Monday, November 2, 2009

Justification and the Analogy with Inscripturation

(Note to RR readers: With all this Reformation talk over the last couple of days, I thought I would share with the RR crowd an idea I’ve had for a while, but never published, on the initial issue over which the Reformation began, Justification, and the Theory of Inscripturation).

Is the Bible 100% God's Word? The answer, according to Dei Verbum, is "yes." And yet, the Bible was written by human beings, with their own distinct writing styles and personal touches. As the Baptist NT scholar Dr. Rodney Decker puts it:
Inscripturation is the work of the Holy Spirit by which He guided the minds of the human authors and writers so that they chose the precise words necessary to accurately reflect the exact truth God intended, while reflecting their own personality, writing style, vocabulary, and cultural context. Inspiration refers to the God-breathed character of the written autographs of Scripture which constitute the exact expression of God’s revealed truth. In other words, inscripturation refers to the Spirit-directed process by which the Bible was put into writing, whereas inspiration refers to the product—the character of the written text that was inscripturated.

So, even though the authors of Scripture cooperated with the production of Scripture, and even though their cooperation was a necessary condition for the Bible that resulted, the Bible is 100% God's Word. In order to make sense of this, one must bring to bear on this analysis the distinction between secondary and primary causality. That is, in the work of inscripturation, God is the primary cause of Scripture, but he is not the secondary cause. In fact, the secondary cause consists of all the human authors of the Bible. Because what resulted is precisely what God intended, the fact that he employed secondary causes in order to achieve this end, means that the final product is 100% God's Word. But, in a sense, we can also say that because the secondary causes he employed were human agents with rational powers, therefore, St. Paul wrote Romans, I Corinthians, and Galatians, St. John penned the Gospel of John, I, II, and III John, and other Bible writers authored the other books, and so forth. This understanding does not diminish the divine authorship of Scripture, but neither does it diminish the human contribution to it. So, the Bible is 100% God's Word, even though it is entirely authored by human beings. In the same way, Jesus of Nazareth (the Eternal Word) is 100% God while being 100% human, and the fact that this one person consists of two natures does not diminish the integrity of either nature. For this reason, it would be wrong to say that God's glory is somehow compromised because the Son of God took on a human nature that cannot in principle contribute anything to his divine nature since the divine nature lacks nothing.

If you can understand this, then you can understand the Catholic view of justification. Here's what the Catholic Catechism states:
The first work of the grace of the Holy Spirit is conversion, effecting justification in accordance with Jesus’ proclamation at the beginning of the Gospel: “Repent, for the kingdom of heaven is at hand.” Moved by grace, man turns toward God and away from sin, thus accepting forgiveness and righteousness from on high. “Justification is not only the remission of sins, but also the sanctification and renewal of the interior man.”

Justification detaches man from sin which contradicts the love of God, and purifies his heart of sin. Justification follows upon God’s merciful initiative of offering forgiveness. It reconciles man with God. It frees from the enslavement to sin, and it heals.

Justification is at the same time the acceptance of God’s righteousness through faith in Jesus Christ. Righteousness (or “justice”) here means the rectitude of divine love. With justification, faith, hope, and charity are poured into our hearts, and obedience to the divine will is granted us.

Justification has been merited for us by the Passion of Christ who offered himself on the cross as a living victim, holy and pleasing to God, and whose blood has become the instrument of atonement for the sins of all men. Justification is conferred in Baptism, the sacrament of faith. It conforms us to the righteousness of God, who makes us inwardly just by the power of his mercy. Its purpose is the glory of God and of Christ, and the gift of eternal life:
But now the righteousness of God has been manifested apart from law, although the law and the prophets bear witness to it, the righteousness of God through faith in Jesus Christ for all who believe. For there is no distinction: since all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God, they are justified by his grace as a gift, through the redemption which is in Christ Jesus, whom God put forward as an expiation by his blood, to be received by faith. This was to show God’s righteousness, because in his divine forbearance he had passed over former sins; it was to prove at the present time that he himself is righteous and that he justifies him who has faith in Jesus. [Rom. 3:21–26]

....With regard to God, there is no strict right to any merit on the part of man. Between God and us there is an immeasurable inequality, for we have received everything from him, our Creator.

The merit of man before God in the Christian life arises from the fact that God has freely chosen to associate man with the work of his grace. The fatherly action of God is first on his own initiative, and then follows man’s free acting through his collaboration, so that the merit of good works is to be attributed in the first place to the grace of God, then to the faithful. Man’s merit, moreover, itself is due to God, for his good actions proceed in Christ, from the predispositions and assistance given by the Holy Spirit.

Filial adoption, in making us partakers by grace in the divine nature, can bestow true merit on us as a result of God's gratuitous justice. This is our right by grace, the full right of love, making us "co-heirs" with Christ and worthy of obtaining "the promised inheritance of eternal life." The merits of our good works are gifts of the divine goodness. "Grace has gone before us; now we are given what is due. . . . Our merits are God's gifts."

Since the initiative belongs to God in the order of grace, no one can merit the initial grace of forgiveness and justification, at the beginning of conversion. Moved by the Holy Spirit and by charity, we can then merit for ourselves and for others the graces needed for our sanctification, for the increase of grace and charity, and for the attainment of eternal life. Even temporal goods like health and friendship can be merited in accordance with God's wisdom. These graces and goods are the object of Christian prayer. Prayer attends to the grace we need for meritorious actions.

The charity of Christ is the source in us of all our merits before God. Grace, by uniting us to Christ in active love, ensures the supernatural quality of our acts and consequently their merit before God and before men. The saints have always had a lively awareness that their merits were pure grace.(Catechism of the Catholic Church, 1989-1992, 2008-2011; notes and emphases omitted)

In this wonderful presentation of how God's grace works in the life of the Christian, the Church offers an understanding that seems to rely on the very similar (though not identical) understanding of primary and secondary causality that the theory of inscripturation requires. God provides (primary causality) the actual and sanctifying grace that move us and allows us to participate (secondary causality) in the divine life. As quoted above from the Catechism, "Since the initiative belongs to God in the order of grace, no one can merit the initial grace of forgiveness and justification, at the beginning of conversion." And yet, "[m]oved by the Holy Spirit and by charity, we can then merit for ourselves and for others the graces needed for our sanctification, for the increase of grace and charity, and for the attainment of eternal life" (secondary causality). Nevertheless, '[m]an’s merit... itself is due to God, for his good actions proceed in Christ, from the predispositions and assistance given by the Holy Spirit." For "the charity of Christ is the source in us of all our merits before God. Grace, by uniting us to Christ in active love, ensures the supernatural quality of our acts and consequently their merit before God and before men. The saints have always had a lively awareness that their merits were pure grace." As my friend, Bryan Cross, points out at Called to Communion:
[The Catholic Church] distinguish[es] between actual grace (i.e. the grace whereby God moves us), and sanctifying grace (the grace that inheres in our soul, and heals our human nature wounded by sin by giving us a share in the divine life of the Trinity.) Without actual grace, we cannot turn and prepare ourselves, to faith and calling upon God. To claim that we could do so without actual grace would be at least semi-Pelagianism. But, with actual grace we can prepare ourselves for sanctifying grace, the grace we receive through the sacrament of regeneration, which is baptism. When we receive sanctifying grace we also receive agape, and when we receive agape we are made right with God, and hence justified.

So, if one mistakenly insists that Catholicism embraces "works righteousness" because justification requires human cooperation (though performed in sanctifying grace), then one must be prepared to abandon the idea that the Bible is 100% God's Word, since the theory of inscripturation requires human cooperation. Conversely, if one accepts the theory of inscripturation while insisting that the Bible is still 100% God's Word, then one must abandon the idea that Catholicism is semi-Pelagian because its view of justification requires human cooperation (though performed in sanctifying grace).

One can, of course, reject Catholicism for a variety of other reasons. But the semi-Pelagian (or "work's righteousness") charge simply cannot be one of them, unless one is willing to abandon one's theory of inscripturation.

(Originally published on Southern Appeal)

54 comments:

Chris Burgwald said...

That's an *outstanding* analogy to explain our view of justification and how it doesn't denigrate God or His grace. Brilliant!

Ken said...

My internet was down for a day; so I could not interact with you faster over at Justin Taylor's site.

Anyway, I posted this there and thought I would post it here also; for it appears no one is looking at that anymore. some parentheses are added for clarification.

Dear Frank Beckwith,
Thanks for reading and the good interaction with my post. Yes, I see what you are talking about that the “tip the scales” statement was hypothetical. Still, I am amazed that the scales tipped for you and for the hypothetical person that way, based on those issues.

I admit that the “your church raped the truth” was a harsh statement. But if we Protestants are right, and the issue is the most crucial issue of all, life and death, heaven and hell, and [if]adding works as a condition for justification [is what the Roman Catholic does], then “the truth hurts”, is true, right?

On Ignatius’ statement in Syrneans 7:1 – yes, I know about that – but he doesn’t seem to be saying what you and RCC apologists are making him say, in my opinion. (and many other, as Jason Engwer also point out) Ignatius points out that the docetic heretics don’t partake of any Lord’s supper/Eucharist or prayer at all because they don’t believe Jesus had a real physical body in time/space/history.
But we DO have Eucharist/Lord’s supper and prayers to God because we believe He really was the God-man in history/time/space. So, I don’t see how Ignatius’ statement applies to Protestant doctrine who deny transubstantiation.

If we examine ourselves, repent, reconcile, worship, remember what Christ did; and believe in His real time/space/historical death for sin; what advantage/difference/benefit is the RCC view?

Jesus’ flesh . . . “which suffered for our sins and which, in his goodness, the Father raised.” — seems to emphasize the reality of the incarnation, and the celebration of that fact in history is a remembrance of the real physical history of the suffering of the cross and resurrection.

Thanks again for your thoughts; I sincerely mean it.

My internet went down for a whole day, so that is why I couldn’t respond faster.

Dr. Beckwith,
Also, one of my best friends was Rod Bennett, author of Four Witnesses: The Early Church in Her Own Words. ( Ignatius, 2002) He was one of the groomsmen at my wedding. (1988) We discussed apologetics and C. S. Lewis and Francis Schaeffer for years. (81-95) (as fellow Baptists)(before he converted to Roman Catholicism in 1996) We debated for years after his conversion up until a few years ago (1996-2004). I have heard all the arguments from his perspective (as an insider),[same arguments that you and Dave Armstrong and Scott Hahn and Mattatics and Sungenis and Jimmy Akin, Mark Shea, Steve Ray, and Tim Staples make] over face to face interaction (2 of the early ones; 5 hours each) and emails and looking at texts together over pizza and Burger King and chilli dinners; he quoted John Henry Newman, Chesterton, Aquinas, DeSales, Bellermine, all the early church fathers (even more than his book has), Hillaire Belloc, etc.

