Tuesday, April 27, 2010

Immaculate Conception and Pelagianism - Response to John Martin

In an earlier post, I wrote:
On the other hand, sometimes (much more rarely) the RCC adds some new requirement to the list of things that must be believed. For example, about four years before the Lourdes event, the RCC defined the dogma of the Immaculate Conception - requiring people to believe the unbiblical (and frankly Pelagian) doctrine of the Immaculate conception.
(source)
In the comment box, John Martin (Roman Catholic) responded:
“and frankly Pelagian” are you for real? The Immaculate Conception is the very opposite of Pelagianism. It indicates Mary was saved completely by God through His grace from conception. This is the Gospel of salvation by grace and not by Pelagian works. You ought to be ashamed of yourself for making such a wild claim.
There are at least two reasons to view the Immaculate Conception as Pelagian:

1) It denies the universality of Original Sin.

While Pelagianism would deny that anyone has Original Sin, the dogma of the Immaculate Conception asserts that Mary did not have Original Sin. Thus, it is Pelagianism as applied to Mary, though obviously my comment above should not be taken as suggesting that Roman Catholicism has the full breadth of Pelagianism. Indeed, Roman Catholicism (in Trent) sought to condemn full Pelagianism on the issue of original sin, even while making an explicit exception for Mary:
This same holy Synod doth nevertheless declare, that it is not its intention to include in this decree, where original sin is treated of, the blessed and immaculate Virgin Mary, the mother of God; but that the constitutions of Pope Sixtus IV., of happy memory, are to be observed, under the pains contained in the said constitutions, which it renews.
(Interpretive Note for Session 5 on Original Sin)

Trent was wrong to make Mary an exception. It was a Pelagian error to do so, even if making that exception does not mean embracing all of Pelagianism.

Saying that Mary was "saved completely by God through His grace" is not a way of differentiating the Roman position on Mary from the Pelagian view on Mary. When God's gift of a pure nature to Mary is called "grace" and "salvation" - the Pelagian believed the same thing about Mary and people in general. In any event, the need to make an exception for Mary in Trent's Fifth Session should be an adequate answer to sophistical attempts to make Mary's condition consistent with orthodoxy. In other words, the fact that the Tridentine bishops felt the need to say that the doctrines of original sin they had just taught shouldn't be applied to Mary shows that they were not teaching the same thing about Mary that they were teaching against the Pelagian error.

2) As a minor, almost trivial point, the Pelagians are the first group we can document in church history who claim that Mary was born without original sin. Obviously, that doesn't make the doctrine in itself "Pelagian" in the normal sense, but it may make it "Pelagian" in a very loose sense.

So, I'm not sure what else to tell John Martin. His comment was long on shaming and assertion, but rather short on documentation and analysis. That may simply be a byproduct of the fact that he left his comment in the comment box, but perhaps this post will help him to think more deeply about the subject.

-TurretinFan

41 comments:

natamllc said...

It is comments like this one that rocks my heart to the core!

I shudder that I naively opened myself up to the RCC at a young age.

"....In other words, the fact that the Tridentine bishops felt the need to say....".

What Christ came to do is make a distinction between what we feel and the Truth, the Present Holy Spirit and "Eternal Life" after death.

Just the idea that there is collusion between men to put over a felt need frightens me and underscores the necessity to flee from her influences upon our soul! May the Lord have mercy on their souls because of the great errors that have come upon us because of their works! Everyone, for whatever reason, that weakens Faith, it seems to me, is under a more severe judgment of wrath!

Rev 18:4 Then I heard another voice from heaven saying, "Come out of her, my people, lest you take part in her sins, lest you share in her plagues;
Rev 18:5 for her sins are heaped high as heaven, and God has remembered her iniquities.


I would acknowledge the next verse and again commend you TF for your work within this blog!

Rev 18:6 Pay her back as she herself has paid back others, and repay her double for her deeds; mix a double portion for her in the cup she mixed.

john martin said...

“While Pelagianism would deny that anyone has Original Sin, the dogma of the Immaculate Conception asserts that Mary did not have Original Sin. Thus, it is Pelagianism as applied to Mary,”

Pelagianism is a doctrine that denies original sin to all men and affirms all men are born in the state of innocence.

Catholicism affirms original sin to all men, except where God has revealed that some men have been treated as an exception and were either conceived or born in the state of innocence (which is the state of grace).

There are huge differences between Pelagianism and Catholicism.

“though obviously my comment above should not be taken as suggesting that Roman Catholicism has the full breadth of Pelagianism.”

Your throw-away line in your previous article could be understood to have meant Catholicism was Pelagian.

“ Indeed, Roman Catholicism (in Trent) sought to condemn full Pelagianism on the issue of original sin, even while making an explicit exception for Mary:”

Correct, because there is biblical precedent and traditional precedent for doing so.

“Trent was wrong to make Mary an exception.”

Trent was right to declare Mary an exception. Mary was not made an exception by the declaration, she was made and exception by the grace of God.

“It was a Pelagian error to do so, even if making that exception does not mean embracing all of Pelagianism.”

It was the correct statement to make when we know from scripture that Mary is the mother of God, the new Ark of the Covenant, queen of the church, queen of apostles, mediatrix of all grace, new Eve and queen of angels.

For many arguments concerning Mary’s IC, mother of God, mediatrix, advocate, assumption and so see here - http://www.theologyweb.com/campus/showthread.php?t=105208

”Saying that Mary was "saved completely by God through His grace" is not a way of differentiating the Roman position on Mary from the Pelagian view on Mary. When God's gift of a pure nature to Mary is called "grace" and "salvation" - the Pelagian believed the same thing about Mary and people in general.”

No big deal. There is some overlap between the specific truth of Catholicism and the universalised error of Pelagiansim. Every heresy contains some truth. Pelagius had no biblical or traditional support for his universal doctrine, but Catholicism has many supports from scripture and tradition for its specific doctrine.

“In any event, the need to make an exception for Mary in Trent's Fifth Session should be an adequate answer to sophistical attempts to make Mary's condition consistent with orthodoxy. In other words, the fact that the Tridentine bishops felt the need to say that the doctrines of original sin they had just taught shouldn't be applied to Mary shows that they were not teaching the same thing about Mary that they were teaching against the Pelagian error.”

The truth is the bishops condemned the universalist error of Pelagius regarding the innocence of all men and denying original sin and taught the specific truth regarding Mary’s IC, both Bishops statements were correctly based upon scripture and tradition.

“2) As a minor, almost trivial point, the Pelagians are the first group we can document in church history who claim that Mary was born without original sin. Obviously, that doesn't make the doctrine in itself "Pelagian" in the normal sense, but it may make it "Pelagian" in a very loose sense.”

Wrong. The early church fathers wrote on Mary as the second Eve, implying Mary was free of original sin, prior to Pelagius. This means that just as Eve was made innocent, then so to Mary was made innocent. See some quotes from the fathers concerning Mary as the second Eve here - http://campus.udayton.edu/mary//meditations/neweve.html . Evidently your point 2 is thoroughly erroneous.

. . .

JM

john martin said...

“So, I'm not sure what else to tell John Martin.”

Maybe an apology for your outrageous errors and false assertions and your blatant dishonesty below would be a good start.

“His comment was long on shaming and assertion, but rather short on documentation and analysis.”

Simply not true by a long shot (that was the blatant dishonesty I mentioned above). I presented the following arguments –

The Immaculate Conception is implied from the doctrine of Mary as mother of God and Jesus perfection as her son. Jesus is the cause of Mary’s salvation and keeps the commandments by perfectly honoring His mother. This perfect honor requires that Mary never sinned, so she could receive the highest glory His Son could give her in heaven. The Immaculate Conception is implied and results from Christ’s relationship to His mother, His power as God and His perfect keeping of the commandments.

We are told to honor our parents and imitate Christ.
Christ honored Mary as His mother
Jesus is our brother, so Mary is our Mother
Therefore Christians honor Mary as their mother through offerings of love and gifts.

As of now, those arguments have not been answered by anyone. I guess you missed it or you think my arguments fall into the category of “short on documentation and analysis”.

“That may simply be a byproduct of the fact that he left his comment in the comment box, but perhaps this post will help him to think more deeply about the subject.

