Liberal Orthodoxy, Orthodox Liberalism

Posted by on September 22, 2013 in Catholicism, Featured, Homosexuality, Liberalism, Love, Orthodoxy, Papacy, Politics, The Two Kingdoms | 365 comments

A friend of mine was interviewed on Real Time with Bill Maher  Friday night about his new film, GMO OMG, and the segment shifted topics from Monsanto to Pope Francis. Maher, a notorious liberal opponent of right-wing Christianity, made a comment to the effect of, “It’s getting to the point where when people ask rhetorically, ‘Is the pope Catholic?’ I have to answer, ‘F**k if I know!’ Everything seems different now. It’s like the proverbial bear in the woods saying, ‘Do  I sh*t here? I’m not sure anymore.” Maher went on to praise the new pope for his mirroring the attitude of Christ who, according to the host, can’t stand rich people, but who talks on every page of the Bible about how much he cares for the poor.

But as out-of-left-field as such admiration seems, Bill Maher isn’t the only liberal who’s singing the bishop of Rome’s praises. Francis got similar props from another unlikely source yesterday, the New York Times. Op-ed columnist Frank Bruni had this to say about Peter’s new successor:

It was the sweetness in his timbre [that struck me], the meekness of his posture. It was the revelation that a man can wear the loftiest of miters without having his head swell to fit it, and can hold an office to which the term “infallible” is often attached without forgetting his failings. . . . What a surprising portrait of modesty in a church that had lost touch with it. And what a refreshing example of humility in a world with too little of it.

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For too many years I watched the chieftains of the church wrap themselves in lavish pageantry and prioritize the protection of fellow clergy members over the welfare of parishioners. They allowed priests who sexually abused children to evade accountability and, in many cases, to abuse again. That cover-up was the very antithesis of humility, driven by the belief that shielding the church from public scandal mattered more than anything else.

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For too many years I also watched and listened to imperious men around the pope hurl thunderbolts of judgment from the Olympus of Vatican City. But in his recent interview, Francis made a plea for quieter, calmer weather, suggesting that church leaders in Rome spend less energy on denunciations and censorship.

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He cast himself as a struggling pastor determined to work in a collaborative fashion. He characterized himself as a sinner. “It is not a figure of speech, a literary genre,” he clarified. “I am a sinner.”

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He didn’t right past wrongs. Let’s be clear about that. Didn’t call for substantive change to church teachings and traditions that indeed demand re-examination, including the belief that homosexual acts themselves are sinful. Didn’t challenge the all-male, celibate priesthood. Didn’t speak as progressively — and fairly — about women’s roles in the church as he should.

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But he also didn’t present himself as someone with all the answers. No, he stepped forward — shuffled forward, really — as someone willing to guide fellow questioners. In doing so he recognized that authority can come from a mix of sincerity and humility as much as from any blazing, blinding conviction, and that stature is a respect you earn, not a pedestal you grab. That’s a useful lesson in this grabby age of ours.

(Bruni then, with perfect awareness of the irony, insisted that President Obama should take a page out of Francis’s playbook and show a little humility on the whole Syria thing.)

In my last post I suggested that we distinguish the labels of “conservative” and “liberal” from the labels “orthodox” and “heterodox,” applying the former set to people’s positions on cultural and political matters, while reserving the latter for theological ones. While I’m at it, to that suggestion I would add another: we should distinguish between dogma  on the one hand, and posture  on the other.

As Bruni reminds us in his article (not without lamentation), Pope Francis is absolutely orthodox in his views on contraception, same-sex marriage, women’s ordination, and abortion. So if this pope is singing the same old tune on those hot-button issues — and singing culturally off-key — why are all these liberals and disillusioned ex-Catholics fawning over him? Why the excitement, the incredulity, the respeck ?

I would posit that the reason a pope can be an orthodox Catholic and yet be heralded as a welcome breath of fresh air for the Church by its avowed enemies has nothing to do with his dogma, and everything to do with his posture. Is Francis a liberal? Well, if we keep in mind the distinction I made in my last post and reiterated above, the answer would be a qualified “kinda”: He makes every effort to communicate by his pontificate a care for the poor, a disinterest in worldly pomp and privilege, and a greater concern for the dignity of sinners as beloved of God than their supposedly anathematized status in the eyes of ecclesiastical law. In a word, Francis is all about mercy, and if he is going to err in attitude or speech, he is determined to do so on the side of compassion rather than precision or exactitude.

For my part, I can identify with the holy father in very concrete ways. You see, I also am an orthodox Catholic who believes all that the Church teaches, but at the same time I have many gay, agnostic, and anti-Catholic friends, and I have found that displaying even a modicum of empathy and love goes a long way, even if you won’t budge on your doctrinal positions. When it comes to something like corporate worship I am very traditional, while when it comes to issues like healthcare or labor unions, I am rather progressive. And when liberal values clash with ecclesial dogma, I always side with the latter. Like Pope Francis, I am an orthodox liberal (orthodox first, liberal second).

And as the early stages of Francis’s pontificate show and my own experience confirms, the Left doesn’t hate the Catholic Church primarily for its dogma. In fact, much of that hatred can be quenched by a compassionate and humble posture, even if the dogma stays the same. In short, when faced with questions such as “Can homosexuals be saved?”, “Will the invincibly ignorant be shown mercy?”, or “Will heaven’s inhabitants outnumber hell’s?”, it speaks volumes to the opponents of the Church when our sincere answer is something like, “Well, crap, I sure hope so.”

But alas, when Christians (whether Catholic or Protestant) emit that smug elitism by which the world has come to know us, we have no one to blame for their disdain but ourselves.

365 Comments

  1. Mateo–

    How do you interpret the seeming contradiction in Genesis 50:20?

    “Even though you intended to do harm to me, God intended it for good, in order to preserve a numerous people, as he is doing today.”

  2. Matteo,

    I think we are on two totally different pages! I understand the differences between molinism and thomism. I know there are other ways to faithfully hold to the magesteriums declarations on predestination. All I was asking you for were your thoughts and the view point of Dominic banez that is commonly classified as a stripe of Thomistic thought. This theology was also defended by the immenent Fr Reginald garrigou LaGrange. I was wondering if you would classify their thought as monergistic or a hybrid of both monergistic and synergistic. That’s it. I wasn’t sure of the answer and am still not sure.

    now about this confusion on different graces. Operating grace refers to God’s gracious work in a sinner, i.e. God’s gracious “operating.” Co-operating grace is the human effect of God’s operating, namely, the human will moving the person unto meritorious works. Operating grace always comes first, for all co-operating grace is the effect of God’s operating grace. A person is justified by operating grace, and subsequently consents with this operating grace as a result of such grace.

    Grace can refer to God’s moving of the human to will and to act, or it can refer to God’s bestowal of a habitual gift (the gift of a new disposition which then becomes the principle of meritorious works). Each of these graces can be thought of in terms of operating grace and also co-operating grace.

    First, with regard to God’s moving of the human to will and to act, “the operation of an effect is not attributed to the thing moved but to the mover” (I-II.111.2). Thus, since the human is moved but does not do the moving, this kind of grace is called operating grace, since God is the only one operating. However, this operating grace causes an effect in the human whereby by the human mind, after being moved, also moves (i.e. moves the other powers—i.e. the will begins to will the good, which moves the person to act exteriorly, etc.]. Thus there is an interior act of the will (ceasing to will evil and beginning to will the good) and also an exterior act subsequently commanded by the will. In these operations of the human (both interior and exterior) God strengthens the will interiorly “so as to attain the act” and also grants the outward capability of the exterior operation. Since the human will is also operating as the effect of God’s operating, this kind of grace is called co-operating grace. Augustine says: “He operates that we may will; and when we will, He co-operates that we may be perfect.” (I-II.111.2). As Aquinas teaches “Operating and co-operating grace are the same grace” only “they are distinguished by their different effects.” (111.2.ad.4).

    The thought of Banez was that even though everyone is given sufficient grace for salvation everyone rejects it. Therefore, God gives efficient grace to the elect that is absolutely always effective while keeping the distinctions made in the previous two graces. This seems to be more monergistic in nature since only the chosen are saved efficaciously by God. On the other hand, we still co-operate with the Grace the whole time even though our wills are moved by God. I could see that perhaps being at least a little synergistic. What do you say?

  3. Kenneth–

    As you might recognize, my immediately previous comment is a rant. I again apologize. I should have rewritten it more tactfully (which would have then more accurately portrayed my actual feelings), but I decided I’d never get around to it (so I let it stand).

    I have heard of vibrant Catholic parishes. I have experienced some that are more vibrant than others (usually by mimicking Evangelical worship…a tactic Liberal Protestant congregations use, as well). I have no doubt your own parish would show me something entirely different…. 🙂

    Of course, even if there are a few Catholic parishes which display a modicum of life, how could one ever possibly locate them?

  4. Eric,

    I liked your rant. Your other comment was far to PC for my taste

    Your right of course. The state is in an abysmal state. I have made rather strong remarks on why I think that is. The Church is in crises and there is no doubting that. I scoff when pundits tell how there are 1.2 billions Catholics in the world. Not hardly. Not but a fraction of that number are aware of what being catholic means in the slightest. But a patriot does not love his country because she is so perfect. A true patriot loves and fights for their countrymen knowing full well their flaws. You don’t just jump ship when times get shabby my friend.

    maybe my last post to matteo will hell you better understand how Thomism has a strong view of election but easily denies sola fide. It is not an compromised system. It is brilliant.

    Reformed have no right to early Church history. Your theology is innovative and lacks the continuity to be counted as anything but a deformation of the true religion. The early fathers who you hold in such high esteem would call you no brother of theirs. You are separated from the body of Christ and until you open your heart there is no salvation outside the Church. No matter how good your confessions praise band might be

  5. Kenneth–

    I saw nothing in your post to Mateo that would do any such thing. (Actually, I saw nothing a Calvinist need deny.)

    Why such animosity towards Calvin? I simply don’t get it. Thomists (labeled crypto-Calvinists during the height of the controversy with the Jesuits) have far more in common with confessional Protestants than they do with the wretched Molinists (fairly accurately labeled semi-Pelagians by the Dominicans in retaliation).

  6. Kenneth–

    A strong view of election is virtually synonymous with sola fide.

  7. Kenneth–

    We have every right to the history and heritage of the true church, whose sons and daughters we are proud to be.

    We did not “separate” from the body of Christ but were violently and malevolently pushed out by usurpers.

  8. Kenneth,

    I never said Adam or his descendants don’t choose. They make choices all the time, and they always choose what they most want in any given scenario. What I deny is libertarian freedom to human beings.

    If somebody in Adam wanted to choose Christ, they would choose Christ. Apart from God’s grace, however, nobody wants to choose Christ. That is the problem. When somebody wants to choose Christ, it is because God has changed them first.

    This is all a basic discussion on compatibilism and determinism. I’m a soft determinist/compatibilist. I am a Calvinist after all.

    But what I say stands. The only way for people to have the freedom you want them to have is to deny God’s omniscience. Once God knows what I will do, there is no way that I can do any different. You don’t like the fact that Calvinists use the word “ordain.” But God’s knowledge ordains the future in a simple foreknowledge view. If God knew Adam would sin, then that is all he would do despite having the power to do otherwise. If that were not so, God does not know the future truly.

  9. Dennis,

    Robert,
    I’m assuming you have kids. Sometimes, you may know the decisions your child is going to make because of your previous experience.
    So, you have a prescience of your child’s decision. This doesn’t mean that your child didn’t have a free choice in making his decision.
    So it is with God. If God knows our decisions in advance, they are still our decisions to make regardless if God already knows.
    The two are independent of each other.

    I do have kids, young kids. They’re great. You?

    The analogy breaks down, and you indicate this when you say “sometimes.” The difference between me and God is that He always knows.

    And yes, I agree that if God knows our decisions in advance, they are still ours to make. Every Calvinist believes that the decisions they make are their decisions to make. When I chose Christ, that was my decision to make. I made that choice. The question is, why did I make that choice and others did not. It’s because God changed my heart and gave me the capacity to do so, a capacity that is always realized. We don’t believe God gives salvific grace to all and that those to whom it is given always repent and believe.

    The one who rejects Christ made a decision that was his to make. He made the decision he wanted to make. God wasn’t standing there holding him back and saying “you want to choose me but I won’t let you.” Again, the point is that said person did not want to choose God, and could not want to choose God apart from grace. Dead in sin and trespasses and all.

  10. @De Maria —

    What do you mean by “access to”? The Sacred Deposit reveals that the Pope is the authority over the Church

    Do you mean the “on this rock” line or do you have something else? Because your definition of the sacred deposit, the New Testament, shows a Christianity which doesn’t have uniform leadership and “bishops” which are addressing “heretics” on a peer basis not as part of an institution. I don’t see how that sacred deposit doesn’t show the exact opposite.

    and that the Church is infallible.

    In the sacred deposit we have an endorsement of the old testament prophet system which implies a fallible church.

    I don’t see the point. What are you trying to say? That the Wesleyans have equal authority with the Catholic Church for some reason?

    You had asked what the Wesleyan quadrilateral was. I was answering. We had agreed that prima scriptura was more biblical than sola scriptura. I was simply pointing out that their version struck me as even closer to being biblical than the Catholic (though really Anglican) “three legged stool”.

    I doubt it. Bring the details. I don’t remember any ECUMENICAL council gathering to discipline St. Athanasius. But if you have the evidence, bring it forth.

    You had used the Matthew 18 definition. If you want evidence that it happened: http://www.newadvent.org/cathen/09217a.htm

    If you claim that [Arians] used the [Matthew 18] method to discover error that the Catholic Church used, they would have discovered the error in their heresy long before it was brought before the Nicene Council.

    Well that didn’t happen, ergo your point is false.

    When Arianism was declared a heresy, any Church which continued to hold that heresy was automatically excommunicated.

    The facts work equally well in the opposite direction. That proves nothing.

    Do Teachers [in Judaism] have the authority to discipline their students [via Beis Din]?

    Yes.

  11. Eric,

    my primary problem with Calvin is that he worships a monster God. If everyone does not have an opportunity to be saved God is not a moral being and thus not worthy of worship.

  12. @Robert

    And yes, I agree that if God knows our decisions in advance, they are still ours to make. Every Calvinist believes that the decisions they make are their decisions to make. When I chose Christ, that was my decision to make. I made that choice. The question is, why did I make that choice and others did not. It’s because God changed my heart and gave me the capacity to do so, a capacity that is always realized.

    If X causes Y absolute determinism then it what sense is it a choice. If God’s capacity to make the choice is always realized then he choose you didn’t choose anymore than you choose to born in America,

  13. CD,

    My capacity to make the choice always being realized does not take away the reality of said choice. I was made to make that choice and only become fully human as the choice is made.

    God is Creator. We are creatures. If one cannot confess that, one will never understand Christianity.

  14. Kenneth:

    If everyone does not have an opportunity to be saved God is not a moral being and thus not worthy of worship.

    So, God owes everyone an opportunity to be saved? If that is so, then you need to quit talking about grace.

  15. Robert,

    I have one daughter who is still a pre-teen. I agree, they are great!

    When I chose Christ, that was my decision to make. I made that choice. The question is, why did I make that choice and others did not. It’s because God changed my heart and gave me the capacity to do so, a capacity that is always realized. We don’t believe God gives salvific grace to all and that those to whom it is given always repent and believe.

    And I think that’s one key difference in Catholicism. We believe that the grace that flows from the cross is sufficient to save all mankind. Jesus even says that He will draw all men to Him. Scripture also tells us that God’s desire is that all men be saved. Additionally, in the parable of the wedding, all are invited. So, Scripture indicates that salvific grace goes to all men.

    The other key difference is free will. Man is different from all other animals in that man has the ability to reject God. No other animal can reject God’s plan for them. A fish cannot live outside water. A pig cannot fly. Animals work toward their design. Man is different. Man can openly contemplate God and reject His plan for him. Why? It’s because God wills that man’s choice be free. I agree that God gives man the grace but man ultimately makes the choice to choose God and that choice is free. If it’s not, we are just like all the other animals.

    Scripture explains that the reason that man rejects God isn’t from lack of grace but rather because their heart is made of stone. God is calling all men to return to Him and yet some cannot hear His voice because they have “undiscerning minds” per Romans 1. They are not open to hearing God’s calling them. The grace is open to all men; however, man’s disposition can either turn him toward God or turn him away.

  16. Robert,

    I think I’ve been asking the wrong questions; this has allowed you to wiggle all around and repackage Calvinism into something that it isn’t. Lets try this again.

    since NO creature can have communion with God without Gods grace pulling them in…. All creatures would have to have at least some measure of grace given to them in order to have the actual ability to know or love God. Therefore, all creatures deprived of grace, although they have full cognitive faculties and can make decisions in life, do not have the ability to choose God. That is, they don’t have an actual opportunity to love God. This brings with it a whole host of biblical problems. Not least of which is the fall of man. So here is my more precise question Robert. Did Adam have sufficient grace given to him by God to resist Satan? Are all of Adams descendents given sufficient grace to love God and be saved? If not, they are not actually making a “choice”. They are just doing the only thing they CAN do without Gods help.

  17. @Robert

    My capacity to make the choice always being realized does not take away the reality of said choice.

    Why not? That would seem to be the very definition of something being a absolute compulsion and not a choice. A choice is by definition “an act of selecting or making a decision when faced with two or more possibilities.” If I’m not selecting, and if I’m not genuinely faced with more than one possibility then I’ve just contradicted both criteria for something being a choice at all.

    I’m sorry I don’t see it. Resistible Grace I think you still have choice. But make it Irresistible and then I don’t know how you can call what’s left choice.

  18. Kenneth,

    Do Augustine and Aquinas also believe in a monster god?

  19. Kenneth–

    “If everyone does not have an opportunity to be saved” seems like a rather arbitrary criterion on which to accuse God of monsterdom. Sounds quite a bit like some Truth, Justice, and the American Way religion, championing human choice above all else.

    Why not go with “if everyone does not have an equal opportunity to be saved, then God is a monster”? After all, folks in the Maldives, which is 100% Muslim and where there are no known Christian inhabitants, don’t have a realistic opportunity to be saved. There’s an island in Indonesia where the natives are so violently inhospitable that no one visits the island, not even government officials. They haven’t had any outside contact for a long, long time (if ever). Any reasonable opportunity there? Yes, they have the light of nature. But if everyone you have ever known is an animistic, demon-worshiping cannibal, what chance is there for you?

    Now, as Robert indicated above, we Calvinists actually believe that everyone has an opportunity to be saved. I’m guessing Calvin believed the same thing. So, you can drop the whole “monster” thing already !

    Of course, if you mean that they should be able to make a choice against their nature and character, I suppose the monster epithet is still on. But then, the Thomist God would also be a monster. If one is monergistic (without espousing universalism at the same time), then some people are just out of luck. “Them’s the breaks” when someone actually pays attention to Scripture…. 🙂

  20. Eric, I don’t see a contradiction.

  21. Robert,

    Notice, Robert, that all you have to do to get rid of all your problems is postulate the existence of sufficient grace. Thomists believe that all men are given sufficient grace that really and truly is sufficient to be saved. No one is without excuse. However, (and this is where we hang the mystery) all men reject that sufficient grace in every circumstance. Therefore, God sends special efficient graces to the elect which technically COULD be rejected…. But are always accepted and efficacious in every circumstance. This sort of tip-toeing is very nuanced but avoids all scriptural pitfalls.

    so all that’s left is this…. Why doesn’t God save everyone by giving them all efficient grace? Because God loves some more than others. As Thomas writes “One thing would not be better than another, if God did not will greater good for one than for another”

  22. Brandon,

    no for the reasons I just posted

  23. Kenneth,

    I don’t agree with the way you are parsing the terms, but based on what you have said, the opportunity for salvation in your system is no more “real” than in Calvinism. If people won’t accept sufficient grace without efficient grace, you’re just moving things back a step. Sufficient grace that can be refused without efficient grace is not much different from say that God does not give salvific grace to all. At the end of the day, we’re saying virtually the same thing. (Besides, I would say sufficient grace isn’t sufficient if it doesn’t guarantee salvation).

    So I don’t see how your view of salvation makes God any less “monstrous” than Calvinism, which likewise affirms that God loves some more than others or that God loves some people unto salvation and others He does not. If God doesn’t give efficient grace to all, He doesn’t love all unto salvation.

  24. Robert,

    in a practical sense it can be hard to see how this theologically differs from Calvinism. some very important differences though

    1. Sufficient grace. We insist that sufficient grace really and truly is sufficient for salvation even though it is always rejected. It can be POSSIBLE for me to become a body builder even if that never happens. Even if it never happens in a million tries. Its still at least in principle possible which is what is important to avoid the heresy displayed in Calvinism. It was really POSSIBLE in every way for Adam to obey Gods commands. think back on your own sins. While commiting them do you remember ever thinking “awww darn I just don’t have enough grace to resist this!!!! Its literally IMPOSSIBLE!” if you are like me you remember knowing full well you could have refrained…. And chose not to… The grace was there… It was sufficient… We turn it down every time.

    2. God actually does love everyone. He just loves some more than others. I could be wrong but isn’t it true that Calvinist confessions teach that God loves ONLY the elect? I’m not sure.

    3. God wills all men to be saved not merely “all kinds of men”. Here we have to make distinctions between Gods various wills. The antecedent will of God” which is to be contrasted to “the consequent will” of God. Here the point is this: God’s will considered absolutely entails that all men should be saved, but by adding “some additional circumstances” or “by a consequent consideration” the verdict of God’s will may turn out to be reversed (ST I.19.6.ad.1).

    For example, considered absolutely it is good that all men should live and be free, unless or until that one person is considered an extreme danger and menace of society by killing and raping others, in which case a good judge may will him to hang or be thrown in jail rather than live and be free.

    Thus it may be said that a just judge will simply the hanging of a murderer, but in a qualified manner he would will him to live … Such a qualified will may be called a willingness rather than an absolute will. Thus it is clear that whatever God simply wills takes place; although what He wills antecedently may not take place. (ST I.19.6.ad.1).

    Gods mercy and love reaches out to us. But his justice must also be satisfied. I think you will find if you apply these principles to the numerous arminian vs Calvinist proof texts there is an amazing synchronization that either on its own is missing

  25. Kenneth–

    Like Robert, I don’t believe what you are saying is different enough to fight about. The Reformed always speak of the Atonement as being “sufficient for all, but efficient only for the elect.”

    According to the Synod of Dort, “The death of the Son of God is the only and most perfect sacrifice and satisfaction for sin; is of infinite worth and value, abundantly sufficient to expiate the sins of the whole world.” 

    W. G. T Shedd (a Presbyterian theologian from the nineteenth century) wrote, “Christ’s death is sufficient in value to satisfy eternal justice for the sins of all mankind…Sufficient we say, then, was the sacrifice of Christ for the redemption of the whole world, and for the expiation of all the sins for all and every man in the world.” 

    You have misunderstood Calvinism. We freely forgive you. 🙂

  26. +JMJ+

    Kenneth wrote:

    I wasn’t spoiling for an argument…

    I don’t see it as an argument (at least, certainly not an argument pertaining to catholicity, but rather, is one which only pertains to personality).

    And actually, I’m finding the intra-Catholic dialogue to be a stimulating and edifying diversion from the falsely dichotomous imperatives currently being issued by the non-Catholics. Plus, it may occasionally do them good to see the “iron sharpening iron” dynamic that exists between the various, orthodox theological schools (the various schools portraying the same essential thing from different perspectives) in addition to meeting the brick wall of Catholic Unity head-on.

    In that spirit, I offer a couple of entries from a very useful resource: (Pietro Parente, Antonio Piolanti and Salvatore Garofalo, The Dictionary of Dogmatic Theology,
    [Milwaukee, The Bruce Publishing Co., 1951] pp. 116-117 and pp. 120-121, respectively)…

    .

    grace, efficacious. A supernatural, divine influence, on account of which the human will is determined, infallibly but freely, to act with respect to eternal life.

    The characteristic note of this grace is the infallibility of the effect. Testimonies of the Holy Scripture are not lacking and they are all to the effect that God’s dominion and power is absolute, and that no creature, even man endowed with free will, can resist it: “As the divisions of waters, so the heart of the king is in the hand of the Lord: whithersoever he will he shall turn it” (Prov. 21:1); “I will cause you to walk in my commandments, and to keep my judgements, and do them” (Ezech. 36:27). And example of most efficacious grace is the conversion of Paul on the Damascus road.

    St. Augustine, more than the other Fathers, develops amply the doctrine of efficacious grace, to which he attributes all the supernatural good of man, man’s free will remaining intact: “Man through mysterious ways is drawn to will by Him who knows how to work in the innermost recesses of the human heart, not that men believe without willing – which is impossible – but that from not willing they become willing” (Enchir., 98). And again: “We do not defend grace in such a way as to seem to destroy free will” (De peccatorum meritis et remissione, 2, 18). Cf. Council of Trent, sess. VI, can. 4 (de iustificatione ), DB, 814.

    But the controversy lingers on between Molinists and Thomists on the essence of efficacious grace. The Thomists defend intrinsic and absolute efficacy: efficacious grace is the supernatural physical predetermination to which the human will is subordinate and which de facto it does not resist (although being able to resist, as the Council of Trent says). But for the Molinists grace is efficacious, not by itself, but dependently on the consent of our free will, which can always resist and leave the grace without fruitful effect. Between these two extremes there is, nowadays especially, a tendency toward a reasonable syncretism, which rejects physical predetermination on the one hand, for it does not seem to fit even in the framework of St. Thomas’ thought and in a certain sense compromises free will, and, on the other hand, abhors also the Molinistic concept of a divine grace that must go begging the consent of man. Such syncretism proposes an intrinsic, divine motion in the human will (of the natural or supernatural order, as the case may be) which moves physically and immediately to the act as regards the exercise of the act, but leaves the will free to determine itself with respect to the specification of the same act, through choice of the object made by the reason, on which, however, God exercises His influence by way of illumination.

    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.

    BIBLIOGRAPHY
    Del Prado, De gratia et libero arbitrio, 3 vols. (Freiburg, Helv., 1906). De Regnon, Banez et Molina (Paris, 1883). Pohle, “Grace (Controversies on),” CE. Pohle-Preuss, Dogmatic Theology, VII Grace (Actual and Habitual ) (St. Louis, 1946), pp. 231-248. The Teaching of the Catholic Church, ed. Smith, 2 vols. (New York, 1949) pp. 617-621. Van Der Meersch, De divina gratia (Brugis, 1924), p. 258 ff.

    —————————————–

    grace, sufficient. A supernatural gift which confers on man the power to act, if he so wills, in a salutary way (i.e., with reference to eternal life).

    Luther and Calvin (see Lutheranism, ) having denied human free will after original sin, conceive only a most efficacious grace, which determines necessarily the will of the man who is predestined to eternal life. Bay and Jansenius (see Baianism and Jansenism ) reject sufficient grace, which they hold harmful, and admit only efficacious grace, which integrates nature and impels it infallibly along the road of salvation. The Church has condemned these and similar errors (DB, 1092 ff., 1226, 1363, 1521).

    Holy Scripture speaks of graces granted by God, which did not have their effect, and the Lord reproves man, who, though being able to, has refused to profit by them: “I called, and you refused” (Prov. 1:24); “Jerusalem, Jerusalem… how often would I have gathered together thy children, as the hen doth gather her chickens under her wings, and thou wouldst not?” (Matt. 23:37). The Fathers repeat the same thought: St. Augustine (Enchir., 95): “Nor was God certainly unjust in not willing their salvation, because they could save themselves if they had willed to do so.” The Council of Trent (sess. VI, cap. 11, DB, 804) repeats the worlds of St. Augustine: “God does not command impossible things, but commanding He tells you to do what you can and to ask for what you cannot do, and He helps you that you may be able to do.”

    There is a divergency between Thomists and Molinists on the nature of sufficient grace in its relation to efficacious grace (q.v. ). The Thomists hold a sharp distinction between the two graces, because efficacious grace (premotion, or supernatural physical predetermination ) always and infallibly obtains its effect; sufficient grace, instead, confers only the potency or power to act, which power, however, never passes to act. The Molinists think that one same numerical grace is only sufficient, if man resists and frustrates the effect, and is efficacious if man consents to it by his free will and profits by it, passing on to the salutary action.

    It is more correct to say that sufficient grace is also a motion to the act, like efficacious grace, but it is impedible; i.e., it is not of such kind as to overcome all internal and external impediments (passions, temptations, etc.), which exercise sinister activity on the will and render it more stubborn.

    BIBLIOGRAPHY
    St. Thomas, Summa Theolo., I-II, q. 109, a. 10, ad 3; q. 112, a. 2, ad. 2. Billot, De gratia Christi (Rome, 1923), p. 180. Del Prado, De gratia et libero arbitrio, Vol. 2 (Freidburg, Helv., 1907). Peter Parente, Anthropologia supernaturalis (Rome, 1943). Pohle-Preuss, Dogmatic Theology, VII Grace (Actual and Habitual ) (St. Louis, 1946), pp. 42-47, 167-186, 231-248.

  27. Eric,

    like Robert, you are either intentionally masking the darker aspects of Calvinism or you don’t understand what your confession teaches. The L (limited atonement) in TULIP makes it clear that whatever you think the atonement COULD accomplish, you definitely don’t think that it was for the sins of the whole world. Because on your view all those who have been predestined by God to hell are given no grace at all. None. 0. Zilch. They have no chance whatsoever.

  28. Wosbold,

    those definitions were very precise and helpful. I personally hold to the Thomist position because I think it fits better with scriptural data. Making effecacious grace efficient only when a person accepts it is unacceptable. In my view, syncetism makes distinctions where none are necessary. The biblical data is satisfied fully by Thomistic belief by glorifying and upholding the sovereignty of God while still protecting the integrity of his omnibenevolence

  29. +JMJ+

    Kenneth wrote:

    The biblical data is satisfied fully by Thomistic belief by glorifying and upholding the sovereignty of God while still protecting the integrity of his omnibenevolence.

    I’m not taking sides, simply because it is a catholically indifferent issue. The Biblical data and Dogmatic requirements are equally satisfied (as much as is possible for any systematic to do so) by both positions. In that catholic sense, the whole controversy is much ado about nothing, although the “iron sharpening iron” aspect means that the debate is well worth having, even though a ‘solution’ is unattainable.

    The worth of theology is defined more by the journey than by the systematic goal. In the modern West, we have often forgotten that, in addition to having a pastoral and apologetic function, theology and philosophy has a koanic function leading to a deepening of wisdom. Focusing overmuch on the “rightness” of a particular theological view tends to distract one from the transformational effect that the philo-theological journey is meant to impart.

  30. Wosbold,

    Thank you for the thoughtful comments. As a side note… How do you guys make the floaty white quotation boxes? Lol

    “I’m not taking sides, simply because it is a catholically indifferent issue.”

    I don’t believe these discussions are completely indifferent. The bare minimum framework might be satisfied by numerous views but that doesn’t mean that there is not a view that *best* satisfies the biblical data. The implications can be far reaching. Evangelization is a good example. Do we pursue “dialog” with false religions or simply evangelize them without compromise? Assuming that grace can only be efficacious once accepted would seem to entail dialog. The pressure is all on us. We need to do everything in our power not to offend, bend over backwards to be “ecumenical”; make some ambiguous statements here and there about atheists, false religions, salvation, etc etc. Thomism seems to suggest outright evangelization. There is no need to be ecumenical. Preaching the truth clearly and boldly without regard for political correctness. The pressure is not on *us* to be persuasive. The Lord is at work and we can rest in His sovereign election. The implications are enormous and far from indifferent. Church “posture” has often changed in response to the popularity of one view over the other. No journey through systematic theology can ever be fruitful in attaining wisdom unless the truth remains our constant aim!

  31. +JMJ+

    Kenneth wrote:

    I don’t believe these discussions are completely indifferent.

    I said that they were catholically indifferent. I didn’t say that they were completely indifferent. They are not indifferent with regards to the Church and Society’s current temporal needs.

    But being attuned to these needs requires prudence and wisdom, things which those who are unduly focused on the “rightness” of their pet theology might be inclined to overlook.

    It may well be time for another rebirth of Thomism, but God save us from an attempt to forge an absolute and interminable tyranny of any single theology. And one should not forget that the promethean quest for a fully-coherent theological systematic is what led the Protestants to where they are today. If choosing one half the Mystery to the absolute exclusion of the other (heresy = “to make a choice”) is what is required to make one’s abstract equation balance, then well, Protestants had to break a few eggs to make an omelette.

    To make those floaty white boxes, put your text in between blockquote cite=”” on one side and /blockquote on the other (remembering to endcap the tags with , of course.)

  32. Kenneth–

    I understand that it must be difficult to face up to the fact that you have hated Calvinists all this time on false pretenses. The vast majority of Calvinists are infralapsarian and do not believe anyone is predestined to hell.

    Now, Calvin himself did believe in double predestination (as did Augustine). Augustine’s take was over-ruled at the Second Council of Orange, however, and Catholicism has been semi-Augustinian ever since (including your beloved Thomas).

  33. Eric,

    hated Calvinists? Puhlease. I am critiquing the standard TULIP acronym. If there is some other secret Calvinist idea on predestination I should be looking at let me know

  34. CD-HOST October 1, 2013 at 5:23 am
    @De Maria –

    Do you mean the “on this rock” line or do you have something else?

    I mean the fact that the Catholic Church was established by Jesus Christ. You keep forgetting that Jesus Christ established His Church. Then taught the Church His Traditions. And then commanded the Church to teach His Traditions to the nations.

    Before the words, “on this rock” were written in the Scripture, St. Peter was already known as “Cephas” or the “Rock” upon whom the Church was built.

    Because your definition of the sacred deposit, the New Testament, shows a Christianity which doesn’t have uniform leadership and “bishops” which are addressing “heretics” on a peer basis not as part of an institution.

    That’s not true. You seem to be intentionally confusing issues in order to appear to be making a point.

    1. The Sacred Deposit is composed of the Teachings of Jesus Christ.
    2. The hierarchy which of Bishops was established by Jesus Christ with one Chief Bishop over all.
    3. Heretics are peers until they are condemned. That is the definition of the word. Didn’t you know?

    CATHOLIC ENCYCLOPEDIA: Heresy – New Advent
    http://www.newadvent.org › Catholic Encyclopedia › H?
    St. Thomas defines heresy: ‘a species of infidelity in men who, having professed the faith of Christ, corrupt its dogmas’

    I don’t see how that sacred deposit doesn’t show the exact opposite.

    I’m surprised. You seemed to be understanding all that we had discussed. But it seems we were having two different conversations.

    In the sacred deposit we have an endorsement of the old testament prophet system which implies a fallible church.

    That only follows if you don’t believe that Jesus is God. And you don’t. So, I don’t even understand how you can claim to believe the Old Testament Prophet system since they are Prophets of God. A Being whose existence you deny.

    You had asked what the Wesleyan quadrilateral was. I was answering.

    I understand. But I’m asking why you are bringing them up? I could care less about the Wesleyan quadrilateral. Its just another religion which teaches error. So, I’m asking why you are bringing them up. Are you positing that they are equal to the Catholic Church or what?

    We had agreed that prima scriptura was more biblical than sola scriptura.

    I don’t remember saying that. I remember saying:

    Prima Scriptura is a theory. Not a Doctrine. I personally believe it is wrong. I believe that unless one studies and understands Sacred Tradition FIRST, he is doomed never to fully understand the Scriptures. I also believe that Scripture makes up part of our Tradition of Faith. Our Faith is a Sacred Tradition all by itself and every aspect of it, together. And again, the source and summit of our Faith resides in a Tradition. The Sacred Tradition we call, the body, blood, soul and divinity of our Lord in the Holy Eucharist. So, in my opinion, it is Primo Traditio.

    So, I can’t agree that prima or sola Scriptura are biblical. I find neither of them in Scripture. So, unless someone comes up with a very specific definition for the term Prima Scriptura, I withhold judgment.

    I was simply pointing out that their version

    Their version of what? Prima Scriptura?

    struck me as even closer to being biblical than the Catholic (though really Anglican) “three legged stool”.

    If the Anglicans have a doctrine which they call the “Three Legged Stool”, I guarantee they inherited it from the Catholic Church.

    You had used the Matthew 18 definition. If you want evidence that it happened: http://www.newadvent.org/cathen/09217a.htm

    Read the whole thing. Nothing there about an ecumenical council being gathered to discipline St. Athanasius. In fact, nothing there but innuendo. No facts at all. Well, just one. The Arians were trying to entrap St.Athanasius and failed.

    Well that didn’t happen, ergo your point is false.

    On the contrary, your point is false or they would have discovered their error before it was brought to the Church in Ecumenical Council.

    <blockquote.The facts work equally well in the opposite direction. That proves nothing.

    You are again wrong. The Arian religion has disappeared. The Arian religion was proven a false religion. The Catholic Faith is proven the Church of Christ. There is no opposite direction.

    Yes.

    And that will end our discussion. You have no horse in this race and no dog in this fight. You are a non-believer, an atheist, pretending to defend the Protestants. But all you are doing is making senseless and illogical arguments in defense of something you don’t believe.

    But if you do want to continue a dialogue with me, I will begin to dismantle your belief system. Because atheism is the most foolish belief system on this earth.

    Sincerely,

    De Maria

  35. Block quote=”” am I doing this right, /blockquote

  36. Lol I guess you can’t teach an old dog new tricks

  37. +JMJ+

    You gotta put the “greater than” and “less than” characters around the blockquote tags, like it shows at the very bottom of this page.

  38. Kenneth,

    To say that everyone is given sufficient grace so that they have the ability to choose but that no one will choose without efficacious grace might make you feel better, but if efficacious grace is required for the choice to be made, those who do not get it do not have a choice in the real sense that you think Calvinism denies. It really is as simple as that. No, if you want to tell me that some people will choose without efficacious grace, then that is a different animal.

    BTW, have you seen the most recent interview with Pope Francis in which he says all people need to do is follow their own view of the good and they’ll be alright? Looks like Eric and I are indeed golden, like I’ve been saying.

  39. De Maria,

    Actually, the Arians haven’t disappeared—unfortunately. Today they go by the name Watchtower Bible and Tract Society or, more popularly, the Jehovah’s Witnesses.

  40. As a side note… How do you guys make the floaty white quotation boxes?

    [blockquote]This is the text that I want to appear in the white floaty box. [/blockquote]

    Now instead of typing a [ substitute a in all places in the above, and you should get this:

    This is the text that I want to appear in the white floaty box.

  41. What the heck? Pay no attention to my last post. Instead, go to CTC and look at their instructions for comment formatting and do the blockquote thing:

    http://www.calledtocommunion.com/about/comment-formatting/

  42. Kenneth, here are some quotes from an article by Fr. William G. Most that I think are worth pondering:

    PREDESTINATION,
    by Fr. William G. Most
    .
    Views of the Thomists and the Molinists:
    .

    a) Thomists: they say that God predestines and reprobates
    without considering merits or demerits. Objection: Here is Joe
    Doaks, whom God has decided to reprobate without even seeing how
    Joe lives. Can He do this, and also say (1 Tim 2:4) that He
    wills all to be saved – which would include Joe Doaks? Obviously
    not.
    .
    This impossibility was admitted by the real founder of the
    “Thomist” system, Domingo Banez who was followed by Cardinal
    Cajetan. But later generations of Dominicans insisted this view
    is not incompatible with 1 Tim 2:4. What they failed to see is
    this: To love is to will good to another for the other’s sake. So
    to will salvation to all is to love. So in this “Thomist”
    view, God would not love Joe Doaks. And because He would decide to
    reprobate many without any consideration of their demerits, He
    would really not love anyone at all.
    .
    Did St. Thomas himself hold this view? By no means. …
    .
    b) Molinists. Their view comes from Molina, a Spanish Jesuit.
    He held that God predestines after considering merits. But this
    is impossible, for our merits are a gift of God, according to 1
    Cor 4:7: “What have you that you have not received?” St. Augustine
    in Epistle 194 agrees: “When God crowns your merits, He crowns
    nothing other than His own gifts”. So the view of Molina
    involves a vicious circle.
    .
    Debates in Rome: In 1597 Pope Clement VIII ordered both the above
    schools to send delegates to Rome to debate before a commission
    of Cardinals. The debates ran about 10 years. After a time the
    Pope himself presided. Clement VIII died, and Paul V inherited
    the debates. Paul V asked St. Francis de Sales, a saint and a
    great theologian, for advice. Francis advised him to approve
    neither school. He did that in 1607. Divine Providence was
    protecting the Church from two great errors.
    .
    The solution: There is no time in God, but one thing may be
    logically before another. There are three logical points in His
    decisions on predestination:
    .
    1) God wills all men to be saved. This is explicit in 1 Tim
    2:4, and since to love is to will good to another for the other’s
    sake, this is the same as saying God loves us. To deny that, as
    Banez did is a horrendous error, it denies the love of God. How
    strong this love is can be seen by the obstacle it overcame in
    the work of opening eternal happiness to us: the death of Christ
    on the cross.
    .
    2) God looks to see who resists His grace gravely and
    persistently, so persistently that the person throws away the
    only thing that could save him. With regrets, God decrees to let
    such persons go: reprobation because of and in view of grave and
    persistent resistance to grace.
    .
    3) All others not discarded in step two are positively
    predestined, but not because of merits, which are not at all in
    view yet, nor even because of the lack of such resistance, but
    because in step 1, God wanted to predestine them, and they are
    not stopping Him. This is predestination without merits
    .
    Ref: http://www.ewtn.com/library/SCRIPTUR/PREDESTI.TXT

  43. Here are my own thoughts on “efficacy”, for what it is worth. I want to make an analogy of the efficacy of a life saving pharmaceutical drug, and the efficacy of the actual grace of cooperating grace.

    Suppose I am sick. The doctor tells me that I am going to die unless I take a drug that he is offering to me to me. I accept the medicine that is being offered to me, and go home and take the medicine. By cooperating with the doctor, I and am saved from death. I didn’t die because the medicine was efficacious, and I didn’t die because I cooperated with the doctor by taking the medicine that saved me.

    Now suppose that I am in the same situation, but instead of taking the medicine that the doctor gives to me, I go home and throw the medicine away. In this case, I die, not because the medicine was not efficacious, but because I threw away the only thing that could save me. To complete my analogy, cooperating grace is the medicine that the Divine Healer gives to me in order that I might be have life everlasting. If I don’t take the cooperating grace that is offered to me, I will die the second death, not because the grace that was offered to me was not efficacious, but because I exercised my free will to not accept the gift of grace that was being offered to me.

    A further point that I would like to make is this: If I don’t accept the cooperating grace that is offered to me, that grace is not wasted, because grace is never wasted. Grace that is left unused will be given to someone else that will benefit from it. In this sense, cooperating grace is always efficacious.

    He also who had received the one talent came forward, saying, `Master, I knew you to be a hard man, reaping where you did not sow, and gathering where you did not winnow; so I was afraid, and I went and hid your talent in the ground. Here you have what is yours.’ But his master answered him, `You wicked and slothful servant! You knew that I reap where I have not sowed, and gather where I have not winnowed? Then you ought to have invested my money with the bankers, and at my coming I should have received what was my own with interest. So take the talent from him, and give it to him who has the ten talents.

  44. Kenneth–

    A position that the vast majority of Calvinists holds is hardly secret. (Just secret from you, O, one of incomparable learning and self-proclaimed Calvinism expert!)

  45. Mateo–

    Sounds like Fr. Most believes all are saved except really bad dudes (atheists, willful apostates, terrorists, and perpetrators of genocide).

