Winter 2008

Church, Eucharist, and Predestination in Barth and de Lubac: Convergence and Divergence in Communio

Aaron Riches

"Communion and sacrifice are mutually constitutive."

Hans Urs von Balthasar once suggested that the eighth chapter of Henri de Lubac’s Catholicisme: les aspects sociaux du dogme ought to be read as an anticipation of Karl Barth’s famous doctrine of predestination.1 What Balthasar apprehended in both de Lubac’s “Prédestination de l’église” and Barth’s Die Kirchliche Dogmatik II: Die Lehre von Gott 2 was a common objective to recover a theology of communio as integral to the mediation and content of humanity’s predestination in Christ. And yet, as this essay argues, though Barth and de Lubac are indeed commonly concerned to establish a theology of communio as internal to the doctrine of predestination, nevertheless, their respective theologies of communio are constituted by significantly divergent premises. While for de Lubac, communio is sacramentally rooted in the Eucharist that “gives” the Church; for Barth, the efficacy of eucharistic mediation and participation is decidedly foreclosed.

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1. Hans Urs von Balthasar, The Theology of Henri de Lubac: An Overview, trans. Joseph Fessio, S.J., Michael M. Waldstein and Susan Clements (San Francisco: Ignatius Press, 1991), 41.