-TurretinFan”

You ought to be ashamed of yourself. You have made a dishonest statement above that was easily refuted and now you continue with a misdirected implication.

Where else am I to leave my comments? As far as I know there is only the comment box to leave ones comments. Trying to take the high moral ground whilst making statement that are clearly in error is a sign of desperation.

JM

Paul Hoffer said...
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Paul Hoffer said...

Hello Mr. Fan, your analysis falls short of the mark, to be sure. First andf foremost, the Pelagian notion of grace is vastly different than the Catholic and Protestant understanding. Pelagius denied totally the existence of supernatural grace. The only graces he allowed in his system were the natural gift of revelation (understanding good from evil), observation of natural law (freedom of choice) and the example of Christ (willingness to follow His example). In contrast, the dogma of the Immaculate Conception has at its roots, its heart, and its substance the truth of supernatural grace flowing from God alone.

Second, Pelagius denied that death was a consequence of original sin. He believed that death, old age and sickness were always a part of man's original state. Otherwise, Adam would have more power to destroy us than Christ had to save us (Pelagius' notion of the elect).

While the dogma of the Immaculate Conception states that Mary was preserved from the stain of original sin, she was not preserved from the effects of it~feeling sorrow, growing old or dying. Thus, the doctrine of the Immaculate Conception does not deny the universality of Original Sin, but makes clear its universality. If it didn't apply to Mary, then she would not needed to have been preserved by a special application of God's supernatural graces from the stain of Original Sin.

Thus. Mr. Martin (and myself for that matter in my Saint Bernadette article where I discussed the dogma of the Immaculate Conception) are correct in our contention that the Immaculate Conception is not Pelagian in any way, shape, or form.

I must therefore respectfully disagree with the premise of your article.

By the way Natamllc, thank you for bringing a smile to my face. I enjoy the way you spin Scripture. While I am reciting the psalms and canticles when I do my Hours I am sometimes come across one I remembered you quoted and it gives me pause as to how things so inspired by God can be so misapplied by men. I hope and pray that the Lord gives us each much grace to use His Word to praise Him instead of using it as a weapon to demean those we disagree with.

God bless!

The Puritan said...

Paul, you should read more than the Psalms. Engage the Word of God *complete*. And don't just respond saying you do. You don't have to say that. You know the truth of whether you make the effort to engage the Word of God complete. Give an honest response to yourself. Roman Catholics historically have *not* made dedicated, complete readings of the Word of God. Those that may do so now have been influenced positively by Reformation era teachings and battles won.

Viisaus said...

Philip Schaff pointed out:

http://www.ccel.org/ccel/schaff/creeds1.vi.viii.html


"(Bernard of Clairvaux) rejected the opinion of the Immaculate Conception of Mary as contrary to tradition and derogatory to the dignity of Christ, the only sinless being, and asked the Canons of Lyons the pertinent question, 'Whence they discovered such a hidden fact? On the same ground they might appoint festivals for the conception of the parents, grandparents, and great-grandparents of Mary, and so on without end.'229229 . . . 'et sic tenderetur in infinitum, et festorum non esset numerus' (Ep. 174, p. 334 sq.)."

In other words, when providing "purification" for Christ's human ancestors it would be purely arbitrary to stop at Mary - one might as well go right down to Adam himself, and end up abolishing Original Sin altogether!


Another apt observation:

"225: It is characteristic that the Dominicans and Jansenists, who sympathized with the Augustinian anthropology, opposed the Immaculate Conception; while the Franciscans and Jesuits, who advocated it, have a more or less decided inclination towards Pelagianizing theories, and reduce original sin to a loss of supernatural righteousness, i.e., something merely negative, so that it is much easier to make an exception in favor of Mary. The Jesuits, at least, have an intense hatred of Augustinian views on sin and grace, and have shown it in the Jansenist controversy."

Viisaus said...

Moreover, there's the sheer sense of UNFAIRNESS of seeing how God could pre-emptively - and apart from the cross of Christ! - save Mary from all sin but did not bother to do the same to all other people as well.

If Mary had been born without Original Sin, she might have well been saved without ever giving to birth to Christ at all. In the RC scheme, she really would not have NEEDED CHRIST for her salvation, any more than pre-lapsarian Adam did.

john martin said...

“"(Bernard of Clairvaux) rejected the opinion of the Immaculate Conception of Mary as contrary to tradition and derogatory to the dignity of Christ, the only sinless being, and asked the Canons of Lyons the pertinent question, 'Whence they discovered such a hidden fact? On the same ground they might appoint festivals for the conception of the parents, grandparents, and great-grandparents of Mary, and so on without end.'229229 . . . 'et sic tenderetur in infinitum, et festorum non esset numerus' (Ep. 174, p. 334 sq.)."

In other words, when providing "purification" for Christ's human ancestors it would be purely arbitrary to stop at Mary - one might as well go right down to Adam himself, and end up abolishing Original Sin altogether!”

But Mary is the mother of God has a right to be treated perfectly by her Son, who keeps the commandments perfectly. Such perfection of a divine Son to his mother matches the IC, whereby the son can perfectly honor his mother in heaven.

Bernard was only one theologian who rejected the IC. Many others inferred it occurred through the doctrines of Mary as the new Eve.

“Another apt observation:

"225: It is characteristic that the Dominicans and Jansenists, who sympathized with the Augustinian anthropology, opposed the Immaculate Conception; while the Franciscans and Jesuits, who advocated it, have a more or less decided inclination towards Pelagianizing theories, and reduce original sin to a loss of supernatural righteousness, i.e., something merely negative, so that it is much easier to make an exception in favor of Mary. The Jesuits, at least, have an intense hatred of Augustinian views on sin and grace, and have shown it in the Jansenist controversy."”

If this is by Schaff, then he should well know that Jansenism is a heresy condemned by the church. The fact is that original sin is not a thing, but a lack of a thing that was once given to men, but lost. Original sin is a state of the soul at conception, whereby the soul is not in the state of grace.

Any conflict between Dominicans, Franciscans and the Jesuits over the IC was resolved when the church officially pronounced the IC was revealed by God.

There are many evidences from scripture and tradition that imply Mary was given unique graces during her life, compatible with her station in life as the mother of God. The IC was one such grace.

JM

john martin said...

“Moreover, there's the sheer sense of UNFAIRNESS of seeing how God could pre-emptively - and apart from the cross of Christ! - save Mary from all sin but did not bother to do the same to all other people as well.

If Mary had been born without Original Sin, she might have well been saved without ever giving to birth to Christ at all. In the RC scheme, she really would not have NEEDED CHRIST for her salvation, any more than pre-lapsarian Adam did.”

The church teaches all grace given to Mary was from Christ, including the IC. Mary was perfectly saved by Christ through the IC.

JM

Paul Hoffer said...

Hi Mr./Ms. Puritan:

The Liturgy of the Hours which I recite several times a day does contain far more than the psalms. It has not only the psalms, but readings from the entire Scriptures: Gospels, OT, and NT, and hymnology, not to mention readings from the ECF's and relevant magisterial documents to illumine the teachings found in the Word of God. Historically, the Liturgy of the Hours has always been the official prayer of the Church as far as I can tell.

I started reading the Liturgy of the Hours so I could engage the Word of God "complete" on a more spiritual, prayerful level. One of the reasons that I have been absent from commenting for the past several months was due to the fact that I believed I was missing something by concentrating my studies so much in doing apologetics and not enough devotional and contemplative prayer. I have given an honest response to myself. I am now giving honest witness to you.

You said that: "Roman Catholics historically have *not* made dedicated, complete readings of the Word of God." I respond: In recent past history perhaps, between the 18th and 20th centuries, the laity did seem to lose some of the connection with the Scriptures oddly when the Scriptures became more available to them. As with so many of those of the Protestant denominations, they got caught up in so many of the faddish "Isms." The Bible became just another book. In this respect, it is one of the blessings of Vatican II that the Catholic laity are now more engaged in the Scriptures than ever which may help explain why there are so many Catholics lay apostolates doing apologetics now.

God's blessings to you and yours!

Turretinfan said...

"The church teaches all grace given to Mary was from Christ, including the IC. Mary was perfectly saved by Christ through the IC."

She wasn't forgiven any sins. Any sense in which she was "saved" is not like anyone else was "saved."

