Exegetical Gains vs. Theological Losses

Posted by on November 3, 2013 in Baptism, Exegesis, Featured, Federal Vision, Gospel, Hermeneutics, Imputation, Justification, Paradigms, Presbyterianism, Protestantism, Reformed Theology, Sacraments, Sanctification, Sola Fide, Systematic Theology | 362 comments

I was recently hanging out with a PCA pastor friend, and we were discussing the exegetical and theological issues surrounding the Federal Vision. As you may know, one of the biggest difficulties one encounters when comparing the confessional Reformed theology with that of the Federal Vision is this: How are we to understand the New Testament’s descriptions of the baptized? For example, when Paul writes to “the saints  in Corinth” who were “washed, sanctified, and justified,” what does he mean? Is he saying that each and every person in the church is a believing saint who has experienced the saving benefits of the gospel? Or is he only addressing the elect members of the church who had indeed experienced such blessings? Or is he simply addressing the entire church and attributing saving blessings to all without distinction, despite at the same time realizing that many have not  actually been washed, sanctified, and justified?

The reason Paul’s descriptions of his hearers are so puzzling for the Reformed is due to the idea that no saving blessing of God can ever be bestowed upon someone who is not among the elect, and that saving gifts such as justification and sanctification are by definition indicators of one’s elect status. So when Paul describes someone he has never met as “justified,” he must either be displaying knowledge of that person’s elect status or be using the term in a kind of covenantal way (as in, “You may be a reprobate in reality, but since you’re a baptized member of the church I will use language to describe you that may not in fact be accurate”).

The one thing a Reformed theologian must never  do, however, is simply allow the language of the New Testament to be echoed without qualification. So when Paul says something like, “As many of you as were baptized have been united to Christ,” what must be explained very clearly is that it is not baptism  that unites all  its subjects to Christ (even though that’s what Paul just got through saying), but rather, it is the saving faith  that the new birth produces that unites the elect  to Christ, and only when saving faith has been exercised can we appeal to our baptism as the source of the gospel’s saving benefits (even though it isn’t, strictly speaking).

I suggested to my friend that all of this ambiguity could be cleared up rather simply. If he were to just adopt as his basic paradigm the idea that baptism confers divine life and mortal sin extinguishes it, he would immediately be able to read Paul’s descriptions of his hearers and allow them to say exactly what they seem to say. So when Paul blanket-ly speaks of the Corinthians as “washed, sanctified, and justified” he really means it, since by their baptisms they had truly been united to Christ and conferred saving blessings upon each of its subjects. But when Paul also warns the very same people that those who commit heinous sins “will not inherit the kingdom of God” (as he just did a verse prior), that statement can also be taken at face value. Simply put, you who have been baptized are justified, but if you die in a state of mortal sin, you will be finally lost. There is no need, when working from this paradigm, to hem and haw and qualify Paul’s words about baptismal efficacy, and neither is there any need to read into the text the idea that what Paul is really concerned with is that on Judgment Day the Corinthians hadn’t “practiced” these heinous sins (whatever that  means — how often do you have to commit a heinous sin before you are practicing it anyway?).

Now for just about all the Reformed, the exegetical gains one may achieve by adopting the stance that baptism confers divine life and mortal sin extinguishes it are not worth the havoc that such a posture wreaks upon one’s systematic theology. For if such a paradigm were implemented, and if Scripture were read through those lenses, doctrines such as the once-for-all imputation of Christ’s obedience through faith alone would immediately become nonsensical and would have to be jettisoned. And of course, no amount of exegetical dividends is worth such a cost to Reformed systematics. In a word, adopting this paradigm fails the cost/benefit analysis.

But for my part, that just gives rise to the even greater question of whether it is prudent and proper to allow a theological tenet — one that is attested to in only a few highly disputed passages — to hold hostage the rest of the New Testament, to the point where clear statement after clear statement is forced to die the death of a thousand qualifications. Would it not be better to adopt a paradigm that makes the most sense out of the most data, rather than clinging to one that renders the majority of the New Testament’s teaching on salvation incomprehensible unless you immediately explain away what is actually said in favor of what isn’t?

 

362 Comments

  1. James,

    It is the very love/righteousness of Christ being infused within us and “poured out within our hearts” which subsequently works through us.

    Except if this love doesn’t guarantee the perseverance of all those to whom it is infused, it isn’t the love of Christ. The love of Christ is a persevering love, a love that never gives up on His children. Apparently, some regenerate people get less than that.

    The Protestant view of theosis exhibits both continuity and discontinuity with the patristic authors and even then it depends on the patristic author. Same with all Protestant theology. Same, incidentally, with all RC and EO theology as well.

  2. Robert,

    Yes, agape is infused. Infusion does not mean obliteration and undergoing something akin to demonic possession. That pesky grace building on nature thing again.

    Love is a relationship. Christ calls believers his friends. Friendship can grow deeper, can be wounded, or destroyed/ruptured outright.

    We’re not talking “all RC and EO theology”. We’re talking infusion and faith-formed-by-agape vs sola fide and extra nos imputation.

  3. James,

    Love is a relationship. Christ calls believers his friends. Friendship can grow deeper, can be wounded, or destroyed/ruptured outright.

    Well certainly all of this is true on a human level. But again, if it is Christ’s own love and Christ’s love by nature perseveres, it really should overcome our resistance. Apparently it does for those who receive efficacious grace, I guess. But then why does it overcome our resistance? Seems to be consistent you would have to say that it is because we finally allow it to, otherwise according to the definition of love as a particular kind of give-and-take relationship assumed above, we wouldn’t have a relationship. But then if Christ’s love finally overcomes because we submit to it, it isn’t Christ alone saving us.

    Why do the elect persevere if Christ’s love isn’t inherently efficacious?

  4. Robert,

    Even if grace is instrinsically efficacious, we still *do cooperate and will* with it – efficacious grace is not monergistic – it is synergistic. The fact that we *will not* resist does not mean we *could not* resist. This is what Kenneth and mateo have been going back and forth on in part.

    Operative grace will move us – then we shall cooperate or resist with the subsequent cooperative grace (which if we sin was merely yet truly sufficient, if we don’t then it was efficacious). But as we’ve gone over this thread ad nauseum, my cooperation itself is of grace.

    Yes, this is a bit of mystery, just as many things, but as I’ve said earlier when quoting G-L: “Our intellect must be held captive before the obscurity of the divine mystery and admit two graces (sufficient and efficacious) of which the former leaves our will without any excuse before God, and the latter does not permit the will to glory in itself.” That’s the salient point – our condemnation is our own, our salvation is all of God (yes, even if synergistic because our very cooperation is of grace – that’s part of the mystery).

    Even a Catholic can hold to Thomas’ view of predilection which gets near to the Calvinist view of general vs particular love – “Since the love of God is the cause of the goodness of things, no one would be better than another if God did not will a greater good to one than to another.” We just don’t take the extra step of eliminating universal sufficient grace like Calvinists and instead accept mystery (like the Lutherans).

  5. James,

    I’m all for mystery, but the problem is that you keep telling us how wonderful it is to have Christ’s own love infused into our own souls—and indeed it is—but then you want to have this love not persevere in all to whom it is given. That is a big problem. Christ either has a persevering love of He doesn’t. I’m not talking about obliteration, I’m talking about the fact that if we in any sense truly share in the divine nature, we must persevere. God doesn’t stop loving Himself. Sharing in that, whatever that means, requires us to persevere as well. This is why, for all the supposed emphasis on theosis and sharing in God’s nature in RC and EO, your understanding finally turns out to severely impoverished, and it has ramifications in all sorts of areas.

    The Reformed understanding of sharing in God’s nature is more consistently Trinitarian and reflective of God’s character. Just as God doesn’t stop loving Himself within the interTrinitarian fellowship, so too do those who share in that fellowship never stop loving God.

