Catholic Culture Dedication
Catholic Culture Dedication

Ep. 75—Don’t Scapegoat the Nouvelle Théologie—Richard DeClue

By Catholic Culture Podcast ( bio - articles - email ) | May 20, 2020 | In The Catholic Culture Podcast

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It has become fashionable in traditionalist circles to blame all problems in modern theology on the so-called nouvelle théologie, including a range of thinkers such as Henri de Lubac, Karl Rahner, Hans Urs von Balthasar, Hans Küng and Josef Ratzinger. But this is based on a number of misconceptions: about the nature of the nouvelle théologie itself, and about the views held by some of these theologians.

Nouvelle théologie is not a unified movement in which everyone held the same views. Some of the “new theologians” were radicals and modernists who wanted the Church to bow to the modern world. Some were orthodox men who wanted to revitalize theology by a return to the sources: the Fathers, Scripture, and St. Thomas (in his own words, not as filtered through the commentators). Others were harder to pin down.

A broad-brush approach to the nouvelle théologie has resulted in injustices, perhaps as much to theology itself as to some good Churchmen whose reputations have been tarnished. Even Ratzinger has been dubbed a modernist by a certain trigger-happy trad celebrity. It’s time for an intervention, and theologian Richard DeClue is here to bring some sobriety.


DeClue’s Views

Richard DeClue’s blog, Sapientia Nulliformis

Episode 38: The Sacred Monster, on Garrigou-Lagrange

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  • Posted by: FrHughM - May. 24, 2020 2:15 PM ET USA

    Great to see De Lubac’s idea that the “closed” concept of nature can foster atheism. But the (inconsistent) scholastic “openness” of “final causality” is not a way out. This was always a “god-of-gaps” which, as always, science closes – in this case by showing that physical teleology is intra-cosmic, on the same level as the other, environmentally interwoven, three causes. Again, we all end up atheists. Better to highlight God as overall Mind-organiser, in whose image our creative souls are made.

  • Posted by: FrHughM - May. 23, 2020 7:36 AM ET USA

    Reno has a great, similar piece, "Theology after the Revolution", First Things, May 2007. He argues that, "The collapse of neo-scholasticism has not led to the new and fuller vision sought by [the Nouvelle Theologie]. It has created a vacuum filled with simple-minded shibboleths". This 2012 FAITH editorial on "Gaudium et Spes" develops his insight: