Saturday, February 02, 2008

Did Trent Embrace Sola Gratia?

In the session on Justification, Trent writes:
CANON IV.-If any one saith, that man's free will moved and excited by God, by assenting to God exciting and calling, nowise co-operates towards disposing and preparing itself for obtaining the grace of Justification; that it cannot refuse its consent, if it would, but that, as something inanimate, it does nothing whatever and is merely passive; let him be anathema.

Notice the key word there "co-operates." That means man acting with God. It is a denial of monergism and a denial of sola gratia.

And we are not stuck alone with Trent's fourth canon, for the same thought is expressed:

CHAPTER V. On the necessity, in adults, of preparation for Justification, and whence it proceeds. The Synod furthermore declares, that in adults, the beginning of the said Justification is to be derived from the prevenient grace of God, through Jesus Christ, that is to say, from His vocation, whereby, without any merits existing on their parts, they are called; that so they, who by sins were alienated from God, may be disposed through His quickening and assisting grace, to convert themselves to their own justification, by freely assenting to and co-operating with that said grace: in such sort that, while God touches the heart of man by the illumination of the Holy Ghost, neither is man himself utterly without doing anything while he receives that inspiration, forasmuch as he is also able to reject it; yet is he not able, by his own free will, without the grace of God, to move himself unto justice in His sight. Whence, when it is said in the sacred writings: Turn ye to me, and I will turn to you, we are admonished of our liberty; and when we answer; Convert us, O Lord, to thee, and we shall be converted, we confess that we are prevented by the grace of God.

Notice the key words (for our consideration): "they ... may be disposed through ... grace, to convert themselves to their own justification, by freely assenting to and co-operating with that said grace...."

This is a rather clear denial of salvation by grace alone. Thus, the answer to the title question is a resounding NO!

Trent is not, however, advocating Pelagianism. Trent is not making an assertion that grace is unnecessary. The paragraph insists on the essential presence of grace. That is very good. It is laudable that Trent did not teach Pelagianism.

Nevertheless, Trent does not teach salvation by grace alone. If one recognizes that Scripture teaches salvation by grace alone, one needs to make a decision:

1. Either believe Scripture's testimony, or
2. Believe Trent's testimony.

The former way is the way of the Reformers, and the latter way must be the way of any consistent Catholic. Now, note: I have not, in this post, shown that Scripture teaches that salvation is by grace alone. If I were debating the matter of what Scripture teaches, I would want to address that issue.

Instead, I am simply addressing in this post what Rome teaches. Why would I do that? I would do that because there are certain men out there in the Internet who would like people to believe that Rome teaches salvation by grace alone.

And guess what: you can find statements praising the phrase "sola gratia" from places like the Vatican's official web site. There is a modicum of veracity to such a claim. However, given what Trent dogmatically defines:

1) Either the Vatican's official web site (and the people speaking through it) mean something different by "sola gratia" than monergism (i.e. they are, in effect, equivocating); or
2) Even the pope makes mistakes, and an affirmation of sola gratia (the teaching that men are saved by grace alone, and not at all in any way by human merit) is necessarily a mistake because it conflicts with Trent's teaching on justification.

In other words, Trent as a putatively ecumenical council (though dominated by Italian and Spanish bishops, and devoid of Reformed and Orthodox bishops) has greater ecclesiastical authority than anything one can find in speeches made by modern ecumenical bishops, archbishops, cardinals, or even popes.

If this were a card game, Trent is a trump card, beating out even such "official" documents as the Catechism of the Catholic Church, and - of course - beating out the writings of Internet apologists.

Catholics: you're stuck with Trent. You cannot change it. You cannot ignore it. If you want to be Catholic, you have to agree with Trent.

Objections:
I'm bound to hear the objection that I simply don't understand Trent. Why am I so sure that I'll hear that objection? Because it is the same tired objection I hear every time a Catholic person disagrees with me about Catholic doctrine, or a Mormon person disagrees with me about Mormon doctrine (though substitute "Book of Abraham" for "Trent"), or an Orthodox person disagrees with me about Orthodox doctrine (though substitute "Chrysostom" for "Trent") etc. etc. etc. ad nauseum. I've already blogged about this syndrome elsewhere (link). It's a self-defeating argument for those that deny sola scriptura on the allegation that scripture is inscrutable.

