Sunday, August 28, 2011

Thomas Aquinas' Fictional Adoption of the Immaculate Conception

It ought to be well-known that Rome's dogma of the Immaculate Conception was denied by her leading medieval saint, Thomas Aquinas (as outlined here). This has been something of a thorn in the side of those contending that Mary was immaculately conceived. They have tried to explain Aquinas' position away in various ways - such as by arguing that Aquinas didn't believe that life begins at conception (which is true, but not particularly helpful to their case). Another theory sometimes set forth (recently, for example, by Taylor Marshall) is that Aquinas came to hold to the dogma of the immaculate conception late in life, even after writing the portion of the Summa Theologica that denies it.

Réginald Marie Garrigou-Lagrange, O.P. is (or, I suppose I should say, "was") one of the leading Thomist theologians of the 20th century. In his Discourse II on Mary's Immaculate Conception, published in "The Mother of the Savior" (1948), Garrigou-Lagrange wrote:
In the final period of his career, when writing the Exposito super salutatione angelica----which is certainly authentic [39]-----in 1272 or 1273, St. Thomas expressed himself thus: 'For she [the Blessed Virgin] was most pure in the matter of fault (quantum ad culpam) and incurred neither Original nor mental nor venial sin.'
The problem is this:

The "neither original" in that quotation is an interpolation. Gibbings pointed that out long ago in his "Roman forgeries and falsifications" but you can see for yourself if you get a modern critical text of the work.

The Latin actually says "Ipsa enim purissima fuit et quantum ad culpam, quia ipsa virgo nec mortale nec veniale peccatum incurrit." ("For she [the Blessed Virgin] was most pure because the Virgin herself incurred neither mortal nor venial sin.")

What is especially shameful about this lie (perhaps I should be reluctant to call it a lie when Garrigou-Lagrange may simply have been working from a corrupted text, but it is hard to attribute ignorance of Thomas to a Thomist of his stature) is that the same work earlier explained:

"Sed Christus excellit beatam virginem in hoc quod sine originali conceptus et natus est. Beata autem virgo in originali est concepta, sed non nata." ("But Christ excels the Blessed Virgin in this, because he was conceived and born without original [sin]. Therefore, the Blessed Virgina was conceived in original [sin] but not born in it].")

No, Aquinas died believing that Mary was conceived in original sin. Garrigou-Lagrange is to be blamed for perpetuating a falsehood about Thomas and Taylor Marshall is to be blamed (much less, of course) for perpetuating Garrigou-Lagrange's error. Does that make Thomas a modern Protestant? Of course not. He disagreed with us on many matters, even about Mary.

How can you cash out this fact? Well, Rome insists today that you must believe in the immaculate conception of Mary. The immaculate conception of Mary is not taught in Scripture and it was not taught by any father prior to Augustine. It was denied by numerous men who were or became bishops of Rome. Even Garrigou-Lagrange states (a little above his attempt to resuscitate Thomas for the immaculatist position):
The Council of Trent (Denz., 792) declares, when speaking of Original Sin which infects all men, that it does not intend to include the Blessed and Immaculate Virgin Mary. In 1567 Baius is condemned for having taught the contrary (Denz., 1073). In 1661 Alexander VII affirmed the privilege, saying that almost all Catholics held it, though it had not yet been defined (Denz., 1100). Finally, on December 8th, 1854, we have the promulgation of the solemn definition (Denz., 1641).

It must be admitted that in the 12th and 13th centuries certain great doctors, as, for example, St. Bernard, [29] St. Anselm, [30] Peter Lombard, [31] Hugh of St. Victor, [32] St. Albert the Great, [33] St. Bonaventure, [34] and St. Thomas Aquinas appear to have been disinclined to admit the privilege.

29. Epist. ad canonicos Lugdunenses.
30. De conceptione virginali.
31. In III Sent., dist. 3.
32. Super Missus est.
33. Item Super Missus est.
34. In III Sent., dist. 3, q. 27.
Thomas and the others help to show that Rome's demand that we believe in Mary's immaculate conception is really a demand for us to have implicit faith in the church of Rome. The dogma cannot be established from Scripture, it cannot be established from the fathers of the first three centuries, and it is opposed to the testimony of folks like Thomas Aquinas, who could hardly have been unaware of an apostolic tradition of an immaculate conception, if one existed.

Therefore, Rome is claiming the ability to simply define dogma that cannot be proven from Scripture or Tradition (History) and make that dogma so central to the faith that to deny is to - well - hear for yourself:
Hence, if anyone shall dare--which God forbid!--to think otherwise than as has been defined by us, let him know and understand that he is condemned by his own judgment; that he has suffered shipwreck in the faith; that he has separated from the unity of the Church; and that, furthermore, by his own action he incurs the penalties established by law if he should dare to express in words or writing or by any other outward means the errors he think in his heart.
(Ineffabilis Deus - 1854)

That is sola ecclesia for you. If you implicitly trust Rome, the testimony of about 10 bishops of Rome and about half a dozen doctors of the church (Gregory the Great, Albert, Bernard, Aquinas, Anselm, and Bonaventure) will not matter. Yet, if you will critically consider Rome's claims, perhaps this issue of the Immaculate Conception can help you to see that Rome's claims about itself are false. She had no right to define the dogma of the Immaculate Conception, and no good reason to think it true. She cannot establish it from Scripture and it is not an apostolic tradition.