Indeed, it would be just as absurd to say that Jesus himself was saved by his own inherent grace.

-TurretinFan

Turretinfan said...

"But Mary [as] the mother of God has a right to be treated perfectly by her Son, who keeps the commandments perfectly."

Mary as a human being has no rights before God, only duties. Thus, Mary herself described herself as the handmaid of God.

"Such perfection of a divine Son to his mother matches the IC, whereby the son can perfectly honor his mother in heaven."

That sentence doesn't appear to make any sense.

"Bernard was only one theologian who rejected the IC. Many others inferred it occurred through the doctrines of Mary as the new Eve."

Mary as the new Eve is also not a Scriptural doctrine. Mary is not Jesus' wife. She is not his help-meet. She was not taken from his rib. There are a 1000 non-analogies.

"If this is by Schaff, then he should well know that Jansenism is a heresy condemned by the church."

I'm sure he did. And the point is?

"The fact is that original sin is not a thing, but a lack of a thing that was once given to men, but lost. Original sin is a state of the soul at conception, whereby the soul is not in the state of grace."

Trent, Session 5, Section 2 describes it a bit differently: "2. If any one asserts, that the prevarication of Adam injured himself alone, and not his posterity; and that the holiness and justice, received of God, which he lost, he lost for himself alone, and not for us also; or that he, being defiled by the sin of disobedience, has only transfused death, and pains of the body, into the whole human race, but not sin also, which is the death of the soul; let him be anathema:--whereas he contradicts the apostle who says; By one man sin entered into the world, and by sin death, and so death passed upon all men, in whom all have sinned. "

Surely you will acknowledge that Trent's definition is more authoritative than yours, within your religion.

"Any conflict between Dominicans, Franciscans and the Jesuits over the IC was resolved when the church officially pronounced the IC was revealed by God."

No doubt that did end the conflict to a large extent. That's not really the point, though, is it.

"There are many evidences from scripture and tradition that imply Mary was given unique graces during her life, compatible with her station in life as the mother of God. The IC was one such grace."

Not really. Even Aquinas denied the Immaculate Conception.

- TurretinFan

Matthew Bellisario said...
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Matthew Bellisario said...

TF wrote, "She wasn't forgiven any sins."

Do you know the difference between Original Sin and personal sin? She was conceived in the state that Adam and Eve were created in, with a lack of Original Sin, or in the state of Original Grace, yet differing because there was a special grace given to her after the fall. So she was pardoned the loss of Original Grace at her conception by the grace of Our Lord Jesus Christ. Yes, she is unique among the human race in this regard in being created like Adam and Eve were from the beginning. This is actually very fitting since her "yes" was the reversal of Adam and Eve's "no." Even though this is the case, there was still a possibility that she could have sinned after this as Adam and Eve did, but of course she remained in the grace of God by the grace of her only son, Jesus Christ. So God's grace through the Blessed Mother starts the process of redemption of mankind, which is only completed through the incarnation of Christ, and His sacrifice on the cross. Like it or not, she is shares in God's plan of redemption in the role in which God chose for her.

As far as Pelagianism goes, I think that that has been clearly refuted. God's grace is seen very clearly in the defined dogma of the Church concerning the Immaculate Conception. In order for there to be a Pelagian element to it, the Church would have to deny that there was a special grace given by God to the Blessed Mother, insisting that she was naturally conceived without sin, and without any supernatural grace given by God. This is simply not the case. Instead, this is another case of more Turretinized logical fallacies where everything is turned upside down in order to try and discredit the Catholic Church.

Turretinfan said...

"Do you know the difference between Original Sin and personal sin?"

Yes.

"She was conceived in the state that Adam and Eve were created in, with a lack of Original Sin, or in the state of Original Grace."

You're welcome to claim that, but neither Scripture nor ancient tradition supports you.

"So she was pardoned the loss of Original Grace at her conception by the grace of Our Lord Jesus Christ."

Please find me one authoritative source from your side that says she was "pardoned the loss of Original Grace." Or something similar to that.

"Yes, she is unique among the human race in this regard in being created like Adam and Eve were from the beginning."

You mean, aside from Jesus? So, not quite absolutely unique. More like two of a kind. But, in fact, she's just like every other human being except Christ.

"This is actually very fitting since her "yes" was the reversal of Adam and Eve's "no.""

a) Adam and Even didn't say "no."

b) Mary didn't say "yes."

"Even this is the case, there was still a possibility that she could have sinned after this as Adam and Eve did, but of course she remained in the grace of God by the grace of her only son, Jesus Christ."

a) "Of course"? LOL It's not a matter of course, in any event.

b) Furthermore, it is contrary to Scripture to assert that Mary was personally sinless, just as it is contrary to Scripture to allege that she was free from Original Sin.

"So God's grace through the Blessed Mother starts the process of redemption of mankind, which is only completed through the incarnation of Christ, and His sacrifice on the cross."

a) That's not how Scripture describes it.

b) Picking Mary is an arbitrary starting place. Why not pick Mary's parents etc. back to Seth and even to Adam and Eve?

"Like it or not, she is shares in God's plan of redemption in the role in which God chose for her."

No - the only Redeemer is Christ.

"As far as Pelagianism goes, I think that that has been clearly refuted."

Your opinion is noted.

"God's grace is seen very clearly in the defined dogma of the Church concerning the Immaculate Conception."

The word "grace," though not the historic sense of it.

"In order for there to be a Pelagian element to it, the Church would have to deny that there was a special grace given by God to the Blessed Mother, insisting that she was naturally conceived without sin, and without any supernatural grace given by God."

No, that wouldn't be necessary. All that would be necessary would be to deny that she had, by nature, original sin.

"This is simply not the case."

The strawman of what would have to be there isn't there.

"Instead, this is another case of more Turretinized [sic] logical fallacies where everything is turned upside down in order to try and discredit the Catholic Church."

That's a non-argument.

-TurretinFan

john martin said...

She wasn't forgiven any sins. Any sense in which she was "saved" is not like anyone else was "saved."

Indeed, it would be just as absurd to say that Jesus himself was saved by his own inherent grace.

-TurretinFan”

Its only absurd if you fail to make the distinction between Mary as a human person and Jesus as a divine person.

"JM- But Mary [as] the mother of God has a right to be treated perfectly by her Son, who keeps the commandments perfectly."

Mary as a human being has no rights before God, only duties. Thus, Mary herself described herself as the handmaid of God.”

Sure did, as a human. But what of her rights as the mother of God? Did Jesus perfectly save her mother as the perfect savior and perfectly keep the commandments to love and honor his mother or not? If yes then the IC is most fitting.

JM

Paul Hoffer said...

Hi Viisaus:

You wrote:

Moreover, there's the sheer sense of UNFAIRNESS of seeing how God could pre-emptively - and apart from the cross of Christ! - save Mary from all sin but did not bother to do the same to all other people as well.

My response: Isn't this sort of like saying God is being unfair because He predestined some to receive heaven and did not bother to do the same to all the other people as well?

You wrote:

If Mary had been born without Original Sin, she might have well been saved without ever giving to birth to Christ at all.

I respond:

Then she would not have been given this great gift of grace if she was predestined to give birth to Christ.

You wrote:

In the RC scheme, she really would not have NEEDED CHRIST for her salvation, any more than pre-lapsarian Adam did.

I respond:

If that had been God's plan of salvation, you would have have been right-but since that wasn't God's plan, you are now engaging in vain speculation.

Let's put this into perspective with a question?

How were the Old Testament saints saved?

Jesus descended to hell as Saviour, proclaiming the Good News to the spirits imprisoned there (1 Peter 3:18-19). See also, Rev. 13:8

He did not do this to deliver the damned, nor to destroy the hell of damnation, but to free the just who had gone before him...And therefore Jesus' redemption extends to all men of all times and all places. (Catechism 633, Council of Rome 745AD)

The application of Jesus's salvific actions was merely extended to her in a special way similar to hte OT saints. The OT saints were saved after they had died; Mary before she was conceived.

God bless!

Turretinfan said...

Mr. Hoffer:

"Hello Mr. Fan, your analysis falls short of the mark, to be sure."

Your opinion is noted.

"First and foremost, the Pelagian notion of grace is vastly different than the Catholic and Protestant understanding."