  6. Robert,

    If you were consistent with this line of thought, any type of personal sin in the regenerate would be impossible – you still do claim union in sanctification I think.
    Just because I have Christ’s righteousness and the indwelling of the Trinity within me, does not mean I do not participate in that to greater and greater degrees with my own will. Or lesser and lesser.

  7. Kenneth, you write:

    Thomists teach that sufficient grace is given to all men and such a grace is really and truly sufficient to move their wills and save them. Men inevitably reject sufficient grace even though it is always sufficient.

    Since all men reject sufficient grace, the question naturally arises as to what a man must do to receive the grace that saves him, i.e. efficacious grace. You write:

    Man does not “do” anything to “earn” efficacious grace. It is given to whomever God desires without consideration of their merit.

    I didn’t ask if men can earn efficacious grace. And I did not ask what God needed to do to give efficacious grace to a man, since that answer is obvious; God would simply give it to a man. What I am driving at is this: if efficacious grace requires man to cooperate with that grace in order to be efficacious, then efficacious grace is totally superfluous as far as I can see. Why not just say that God gives sufficient grace to every man, and for the men that cooperate with sufficient grace, it is efficacious, and for men that do not cooperate with sufficient grace, it is not efficacious?

    If you are saying that efficacious grace is not synergistic, but is rather, monergistic, then Banezianism would be preaching a crypto-Calvinist soteriology as far as I can see.

    So the big question for me is this, in Banezianism, is “efficacious grace” monergistic or synergistic?

    Kenneth, I quoted this as the solution offered by Fr. Most:

    Fr. Most’s solution: “He predestines without merits, but reprobates only after considering demerits.”

    To which you responded:

    Fr. Mosts “solution” is condemned by Trent (which you chose not to respond to) …

    I haven’t responded to your assertion that Most’s solution is condemned by Trent, because you have not shown why this solution is condemned by Trent.

    When Fr. Most says that God “predestines without merits”, Fr. Most is actually agreeing with what the Banezians teach, so there should be no objection from you on this point.

    With regard to damnation, Fr. Most is disagreeing with the Banezians, because Fr, Most is saying that within Banezianism men are said to be damned without regard to their demerits. The cause of their damnation is that God withholds efficacious grace from them, not because those who will be damned have willfully committed mortal sin (not by way of fault), but for inadvertent and nonculpable actions in a man’s life. In his disagreement with the Banezians, Fr. Most is saying that God only damns a man with regard to his demerits, that is, God takes into account the unrepentant mortal sins that the man is culpable for committing when the decision to reprobate is made, and the nonculpable and inadvertent actions in a man’s life do not bring damnation to a man – which is exactly what the CCC teaches:

    CCC 1037 God predestines no one to go to hell; for this, a willful turning away from God (a mortal sin) is necessary, and persistence in it until the end. …

  8. Matteo,

    if efficacious grace requires man to cooperate with that grace in order to be efficacious, then efficacious grace is totally superfluous as far as I can see. Why not just say that God gives sufficient grace to every man, and for the men that cooperate with sufficient grace, it is efficacious, and for men that do not cooperate with sufficient grace, it is not efficacious?

    efficacious grace does not require man to cooperate for it to be efficacious. The grace itself is the mover of mans will. Man cooperates because of efficacious grace the grace doesn’t become efficacious because of the cooperation.

    what about monergism? Well….

    For Thomas Aquinas, there is no competition between divine and human action: “God’s will extends not only to the doing of something by the thing that he moves, but also to its being done in a way that is fitting to the nature [congruit naturae] of that thing” (Summa theologiae, 1a2ae.10.4). Thus when God moves voluntary agents, “he does not deprive their actions of being voluntary: but rather he produces this very thing in them [sed potius hoc in eis facit]” (1a.83.1). Human action as free action thus arises precisely from the prevenient action of God – there is no competition between the two, but only the sharpest possible distinction on the one hand and the closest possible correspondence on the other.

    it is very difficult to classify the thought of traditional thomism in either camp… I don’t know the answer… But if I had to guess I would say a limited synergism…. But again I don’t know.

    With regard to damnation, Fr. Most is disagreeing with the Banezians, because Fr, Most is saying that within Banezianism men are said to be damned without regard to their demerits. The cause of their damnation is that God withholds efficacious grace from them, not because those who will be damned have willfully committed mortal sin (not by way of fault), but for inadvertent and nonculpable actions in a man’s life.

    sigh. The cause of their damnation is NOT that God withheld efficacious grace. The cause of their damnation is their rejection of sufficient grace and willful mortal sin.

    Fr. Most is saying that God only damns a man with regard to his demerits

    yes that’s true…. But you are missing the most important part of his theory. The part that is condemned by Trent and also borders on arminianism/pelagianism. When God “considers demerits” according to most he isn’t considering mortal sins per se but the resistance of His grace. Fr. Most says before God positively elects someone he FIRST verifies that they will not resist His grace. This is not a merit… Because the will isn’t actually “doing anything” to earn the grace but is instead “doing nothing” and is thus not damned. The problem is that Trent anathematizes the teaching that our “wills do nothing” and are merely passive. I explained all of this in great detail in my previous post….. So actually, Thomists disagree with Fr Most on both reprobation and election…. And rightfully so

  9. The relevant portions of my last post considering Fr Mosts theology are as follows

    Fr Most teaches that “God does not move to positive consent until the condition of non-resistence is verified in man” GPS pg 167

    This is not the thought f saint Thomas. By attributing the “decisive step” and the “outcome” to man father Most in this one sentence denies the Thomistic principles of universal causality, eternal decrees, predilection, election, pure act, and makes salvation ultimately the work of man……..

    Most contradicts Thomas by teaching that God “positively predestines as soon as He sees that there is not a present condition which would require their rejection”……

    Trent teaches that the will may either 1. cooperate or 2. dissent William Most teaches that the will 3. does not move it self at all. See the problem? trent anathematizes the view that the will does nothing at all and remains in a passive state…. which is exactly what Most teaches the will does to avoid Gods consideration of merit……..

    Trent explicitly condemns the view that the will “does nothing at all and is merely in a passive state”. ….

  10. Kenneth, you write:

    … efficacious grace does not require man to cooperate for it to be efficacious. The grace itself is the mover of mans will. Man cooperates because of efficacious grace the grace doesn’t become efficacious because of the cooperation.

    I think it would be helpful at this point to look at some de fide dogmas of the Church with regard to actual grace.

    The actual grace of cooperating grace requires man’s synergistic cooperation to be efficacious. But that cooperation is only possible because of cooperating grace. So it is entirely correct to say that the efficacy of cooperating grace is at least partially determined by man’s cooperation with this grace. With cooperating grace, God works “in us, with us.” This is a de fide dogma of the Catholic Church and this was taught at Trent (D 797). See Dr. Ludwig Ott’s Fundamentals of Catholic Dogma:

    Consequent Grace
    .
    There is a supernatural influence of God in the faculties of the soul which coincides in time with man’s free act of will. (De fide.)
    .
    In salutary acts God and man work together. God works “in us, with us” (in nobis nobiscum; cf. D 182), so that they are a conjoint work of God’s grace and of man’s activity under the control of his will. The grace which supports and accompanies the salutary act (having regard to the operation of grace which preceded the act of the will), is called adiuvans, concomitans, cooperans.
    .
    The Church’s teaching regarding the reality and necessity of consequent grace [cooperating grace] is expressed in the Decree of the Council of Trent. D 797. The sinner returns to justification: “by freely assenting to and co-operating with grace (gratiae libere assentiendo et cooperando).”

    The actual grace of cooperating grace is synergistic, because with this grace, God works “in us, with us”, and the efficacy of this grace is “a conjoint work of God’s grace and of man’s activity under the control of his will.”