- TurretinFan

17 comments:

Ex N1hilo said...

Devastating.

ChaferDTS said...

Very good post TF ! :)You are right on . Even when show all this they go in to denial mode which again shows the blinding nature of their spiritual deception unless freed by the Holy Spirit from all that.

Truth Unites... and Divides said...

"The immaculate conception of Mary is not taught in Scripture and it was not taught by any father prior to Augustine."

So much for Vincent of Lerins.

All hail Newman and his Doctrine of Development.

The Puritan said...

Turretinfan, I rarely have a question I can't find the answer for myself, but I think I have one here. See if you can work this out, it might be stupid and easily answered, or not, but here it is:

True or false? If as the Westminster Confession of Faith states God is the first cause yet works through secondary causes, and those secondary causes can either be determined, free, or contingent, then can it be said that the cause of reprobation (what makes a person a reprobate) can be in the category of free or contingent and not automatically in the category of determined which is I think how we tend to see it regarding reprobation (i.e. we usually associate reprobation with determined)?

Turretinfan said...

I would carefully distinguish.

If you mean "what is the cause of the decree of reprobation," to that we must acknowledge that the cause is the will of God, for God decrees as He wills.

But, if you mean, "what is the cause whereby the reprobate come into condemnation and judgment" we may affirm that while God is the first cause, the secondary causes in the case of reprobation may be free and/or contingent causes. Thus, Adam freely fell and the reprobate freely (in accordance with their fallen nature) choose darkness rather than light and love their sins more than repentance and faith in Christ.

As you mentioned the WCF states: "yet, by the same providence, He orders them to fall out, according to the nature of second causes, either necessarily, freely, or contingently."

If I have rightly understood your question, you are asking whether that decree of reprobation may (according to the WCF) may be ordered to fall out according to the nature of free and contingent causes, to which I think the WCF would allow us to say "yes."

The Puritan said...

So, my further question would be: do you think that if the cause is free, let's say, that it could happen or not happen depending on the - in this case - potential reprobate in question?

I know this gets into choice and will and total inability and monergism/synergism issues, but since we are taught by Reformed Theology to not equate election and reprobation (i.e. God's doesn't elect people to reprobation) wouldn't reprobation be not included in all those issues and the choice then be real (if the cause is 'free') for hell if the person chooses hell over God?

Is it true, by the way, that God 'decrees' reprobation as he decrees election? Doesn't God merely 'pass over'?

I am not one that is troubled by God's judgment regarding reprobates. I can hold the terminal position of loving God's judgments whatever they be because whatever they be they are just and good.

I just wonder that since (or if) reprobation is not the same as election in terms of decree that whether there might be some choice in the matter on the part of the reprobate, if the cause is indeed free, say, and not determined?

Turretinfan said...

"So, my further question would be: do you think that if the cause is free, let's say, that it could happen or not happen depending on the - in this case - potential reprobate in question?"

It will certainly happen, but it will happen due to the free choices of men. We don't accept the Arminian notion that free choices cannot be determined.

"I know this gets into choice and will and total inability and monergism/synergism issues, but since we are taught by Reformed Theology to not equate election and reprobation (i.e. God's doesn't elect people to reprobation) wouldn't reprobation be not included in all those issues and the choice then be real (if the cause is 'free') for hell if the person chooses hell over God?"

You are correct that we don't hold to an equation of the two. Man is saved by grace, but gains hell by merit. There is no "irresistible anti-grace," evil men freely hate the light and can (and do) seek out darkness of their own accord. They need grace to do what is now contrary to their nature.

"Is it true, by the way, that God 'decrees' reprobation as he decrees election? Doesn't God merely 'pass over'?"

Well, God has decreed all things that come to pass. So, God has decreed to save some and not others. Whether God decrees to save same fallen men and pass over others, or whether God decrees to bring some men to glory and others to destruction, is the debate between supra- and infra- lapsarians.

"I am not one that is troubled by God's judgment regarding reprobates. I can hold the terminal position of loving God's judgments whatever they be because whatever they be they are just and good."

Praise God for that! It is a rare thing these days, it seems.

"I just wonder that since (or if) reprobation is not the same as election in terms of decree that whether there might be some choice in the matter on the part of the reprobate, if the cause is indeed free, say, and not determined?"

We would say that both are determined, but that God actively works the salvation of the elect, while leaving the reprobate to their own devices. Thus, God is bot the first cause and the proximate cause in salvation but man is the proximate cause in condemnation - man sins on his own, but man is only saved by grace.

-TurretinFan

The Puritan said...