The issue isn't specifically, "how did Pelagius use words." I'm not sure if you somehow got the impression that it was.

"Pelagius denied totally the existence of supernatural grace."

a) Do you have a citation for this allegation? Have you read Pelagius' commentary on Romans? How do you conclude that Pelagius "denied totally the existence of supernatural grace"?

b) Within the context of semi-pelagianism, assertion that a person is born in an innocent state by "grace" is a confusion of nature and grace. While you certainly will say that her pure nature was the result of supernatural grace, your allegation falls prey to the criticism that the Augustinians made of the semi-pelagians.

"The only graces he allowed in his system were the natural gift of revelation (understanding good from evil), observation of natural law (freedom of choice) and the example of Christ (willingness to follow His example)."

a) Calling those gifts "natural" as opposed to "supernatural" appears to be somewhat arbitrary. What could be more supernatural than revelation?

b) As noted above, in the semi-pelagians, we also see them sometimes calling an innocent nature the result of grace, the same as is being claimed with Mary.

c) It does appear that your set is too limited. Pelagius acknowledges that there are sons of God according to grace (see his commentary on Romans 1:3), which at least sounds like the grace of adoption. What is the basis for your claims?

"In contrast, the dogma of the Immaculate Conception has at its roots, its heart, and its substance the truth of supernatural grace flowing from God alone."

a) Not in the historic sense of grace, as noted above.

b) The heart, roots, and substance of the doctrine is the elevation of Mary.

"Second, Pelagius denied that death was a consequence of original sin."

Do you mean of Adam's sin? Where does Pelagius deny this?

"He believed that death, old age and sickness were always a part of man's original state."

Where does Pelagius state this? What writing of his?

[cont'd in part 2]

Turretinfan said...

[cont'd from part 1]

"Otherwise, Adam would have more power to destroy us than Christ had to save us (Pelagius' notion of the elect)."

That seems like Julian's argument against Augustine. Again, are you sure this is Pelagius?

"While the dogma of the Immaculate Conception states that Mary was preserved from the stain of original sin, she was not preserved from the effects of it~feeling sorrow, growing old or dying."

a) Contrast your position with Bellisario's.

b) Interesting that you acknowledge Mary's death.

c) For whose sin did Mary die?

d) I.D. stated: "And hence they affirmed that the Blessed Virgin was, through grace, entirely free from every stain of sin, and from all corruption of body, soul and mind; that she was always united with God and joined to him by an eternal covenant; that she was never in darkness but always in light; and that, therefore, she was entirely a fit habitation for Christ, not because of the state of her body, but because of her original grace." Are you sure that the dogma is limited only to the stain? If so, what's your authoritative basis for saying so?

"Thus, the doctrine of the Immaculate Conception does not deny the universality of Original Sin, but makes clear its universality."

Please identify which official formulation of the Immaculate Conception makes it clear that Mary was subject, in any way, to Original Sin.

The explicit definition simply states: "We declare, pronounce, and define that the doctrine which holds that the most Blessed Virgin Mary, in the first instance of her conception, by a singular grace and privilege granted by Almighty God, in view of the merits of Jesus Christ, the Savior of the human race, was preserved free from all stain of original sin, is a doctrine revealed by God and therefore to be believed firmly and constantly by all the faithful."

However, the defining document also affirms the broader claim: "So at the instance and request of the bishops mentioned above, with the chapters of the churches, and of King Philip and his kingdoms, we renew the Constitutions and Decrees issued by the Roman Pontiffs, our predecessors, especially Sixtus IV,[8] Paul V,[9] and Gregory XV,[10] in favor of the doctrine asserting that the soul of the Blessed Virgin, in its creation and infusion into the body, was endowed with the grace of the Holy Spirit and preserved from original sin; and also in favor of the feast and veneration of the conception of the Virgin Mother of God, which, as is manifest, was instituted in keeping with that pious belief."

"If it didn't apply to Mary, then she would not needed to have been preserved by a special application of God's supernatural graces from the stain of Original Sin."

Unless the supposed application supposedly failed, original sin didn't apply to Mary.

"Thus. Mr. Martin (and myself for that matter in my Saint Bernadette article where I discussed the dogma of the Immaculate Conception) are correct in our contention that the Immaculate Conception is not Pelagian in any way, shape, or form."

I've already demonstrated the contrary above.

"I must therefore respectfully disagree with the premise of your article."

It was more of a conclusion of the article than a premise, but we needn't quibble over that.

- TurretinFan

Turretinfan said...

"Its only absurd if you fail to make the distinction between Mary as a human person and Jesus as a divine person."

a) It's absurd either way.

b) I hope you don't deny that Jesus was (and is) just one person, both human and divine in nature.

"Sure did, as a human."

Uh ... no. If you want to claim that she did, please somehow demonstrate this, rather than just asserting it.

"But what of her rights as the mother of God?"

What rights do you suppose become hers as mother of Jesus? She was, by her own testimony, God's handmaiden even after Christ's conception. What make you think she had any rights over God?

"Did Jesus perfectly save her mother as the perfect savior and perfectly keep the commandments to love and honor his mother or not?"

a) I think you have a typo in that sentence. It's confusing the way you wrote it.

b) Jesus' honor of his mother is not unqualified obedience to her.

c) One way that he honored her was by providing a substitute for himself to her at the cross, when he told her to treat the beloved disciple as her son, and him to treat her as his mother.

d) We don't see Jesus in the gospels according Mary special honor in view of the fact that she is his physical mother. Indeed, he downplays this relationship during his ministry.

"If yes then the IC is most fitting."

a) Arguments from fitness are practically worthless.

b) It's not any more fit that Jesus would preserve his mother from all sin than that he would preserve his grandparents according to the flesh, since his duty of familial honor extended to them as well.

- TurretinFan

Paul Hoffer said...

Hello TF, There is a lot there for me to cover in your last two comments. I will try to work on this tonight when I have some free time.

natamllc said...

I would concede to Mary's "Sainthood" as those of you from the side of the RCC argue as long as you concede to the "Sainthood" of everyone who is born again.

As I noted Scripture in another thread, Jesus acknowledged Mary on par with "all" humanity. If He made no special mention of her, why should any religious order make her something other than who she is, one of many humans that were born again according to the Will of God?

Do you suppose Mary receives more than all the rest of us who have been born again?

Consider the Apostle Peter's Words about it, here:

1Pe 1:3 Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ! According to his great mercy, he has caused us to be born again to a living hope through the resurrection of Jesus Christ from the dead,
1Pe 1:4 to an inheritance that is imperishable, undefiled, and unfading, kept in heaven for you,
1Pe 1:5 who by God's power are being guarded through faith for a salvation ready to be revealed in the last time.

What does Peter, a one of a kind Apostle, teach us here?

First, he teaches that we should be about "blessing" God Our Heavenly Father!

We have been born again also, as Mary was. There is no difference to what she gains by being born again and we gain by being born again. The "gift" is Eternal Life.

What else is it described as, this free gift, this "Eternal Life"?

Peter says it is our "inheritance".

Consider that this inheritance is imperishable, undefiled, and unfading, kept in heaven for us.

While Mary was alive on the earth and before she also died, passing out of this realm, this created world, she also had to be "kept" by the power of God for the very same salvation ready to be revealed in the last time for all who are born again.

What Jesus did, while hanging on that cursed tree, the Cross for our salvation, was express His concern for Mary's welfare in her old age and assigned to John custody of that welfare of Mary. There is no difference for us. God promises each of us born again that He will neither leave us or nor forsake us! Mary had to experience grief and trials and tests along with all of God's people in this life as Peter also wrote:::>

1Pe 1:6 In this you rejoice, though now for a little while, if necessary, you have been grieved by various trials,
1Pe 1:7 so that the tested genuineness of your faith--more precious than gold that perishes though it is tested by fire--may be found to result in praise and glory and honor at the revelation of Jesus Christ.

It is wrong and a fault that the RCC makes more out of the Virgin than God does by their religious orders and traditions. One would think, with all the prophecies of Scripture written that point to Christ and His coming and His second coming, if God wanted such prominence for Mary, He would have had as much written about her as He has had written about Himself, the Holy Spirit and Christ.

God is silent on this score as Scripture attests with regard to Mary.

