Kyrkan som sakrament. Henri de Lubacs fundamentalecklesiologi.

Research output: ThesisDoctoral Thesis (monograph)


The thesis provides a discussion of the ecclesiology of the French Roman-Catholic theologian Henri de Lubac SJ (1896-1991) by showing how this is determined by his method of fundamental theology. I establish the term ?fundamental ecclesiology? for this inter-dependance of form and content, subject and object in theology; this is why his ecclesiology is sacramental in structure. I primarily use texts from the period between 1930-1950, most important de Lubac's ?Catholicisme? 1938.

de Lubac's thought is a theology of spirituality, involving the subject/the theologian. He is developing three ?lines? in his theology: a vertical (transcendence), a diacronic (history-eternity), a corporate (universal-individual) line. They all start from the center, at the meeting-point of the three lines, where the paradox within each line is modified by those of the others.

de Lubac's Fundamental Theology begins in the givenness of revelation and of the church, thus turning the traditional apologetics of ?demonstratio? upside down. It stands out as the theological pre-supposition to the philosophical method of immanence of Maurice Blondel, and it differs from the method of Karl Rahner. For de Lubac ?intellection? is a majeutic process, integrating a level of distinctions within a level of dynamic praxis, whereby the subject reaches the new, adequate starting-point for the understanding of existence. This is never univocally theocentric: God is by nature ?anthropocentric?, and the emerging paradox leads to christocentricity. de Lubac's project is at the same time majeutic (his adoption of the patristic ?quadriga? hermeneutics) and theological (his ?total humanism? identifies Catholicism with adequate humanism/religion, and vice versa).

?Dogma? does not refer to propositional dogms, but to God's salvific action as such. The church, as the subject and as the object of faith, thus tends towards identification, and the development of dogma is the church's (rather than magisterium?s) contemplation of the ?sensus fidei?. This is related to the ontological proof of God's existence and to Modernism?s, Rahner's and Blondel's ideas of historicity and tradition.

The Church then, is the subject contemplating fundamental theology; the object contemplated is the theocentric/christocentric totality (?dogma?), including the church itself. The transcendence implied in the incarnation is possible only as a ?given?, and imaginable only because it is a fact. This mediation is accomplished on the level of praxis, integrating the ideas of God's people and the mystical body of Christ. As the decisive point in history, Christ is primarily contemporaneous and sacramental, i.e. the ?esse? and ?fieri?. The ideas of person and of collective personality then give rise to the idea of Christ, church and mankind as essentially majeutically convergent. Mission is this process towards identification.

In fundamental ecclesiology the two levels at the meeting-point of the three lines are integrated. Humanity as the church becomes the adequate subject of theology. The sacramental church and fundamental theology are mutually interdependent. Problems arise in de Lubac's theology when dealing with the visible church and the dual nature of man. This is exemplified by a Lutheran reading of ?Catholicisme?. Finally I offer some methodological observations on the usefulness of a fundamental ecclesiology.


  • Peter Bexell
Research areas and keywords

Subject classification (UKÄ) – MANDATORY

  • History of Religions


  • fundamental theology, systematisk och praktisk), systematic and practical Christian theology, history, incarnation, universal-individual, development of dogma, humanism, quadriga, mystical body, apologetics, majeutics, church, method of immanence, catholicity, Kristen teologi (allmän, fundamental ecclesiology, sacramental ecclesiology, Henri de Lubac, General
Translated title of the contributionThe Church as Sacrament. The Fundamental Ecclesiology of Henri de Lubac.
Original languageSwedish
Awarding Institution
Supervisors/Assistant supervisor
  • [unknown], [unknown], Supervisor, External person
Award date1997 Nov 28
  • Brutus Östlings Bokförlag Symposion
Print ISBNs91-7139-361-7
Publication statusPublished - 1997
Publication categoryResearch

Bibliographic note

Defence details Date: 1997-11-28 Time: 14:00 Place: Carolinasalen, Lundagårdshuset, Lund External reviewer(s) Name: Nørgaard-Højen, Peder Title: Prof. Affiliation: Copenhagen --- The information about affiliations in this record was updated in December 2015. The record was previously connected to the following departments: Systematic Theology (015017071)