I am only pointing out that I have actually “checked it out” pretty thoroughly, and from someone very smart, like you. Rod doesn’t have the academic credentials that you have, but he is one of the smartest and most creative persons I have every known.

It still doesn’t tip the scales for me.

“was” [my friend] does not mean that we are no longer on speaking terms; we just drifted away, after he told me in 2004/2005 ? that he did not want to debate anymore; it means that he did not want to debate me anymore on RCC or theological/church history issues; and we just don’t have time for small talk, and we are too busy with our separate lives. But I do miss the discussions with him; Rod is very interesting.

Ken said...

With regard to God, there is no strict right to any merit on the part of man.

This seems to contradict Trent’s Canon 32 and the Catechism at 2010, even though you later quote from 2010.

Canon 32.
If anyone says that the good works of the one justified are in such manner the gifts of God that they are not also the good merits of him justified; or that the one justified by the good works that he performs by the grace of God and the merit of Jesus Christ, whose living member he is, does not truly merit an increase of grace, eternal life, and in case he dies in grace, the attainment of eternal life itself and also an increase of glory, let him be anathema.

2010 Since the initiative belongs to God in the order of grace, no one can merit the initial grace of forgiveness and justification, at the beginning of conversion. Moved by the Holy Spirit and by charity, we can then merit for ourselves and for others the graces needed for our sanctification, for the increase of grace and charity, and for the attainment of eternal life.

Ken said...

The analogy of inscripturation with the 2 natures of Christ does apply; but with RC justification, it does not seem to apply all the way, for in Inscripturation is about the final product of Scripture – “all Scripture is God-breathed”; not the person.

In RC justification, you can loose real justification through mortal sin, and then you must gain it back, “merit for ourselves and for others”, by good works. One can never be sure of the final product in Roman Catholic justification, because it involves initial justification at baptism, and keeping it or loosing it and regaining it by the human effort; and then there is final moments before death (what is one commits mortal sin?) and then there is purgatory; yet in inscripturation, the final product is sure and finished. 2 Timothy 3:16-17.

In 2 Peter 1:20-21 says that no prophecy of Scripture came about by human will; but men were moved by the Holy Spirit. God controlled the final outcome; using human language and personality, but still controlling the final outcome.

However, in RC justification, it is up to the human will, to keep it up by the good works of sacramentalism, penance, etc. and then in purgatory, they must suffer in satis passio. The charge of Semi-Pelagianism does seem to stick, even though the RCC claims it is not “Semi-Pelagian”.

There is no parallel to this "on and off" and "on again, off again" treadmill of sacramental good works in the writing of Scripture process or final product.


"But know this first of all, that no prophecy of Scripture is a matter of one's own interpretation, for no prophecy was ever made by an act of human will, but men moved by the Holy Spirit spoke from God. 2 Peter 1:2-21

Ken said...

Justification is conferred in Baptism, the sacrament of faith.

What scripture verse tells us that water baptism confers justification on and in us? Paul seems to contradict this by his statement in I Corinthians 1:17, “For Christ did not send me to baptize, but to preach the gospel, not in cleverness of speech, that the cross of Christ should not be made void.”

In Romans 1:16-17, he says “For in it [ the gospel, verse 16], the righteousness of God is revealed from faith to faith, just as it is written, “the righteous shall live by faith”.

And how can an infant have faith or repentance?

Ken said...

Lugwig Ott: “The reason for the uncertainty of the state of grace lies in this, that without special revelation nobody can with certainty of faith know whether or not he has fulfilled all the conditions which are necessary for achieving justification.” Fundamentals of Catholic Dogma, p. 262.

Catechism: 2010 “. . . Moved by the Holy Spirit and by charity, we can then merit for ourselves and for others the graces needed for our sanctification, for the increase of grace and charity, and for the attainment of eternal life.”

Ludwig Ott:

“By his good works the justified man really acquires a claim to supernatural reward from God.” Ibid, p. 264

Karl Keating:

“The Catholic Church, not surprisingly, understands justification differently. It sees it as a true eradication of sin and a true sanctification and renewal. The soul becomes objectively pleasing to God and so merits heaven. It merits heaven because now it is actually good.” (Karl Keating, Catholicism and Fundamentalism (San Francisco: Ignatius Press, 1988), pp. 167-168.

David Waltz said...

Hello Ken,

As usual, some very interesting comments, you wrote:

>> I admit that the “your church raped the truth” was a harsh statement. But if we Protestants are right, and the issue is the most crucial issue of all, life and death, heaven and hell, and [if]adding works as a condition for justification [is what the Roman Catholic does], then “the truth hurts”, is true, right?>>

Me: We must be very careful to define how the term “works” is being used. For instance, our Lord stated: “This is the work of God, that ye believe on him whom he hath sent.” If there is a sense in which belief in Christ is a “work”, could not there be a similar sense of application to the sacraments? It is important to note that more than a few Prots believe in baptismal regeneration (e.g. Lutherans, some Anglicans and some Presbyterians – see this ESSAY for an important example), and yet do not believe that BR is a “work”.

Further, as Heckel’s ESSAY so cogently points out, if one adopts the rigid understand of “the gospel” that you endorse, grave historical concerns arise.

>>…one of my best friends was Rod Bennett, author of Four Witnesses: The Early Church in Her Own Words. ( Ignatius, 2002) He was one of the groomsmen at my wedding. (1988) We discussed apologetics and C. S. Lewis and Francis Schaeffer for years. (81-95) (as fellow Baptists)(before he converted to Roman Catholicism in 1996) We debated for years after his conversion up until a few years ago (1996-2004).>>

Me: I sincerely appreciate your sharing this personal story.

>> I have heard all the arguments from his perspective (as an insider),[same arguments that you and Dave Armstrong and Scott Hahn and Mattatics and Sungenis and Jimmy Akin, Mark Shea, Steve Ray, and Tim Staples make] over face to face interaction (2 of the early ones; 5 hours each) and emails and looking at texts together over pizza and Burger King and chilli dinners; he quoted John Henry Newman, Chesterton, Aquinas, DeSales, Bellermine, all the early church fathers (even more than his book has), Hillaire Belloc, etc.>>

Me: Could you give us what you believe to be the top five “arguments”?


Grace and peace,

David

Ken said...

David,
Thanks,
I honestly think that you and Heckle have mis-understood R. C. Sproul as judging everyone before the Reformation and the Council of Trent's anathema on justification by faith alone.

They are only saying that once Trent officially anathemetized the gospel in 1545-1563,

[? - don't hold me to the exact dates, I am not taking the time to tract that down]

at that point and beyond, Sproul and others like us that Dave Armstrong calls "anti-Catholic", the Roman Catholic Church ceased to be a true church, for it actually officially condemned the doctrine that the Scriptures teach are the heart of the gospel and freedom from legalism. Galatians 1:6-9; 2:16-21; chapters 3-5, Romans 3,4,5,8 etc.

We who hold to this, do not judge people in history before this as "unsaved" if they did not articulate the doctrine of justification by faith alone the way the Reformers did.

One can possess true justification without having to be able to explain it precisely.

Ken said...

The top five arguments?

It is difficult to reproduce it; but it is the same as your whole massive web-site focuses on.

(I forgot to include you in the list. Sorry! smile)

I think these are the top five, even six (I added one) arguments made by RCs, but they are not unanswerable.

1. That the canon was not known (but see, Origen, 255 AD ?)

see:
http://triablogue.blogspot.com/2009/05/twenty-seven-book-new-testament-before.html

or listed until 367 AD - Athanasius; or was not finalized until Provincial councils of Hippo and Carthage, (390s-400); therefore, the church decided on the canon, so the church is above the Scriptures, or birthed the Scriptures, rather than the church is supposed to submit to the Scriptures. The argument is that they couldn't because it didn't fully exist yet, or was not known.

2. The claim that Sola Fide was not articulated fully and explicitly until Luther and Calvin. That it is a "theological novum" ( McGrath)
You make this argument a lot at your web-site.

3. The RC demand that Sola Scriptura has to be explicitly written out in Scripture with the exact words, "Scripture is the final and only infallible rule of faith and practice for the church."

4. We all (both RCs and Protestants) believe in some sort of Development of Doctrine in history. True, but we believe ours is based on better exegesis of Scripture, whereas RC development is actually adding things and, as a result, corrupting doctrine.

5. The evidence for baptismal regeneration (for adults) in the early church fathers. Infant baptism comes later.

6. The constant appeal to questions of history and interpretation with "how do you know for sure?"

This can drive anyone mad with skepticism and uncertainty and seems to be one of the main reasons why so many former Evangelicals are turning to Rome for certainty and assurance. But it doesn't get rid of the problem, for how do you know you made the right decision to trust the RCC?

Ken said...

Some Presbyterians believe in baptismal regeneration?

Who?

That would seem to go against the "sign of entering into the covenant community baptism" of Calvin.

Even so, whatever that Presb. view is; along with the Anglicans and Lutherans versions of it are much different than the RC ex opere operato version of that. Right?

And they don't believe it justifies; rather it is a stage that must be later united with real repentance and faith.

Ken said...

And all of these articles together, along with many books (the ones I asked Dr. Beckwith if he read any of them- at Justin Taylor's web-site) answer the canon issue /question.

http://triablogue.blogspot.com/2009/06/new-testament-canon.html

Ken said...

“This is the work of God, that ye believe on him whom he hath sent.”
John 6:29

It is the work of God, not the work of man. We only believe because He overcame our stubborn unbelief and slavery of the will, and first frees the will so that we can then exercise our will.

Acts 16:14
"The Lord opened Lydia's heart so that she responded to the things spoken by Paul."

"whoever commits sin is the slave of sin." John 8:34

". . . who were born not of blood, nor of the will of the flesh, nor of the will of a man (husband, male) but of God."
John 1:13

Verse 13 caused the belief in verse 12.

lojahw said...

Very interesting dialog.

For me the primary issue over the Tiber-divide is which church most faithfully teaches what the apostles taught? Holding to the “faith which was once for all delivered to the saints” (Jude 1:3) and the “whole counsel of God” as preached by Paul (Acts 20:27) are serious concerns for me. In light of these statements of Holy Scripture, I affirm that Jesus kept His promise to His apostles that the Holy Spirit would guide them “into all the truth” – the full revelation of the gospel – in their lifetime.

