Monday, March 17, 2008

Why terminology is important.


James Swan's recent thread at Beggar’s All (HERE) contains a lengthy quotation gleaned from R.C. Sproul’s book, Willing To Believe. The following comprises the beginning of that quote:

The classic issue between Augustinian theology and all forms of semi-Pelagianism focuses on one aspect of the order of salvation (ordo salutis): What is the relationship between regeneration and faith? Is regeneration a monergistic or synergistic work? Must a person first exercise faith in order to be born again? Or must rebirth occur before a person is able to exercise faith? Another way to state the question is this: Is the grace of regeneration operative or cooperative?

Monergistic regeneration means that regeneration is accomplished by a single actor, God. It means literally a “one-working.” Synergism, on the other hand, refers to a work that involves the action of two or more parties. It is a co-working. All forms of semi-Pelagianism assert some sort of synergism in the work of regeneration. Usually God’s assisting grace is seen as a necessary ingredient, but it is dependent on human cooperation for its efficacy.
(James continues his usual practice of ‘deficient citation syndrome’ [grin], leaving out the page numbers. The selection above is from page 23.)

Sproul, like so many of his Reformed brethren, maintains that “Augustinian theology” (in reference to soteriology) is expressed in but one form, and that if one does not accept this single form, one slips into one of the “forms of semi-Pelagianism” (or even worse, full-blown Pelagianism).

However, a careful reading of the historical context of the birth of semi-Pelagianism reveals a much different landscape. And what is disconcerting to me, is that Sproul, in his Willing To Believe, has obviously read the history behind the emergence of semi-Pelgaianism, as well as the early Church’s reaction to it. Sproul in pages 69-76 gives a brief, but for the most part, accurate portrayal of the rise of semi-Pelagianism, citing three esteemed authorities, whose primary discipline is that of Christian history: Philip Schaff, Adolf von Harnack and Reinhold Seeberg. Yet amazingly, Sproul, in spite of the very quotes he provides from these scholars, misses THE KEY INGREDIENT which distinguishes semi-Pelagianism from all forms of Augustinianism! That KEY INGREDIENT is this:

Semi-Pelaganianism teaches that an individual apart from grace can accept the offer of salvation, and that once accepted one then cooperates with the grace that God gives. In other words, semi-Pelagianism denies the necessity of grace for one to believe/accept the gospel.

The following are from the quotations provided in Spoul’s book:

But the beginnings of good resolve, good thoughts, and faith—understood as the preparation for grace—can be due to ourselves. Hence grace is absolutely necessary in order to reach final salvation (perfection), but not so much so in order to make a start. (Page 72.)

The question, which of the two factors has the initiative, he answers, altogether empirically, to this effect: that sometimes, and indeed usually, the human will, as in the cases of the Prodigal Son, Zacchaeus, the Penitent Thief, and Cornelius, determines itself to conversion; sometimes grace anticipates it, and, as with Matthew and Paul, draws the resisting will—yet, even in this case, without constraint—to God. Here, therefore, the gratia praeveniens is manifestly overlooked. (Page 74.)

As I pointed out in my previous thread here at AF, Schaff, in the next section after the one from which the above quote is taken from, then summarizes the Church’s response to semi-Pelagiansim: “These transactions terminated at length in the triumph of a moderate-Augustinianism, or of what might be called Semi-Augustinianism, in distinction from Semi-Pelagianism.” (History of the Christian Church, vol. 3, sec. 160, p. 866.)

And interestingly enough, Sproul seems to be against Sproul, for after stating many times prior that the telling mark of all forms of semi-Pelagianism is synergism from start to finish, he then goes on to say:

The church embraced a way that was more Augustinian than Pelagian. Some have referred to it as semi-Augustinianism rather than semi-Pelagianism, finding it closer to Augustine than Cassian. (Page 76.)

Amen brother Sproul! You finally ‘got-it-right’. The fact that the Catholic Church maintains that it is impossible to accept the gospel without grace (gratia praeveniens), this separates Her teaching from “all forms of semi-Pelagianism”; instead, embracing “moderate-Augustinianism, or of what might be called Semi-Augustinianism, in distinction from Semi-Pelagianism.”