    On the other hand, the actual grace of operating grace (aka antecedent grace, prevenient grace, etc) is different than cooperating grace, in that operating grace is monergistic, and not synergistic. It is because operating grace is monergistic, that it is always infallibly efficacious. With operating grace, God works “in us, without us.” Again, from Dr. Ludwig Ott’s Fundamentals of Catholic Dogma:

    Antecedent Grace
    .
    There is a supernatural intervention of God in the faculties of the soul, which precedes the free act of the will. (De fide.)

    .
    In this case God works alone “in us, without us” … and produces spontaneous indeliberate acts of knowledge and will … This grace is called gratia praeveniens (also antecedens, excitans, vocans, operans).
    .
    The Church’s teaching of the existence of antecedent grace and its necessity for the achieving of justification was defined at the Council of Trent. D 797: “In adults the beginning of justification must proceed from the antecedent grace of God acquired by Jesus Christ (a Dei per Christum Jesum praeveniente gratia).”

    Is this monertistic/synergistic distinction between operating grace and cooperation grace alien to what Thomas Aquinas taught? Not at all.See Summa Theologica I-II q. 111, a. 2. :

    “Hence in that effect in which our mind is moved and does not move, but in which God is the sole mover, the operation is attributed to God, and it is with reference to this that we speak of “operating grace.” But in that effect in which our mind both moves and is moved, the operation is not only attributed to God, but also to the soul; and it is with reference to this that we speak of “cooperating grace.” Now there is a double act in us. First, there is the interior act of the will, and with regard to this act the will is a thing moved, and God is the mover; and especially when the will, which hitherto willed evil, begins to will good. And hence, inasmuch as God moves the human mind to this act, we speak of operating grace. But there is another, exterior act; and since it is commanded by the will, as was shown above (Question 17, Article 9) the operation of this act is attributed to the will. And because God assists us in this act, both by strengthening our will interiorly so as to attain to the act, and by granting outwardly the capability of operating, it is with respect to this that we speak of cooperating grace. Hence after the aforesaid words Augustine subjoins: “He operates that we may will; and when we will, He cooperates that we may perfect.” And thus if grace is taken for God’s gratuitous motion whereby He moves us to meritorious good, it is fittingly divided into operating and cooperating grace.”

    Kenneth you write that what Banezians call efficacious grace “is the mover of man’s will”, and that this particular grace “doesn’t become efficacious because of the cooperation [of man].” If a grace isn’t efficacious at least in part because of man’s free will choice to cooperate with that grace, then that grace would be, by definition, monergistic. And that is why I see Banezianism (at least in the way that you are describing it) to be the same as Calvinism in regards to how a man is saved. (How a man is damned is, perhaps, a different story). That is, salvation is completely monergistic, with God being the mover of man’s will by means of grace.

    The cause of their damnation is NOT that God withheld efficacious grace. The cause of their damnation is their rejection of sufficient grace and willful mortal sin.

    I am confused by what you are saying here. I thought that you said that ALL men, the damned as well as the saved, infallibly reject sufficient grace. Are you saying that only the damned reject sufficient grace, and that the saved do not reject sufficient grace?

    … you are missing the most important part of his theory. The part that is condemned by Trent and also borders on arminianism/pelagianism. When God “considers demerits” according to most he isn’t considering mortal sins per se but the resistance of His grace.

    I believe that you misunderstand Fr. Most on this point. To resist saving grace is to reject the Holy Spirit, which is a damnable sin. In fact, that is the essence of the unforgivable sin. The way that one resists saving grace unto damnation is to exercise one’s freewill, while in a state of grace, to make the choice for committing unrepentant mortal sin. Adults that are saved, do the opposite; while they are in a state of grace, they cooperate synergistically with the grace that saves them.

  11. +JMJ+

    Mateo wrote:

    Kenneth you write that what Banezians call efficacious grace “is the mover of man’s will”, and that this particular grace “doesn’t become efficacious because of the cooperation [of man].” If a grace isn’t efficacious at least in part because of man’s free will choice to cooperate with that grace, then that grace would be, by definition, monergistic. And that is why I see Banezianism (at least in the way that you are describing it) to be the same as Calvinism in regards to how a man is saved. (How a man is damned is, perhaps, a different story). That is, salvation is completely monergistic, with God being the mover of man’s will by means of grace.

    You’ve touched upon the core of Banezian incoherency. According to this school, Efficacious Grace is not efficacious because of Man’s cooperation. Instead, it simply is efficacious and simply is freely accepted.* As such, the Banezian formulation is flat-out descriptive and bereft of operative systematic value.

    Thus (and regardless of any Banezian protestations to the contrary), this formulation explains neither more nor less than does the Molinist one. If one prefers or needs to place the emphasis upon God’s prerogatives, then one will likely find the Banezian formulation amenable. If one prefers or needs to place emphasis upon Man’s prerogatives, then one will likely find the Molinist formulation amenable.

    *In Banezianism, Efficacious Grace determines infallibly but freely. However, in Calvinism, Grace determines infallibly. Period. End of story. [Here is the hairsbreadth/light-year of difference which separates orthodoxy from heresy.]

  12. Wosbald,

    What do you mean by this statement?

    In Banezianism, Efficacious Grace determines infallibly but freely. However, in Calvinism, Grace determines infallibly. Period.

  13. +JMJ+

    Robert wrote:

    Wosbald,
    What do you mean by this statement?

    In Banezianism, Efficacious Grace determines infallibly but freely. However, in Calvinism, Grace determines infallibly. Period.

    I’m sure that we’ll get around to readdressing this issue (heck, we spend probably 90% of our time on this site addressing Catholic/Reformed issues), but as for right now, we’re having an intra-Catholic discussion. As such, what’s most important is that Catholics know what I mean. No offense, but us Catholics need a little “Me-Time” now and again, and so, we need to have the occasional discussion “within the house”.

    But hold that thought. We’ll get back to it, I’m sure. Thanks, bro.

  14. Robert–

    “Infallibly but freely” is just Wosbald’s way of defining compatibilism, to which Calvinists also subscribe (contra Wosbald). Thomists are indeed crypto-Calvinists, as the Jesuits charged before being silenced on the matter.

  15. +JMJ+

    Attn: Catholics

    Please, don’t take the bait.

  16. Eric,

    That’s what I suspected. Thanks.

  17. Eric,

    I took the bait. It’s a subtle distinction, but a distinction nonetheless. Wosbald said:
    “In Banezianism, Efficacious Grace determines infallibly but freely. However, in Calvinism, Grace determines infallibly. Period.”

    In your view of compatibilism does man have an actual live option to do otherwise (that he won’t choose), or does he not have that option whatsoever? There’s a distinction between “can, but won’t” vs. “cannot or unable in the first place”.

    If what you said was true that Thomists are just crypto-Calvinists, Jansenism would not have been condemned. The same error that caused condemnation of Jansenism lies within Calvinism as well.

  18. Wosbald, you write:

    You’ve touched upon the core of Banezian incoherency. According to this school, Efficacious Grace is not efficacious because of Man’s cooperation. Instead, it simply is efficacious and simply is freely accepted.

    To me, this truly is incoherent. If Banezian “efficacious grace” is monergistic, then it make zero sense to say that this grace is “freely” accepted.

    Banezian “efficacious grace” must be either monergistic or synergistic. If it is true that efficacious “grace doesn’t become efficacious because of the cooperation [of man]” (as Kenneth is asserting), then Banezian efficacious grace must be monergistic, if it exists at all. The Banezians can’t have it both ways. Either Banezian efficaious grace is synergistic, in which case the grace is efficacious because of man’s grace enabled cooperation, or Banezian efficacious grace is monergistic, in which case it is just plain wrong to speak of man “freely” accepting this grace.

    When speaking about actual grace, the magisterium of the Catholic Church has made the distinction between operating grace and cooperating grace, and that distinction involves man’s freedom. In the case of cooperating grace, man has freedom to accept this grace or reject this grace. In the case of operating grace, man has no freedom to do either. There is no such thing as a synergistic grace that simply is efficacious apart from man’s freedom to make a choice. But that is not true about operating grace. On can be coherent and say that operating grace “simply is” efficacious, and it is infallibly efficacious because man has no freedom to either accept or reject this grace:

    In this case God works alone “in us, without us”, … and produces spontaneous indeliberate acts of knowledge and will … This grace is called gratia praeveniens [aka prevenient grace-antecedent grace-operating grace].