When I look across the Tiber I see a number of modifications to the gospel as taught and practiced by the apostles and their closest successors. For example, the early church (including at least the first 4 Ecumenical Councils) taught that the jurisdiction of the See of Rome was limited geographically to Europe. Therefore, I do not recognize the gospel that teaches: “We declare, say, define and pronounce, that it is absolutely necessary for the salvation of every human creature to be subject to the Roman Pontiff” (Pope Boniface VIII, Bull Unam Sanctam). Furthermore, I cannot accept a gospel that urges the faithful to consecrate their lives to Mary (John Paul II, whose personal motto was [Mary,] "Totus tuus, ego sum"). I trust my salvation to the only name that the gospel handed down by the apostles points to - that of Jesus Christ. I struggle with the question of whether Rome, while holding to Trinitarian orthodoxy, in fact, teaches another gospel.

It is sad that the Church did not heed the dictum expressed by St. Vincent of Lerins in the fifth century: “But the Church of Christ, the careful and watchful guardian of the doctrines deposited in her charge, never changes anything in them, never diminishes, never adds, does not cut off what is necessary, does not add what is superfluous, does not lose her own, does not appropriate what is another's…” (Commonitory 23)

Blessings,
Lover of Jesus and His Word

lojahw said...

Ken, you are too easy on the question of the canon. The first century Jewish historian, Josephus, documented the Old Testament canon consistent with that of Melito in the second century as well as Cyril of Jerusalem, Gregory of Nazianzus, Origen, Epiphanius, Athanasius, Hilary of Poitiers, Jerome, John of Damascus, and finally, by Protestants.

The real issue is whether the Church’s function is to recognize God’s Word as He provided it, or to make the decision which books are in or out? If the latter, then why did it take the Church so many centuries to decide? Were all the generations until then (including Jesus and His apostles) therefore living in spiritual confusion? Furthermore, why did Damasus and Augustine choose to include inferior books such as Tobit (a supposedly historical account about a man who lived through more than two hundred years of history), Judith and 1&2 Maccabees (with glaring historical errors), Wisdom of Solomon (which heretically teaches the pre-existence of the human soul), and Sirach (which teaches such gems as “better is a man’s wickedness than a woman’s goodness” and “If she [your wife] does not accept your control, bring the marriage to an end”)? Jesus said, “Thy word is truth.” This cannot be said of the extra books included by Damasus and the Council of Trent.

Blessings.

Bryan said...

Hi Frank,
I think what you have done here is actually proven monergism with your analogy.
Let me explain. I think you are doing what my old OT professor, Pete Enns, did with the incarnational analogy to Scripture. You seem to be confusing the idea that because Christ is fully human and fully divine with the idea that His human and divine natures are equal in power and control of one another. That of course would be heretical, as the finite human nature does not have equal control over the infinite divine nature.
In other words, Christ is non posse pecare because, although He is able to be tempted in His human nature, His divine nature keeps His human nature in "check," since God cannot sin. The same goes for Scripture. Although men are able to express themselves and their opinions, they cannot do so to the point of theological and ethical error, so that the human will is controlled and limited by the divine will. In other words, the human will does whatever the divine wills it to do. It functions no further than the boundaries which are set for it by the divine will. This, therefore, means in your analogy that the human decision is only a response to the divine will, and cannot do otherwise than that which God has willed it to do.
So the human nature of Christ is controlled by the divine nature, the human nature of Scripture is controlled by the divine will, and the human will in salvation is controlled by the divine will.
Hence, any system of merit based upon the idea that a person joins with God to perform a task in synergism must include a human act that can act in favor of God or against Him; but this would be to deflate your analogy. If the person's salvific actions are only a response to, or set within, the boundaries of God's will, then no salvific act can be attributed to the human element at all; and thus, Roman Catholicism would be refuted.
Do you resolve this problem in some other way?

Ken said...

Ken, you are too easy on the question of the canon. The first century Jewish historian, Josephus, documented the Old Testament canon consistent with that of Melito in the second century as well as Cyril of Jerusalem, Gregory of Nazianzus, Origen, Epiphanius, Athanasius, Hilary of Poitiers, Jerome, John of Damascus, and finally, by Protestants.

iojahw:
I agree with you on the OT canon; the RC position is very weak historically. Add to your list, Gregory the Great, bishop of Rome around 601 AD, and Cardinal Cajetan, opponent of Luther ! They also agreed that the apocrypha book were not Scripture and that Jerome was right.

I was mostly referring to the NT canon process as one of the arguments that the RC apologists use. They say that the NT was not around yet; (unitl 367 or later; but there were other things that were like mono-episcopate bishops, baptismal regeneration, penance, real presence in Eucharist, etc.; so how can we reject those things; is their argument.

But my argument is that the NT canon existed once the books were written, between 48-70 AD or 48-96 AD.

See my arguments with RCs here, I came in at combox 168 and it goes to 391!

http://www.calledtocommunion.com/2009/09/hermeneutics-and-the-authority-of-scripture/#more-2247

Ken said...

Bryan,
Excellent !

lojahw said...

Thanks for the clarification on which canon, Ken. What makes a list so important? The New Testament books were widely available and their authenticity attested by Christians from the beginning. The real issue is the nature of the authority of the church.

Comments on #2 of Ken’s top 5 or 6 for the Roman view:

2. The claim that Sola Fide was not articulated fully and explicitly until Luther and Calvin. That it is a "theological novum" ( McGrath)

>> Theological novum? Since when was the teaching of Jesus and the apostles as recorded in the Holy Scriptures excluded?

Jesus, in John 3:16, “For God so loved the world, that He gave His only begotten Son, that whosoever believes in Him should not perish but have everlasting life.” (Jesus attaches no conditions to faith.)

And Peter, in Acts 16:30-31, “… what must I do to be saved?” And they said, “Believe in the Lord Jesus, and you shall be saved …” (Peter attaches no conditions to faith.)

And John 1:12, “But as many as received Him, to them He gave the right to become children of God, even to those who believe in His name.” And don’t forget: John 6:47; Rom. 3:26-28; Rom. 4:1-6; Gal. 2:16; Gal. 3:23-26; Eph. 2:8-10; etc.

Of course, good Protestants affirm that “faith alone saves, but saving faith is never alone.” Saving faith is outwardly sealed in baptism and is manifested in good works “which God prepared beforehand so that we would walk in them” (Eph. 2:10). Hence, although we have been saved by grace through faith, the fruit of faith is evident to all.

Re: justification by faith, consider this small sample of the church fathers’ writings:

1 Clement 32:4. We who through his will have been called in Christ Jesus are justified, not by ourselves, or through our wisdom or understanding or godliness, or the works that we have done in holiness of heart, but by faith.

John Chrysostom:
Homilies on Ephesians, 4. God’s mission was not to save people in order that they may remain barren or inert. For Scripture says that faith has saved us. Put better: Since God willed it, faith has saved us. Now in what case, tell me, does faith save without itself doing anything at all? Faith’s workings themselves are a gift of God, lest anyone should boast. What then is Paul saying? Not that God has forbidden works but that he has forbidden us to be justified by works. No one, Paul says, is justified by works, precisely in order that the grace and benevolence of God may become apparent.

Homilies on Romans, 7, But since after this grace, whereby we were justified, there is need also of a life suited to it, let us show an earnestness worthy the gift. And show it we shall, if we keep with earnestness charity, the mother of good deeds. … “That He might be just, and the justifier of him which believes in Jesus.” Doubt not then: for it is not of works, but of faith: and shun not the righteousness of God, for it is a blessing in two ways; because it is easy, and also open to all men.

Homilies on Romans, 8, For when a man is once a believer, he is straightway justified…. Having said then, that he was justified by faith, he shows that he glorified God by that faith.

No theological novum here.

Blessings.

Ken said...

iojahw,
I agree with you on the way you are answering the RC claim that (and they quote from McGrath to bolster their point) - I have said the same thing also in my on line informal "debates" with RCs.

I was just listing the top 5-6 arguments that RC apologists are making to answer David's question.

I think that they are all answerable, and I firmly believe that justification by faith alone was the teaching of Scripture, and those early quotes from ECF that you provide - James Swan did a good job of explaining McGrath in context. see
http://beggarsallreformation.blogspot.com/

Do a search on justification, faith alone, and McGrath there.

It is too much for the comboxes here.

Anyway, thanks; I agree with you.

I was not agreeing with those arguments that RCs make; I was only saying the ones I think are their best shots; but they are answerable.

Also, it appears that some of my posts have been deleted here.
Wow.

Doesn't seem right or fair.

Ken said...

It appears that all my links to Alpha and Omega Ministries have been deleted.

They answer a lot of Dr. Beckwith's points, better than I could answer them. (without me taking lots of time to reproduce it in my own words.)

Sorry to see that you seem to be unwilling to deal with them. They are on substance and doctrine.

Francis J. Beckwith said...

Bryan:

My analogy with the incarnation was ontological not volitional. Jesus was 100% divine and 100% human with neither diminishing the other. How the divine and human natures and wills relate to each other in the person of Jesus I do not think can be adequately understood as one will or nature "controlling" the other. That is a distinctly modern notion, one that has its roots in the nominalism and voluntarism of Ockham. All of us, unfortunately, have been shaped by this understanding of willfulness that sometimes prevents us from seeing the organic unity of the Incarnate Word.

In the case of justification, according to the Catholic view, sanctifying grace allows us to participate in the divine life. Thus, when we act in charity, we do not contribute to our justification, as if it were merely a case of God adding up our deeds. This is why the Catechism teaches, "The merits of our good works are gifts of the divine goodness." Consequently, one's cooperation does not take away from the fact that justification is 100% the work of God, just as Christ's human nature does not take away from the fact he is 100% God, and just as the Bible being authored by human beings is not inconsistent with it being 100% God's Word.

The key to understanding my analogy with inscripturation is to focus on participation. Remember, not everything Paul wrote was Scripture. I'm sure if he signed a check at the local Einstein's Bagel, you would not call what follows "the Invoice of God." And yet, when he did write what we now know as Scripture, he was doing so freely and by his own powers of thought, though he was participating with the divine nature in a unique way that what resulted was Scripture. God intended precisely that. And the product was 100% God's Word, even though Paul cooperated. And we know this because his unique personality and writing style are evident throughout his writings. Yet, the Bible is not 50% human and 50% divine. It is 100% both, just as the Incarnate Word is 100% both. If you say that the divine will controlled Paul's human will at key times in his writing in order to prevent him from error and/or to compel him to write on certain subjects in a particular way (and that seems to be what you're saying), then the Bible is not 100% God's Word. And in the case of the Pauline letters, they are Paul's word unless God intervenes and controls him at certain points, which means that at those points they are "God's Word."