I end by reiterating that terminology is indeed important.


Grace and peace,

David

16 comments:

Interlocutor said...

Hi,
In one of your previous articles, you say, quoting Pohle, "If the will coöperates, grace becomes truly efficacious; if the will resists, grace remains “merely sufficient.” In other words, merely sufficient grace confers full power to act, but is rendered ineffective by the resistance of the will…"
Does this not mean salvation is ultimately tied to one's willing? Obviously, one cannot will to have sufficient grace in the first place, as sufficient/prevenient grace is granted by God alone. But then it seems the will accepting this is what transforms it to efficacious grace (almost seems like "meriting" grace). Or, put another way as commonly posed by Calvinists, why is it that you are saved, but your atheist neighbor isn't? Both of you were offered sufficient/prevenient grace right? Were you just better at lowering your defenses? It just seems the Scriptural witness is more along the lines of God both initiating and finishing the conversion of the unregenerate, so that he is changed to will to desire Him whereas before his will would not want to do any such thing. Perhaps RCs can believe the will is opposed to God until sufficient/prevenient grace is bestowed, but unlike Calvinism, this grace will not convert the will completely, but just energize/prepare it so that it can now choose to accept (in which case it becomes efficacious) or reject the grace - although that seems to still imply your willing (albeit God-enabled now) to resist/accept is the deciding factor in your salvation (and merits/earns it); I guess you would just deny that and leave it just as mystery? Or is there some other route you would take?

David Waltz said...

Hi Interlocutor,

Thanks for thought-provoking comments and questions. In my response, I would like to point out that Catholics, like our separated Protestant brethren, are divided over these issues. The Calvinist/Arminian debate has a certain parallel in the divide between the Thomists and non-Thomists (Franciscans, Molinists, congruists, et al.) that exists within Catholicism. The Thomists, following certain aspects of Augustine’s and Aquinas’ theology, while adhering to “prevenient grace” (which is sufficient), also introduce what is called “the gift of perseverance”, a grace from God, given only to the elect, which is not only sufficient, but also efficacious. Though Augustine and Aquinas differed in some of their terminology, certain common themes are shared by both: first, the necessity of grace for one to accept the gospel call; second, regeneration/justification via the sacrament of baptism; third, the need of the additional “gift of perseverance” to ultimately obtain eternal salvation (and the one to whom this grace is given, will, without fail, persevere to the end); third, those who been regenerated/justified, but have not the received the “gift of perseverance”, will not persevere to the end; and fourth, the number of the elect is fixed (i.e. predestined) by God’s secret decree.

The following are a few pertinent selections from Augustine and Aquinas:


…it must be believed that some of the children of perdition, who have not received the gift of perseverance to the end, begin to live in the faith which worketh by love, and live for some time faithfully and righteously, and afterwards fall away, and are not taken away from this life before this happens to them. If this had happened to none of these, men would have that very wholesome fear, by which the sin of presumption is kept down, only so long as until they should attain to the grace of Christ by which to live piously, and afterwards would for time to come be secure that they would never fall away from Him. (On Rebuke and Grace, ch. 40 – NPNF 5.488.)


I HAVE now to consider the subject of perseverance with greater care; for in the former book also I said some things on this subject when I was discussing the beginning of faith. I assert, therefore, that the perseverance by which we persevere in Christ even to the end is the gift of God; and I call that the end by which is finished that life wherein alone there is peril of falling. Therefore it is uncertain whether any one has received this gift so long as he is still alive. For if he fall before he dies, he is, of course, said not to have persevered; and most truly is it said. How, then, should he be said to have received or to have had perseverance who has not persevered? For if any one have continence, and fall away from that virtue and become incontinent, — or, in like manner, if he have righteousness, if patience, if even faith, and fall away, he is rightly said to have had these virtues and to have them no longer; for he was continent, or he was righteous, or he was patient, or he was believing, as long as he was so; but when he ceased to be so, he no longer is what he was. (On The Gift of Perseverance, ch. 1 – NPNF 5.538.)


