sources, including some only recently made available, the introduction sheds new light on de Lubac’s work—its intellectual, social, and political contexts—and on his life, especially his later years. An extended postscript appraises the most important scholarship on de Lubac regarding the key themes covered by the texts.

'The reader can rest assured: both the editor's selection from de Lubac's texts and the overall perspective in which he presents them are admirably managed.'  Aidan Nichols, OP

'A fine introduction to the vast, deeply magisterial landscape of Cardinal Henri de Lubac's theology—with two thorough overviews of his life and legacy.'  Gerhard Cardinal Müller

'Grumett's illuminating comments and de Lubac's most important pages converge here to help us appreciate the life and the work of one of the twentieth century's most important theologians.'  Fr David Meconi, SJ, St. Louis University

'A wonderfully complete overview of the life and work of Henri de Lubac! The readings capture well the range and depth of his theology. This will be a vade mecum for all those who study de Lubac and wish to follow him in the vast sweep of his different undertakings over nearly a century..'  Prof David L. Schindler, Pontifical John Paul II Institute for Studies on Marriage and Family

'A prodigious scholar who has devoted many years to de Lubac's life and work, David Grumett offers more than a reader. This is the first ordered and thematic presentation of de Lubac's extensive oeuvre, the importance of which has not always been fully appreciated. Grumett's introduction, annotations, postscript, and index make this a major scholarly work, yet one that is accessible to student and professional alike.'  Paul Crowley, SJ, Santa Clara University

'a splendid anthology'  Fergus Kerr OP, New Blackfriars

'a masterful presentation of Cardinal Henri de Lubac's work and its significance today'  Marie-Gabrielle Lemaire, Bulletin Association Internationale Cardinal Henri de Lubac

'Alongside careful editing, an in-depth introduction, and explanatory introductions to each thematic section, the upshot is a brilliant biography of de Lubac as a writer.'  Francesca Aran Murphy, Theological Studies

'Of particular value, especially to the nonspecialist, is a resumé of the patristic and medieval authors cited, including a short biographical note on each.'  Noel O'Sullivan, Irish Theological Quarterly

'Demonstrates an impressive grasp of de Lubac's life, times and work, of twentieth century Catholic thought, and of the relevant contemporary scholarship.'  Eugene Schlesinger, Ecclesiology

'an excellent introduction to de Lubac's writings and his theological journey'  Garrett Trott, The Catholic Library World

Chapter headings


The discovery of God

The Christian faith

The Church

Grace and nature

The Eucharist and Scripture


Renewing theology

Concluding interpretive postscript

Patristic and medieval authors cited


Details on publisher's website


De Lubac: A Guide for the Perplexed
by David Grumett

with a foreword by Avery Cardinal Dulles SJ

London: T&T Clark, 2007. ISBN 978-0-8264-9315-6 (pb). xii+188 pp. $24.95/£14.99.

Henri de Lubac was an ever-present figure in twentieth century catholic thought. His adult life extended from the outbreak of the First World War in 1914, in which he fought, to the collapse of the Soviet Union in 1991, when he died. In his efforts to renew theology, de Lubac moved beyond its traditional boundaries. His engagements with figures from other movements and disciplines reveal the theological significance of their positions but also demonstrate the insufficiency of their ambivalent attitudes to faith.

De Lubac: A Guide for the Perplexed was the first comprehensive study of this major modern theologian in English. It addresses all principal themes in his theology: God and nature, politics, church, scripture, the human person, faith and reason, and Buddhism. It is the ideal text for students and others wishing to develop a full and effective understanding of his thought and its current significance.

'a first-rate and balanced introduction to all of de Lubac's principal areas of interest and theological enquiry'  Laurence Paul Hemming

'scholarly, thoroughly documented, well-written, detailed and balanced in judgements. An excellent annotated bibliography provides an invaluable guide to further study'  John Sullivan, Theological Book Review

'Presents de Lubac's work with reference to contemporary questions. . . . A book of great value.'  Georges Chantraine, S.J., Bulletin Internationale Cardinal Henri de Lubac

'Cardinal Avery Dulles rightly praises Grumett's book. Concise, accessible, accurate, and informative.'  Dennis M. Doyle, Theological Studies

'A truly splendid contribution to the Continuum Guides for the Perplexed series. Brings to life the richness and wide variety of de Lubac's thought. Replete with insights and offerings.'  Adam C. English, Perspectives in Religious Studies

'a unique window through which the reader can peer over the landscape of Henri de Lubac’s theology'  Andrew W. Lichtenwalner, Catholic Books Review

'A solid entry into the life and thought of one of the most significant Jesuit theologians of the twentieth century.'  Hans Boersma, Reviews in Religion and Theology

'A valuable resource for readers who want to deepen and round out their understanding of de Lubac.'  Kevin Mongrain, International Journal of Systematic Theology

'could well serve graduate students approaching de Lubac for the first time, and includes biographical and historical information that may be of interest even to theologians already familiar with his work'  Bryan Hollon, Pro Ecclesia

'sheds light on important aspects of de Lubac's thought'  Robert F. Gotcher, The Thomist