    When the grace of God produces indeliberate acts of knowledge and will, man’s freewill is being bypassed altogether.

    When I look to my own life, the magisterium’s de fide teaching about operating grace (prevenient grace) is not some remote theological speculation about how God has moved in my life. I can look to specific instances where I was shocked to my core by operating grace, and I just knew something new that came straight from God, and my will was inclined by this enlightenment towards taking certain actions that I had no desire previously to take. “What are you saying to me God, that I should become a Catholic? Not that! And yet …”

    I think that every Protestant adult that ever converted to Catholicism can also point to specific instances of divine intervention in their lives that meet the description of operating grace. God did something in you that you just knew came from God; a movement by God that involved an enlightenment of the intellect that was unasked for; a movement of grace that gave one at least the inclination of the will towards what was previously unthinkable.

    I fled Him, down the nights and down the days;
       I fled Him, down the arches of the years;
    I fled Him, down the labyrinthine ways
       Of my own mind; and in the midst of tears
    I hid from Him, and under running laughter.
                 Up vistaed hopes I sped;
                 And shot, precipitated,
    Adown Titanic glooms of chasmed fears,
       From those strong Feet that followed, followed after.
                 But with unhurrying chase,
                 And unperturbèd pace,
         Deliberate speed, majestic instancy,
                 They beat—and a Voice beat
                 More instant than the Feet—
         ‘All things betray thee, who betrayest Me’.


    .
    Hound of Heaven, by Francis Thompson
    http://www.ewtn.com/library/HUMANITY/HNDHVN.HTM

    Wosbald, you write:

    If one prefers or needs to place the emphasis upon God’s prerogatives, then one will likely find the Banezian formulation amenable. If one prefers or needs to place emphasis upon Man’s prerogatives, then one will likely find the Molinist formulation amenable.

    I don’t understand what you mean by this. Can you explain how it is that you see that both Banezianism and Molinism are teaching the same thing in regard to what the magisterium teaches about the synergistic nature of cooperating grace? Or am I missing your point altogether?

  19. Mateo–

    Your prose–slightly altered–rings very, very true for the Reformed, as well:

    “I think that every Arminian adult that ever converted to Calvinism can also point to specific instances of divine intervention in their lives that meet the description of operating grace. God did something in you that you just knew came from God; a movement by God that involved an enlightenment of the intellect that was unasked for; a movement of grace that gave one at least the inclination of the will towards what was previously unthinkable.”

    Of course, it didn’t just give us an “inclination” which we could opt for or pass by as we so chose, but an adoration of the will towards that which was previously reprehensible.

    In spite of his ostensible Roman Catholicism (he was certainly no faithful son of the Church), Thompson is frequently quoted by the Reformed, as well.

    Here is a moment that smacks of Therese of Lisieux in being uncharacteristic of mainstream Catholicism:

    “And human love needs human meriting:
    How hast thou merited—
    Of all man’s clotted clay the dingiest clot?
    Alack, thou knowest not
    How little worthy of any love thou art!
    Whom wilt thou find to love ignoble thee,
    Save Me, save only Me?”

    The Hound of Heaven is indeed a fascinating poem. Though the Savior catches up to him and stretches out his hand, there is no indication at the conclusion that the poet clasps it and comes home. It is abundantly clear, however, that he believes he should. Such a tragic he led, but one that did much to shape the intensity of his words.

  20. James–

    Your point is moot, for there is no demonstrable distinction between “can, but won’t” vs. “cannot or unable in the first place.”

    Suppose an able-bodied king declares from his throne, “I will not rise…not now…not ever!”

    If thenceforward he invariably sticks to his vow, is there any possible way for him to demonstrate that he is not functionally paraplegic? Is there even any possible way for him to convince himself that he has not become psychosomatic enough–or that his leg muscles haven’t atrophied enough–to render him unable to rise (short of attempting to renege on his vow)?

    We Reformed are more likely to say that the unbeliever can’t AND won’t. At any rate, he is left without excuse, for even if he could…he wouldn’t.

    I just remembered that I was going to quote George MacDonald at one point is this or the last thread. I don’t remember just why, but it fits here. In his novel, The Curate’s Awakening , MacDonald has his curate (an apprentice or assistant clergy, somewhat like an Anglican deacon) experience a stalwart apostate’s deathbed, where he tries in vain to convince the dying man of his error. Afterwards, he is all but bursting with this urgent query: “What if another minute of argument would have seen him convinced and saved? What if another minute would have done it?” To which his supervisor calmly replies, “If another minute would have done it, he would have had it.”

  21. Woops I thought this thread was dead. I will respond to matteo and Wosbold later tonight. Just got my computer back up and am excited to stop blogging via cellphone lol!

  22. Eric,

    I agree with the MacDonald quip – I’m not anti-predestinarian. I don’t agree it is moot – in a practical exterior sense perhaps, but in your system, the reprobate can charge God with commanding the impossible – you’re admitting it by saying the man is unable. In the other system, he cannot – the grace truly was sufficient, though he rejected it.

    I agree with “At any rate, he is left without excuse, for even if he could…he wouldn’t.” But he is not left without excuse if “At any rate, he is left without excuse, for he could not”.

  23. +JMJ+

    Mateo wrote:

    To me, this truly is incoherent. If Banezian “efficacious grace” is monergistic, then it make zero sense to say that this grace is “freely” accepted.

    TTBOMK, no one here has said that Banezian Efficacious Grace is Monergistic.

    Mateo wrote:

    If it is true that efficacious “grace doesn’t become efficacious because of the cooperation [of man]” (as Kenneth is asserting), then Banezian efficacious grace must be monergistic, if it exists at all. The Banezians can’t have it both ways.

    Actually, that’s not true. They very much can have it both ways. This is the point that you seem to be missing. In Banezianism, the efficacy of Grace is not due causatively to Man’s Freedom, yet Efficacious Grace is not Monergistic. Man always remains Free. If that doesn’t make sense, then that’s to be expected. As I said, it’s purely descriptive. It has no operative systematic value.

    As Kenneth said earlier in this thread: “Efficacious grace can be resisted. But the resistence remains in potency and is never actualized.” Pure description. No operative value. The Mystery remains intact.

    Mateo wrote:

    Wosbald wrote:
    .
    If one prefers or needs to place the emphasis upon God’s prerogatives, then one will likely find the Banezian formulation amenable. If one prefers or needs to place emphasis upon Man’s prerogatives, then one will likely find the Molinist formulation amenable.

    I don’t understand what you mean by this. Can you explain how it is that you see that both Banezianism and Molinism are teaching the same thing in regard to what the magisterium teaches about the synergistic nature of cooperating grace? Or am I missing your point altogether?

    No, you’re not missing my point. They are both teaching the exact same Mystery of Grace and Freedom, but are doing so from two different, yet complimentary, points-of-view. I don’t know how much better I can explain it. Perhaps you are convinced that there is a real, fully coherent systematic solution to the Mystery which is out there, just waiting to be discovered. If so, then this may be part of the problem. As it says in my handbook of dogmatic theology, “But no system will ever be able to eliminate the mystery that lies in conciliating the internal and efficacious motion of God with the freedom of the will that is moved.”

  24. Wosbald, you write:

    In Banezianism, the efficacy of Grace is not due causatively to Man’s Freedom, yet Efficacious Grace is not Monergistic.

    The specific grace I was speaking about was the actual grace of cooperating grace, where the Church’s de fide dogma about cooperating grace is this:

    In salutary acts God and man work together. God works “in us, with us” (in nobis nobiscum; cf. D 182), so that they are a conjoint work of God’s grace and of man’s activity under the control of his will.