I answer that: As grace is divided into operative and co-operating, with regard to its diverse effects, so also is it divided into prevenient and subsequent, howsoever we consider grace. Now there are five effects of grace in us: the first is, to heal the soul; the second, to desire good; third, to carry into effect the good proposed; fourth, to persevere in good; and fifth, to reach glory. And hence grace, inasmuch as it causes the first effect in us, is called prevenient with respect to the second, and inasmuch it causes the second, it is called subsequent with respect to the first effect. And as one effect is posterior to this effect, and prior to that, so may grace be called prevenient and subsequent on account of the same effect viewed relatively to divers others. And this is what Augustine says (De Natura et Gratia xxxi): “It is prevenient, inasmuch as it heals, and subsequent, inasmuch as, being healed, we are strengthened; it is prevenient, inasmuch as we are called, and subsequent, inasmuch as we are glorified.” (Summa Theologica, Q. 111, a. 3, - vol. 2, pp.1137, 1138 – Christian Classics, 1981 reprint edition.)


I sincerely hope I have somehow aided your understanding of the Catholic position/s, with respect to your much appreciated post.


Grace and peace,

David

Interlocutor said...

Hi,
Right, the Thomist/Dominican position certainly seems to have more going for it than the popular Molinist/Jesuit models but the issue of the grace of perseverance seems to just push the issue a step back. It's de fide in RCism to believe that Christ died for all and that salvific grace is given to all and can be resisted by all - just as an aside, it is interesting that Pascal, writing on behalf of Jansenism during the controvery in which he fought for Jansen's orthodoxy in light of the Thomists, seemed to agree with this:

'It is not sufficient', say you, 'for the vindication of Jansenius, to allege that he merely holds the doctrine of efficacious grace, for that may be held in two ways – the one heretical, according to Calvin, which consists in maintaining that the will, when under the influence of grace, has not the power of resisting it; the other orthodox, according to the Thomists and the Sorbonists, which is founded on the principles established by the councils, and which is, that efficacious grace of itself governs the will in such a way that it still has the power of resisting it.'
.... All this we grant, father .... It is enough for my purpose .... that you now inform me that by the sense of Jansenius you have all along understood nothing more than the sense of Calvin .... we were all ready .... to join with you in condemning that error."
(The Provincial Letters,Letter 18)

But one can interpret these dogmas in a sense of saying Christ's death was sufficient for all but efficient only for the elect, and sufficient/prevenient grace is given to all but efficient only for the elect correct? So the question is, how does prevenient grace become efficient for the elect. Molinism seems to say, the will accepting/not resisting this grace transforms it into efficacious grace (one is now justified), but the will can just as easily reject it at the onset (never saved) or reject/accept it later on in life (losing one's justification, restoring/increasing one's justification) - the grace to save them is impeded solely by their will (the view of God wringing His hands hoping people will accept his offer of salvation). As I said earlier, this seems to make the saving action a good which does not come *entirely* from God.

Thomism seems to say that efficient grace is given through the grace of perseverance (which cannot be resisted by definition - or rather perhaps should be said, could be resisted but this grace provides that one shall never be so inclined (the reorientation of the will, analogous to Calvinism) so one still has the power to resist, just not the desire) - the grace to save them is impeded by God's unfathomable decision to withhold or bestow the grace of perseverance upon them (more in tune with God's sovereignty). It just seems if that's the case, that the whole sufficient/prevenient concept in Thomism is kind of a semantics game to kind of save the typical libertarian free will view - the real focus should be on whether efficient/perseverance grace is given. But I know Fr. Kimel/Pontificator in one of the recent threads at beggars all or TF's blog derided the Jansenists for praying "deliver us from sufficient grace" when it seems a Thomist could pretty much pray the same thing.

I wonder if Catholics are free to agree with these statements from Pascal in his letters?