'highly recommended for all seminary libraries and other academic libraries that support graduate programs in theology'  Herman A. Peterson, Catholic Library World

Chapter headings

Introduction: a theological life

God and nature: the theory of pure nature; beyond pure nature and necessary grace; the desire of nature for God; theology, history and the Church

Spiritual resistance to Nazism: patriotism and the nation; the church in politics: power versus conscience; sacred against secular?; conscience and reflective action; spiritual resistance; the love of justice in Christ

The Church: theology and controversy; faith, order and tradition; the mystical body; particular and local churches in the universal Church; the bishop; priesthood and parenthood; the mission of the Church

Scripture: scriptural questioning; the historical sense and the literal sense; the spiritual sense and the mystical sense; the allegorical sense; the tropological sense: moral and mystical; the anagogical (eschatological) senses; Christ the New Testament

Person, world and history: writing and reading history; the threefold humanity of Christ; God, person and world

Faith, belief and reason: faith and the idea of God; belief in God; arguing for God; Christian philosophy?; dogma, revelation and divine ineffability

Christ and the Buddha: the Cross and the Bodhi tree; loving the person; faith, religion and culture; the future of Christian-Buddhist encounter

Epilogue: the call of the supernatural

Details on publisher's website

Christ in the World of Matter: Teilhard de Chardin's Religious Experience and Vision
by David Grumett

Lampeter: Religious Experience Research Centre, March 2006. ISBN 0-906165-62-8. 19 pp. £2.50.
Woodbridge, CT: American Teilhard Association, Fall 2013. 24 pp. $4.

Pierre Teilhard de Chardin (1881–1955) has, through the wide diffusion and translation of his posthumous works, made a greater impact on postwar religious consciousness than any other theologian. His identity, whether as theologian, scientist, mystic, or philosopher, nevertheless remains contested. In this pamphlet, I highlight the importance of religious experience in forming and unifying his vision of the world. Teilhard is noteworthy as someone who both had religious experiences, and possessed the theological competence and imagination needed to interpret them. I begin by looking at three short accounts of specific religious experiences that Teilhard wrote during October 1916, whilst serving as a stretcher-bearer with the French army in the Verdun region of north-east France, which are included in his collection of writings Hymn of the Universe . I then consider the implications of these specific experiences for Teilhard’s wider religious vision.


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Teilhard de Chardin: Theology, Humanity and Cosmos
by David Grumett

Leuven: Peeters, 2005. ISBN 90-429-1650-8. xiv+314 pp. €36/£25.95/$40.

Pierre Teilhard de Chardin (1881–1955) has been regarded for too long as an esoteric thinker who evacuates theology by subjecting it to scientific theory. There is an urgent need to reclaim him as a French catholic theologian with intellectual roots in the early twentieth century. Teilhard's imaginative and inspiring work is grounded in the constructive use of biblical and patristic motifs and in his own life experiences of war, exile and scientific endeavour. From these, he develops a distinctive philosophical theology which combines elements frequently assigned to the separate domains of philosophy of religion, systematic theology and mysticism. Teilhard provides a detailed theology of human embodiment and natural substances, whilst his theories of human action, passion, vision and virtue offer suggestive resources to pastoral theology. His evolutionary cosmology and social democratic politics are discussed in their historical context, and the significance of his work for the ongoing dialogue between science and religion is assessed.

'Not since the detailed studies by Henri de Lubac has there appeared a fairer and more thoroughgoing assessment of Teilhard's theological standing. . . . A work of enduring significance not only in Teilhard studies but in contemporary theology as well.'  John F. Haught, Distinguished Research Professor, Georgetown University

'A monumental study. . . . The most thorough academic study of Teilhard's sources likely to be written.'  Prof Thomas King, Georgetown University

'A fresh and clear analysis of a remarkable thinker.'  Christopher Southgate, University of Exeter

'A very profound study of Teilhard's work.'  François Euvé, Recherches de science religieuse

'Well-written with a clear expository style. . . . Grumett's selection of sources is skilful and intelligent.'  Paul Haffner, Gregorianum

'A substantial, meticulously referenced study. . . . Greatly to be welcomed.'  Ursula King, Theology

'Emphasis on the origins and content of Teilhard's theology marks it out as of particular interest.'  Michael Fuller, Ecclesiology

Chapter headings

Prologue: the retrieval of a theology

Cosmos: creation: the fall into matter; the unification of matter; the supremacy of spirit

Action: intention and freedom; acts of faith; the bond of action; creation and transformation; communion with God in action; detachment: the end of action

Passion: growth and recollection; human diminishment in suffering; the Heart of Christ in the heart of the world; death: the end of passion

Substance: the bond of substance; the fullness of God in Christ; Christ human and divine; eucharistic transformation

Vision: light, fire, illumination; vision: the end of life; the divine milieu; spiritual sense and revelation

Virtue: the operative virtues: purity, faith, fidelity; the excellence of virtue; divinization: the unification of the created order in God

Creative Evolution: invention and selection; the zest for life; the transcendence and immanence of Omega; biological ethics; theology and science

Politics and Society: fascism and Marxism; social democracy and globalization; regarding the other; hope in a future for the world

theism and humanism

Details on publisher's website