    Operating the grace is efficacious precisely because the activity is “under the control of his [the man’s] will, while he is in a state of grace.

    Paul writes that we are either “slaves of sin” or “slaves or righteousness” – Romans 6: 17-18. Jesus teaches “if the Son makes you free, you will be free indeed” – John 8:36. Is there incoherent contradiction here between Paul and Jesus? No, there is, as you say, mystery. The Son can make us free, which means our freewill is not destroyed by saving grace. But that freedom makes one a slave to righteousness, because there is freedom in freely choosing, while in a state of grace, to submit one’s will to God’s will.

    One can also choose, at any time, to become a slave to sin (and one does not need grace to make the choice for curse and death). If neither Banezianism nor Molinism deny these solemnly defined truths about cooperating grace, then that is as it should be.

  25. Eric, you write:

    Here is a moment that smacks of Therese of Lisieux in being uncharacteristic of mainstream Catholicism:
    .
    “And human love needs human meriting:
    How hast thou merited—
    Of all man’s clotted clay the dingiest clot?
    Alack, thou knowest not
    How little worthy of any love thou art!
    Whom wilt thou find to love ignoble thee,
    Save Me, save only Me?”

    Eric, I have no clue as to why you would say that this stanza from Francis Thompson is “uncharacteristic” of mainstream Catholicism. I see it exactly the opposite way.

    Here, Francis Thompson is contrasting mercenary human love (a love “that needs meriting”) to agape, which is how God loves all miserable sinners (which is to say, unconditionally). This is as far as Calvinism as it gets, because in Calvinism, God does not love miserable sinners unconditionally. In Calvinism, God loves some sinners only if they are lucky enough to be one of the “special people”, in contrast to the pre-damned, for whom God withholds his saving love for the hell of it.

  26. +JMJ+

    Mateo wrote:

    Paul writes that we are either “slaves of sin” or “slaves or righteousness” – Romans 6: 17-18. Jesus teaches “if the Son makes you free, you will be free indeed” – John 8:36. Is there incoherent contradiction here between Paul and Jesus? No, there is, as you say, mystery.

    Mystery makes sense on an organic, real-life level. It just feels comfortable and right and in accord with order of things when one “lives out” the Mystery of Grace and Freedom. (Even Paganism understood and venerated this Mystery. There’s nothing proprietarily Christian about it.)

    But once one tries to systematize it on an abstract level and reconcile the two poles of the Mystery on a rational and logical basis, one has to either simply accept some incoherency in one’s systematic or else, like Calvin, deny the Mystery in order to make one’s system balance out.

    That’s basically what I’m trying to say. If Banezianism doesn’t make sense to you because it tries to have it both ways, then join the club. It necessarily has to have it both ways, simply because it prioritizes Dogmatic commitments over systematic coherency.

  27. Mateo,

    Here, Francis Thompson is contrasting mercenary human love (a love “that needs meriting”) to agape, which is how God loves all miserable sinners (which is to say, unconditionally). This is as far as Calvinism as it gets, because in Calvinism, God does not love miserable sinners unconditionally. In Calvinism, God loves some sinners only if they are lucky enough to be one of the “special people”, in contrast to the pre-damned, for whom God withholds his saving love for the hell of it.

    Mateo,

    Unless you are a universalist, God doesn’t love anyone unconditionally. Maybe he loves them enough to say “please, please, please choose me,” but he doesn’t love anyone enough to guarantee their salvation. God’s trying his best, but sometimes his best just isn’t good enough. Apparently, he’s crying for all eternity and hoping someone will jump out of hell or something.

  28. Thus, while Romanists claim that salvation comes from God, they contend that saving grace is channeled through the rites of the church.The ultimate effect of Rome’s sacerdotalism is to make the institutional church the mediator between God and man; the church and her priests usurp the role of Christ.

  29. Sorry for the delay…. There seems to be some controversy over how traditional thomistic thought is compatible with authoritative Church teaching on grace and cooperation. Is the will still free even though efficacious grace efficacy doesnt depend on the individual recieving the grace? Good question. here is the answer.

    While God works in man both to will and to accomplish His end, man remains free under the influence of effecacious grace. This is because mans will, by nature, is free, and Gods grace does not compel mans will, such as many calvinists believe; but niether does its efficacy depend on mans will, such as most arminians believe. Rather, efficacious grace elicits the freedon of the will, so that man freely chooses the good and does not want to resist. As David says

    The Lord God hath opened my ear, and I do not resist”

    Ps. 50:5 The Catechism also says

    the divine initiative in the work of grace precedes, prepares and elicits the free response of manM

    In other words this grace perfects the will so that it chooses the good God created it to desire and possess. Aquinas describes efficacious grace as follows

    God moves the will immutably on account of the efficacy of the moving power which can not fail;but on account of the nature of the will that is moved, which is indifferently disposed to various things, the will is not necessitated but remains free

    He also says

    God, therefore, is the first cause, Who moves causes both natural and voluntary. And just as by moving natural causes He does not prevent their acts being natural so by moving voluntary causes he does not deprive their actions of being voluntary: but rather is He the cause of this very thing inthem; for He operates in each thing according to its own nature

    Aquinas also says

    God changes the will without forcing it. But He can change the will from the fact that He Himself operates in the will just as He does in nature

    In cannon 4 on justification the Council of Trent declares that man does not remain passive under the influence of justifying grace

    If anyone shall say that mans free will moved and aroused by God does not cooperate by assenting to God who rouses and calls, whereby it disposes and prepare itself to obtain the grace of justification; ansd that it cannot dissent, if it wishes, but that like something inanimate it does nothing at all and is merely in a passive state;let him be anathema.

    St. Thomas divides efficacious grace into operating and cooperating grace, which are two effects of the same efficacious grace. With operating grace God moves mans mind to will the good. This interior movement of the will is entirely the work of God who is prime mover and first agent of all being and action. The catechism says that God

    touches and directly moves the heart of man

    CCC 2002 Thus all our holy desires are caused by Gods efficacious will and not our own will, and soley because of His mercy and not our forseen merits. this is why saint Paul says

    So then it is not of him that willeth, nor of him that runneth, but of God , that sheweth mercy

    Rom 9;16 With cooperating grace, Gods operating movement causes man to freely choose the good that God wills for him. Because man is freely choosing the good, the operation can, in a sense, be attributable to man. However, man is able to choose the good only because God continues to operate in his will, making him capable of performing the act. St. Thomas explains that

    because God assists us in this act, both by strengthening our will interiorly so as to attain the act, and by granting outwardly the capability of operating, it is with respect to this that we speak of cooperating grace

    Because the will remains free even though its movement is caused by God, St. Thomas says

    the determination of the action and the end is placed in the power of the will; hence it retains its dominion over its act, though not in the same way as does the first agent

    As st Paul teaches God works within us

    For in Him we live, and move, and are

    Acts 17;28 Thus God both moves mans will interiorly and makes man capable outwardly of performing all salurary acts. This is why Saint Paul says that God

    worketh in you, both to will (operating grace) and to accomplish (cooperating grace), according to His good will

    Phil. 2:13 Salvation is the work of God not man. Thomas says

    Therefore, all movements of the will and choice must be traced back to the divine will; and not to any other cause, because god alone is the cause of our willing and choosing

    That man performs salutary acts freely is the reason why man can have merit before God. if man werent free, St Thomas says that

    rewards and punishments would be in vain

    In Catholic theology, the word merit means “deserving justly” and is the effect of efficacious grace. One deserves justly when he performs the work that he was required to do, and this satisfies justice. However, because justice pertains to equality, and there is infinite inequality between God and man, man has no strict right to merit anything from God. Nevertheless, God rewards us on account of His gratuitous justice whenever we do His will. That is, god rewards us for doing what He gave us the power to do. This does not make God our debtor, for God lacks nothing. Rather, it gives God all glory, for it is due to God that creatures carry out His will.