".... in this way we reconcile all those passages of Scripture .... such as the following: “Turn ye unto God” – “Turn thou us, and we shall be turned” – “Cast away iniquity from you” – “It is God who taketh away iniquity from His people” – “Bring forth works meet for repentance” – “Lord, thou hast wrought all our works in us” – “Make ye a new heart and a new spirit” – “A new spirit will I give you, and a new heart will I create within you”.
The only way of reconciling these apparent contrarieties, which ascribe our good actions at one time to God and at another time to ourselves, is to keep in view the distinction, as stated by St. Augustine, that “our actions are ours in respect of the free will which produces them; but that they are also of God, in respect of His grace which enables our free will to produce them”; and that, as the same writer elsewhere remarks, “God enables us to do what is pleasing in his sight, by making us will to do even what we might have been unwilling to do.”"
(Letter 18)

[St Thomas teaches that:] “The will of God cannot fail to be accomplished; and, accordingly, when it is His pleasure that a man should consent to the influence of grace, he consents infallibly, and even necessarily, not by an absolute necessity, but by a necessity of infallibility.” In effecting this, divine grace does not trench upon "the power which man has to resist it, if he wishes to do so"; it merely prevents him from wishing to resist it. This has been acknowledged by your Father Petau, in the following passage: "The grace of Jesus Christ insures infallible perseverance in piety, though not by necessity; for a person may refuse to yield his consent to grace, if he be so inclined, as the council states, but that same grace provides that he shall never be so inclined."
(Letter 18)

"Such is the manner in which God regulates the free will of man without encroaching on its freedom, and in which the freewill, which always may, but never will, resist His grace, turns to God with a movement as voluntary as it is irresistible, whensoever He is pleased to draw it to Himself by the sweet constraint of His efficacious inspirations.
...It is equally true that we have the power of resisting grace ...nevertheless, Pope Clement VIII [says] 'God forms within us the motion of our will, and effectually disposes of our hearts, by virtue of that empire which His supreme majesty has over the volitions of men ...according to St Augustine.'"
(Letter 18)

I'm also curious as to what side of the fence you are on? Or are you sitting on it :)

Interlocutor said...

Just to add context to the last citation "Such is the manner", this immediately precedes it:

"[We, the Jansenists] know too well that man, of his own nature, has always the power of sinning and of resisting grace; and that, since he became corrupt, he unhappily carries in his breast a fount of concupiscence which infinitely augments that power; but that, notwithstanding this, when it pleases God to visit him with His mercy, He makes the soul do what He wills, and in the manner He wills it to be done, while, at the same time, the infallibility of the divine operation does not in any way destroy the natural liberty of man, in consequence of the secret and wonderful ways by which God operates this change. This has been most admirably explained by St. Augustine, in such a way as to dissipate all those imaginary inconsistencies which the opponents of efficacious grace suppose to exist between the sovereign power of grace over the free-will and the power which the free-will has to resist grace. For, according to this great saint, whom the popes and the Church have held to be a standard authority on this subject, God transforms the heart of man, by shedding abroad in it a heavenly sweetness, which surmounting the delights of the flesh, and inducing him to feel, on the one hand, his own mortality and nothingness, and to discover, on the other hand, the majesty and eternity of God, makes him conceive a distaste for the pleasures of sin which interpose between him and incorruptible happiness. Finding his chiefest joy in the God who charms him, his soul is drawn towards Him infallibly, but of its own accord, by a motion perfectly free, spontaneous, love-impelled; so that it would be its torment and punishment to be separated from Him. Not but that the person has always the power of forsaking his God, and that he may not actually forsake Him, provided he choose to do it. But how could he choose such a course, seeing that the will always inclines to that which is most agreeable to it, and that, in the case we now suppose, nothing can be more agreeable than the possession of that one good, which comprises in itself all other good things? "Quod enim (says St. Augustine) amplius nos delectat, secundum operemur necesse est- Our actions are necessarily determined by that which affords us the greatest pleasure.""

(Note: I think Pascal's last point here is a bit off as it seems to imply sin should no longer entice believers or that they are no longer tempted by sin which is of course untrue).

David Waltz said...

Hello again Interlocutor,

Thanks much for you last two responses. I had some computer issues I needed to deal with last week, and took the Easter weekend ‘off’ (in terms of the internet), so forgive my somewhat delayed response.

