Final Examination of
Rev. I. Michael Bellafiore, S.J.
for the degree of
Doctor of Sacred Theology
Friday, February 22, 2013
10:30 a.m., Caldwell Room 125
“Personal Religion in the Apologetic Christology of Léonce de Grandmaison”
Ignazio M. Bellafiore
Director: Joseph A. Komonchak, Ph.D.
Jesuit Père Léonce de Grandmaison (1868–1927) was a leading Catholic apologist in France during the Modernist crisis. In 1908, the year after Pascendi Dominici Gregis was published, he became editor of Études; in 1910, he founded Recherches de Science Religieuse. Pursing a lifelong ambition to write a work on Christ, Grandmaison also treated in many occasional writings the crucial issues raised by Modernists: historical criticism of the Bible, the philosophy of religion, development of dogma, religious psychology, and religious ethnology.
The dissertation aims to show that “personal religion” was the linchpin of Grandmaison’s apologetic Christology. Relevant works of his are examined, particularly a series of articles in Études (1913) entitled “La religion personnelle,” an article on Christ in the Dictionnaire apologétique de la Foi catholique (1914), and Grandmaison’s chief work, Jésus Christ: sa personnage, son message, ses preuves (1927). Personal religion referred to the commerce of God and believer, and to the Church that Christ founded, the Catholic Church. In its fundamental sense, however, personal religion was Jesus’ relationship to the Father in the Holy Spirit.
Chapter one gives a short biography, along with an overview of Grandmaison’s formative influences and his qualities as an apologist. Chapter two examines the challenges posed by Modernism as Grandmaison saw them. Although Modernists strove to understand anew the subjectivity of faith, their misguided approaches and teachings attacked the foundations of Christianity. Modernism rendered Christ inaccessible to believers. Chapter three explores how Grandmaison answered Modernist challenges in trying to show that Catholicism was the true religion of the Spirit. Chapter four examines Grandmaison’s Christology vis–à–vis personal religion, Grandmaison tried to demonstrate by a direct examination of biblical texts that Jesus was, and knew himself to be, the Son of God; and by a survey of history, that Jesus’ intention was to found the Church, which witnessed to him.
The dissertation concludes that Grandmaison’s Christology presented a convincing answer to many issues posed by Modernists. Taking their questions seriously, Grandmaison managed to show that the traditional belief in Jesus secured the subjectivity of the personal religion that was found quintessentially in Catholicism.