    In his book “new answers to old questions Fr. Most writes

    God first makes a decision to send man a grace by which he wills to move a man to a specified effect. Grace makes the beginning, for as the council of orange says, it is not we who begin. Grace makes the beginning by presenting the goodto our intellect, causing it to percieve the good, and moving our will to an initial complacency in this good… Next, a man can resist or not resist grace. If he merely does nothingagainst these effect, he does not resist. He does not even make a decision: I will not resist. On condition of this non resistence grace moves him to the positive consent, but in such a way that man becomes active too, for he is not like something passive… even though God begins it with the purpose of moving a man to a specified thing, yet the first decisive step comes from man , for by his resistence or lack of resistenceman really controls the outcome , an outcome which is not predetermined by God in advance of this negative determination of man

    Fr Most even goes on to say

    God does not move to positive consent until the condition of nonresistence is verified in man

    Perhaps now the issues will be more clear before us. We are not examining the thought of “banez” and Fr. Most. We are examing the thought of THOMAS AQUINAS and the novel teaching of Fr Most whom admits his ideas are novel and yet procclaims that

    Is it presumptuous for an ordinary man to think he can see the solution that was obscure or unknown to the great Saints and Doctors of the Church? The answer is no.

    In the same vein it shouldnt be pressumptious for a lay Catholic to look at this ordinary mans schema and find it wanting. This theology borders on Pelagianism and appears to be condemned by the council of Trent canon 4. I much prefer the company of the great Saints and Doctors.

  30. Kenneth–

    You said:

    “This is because man’s will, by nature, is free, and God’s grace does not compel man’s will, such as many Calvinists believe; but neither does its efficacy depend on man’s will, such as most Arminians believe.”

    It’s called Irresistible GRACE not Irresistible FORCE, for there is nothing coercive about it. There are no credible Calvinists who believe that God imposes upon man’s will. Such beliefs are hyper-Calvinistic. The Primitive Baptists used to have this as a distinctive but appear to be moving away from it.

  31. +JMJ+

    Eric wrote:

    It’s called Irresistible GRACE not Irresistible FORCE…

    If it’s irresistible, then it’s forceful. And Grace is no longer Grace.

  32. +JMJ+

    Kenneth wrote:

    Sorry for the delay…

    You’ve been spending too much time suffering the slings and arrows of the few and the proud.

    Kenneth wrote:

    Perhaps now the issues will be more clear before us. We are not examining the thought of “banez” and Fr. Most. We are examing the thought of THOMAS AQUINAS…

    I think that Aquinas was indeterminate on the issue. His thought could be (and, as history shows, would be) extended by his successors in either the Banezian or the Molinist direction. I think that this was intentional on his part.

  33. Unless you are a universalist, God doesn’t love anyone unconditionally.

    Robert, making an assertion is not the same thing as making an argument.

    I reject what you are asserting. When the Gospel speaks of God’s love, the word used in scripture is agape, which means unconditional love.

    God loves mankind unconditionally, but salvation for those that have reached the age of reason, is not unconditional. Man has to exercise his free will, while in a state of grace, to love God in return. Damnation in not the result of God not loving a man enough; damnation is, rather, the result of a man not loving God enough. Which is exactly why your assertion that the unconditional love that God has for human beings implies universalism is utterly wrong.

    It is on this point that Calvinism has corrupted the Gospel.

  34. Eric, you write:

    It’s called Irresistible GRACE not Irresistible FORCE, for there is nothing coercive about it. There are no credible Calvinists who believe that God imposes upon man’s will.

    Eric, you are arguing for an irresistible grace that can be resisted, which is why what your argument isn’t even rational. Either irresistible grace turns men into puppets controlled by irresistible grace, or men remain men when given saving grace.

    Men, not puppets, have to make the choice between blessing or curse, life or death.

  35. Wosbald, Mateo–

    I said what I said to remind Kenneth that there is (or at least should be) no disagreement between the Thomists and the Calvinists on this particular issue. He was misrepresenting Calvinism.

    If you don’t like what Thomism teaches, take it up with Kenneth.

    There have been plenty of experiences in my life, both in terms of good desires and bad desires, that I would describe as irresistible. In none of these cases was any coercion present. The whole mafia joke of “an offer you can’t refuse” is a play on the fact that irresistibility is generally NOT imposed.

  36. Gentlemen–

    In other words, when you’re staring into the eyes of a particularly fetching young lady, and you romantically mumble, “I find you irresistible,” it’s not because someone else has a loaded gun, cocked and trained at the back of your head.

  37. +JMJ+

    Eric wrote:

    There have been plenty of experiences in my life, both in terms of good desires and bad desires, that I would describe as irresistible. In none of these cases was any coercion present. The whole mafia joke of “an offer you can’t refuse” is a play on the fact that irresistibility is generally NOT imposed… In other words, when you’re staring into the eyes of a particularly fetching young lady, and you romantically mumble, “I find you irresistible,” it’s not because someone else has a loaded gun, cocked and trained at the back of your head.

    IOW, it’s not Irresistible.

    You’re trying to have it both ways. And if that’s the case, you might as well be Catholic. Otherwise, you’re taking that which I see as the only selling-point of Calvinism (its theological cogency) and making it void. At that point, the only thing which would be keeping you out of Catholicism wouldn’t be doctrine but, rather, psychological repugnance. If the Cult of Saints et al offend your sensibilities, then join the convert club, as it’s a phase through which many seem to go.

  38. Eric,

    if you go back and read my post I said “such as some Calvinists believe”. I wasn’t “misrepresenting Calvinism” there are still many influential hyper calvinists in the world.

  39. Wosbald–

    As our good friend Inigo might say, “Irresistible. You keep using that word. I do not think it means what you think it means.”

    The “Cult of Saints” per se doesn’t offend my sensibilities. Catholics have just never known where to draw the line. More than a few of you treat them like they’re some sort of bodhisattvas. Hyperdulia, on the other hand, is distinctly unbiblical, so yes, that offends me, just as it offends the BVM.

    The chief selling point of Calvinism is not the coherence and conciseness of its systematics. It relies rather heavily on mystery. I have already said that I don’t have major problems with Thomistic soteriology. If they would go ahead and anathematize Molinism and Mostism and every other form of quasi-Pelagianism, I’d have even more sympathy for their position. I do believe both they and the Lutherans are dead wrong on apostasy, but they are head and shoulders above the rest of Catholicism.

  40. Kenneth–

    Hyper-Calvinism is its own separate category. Unhyphenated Calvinism is, in fact, philosophically closer to Arminianism than to hyper-Calvinism. It is a common mistake, however. I just don’t think you should be giving legs to the lie. It can crawl along fast enough under its own gnarly locomotion.

    But no offense taken. I understand what you meant.

  41. Eric,

    Can you post a link that explains all the different kinds of Calvinism. It seems like I keep on missing the mark with you. Also, what are your thoughts on James White? Would you consider him to be a “hyper calvinist”?

  42. +JMJ+

    Kenneth wrote

    Eric,
    if you go back and read my post I said “such as some Calvinists believe”. I wasn’t “misrepresenting Calvinism” there are still many influential hyper calvinists in the world.

    I don’t see it possible for a Calvinist to not believe in Coercive Grace. Violation of the Will (the so-called “holy rape of the soul”) seems a necessary compliment to the belief that post-Fall Man is, intrinsically by Nature, positively opposed to the things of God. If Calvinism posited, instead, a negative opposition, things might be different.

  43. Wosbald,

    I don’t see it possible for a Calvinist to not believe in Coercive Grace. Violation of the Will (the so-called “holy rape of the soul”)

    People say that phrase to stress the point that since the “natural man” has no desire for the things of God, God must overcome their resistance monergistically.

    Of course, unlike a rape victim, no Christian who has been so regenerated feels ashamed or violated. Rather, they are quite thankful that God overcame their resistance. Thus, the phrase is probably not the best one to use.