But, to be clear, let me point out that at least some Catholics agree with me that Catholic doctrine rejects the Reformed doctrine of sola gratia: Prof. Dr. Josef Seifert, Rector of the International Academy of Philosophy in Liechtenstein, internationally acclaimed philosopher, and member of the Pontifical Academy for Life. Dr. William Marshner, chairman of the Theology Department at Christendom College (pointing out that "sola gratia" can only accepted by Catholics with respect to initiation towards justification).

Why then do we also see Catholics, like Mark Brumley (link) suggesting that the Reformation was right about sola gratia? The most charitable answer is that the matter is clear from Scripture, and consequently it is hard to try to continue to deny its truth. Christians realize that Scripture is the ultimate infallible authority we have today, supreme over Trent and over anything anyone's religious leaders may say. If Scripture says it, we must believe it, and if Trent disagrees, the worse for Trent.

And, of course, to reject Trent is to cease to be Catholic.

May God give Christians wisdom to accept the truth of sola gratia,

-Turretinfan

UPDATE: Apparently at least one thing was not clear from the post above. If one defines "sola gratia" to mean something other than monergism, then of course Trent can be made to accommodate "sola gratia" under that different definition. In fact, one can assert that the RCC teaches "sola scriptura" as well, as long as one is careful to redefine sola scriptura to mean something other than what the Reformers meant by it.

15 comments:

Carrie said...

Good work!

Turretinfan said...

Thanks, Carrie!

natamllc said...

TF,

Job:

Job 42:5 I had heard of you by the hearing of the ear, but now my eye sees you;


There are multiple things that jump up from the page and strike my fancy when I read this article on Trent.

I will limit myself to one with a comment and ask that question of you following:

[[Nevertheless, Trent does not teach salvation by grace alone. If one recognizes that Scripture teaches salvation by grace alone, one needs to make a decision:

1. Either believe Scripture's testimony, or
2. Believe Trent's testimony.]]

YES!

Apparently Job was wrestling with this one as my quote, 42:5 indicates, at least in my opinion.

I see that it takes my own will to believe. The problem with this revelation and the doom it incites in my spirit, soul, body and mostly flesh is that I realize unjustly and unfairly someone ruined that for me!

Who did that?

Adam!

Now as Job, I too heard of Him, but until He does for me what He did for Job, it's just hearing the Truth about the Truth, Him and His equitable deed and offer to me of acquittal. I simply cannot by my own will even accept what I will to accept because of the foolish and most sinful work of Adam!

My distinction is this: "even the devils know and believe". They now knowing "SHUDDER".

Why do they shudder?

I don't know. Do you?

So, as we read in Job asking Bildad also:

Job 26:1 Then Job answered and said:
Job 26:2 "How you have helped him who has no power! How you have saved the arm that has no strength!
Job 26:3 How you have counseled him who has no wisdom, and plentifully declared sound knowledge!
Job 26:4 With whose help have you uttered words, and whose breath has come out from you?

Every creation has one lifeline, the breath of God "who breathes".

Yes I co-equally see that I must choose, but do not have even the power to do that that in and of myself would save me!

Do I protest?

No, never!

I too need the "same Savior".

The devils, for different reasons, need the same "breath" of God to proceed in this horrible rebellion working itself to it's demise:

Eliphaz in response:

Job 15:20 The wicked man writhes in pain all his days, through all the years that are laid up for the ruthless.....>
<.....Job 15:30 he will not depart from darkness; the flame will dry up his shoots, and by the breath of his mouth he will depart.

So it is for those, it has been revealed, even so, for the Beast, the False Prophet, Satan, Death and Hades too along with all the wicked, those whose name is not found in the book of Life it is so.

My question:

When a man arrives at such a place in themself as you are pointing to with Trent, don't you suppose it still is covered and when one passes, Grace embraces them still?

It seems to me for one to even come to this place within in the debate with such knowledge, it's simply a deception to be forgiven and not rejected by God at that one's passing? He saves us, we do nothing about that.

Clearly as you innumerate those, the Mormoms, those Catholics fully engulfed in Rome's dictates and many other "false" religious thought, they only offer doctrines of demons and nothing more.

I hope that question is clear?

If not, we can go at it again?

michael

john martin said...

Notice the key word there "co-operates." That means man acting with God. It is a denial of monergism and a denial of sola gratia.”