    Sounds like the quintessential American religion: I was a “generally good person” (didn’t kill anybody, didn’t rob any convenient stores, didn’t cheat on my taxes overmuch….) Therefore, God will let me into his heaven.

  46. Robert–

    Actually, my friend, I don’t follow my own view of the good very well.

    I’d really, really like to…but–alas and alack–I don’t. I might not be so very “golden.”

    (Who will save me from this body of death?)

  47. Eric,

    Indeed. I’m speaking of Roman presuppositions and what they define as “good,” particularly what Francis is defining as good. I realize most RCs would balk at this, but at the end of the day, their theology really does work out to “as long as you do your best” you are golden. So, if Rome is right, we’re both certainly virtuous enough to make it. We even affirm the lordship of Christ, not like those atheists.

    If God’s standard is perfection, however, it’s a far different story.

    Rome’s view of human sin and God’s holiness is seriously defective, and Francis’ comments demonstrate that such is the case.

    Sola Gratia!

  48. +JMJ+

    Robert wrote:

    I realize most RCs would balk at this, but at the end of the day, their theology really does work out to “as long as you do your best” you are golden.

    Our theology, most definitely, does not work out. For two reasons…

    1) We don’t have “a theology”.
    2) None of them “work out”.

    The problem is that your theology really does “work out”, and “working out” is an infallible sign of its error.

  49. Wosbald,

    True, you don’t have a theology. You have a competing mess of fallible interpretations of some vague doctrinal statements. Hence the Protestant critique that Rome exhibits no more unity than a meeting of Presbyterians, Lutherans, Baptists, and Pentecostals.

    Wait, that’s wrong as well. Y’all are so amorphous that we can say with certainty one thing — It doesn’t matter what you believe as a Roman Catholic as long as you don’t leave the church.

  50. Eric, you write:

    Sounds like Fr. Most believes all are saved except really bad dudes (atheists, willful apostates, terrorists, and perpetrators of genocide).

    Fr. Most is saying that there is asymmetric aspect in regards to who will behold the beatific vision and who will be cast into the lake of fire.

    Salvation is a gift that is given which is NOT earned by doing good works. On the other hand, the damned earn their trip to the lake of fire by the evil works that they commit in this life, that is, the second death is a wage that paid with the wages due for the evil works that the damned freely consent to commit. Which is exactly what the St. Paul teaches:

    For the wages of sin is death, but the free gift of God is eternal life in Christ Jesus our Lord.
    Romans 6:24

    It never ceases to amaze me that many Protestants can read this verse of scripture and completely miss the point that Paul is making. Paul is contrasting a wage with freely given gift. A wage is what is justly due a worker for the work that he has done. A freely given gift, in contrast, is something that is NOT earned.

    Is Fr. Most teaching that “bad dudes” earn their damnation by the evil that they commit? Yes, he is, which is exactly what Paul teaches in Romans 6:24 and what the Catholic Church teaches too:

    Catechism of the Catholic Church
    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.

    What Paul is teaching in Romans 6:24 and what CCC 1037 is teaching in 1037 is what Fr. Most is teaching too:

    2) God looks to see who resists His grace gravely and persistently, so persistently that the person throws away the only thing that could save him. With regrets, God decrees to let such persons go: reprobation because of and in view of grave and persistent resistance to grace.

    Note that Fr. Most is saying that a man earns his damnation by the act of throwing away the only thing that could save him, namely the freely given gift of God, the saving grace that brings one into union with Christ Jesus our Lord.

    To be damned one has to work at it; one has to earn the wage that is due the work of evil. One has to commit mortal sin, persist in it to the end (that is, never repent of the mortal sin that one has committed) and then die in enmity with God. If one does that, then one has earned the wages of death.

    What Protestants should be concerned about is that the sin of schism is a grave sin that has the potential of earning the unrepentant schismatic a trip to the lake of everlasting fire.

    Lumen Gentium
    14.
    This Sacred Council wishes to turn its attention firstly to the Catholic faithful. Basing itself upon Sacred Scripture and Tradition, it teaches that the Church, now sojourning on earth as an exile, is necessary for salvation. Christ, present to us in His Body, which is the Church, is the one Mediator and the unique way of salvation. In explicit terms He Himself affirmed the necessity of faith and baptism and thereby affirmed also the necessity of the Church, for through baptism as through a door men enter the Church. Whosoever, therefore, knowing that the Catholic Church was made necessary by Christ, would refuse to enter or to remain in it, could not be saved.

    Eric, what about the people who are not damned? Did the earn their salvation by the good works that they have done in this life? No.

    Who does God offer the gift of saving grace to? Everyone. God loves everyone without condition, and God wills the good of man. That is Fr. Most’s first point:

    1) God wills all men to be saved. This is explicit in 1 Tim 2:4, and since to love is to will good to another for the other’s sake, this is the same as saying God loves us. To deny that, as Banez did is a horrendous error, it denies the love of God. How strong this love is can be seen by the obstacle it overcame in the work of opening eternal happiness to us: the death of Christ on the cross.

    Fr. Most’s third point is about those who do not resist the sufficient grace that God gives to ALL men:

    3) All others not discarded in step two are positively predestined, but not because of merits, which are not at all in view yet, nor even because of the lack of such resistance, but because in step 1, God wanted to predestine them, and they are not stopping Him. This is predestination without merits.

    The Catholic Church teaches that all men can be saved because God gives sufficient grace to all men. Even men, who through no fault of their own, have never heard the Gospel preached to them.

    Lumen Gentium
    16.
    Finally, those who have not yet received the Gospel are related in various ways to the people of God. In the first place we must recall the people to whom the testament and the promises were given and from whom Christ was born according to the flesh. On account of their fathers this people remains most dear to God, for God does not repent of the gifts He makes nor of the calls He issues. But the plan of salvation also includes those who acknowledge the Creator. In the first place amongst these there are the Muslims, who, professing to hold the faith of Abraham, along with us adore the one and merciful God, who on the last day will judge mankind. Nor is God far distant from those who in shadows and images seek the unknown God, for it is He who gives to all men life and breath and all things, and as Saviour wills that all men be saved. Those also can attain to salvation who through no fault of their own do not know the Gospel of Christ or His Church, yet sincerely seek God and moved by grace strive by their deeds to do His will as it is known to them through the dictates of conscience. Nor does Divine Providence deny the helps necessary for salvation to those who, without blame on their part, have not yet arrived at an explicit knowledge of God and with His grace strive to live a good life.

  51. Robert,

    you have become a very dull dialog partner. I recently went back through Jasons old posts from months past. The very beginning of his blogging as a catholic convert. I was looking for a conversation between me and CD HOST and I saw your comments from times past. I began to notice as I skimmed through these old blogs that you are very much a one trick pony. No matter where any topic begins, for you, its all about sola ecclesia. JBFA, the Eucharist, liberal v conservative labels, doesn’t matter. You go back to your same old sola ecclesia Rome is confusing arguments over and over and over and over. Our paradigm is not better than yours because we have a magesterium. Our paradigm is more fulfilling because we HAVE THREE LEGS of authority that work in unison. That doesn’t eliminate all epistemological issues…. But it gets us over the protestant struggles that are inherent to sola scriptura. Please strive to become more dynamic in your approach.

    Eric,

    can you describe the difference to me? I am ignorant of the distinction you made

  52. @#&*! HTML. Let me try this again.

    Eric, you write:

    Sounds like Fr. Most believes all are saved except really bad dudes (atheists, willful apostates, terrorists, and perpetrators of genocide).

    Fr. Most is saying that there is asymmetric aspect in regards to who will behold the beatific vision and those who will be cast into the lake of fire.

    Salvation is a gift that is given which is NOT earned by doing good works. On the other hand, the damned earn their trip to the lake of fire by the evil works that they commit in this life, that is, the second death is a wage that paid with the wages due for the evil works that the damned freely consent to commit. Which is exactly what the St. Paul teaches:

    For the wages of sin is death, but the free gift of God is eternal life in Christ Jesus our Lord.
    Romans 6:24

    It never ceases to amaze me that so many Protestants can read this verse of scripture and completely miss the point that St. Paul is making. St. Paul is contrasting a wage with freely given gift. A wage is what is justly due a worker for the work that he has done. A freely given gift, in contrast, is something that is NOT earned.

    Eric, is Fr. Most teaching that “bad dudes” earn their damnation by the evil that they commit? Yes, he is, which is exactly what St. Paul teaches in Romans 6:24 and what the Catholic Church teaches too:

    Catechism of the Catholic Church
    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.

    What St. Paul is teaching in Romans 6:24 and what CCC 1037 is teaching is what Fr. Most is teaching too:

    2) God looks to see who resists His grace gravely and persistently, so persistently that the person throws away the only thing that could save him. With regrets, God decrees to let such persons go: reprobation because of and in view of grave and persistent resistance to grace.

    Note that Fr. Most is saying that a man earns his damnation by the act of throwing away the only thing that could save him, namely the freely given gift of God, the saving grace that brings a man into union with Christ Jesus our Lord.