How precisely God preserved Paul from error I do not know. But I do know that he did not do so by turning Paul into an automaton or dictating the words to him. I suspect that when writing Scripture Paul was probably in a state of grace not unlike what all the saints will be in when we see God as he is, fully participating in the divine nature. In that state we will not lose our individuality or our wills, but as full participants in the divine nature we will always will the good. (This is just Beckwith's speculation, an ad hoc hypothesis consistent with the data).

It seems to me that when one abandons the ancient idea of participation with the divine nature, one is forced to make false choices. So, you accept a monergism, thinking that to do so advances the majesty of God. But, it seems to me that an Augustinian synergism (as found in St. Thomas as well as the Catechism), is far more glorious, since it reveals that the divine nature is not limited to merely "willing "in order to achieve His sovereign ends, but may graciously invite man to cooperate by allowing him to participate in the divine nature. This is exactly what I think Peter is saying in I Peter 1.

Bryan, I appreciate your queries.

I'm going to take a hiatus from responding on this blog (or elsewhere) for a while. (I will be blogging entries, but that's about it). I have a brutal writing schedule for the next couple of weeks, not to mention my full time job, teaching the wonderful students at Baylor University.

I hope that makes sense.

Blessings,
Frank

Ken said...

What is the Scriptural basis, particular reasons with Scriptural exegesis; for your parallel of justification with inscripturation?

What is the Scriptural basis for this statement?:

"Moved by the Holy Spirit and by charity, we can then merit for ourselves and for others the graces needed for our sanctification, for the increase of grace and charity, and for the attainment of eternal life." Roman Catholic Catechism: 2010

You are still doing the meriting.

In RC theology, you can fail to cooperate and lose the grace of justification, and then become an enemy of God and go to hell.

The real issue of the Reformation remains the same today as it was then: it is not the necessity of grace that is at dispute, it is the sufficiency of grace that is the focus of the debate. And, of course, so many of those who are non-Roman Catholics today actually agree with Rome against the Reformers on that topic (the nature of man and the nature of the unregenerate will), and are as a result unable to resist Rome's teachings; which is one reason why so many are finding the RCC appealing.

Francis J. Beckwith said...

Gentlemen:

I am, frankly, overwhelmed and honored by all the attention you have brought to my work by offering comments on this blog. Given time and other responsibilities, I cannot hope to dialogue with each and every one of you. But I try (much to my wife's chagrin, I might add, since it takes away from time at home).

For this reason, I only permit links to blogs that allow its readers the same sort of liberty to express themselves.

I hope you understand.

Blessings,
Frank

Ken said...

"participation in the divine nature" is 2 Peter chapter 1, verse 4. (not 1 Peter)

(smile)

Ken said...

Ok, that's a good reason for your own conviction and you have that right on your own blog;

But, you could answer some of them, here.

Bryan Hodge said...

Hi Frank,
Thank you for your gracious response. I completely understand that your schedule limits your availability, so don't feel the need to respond.
I do think that the issue of the incarnation remains at the center of this analogy. I want to be very clear that I in no way am advocating the monophysitic view of Christ. In fact, my point was that to equate the infinite nature with the power of the finite nature is to diminish the divine nature of Christ because it must limit or lower its power in order to equal that of the finite power. That's why I said that particular idea is heretical, and we are in agreement that to diminish one of the natures is just that.
I also wanted to be clear that I am in no way supporting a mechanical dictation theory nor the idea that Paul is just writing his own ideas and God occasionally intervenes to correct him. I think both of those, as you seem to agree, are false views of inspiration. My view is actually that God "moves" the writers to write and the writer's mind (probably unknowingly to the writer at the time) becomes led by God's direction to write what he does. So I have no problem with the idea that there is cooperation in the sense that the person is responding to the divine. The problem is in asking the question whether the person can respond otherwise when God has willed that he respond a particular way.
So to take the analogy of Christ. Could Christ have sinned? We would all agree, "No." But we know that a human can sin. It is not a diminishing of the human nature, therefore, to limit the choices of a person. Free-will, then, is not an essential to the human nature. Hence, the human nature of Christ is not diminished by the divine nature.
Likewise, then, Scripture is the 100% the Word of God without error because the error that a human may have brought into it is held in check by the divine nature. So even positing the idea that Paul was in a special state of grace is to say that Paul's regular thoughts that may have been in error had to be curbed by God by God's placing him in a special state.
I, of course, don't know how all of this worked out either, so I won't pretend that I do; but it seems clear that it functioned in the same way that the human nature of Christ is controlled by the divine.
Christ cannot sin because of His divine nature, not because of His human nature. If Christ's human nature is not 100% controlled by His divine nature, then He could in fact have sinned. Since we know that He could not have (notice, not would not have, but could not have), we must conclude that it is due to His divine nature's superior control over the nature of Christ, which is consistent with the fact that we do not diminish the divine nature to equal the power and will of the human nature. We do not mix them or diminish them, but we do not equate them either.

I think your point about merit is important. If merit is the work of God alone, and is only God working through the human to accomplish his becoming like Christ for the purpose of justification, then based on the analogy, it would seem to suggest that God works in the human to accomplish his salvation, and the human can only act in so far as that goal will be accomplished through him. In other words, a strict monergism that presents God as working through the individual and keeping the Christian from any loss of salvation or merit.

Bryan Hodge said...

In other words, Christ does not have the ability to do good or evil in the incarnation due to a grace given to Him. The writers of Scripture do not have the ability to do good or evil when it comes to writing Scripture simply because of an empowering grace given. If the analogy is correct, isn't the consistent conclusion that a Christian cannot do good or evil toward his or her salvation just because a special power or grace is given, but instead must be the complete work of God that keeps the Christian in check from losing his salvation? If so, what does merit do for the person who cannot be lost? And does this not mean that once salvation is given to an individual, they will live the Christian life and be saved, thus concluding that they were saved, and were always going to be, at their original justification?

Although you said that merit does not work toward his justification, so I am confused on that, as I thought that was the RC claim. Is it not? I thought that was the entire difference between the Reformed and RC view.

So to sum up, I think the confusion between the two natures being 100% undiminished in the Person of Christ and the idea that the human nature cooperates with the divine using free-will and performing meritorious deeds that work toward justification is the crux of the analogy.
I realize that grace is meant to be the precursor to all things in RC, and nothing is by human merit alone; but it also seems that merit does play a role toward a person's justification in the RC system. So the question becomes, "Why does a person receive merit for something for which they could not do otherwise?" They will be saved no matter what because the divine nature, according to the analogy, places the human nature in check, as it must or it is diminished.


On a personal note, I used to come to all of your lectures at UNLV, would listen to you on the radio show you had there, and even went through the Crisis Pregnancy Center program that my mother often taught, where you would come and give arguments against the abortion position. I thought then, and still think now, that you are one of the most brilliant men I have ever heard, so I appreciate your time and patience with my original post, and understand if you do not answer this one. I am just trying to get a handle of how these things all work out myself.
Take care.
Bryan

Francis J. Beckwith said...

Ken, nice save. :-)

Bryan, thank you for your kind comments. I'm in Vegas at least 4 times a year for a variety of reasons, but mostly family.

It's always nice to hear from someone from UNLV. BTW, did you know Carlos Campo? He just became president of Regent University. You can read about it here: http://tinyurl.com/yeo8ge7

Amazing!

Bryan Hodge said...

Hi Frank,
I wasn't aware of Mr. Campo's appointment. It is interesting that Vegas is sort of the theological Nazareth of our country; and yet, it still produces some Christian leaders.

BTW, I didn't go to UNLV as a student. I only would go to the school to hear you lecture. I ended up doing most of my schooling in Chicago. I too only make it back to Vegas every once and a while for family. It changes into a different city every time I go back.

Take care.

Louis said...

"Moved by the Holy Spirit and by charity, we can then merit for ourselves and for others the graces needed for... the attainment of eternal life."

This might be a stupid question, but if our good works count as merit, then do our bad works/sins count as de-merits? Does God have to tally up the good with the bad and assign us our due based on the balance?

I mean, there is always sin, so how could our good works, no matter how good (and regardless of whether they are given by grace), ever merit eternal life? Remember, Adam was cursed for one sin; and James said that "whoever keeps the whole law but fails in one point has become accountable for all of it."

You could say that our sins are forgiven in Christ, which of course is true, but if our sins are forgiven, then why do we need to merit anything? Surely it is through Christ's merits that we have this forgiveness in the first place.

But if God is setting up a merit-based system, then aren't we back to tallying the good and the bad? How do good deeds count, but bad deeds don't? What do the good deeds count against, if there are no sins to overcome?

As far as the rest of it, the philosophical speculation about ontological participation and whatnot is interesting, but isn't it getting rather far afield?

The biblical analogy is not the one of inscripturation, but is rather of the potter and the clay. And there the point is to emphasize that it is God alone who shapes and molds man as he wills, creating some for "honored use" and others for "dishonoroed use"; and "who are you, o man, to answer back to God?" (Rom. 9:19-23).

But if we insist on the analogy of inscripturation, what do the scripture writers themselves say? "The word of the Lord came to Ezekiel" -- and to Hosea, and to Joel, and to Micah, etc. "Thus says the Lord God", begins Obadiah. Jeremiah couldn't contain the word, but it was like a burning fire in his bones forcing him to speak (20:9).

Of course God spoke through each individual's unique personality and experience, just as a potter works with the natural characteristics of the clay, but the prophets apparently didn't see themselves as contributing equally to inscripturation. As Peter says, "no prophecy was ever produced by the will of man, but men... were carried along by the Holy Spirit." (2 Peter 1:21).

David Waltz said...

Hi Ken,

Thanks much for responding to my musings, you posted:

>> I honestly think that you and Heckle have mis-understood R. C. Sproul as judging everyone before the Reformation and the Council of Trent's anathema on justification by faith alone.

They are only saying that once Trent officially anathemetized the gospel in 1545-1563…>>

Trent did not officially condemn the gospel. IMO Dr. Sproul (and so many others) has misunderstood what Catholicism actually believes/teaches on this issue (see my NEW THEAD for documentation). I am convinced that Dr. McGrath understands Trent more accurately than Dr. Sproul; note the following:

"It is clear that this condemnation [in Canon XI] is aimed against a purely extrinsic conception of justification (in the Catholic sense of the term) — in other words, the view that the Christian life may begin and continue without any transformation or inner renewal of the sinner. In fact, the canon does not censure any magisterial Protestant account of iustificatio hominis, in that the initial (extrinsic) justification of humans is either understood (as with Melanchthon) to be inextricably linked with their subsequent (intrinsic) sanctification, so that the concepts are notionally distinct, but nothing more; or else both the extrinsic justification and intrinsic sanctification of humanity are understood (as with Calvin) to be contiguous dimensions of the union of the believer with Christ." (Alister E. McGrath, Iustitia Dei: A History of the Christian Doctrine of Justification, 3rd ed., p. 343.)