Notice the words “man's free will moved and excited by God” means that man must act with God to be justified. This is something that is easily missed and is required in Calvinism whereby it also teaches man is justified by a human act of faith. In this way man also co-operates with God to be saved.

In no way does co-operation mean a semi Pelagian understanding of salvation. The co-operation is an act of grace in itself by which man is given the dignity of acting with God.

“Notice the key words (for our consideration): "they ... may be disposed through ... grace, to convert themselves to their own justification, by freely assenting to and co-operating with that said grace...."

This is a rather clear denial of salvation by grace alone. Thus, the answer to the title question is a resounding NO!”

Or it’s a rather clear affirmation of a mystery whereby man is given the grace to act with God. After all man is a real cause created by God and God can use man to participate in his own salvation. To say God cannot give the grace of co-operation is to limit Gods power.

If man is unfree about salvation, then God has done violence to His creation. Calvinist believe man does not have free will from the fall, which is unbiblical. Catholics believe man is free after the fall and God works with mans nature as a free rational agent to act with or against God as man sees fit.

“Trent is not, however, advocating Pelagianism. Trent is not making an assertion that grace is unnecessary. The paragraph insists on the essential presence of grace. That is very good. It is laudable that Trent did not teach Pelagianism.

Nevertheless, Trent does not teach salvation by grace alone.”

Trent teaches salvation by grace alone whereby grace is so powerful that it is given to allow men to co-operate in their own salvation.

“If one recognizes that Scripture teaches salvation by grace alone, one needs to make a decision:

1. Either believe Scripture's testimony, or
2. Believe Trent's testimony.”

If one recognises what grace is and what man is he must affirm –

1. Man has free will
2. Salvation is a gift of grace from God whereby God repairs mans will.

As God does not act against his creation, he must act in accordance with his creation. Therefore when God acts with man, he acts with man as he is free.

JM

Turretinfan said...

"Notice the words “man's free will moved and excited by God” means that man must act with God to be justified."

Noted that Trent uses this terminology.

"This is something that is easily missed and is required in Calvinism whereby it also teaches man is justified by a human act of faith."

No.

"In this way man also co-operates with God to be saved."

No.

"In no way does co-operation mean a semi Pelagian understanding of salvation."

Your opinion is noted. Let's see what support you offer:

"The co-operation is an act of grace in itself by which man is given the dignity of acting with God."

The co-operation is an act of man. I'm not sure why this is unclear to you. If it were just an act of grace in itself, there would be only operation, not co-operation.

"Or it’s a rather clear affirmation of a mystery whereby man is given the grace to act with God."

There is no obvious contradiction between deny sola gratia and affirming that man is "given the grace to act with God."

"After all man is a real cause created by God and God can use man to participate in his own salvation."

Man is a real cause of many things, but not of his own salvation, according to the Scripture.

"To say God cannot give the grace of co-operation is to limit Gods power."

The argument is not "cannot" but "does not according to Scripture."

"If man is unfree about salvation, then God has done violence to His creation."

In what way is the salvation of baptized infants who die in infancy free with respect to the infant? Is that an example of violence against the children or favor upon the children? If the latter, why assert that it is violence as to adults?

"Calvinist believe man does not have free will from the fall, which is unbiblical."

That's only true with a very specific definition of "free will." Perhaps you should read Jonathan Edwards' "Freedom of the Will" for a more complete and detailed explanation of the Calvinist position, rather than relying on Mr. Armstrong.

"Catholics believe man is free after the fall and God works with mans nature as a free rational agent to act with or against God as man sees fit."

Are you even aware of the teaching of "Providence" within your church?

"Trent teaches salvation by grace alone whereby grace is so powerful that it is given to allow men to co-operate in their own salvation."

Without the co-operation, many men are not saved according to Romanism. Thus, "grace alone" does not save. This is not that complicated to figure out.

"If one recognises what grace is and what man is he must affirm –

1. Man has free will
2. Salvation is a gift of grace from God whereby God repairs mans will."

Where does the Bible say the second part of that (i.e. that salvation is a gift of grace from God whereby God repairs man's will)? And where does the Bible say that man's free will (in whatever sense you mean that term) is impaired (such that repair is required)?

"As God does not act against his creation, he must act in accordance with his creation."

God has dominion over his Creation to mold it according to his desires.