This is why I said early on that I shudder that I naively opened myself up to the RCC at a young age because men have felt a need to go beyond Scripture and make something that is not evident in Scripture and make a religious practice for their followers about a woman that simply was used of God to fulfill His promise that a Savior would be born of a virgin.

louis said...

Natamllc,

Excellent, brother.

john martin said...

"JM -Its only absurd if you fail to make the distinction between Mary as a human person and Jesus as a divine person."

FT- a) It's absurd either way.”

There is nothing absurd in saving someone by preventing them from falling into sin. If a doctor says do exercise to save yourself from a heart attack, then the doctor is saving the patient from a heart attack that did not happen. Likewise with Mary, Jesus saved her through his grace, before she sinned.

“FT- b) I hope you don't deny that Jesus was (and is) just one person, both human and divine in nature.”

Jesus is a divine person

"JM- Sure did, as a human."

FT -Uh ... no. If you want to claim that she did, please somehow demonstrate this, rather than just asserting it.”

I was referring to her duties to God as human in agreement with you.

"JM- But what of her rights as the mother of God?"

What rights do you suppose become hers as mother of Jesus? She was, by her own testimony, God's handmaiden even after Christ's conception. What make you think she had any rights over God?”

As mother she had rights over her son. This is almost self evident to anyone who is not hostile to Mariology. She was given the grace to be mother of God and as such God gave her the rights over the Son of God as a mother has over a Son.

Mary was the handmaid of the Lord because she served the Son of God to bring him up from childhood and she kept the covenant laws.

"JM- Did Jesus perfectly save her mother as the perfect savior and perfectly keep the commandments to love and honor his mother or not?"

b) Jesus' honor of his mother is not unqualified obedience to her.

c) One way that he honored her was by providing a substitute for himself to her at the cross, when he told her to treat the beloved disciple as her son, and him to treat her as his mother.”

So from these answers you have not answered my question. This is because is you affirm Jesus did not obey His mother perfectly, then He sinned, but God cannot sin. So the answer must be yes, Jesus did obey His mother perfectly to keep the commandments.

“FT- d) We don't see Jesus in the gospels according Mary special honor in view of the fact that she is his physical mother. Indeed, he downplays this relationship during his ministry.”

He doesn’t do that without sinning. The texts in the Gospels are easily misunderstood by those who have a false understanding of the Holy family. For Jesus to downplay his mother in public would be to dishonor her and commit sin.

"JM-If yes then the IC is most fitting."

a) Arguments from fitness are practically worthless.”

Don’t think so FT. The fittingness of grace that matches a special vocation such as Mary’s is what we would expect because God gives to those who serve him. As Mary is the ark of the covenant, mother of God, queen of apostles, Mother of the church and so on, she would have been given special graces not given to others.

“FT- b) It's not any more fit that Jesus would preserve his mother from all sin than that he would preserve his grandparents according to the flesh, since his duty of familial honor extended to them as well.

TurretinFan”

His mother is unique in history, however his grandparents are not unique, because they gave birth to a human person. Only Mary had a divine Son. Your analogy fails.

JM

john martin said...

“God is silent on this score as Scripture attests with regard to Mary.”

God is certainly not silent on Marian doctrines in scripture.

“This is why I said early on that I shudder that I naively opened myself up to the RCC at a young age because men have felt a need to go beyond Scripture and make something that is not evident in Scripture and make a religious practice for their followers about a woman that simply was used of God to fulfill His promise that a Savior would be born of a virgin.”

You are still naive if you believe in the unscriptural notion of sola scriptora.

The RCC does not base it teachings on scripture alone, but on scripture, tradition and the magesterium, all of which are from the apostles.

I’ve put together about 140 arguments for Marian doctrines on this thread http://www.theologyweb.com/campus/showthread.php?t=105208 for your reading. The arguments are all based upon scriptural information and reasoned argument.

JM

natamllc said...

Paul

hmmmmm? "....By the way Natamllc, thank you for bringing a smile to my face. I enjoy the way you spin Scripture. While I am reciting the psalms and canticles when I do my Hours I am sometimes come across one I remembered you quoted and it gives me pause as to how things so inspired by God can be so misapplied by men. I hope and pray that the Lord gives us each much grace to use His Word to praise Him instead of using it as a weapon to demean those we disagree with....".

TF permitting, care to elaborate?

Paul Hoffer said...

Hello Mr. Fan: I apologize for the taking longer than I would have liked but an urgent legal matter surfaced that required my full attention the past day and a half. I will post here in nuggets and post my whole response on my site later:

I contended: "Pelagius denied totally the existence of supernatural grace."

You asked:

a) Do you have a citation for this allegation?

My Answer: Yes, in the plural no less. Btw: interesting use of the word “allegation.”

Primary Sources (Translated)

Augustine of Hippo. On the Grace of Christ, and on Original Sin (Book I), passim.

------ Chapters 3, 5 & 20-22 of the Proceedings Against Pelagius wherein St. Augustine explains that Pelagius’ use of the word grace to obtain his aquittal at the Council of Diospolis was not the same as was used by the Catholic Church.

Pelagius. Defense of the Freedom of the Will: http://www.seanmultimedia.com/Pie_Pelagius_Defense_Of_The_Freedom_Of_The_Will.html

--------. De Natura: http://www.seanmultimedia.com/Pie_Pelagius_On_Nature.html

------- Letter to Demetrias, passim.

Secondary Sources

Ferguson, John. Pelagius: A Historical and Theological Study. Cambridge: W. Heffer & Sons, Ltd. (1956), pgs. 132-134 wherein the author discusses Pelagius’ view of grace as set forth in his commentaries and specifically addresses the error of trying to use Pelagius’ commentary on Rom. 1:3 as proof that he believed in the traditional Christian concept of supernatural or actual grace.

Garrigou-Lagrange, Reginald. Grace: Commentary on the Summa Theologica of St. Thomas,: http://www.ewtn.com/library/Theology/grace1.htm where one would find:

1. [Pelagianism] denied original sin, the necessity of baptism and interior grace for obtaining ordinary eternal life. It declared, however, that baptism and grace are necessary for entering the kingdom of God, which is something excelling ordinary eternal life. Hence, to attain to eternal life as commonly accepted, no grace was necessary, not even the grace of faith or the knowledge of external revelation. But, said Pelagius, God gave us a power or faculty, i.e., free will; moreover, willing and doing are eminently proper to us. Grace would be only an unnecessary adornment, just as some souls have visions and ecstasies, without which, however, a man can be saved.

2. Later, to refute the objections drawn from Holy Scripture, Pelagius admitted the term “grace” and the necessity of grace, but by this name he designated free will, and subsequently the external grace of revelation or the preaching of the gospel.

3. Finally, Pelagius, not knowing how to reply to the objections of Catholics, admitted internal grace, but first in the intellect alone, that is, as enlightenment; secondly, he recognized some habitual grace, but not as plainly gratuitous (he maintained that it was given according to the merits of nature) nor strictly supernatural; thirdly, the Pelagians ultimately admitted as more probable actual grace in the will, not however plainly gratuitous (but granted according to natural merits) nor necessary for doing good, but only for working more easily and perfectly.

Portalié, Eugene. A Guide to the Thought of St. Augustine, trans. R.J. Bastian (Chicago: Regnery, 1960), pg . 185-186.

Pohle, J. (1909). Actual Grace. In The Catholic Encyclopedia. New York: Robert Appleton Company. Retrieved April 28, 2010 from New Advent: http://www.newadvent.org/cathen/06689x.htm


--------- Grace: Actual and Habitual. Release Date: July 29, 2009 [Ebook #29540]: http://www.gutenberg.org/files/29540/29540-h/29540-h.html


Rees, B.R. Pelagius: A Reluctant Heretic. Wolfeboro, NH: The Boydell Press (1988), pgs. 33-37.

I am aware that Schaff seems to feel otherwise: http://www.ccel.org/ccel/schaff/hcc3.iii.xii.xxxv.html?scrBook=Rom&scrCh=3&scrV=24#highlight, but it seems he is the minority opinion.

More later as I get the chance.

God bless!

Paul Hoffer said...

I forgot to add this:

TF, do you have any citations that show that he did not deny it or that would show that his definition of actual or supernatural grace is in anyway close to what you and I would define it as?