    The difficulty is always with language. Coercion is probably not the best word, but is there a term for what happens when person A acts against the will of person B and yet person B is ultimately grateful that person A acted against the will of person B? I don’t think there is.

    Hence, part of the mystery that Eric is talking about.

  44. Eric,

    As our good friend Inigo might say, “Irresistible. You keep using that word. I do not think it means what you think it means.”

    Bingo. I prefer “finally irresistible” or maybe “guaranteed to be acceptable.” Even the elect may resist God’s grace for a time, but if God really wants you, he’s finally going to get you.

    The issue is that God does not want everybody, at least not in every sense of the word want. This is something that all professing Christians believe, unless they are universalists.

  45. Kenneth,

    Basically, a hyperCalvinist is someone who believes that we don’t have to do anything. God doesn’t work through means such as evangelism to call his people to himself. It says that since God has chosen a people for himself, we don’t have to work to find that people via preaching the gospel.

    James White is most definitely not a hyperCalvinist A hyperCalvinist does not do the work of evangelism, but White has evangelized Mormons, done street preaching in London, does debates with RCs, Muslims, etc. as a form of evangelism, and much more. HyperCalvinists are an extremely small minority of Calvinists, kinda like the outright full-on worshippers of Mary are a minority of RCs.

  46. Wosbold,

    after reading Roberts explanation I would have to say that you are right. Eric says only hyper Calvinists in a separate category teach grace saves you against your will and Robert says all Calvinists believe this but its not really as bad as it sounds

  47. Robert,

    this is why I like using analogies when talking theology. God rapes your will but you really wanted it even though you don’t so its not so bad? Strange stuff man.

  48. Kenneth,

    The issue is that we believe in a real fall that had real consequences. Everyone hates God apart from his work. Rome has a defective view of sin. You all don’t really understand how bad it is. It goes back to your sub-biblical view of man’s original nature. You don’t fully accept our original dignity, so you think the fall didn’t really hurt us all that much. In my experience, only the Reformed understand that we are enemies of God apart from his grace.

  49. Robert,

    do you subscribe to the “secret will of God” like Piper and James White?

  50. Kenneth,

    To answer that, you need to tell me what you think the secret will is according to White and Piper, but the short answer is that yes, I believe there are things that God has left hidden to mankind. I would think that even RC affirms that.

  51. +JMJ+

    Kenneth wrote:

    Wosbold,
    after reading Roberts explanation I would have to say that you are right. Eric says only hyper Calvinists in a separate category teach grace saves you against your will and Robert says all Calvinists believe this but its not really as bad as it sounds.

    They would be golden (would fall within the bounds of Catholic orthodoxy) if they said that Man has no natural desire for (a negative opposition to/a non-repugnance to) the things of God. They’d fit right in with Neo-Thomists.

    But that’s a whole ‘nuther animal from saying that Man, by Nature, is positively opposed to the things of God.

    (And BTW, it’s “Wosbald”. Not “Wosbold”. I keep waiting for you to notice that. 😆 )

  52. Wosbald,

    You’ve got the Reformed confused with RC. As originally created, no part of us was opposed to God and unstable. You all are the ones who believe God made nature with an innate tendency to falling into non-being and sin. We believe that God made everything good. You all, not so much.

  53. Wosbald,

    Yup, sorry about that, never noticed I was spelling it wrong!

    Robert,

    Well, I was hoping maybe you could explain it and save us all the time of you having to correct me! My question is this…. Does the secret will of God contradict the revealed will of God? for example- When God told Adam not to eat of the apple did God secretly want Adam to eat the apple? (separate question)Was Adam a slug without wings in that moment or was he a full fledged bird before the fall? I am not trying to trap you I genuinely don’t know the answers to these questions and am curious. Also, when God commands the reprobate not to sin does He secretly desire them to sin? When He says thou shalt not murder does he secretly will that thou shall murder to the murderer?

    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ObmOAfaxQoY

  54. Kenneth,

    Well, I was hoping maybe you could explain it and save us all the time of you having to correct me!

    Now you’re learning! 🙂

    Does the secret will of God contradict the revealed will of God?

    No

    For example- When God told Adam not to eat of the apple did God secretly want Adam to eat the apple? (separate question)Was Adam a slug without wings in that moment or was he a full fledged bird before the fall? I am not trying to trap you I genuinely don’t know the answers to these questions and am curious. Also, when God commands the reprobate not to sin does He secretly desire them to sin? When He says thou shalt not murder does he secretly will that thou shall murder to the murderer?

    Things may get a bit tricky here. Essentially, I would say that in some way analagous to human beings, God has a hierarchy of desires. For example, if my wife had cancer, do I want the doctor to cut into her and remove it? Considered in and of itself, the answer is no because I don’t want anyone cutting into my wife and causing her pain. However, things aren’t all equal if the surgery is the only way to save her. So, yes. When it comes to this event, I can say both yes and no. No, I don’t want her to go through pain, so I don’t want her to have surgery. Yes, I want her to have surgery to save her life. What I actually want in this case is my wife’s survival, but the means to that is something that I don’t ordinarily approve of, namely, cutting into her.

    Similarly, all things being equal, when we ask if God wanted Adam to eat the fruit, the answer is both yes and no. No, God did not want the apple eaten as an end in itself. He hated it. What he loves is his own glory, and the eating of the apple is ultmately a means to that end. So he wanted Adam to eat the fruit, or, better, he wanted to further his own glory and the consequence of that is the means of Adam eating the fruit.

    If one wants to affirm omnipotence and omniscience, the answer to your question has to always be “yes” in some sense. If God really, really, really did not want Adam to eat the fruit, he would have stopped him. The question is, why did God not stop Adam. Most people will say that it has something to do with libertarian choice and an indeterministic view of the human will. God did not stop Adam because he wanted Adam to make the right choice and purposed not to interfere. Basically, in this case God wants Adam to possess a certain kind of freedom more than he does not want Adam to eat the fruit.

    I suspect that you would say God did not want Adam to eat the fruit in any sense of the word want. My question for you, then, is why did Adam do it? You can say it is because God gave him the ability not to, but the question is, why? Ultimately God wanted something more than he didn’t want Adam to eat the fruit in any system, unless you want to deny certain of God’s attributes like the open theists do (omniscience).

    As far as your other questions, Adam was given the ability to not sin when God created him. It was a part of his original constitution. It was part of his humanity and not an added infusion of grace. Adam was still dependent upon God and His revelation to stay in a state of not sinning, but it was an ethical dependence and not a metaphysical one. When God made us good, he made us good and not inherently prone to falling into sin.

    Everything that happens occurs because God wills it. I would say that some things God wills actively and some things he wills more passively, but if something occurs in creation, it occurs because God in some sense wanted it. There is no way of getting around this. Other traditions talk about God’s permissive will vs. his perfect will, or his looking into the future and seeing what will happen, and so on. The point is this, if God really doesn’t want something in all sense of the word, he can and will stop it. In my experience, Calvinists are honest about this. Other traditions try to get around it, but end up saying basically the same thing, they just make God a passive observer of creation.

    When I sin, it is because God wanted something else more than he wanted me not to sin. That doesn’t mean I can blame God for it. Sin is always and only my fault. At this point, I have to confess that I cannot fully explain this, but I’m not God. When somebody goes to hell, it is because God wanted something else more than he wanted to save that particular individual. The Calvinist answer is always God’s glory. Sin will allow for a display of God’s final glory in a way that would not have been possible without it.

    I have to accept God’s definition of reality. Reality is what he says it is. If he says that he ordains sin but is not morally responsible for it, then he ordains sin without being morally responsible for it. God doesn’t do this arbitrarily, but because of the Creator-creature distinction, we cannot always fully plumb the depths of his metaphysics. But we are to get our metaphysics from divine revelation and not from pagan philosophy. In my opinion, professing Christians tend toward imposing a pagan metaphysic upon Scripture instead of allowing Scripture to define our metaphysics. Even Calvinists do this, though I would also say that consistent Calvinism is the best system devised to keep this from happening. RC, EO, and non-Calvinist Protestant views of such thing are, in my opinion, consistently sub-biblical.