"Therefore when God acts with man, he acts with man as he is free."

As whom is free?

-TurretinFan

john martin said...

"The co-operation is an act of grace in itself by which man is given the dignity of acting with God."

FT- The co-operation is an act of man. I'm not sure why this is unclear to you. If it were just an act of grace in itself, there would be only operation, not co-operation.

If there was no grace then there would be only operation of the human will acting naturally.

The truth is that without revelation we can work out that every act of the human will is an act done with God as the first mover. Man is not able to make a moral act without God acting to move the will. When the will is moved, it is not God acting alone, but God acting with the will, that remains free.

So too when it is a question of salvation, with will is moved by grace to allow the will to love God above all things. But it is the will that is moved, so it cannot be God alone that is moving. If it was God alone moving, then the will would not be moved. So when the will is moved by God, the will acts in accordance with the nature God has given it to act freely. So the will acts free with the grace of God moving it. Therefore the grace of justification is termed an efficacious grace to move the human will to act freely to love God. This is the efficacious gift of God, who can act both immanently within the will itself and transcendently to enable the will to act above its normal activity to love what it previously did not love without Gods grace.

Gods graces acts conaturally with the will to save the sinner. This act is therefore an act of both God and the will. Therefore the will cooperates by the grace of Go to be saved.

"Or it’s a rather clear affirmation of a mystery whereby man is given the grace to act with God."

FT- There is no obvious contradiction between deny sola gratia and affirming that man is "given the grace to act with God."

There is no obvious contradiction between sola gratia and mans will acting with grace as an act of co-operation. Sola gratia can be understood as an act of grace of God, whereby the human will acts with God to be saved.

"After all man is a real cause created by God and God can use man to participate in his own salvation."

Man is a real cause of many things, but not of his own salvation, according to the Scripture.”

Withut man participating in the saving act he cannot be justified. The Catholic church teaches salvation is an intrinsic act of grace within the soul and the will of man, enabling man to love God above all things. It is truly the man who does the loving as a gift of God and without the man doing the act the grace has not been given. But for man to love God, means just that, it is the man doing the loving, which means he must act with grace to be saved.

Grace is not something outside man and it is not something acting upon the will, but something acting inside the will itself. This is possible because God is closer to man than man is to himself and thereby man can act freely to love with the grace within the will. Therefore the act of saving love is an act of both God and the will. To deny man participates in the saving act is to deny secondary causation of Gods creation.

"To say God cannot give the grace of co-operation is to limit Gods power."

FT- The argument is not "cannot" but "does not according to Scripture."

Prove God does not act with the human will according to Scripture.”

"If man is unfree about salvation, then God has done violence to His creation."

FT- In what way is the salvation of baptized infants who die in infancy free with respect to the infant? Is that an example of violence against the children or favor upon the children? If the latter, why assert that it is violence as to adults?

. . .

john martin said...

Children have free will but cannot do a fully moral act, because they have not reached the age of reason. A baptized child has grace given to him/her whereby grace enters into the soul as a habit, just as it does with an adult. The actual grace acting in the will also acts within the will of the child according to the nature of the child who has not yet reached the age of reason. The difference between an adult and a child is the adult has grace given to him in accordance with his state of life as being at the age of reason, whereas the child does not. God covers all bases with his grace, acting with fallen nature to rebuild it freely according to the powers of reason being both active and inactive. God after all is transcendent and so too is his grace to save all, no matter what stage of life they are in.

Gods grace does not do violence to human nature.

"Calvinists believe man does not have free will from the fall, which is unbiblical."

FT- That's only true with a very specific definition of "free will." Perhaps you should read Jonathan Edwards' "Freedom of the Will" for a more complete and detailed explanation of the Calvinist position, rather than relying on Mr. Armstrong.”

I’ve read more than just Armstrong; nevertheless from what I’ve read from Armstrong he is right on the money.

"Catholics believe man is free after the fall and God works with mans nature as a free rational agent to act with or against God as man sees fit."

Are you even aware of the teaching of "Providence" within your church?

FT – I gotta luv ya bro. You pull out some good ones some times.

"Trent teaches salvation by grace alone whereby grace is so powerful that it is given to allow men to co-operate in their own salvation."

Without the co-operation, many men are not saved according to Romanism.”