Grace and peace,

David

David Waltz said...

>>Some Presbyterians believe in baptismal regeneration?>>

Yes; for one example, Rich Lusk. See his essay that I linked to in my first combox post.

David Waltz said...

Hello lojahw,

You wrote:

>>Re: justification by faith, consider this small sample of the church fathers’ writings:

1 Clement 32:4. We who through his will have been called in Christ Jesus are justified, not by ourselves, or through our wisdom or understanding or godliness, or the works that we have done in holiness of heart, but by faith.

John Chrysostom:
Homilies on Ephesians, 4. God’s mission was not to save people in order that they may remain barren or inert. For Scripture says that faith has saved us. Put better: Since God willed it, faith has saved us. Now in what case, tell me, does faith save without itself doing anything at all? Faith’s workings themselves are a gift of God, lest anyone should boast. What then is Paul saying? Not that God has forbidden works but that he has forbidden us to be justified by works. No one, Paul says, is justified by works, precisely in order that the grace and benevolence of God may become apparent.

Homilies on Romans, 7, But since after this grace, whereby we were justified, there is need also of a life suited to it, let us show an earnestness worthy the gift. And show it we shall, if we keep with earnestness charity, the mother of good deeds. … “That He might be just, and the justifier of him which believes in Jesus.” Doubt not then: for it is not of works, but of faith: and shun not the righteousness of God, for it is a blessing in two ways; because it is easy, and also open to all men.

Homilies on Romans, 8, For when a man is once a believer, he is straightway justified…. Having said then, that he was justified by faith, he shows that he glorified God by that faith.

No theological novum here.>>

Me: I agree with the above Catholic Fathers that justification is “by faith”. What makes you think that modern Catholics reject this? (See THIS THEAD for further reflections on this issue.)

As for Dr. McGrath, the theological novem that he was referring to in his Iustitia Dei concerned, “the deliberate and systematic distinction” that was “made between justification and regeneration”; “the essential point is that a notional distinction is made where none had been acknowledged before in the history of Christian doctrine” (p. 186, 1st edition).

Grace and peace,

David

lojahw said...

David,

Your comments point out how the nuances related to "justification by faith" have distracted many from the essential issues. I was merely illustrating that the early church fathers seem to have understood Romans 4 and Ephesians 2 as most Protestants do (and, as I've said elsewhere, the practical difference between Protestant and RC understanding of this issue is not easily articulated).

Much is made of the debate over "justification by faith," but careful study of the Scriptures and the early church has convinced me that in a number of important areas Rome has not kept "the faith which was once for all delivered to the saints."

Blessings.

Acolyte4236 said...

Dear Dr. Beckwith,

I am not sure its fair to say that the view of Christ’s volitional activity as determined by the divine will is due to Ockhamism. As far back as Augustine this idea has purchase based on Rom 1:3-4. Clearly Christ is predestined in a very strong sense. Augustine in his homilies on the gospel of John 17:1-5, sec. 6ff makes it sufficiently clear that Christ’s humanity is predestined in the choices Christ makes through it. He expresses this view in other works like On the Predestination of the Saints, bk 1. sec. 31. Likewise Peter Lombard in his Sentences bk 3, div. 7. q. 3, as well as John Duns Scotus’ commentary on the Sentences bk 3, d. 7. q. 3, think likewise. Aquinas also in the Summa Theologica, Tertia pars, q. 24, as well as Tertia pars, q. 18, a. 5, sed contra endroses as much. We could also include Bonaventure in Sent. 3. d. 11., a. 1, q. 2, fund. 4 and I, d. 7, dub. 2.

Francis J. Beckwith said...

Acolyte, you're right. What I was suggesting was that Ockham's voluntarism tends to make us think of divine direction as pure willfulness by which the divine will so controls the human will that the latter ceases to be a will qua will. For example, Aquinas writes:

Whatever was in the human nature of Christ was moved at the bidding of the Divine will; yet it does not follow that in Christ there was no movement of the will proper to human nature, for the good wills of other saints are moved by God's will, "Who worketh" in them "both to will and to accomplish," as is written Philippians 2:13. For although the will cannot be inwardly moved by any creature, yet it can be moved inwardly by God, as was said in I, 105, 4. And thus, too, Christ by His human will followed the Divine will according to Psalm 39:9; "That I should do Thy will, O my God, I have desired it." Hence Augustine says (Contra Maxim. ii, 20): "Where the Son says to the Father, 'Not what I will, but what Thou willest,' what do you gain by adding your own words and saying 'He shows that His will was truly subject to His Father,' as if we denied that man's will ought to be subject to God's will?"

... It is proper to an instrument to be moved by the principal agent, yet diversely, according to the property of its nature. For an inanimate instrument, as an axe or a saw, is moved by the craftsman with only a corporeal movement; but an instrument animated by a sensitive soul is moved by the sensitive appetite, as a horse by its rider; and an instrument animated with a rational soul is moved by its will, as by the command of his lord the servant is moved to act, the servant being like an animate instrument, as the Philosopher says (Polit. i, 2,4; Ethic. viii, 11). And hence it was in this manner that the human nature of Christ was the instrument of the Godhead, and was moved by its own will.
(http://www.newadvent.org/summa/4018.htm)

Fred Fredosso's piece on Ockham and the Incarnation is good in showing how nominalism shaped his Christology: http://www.nd.edu/~afreddos/papers/looc.htm

Acolyte4236 said...

Bryan,

The view you offer on Christ’s impeccability is actually the twin heresies of monothelitism and monoenergism condemned at the 6th ecumenical council. Protestants are of course free to reject the condemnation, but historically they have not done so but rather professed subscription to it. The best literature available currentlyis Cyril Hovorum, Will, Action and Freedom: Christological Controversies in the Seventh Century, Brill. And Demetrios Bathrellos’, The Byzantine Christ.OUP.

The fact that God cannot sin does not imply that God can’t and doesn’t choose between alternative possibilities. God chooses between creating and not creation, with neither of these being evil options. Libertarian free will doesn’t entail that the alternative possibilities be of differing moral value. Consequently God has it, Christ had it in his human will and the saints in heaven have it.

The will is a faculty or power of the nature, which is why Christ has two of them. The will is then used by the person. In our case there is a specific and personal use of the will technically called the gnomic will, which isn’t yet fixed in the good telos of our nature and so this use can go either way. Once in heaven the use of the will by the saints “gels” or solidifies with their character but this doesn’t rule out different goods and so doesn’t rule out libertarian conditions on free will. This is so with humans because we have a beginning and if our moral character is to be our own, it can’t be given to us, hence the probationary period in the garden. But with divine persons this is not so, since they have no beginning and so Christ has no gnomic employment or use of his will even though he can choose between options, its just that all the options are good ones. Christ then in his passion does will otherwise, specifically to save his life as well at the same time to go to the cross and both options are good since both are willed by God. Human nature is therefore not opposed to God.

Further, the monoenergist view you deploy would imply that human nature even in Christ was defective and therefore of it self corrupt implying either God as the source of evil or a defective creator. And natures don’t determine actions because natures don’t act, persons do. Christ could not have sinned through his human power of choice because Christ is always and only a divine person.

Consequently a denial of synergism in soteriology entails an affirmation of the heresy of monoenergism in Christology.

Lastly, rather than precluding synergism, Chalcedonian Christology actually entails and supports it.

Acolyte4236 said...

Dear Dr. Beckwith,

It is true that Aquinas thinks that Christ has a human volition, but at best I think that Aquinas, like Augustine, is a source incompatabilist and probably some form of comptabilist. Willing and willing freely are not the same. Aquinas doesn’t think that either Christ in his human willing can and does will otherwise and the same is true for the saints in heaven. This is why he glosses the passion citation as appetitive. Of course this raises the problem of Christ’s impeccable human nature being opposed to the divine will. He also seems to think of the matter in terms of secondary causation, which in light of the dyoenergist theology of Maximus, whose theology the Sixth Council upheld, is still a form of monoenergism as is evident in his Disputation with Pyrrus, sec. 30-34.

Consequently, while Augustinianism allows for synergism in justification after condign grace, it is still fails to meet the conditions for a libertarian conception of freedom. So Rome is ironically closer to Calvin on this point than your Protestant interlocutors seem to realize.

Francis J. Beckwith said...

"Consequently, while Augustinianism allows for synergism in justification after condign grace, it is still fails to meet the conditions for a libertarian conception of freedom. So Rome is ironically closer to Calvin on this point than your Protestant interlocutors seem to realize."

I think that's right. In fact, one of the great ironies of my journey to Catholicism is that I am more of a "Calvinist" now than I was as a Protestant.

Having said that, though, one could say that for Augustine, grace's role in "healing the will" advances its perfection, which is to always choose the good. But that is not a defect, nor is it unfree, or we would have to say that God's will is unfree, since it is perfect and may only choose the good. This is why Augustine said, "Love God, and do as you please."

Acolyte4236 said...

Dr. Beckwith,

The problem I see is that this reasoning is built off of monothelite and monoenergist commitments. To always choose the good could only rule out the alternative possibilities condition if God were simple along the lines of Late Platonism as Augustine thinks. But if we take simplicity as say John of Damascus thinks of it, as one of many energies, then there are an infinite goods to choose between, all divine so that the alternative possibilities condition can be met.

Consequently, divine freedom can be libertarian without compromising moral impeccability. To think that it does turns on the assumption that there is one simple good and that therefore choosing between options must be choosing between options of opposing moral value. Agents then will be good but not free or free but not good, which was the underlying principle in monothelitism.

Bryan Hodge said...

Acolyte,
I think you've misunderstood what I said. I said Christ's human nature must respond in its will to the will of His divine nature, and that this means that Christ cannot choose evil. I said nothing of freewill in choosing a variety of goods. God cannot lie. Christ cannot lie, not because of his human will that can lie, but because of His divine will that cannot lie. Hence, Christ's human will is limited in its options because it must be in harmony with the divine. So I have not committed the heresy of monothelitism, as I have said that Christ has two wills, a human and a divine. The question is whether a view of free-will that can choose good or evil (regardless of how many options good and evil may have) is necessary to the human nature if Christ cannot use His free-will to choose evil, and yet we know that He is fully human.

I also don't see how I am saying anything about monoenergism. Can you enlighten me on this? I said nothing about there being a single energy or power Christ has. But I'm willing to hear you out on that.

