Lawrence Feingold on Freedom of the WillApr 15th, 2011 | By Bryan Cross | Category: Blog Posts
Two days ago, Professor Lawrence Feingold of Ave Maria University’s Institute for Pastoral Theology and author of The Natural Desire to See God According to St. Thomas and his Interpreters gave a lecture titled “The Freedom of the Will” to the Association of Hebrew Catholics. The audio recordings of the lecture and of the following Q&A are available below. Some parts of the lecture and certain questions in the Q&A are highly relevant to points of disagreement between Protestants and the Catholic Church. Below I have provided a brief outline of the lecture (including in parentheses the minute number in the audio recording), and the subsequent Q&A.
I. Freedom is in the will, on account of our intellect; we cannot love what we do not know.
A. Our will is open to all goodness. (2′)
B. Natural desire (3′) — some things we naturally desire, and not by free choice. We’re free to choose the means to those ends.
II. Three different sense of the term ‘freedom.’ (5′)
(A.) Natural freedom (freedom between),
(B.) Circumstantial freedom (freedom from coercion), and
(C.) Acquired freedom (freedom for the good, virtuous freedom).
‘Free will’ refers to natural freedom (between goods, to act or not to act). The most important kind of freedom is freedom for, but to acquire it, we need natural freedom.1
III. Both human experience and divine revelation show us that we have natural freedom. (9′)
Q1. If God is the total good, then how can we be free to reject God, if we are not free with regard to the total good? (15′)
Q2. If one alternative is better than another, are we still free to choose between them? (16′)
IV. The denials of free will (17′)
A. Gnostics / Manichees (18′)2
B. Protestantism: Luther and Calvin (19′ – 31′)
Response by the Council of Trent (31′)
C. The heresy of Jansenism (33′)
D. Materialism/determinism (35′)
E. Freudianism (35′)
V. John Paul II “Reconciliation and Penance” (36′)
A. Free will and self-determination: By building up our identity through our free choices, we become our own fathers and mothers (Gregory of Nyssa) (38′)
B. Free will and Day of Judgment (39′)
VI. Pope Leo XIII “Libertas Praestantissimum” (39′)
A. The distinction between “natural freedom” (freedom between), and moral freedom (freedom for the good).
B. Freedom and the ability to sin. The ability to sin accompanies the kind of liberty we have on earth, not of the essence of freedom. (41′) The ability to sin belongs to us during the state of trial. (42′)
C. The freedom of God and the blessed in heaven. (42′)
VII. Whoever commits sin is a slave of sin. (44′)
VIII. The truth shall set you free. (47′)
Q. In what sense does the person in a state of grace have freedom, and in what sense does the person in a state of mortal sin have freedom? (50′)
IX. John Paul II’s 1985 “Letter to the Youth of the World” (Dilecti Amici) (51′) –
A. What does it mean to be truly free?
B. What is the relation between freedom and the divine law? (52′) Contemporary confusion regarding the relation of law and freedom (54′). Jewish conception of Torah.
X. Freedom between and Freedom for
A. Liberation theology (55′)
B. Freedom and the new atheism (57′)
C. Sartre and unlimited freedom (58′)
D. Freedom for is for self-giving to God and neighbor (61′)
E. St. Ignatius of Loyola on freedom (62′)
(1) Does prayer affect God’s freedom? If not, how can it be efficacious? What can it change? (1′)
(2) When a tragedy happens, such as 9/11, we may say it was God’s will. And yet sin is a turning away from God’s will. And that act of terrorism (i.e. 9/11) was a sin, and thus a turning away from God’s will? So how do we reconcile these two claims? (5′)
(3) Is the law contrary to the lower freedom (freedom from coercion)? (11′)
(4) If God gives efficacious grace only to some, how is that compatible with Christ dying for all, and with His universal salvific will? (12′)
(5) If man is free to cooperate with grace or resist grace, how is that not Pelagianism, and how does that not make man his own savior, and rob God of all the glory? (18′)
(6) How is predestination compatible with freedom? (22′)
(7) Isn’t one of the problems determinists have with freedom how they can conceive of time, since they operate with a clock-sense of time? (26′)
(8) If people don’t believe in the authority of the Church are they effectively outside the Church, or is it that they just don’t have direction, or are they in “freedom from”? (28′)
(9) Is the definition of ‘good’ love? (31′)
(10) If you wanted to enlighten your friend concerning the errors of Luther, what would you say in less than 50 words? (32′)
Download the mp3s here.