Without the grace of cooperation acting within the will the will cannot move to act freely. You seem to infer grace and will act independently according to the Catholic understanding.

“Thus, "grace alone" does not save. This is not that complicated to figure out.”

So you seemed convinced about your position. Let’s see you tell me what the nature of grace is and how it acts to save man. This should be interesting.

"If one recognises what grace is and what man is he must affirm –

1. Man has free will
2. Salvation is a gift of grace from God whereby God repairs mans will."

FT- Where does the Bible say the second part of that (i.e. that salvation is a gift of grace from God whereby God repairs man's will)? And where does the Bible say that man's free will (in whatever sense you mean that term) is impaired (such that repair is required)?

At the original creation Adam and Eve loved God above all things.
We know man has been change after the fall.
After the fall men are not inclined to love God above all things and this inclination leads to sin. Men are sinners and a sin is not to love what man ought to love.
When men become saints they love God above all things and their neighbor as themselves.

The argument is made as follows –

Gods grace acts to repair mans will to love God above all things and to love his neighbor as himself. This is inferred directly from the following truths in scripture –

1 -Man is commanded by God to love God above all things and to love his neighbor as himself.

Jesus replied: " 'Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind.' This is the first and greatest commandment. And the second is like it: 'Love your neighbor as yourself.' – Matthew 22:37-39

My command is this: Love each other as I have loved you. Greater love has no one than this, that he lay down his life for his friends. - John 15:12-13

2- Sin means men do not keep the commandments and don’t love God above all things and do not love his neighbor as himself.

. . .

john martin said...

See the part in 1 John 3:10 on not doing what is right, is not a child of God. To do what is right is to love the brother

This is how we know who the children of God are and who the children of the devil are: Anyone who does not do what is right is not a child of God; nor is anyone who does not love his brother. - 1 John 3:10

3- Salvation means men are changed from loving themselves above all things to loving God above all things and to love his neighbor as himself, through the work of God in us. This change in loves is termed repentance, which is an act of the will in man to change from a love of a creature as his ultimate love (sin) to a love of God.

The work of grace in mans will is termed by St Paul as “Christ is me” and the grace given is done so at baptism, termed by St Paul as being “crucified with Christ”.

I have been crucified with Christ and I no longer live, but Christ lives in me. The life I live in the body, I live by faith in the Son of God, who loved me and gave himself for me. - Galatians 2:20

We also see love is the mark of the saved, caused by the sending of the Son.

This is how God showed his love among us: He sent his one and only Son into the world that we might live through him. This is love: not that we loved God, but that he loved us and sent his Son as an atoning sacrifice for our sins. Dear friends, since God so loved us, we also ought to love one another. – 1 John 4:9-11

Repentance is required for salvation, which is an act of the will

Mark 1:15 (NASB) and saying, "The time is fulfilled, and the kingdom of God is at hand; repent and believe in the gospel."

Acts 2:38 Repent, and believe in the gospel. . .

4- Conclusion - Therefore the change in love from self to God is the act of grace acting within the will to justify man.

As love is a free act of the will, to will good to another and we cannot love God above all things without the grace of God, then love is an act of grace acting within the will to make the will act freely to love. Therefore the grace of God acting within mans will is inferred in all the verses above that command that we love, and command that we repent and state it is because we are children of God, that we love. For a child of God is one who has been regenerated by grace to love God above all things.

"As God does not act against his creation, he must act in accordance with his creation."

God has dominion over his Creation to mold it according to his desires.

"Therefore when God acts with man, he acts with man as he is free."

FT- As whom is free?

-TurretinFan”

As man is free to love as he chooses. The act of conversion is an act of God moving the will in man to change mans ultimate love from himself to love of God above all things. As man has an ultimate love, he cannot freely change his loves without God moving his will to move from loving himself to loving another above all things. As love is founded upon faith, for no man can love what he does not believe, then St Paul can say man is justified by faith, saved by hope, but love is the greatest of the three.

JM

Turretinfan said...

"If there was no grace then there would be only operation of the human will acting naturally."

I don't disagree. You seem to imagine that there are only two options "no grace" and "only grace." The third position, synergism, is the position that Rome teaches and lies between those two.

