Posted on: November 9th, 2007 _Catholisicm_ (I): the Fathers on the Unity of God(‘s Image)

For the next few weeks I plan to blog about Henri de Lubac’s _Catholicism_, this text being so important for a proper understanding of the corporate / social / political character of salvation and the church. As we will see, de Lubac’s command of theologians who have gone before him is masterful, and the majority of the ink he spills in his books is either paraphrasing them or directly quoting from them, especially from the church fathers.

John Milbank describes this work, a “foundational” text for the ressourcement theology of the first half of the 20th century, as stressing “the social character of the church as the true universal community in embryo, rather than as a mere external machinery for the saving of individual souls.” (John Milbank, The Suspended Middle 2)

From pp. 30-32 of Catholicism:

“So when the pagan philosophers jeered at what they considered the extravagant claim put forward by Christians, those latest barbarians, of uniting all men in the same faith [as did Celsus, in Origen, Contra Celsum … or Porphyry, Ad Marsellam. It must be added that Origen himself sees very well the obstacles to such unity, to the point of conceding that it can never be fully achieved in this world. Yet he knows that there is complicity between the deepest nature of man and the law of the Logos, which is none other than the religion of Christ.], it was easy for the Fathers to answer them that this claim was not, after all, so extravagant, since all men were made in the one image of the one God…. In the language of the first centuries Adam was not generally called the “father of the human race;” he was only the “first made,” “the first begotten by God,” as is recalled by the final sentences, so solemnly in their simplicity, of the genealogy of Jesus according to Luke: “who was of Henos, who was of Seth, who was of Adam, who was of God.” To believe in this one God was, therefore, to believe at the same time in a common Father of all: unus Deus et Pater omnium [here de Lubac footnotes, among other sources, Acts 17:26-28].

Again and again Irenaeus dwells on this dual correspondence:

“There is but one God the Father, and one Logos the Son, and one Spirit, and one salvation only for all who believe in him…. There is but one salvation as there is but one God…. There is one only Son who fulfills the will of the Father, and one human race in which the mysteries of God are fulfilled.” [from Adv. Heareses]

Clement of Alexandria, in pages brimming over with poetry, after exposing the baseness of the pagan mystery cults, extols the mysteries of the Logos and displays the “divine Choregus” calling all men to him:

“Be instructed in these mysteries and you shall dance with the choir of angels before the uncreated God, whilst the Logos will sing the sacred hymns with us. This eternal Jesus, the one high priest, intercedes for men and calls on them: “Hearken,” he cries, “all you peoples, or rather all you who are endowed with reason, barbarians or Greeks! I summon the whole human race, I who am its author by the will of the Father! Come unto me and gather together as one well-ordered unity under the one God, and under the one Logos of God.” [from Protreptic]”

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