Saturday, March 6, 2010

Thomas Aquinas v. Pelagius

From the Summa Theologica (2a2ae. 6,1):
As regards the second, viz. man's assent to the things which are of faith, we may observe a twofold cause, one of external inducement, such as seeing a miracle, or being persuaded by someone to embrace the faith: neither of which is a sufficient cause, since of those who see the same miracle, or who hear the same sermon, some believe, and some do not. Hence we must assert another internal cause, which moves man inwardly to assent to matters of faith.

The Pelagians held that this cause was nothing else than man's free-will: and consequently they said that the beginning of faith is from ourselves, inasmuch as, to wit, it is in our power to be ready to assent to things which are of faith, but that the consummation of faith is from God, Who proposes to us the things we have to believe. But this is false, for, since man, by assenting to matters of faith, is raised above his nature, this must needs accrue to him from some supernatural principle moving him inwardly; and this is God. Therefore faith, as regards the assent which is the chief act of faith, is from God moving man inwardly by grace.

4 comments:

DU said...

It still strikes me as so odd that Pelagius would make such an assertion. What is gained? It seems such a simple matter to accept God making the move so to speak. How can one believe in a Creator and then deny His activity in my will. He created it. It seems like such a contradiction.

It's almost as if the enemy used Pelagianism as a ruse to set up Calvinism and the Calvinistic mindset that exists in Evangelicalism today. I get the impression that everything less than election as defined by the Calvinist is Pelagianism.

Oh well, I guess that Calvinism is no less of a contradiction to free will as Pelagianism is to Divine will.

The Divine Will is for ours to be free. I think children understand this.

Constantine said...

Hi DU,

I’m not clear what exactly you are saying. You begin, like a good Calvinist, “It seems such a simple matter to accept God making the move so to speak. How can one believe in a Creator and then deny His activity in my will. He created it”, and yet end like a Pelagian: “The Divine Will is for ours to be free.” I’m not sure I understand your point.

But Aquinas is here making the Calvinistic point. When he points out that man, by assenting to faith is transcending his nature, the very act must be of God.

“Therefore faith, as regards the assent which is the chief act of faith, is from God moving man inwardly by grace.”

That’s what the Apostle Paul taught: “…for it is God who works in you to will and to act according to his good purpose.” (Phil. 2:13) and what that great Calvinst theologian Augustine of Hippo later proclaimed: “In answering this question I have tried hard to maintain the free choice of the human will, but the grace of God prevailed.” (Retrac. II. I)

If I’ve misunderstood, please correct me.

Peace to you.

DU said...
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DU said...

It would be historically difficult for Aquinas to make a “Calvinistic point.” It appears that John Calvin found a few phrases of Aquinas that he liked to use to make his points. The same is true for Augustine. I’m not sure how one calls Augustine a “great Calvinst theologian”.

For Calvin to quote these two theologians he ought to have taken them in the context of their entire beliefs. Both were and remain completely Catholic and nothing less. It seems a little odd that anyone would claim Augustine as their own that doesn’t read a Bible with 73 books, worship Jesus in the Eucharist, and submit to the teaching authority of the One, Holy, Catholic, and Apostolic Church.

My poorly stated point is that Calvinism is as bad if not worse than Pelagianism.