Christian Themes

(Literary Essentials: Christian Fiction and Nonfiction)

The atheist humanists attacked faith in God, and de Lubac felt that it was important for people to recognize the important issues at stake in this battle between godlessness and God. Although these atheist humanists reduced the human being to the natural level (and denied the supernatural), de Lubac is famous for his belief in the spiritual grandeur of human nature. He accepted the distinction between the natural and supernatural, but he also believed in the supernatural origin, support (through grace), and destiny of humanity. The spirituality of the human being is thus a principal theme of his book and the reason he believes the teachings of the atheist humanists are dangerously wrong. Christians must fight the false atheist humanist vision of humanity and intensify their faith in God and in their own spiritual nature. A human is a creature with a divine ancestry, for, as Saint Augustine wrote, humans were made in the image of God to grow into the image of Christ. This introduces another important theme in de Lubac’s book: No true humanism exists apart from the Gospel of Jesus Christ, which has to be rediscovered and relived age after age.

The themes that de Lubac developed in The Drama of Atheist Humanism had an influence on its many readers through several editions and many languages. As a participant in the Second Vatican Council, de Lubac helped make his analysis of atheism and humanism part of such important documents as Gaudium et spes, a pastoral constitution on the Church in the modern world promulgated by Pope Paul VI in 1965, and after de Lubac’s death the themes of his book appeared in the publications of many philosophers and theologians. They also became part of the debate about the new constitution of the European Union, when many religious Europeans were shocked that no mention of the influence of Christian ideas and values appeared in the document. Although Christianity has certainly declined in many European countries, modern followers of de Lubac have stated that only in the mystery of the incarnate word is the mystery of the human being revealed in its true light.