You wrote:

>>But one can interpret these dogmas in a sense of saying Christ's death was sufficient for all but efficient only for the elect, and sufficient/prevenient grace is given to all but efficient only for the elect correct?>>

Me: That is precisely how I read Aquinas’ stance on the matter. The Dominican scholar, Reginald Garrigou-Lagrange, in his book Predestination, provides an excellent treatment on this issue, contrasting the Thomistic/Dominican position with it’s competitors. (https://www.tanbooks.com/index.php/page/shop:flypage/product_id/535/ .)


>>It just seems if that's the case, that the whole sufficient/prevenient concept in Thomism is kind of a semantics game to kind of save the typical libertarian free will view - the real focus should be on whether efficient/perseverance grace is given. But I know Fr. Kimel/Pontificator in one of the recent threads at beggars all or TF's blog derided the Jansenists for praying "deliver us from sufficient grace" when it seems a Thomist could pretty much pray the same thing.>>

Me: Rather than ascribing “a semantics game” to the Thomistic postion, I would be more comfortable with saying that it is preserving a certain tension that exists in the Scriptures, a paradox if you would.

I do not remember reading Pontificator’s remarks; could you be so kind as to provide the link (if you remember the thread)?

As for Pascal, I need to do some more reflection on his comments (as well as those of the Jansenists). Have some ‘catching-up’ to do, so it might be a day or two before I will attempt to place my thoughts on this matter into writing.

>>I'm also curious as to what side of the fence you are on? Or are you sitting on it :)>>

Me: This beachbum is pretty much a ‘fence-sitter’; the left side of my brain is locked in combat with the right side…


Grace and peace,

David

David Waltz said...

Arrgh…I somehow cut off part of the link to Garrigou-Lagrange’s book in my last post; here is the correction: BOOK LINK.

Mike Burgess said...

Might I also suggest the exceptional "Grace, Predestination, and the Salvific Will of God" by Fr. William Most as quite germane to this discussion? Blessings to you both.

David, may I add a link to your blog on my home page? (You may view it at http://syzygus.wordpress.com and get back to me if you are so inclined. Thanks!

Mike

Interlocutor said...

Hi David,
I look forward to your thoughts on Pascal's writings and the Jansenists in general. Just some brief notes: Pontificator's remarks I tracked down again - they were from RdP's post on TF's semi-pelagian post - http://the-supplement.blogspot.com/2008/03/more-serendipity-so-called-semi-semi.html in the comments -
"Apparently, the Jansenists actually prayed to God to be delivered from sufficient grace: A gratis sufficienti libera nos, Domine. “Surely a unique moment in the history of heresy,” comments Edward Oates: “to pray to be delivered from grace!”"

But pretty sure Kimel disagrees with Thomism so he could be just pushing his Molinist view.
But if you see "Matt's" comment on one of TF's post - http://turretinfan.blogspot.com/2008/03/gems-of-calvinism-from-early-church.html he characterizes himself as a Thomist and writes:

"God elected them not through any merits or foreseen faith. Their election is based only upon the incomprehensible will and desire of God. God desired to magnify His glory, so he elected some to salvation in order to show forth his mercy and willed not to elect others (reprobation, etc.), so that he might show forth His justice.

If you'd like references, I'd be glad to get them. But it is important to recognize that "The Common Doctor" of the Catholic Church had a very, very strong view of predestination (almost indistinguishable from Reformed views...something recognized widely by 17th century Reformed theologians, in fact)."

and later:
"In terms of the "democracy of the dead," however, my position is in pretty good stead (it is not a minority). I have Augustine, Bernard, Thomas, Scotus, Bradwardine, Gregory of Rimini, Banez, Alvarez, Pascal, Garrigou-Lagrange, etc., etc. But, again, I am not against theologians thinking through these issues in new ways."

Matt doesn't have a blog so couldn't find a way to contact him directly unfortunately (and the post is fairly old).

And thank you Mike for the Most reference - I believe I read that a few years back on ewtn's online copy but probably should give it another look.

David Waltz said...