So God had freedom to do otherwise, if otherwise is also good; Christ has freedom to do otherwise, if otherwise is also good; but that has nothing to do with what I said. I was talking about Christ doing otherwise, if the otherwise is evil. To say that He can is to either say that God can do evil or to say that the divine nature and the human nature are completely separate from one another and not united in the Person of Christ (I don't mean united in the monophysitic sense).

"Further, the monoenergist view you deploy would imply that human nature even in Christ was defective and therefore of it self corrupt implying either God as the source of evil or a defective creator."

You mean if you assume that human nature must be able to choose evil in order to have free will? I'm unsure of your point here. My point is not that Christ's human nature is deficient, or that if it stood somehow alone that it would not be able to choose evil. My point is that being united with God in the Person of Christ, the human nature must be in complete harmony with the divine nature. You seem to be positing the idea that it does not have to be.

"nd natures don’t determine actions because natures don’t act, persons do."

Yes, persons do...according to their nature (i.e., within the limitations of their nature set by external boundaries, in this case the boundaries being set by the divine nature).

"Christ could not have sinned through his human power of choice because Christ is always and only a divine person."

Now this actually sounds like a monophysite argument. Christ is not only a divine person. He is a human and divine person. He does not simply have a human power, but all human capabilities, as you seem to agree. So my very point was that because His person is both human and divine, it is the divine nature that makes up His person that keeps Him from sin, and thus holds His human nature in check, setting the boundaries for what decisions His human nature is able to make. He limits the decisions humans may normally make apart from boundaries He sets by His divine will all of the time. This says nothing to humans being defective, unless you want to say that humanity apart from being connected to the divine is defective by being finite. I would therefore argue, however, that Christ is the perfection of humanity, having united divine with human, infinite with finite.

I'm just trying to give you a little more here because I don't think you understand what I am saying, and it's possible I don't understand what you are saying either; but what I do know is that I'm not committing either one of these heresies, as I've taught courses on them, and am well aquainted with them. I could be wrong, though. Everyone has blind spots, so I do invite you to show me where from what I said I may have gone off. Thanks.

Acolyte4236 said...

Natures don’t respond so I think you are thinking of natures as persons. Second, I am not sure you understood what I wrote. To say that the divine will determines or “controls” the human is a species of monothelitism. Your reasoning seemed to be that if Christ had free will, he could therefore sin, which as I demonstrated turns on a conceptual confusion. Neither in his human power of choice nor his divine can Christ lie.

Monotheletism was not a mere denial of a human will, as a number of advocates of the imperial policy admitted as much. Monotheltism also came in forms that took the divine will to determine or move the human will. So even if there are two powers of choice, there was, they thought only one activity or energy in Christ-hence the designation monoenergism. If the human will is an instrument of the divine, then there really is only one energy or activity.

My point was that you seemed to be glossing free will and the ability to do otherwise as the ability to choose contrary or morally opposed options, which it clearly isn’t.

I don’t assume that the human nature must be able to choose since I don’t think natures do the choosing, the person does. The will, like the intellect or mind is a power used by the person. This is why strictly speaking, there is no sinful nature since sin is in the use and not in the essence.

My point was that if you say that without divine determinism Christ’s could sin, then you implicate God in either making creation at its best intrinsically defective as well as bringing in the problem of making God the cause of sin and therefore not good.

I am positing the idea that Christ in the passion at one point in fact chooses two different things, to save his life and to go to the cross and both of them are good. He wills them freely without any determinism with each of his two wills or powers of choosing. Consequently, when Christ wills to go to the cross subsequently, he wills it with the human power of choice and redirects the destiny of all through death to resurrection. Jn 6:39 is pertinment here since Christ looses nothing that the Father gives him but raises IT up on the last day.

If persons always and only act according to their nature, then the perfect counter example is the fall, since Adam’s nature was good. It is sometimes true but not always. Natures may limit the objects of choice, but they do not determine the choice that is made since God is not creator by essence but by choice.

No, my position of Christ as always and only a divine person is Chalcedonian. To say that Christ is a human and divine person is a form of Nestorianism since the Nestorians took the single prosopon to be the combination of the activities of the two underlying substances. Christ is one as to hypostasis and two as to nature. Christ having human powers would only entail that he was a human person if nature and person were the same thing, but they’re not on pain of denying the Trinity since God is three as to person but one as to nature. Human nature is assumed and taken into the divine person of Christ, but Christ is not a human hypostasis. His divine nature does not “make up” his divine person since person and nature are distinct in God.

Monophysitism would be to say that there is one nature after the union or that Christ is OUT of two natures but not IN two natures. The Monophysites also affirmed one energy or activity in Christ too so that the divine determined the human and ironically enough agreed with the Nestorians that there was only one will in Christ, since both positions conflated the categories of person and nature.

Bryan Hodge said...

Acolyte,

“Natures don’t respond so I think you are thinking of natures as persons.”

I think this is the primary point of confusion with what I am saying. I am not saying anything like this. I am saying that the one person of Christ can only do what His natures allow Him to do. I am using “nature” here to refer to the elements are characteristics that “make up” a being that enables or limits his or her abilities to perform an action. Natures don’t perform actions. Persons do. I agree with you on this, and maybe my language wasn’t clear here. My point is that persons make decisions only as far as their natures allow. Therefore, the human nature, that would normally allow Christ to sin, since we know that human natures allow persons to normally do so, is limited by His divine nature that does not allow for the person of Christ to sin.

“Second, I am not sure you understood what I wrote. To say that the divine will determines or “controls” the human is a species of monothelitism. Your reasoning seemed to be that if Christ had free will, he could therefore sin, which as I demonstrated turns on a conceptual confusion. Neither in his human power of choice nor his divine can Christ lie.”

Hence, His person is limited by the divine nature, not the human because a human nature normally allows a person to lie. The human nature has its boundaries set by the divine nature, and this limits the options from which the one person of Christ is able to choose. Hence, He does not have free-will in the sense that He can choose to do evil because of His divine nature.

“Monotheletism was not a mere denial of a human will, as a number of advocates of the imperial policy admitted as much. Monotheltism also came in forms that took the divine will to determine or move the human will. So even if there are two powers of choice, there was, they thought only one activity or energy in Christ-hence the designation monoenergism. If the human will is an instrument of the divine, then there really is only one energy or activity.”

Allow me to suggest that you are attempting to do what I’ve seen many times before, and that is to bend a theological heresy to meet anything that sounds similar when that particular condemnation of heresy has a particular setting with special language and precise definitions that should only be assigned to a specific heresy.
For instance, I could easily say that your comment on the person of Christ being only divine is Appolinarian, but this would be an abuse of the anathema. I could also join with the Cyrillians and say that Chalcedon was too Nestorian, but this too commits this straw-man. You are attempting to apply a specific Christological controversy to the general issue of free-will (I’m guessing the work you cited for me does this), and to me, that is an error.
This statement you made here displays my point. Monothelitism was not condemned as the divine will moving the human will. That’s your import into the heresy. You can read it that way, but that is not the specific problem the Fathers have with monothelitism. Likewise, I do not create two persons in Christ, nor only join the natures synapheiacally. My point about the natures of Christ has to do with limits of the decisions His person can make due to the specific natures He has; and it is essentially a simple placing of the Biblical material together. 1. Christ is divine; 2. Christ is human; 3. Humans can choose to do evil; 4. God cannot choose to do evil. Hence, it is from Christ’s divine nature that His impeccability comes. (You have not refuted this, but only affirmed it by making His entire person divine only.)

Bryan Hodge said...

This same attempt to apply a controversy to an issue to which the council is not dealing is to say that Christ is only a divine person, and not that the natures are hypostatically unified in His person, and therefore a divine-human person. The council was dealing with Nestorius’ denial that Mary was theotokos because of his view that Mary only gave birth to the human nature of Christ, a separate person and nature joined to the separate divine person and nature synapheically rather than hypostatically. What does this have to do with saying that Christ is only a divine person? That seems to be an addition. I don’t even see that in Cyril’s letter, do you? Once again, I’m open to this point. I’ve never heard it applied this way before, so I’m interested to know how that works out.

So what I am saying is that nothing I’ve said has touches on these heresies. Instead, there seems to be an attempt to “apply” them to a foreign issue. It’s sort of like applying the patristic statements of free-will when specifically countering Gnostic determinism to the Augustinian-Pelagian debate or even to the Reformation. In my estimation this is a mistake.


“My point was that you seemed to be glossing free will and the ability to do otherwise as the ability to choose contrary or morally opposed options, which it clearly isn’t.”

Perhaps this was my imprecise language, then, but I was referring in context to a free-will that chooses otherwise when the “otherwise” is evil. Christ is not free to do this. I think we agree on that.

“I don’t assume that the human nature must be able to choose since I don’t think natures do the choosing, the person does. The will, like the intellect or mind is a power used by the person. This is why strictly speaking, there is no sinful nature since sin is in the use and not in the essence.”

Natures don’t choose, but people choose within their natures, not separately from them. Hence, I would still speak of sin as a sin nature, since the infiltration of sin and the absence of a salvific relationship with God affects the human nature and its ability to love and choose the good to the glory of God.

“My point was that if you say that without divine determinism Christ’s could sin, then you implicate God in either making creation at its best intrinsically defective as well as bringing in the problem of making God the cause of sin and therefore not good.”

Christ is creation at its best precisely because His human nature is enhanced by its inability to sin. Limitation by the divine unification is a perfection, not a defect. The defect would be in humanity’s condition in Adam as only partially created. I don’t believe the beginning of our existence is the end of creation. Creation is not over until glorification and the new earth. To say that God’s creation is perfect already is to ignore that He is not done yet. Humanity without the divine nature is in defect because it is not impeccable yet. If it were perfect, God would have no more need to make it anything other than what it was in Adam, and the Fall, which He decreed from before the foundation of the world, would have been for nothing because man could have been perfect from the beginning of his existence, disunited from the divine nature.

Bryan Hodge said...

“I am positing the idea that Christ in the passion at one point in fact chooses two different things, to save his life and to go to the cross and both of them are good. He wills them freely without any determinism with each of his two wills or powers of choosing. Consequently, when Christ wills to go to the cross subsequently, he wills it with the human power of choice and redirects the destiny of all through death to resurrection. Jn 6:39 is pertinment here since Christ looses nothing that the Father gives him but raises IT up on the last day.”

I don’t agree that Christ chooses something else, but I do agree that He wills another good if it can be equally within the will of the Father. Since it is not, what He wants is abandoned by Him and He then chooses the good the Father wills. Once again, I am not talking about Christ being able to freely choose within a possibility of goods. I am only talking about Christ choosing a single evil as opposed to a good.

“If persons always and only act according to their nature, then the perfect counter example is the fall, since Adam’s nature was good.”