    To be damned one has to work at it; one has to earn the wage that is due the work of evil. One has to commit mortal sin, persist in it to the end (that is, never repent of the mortal sin that one has committed) and then die in enmity with God. If one does that, then one has earned the wages of death.

    What Protestants should be concerned about is that the sin of schism is a grave sin that has the potential of earning the schismatic a trip to the lake of everlasting fire.

    Lumen Gentium
    14.
    This Sacred Council wishes to turn its attention firstly to the Catholic faithful. Basing itself upon Sacred Scripture and Tradition, it teaches that the Church, now sojourning on earth as an exile, is necessary for salvation. Christ, present to us in His Body, which is the Church, is the one Mediator and the unique way of salvation. In explicit terms He Himself affirmed the necessity of faith and baptism and thereby affirmed also the necessity of the Church, for through baptism as through a door men enter the Church. Whosoever, therefore, knowing that the Catholic Church was made necessary by Christ, would refuse to enter or to remain in it, could not be saved.

    Eric, what about the people who are not damned? Did they earn their salvation by the good works that they have done in this life? No. Can’t stress that enough.

    Who does God offer the gift of saving grace to? Everyone. God loves everyone without condition, and God wills the good of man. That is Fr. Most’s first point:

    1) God wills all men to be saved. This is explicit in 1 Tim 2:4, and since to love is to will good to another for the other’s sake, this is the same as saying God loves us. To deny that, as Banez did is a horrendous error, it denies the love of God. How strong this love is can be seen by the obstacle it overcame in the work of opening eternal happiness to us: the death of Christ on the cross.

    Fr. Most’s third point is about those who do not resist the sufficient grace that God gives to ALL men:

    3) All others not discarded in step two are positively predestined, but not because of merits, which are not at all in view yet, nor even because of the lack of such resistance, but because in step 1, God wanted to predestine them, and they are not stopping Him. This is predestination without merits.

    The Catholic Church teaches that all men can be saved because God gives sufficient grace to all men. Even men, who through no fault of their own, have never heard the Gospel preached to them.

    Lumen Gentium
    16.
    Finally, those who have not yet received the Gospel are related in various ways to the people of God. In the first place we must recall the people to whom the testament and the promises were given and from whom Christ was born according to the flesh. On account of their fathers this people remains most dear to God, for God does not repent of the gifts He makes nor of the calls He issues. But the plan of salvation also includes those who acknowledge the Creator. In the first place amongst these there are the Muslims, who, professing to hold the faith of Abraham, along with us adore the one and merciful God, who on the last day will judge mankind. Nor is God far distant from those who in shadows and images seek the unknown God, for it is He who gives to all men life and breath and all things, and as Saviour wills that all men be saved. Those also can attain to salvation who through no fault of their own do not know the Gospel of Christ or His Church, yet sincerely seek God and moved by grace strive by their deeds to do His will as it is known to them through the dictates of conscience. Nor does Divine Providence deny the helps necessary for salvation to those who, without blame on their part, have not yet arrived at an explicit knowledge of God and with His grace strive to live a good life.

  53. Robert, you write:

    You have a competing mess of fallible interpretations of some vague doctrinal statements.

    No so. You think that Unam Sanctam contradicts Lumen Gentium 14, when, in fact, both say the same thing: “Whosoever, therefore, knowing that the Catholic Church was made necessary by Christ, would refuse to enter or to remain in it, could not be saved. LG 14”

    Your problem is that you read the documents of Vatican II with a hermeneutic of discontinuity, instead of a hermeneutic of continuity. Which is understandable, from my point of view, because the theological novelties that the Reformation stands upon have come about from a hermeneutic of discontinuity.

  54. Kenneth, you write:

    All I was asking you for were your thoughts and the view point of Dominic banez that is commonly classified as a stripe of Thomistic thought.

    Fr. Most makes the argument that St. Thomas Aquinas never taught what Domingo Banez taught.

    See this article:

    ACTUAL GRACE, by Fr. William G. Most
    .
    Was St.Thomas a Thomist on actual grace? Definitely no, just as he was not a Thomist on predestination …

    http://www.ewtn.com/library/SCRIPTUR/2THOMIST.TXT

  55. +JMJ+

    Mateo wrote:

    Fr. Most makes the argument that St. Thomas Aquinas never taught what Domingo Banez taught.

    I think that St. Thomas was indeterminate on the issue. IOW, he (wisely) left the door open to be interpreted in an “either/or” sense. It could be extended in the either Banezian or the Molinist direction or anything in between. (And considering that Banezians and Molinists were both Thomists, this makes sense.)

    He was hesitant to extend the line of thought, simply because he was respecting the Mystery by allowing others to situate themselves in proximity to it according to their preferential dispositions. He knew that determining the issue too precisely would more starkly reveal the Paradox, and so he left the issue at a far greater degree of indeterminacy than would his eventual successors. Though this is speculation, perhaps he didn’t want to overly expose the Mystery to scrutiny, dissection and, even, heretical temptations (as the history of the Protestant Reformation would later demonstrate). He knew that there was, inevitably, a point at which theological speculation would have to stop (the point at which Dogmatic Commitments were at the verge of being compromised), so why not stop a little earlier rather than later? As I said, this was his wisdom at work.

    Please note that I’m not faulting either the Banezians or the Molinists. I’m sure that Aquinas knew that his work might later be extended and that, if this was to come to pass, then so be it. He was content for his successors to further wrangle over the issue as necessary. I suss that he figured that he’d done enough to provide theology with fodder for generations to come, and so, he passed the torch.

    St. Thomas’ masterful balance of precise analysis and artful silence is one reason why his work never becomes old hat. He was definitive enough to remind us that the Questions of Faith (Theology) are always worth asking whilst, simultaneously, leaving enough unsaid to remind us that these same Questions never find a perfect systematic answer, inevitably having to fall silent before the face of Mystery.

  56. Kenneth,

    you have become a very dull dialog partner. I recently went back through Jasons old posts from months past. The very beginning of his blogging as a catholic convert. I was looking for a conversation between me and CD HOST and I saw your comments from times past. I began to notice as I skimmed through these old blogs that you are very much a one trick pony. No matter where any topic begins, for you, its all about sola ecclesia. JBFA, the Eucharist, liberal v conservative labels, doesn’t matter. You go back to your same old sola ecclesia Rome is confusing arguments over and over and over and over. Our paradigm is not better than yours because we have a magesterium. Our paradigm is more fulfilling because we HAVE THREE LEGS of authority that work in unison. That doesn’t eliminate all epistemological issues…. But it gets us over the protestant struggles that are inherent to sola scriptura. Please strive to become more dynamic in your approach.

    Um, I could say the same thing of you, my friend. No matter what anyone says about the failure of the Magisterium, you go back to the 3-legs of authority, which is actually more of an Anglican thing anyway. And my contention is that in Rome they don’t work in unison. If they did, you would not have one contradicting the other, which is what we have in so many Roman expositions of Scripture. Furthermore, since you are the one who has been criticizing post V2 liberalism and the intentional vagueness that liberals snuck into the V2 documents, how in the world can you claim that your 3-legged stool is even functional, let alone the church’s position?

    And Jason’s argument at least, and he is the runner of this blog, is that Rome is better because it has the infallible Magisterium to provide the principled distinction one needs to separate truth from opinion. That may not be your argument, but it is most definitely his.

    The issues that separate Rome and Protestantism and have been argued about for centuries. Nobody on either side is making any new arguments. I don’t think anyone can make new arguments. The best you get is people reformulating old arguments to make them more appealing in the modern context. Rome’s positions on history and Scripture as traditionally formulated continue to be untenable and throughly unconvincing unless you first by into the theory that while we can make the first and most critical discernment of what church is true, we certainly cannot look at different interpretations of Scripture and conclude what is true.

    I guess my point is that you, Jason, et al aren’t making any new arguments either.

    And the point of sola ecclesia still stands. Countless historians and Bible scholars have rather clearly demonstrated from both Scripture and the earliest tradition that the papacy was a historical novum imposed on the church quite late and that has done nothing but cause schism in the church. But since the church continues to teach the necessity of the papacy, y’all still believe it. Sola ecclesia at its finest.

  57. Mateo,

    Boniface said in Unam Sanctam that ““We declare, say, define, and pronounce that it is wholly necessary for the salvation of every human creature to be subject to the Roman Pontiff”

    Please show me where Boniface believed that Muslims were subject to the Roman pontiff even though they didn’t know it. What about the Eastern Church? Because the thought of Rahner and the other V2 legates was that those who do get saved while not in conscious submission to the Roman pontiff are saved because, unbeknownst to them, they are actually connected somehow to Christ and the RC Church.

    Unless you can demonstrate that, what Boniface meant by Unam Sanctam is not what Vatican 2 means. And if Vatican 2 is teaching something different than what Boniface intended and that’s okay, all communication and interpretation loses meaning.

