Date of Submission
Henri de Lubac argues that, in early modern times, a pernicious concept began to become commonplace in Roman Catholic theology: this concept is 'pure nature.' Pure nature is human nature, considered without reference to grace or to the supernatural destiny of personal union with God. Further, de Lubac argues that Catholic theology, in assimilating this idea, has departed from the sound tradition represented by St Augustine and St Thomas Aquinas. He holds that the notion of pure nature leads inevitably to the self-exclusion of Christianity from the affairs of the world-when, in fact, the light of the Gospel ought to be shed on all aspects of human existence. This dissertation tests de Lubac's thesis concerning the history of the idea of pure nature, showing that this notion is not, in fact, a modern novelty. This study examines the role of the idea of pure nature in the Bible and early Church, in the theology of Thomas Aquinas, in the early modern Jansenist controversy, in the theology of Henri de Lubac, and in the theology of the contemporary Radical Orthodoxy movement, paying particular attention to the historical circumstances which made the repudiation of 'pure nature' attractive. Today, some theologians follow de Lubac in contending that Catholic doctrine must eschew the idea of pure nature in order to resist secularism and maintain Christianity's relevance to all aspects of human life. This dissertation contends that the idea of pure nature is not only traditional, but necessary for Christian theology. It argues that a Christian 'integralism' which refuses to prescind from grace when considering nature can do justice neither to nature nor to grace.
Doctor of Philosophy (PhD)
Faculty of Arts and Sciences
Mulcahy, M. B. (2008). Not everything is grace: Aquinas's notion of 'pure nature' and the Christian integralism of Henri De Lubac and of radical orthodoxy (Doctoral thesis, Australian Catholic University). Retrieved from http://researchbank.acu.edu.au/theses/233