No, Adam’s history was void of evil. His nature was that He could choose good or evil. I think you are confusing a creation that is absent of evil with the nature of that creation that allows for the capacity of doing evil. I am not saying that a person always does what is within his moral history, but that a person always makes choices that are based only upon his nature (i.e., what is consistent with it).

“It is sometimes true but not always. Natures may limit the objects of choice, but they do not determine the choice that is made since God is not creator by essence but by choice.”

I wouldn’t say that natures determine the choice. It limits the possibility of choices for the person who is bound by the nature. So God can create or not create because both are consistent with His nature. He cannot, however, do evil because that is contrary to His nature. Hence, He is not able to freely do anything, but only those things “determined” by His nature.

Bryan Hodge said...

“No, my position of Christ as always and only a divine person is Chalcedonian. To say that Christ is a human and divine person is a form of Nestorianism since the Nestorians took the single prosopon to be the combination of the activities of the two underlying substances. Christ is one as to hypostasis and two as to nature. Christ having human powers would only entail that he was a human person if nature and person were the same thing, but they’re not on pain of denying the Trinity since God is three as to person but one as to nature. Human nature is assumed and taken into the divine person of Christ, but Christ is not a human hypostasis. His divine nature does not “make up” his divine person since person and nature are distinct in God.”

I meant that He is a divine and human person, not that He is a divine person and a human person. To say that Christ is only a divine person seems to me to be saying that His human nature does not add another set of abilities to the person of Christ. The person cannot only be divine. He must be a divine human. For instance, His human nature allows Him to die, something which His divine nature cannot do apart from being hypostatically unified with a human nature. So as the divine nature enables and sets limitations upon the person of Christ, the human nature enables the person of Christ to do what He could not otherwise do with just the single divine nature. So I am not confusing nature and person, since nature is what sets the abilities or limitations of a person. It is not the person itself. This was my point before about applying heresies to anything that sounds similar. You seem to be stretching these controversies to “fit.”
Furthermore, Nestorius believed specific things, and was condemned for specific things. He also believed that Christ was God. He wasn’t condemned for this, so it is inappropriate for me to tell you that your committing the Nestorian heresy because you believe Christ is God. That is not the purpose for which he was condemned.
I completely deny that I am committing this heresy, however, as Nestorius was saying something completely different than what I am saying. It would be convenient if the issue was over Christ’s free-will, but it wasn’t; and to continually interpret it in that light is to beg the question as to the truthfulness of the idea and its support by these controversies.

“Monophysitism would be to say that there is one nature after the union or that Christ is OUT of two natures but not IN two natures. The Monophysites also affirmed one energy or activity in Christ too so that the divine determined the human and ironically enough agreed with the Nestorians that there was only one will in Christ, since both positions conflated the categories of person and nature.”

And I have already said many times, there are two wills (the one is not using the other as a catalyst; instead the one is in response to the other, as the choices of all finite creatures must be in response to the divine in one way or another), two natures united hypostatically, and one person, not prosopon (i.e., external appearance). A nature is not a person. I’ve never suggested this. I’ve only suggested that a person must act within a nature, and the dual nature of the person of Christ, being divine and human, gives limited possibilities of choice to that person. I have not seen anything yet that would counter that main point. As you can interpret this as a denial of certain orthodox teachings about Christ, I can do the same with what you have said. I doubt either one of us is denying anything orthodox, but my point is that one can interpret history that way in any situation. It reminds me of the application of Sabellianism to Calvin. I just don’t believe that is an appropriate use of the councils, and using them this way stirred up more heresy in history than it did prevent.


I am running out of emails to post, so I don't know if I will be able to post a follow up. I can only hope that what I have said here is made more clear here.

Acolyte4236 said...

Bryan

Your definition of nature is rough and while intuitive simply won’t work for God for nothing makes up God’s nature. My point was that human nature per se doesn’t permit sinning. Rather a certain use of human nature prior to certain powers or potentialities being actualized in it leave open the possibility of sinning. But human nature per se doesn’t permit sinning. People in heaven can’t sin and they are still fully human and fully free. They fulfill all of the conditions on libertarian freedom. Consequently, the divine nature of Christ does not impose a limit on his humanity. His human nature is not per se opposed to God. That is, the source of sin isn’t being finite or contingent.

As I sketched before human nature doesn’t make sin possible. Human persons at a certain stage of their existence can sin because their personal use of their natural powers hasn’t yet become solidified with their natural telos. Christ’s human nature doesn’t have this personal employment, the gnomic will, because Christ as a divine person never has a beginning.

I understand your suggestion but you are mistaken for a number of reasons. First, in this context, the context is that of a Christological analogy. You argued in sum that Beckwith’s analogy won’t go through because Christ’s humanity is controlled by his divinity such that there can’t be any synergism there and so not in soteriology, if I am not mistaken. Second, saying that Christ is always and only a divine person doesn’t indicate Apollinarianism since that is the thesis that Christ is not fully human in so far as it identifies the person with the soul or nous. I’ve said nothing to indicate as much. Further, I think you are relying on older and now refuted scholarship that saw Chalcedon as a correction to Cyril’s theology. See Gray’s, The Defense of Chalcedon in the East, or McGuckin’s, St. Cyril of Alexandria and the Christological Controversy. It just isn't so. Leo's Tome was judged by Cyrils' teaching, not the other way around.

Acolyte4236 said...

Bryan,

I am not attempting to take some problem in the metaphysics of free will and bring it to bear here. In fact, I am brining in the same arguments, terms and positions from the Monothelite controversy concerning the free will of Christ to the arguments you presented which mirror the Monothelite reasoning almost perfectly. The scholarly literature on this will easily bear this out.

Your position was essentially that there could be no synergism in the incarnation because the divine will “controls” the human will, which as I noted is in fact a species of monothelitism. If you wish to modify your position to the idea that natures merely limit options but that the divinity of Christ did not “control” his human power of choice, then the exclusion of synergism is not accomplished.
You claim that the Monothelitism was not condemned as the divine will moving the human will. I already noted some texts showing that this was so, specifically in the Disputation with Pyrrus. But here is some secondary literature,

“The authors of the Ecthesis understood the energia of Christ, which they called natural motion, to be subordinated to the command of the Word i.e. to his divine will.” Cyril Hovorum, Will, Action and Freedom: Christological Controversies in the Seventh Century, Brill, 2008, p. 162

This is not some recent claim. Michael Butler in his, Hypostatic Union and Monothelitism: The Dyothelite Christology of St. Maximus the Confessor has the same judgment.

“At this point, however, he [Pyrrus] undertakes a different line of attack which does not flow form the preceding arguments directly. He says, ‘What then? Was not the flesh moved by the command of the Word united with it?’ This is a clear reference to both the Psephos and the Ekthesis, which contained the statement that ‘…never does the noetically ensouled flesh of the Lord accomplish its natural motion by its own impulse contrary to the command of God the Word hypostatically united with it, but only when, and as, and how God jthe Word wills.’ If we read this statement carefully, we see that, not only does the natural human motion never move by its on impulse contrary to the command of the Word, but also that the impulse of the human will never moves at all, except that the divine wills it to move. The human will of Christ is the effect of the divine will. That is to say, the Logos, by his divine will, wills that there be an impulse of the human will.” Fordham University, 1991, p. 228.

The judgment is not limited to secondary literature in the 1990’s and forward but goes all the way back to Berthold’s seminal work on Maximus nearly a century ago. So here I think you are clearly mistaken.

Acolyte4236 said...

Bryan,

As for your premise 3, it is false. It is not true that humans per se can choose to do evil. It is only humans at a certain stage. By saying that Christ is always and only a divine person it doesn’t follow jthat his impeccability comes from his divine nature since Christ’s divine person is not his divine nature, on pain of Sabellianism.

You seem to think that united the two natures in the one person makes the person a human person also, but this would only be so if the nature were a person. But Christ’s humanity is anhypostatic. Human nature, and not a human hypostasis is taken into the divine person, but the person is not the product of the union. If Christ is a divine and human person, what constitutes the union between those two things since it now can’t be the person or hypostasis?

Ephesus dealt with the denial of Theotokos since Nestorius affirmed a prosopic union and so the person she bore was human and not divine. Theotokos was the locus of the debate because it turned on the subject or person of Christ. This is plain from Cyril’s Anathamas against Nestorius. The question was what was the nature of the subject in the incarnation.

The Nestorians thought that bearing the human nature amounted to a distinct subject because they took hypostasis to function in terms of nature and person, which shows that they clearly confused the two categories. Nestorius was using hypostasis in the Hellenistic sense of substance, an individual object, a this. Cryil is clear that the person of Christ is always and only the divine person of the eternal Logos. Cyril never speaks of Christ as a human person. On the other hand it was the Nestorians who spoke of Christ in this way, since the prosopa was the product of two substances coming together to form a

Acolyte4236 said...

Bryan,

...common appearance. This common appearance was the product of the divine will bringing the human substance into conjunction with it. Here the connection with the earlier adoptionism of Theodore of Mopsuestia is plain. Consequently, the Nestorians professed one will of the union with the divine subordinating the human operation.

So no, I am not applying them to a foreign issue. These are exactly the issues during the major Christological controversies, specifically with the refutation of Origenism and Monothelitism. I can only see that it would be a mistake to apply the conclusions of say Irenaeus’ arguments against Gnostic determinism to say Reformation issues if there is not sufficient conceptual overlap or if the problems with Gnostic determinism aren’t entailed by Calvinistic determinism. If they are so entailed and there is strong conceptual overlap I see no reason to think that the arguments of the one cannot apply to the other.

Granted that people do choose from within their natures and with their natural powers, but sin is in the use of natural powers and not of the essence of being. Evil therefore has no logos or reason and is therefore not created by God. Sin doesn’t alter human nature per se. What it does is bring about a dissolution of natural ordering and a lack of power, but it doesn’t alter the imago dei per se. If it did, since each human sins in their own unique way there would then be no common nature, not to mention the implication that human nature would change innumerable times. Moreover, it would mean that humans have the power to frustrate God’s will respective to the natures of things, which seems like something someone of a Calvinistic disposition would want to deny. Again, you speak of the nature’s ability to love and choose the good, but natures don’t love, persons do. And Paul seems to indicate in Romans 7 that the problem is not the ability to will the good, but rather to accomplish it.

When you write that human nature without divinity is imperfect this seems to imply that Adam was created defective, which at the very least borders on Manicheanism. One can say everything you want to here by just saying that the imago dei was an actual power that was not yet brought to full actuality, but that doesn’t imly any defect in the power qua image.

Acolyte4236 said...