  55. Robert,

    Thank you for the thoughtful response. We have alot of similarities here but some important differences. Thomists classically speak of Gods antecedent will and consequent will. Antecidently God wills all to be saved…. But after consideration of all the additional circumstances (sin, free will, etc) consequently desires some to be damned for the greater good of the whole. So for example judge judy could antecedently will defendant jim bob to live a happy life…. But after considering that jim bob murdered 3 men judge Judy may will that jim be hanged. This is how we reconcile the fact that not all men receive efficacious grace with the scriptures that teach God wills all men to be saved. God really does will all men to be saved (antecedently) but His consequent will (after considering additional circumstances) is that some will be damned. I don’t think we have much to disagree with here…

    But what is Gods relationship to the reprobate commuting the sinful act? Thomists think that whatever God decrees or wills infallibly and inevitably comes to pass. With respect to the reprobate God does not will that they sin nor does He will them not to sin. Rather, He wills for them to be allowed to sin and gives them sufficient grace to avoid sinning all together. Why the fall? Because God willed that Adam be allowed to sin. Why murder? Because God wills to allow man to murder. I wonder if Calvinists classically think along these same lines? Does God “secretly” will to allow men to sin or does He secretly will them to sin? Did God command Adam not to sin after already infallibly decreeing that Adam would disobey? Does God command us not to murder after infallibly decreeing that man will murder? Without the existence of sufficient grace I dint understand how this can play out without Gods secret will contradicting his revealed will

  56. Kenneth or Mateo (or anyone),

    1. Do you know of ANYTHING that Banez wrote that is available currently in English? It is fun reading Fr. LaGrange and John Salza on the subject (and St. Thomas of course), but it would be nice to read Banez as well.

    *Also, if they’re not available in English, is there any hope that one day they might be?

    2. Frequently, I hear people of accusing “the Thomists” of distorting the authentic teaching of St. Thomas. Would you argue that St. Thomas would agree with virtually all of Banez and LaGrange’s view on Predestination?

    Thanks,
    John D.

  57. John D,

    I have never read any commentary by Banez so I am of no help. What have you read from RGL and Salza? Ed Feser has several A/T philosophy intro books that I would recommend. One really cant understand Saint Thomas theology unless you get a grip on his philosophy first. It is pretty challenging stuff but so rewarding once you grasp it.

    Its impossible to know if he would agree with virtually everything these men taught. The best one can do is read St. Thomas and learn his philosophy and theology and see who applies his metaphysics most faithfully and coherently. RGL made some slips in my opinion here and there but is overall much more in line with Aquinas than is Fr. Most or any molinist. I have never read a compelling rebuttal.

  58. John D,

    I am not aware of Banez translations, although I’m sure some have translated passages/sentences in their works (this is kind of the same issue with Bellarmine’s Disputations which was one of the seminal Catholic apologetic works in the Reformation, but remains untranslated from Latin – although you can find snippets of it translated in Protestant responses to him, such as Davenant’s work on justification or Whitaker’s work on Scripture).
    However, there is a graduate student I’ve seen online at Reformed and Catholic blogs who has read a lot of the Thomists, such as Banez, Cajetan, Alvarez, de Soto, and so on and so I’m sure he could give you some information on decent resources or maybe the current state of scholarship. You can find his contact info here

    There is also a 20th-century work concerning predestination which touches on Banez and Aquinas that has recently been translated into English here which I think Garrigou-Lagrange opposed – could be useful.

  59. Kenneth and James,

    Thanks for the responses.

    1. I was introduced to the whole Thomist/Molinist/Congruist dialogue through John Salza’s book The Mystery of Predestination According to Scripture, Tradition, and Thomas Aquinas. I also have enjoyed RGL’s book Predestination which Salza mentions for those who wanted to read in more on the subject.

    2. I will heed your advice to try and learn some Thomistic philosophy (there’s an iPhone app called CatholicCourses which offers 23 intro lectures on Thomistic philosophy so I will work through that first in my spare time, then maybe check out some books).

    3. Thanks for the contact with that grad student, I may pass the question on to him to see if he knows of any Banez in English. I didn’t know Cajetan was a Thomist, since I’ve only ever heard his name when Protestants bring up that he rejected the apocrypha/deuterocanonical books.

    4. Are either of you aware of anything in English regarding the Jesuit vs. Dominican debates that waged on before the Pope said that they can’t call each other heretics? Professor Feingold mentions these debates in one of his free audio lectures on predestination, but it would be super cool to read the actual sources.

    Thanks again for the replies. I am all ears for this type of information.

    Peace,
    John D.

  60. John D

    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Qmpw0_w27As

    someone named sinkh posts videos on YouTube that explain the five ways rather well. I have a suspicion that it is Dr. Ed Feser but I’m not sure. Once you get the underpinnings that no one else has tha patience to learn down predestination is a cake walk. You can reread Salza and RGL and have a much deeper appreciation of the conversation at hand. Happy reading and God bless!

  61. Kenneth,

    But what is Gods relationship to the reprobate commuting the sinful act? Thomists think that whatever God decrees or wills infallibly and inevitably comes to pass. With respect to the reprobate God does not will that they sin nor does He will them not to sin. Rather, He wills for them to be allowed to sin and gives them sufficient grace to avoid sinning all together. Why the fall? Because God willed that Adam be allowed to sin. Why murder? Because God wills to allow man to murder. I wonder if Calvinists classically think along these same lines? Does God “secretly” will to allow men to sin or does He secretly will them to sin? Did God command Adam not to sin after already infallibly decreeing that Adam would disobey? Does God command us not to murder after infallibly decreeing that man will murder? Without the existence of sufficient grace I dint understand how this can play out without Gods secret will contradicting his revealed will

    At this point it would depend on the Calvinist, but as far as I am aware, most Calvinists would say that God never wills anything by bare permission. Calvin himself says so explicitly. We would use terms like permit, allow, or even will to allow in order to point out that the way in which God ordains evil is different from the way in which he ordains good. His ordaining the fall, for example, is different from His ordaining the obedience of Christ. However, at the end of the day the fact that He wills both guarantees that both will happen.

    The question here is whether the will of God guarantees the outcome of what occurs. Did God’s willing that Adam be allowed to sin guarantee that He would sin. It would seem that you would want to deny that. But if so, then you have a point at which God either didn’t know what Adam would do or Adam operating as an autonomous agent. As soon as God willed that Adam be allowed to sin, was there ever an actual possibility that he would not sin?

    It’s hard to talk about temporal or logical order in God’s mind. I will say this that in the case of Adam at least, there is no difference between willing to allow him to sin and willing him to sin according to his secret will as far as the certainty of the event. Whether God willed to allow the fall or willed the fall, His willing guaranteed that the fall would happen.

    As far as God’s secret and revealed wills, it is the secret will that governs what actually comes to pass. So, God secretly wills for Joe to murder and at the same time reveals that He hates murder. There is no contradiction here because of the difference in the objects of the will. God never wants murder in the sense of giving it moral approval (revealed will). When Joe, who was willed to commit murder, actually commits the sin of murder, God hates it. But the secret will operates on a different level. When murder is ordained according to God’s secret will, one could say that murder is not the true end of that will. The true end of the will is God’s glory, and the means to that end involves some people murdering so that God can work good in the midst of it to His praise and honor.

    When Cain murdered Abel, God hated that act of murder. He never stopped hating it, considered in itself. But He willed something He hated in order to achieve something He loves most of all, namely, His glory. Out of love for His glory, God willed the specific act of murder and purposed to work through it to further glory all the while hating murder in itself.

    I don’t know if that is any clearer. My question for you is at what point did God know Adam would sin? If it is eternally, then saying God willed to allow him to sin still leaves you with Adam being unable to do otherwise, no matter how much sufficient grace he received.

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