"The truth is that without revelation we can work out that every act of the human will is an act done with God as the first mover. Man is not able to make a moral act without God acting to move the will. When the will is moved, it is not God acting alone, but God acting with the will, that remains free. So too when it is a question of salvation, with will is moved by grace to allow the will to love God above all things. But it is the will that is moved, so it cannot be God alone that is moving. If it was God alone moving, then the will would not be moved. So when the will is moved by God, the will acts in accordance with the nature God has given it to act freely. So the will acts free with the grace of God moving it. Therefore the grace of justification is termed an efficacious grace to move the human will to act freely to love God. This is the efficacious gift of God, who can act both immanently within the will itself and transcendently to enable the will to act above its normal activity to love what it previously did not love without Gods grace. Gods graces acts conaturally with the will to save the sinner. This act is therefore an act of both God and the will. Therefore the will cooperates by the grace of Go to be saved."

I'm not sure what this is intended to respond to. Are you just trying to state your position? If so, I'm aware of your position. I've already explained why "co-" is logically inconsistent with "alone."

"There is no obvious contradiction between sola gratia and mans will acting with grace as an act of co-operation. Sola gratia can be understood as an act of grace of God, whereby the human will acts with God to be saved."

There's an obvious contradiction between "grace alone" and "grace plus man's will."

"Withut man participating in the saving act he cannot be justified."

See my counter-example regarding baptized infants. Do you deny that they are justified, or do you acknowledge that your categorical statement is wrong?

" ... But for man to love God, means just that, it is the man doing the loving, which means he must act with grace to be saved."

We reject the idea that man is justified by loving God, since love is the fulfilling of the law, and by the works of the law shall no flesh be justified.

[cont'd in parts 2-3]

Turretinfan said...

[cont'd from part 1]

"Grace is not something outside man and it is not something acting upon the will, but something acting inside the will itself."

To be precise, grace isn't a thing. God's favor operates in a variety of ways, some internal, some external.

"This is possible because God is closer to man than man is to himself and thereby man can act freely to love with the grace within the will."

The part about "God is closer to man than man is to himself" sounds warm and fuzzy, but not rational. God knows man better than man knows himself, but in what way is man "close[] to himself"?

"Therefore the act of saving love is an act of both God and the will. To deny man participates in the saving act is to deny secondary causation of Gods creation."

a) It's not a general denial of that, only (at most) a denial in a particular instance.

b) If the saving act is not an act of man, there is no denial of secondary causation at all.

c) And the saving act is an act of God, according to Scripture (and consequently Calvinism).

"Prove God does not act with the human will according to Scripture."

Prove a negative?

I had asked: "In what way is the salvation of baptized infants who die in infancy free with respect to the infant? Is that an example of violence against the children or favor upon the children? If the latter, why assert that it is violence as to adults?"

JM replied: "Children have free will but cannot do a fully moral act, because they have not reached the age of reason. A baptized child has grace given to him/her whereby grace enters into the soul as a habit, just as it does with an adult. The actual grace acting in the will also acts within the will of the child according to the nature of the child who has not yet reached the age of reason. The difference between an adult and a child is the adult has grace given to him in accordance with his state of life as being at the age of reason, whereas the child does not. God covers all bases with his grace, acting with fallen nature to rebuild it freely according to the powers of reason being both active and inactive. God after all is transcendent and so too is his grace to save all, no matter what stage of life they are in."

It's not clear to me how that response addresses the questions posed. I'm aware of the distinction that Rome makes between salvation of the "simple" and those with more adult mental capacity. My rebuttal to the argument, however, is that if salvation of infants apart from choice is proper and just then there's no rational basis for saying that salvation of adults apart from choice would be improper or unjust. And you affirm the former, so you ought not to assert the latter.

"I’ve read more than just Armstrong; nevertheless from what I’ve read from Armstrong he is right on the money."

Already addressed.

"Without the grace of cooperation acting within the will the will cannot move to act freely. You seem to infer grace and will act independently according to the Catholic understanding."

I'm not sure what you mean by "act independently." Rome's teaching is that grace itself is insufficient to ensure the salvation of a normal adult. More than grace is required for that, namely co-operation of the will.

"So you seemed convinced about your position."

Indeed.

"Let’s see you tell me what the nature of grace is and how it acts to save man. This should be interesting."

God saves man by grace, that is, undeserved favor. Grace is not a thing.

[cont'd in part 3]

Turretinfan said...