Bryan,

Lastly...If you do not agree that Christ chooses something else, then the Scriptures must be wrong when he says “not my will.” If preserving human life is not also willed by the divine Trinity, seeing that there is only one faculty of will in God and not three, then human life per se is bad, which is obviously a theological dead end. The point is that the divine will in the three persons wills both the preservation of human life and that Christ should go to the cross and both are good. Christ then in his human power of choice in the passion is choosing between two goods.

If persons always act according to their nature as you said and Adam could choose good or evil then either Adam was morally neutral, which is Pelagianism or he was a mixture of evil and good from the start, which implicates God. If Adam’s nature was good and one always chooses what is consistent with it, then it is impossible that Adam should fall.

If you wouldn’t say that natures determine the choice, then what did you have in mind with the divine will in Christ “controlling” the human will in an analogous fashion to monergistic regeneration? When you say that God can only do what is determined by his nature, I think you mean, the range of options possible, rather than the technical sense of determined where antecedent states render inevitable and single out one consequent. If that is all you mean, then fine, but if you mean in the second then I disagree.


No, my position of Christ as always and only a divine person is Chalcedonian. To say that Christ is a human and divine person is a form of Nestorianism since the Nestorians took the single prosopon to be the combination of the activities of the two underlying substances. Christ is one as to hypostasis and two as to nature. Christ having human powers would only entail that he was a human person if nature and person were the same thing, but they’re not on pain of denying the Trinity since God is three as to person but one as to nature. Human nature is assumed and taken into the divine person of Christ, but Christ is not a human hypostasis. His divine nature does not “make up” his divine person since person and nature are distinct in God.”

Nestorianism didn’t think that there were literally two persons in Christ. What they took the person to be was the prosopon, the appearance of which they thought was one in number, which was both divine and human since it was a combined image produced by the union of the two respective substances.

Why would saying Christ is only a divine person deny that he has human powers, unless you think of those human powers as a person? To do so is to confuse the categories of person and nature in just the way the Nestorians and Monophysites did. I grant that his divine nature can’t die, but his human nature didn’t die either, his divine person died in his human nature. It was the single subject of the eternal Logos that died. So even in the hypostatic union, his divine nature doesn’t die. So let’s grant that the human nature gives Christ a whole new set of abilities and limitations, why think that that makes the person or hypostasis a human hypostasis? Your view entails that a new person comes into existence after the union it seems since the hypostasis qua hypostasis changes, rather than the hypostasis takes into himself human nature, which brings about no alteration in the hypostasis per se.

If you maintain that the wills in Christ respond to each other then I am not clear how this precludes the synergism that you claimed it did.

Hodge said...

OK, I just put in a fake email to try and post; but I really need to get back to writing, so this should be it for me.

I wrote a long response to each statement of the preceding post, but decided that this is just getting too long for a blog entry and I don’t like posting so many times over, so I just wanted to get to the heart of a couple issues.

My definition of “nature” is functional for our purposes here. It’s not my general definition. I was using to describe what I mean by it, and what I think the Fathers mean by it. We can speak of God’s nature, not in a genetic-synthetic sense, but in an analytical-descriptive sense. I was not attempting to describe God’s essence, but simply to remark on the fact that His nature is of such that it allows for or limits what He can and cannot do.

The problem with your methodology is that it assumes that what may be a possible reason given for a conclusion by a particular Father is equally authoritative with the conclusion itself. I think this is why we keep running past each other on the historical issue. By reading the free-will component from what may possibly be in the premises of Cyril into the conclusions of the councils is not an appropriate methodology for determining the domain of the anathemas pronounced by them (although, again, I don’t really see this as a main concern of Cyril’s either).
For instance, in the reasoning of the Fathers to include Hebrews into the canon sat the major idea that the book was of Pauline authorship. Hence, having been received by many as Scripture and having the stamp of an apostle, the book ought to be received by all. I accept the conclusion as led by the Holy Spirit moving men to conclude what was right out of what was wrong.
To give a better example, the argument of Epiphanius against sexual immorality includes within it the reasoning that one ought not participate in such things because this is what animals like the hyena, who unnaturally gives birth out of the mouth, practice. This is an absurd reasoning which I completely reject, but the conclusion (i.e., that sexual immorality is evil and should not be practiced) is to be fully accepted as a Spirit-led conclusion.
In the same way, what you are doing is to attempt to lift a possible reason (or even an inference which is less than an explicit reason) and place it into the conclusion as authoritatively binding. The councils do not condemn the Nestorian, Monophysite or Monothelite heresies because of any denial of free-will. That is your import.
The council of Nicea was concerned primarily for the gospel. That is the underlying issue for all of the councils. The councils simply seek to be in unity with Nicea which is likewise in unity with the historic teaching of the gospel. Hence, the council at Chalcedon declares, “As we see the divine Gospels laid before Your Holiness, let each one of the bishops declare whether the exposition of the 318 Fathers at Nicea , along with the 150 who assembled later in the imperial city, is in agreement with the letter of the most reverend archbishop Leo.” The concern is to be in unity with Nicea and the subsequent councils which were also in communion with it.

Hodge said...

The issue, therefore, is the salvation of humanity through Christ in the gospel. Nestorianism is condemned because the synapheic unity does not meet the conditions of Nicea. The divine must be united hypostatically to the human or humanity cannot be saved. Monophysitism is condemned for the same reason. It does not meet the conditions of Nicea because it does not imply that the full divine nature unites with, and redeems, the full human nature. The Monothelite is condemned, once again, for the same reason. To supplant one will with the other is to lose one of the abilities of the natures to will (which is different than free-will, unless you purposely confuse them). That is the issue of concern, not free-will. As I have argued before, Christ does not have free-will in the sense that He can do evil, and to argue that He must have free-will in this way is to argue that Christ is less human since He cannot have free-will to do evil, and humans must have this as essential to their nature. If one assumes that free-will is essential to human nature, then of course, one would have to conclude that the anathemas apply; but (1) it would have to be proven first, and then we are back to a debate about whether man must have free-will; and (2) this would destroy the whole basis for the anathemas themselves, since Christ does not therefore redeem the whole person because He does not assume the essential component of free-will in the sense that I have stated. So there is only overlap if you assume your position first. I see no overlap unless that it is done, and you have yet to show me why you find this methodology compelling or how this would not unwind all of the councils.

Second to this, the original analogy that Frank offered was that the incarnation is to be paralleled to the writing of Scripture and soteriology. So my original argument remains. Christ cannot do evil, and in that sense, His actions are controlled by His divine nature. Now, by “control” I don’t mean that the divine pushes the buttons of the human computer. I don’t mean that the divine supplants the human will, or that it forces the human will to comply to do the exact good chosen by the divine. I believe the Person of Christ, using both wills, places himself in subjection to the Father, the one will already being in unity and the other brought into unity by the piety of His person, empowered and limited by His divine nature. Christ has a human mind and that mind can choose to do good or evil, but the human and divine mind being unified hypostatically, although being able to work differently from one another, cannot work inconsistently with one another. That was my point. I have said nothing other than what Cyril stated when he said:

“For we know the theologians make some things of the Evangelical and Apostolic teaching about the Lord common as pertaining to the one person, and other things they divide as to the two natures, and attribute the fitting ones to God on account of the divinity of Christ and the lowly ones on account of his humanity [to his human nature]” (Epistle to John of Antioch).

So the analogy seems to me to be supporting monergism. Monergism is only monenergism if you don’t understand that by “monergism” Calvinists believe the human is in response to the divine, not that the human will is supplanted or functionally made obsolete to the divine will. The point is that the human will, if compared to Christ’s human will, cannot do otherwise in the sense that it cannot do the evil of rejecting God. If monoenergism can be applied to any idea that sees God as controlling the outcome of a person’s decisions by changing their loves through His gift of grace and faith then the Bible is monoenergistic; but I don’t think, once again, that is the purpose of the councils conclusions. That’s what I meant by the fact that the councils say specific things to specific issues, and they should not be used to expand to anything and everything that “sounds” similar, but isn’t the same.

Hodge said...

“Lastly...If you do not agree that Christ chooses something else, then the Scriptures must be wrong when he says “not my will.” If preserving human life is not also willed by the divine Trinity, seeing that there is only one faculty of will in God and not three, then human life per se is bad, which is obviously a theological dead end. The point is that the divine will in the three persons wills both the preservation of human life and that Christ should go to the cross and both are good. Christ then in his human power of choice in the passion is choosing between two goods.”

The point I was making is that “not my will” refers to the fact that Christ wills something else. Choosing something else is a follow-through action of what one desires, not the desire itself. I think this is a matter of nomenclature here though, so isn’t a big deal. We essentially agree that Christ wills another way if the Father has another way, since He doesn’t, Christ follows-through with the Father’s will instead.

“If persons always act according to their nature as you said and Adam could choose good or evil then either Adam was morally neutral, which is Pelagianism or he was a mixture of evil and good from the start, which implicates God. If Adam’s nature was good and one always chooses what is consistent with it, then it is impossible that Adam should fall.”

Adam is morally neutral here. The problem with Pelagianism, as with all heresies, is its implications for the gospel. The issue against Pelagianism then concerns postlapsarian neutrality, not prelapsarian neutrality. Now, if you want to say that man needs grace, or what I would call a salvific relationship where power to do good is provided by God, that’s fine too. My point is that Adam was able to remove himself from that relationship and choose evil. We know that his nature allowed for this, so his nature could not have been good in the sense that God is good, loving good and never loving evil. Obviously Adam was posse non pecare, which is a positive way of saying he is fallible. He can keep from sin or he can choose it. Adam, however, traded himself over the devil and enslaved humanity with him, so mankind is chained to evil and cannot choose the good apart from the grace of God now. So this once again goes back to what I was saying before. One cannot take anything a heretic believed and think that the anathemas apply. The apply to the areas that effect the gospel, and in this case, that is the postlapsarian philosophy of Pelagius.

“If you wouldn’t say that natures determine the choice, then what did you have in mind with the divine will in Christ “controlling” the human will in an analogous fashion to monergistic regeneration? When you say that God can only do what is determined by his nature, I think you mean, the range of options possible, rather than the technical sense of determined where antecedent states render inevitable and single out one consequent. If that is all you mean, then fine, but if you mean in the second then I disagree.”

My point was that natures determine choice in the sense that they allow or disallow certain options, so I think we agree here. My original point with Frank is that if Christ’s incarnation is to be equated with what occurs in bibliology and soteriology then as Christ could not err because the divine nature did not allow for it, then the Scriptures do not err because the divine nature does not allow for it, then those willed to salvation cannot err because the divine nature does not allow for it. Otherwise, the analogy just doesn’t seem to work. So do you agree with Frank's analogy on this, or not? Why or why not?