Fortress Press

Naturally Human, Supernaturally God: Deification in Pre-Conciliar Catholicism

Naturally Human, Supernaturally God

Deification in Pre-Conciliar Catholicism

Adam G. Cooper (Author)


Naturally Human, Supernaturally God seeks to open a small window upon an interesting case of theological convergence between three of the most important theologians of the pre-Conciliar period of Catholic theology, Réginald Garrigou-Lagrange O.P., Karl Rahner S.J., and Henri de Lubac S.J., each of whom played a vital role in the Second Vatican Council. The differences between these three figures sometimes seem to run so deep as to defy resolution. Yet Cooper argues they were strangely united in a shared conviction: today’s church urgently needs to renew its acquaintance with an ancient Christian theme, the doctrine of deification.
  • Format Paperback
  • ISBN 9781451472028
  • eBook ISBN 9781451484267
  • Pages 224
  • Dimensions 6 x 9
  • Publication Date May 1, 2014


"In this study, Adam G. Cooper demonstrates an enviable mastery of the writings of his chosen figures, as well as a thorough grasp of the dogmatic tradition as a whole. Most important of all, he foregrounds for us the one truly ultimate message the church has for the world."
—Aidan Nichols, O. P.
Blackfriars, Cambridge
"In an astute theological move, Cooper makes deification central to his comparative analysis of three theological emphases: reason (Réginald Garrigou-Lagrange), relevance (Karl Rahner), and revelation (Henri de Lubac). The result is a book that sheds new light on three Catholic theologians whose mutual disagreements have been the topic of much debate. By making deification the focus, Cooper unearths unexpected points of convergence among the three twentieth-century theologians, while also acknowledging significant areas of disagreement. In this nuanced study, de Lubac emerges as the theologian who successfully remedies two weaknesses: focusing too much on the individual soul (Garrigou-Lagrange) and obscuring need for the church (Rahner)."  
—Hans Boersma
Regent College

"Vatican II gave rise to polarized Concilium and Communio schools of Catholic theology, and the past decade has seen further divisions in light of the fruitful renewal of Thomism. How welcome, then, is this erudite and largely irenic study of Garrigou-Lagrange, Rahner, and de Lubac on deification. Even while making his own preferences clear—not least in rightly challenging the Christology of Rahner—Cooper rises above polemics to exhibit specific ways in which each theologian, drawing upon the wells of revelation and reason, contributed to enriching the doctrine of deification. This book shows the path for appropriating the best elements of twentieth-century theology."
—Matthew Levering
Mundelein Seminary
“Adam G. Cooper takes up Philip McCosker's observation that ultimately the way one configures the ‘and’ between nature and grace depends on the way one configures the ‘and’ between humanity and divinity in Christ. With reference to this principle, he offers his readers a fascinating tour through the theology of three of the leading Catholic theologians of the twentieth century—Réginald Garrigou-Lagrange, Karl Rahner, and Henri de Lubac. All three agreed that the meaning of human life is found in deification, but they differed over the process itself. Cooper offers his readers an accessible and engaging tour through their agreements and differences.”
—Tracey Rowland
John Paul II Institute, Melbourne
"Adam G. Cooper accomplishes a remarkable ecumenical task in this fascinating book. Becoming God, deification, as the goal of human creation is a doctrine associated especially with Eastern Orthodoxy. Cooper shows how some of the liveliest movements in twentieth-century Catholic theology, which lie behind the Second Vatican Council, converge in the notion of deification. This is not simply true of representatives of the nouvelle théologie, such as Henri de Lubac and Karl Rahner, but also of the perceived opponent of such novelties, the Dominican Réginald Garrigou-Lagrange. Cooper does more than shed light on pre-conciliar theology; he also sets these theological movements in their historical and cultural setting. This is a necessary resource for understanding the theology of the twentieth century."
—Andrew Louth
Durham University