Hello Mike and Interlocutor,

Must be very brief, it has been a tough week for me. My wife had surgery last Wednesday (gall stone, she is, thank God, recovering quickly); major computer problems that required me to back-up all of my data files (14 dvds worth!) and reformat my harddrive. With my slow dsl, it has been a real pain downloading updates, and restoring all of my files.

And, one of my daughters (with her husband and two kids) are spending most of their vacation time with me this week. So, to make a very long story short, this beachbum will have very little internet/blog time until this weekend.

Thanks to both of you for your participation on my blog. Things should get back to ‘normal’ for me by Saturday.


Grace and peace,

David

P.S. Mike, I would be honored if you add AF to your links on your blog. Will try to check out your blog later tonight (if the kids let me), but it may have to wait until Saturday too.

Mike Burgess said...

God be with your wife during her recovery and bless your time with the family!

Take care.

David Waltz said...

Hi Interlocutor,

Finally got some time to sit down and read Pacal’s 18th letter concerning Jansen and the Jesuits. (I used Thomas M’Crie’s 1875 English translation.) I found it to be a very good read, and want to thank you for pointing it out to me.

What I found most interesting is that Pascal clearly believed that Jansen sided with Aquinas and the Thomists, contra Calvin, concerning the issue of the will. As such, he maintains that Jansen is Catholic, and not a “heretic” (as he believed Calvin to be).

I am no expert at all when it comes to Jansen, and it seems that his famous work, Augustinus (3 volumes) has not been translated from the Latin into English.

With that said, what other important differences between Jansen and Calvin (concerning soteriology) would you list and/or know of?


Grace and peace,

David

David Waltz said...

Hi Mike,

Well, my busy week is finally over, and my life seems to be getting back to ‘normal’ (at least ‘normal’ for this crazy beachbum [grin]).

My wife is healing very quickly, and my daughter and her family had a great visit. Trying to play internet blog catch-up now (as well as a few message boards). I am beginning to wonder what life was like before the internet!!! LOL

Hope all is well with you and yours,

David

Interlocutor said...

"I found it to be a very good read, and want to thank you for pointing it out to me."
Glad you liked it - I am planning on reading the rest as his style is quite enjoyable.

"What I found most interesting is that Pascal clearly believed that Jansen sided with Aquinas and the Thomists, contra Calvin, concerning the issue of the will. As such, he maintains that Jansen is Catholic, and not a “heretic” (as he believed Calvin to be)."

Yep, exactly. That's kind of why I think the Jansenists got a bad rap from their Jesuit opponents. However, I am also in no way an expert on Jansenism, so I am not positive Pascal's stance here are his own or shared by all the followers of Jansen at that time; given the popularity of the work when it was written, I'm guessing there's some truth to what he's saying. The whole mess started with Cum Occassione being issued which condemend the 5 propositions that were supposedly found in Augustinus:
- Some of God’s precepts are impossible to the just, who wish and strive to keep them, according to the present powers which they have; the grace, by which they are made possible, is also wanting.
- In the state of fallen nature one never resists interior grace.
- In order to merit or demerit in the state of fallen nature, freedom from necessity is not required in man, but freedom from external compulsion is sufficient.
- The Semipelagians admitted the necessity of a prevenient interior grace for each act, even for the beginning of faith; and in this they were heretics, because they wished this grace to be such that the human will could either resistor obey.
- It is Semipelagian to say that Christ died or shed His blood for all men without exception.

The Jansenists argued that these propositions weren't actually promoted by Jansen in Augustinus. A later bull then said "We declare and define that the five propositions have been drawn from the book of Jansenius entitled Augustinus, and that they have been condemned in the sense of the same Jansenius and we once more condemn them as such." The Jansenists again disagree with this (saying the Church isn't infallible in factual information - i.e. it saying those propositions were drawn from Augustinus doesn't make it so) and that's why you see in Pascal's letter him hammering the Jesuit over what the "sense of Jansenius" means so they can come to some sort of agreement or compromise. Much more can be said of course but I have found some resources that may be helpful if you want to study Jansenism further (aside from wikipedia/catholic encyclopedia):
http://www.romancatholicism.org/ (yeah, he's some ultra-trad dude but he has a ton of primary texts from the period in the "Jansenism" section - including all of Augustinus in Latin heh (though he also has an english commentary for it - he also has excerpts from another of Pascal's writings on this subject - Writings on Grace - which I have not gone over yet).

