Nature and Grace: A New Approach to Thomistic Ressourcement

By Andrew Dean Swafford

A contribution to the debate regarding nature and grace, offering a perspective based on the insights of the 19th-century German theologian Matthias Scheeben.

ISBN: 9780227175026


Conventional wisdom has it that thinking on nature and grace among Roman Catholic intellectuals between the sixteenth century and the eve of Vatican II was severely clouded by the work of Cajetan and his fellow Thomistic commentators. Henri de Lubac has rightly been given credit for pointing this out; and to all appearances, de Lubac’s influence won the day, as can be seen by the imprint of his thought upon not just the Second Vatican Council, but also the pontificates of John Paul II and Benedict XVI.

In recent years, however, a new crop of Thomistic scholars has arisen who question whether de Lubac’s word on nature and grace should be the last; hence, the debate over the nature-grace relation, so heated in the mid-twentieth century, has been stirred once again. Andrew Dean Swafford here offers a “third way” by way of the nineteenth-century German theologian, Matthias J. Scheeben, who has been neglected in academic appraisals of the subject until now. Swafford shows that Scheeben captures the very best of both sides, while at the same time avoiding the characteristic pitfalls so often alleged against each.

Additional information

Dimensions229 × 153 mm


Trade InformationJPOD

About the Author

Andrew Dean Swafford holds a Doctorate in Sacred Theology from the University of St Mary of the Lake, Mundelein Seminary, and a Master’s degree in Old Testament and Semitic Languages from Trinity Evangelical Divinity School in Deerfield, Illinois. He is a contributing author to 30-Second Bible (2012) and is currently an Assistant Professor of Theology at Benedictine College in Atchison, Kansas.


Foreword by Edward T. Oakes, SJ

1. Introduction

Part One: Henri de Lubac
2. De Lubac on Nature and Grace: The Historical and Theological Context
3. Foundations for Nature and Grace

Part Two: The Contemporary Resurgence of the Pure-Nature Tradition
4. Lawrence Feingold and the Defense of the Pure-Nature Tradition
5. Steven A. Long on Natural and Eternal Law

Part Three: The Reconciliation of Extrinsicism and Intrinsicism in Matthias Joseph Scheeben
6. Matthias J. Scheeben on the Relationship of Nature and Grace
7. Conclusion



Endorsements and Reviews

This is more than a book: it’s a milestone in Catholic intellectual history.
Scott W. Hahn, Franciscan University of Steubenville, Ohio

Dr Swafford’s book is highly welcome as the Catholic Church celebrates the fiftieth anniversary of the Second Vatican Council. Henri de Lubac had been a noted peritus during that council. His understanding of the nature-grace relationship informed the final form of significant conciliar documents. Swafford ably develops the parameters within which the nature-grace discussion has evolved, giving particular attention to the contemporary contributions of Lawrence Feingold and Steven Long. Using primary sources, he convincingly demonstrates how the much celebrated, but now almost forgotten theologian, Matthias J. Scheeben, offers a solution to this problem.
Emery De Gaál, University of Saint Mary of the Lake, Mundelein, Illinois

The argument that scholasticism and nouvelle theologie are not as far apart as is typically supposed is persuasive.
David Grumett, in Modern Believing, Vol 57:1

This volume would have been well-worn and dog-eared if it had been available during my graduate studies, and will be invaluable to students of twentieth-century theology.
Matthew Shadle, in Journal of Jesuit Studies, Vol 3, Issue 3

This is a fascinating study of the cultural fashions that have influenced approaches to the nature/grace relationship.
Patrick Madigan, in Heythrop Journal, Vol 56, Issue 6