Paul Hoffer said...

installment Two:

Mr. Fan adds:

"b) Within the context of semi-pelagianism, assertion that a person is born in an innocent state by "grace" is a confusion of nature and grace. While you certainly will say that her pure nature was the result of supernatural grace, your allegation falls prey to the criticism that the Augustinians made of the semi-pelagians."

I respond:

Golly gee whilikers Mr. Fan, one heresy at a time please! Seriously though, you qualified the Immaculate Conception as a Pelagian error, not a Semi-Pelagian one. Are you ceding the field already and moving to attack on another front?

Before I offer this rebuttal, there is, of course, a problem when discussing Semi-Pelagianism for the term is rather vague, the theology murky. Are we talking about the 5th century folks, like Faustus and Vitalis, are we fast-forwarding a thousand years or so and talking about the those who held to Molinism who were wrongfully labeled by their opponents as Semi-Pelagian, or are we referring to those who hold to the modern heresies of Modernism and Pantheism to which the dogma of the Immaculate Conception was defined in response? While I think that the dogma of the Immaculate Conception is a direct refutation of all three forms of Semi-Pelagianism and all forms and derivations of Pelagianism for that matter, it is possible that the way I could respond to your assertion may differ depending on the form that you are advancing with your statement.

For now, I will simply define Semi-Pelagianism in the context of the 5th century. Those who sought a middle ground between Saint Augustine’s doctrine of grace and Pelagius’ heretical primacy of human free will, Semi-Pelagianism maintained that a human being, though weakened by original sin, may make the initial act of will toward achieving salvation prior to receiving the necessary assistance of God’s grace. Thus your assertion in the context of Semi-Pelagianism, that a person is born in an innocent state by "grace" is a confusion of nature and grace does not make a whole of sense to me as it is my understanding that God’s grace will never move a thing contrary to its nature. Rather when God moves a thing, He moves it according to its nature or condition. See, St. Augustine, On Grace and Free Will 33(XVII). Since God moves us according to our nature or condition, it upholds free will. Also, God’s grace perfects our nature; it does not deform it or cause it to act in a way that negates or destroys its free will.

(To be continued)

Paul Hoffer said...

[Continued]

But so there is no doubt, it is now and always has been the teaching of the Catholic Church that it is God’s grace that causes the will to move.

For example at the Council of Orange, in 529-530 AD, it was held that Adam’s original sin is inherited by his progeny and can only be removed by the sacrament of Baptism. By the means of the sacrament, God’s unmerited grace is infused into the person for the remission of sins. Afterwards, that person’s sanctification continues throughout his lifetime, entirely the work of the infusion of grace with which the Christian cooperates, for the Christian “does nothing good for which God is not responsible, so as to let him do it.” Canon 19 states: "That no one is saved except by God's mercy. Even if human nature remained in that integrity in which it was formed, it would in no way save itself without the help of its Creator; therefore, since without the grace of God it cannot guard the health which it received, how without the grace of God will it be able to recover what it has lost?"

There is nothing in the above understanding of the operation of grace that Augustine formulated and Aquinas adopted that in any way negates or contradicts the dogma of the Immaculate Conception. It was God’s grace that perfected Mary’s nature, only that it did so at her conception rather than after her birth. It was God’s grace that moved her to give her fiat at the Annunciation. It was God's grace that made her the model of the Church.

Since you give no examples of the sorts of criticisms or invective that Augustinians would be hurling at their Semi-Pelagian opponents, the above answer is the best that I can give you for the moment.

Now lest anyone should think that the dogma of the Immaculate Conception is somehow contrary to Augustinian teaching, here is what one Augustinian opined on the matter:

Fr. Martin Luther, an obscure German Augustinian monk, taught the dogma of the Immaculate Conception circa. 1521 saying:

“ [Mary] is full of grace, proclaimed to be entirely without sin. God's grace fills her with everything good and makes her devoid of all evil. God is with her, meaning that all she did or left undone is divine and the action of God in her. Moreover, God guarded and protected her from all that might be hurtful to her. Luther's Works, American edition, vol. 43, p. 40, ed. H. Lehmann, Fortress, 1968. Notice how Fr. Luther emphasizes t he role of God’s grace in perfecting the nature of the Blessed Virgin Mary.

Now I realize that given this radical position on the role grace plays in Mary's life, you will probably reject lock, stock and barrel all of this man's teaching. I am sure that everything that this man has written should be anathematized as I am aure that this character, Luther's other works are just as infected with Semi-Pelagianism as this one and should be burnt.

God bless!

Paul Hoffer said...

Just in case~the last four (4) paragraphs of my last comment was a little tongue in cheek humor.

Paul Hoffer said...

I wrote:

"The only graces he allowed in his system were the natural gift of revelation (understanding good from evil), observation of natural law (freedom of choice) and the example of Christ (willingness to follow His example)."

You followed:

a) Calling those gifts "natural" as opposed to "supernatural" appears to be somewhat arbitrary. What could be more supernatural than revelation?

I respond:

Your claim of arbitrariness is noted. I should have been a little more precise. Pelagius understood grace to be of divine or supernatural character (which allowed him to avoid being anathematized for awhile), but he taught that the work of grace on us to be purely natural and external. He rejects all notion of internal infused grace which is another name for supernatural grace.
Saint Augustine quotes Pelagius, in Chapter V of his treatise "On the Grace of Christ, and on Original Sin" (Book I):

We distinguish, says [Pelagius], three things, arranging them in a certain graduated order. We put in the first place 'ability;' in the second, 'volition;' and in the third, 'actuality.' The 'ability' we place in our nature, the 'volition' in our will, and the 'actuality' in the effect. The first, that is, the 'ability,' properly belongs to God, who has bestowed it on His creature; the other two, that is, the 'volition' and the 'actuality,' must be referred to man, because they flow forth from the fountain of the will. For his willing, therefore, and doing a good work, the praise belongs to man; or rather both to man, and to God who has bestowed on him the 'capacity' for his will and work, and who evermore by the help of His grace assists even this capacity. That a man is able to will and effect any good work, comes from God alone. So that this one faculty can exist, even when the other two have no being; but these latter cannot exist without that former one. I am therefore free not to have either a good volition or action; but I am by no means able not to have the capacity of good. This capacity is inherent in me, whether I will or no; nor does nature at any time receive in this point freedom for itself. Now the meaning of all this will be rendered clearer by an example or two. That we are able to see with our eyes is not of us; but it is our own that we make a good or a bad use of our eyes. So again (that I may, by applying a general case in illustration, embrace all), that we are able to do, say, think, any good thing, comes from Him who has endowed us with this 'ability,' and who also assists this 'ability;' but that we really do a good thing, or speak a good word, or think a good thought, proceeds from our own selves, because we are also able to turn all these into evil. Accordingly—and this is a point which needs frequent repetition, because of your calumniation of us—whenever we say that a man can live without sin, we also give praise to God by our acknowledgment of the capacity which we have received from Him, who has bestowed such 'ability' upon us; and there is here no occasion for praising the human agent, since it is God's matter alone that is for the moment treated of; for the question is not about 'willing,' or 'effecting,' but simply and solely about that which may possibly be. (To br continued)

Paul Hoffer said...

Naturally, since there is no inherently defiled human nature for Pelagius, he understood the work of grace to be purely of a natural or external kind. Therefore, by grace, Pelagius first spoke of the gift of "capacity" itself or the ability to choose. Secondly, he spoke of that which "is also conferred on us as if from an outside source." (To Demetrias) The "outside sources" included the revelation gained through reason(Ibid.), through the law of God,(Ibid.) and the example and teachings of Christ.(Ibid.) Pelagius further amplifies this in his treatise, "On the Grace of Christ," wherein it is explained that "God helps us by his teaching and revelation, whilst He opens the eyes of the heart; whilst He points out to us the future, that we may not be absorbed in the present..."

In other words, "God does not give grace and assistance to do an act, but that such grace consists of free will, or in law and teaching."

Of course this flies in the face of Rom. 7:15-25.

(Continued)

Paul Hoffer said...

Continuation of previous comments:

You wrote:

b) As noted above, in the semi-pelagians, we also see them sometimes calling an innocent nature the result of grace, the same as is being claimed with Mary.

I respond: This is a rather vague statement. Since no one called himself a “Semi-Pelagian” in the 5th century, could you please point me any particular writing that gives the context that you are raising?