[cont'd from part 2]

I asked: "Where does the Bible say the second part of that (i.e. that salvation is a gift of grace from God whereby God repairs man's will)? And where does the Bible say that man's free will (in whatever sense you mean that term) is impaired (such that repair is required)?"

JM replied by arguing that the fall corrupted man's will (which I acknowledge), and further that "When men become saints they love God above all things and their neighbor as themselves." I also acknowledge this with some minor caveats that we need not get into right now.

He then argued that "Gods grace acts to repair mans will to love God above all things and to love his neighbor as himself." He provided supporting argumentation for this. However, I don't disagree that God's grace repairs man's will to love God and his neighbor properly.

So, I can skip over that much of the argument, to the point where an issue arises:

"3- Salvation means men are changed from loving themselves above all things to loving God above all things and to love his neighbor as himself, through the work of God in us. This change in loves is termed repentance, which is an act of the will in man to change from a love of a creature as his ultimate love (sin) to a love of God."

That's not what "salvation" means. That's conversion, with repentance being a manifestation of conversion. Conversion is one part of salvation. It's not the entirety of it.

Perhaps the issue here is simply one of JM and I talking past each other. His initial comment seemed to suggest that saving grace was merely a repair of man's will. Perhaps I misunderstood his claim, because he doesn't seem to be arguing for that now.

Love is the mark of the saved, which may indeed by true, so again it is not necessary to dispute that portion of the discussion.

"Repentance is required for salvation, which is an act of the will"

Repentance is not a meritorious cause of salvation. "Required for" is ambiguous in that regard. It is a condition of a believer, but it is not the cause of salvation.

"4- Conclusion - Therefore the change in love from self to God is the act of grace acting within the will to justify man."

a) Men are not justified by repentance.

b) Conversion is the result of God's gracious action in man's heart, no doubt, though that is not the limit of God's action.

"As love is a free act of the will, to will good to another and we cannot love God above all things without the grace of God, then love is an act of grace acting within the will to make the will act freely to love. Therefore the grace of God acting within mans will is inferred in all the verses above that command that we love, and command that we repent and state it is because we are children of God, that we love. For a child of God is one who has been regenerated by grace to love God above all things."

I think this is already addressed above.

[cont'd in part 4]

Turretinfan said...

[cont'd from part 3]

JM had written: "Therefore when God acts with man, he acts with man as he is free."

I had asked: "As whom is free?"

JM responded: "As man is free to love as he chooses. The act of conversion is an act of God moving the will in man to change mans ultimate love from himself to love of God above all things. As man has an ultimate love, he cannot freely change his loves without God moving his will to move from loving himself to loving another above all things. As love is founded upon faith, for no man can love what he does not believe, then St Paul can say man is justified by faith, saved by hope, but love is the greatest of the three."

The way you've phrased this: "he cannot freely change his loves without God moving his will to move from loving himself to loving another above all things" it almost sounds as though man would not need a grace of perseverance. I find that unlikely to be what you intended to say. Where is the disconnect?

-TurretinFan

john martin said...

“FT- I had asked: "In what way is the salvation of baptized infants who die in infancy free with respect to the infant?”

The salvation of infants comes by the grace of God acting within the intellect and will for the infant to love God above all things habitually. The grace acting in the will acts the same way it does in adults. The difference between infants and adults is adults make a deliberated decision to be baptized, whereas infants have that decision made for them by their parents.


“FT- Is that an example of violence against the children or favor upon the children?”

No. Grace acts with and beyond the infants will to bring it to love God. This act of grace is enacted by God to allow the infant to act freely with grace. We also need to understand that infants do not have complete authority over their lives and they are subject to the will of their parents. So in baptism they are supernaturally subject to the church as its mother. This subjection means the child is to follow the Catholic understanding of baptism and be baptized into the household of faith.

“ If the latter, why assert that it is violence as to adults?"
Grace is a favour, habit and quality inside both infants and adults. It’s the same thing regardless of a persons age.

“JM -"As man is free to love as he chooses. The act of conversion is an act of God moving the will in man to change mans ultimate love from himself to love of God above all things. As man has an ultimate love, he cannot freely change his loves without God moving his will to move from loving himself to loving another above all things. As love is founded upon faith, for no man can love what he does not believe, then St Paul can say man is justified by faith, saved by hope, but love is the greatest of the three."