    Or, to put it more simply, where does Bonfiace teach that it is possible to be connected to the Roman Church even if one is unconscious of it?

  58. Robert,

    show where James teaches that we are saved by faith alone apart from our works? Sure doesn’t look like he was teaching that?

    Robert replies ” oh silly Kenneth. Don’t you know you have to take the TOTALITY of scripture all together before you start making assumptions on what any particular teaching means!”

    exactly. If that line of reasoning works for you it works for us too

  59. Matteo,

    Thank you for the comments and links to Fr most! He was a great man and wonderful theologian. I am rather fond of his “solution” to the predestination mystery and think it very clever. I also liked your analogy of the doctor/medicine and think it illustrates his theology rather well. He was a student of father RGL who is one of my favs. I don’t think any of his criticisms concerning Thomism hold water (especially the idea that the metaphysics of saint Thomas aren’t obviously expounded upon by Dominic Banez.) and find his solution to be completely out of touch with scripture and also the thought of saint Thomas. I’ve mentioned it several times before but I highly recommend you read the book “predestination” by John Salza. He addresses Fr Most as well as Calvinism and molinism. It is by far one of the most approachable and thorough works I’ve ever picked up. Check it out!

  60. +JMJ+

    Kenneth wrote:

    Robert,
    .
    show where James teaches that we are saved by faith alone apart from our works? Sure doesn’t look like he was teaching that?
    .
    Robert replies ” oh silly Kenneth. Don’t you know you have to take the TOTALITY of scripture all together before you start making assumptions on what any particular teaching means!”
    .
    exactly. If that line of reasoning works for you it works for us too

    Boom goes the dynamite!

  61. I love when Protestants talk about Unam Sanctam and point to that as the reason they’re not Catholic.

    I just reread Unam Sanctam and thought it was pretty clear.

    1. Salvation is through Christ…

    2. Christ appointed one shepherd to Feed His Sheep

    3. Christ says in John there is only one shepherd and one sheep fold.

    4. Peter was the one shepherd

    5. The Pope is the successor of Peter.

    6. Therefore, if you belong to Christ, you are part of the sheepfold of Christ and Peter’s successor is the shepherd.

    And yes, if Protestants (or Muslims) are saved, they are also part of the ONE SHEEPFOLD of which the Pope is the chief shepherd. It truly doesn’t matter if they deny it or don’t understand it.

    If you guys argued that the sun revolves around the earth, and believed it with all your heart, it doesn’t change the reality.

    Why is this so hard to understand?

  62. Robert you write:

    Please show me where Boniface believed that Muslims were subject to the Roman pontiff even though they didn’t know it. What about the Eastern Church?

    What about you?

    The pope is the Vicar of Christ. The pope holds the office of Viceroy to the King of Kings, and this divine office was established on earth by God Almighty.

    Robert, you make a very big mistake when you think of the One, Holy, Catholic and Apostolic Church as something as trivial as a man-founded Protestant denomination. The pope, by virtue of the authority vested in his divinely established office, is the temporal spiritual head of all men on earth, and not just the members of the Catholic Church. This has always been the Catholic Church’s understanding of the authority vested with the Petrine office, and for you to insist that I “prove” that Pope Boniface had an orthodox understanding of the authority vested with the Petrine office would be a pointless exercise in silliness on my part.

    Pope Francis has spiritual authority over you, whether you acknowledge that fact or not. Christ has command you to listen to His church, the church that He personally founded, and in the end, you will stand in judgment before the Lord as to how well you fulfilled this commandment of God.

    You are the one that claims that scripture is inerrant, so you will have to answer as to why you refused to listen to the church that the Lord has founded, and chose, instead, to listen to any church but the Lord’s own church.

    “Why do you call me `Lord, Lord,’ and not do what I tell you?
    Luke 6:46

    Robert, the Lord has commanded you to listen to his Church, and that is something that you are not doing. May God have mercy on you.

  63. @Robert:

    Please show me where Boniface believed that Muslims were subject to the Roman pontiff even though they didn’t know it. What about the Eastern Church? Because the thought of Rahner and the other V2 legates was that those who do get saved while not in conscious submission to the Roman pontiff are saved because, unbeknownst to them, they are actually connected somehow to Christ and the RC Church.

    Unless you can demonstrate that, what Boniface meant by Unam Sanctam is not what Vatican 2 means. And if Vatican 2 is teaching something different than what Boniface intended and that’s okay, all communication and interpretation loses meaning.

    Or, to put it more simply, where does Bonfiace teach that it is possible to be connected to the Roman Church even if one is unconscious of it?

    Because you have repeatedly misrepresented my statements on this point, I thought that a clarification is in order. It doesn’t matter what Pope Boniface thought about the subject, because there is no evidence in the document that Pope Boniface was even thinking about this issue or that it was what he intended to make binding. He can’t accidentally make something binding, and the rules of Catholic interpretation simply acknowledge this basic fact. What he intended by saying “every creature” was specific to his time and place, and what we have to figure out if how the principle applies beyond his time. In other words, your fundamentalist reading of the passage actually disregards the context and disrespects the original author’s intent.

    You’re doing exactly the same thing that atheists do when they take Old Testament authors as talking about matters of physical science when there is no evidence in the text that they were considering matters of physical science or that this was the point in the story. There is simply no evidence that Pope Boniface was attempting to convey some truth about global or universal humanity when he was speaking specifically to a Catholic prince in Europe. The idea that because some teaching is limited to its specific context doesn’t mean that application to other contexts in infinitely malleable. It simply means that one has to demonstrate that there is something that the original author did not have in mind and was not within the scope of his knowledge or intent, which is exactly what Rahner did.

    And this is bad exegesis even on secular terms. For example, there are some people who do not seem to realize that the Bill of Rights did not apply to state governments until after the Civil War. For example, the Fourth Amendment reads:
    “The right of the people to be secure in their persons, houses, papers, and effects, against unreasonable searches and seizures, shall not be violated, and no Warrants shall issue, but upon probable cause, supported by Oath or affirmation, and particularly describing the place to be searched, and the persons or things to be seized.”

    Now if you read that literally, as you have done with Boniface, it says that “the right of the people … shall not be violated,” which appears to be an absolute statement. Given the Supremacy Clause that the Constitution is the supreme law of the land, one could say that this means that no government at all can infringe this right, whether state or federal, because it literally says “shall not be violated.” But that would disrespect the historical context, that this was a document intended to apply to the federal government that did not apply to state governments unless an explicit statement to that effect was made (e.g., “No state shall…”). So we cabin the meaning of absolute statements based on historical context and purpose all the time, in both mundane documents and Sacred Scripture.

    There is nothing unusual or Catholic or “Magisterium of the Moment” about this. Many people in Christian history took statements in Scripture literally that we now consider to be inconsistent with the original intent of those authors. Likewise, the fact that many people interpreted Unam Sanctam more broadly, even though we now realize based on the best historical research of the entirety of Catholic dogma that it ought not be taken that way, does not mean that those people are right by default. It took thought and careful consideration to realize what issues were and were not within the scope of the infallible teaching, just as we do with Scripture. The fact that greater historical knowledge and knowledge of the world generally gives greater understanding of the universal principles taught in these kinds of documents is hardly a concession to liberalism or an attempt to make the document into a wax nose. It simply acknowledges that we should not assume that infallible authors are anachronistically speaking about matters that are beyond the scope of their historical awareness.

  64. As a postscript, this linked blog post has a nice summary of the situation along with an extended excerpt from a letter of Pope Gregory VII expressing hope that a Muslim prince would be received into the bosom of Abraham:
    http://hancaquam.blogspot.com/2010/09/do-muslims-and-christians-worship-same.html?m=1

    That doesn’t even make sense if the Catholic dogma were that no one who failed to explicitly convert to Catholicism could be saved. Given that there clearly were other people of whom popes were aware who were not subject to the pope for whom they nevertheless had a hope of salvation, it is entirely reasonable to suppose that Boniface simply wasn’t talking about such people when he wrote the statement. If he did have such an exaggerated belief, he certainly did nothing to objectively manifest it, so his subjective belief was not made binding. Again, this is purely routine interpretation of the context in which documents are made binding, just like we do with all sorts of legal documents.

  65. Here’s an article from today’s Daily Beast that reinforces my thesis that Francis is getting major props from the left despite not fliching on the Church’s dogma:

    http://www.thedailybeast.com/articles/2013/10/06/pope-francis-s-injunction-to-get-back-to-basics-may-help-american-christianity.html

  66. Guys,

    Keep playing your language games, meanwhile the last line of Unam Sanctam reads:

    “Furthermore, we declare, we proclaim, we define that it is absolutely necessary for salvation that every human creature be subject to the Roman Pontiff.”

    Sure there have been wishy-washy liberals throughout the history of the Roman Catholic Church. It wasn’t until V2, however, that de facto universalism became dogma. Spin it all you want, but you can’t insist on the importance of the visible church but then redefine the nature of the visible church so that you can be an unconscious member of it.

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