John Hardon's "History and Theology of Grace" which I've not read discusses Jansenism (not sure how much detail).

Garrigou-Lagrange also wrote on it - not sure if this stuff is repeated in his Providence/Predestination works that you probably already read -
http://www.ewtn.com/library/THEOLOGY/REALITY.htm
http://www.ewtn.com/library/Theology/gracegarrlagr.HTM

A helpful quote from the above GL work is from Bossuet - “We must admit two graces of which the one leaves our will without any excuse before God, while the other does not permit it to glory in itself.” (also note that it is said when Bossuet was asked what book he would rather have written had he not written his own, he answered, the Provincial Letters of Pascal).

Anyways, as for soteriological differences with Calvinism, Jansenists certainly didn't want to be lumped with Calvinists as you (and Pascal) said, they didn't hold to sola fide or anything - perhaps sola efficacious grace :) - and don't seem to have held to Perseverance of the Saints or Irresistible Grace (it is my impression they still held to the sufficient/efficacious distinction as Pascal says - we still have the power to resist and so join you in condemning Calvin but then Kimel says over in RdP's blog that "the Catholic Church has condemned in the form of Jansenism the thesis that grace is necessarily efficacious" - perhaps he's going by the papal bulls which the Jansenists as I said mischaracterized their position, or maybe he's read more on Jansenism). Because of the Assurance thing, they did seem to promote an almost Puritanical lifestyle (and chastised Jesuits for their lax morals).

Anyways, a lot of text basically saying, "I'm no expert - here's some links that might help" :) It still seems to me that Pascal's statements could be held by a Catholic of the Thomist persuasion; I know you're well-read so thought you might have studied this a bit which is why I asked your ideas. But if you do have any other thoughts, I'd be interested in hearing them. Peace to you and yours.

David Waltz said...

Hello again Interlocutor,

I too stumbled upon the romancatholicism.org site via a Google search. And yes, it certainly is the best site I have found, so far, for information on Jansen and Jansenism.

Did you notice the link to a full chapter from Nigel Abercrombie’s book, The Origins of Jansensim ? (http://www.romancatholicism.org/jansenism/augustinus-abercrombie.pdf ; see also: http://books.google.com/books?id=us0EAAAAMAAJ&q=The+Origins+of+Jansenism&dq=The+Origins+of+Jansenism&pgis=1 .)

[I have been trying to find a used copy of the book, but no such luck yet.]

One ending thought for the day: wouldn’t it be very interesting if we could get Augustine, Aquinas, Dominic, Jansen, Calvin and Warfield together for a roundtable discussion on soteriology?!!!


Grace and peace,

David

Interlocutor said...

Hi David,
Another interesting thing I found today - don't know if you have Haydock's Commentary (Catholic) but the notes here on Romans 9:14-24 seem to incline towards a Reformed mentality - http://haydock1859.tripod.com/id153.html - rather than the typical Arminian/Molinist construal. I wonder how many Catholics are aware they have a choice in this matter and can lean quite a bit in the Calvinist direction if they desire. I suppose Trent's language is often not interpreted in a very nuanced manner (or by people well-versed in some of the philosophy/theology underpinning its terminology) and if it's just read in a purely superficial manner, can seem to more support the Arminian viewpoint, but obviously the centuries afterward showed that is not the case.

David Waltz said...

Hi Interlocutor,

I would like to apologize for not seeing your new posts until now. You posted:

>>I wonder how many Catholics are aware they have a choice in this matter and can lean quite a bit in the Calvinist direction if they desire.>>

Me: Well, certainly those who are Thomists [grin]. Unfortunately, it has been my experience that very few lay Catholics have much interest in theology and/or philosophy.

On the flip-side, I wonder how many Protestants are aware of the Thomistic position on predestination/soteriology?


Grace and peace,

David