But in general, I would disagree. Mary was in an “innocent state” from the moment of her conception because of God’s application of Christ’s redemptive grace to her which continued to be applied to her all her life. This would exclude any sort of Semi-Pelagian notions that indicate that while man’s nature was damaged by Adam’s sin, it was not so damaged that man could not make the first step towards choosing to be saved. Despite rumors to the contrary, the Catholic Church acknowledges the canons of the Second Council of Orange and adheres to them. Here are a few that apply to the situation you are referring:

Can. 18."That grace is preceded by no merits. A reward is due to good works, if they are performed; but grace, which is not due, precedes, that they may be done".

Can. 19. "That no one is saved except by God's mercy. Even if human nature remained in that integrity in which it was formed, it would in no way save itself without the help of its Creator; therefore, since without the grace of God it cannot guard the health which it received, how without the grace of God will it be able to recover what it has lost?"

Can. 20."That without God man can do no good. God does many good things in man, which man does not do; indeed man can do no good that God does not expect that man do" .

Can. 21."Nature and grace.Just as the Apostle most truly says to those, who, wishing to be justified in the law, have fallen even from grace: if justice is from the law, then Christ died in vain [ Gal. 2:21 ]; so it is most truly said to those who think that grace, which the faith of Christ commends and obtains, is nature: If justice is through nature, then Christ died in vain. For the law was already here, and it did not justify; nature, too, was already present, and it did not justify. Therefore, Christ did not die in vain, that the law also might be fulfilled through Him, who said:I came not to destroy the law, but to fulfill (it) [Matt. 5:17], and in order that nature ruined by Adam, might be repaired by Him, who said: He cameto seek and to save that which had been lost[ Luke 19:10]".

There is nothing in the dogma of the Immaculate Conception that holds contrary to the above. PERIOD.

You write:

c) It does appear that your set is too limited. Pelagius acknowledges that there are sons of God according to grace (see his commentary on Romans 1:3), which at least sounds like the grace of adoption. What is the basis for your claims?

I respond:

A wolf may wear a sheepy overall, but it is still a wolf under it all. If you wish to adopt Pelagius’ notion of grace to refute my contention, that is your perogative, but Pelagius’ notion of grace is that it is earned through merit, making it not grace at all. See, Ferguson, John, Pelagius, pp. 133-134 that specifically shows the problem in relying on Pelagius’ commentary on Rom. 1:3 to show that he believed in what you and I would hold to be grace by adoption.

Hope to get more up later...

God bless!

Paul Hoffer said...

I wrote:

"In contrast, the dogma of the Immaculate Conception has at its roots, its heart, and its substance the truth of supernatural grace flowing from God alone."

You stated:

a) Not in the historic sense of grace, as noted above.

My response:

I am sorry, I must of missed that-which comment are you referring to? If you are referring to the notion of grace as Pelagius defined it, then you can keep your “historic” sense of grace. I would just as soon go with the Scriptural sense of grace which is the sense that is being glorified in the dogma of the Immaculate Conception. I have already touched upon what Ferguson wrote in his book about Pelagius' notions on grace. In the Catholic sense of the word, habitual or sanctifying grace makes us participate in the very nature, in the inner life of God, according to the words of St. Peter (2 Peter 1: 4): 'By whom he hath given us most great and precious promises: that by these you may be made partakers of the divine nature.' By grace we have become adopted children of God, heirs and co-heirs with Christ (Rom. 8: 17); by grace we are 'born of God' (John 1:13). Reconcile that with what Pelagius preached.

b) The heart, roots, and substance of the doctrine is the elevation of Mary.

Now who is making allegations? One must wonder if you have actually read what the Church holds on the honoring of Mary which does no more than reflect what Saint Ambrose wrote so long ago, “May the heart of Mary be in each Christian to proclaim the greatness of the Lord; may her spirit be in everyone to exult in God.” (Commentary on the Gospel according to Luke 11:26) The meaning of Saint Ambrose’s words can be found in many of the magisterial documents since the dogma of the Immaculate Conception was pronounced.

To summarize: Mary is the Christian model of the supremely Christ-centered person, and devotion to her is the surest way for every person to become a true Christ-centered person. God’s salvific plan predestined and created her to bring Christ to men and men to Christ. It is for this reason that the Church determined that she was graced from her conception to be free from the stain of Original Sin. The most direct path to go to Jesus is through Mary.

And that through the Virgin, and through her more than through any other means, we have offered us a way of reaching the knowledge of Jesus Christ, cannot be doubted when it is remembered that with her alone of all others Jesus was for thirty years united, as a son is usually united with a mother, in the closest ties of intimacy and domestic life. Who could better than His Mother have an open knowledge of the admirable mysteries of the birth and childhood of Christ, and above all of the mystery of the Incarnation, which is the beginning and the foundation of faith? Mary not only preserved and meditated on the events of Bethlehem and the facts which took place in Jerusalem in the Temple of the Lord, but sharing as she did the thoughts and the secret wishes of Christ she may be said to have lived the very life of her Son. Hence nobody ever knew Christ so profoundly as she did, and nobody can ever be more competent as a guide and teacher of the knowledge of Christ. Pope Saint Pius X in “Ad Diem Illum Laetissimum”

(to be cont.)

Paul Hoffer said...

cont.

Nor can it be asserted that the Redemption by Christ was on this account lessened, as if it did not extend to the whole race of Adam: and therefore something taken away from the office and dignity of the Divine Redeemer. For if we carefully and thoroughly consider the matter, we easily perceive that Christ the Lord in a certain most perfect manner really redeemed His mother, since it was by virtue of His merits that she was preserved by God immune from all stain of original sin. Wherefore, the infinite dignity of Jesus Christ and His office of universal redemption is not diminished nor lowered by this tenet of doctrine, rather it is greatly increased. Pope Pius XII in “Fulgens Corona 14”

In the first place it is supremely fitting that exercises of piety directed towards the Virgin Mary should clearly express the Trinitarian and Christological note that is intrinsic and essential to them. Christian worship in fact is of itself worship offered to the Father and to the Son and to the Holy Spirit, or, as the liturgy puts it, to the Father through Christ in the Spirit. From this point of view worship is rightly extended, though in a substantially different way, first and foremost and in a special manner, to the Mother of the Lord and then to the saints, in whom the Church proclaims the Paschal Mystery, for they have suffered with Christ and have been glorified with Him. In the Virgin Mary everything is relative to Christ and dependent upon Him. It was with a view to Christ that God the Father from all eternity chose her to be the all-holy Mother and adorned her with gifts of the Spirit granted to no one else. Certainly genuine Christian piety has never failed to highlight the indissoluble link and essential relationship of the Virgin to the divine Savior. Yet it seems to us particularly in conformity with the spiritual orientation of our time. which is dominated and absorbed by the "question of Christ," that in the expressions of devotion to the Virgin the Christological aspect should have particular prominence. It likewise seems to us fitting that these expressions of devotion should reflect God's plan, which laid down "with one single decree the origin of Mary and the Incarnation of the divine Wisdom." This will without doubt contribute to making piety towards the Mother of Jesus more solid, and to making it an effective instrument for attaining to full "knowledge of the Son of God, until we become the perfect man, fully mature with the fullness of Christ himself" (Eph. 4:13). It will also contribute to increasing the worship due to Christ Himself, since, according to the perennial mind of the Church authoritatively repeated in our own day, "what is given to the handmaid is referred to the Lord; thus what is given to the Mother redounds to the Son; ...and thus what is given as humble tribute to the Queen becomes honor rendered to the King." (Footnotes omitted) Paul VI in “Marialis Cultus 25” [For the Right Ordering and Development of Devotion to the Blessed Virgin Mary]

Paul Hoffer said...

cont.