In all this my understanding of the nature of 'free' and 'contingent' secondary causes is most likely not up to par. I was thinking that if a secondary cause is not 'determined' then that means it could happen or not happen, or in the case of a 'free' secondary cause it will happen but not necessarily - in the case of reprobation - to a particular person but to 'someone' (which would make reprobation more of a quota thing than a decree of individual persons being reprobates).

I mean, if it's all determined anyway then why would there be categories of 'free' and 'contingent'. Though when the subject is reprobation maybe that is in the 'determined' category by default. But then that is why I was wondering whether reprobation is truly decreed in the sense that election is. It's a matter of a 'passing over' of a person by God.

The Puritan said...

I shouldn't have said "could happen or not happen". Things will happen due to the first cause, but my way of seeing the 'free' and 'contingent' category is that one person or another person can be the secondary cause (and this is why effort is meaningful in the Calvinist understanding rather than in the Kismet understanding of Islam).

This is the mystery realm of God's sovereignty and man's responsibility (and other mystery realms that Scripture presents).

The Calvinist statement (I think I first read it in Edwin Palmer's book on the five points of Calvinism) that there will be no one in hell who doesn't want to be there started me thinking of these things. I think it may be too easy to just say they will want to be there simply because their fallen nature can't choose anything other than rebellion to God.

The Puritan said...

Related query possibly: Do you think reprobates by default have to commit the unforgivable sin? Denying the work of the Holy Spirit?

The Puritan said...

By your cue I see this subject is part of the supra/infra subject of Reformed systematics. Reading through Bavinck's volume 2 of his Reformed Dogmatics, where, by the way, he really goes into this subject deeply, I felt the old holy fear in not wanting to question God's judgments - which I never did - and saw how one can brush up against doing just that even in the seemingly innocent act of pondering the subject and trying to understand it more clearly. I trust God and accept His judgments even if they offend to even the slightest degree my fallen nature. I often ask: can God trust me? Not if I question His judgments, to any degree, under any guise. I'm pretty locked in though. Just really wondering if reprobates were more than robots or walking dead.

The Puritan said...

I won't plaster the thread beyond this, but I'm reminded Calvin said somewhere that God could have made us a dog, which puts in perspective how we totally rely on God for everything; so that's the hard thing to constantly realize, our being mere clay in the hands of the Potter. Bavinck also has been helpful. I recommend his four volumes.

Unknown said...

In reply to Puritan, TF:

"... Man is saved by grace, but gains hell by merit."

Starting to sound just a bit like the Apostle now, are we? :)

Rom 6:23 For the wages of sin is death; but the gift of God is eternal life through Jesus Christ our Lord.

natamllc

The Puritan said...

Thanks for that coda, natamllc. I just want to add that though there is some material, some questions, in the above comments that havn't been resolved completely, I'm not abandoning trying to understand what I was getting at, it's just that being directed to the subject of supralapsarianism and infralapsarianism as the background - or a background - to the overall subject I think I should get a handle on that part of systematic theology once and for all. In the past I've looked into it, got a basic understanding of it, then forgot it five minutes later. I guess I didn't see yet a practical reason to know it, but maybe understanding reprobation to its core, as a doctrine, as much as we can understand it, is a good practical reason.

The Puritan said...

This page gives the concise, basic answer to basically what I have brought up here:

http://www.monergism.com/thethreshold/articles/onsite/qna/arbitrary.html

natamllc said...

Puritan:

"...to the overall subject I think I should get a handle on that part of systematic theology once and for all."

I wish you well.

I have been getting a handle on it for years now and find it odd I just haven't been able to get much of a handle on it, yet? Give me time, I am sure I will! :)

Having given that disclaimer, what would you say with regard to supra or infra or subla about the whole book of Job in the context of chapters one and two, "the sons of God" and this:

Gen 6:1 And it came to pass, when men began to multiply on the face of the earth, and daughters were born unto them,
Gen 6:2 That the sons of God saw the daughters of men that they were fair; and they took them wives of all which they chose.
Gen 6:3 And the LORD said, My spirit shall not always strive with man, for that he also is flesh: yet his days shall be an hundred and twenty years.


Also, I see the distinction between the "righteous" and the "wicked", for instance, this way, with these Words:

Pro 29:2 When the righteous are in authority, the people rejoice: but when the wicked beareth rule, the people mourn.

...

Pro 29:7 The righteous considereth the cause of the poor: but the wicked regardeth not to know it.


By the way, at this time, I take the infralapsarian position.

The Puritan said...

Interesting, I've had to ponder your question so much I've not even tried to come up with a response. It's been profitable.

So sons of God are angels. And if they are leaving their first estate to mate with human women they are fallen angels. Hence possibly the offspring are the reprobates, or even just if part of the strange bloodline appears in a human then they will be reprobates. Hence reprobates aren't even human, really, to begin with. Hence the suspicion of them being robots - in terms of their non-human image - or walking dead.

How could they exist after the flood? (I suspect Ham's wife.)

On another note, according to Bavinck the supra position leaves the possibility that the reprobates are possible human beings rather than actual ones, hence my use of the word quota above.