FT- The way you've phrased this: "he cannot freely change his loves without God moving his will to move from loving himself to loving another above all things" it almost sounds as though man would not need a grace of perseverance. I find that unlikely to be what you intended to say. Where is the disconnect?”

Freedom is to be elective of means with a fixed ultimate end. For example when a man loves himself above al things as his ultimate end, he is only free about what loves are directed towards himself as an end. The love of self above all things is a false ultimate end, from which he cannot do any moral act, by himself, to deliver himself from his sin. Therefore the man is said to be in a state of mortal sin.

To deliver himself from his false ultimate end, which is a disordered love of self, over the love of God, god must repair the disorder in the will, so the man can then turn from self towards God as the ultimate end of his moral acts. This act of God transforms the mans loves, from loving self, to loving God as the supernatural end of his moral acts.

When the man has been supernaturalised he can then make supernatural acts, which is a gift of god, to merit more grace. He can also sin and fall away from loving God above all things, to loving himself and in this act, he suffers the loss of grace and returns to his un-natural state as an unregenerate sinner, who loves himself above all things.

In short a man in the state of mortal sin cannot love God above all things, because is a supernatural end and a man outside the state of grace cannot love a supernatural good, but only a natural good, which is himself above all things.

Man in the state of grace freely love God as his ultimate supernatural end. As grace is habitual, it then becomes easy for man to do this act of faith, hope and love frequently throughout his life. But he is also free and can act irrationally and sin against faith, hope or love and change his ultimate love from a supernatural end to the un-natural end of self. This is a fall from grace, from which he cannot recover without the grace of God acting inside his intellect and will to believe, hope and love God as a supernatural end.

. . .

JM

john martin said...

The notion of a man becoming a child of God through an act of God that supernaturalises the man, is a specifically Catholic teaching affirmed and repeated in scripture, but denied by the reformers. The supernatural is a notion only correctly taught by the Catholic Church and it is a notion not compatible with faith alone theology.


So FT, please respond to the following –

In the context of repentance and salvation, what is grace? A merely passing statement that grace is a favor is something vague, so please be specific about what grace is with regard to

1. What grace is in itself
2. How grace acts in mans intellect and will to believe and love God above all things.
Is grace something acting inside mans intellect and will or outside and why? Please explain.

When a man repents and believes, we both agree grace is required. You say grace alone is required, but have little to say abut how grace acts in relation to the intellect and will. We both say faith is required for a man to be justified, and faith is something the man does as a gift of God.

What is the will?

What is the intellect?

What is faith?

Is faith a natural virtue, a supernatural virtue, a grace, an act, a habit or something else? Please explain.

You say repentance is not needed for salvation, yet we are told to repent and believe to be saved. Please explain what you mean by –

1. Repentance.
2. Justification.
3. Salvation

You say a man is not justified by loving God, because you believe it is a work of the law. What do you mean by –

1. Works of the law
2. Law of Christ
3. Love

What do you mean by being saved? Is it a one time event or an ongoing event throughout ones life? Please explain.

Is keeping the commandments required to be saved? Please explain.

You said “However, I don't disagree that God's grace repairs man's will to love God and his neighbor properly.”, which means you agree that God's grace repairs man's will to love God and his neighbor properly. This means that Gods grace acts inside mans will to allow and make man will to love God above all things. Therefore you must conclude that –

1. Gods grace is acting inside the will.
2. Gods grace repairs the will
3. Gods grace acts inside the will to allow man to love God above all things.

In each of the above statements you have both grace and will acting together, which means man must be acting with and from the grace given by God. Please comment.

You say “Grace is not a thing.”, yet you also say “I don't disagree that God's grace repairs man's will to love God and his neighbor properly.”, which means grace acts inside the will of man and the will is a thing. Therefore grace must be –

An act of grace acting in the will.
A stable habit within the will, otherwise the will is not repaired by grace, for if the repair done by grace is not a stable habit, then the will is not stably repaired and man will not habitually love God above all things.

Please comment.

JM

ChaferDTS said...

It would be fair to say that Roman Catholicism teaches a modified form of semi-pelagianism. It has man as active in their cooperation with God's grace in their salvation and is rendered effective due to man's so called free will. That is in contrast to Scripture teaching that man is passive in the act of God's grace in effectual calling and regeneration which it's effectiveness of due to God's eternal purpose alone which results in a person coming to faith in Jesus Christ.