This "fullness" indicates the moment fixed from all eternity when the Father sent his Son "that whoever believes in him should not perish but have eternal life" (Jn. 3:16). It denotes the blessed moment when the Word that "was with God...became flesh and dwelt among us" (Jn. 1:1, 14), and made himself our brother. It marks the moment when the Holy Spirit, who had already infused the fullness of grace into Mary of Nazareth, formed in her virginal womb the human nature of Christ. This "fullness" marks the moment when, with the entrance of the eternal into time, time itself is redeemed, and being filled with the mystery of Christ becomes definitively "salvation time." Finally, this "fullness" designates the hidden beginning of the Church's journey. In the liturgy the Church salutes Mary of Nazareth as the Church's own beginning, for in the event of the Immaculate Conception the Church sees projected, and anticipated in her most noble member, the saving grace of Easter. And above all, in the Incarnation she encounters Christ and Mary indissolubly joined: he who is the Church's Lord and Head and she who, uttering the first fiat of the New Covenant, prefigures the Church's condition as spouse and mother. Pope John Paul II in “Redemptoris Mater”

Nowhere in any of these writings does one see the Catholic Church “elevating” Mary. Rather, the Church uses the dogma of the Immaculate Conception to show that honoring Mary is perfectly Christocentric. Through the teaching of the Immaculate Conception, the Church makes it clear that her pre-redemption is focused on Jesus Christ, the divine Redeemer. The only folks who "elevate" Mary are Protestant apologists who misapprehend and misrepresent that Catholics make her out to be an addition to the Holy Trinity.

More tomorrow...

God bless!

Paul Hoffer said...

My responsive comments continued:

I wrote:

Second, Pelagius denied that death was a consequence of original sin."

You asked:

Do you mean of Adam's sin? Where does Pelagius deny this?

I answer:

Yes, Adam’s sin is the original sin. (Rom. 5:12). Saint Augustine says that Pelagius’ denies it in his Commentary on Romans (I wish I was going to Columbus any time soon so I can get the book) in “A Treatise on the Merits and Forgiveness of Sins.” See also, “On Original Sin,” Chapter 14. In addition, I have already referred you to a number of secondary sources that indicate this. Schaff also claims this in his book, “Saint Augustine: Anti-Pelagian writings. http://www.ccel.org/ccel/schaff/npnf105.v.ii.i.html

I wrote:

"He believed that death, old age and sickness were always a part of man's original state."

You asked:

Where does Pelagius state this? What writing of his?

I wrote:

See, Schaff above.

God bless!

Paul Hoffer said...

Thank you for letting me respond to your remarks. Here is the rest of my response:

I wrote:
"Otherwise, Adam would have more power to destroy us than Christ had to save us (Pelagius' notion of the elect)."

You asked:
“That seems like Julian's argument against Augustine. Again, are you sure this is Pelagius?”

Julian said it more explicitly than Pelagius, but at least the way I read it Pelagius’ commentary on Romans 5:12-15 certainly seems to affirm that.

I wrote:

"While the dogma of the Immaculate Conception states that Mary was preserved from the stain of original sin, she was not preserved from the effects of it~feeling sorrow, growing old or dying."

You asked:
a) Contrast your position with Bellisario's.

Mr. Bellisario wrote:

“Do you know the difference between Original Sin and personal sin? She was conceived in the state that Adam and Eve were created in, with a lack of Original Sin, or in the state of Original Grace, yet differing because there was a special grace given to her after the fall. So she was pardoned the loss of Original Grace at her conception by the grace of Our Lord Jesus Christ. Yes, she is unique among the human race in this regard in being created like Adam and Eve were from the beginning. This is actually very fitting since her "yes" was the reversal of Adam and Eve's "no." Even though this is the case, there was still a possibility that she could have sinned after this as Adam and Eve did, but of course she remained in the grace of God by the grace of her only son, Jesus Christ. So God's grace through the Blessed Mother starts the process of redemption of mankind, which is only completed through the incarnation of Christ, and His sacrifice on the cross. Like it or not, she is shares in God's plan of redemption in the role in which God chose for her.”

What is there to contrast? Since Saint Paul tells us that death entered the world through Adam’s sin and since Mary suffered the effects of that, illness, injury, old age, and death; then she suffered from the effects of original sin although she did not suffer the from the privation of sanctifying grace that would have occurred had her soul been stained with it. The fact that Mr. Bellisario contends that Mary could have still personally sinned had God’s grace not continued to be active (concupiscence) throughout her life shows that he agrees with my position.

What the doctrine of the Immaculate Conception holds is that the stain of original sin- that formal active essence of original sin was not removed from her soul, as it is removed from others by baptism; it was rather excluded through God’s preemptive application of the merits of Christ’s death and resurrection. As such, she was merely conceived in the state of original sanctity, innocence, and justice that our first parents, Adam and Eve, had and all the stain and fault, depraved emotions, passions, and debilities, that come from original sin, were excluded. But, based on my researches into Catholic doctrine, there is an absence of any authority that contradict the Scriptures which says she was not made exempt from the temporal penalties of Adam -- from sorrow, bodily infirmities, and death. Furthermore, the fact that Jesus could thirst, be killed and did die shows that His human body too suffered from the temporal effects of original sin even though He certainly was wholly, totally and completely without sin, original or otherwise.

You wrote:

“b) Interesting that you acknowledge Mary's death.

I respond: Show me where I am not allowed to in the teachings of the Catholic Church. When Pope Pius XII defined the dogma of the Assumption in “Munificentissimus Deus,” he specifically did not decide whether Mary died before being assumed. I happen to believe that she did based on the totality of the patristic witness. What is important that God did not allow Mary to suffer from the sting of death-that is bodily corruption due to the graces she received from Him.

to be cont.

Paul Hoffer said...

Comments cont.

You asked:

“c) For whose sin did Mary die?”

I respond:

Don’t be blasphemous. Unlike Jesus Christ’s death, her death had no redemptive feature. The dogma of the Assumption allows that Mary could have died, the fullness of grace that she had received from God as a part of His plan of salvation did not allow her was not suffer any corruption from dying.

d) I.D. stated: "And hence they affirmed that the Blessed Virgin was, through grace, entirely free from every stain of sin, and from all corruption of body, soul and mind; that she was always united with God and joined to him by an eternal covenant; that she was never in darkness but always in light; and that, therefore, she was entirely a fit habitation for Christ, not because of the state of her body, but because of her original grace." Are you sure that the dogma is limited only to the stain? If so, what's your authoritative basis for saying so?

I respond:

Read the encyclicals that I indicated before. None of them state that God’s sanctifying grace given to her as a result of Christ’s eternal sacrifice on the cross cured her of the temporal effects of Adam’s original sin, only from the effects that are associated with the stain of original sin. CCC 396-412, specifically CCC 411.

I wrote: "Thus, the doctrine of the Immaculate Conception does not deny the universality of Original Sin, but makes clear its universality."

You asked:

“Please identify which official formulation of the Immaculate Conception makes it clear that Mary was subject, in any way, to Original Sin.”

I respond: the Scriptures. For example: Lk. 2:34-35. I would ask you in turn to show me any official magisterial writing that says that Mary was not subject in any way to temporal effects of Original Sin, that is she could not suffer old age, illness, physical suffering or death.

You wrote:

The explicit definition simply states: "We declare, pronounce, and define that the doctrine which holds that the most Blessed Virgin Mary, in the first instance of her conception, by a singular grace and privilege granted by Almighty God, in view of the merits of Jesus Christ, the Savior of the human race, was preserved free from all stain of original sin, is a doctrine revealed by God and therefore to be believed firmly and constantly by all the faithful."

However, the defining document also affirms the broader claim: "So at the instance and request of the bishops mentioned above, with the chapters of the churches, and of King Philip and his kingdoms, we renew the Constitutions and Decrees issued by the Roman Pontiffs, our predecessors, especially Sixtus IV, Paul V, and Gregory XV, in favor of the doctrine asserting that the soul of the Blessed Virgin, in its creation and infusion into the body, was endowed with the grace of the Holy Spirit and preserved from original sin; and also in favor of the feast and veneration of the conception of the Virgin Mother of God, which, as is manifest, was instituted in keeping with that pious belief."

[...]

Unless the supposed application supposedly failed, original sin didn't apply to Mary.

I respond:

Original sin is basically understood as the privation of sanctifying grace in consequence of the sin of Adam or it. However, the other effects of original sin, concupiscence and physical infirmity and death, are sometimes included under the definition of original sin. When the Pope Pius IX defined the doctrine of the Immaculate Conception, it is clear from the context of the document, he was referring to the former; when I wrote in your comment box, I was referring to the latter.

Again, thank you for allowing me to respond to your remarks and hope my latter comments clarify and/or amplify my position.

God bless!