Lawrence Feingold on Sufficient and Efficacious Grace

Dec 10th, 2011 | By | Category: Blog Posts

On November 30, 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 and the three volume series The Mystery of Israel and the Church gave a lecture titled “Sufficient and Efficacious Grace” to the Association of Hebrew Catholics. This lecture is part of a series on God’s gracious elevation of man to the divine life, and builds on the previous two lectures: “Lawrence Feingold on God’s Universal Salvific Will” and “Lawrence Feingold: A Catholic Understanding of Predestination and Perseverance.” The audio recordings of the lecture and of the following Q&A session, along with an outline of the lecture and a list of the questions asked during the Q&A are available below. The mp3s can be downloaded here.

Lecture: Sufficient and Efficacious Grace (November 30, 2011)
 


Lawrence Feingold

The question: What makes actual grace efficacious or inefficacious? (1′)

What is the meaning of ‘efficacious’? (1′ 50″)

What is the meaning of ‘sufficient’? (4′)

Is there an intrinsic difference between sufficient-but-inefficacious grace and sufficient-and-efficacious grace? (5′)

For Lutherans, Calvinists and Jansenists, all grace is intrinsically efficacious, and God does not give such grace to the reprobate. (6′)

The heresy of limited atonement (9′)

Does God command the impossible? (10′)

See Denzinger 2001, 2002, 2005 (here.)

The Controversy over Grace and Free Will Between the Dominican and Jesuit Schools (12′)

Molina — there is no intrinsic difference between efficacious grace and merely sufficient grace.
Báñez — there is an intrinsic difference between efficacious grace and merely sufficient grace.


Domingo Báñez

Position of Báñez (20′)
Description of the position of Báñez (20′)
Four problems with the Position of Báñez (22′)

1. Seems excessively close to Calvinism/Jansenism (22′ 38″)
2. Seems to annihilate free will, with respect to self-determination
3. Seems that ‘sufficient grace’ is not truly sufficient (24′)
4. Seeming incompatibility with God’s universal salvific will (25′)

Position of Molina and the Jesuit School (33′)

How sufficient grace is truly sufficient
How this position preserves the sovereignty of God (34′ 50″)
How this position differs from Calvinism (37′)
Role of St. Ignatius of Loyola (39′)


Luis Molina

Objections to the Jesuit position (40′)

The charge of Pelagianism (40′)
The principle of predilection (51′)

On the Concern about Boasting (58′)

Why boasting is excluded
Why, in Calvinism, the sinner could accuse God for not giving sufficient (irresistible) grace (60′)

Two Models of God’s Providence (64′)

(a) God moves all creatures with intrinsically efficacious movements.
(b) God infallibly governs free creatures by giving resistible graces, knowing infallibly our cooperation or refusal to cooperate.

Questions and Answers
 

1. What about vocational graces? Aren’t these specific, and are they operative or cooperative? (1′)

2. Could you comment on the enormous pressures against cooperating with grace in our very secularized culture? (10′)

3. If Christ died for us all, why does the change in the new liturgy say “died for many”? (13′ 54″)

4. God doesn’t waste anything. So why does He give graces that He knows will not be used? (16′)

5. What is it about the Báñezian position that avoided the label of heresy if it is so similar in your view to Calvinism? (21′ 47″)

6. If God knows our choices by foreknowledge, and not by decree, how does that avoid putting passivity in God, who is Pure Act? (24′ 25″)

7. What makes free will free? (30′)

8. Couldn’t God have placed the reprobate in situations in which He knows that they would freely choose Him? If so, then why didn’t He do so, since He wills all men to be saved? (33′ 13″)

9. Why did God give the devil a chance to tempt us? It seems that we have enough trouble for ourselves? (36′)

10. Perhaps we shouldn’t say that we block or annihilate grace, but that by sinking into nothingness, I become a subject in which grace has no effect. There is nothing for grace to work on. (39′ 32″)

11. Is an action that is done with mixed motives something that can block grace? (41′)

12. What do we do if we are not in St. Francis’ position of thinking we’re the worst person in the world? (43′)

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7 comments
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  1. Professor Feingold, two questions:

    1) Is there any possibility of getting text versions of these talks?
    2) What do you think of Reginald Garrigou-Lagrange’s views?

    jj

  2. John,

    I believe the AHC will at some point be uploading text versions of these talks. In addition, Prof. Feingold has turned his previous lecture series into subsequent volumes in his Mystery of Israel and the Church series mentioned in the first paragraph above.

    Regarding Garrigou-Lagrange’s views, Lagrange held the Báñezian position, as you know. Prof. Feingold addresses Lagrange’s main objections in the body of the lecture. If you have additional questions or objections in relation to Lagrange’s position, feel free to ask them.

    In the peace of Christ,

    - Bryan

  3. @Bryan:

    Thanks, Bryan. I probably won’t be able to listen to the talks – just no combination of time and place where I can do so – but would love to read Professor Feingold’s analysis of Báñez. I confess to being rather a follower of Garrigou-Lagrange, and would be interested to read the what Feingold says in objection. I mean, I know the standard objections, but have always thought them rationalising, if that is the right word. But I am the veriest tyro at theology, and am unlikely ever to find the time to become anything else.

    jj

  4. I’d like to mention that the views on the specifics of the interaction between grace and free will that are within RC orthodoxy are not limited to the thomist (Báñez) and molinist positions, as Fr William Most proposed a different position in a book in 1963. The updated book is at:

    http://www.catholicculture.org/culture/library/most/getwork.cfm?worknum=214

    Three brief articles as an introduction:

    http://www.catholicculture.org/culture/library/most/getwork.cfm?worknum=2
    http://www.catholicculture.org/culture/library/most/getwork.cfm?worknum=3
    http://www.catholicculture.org/culture/library/most/getwork.cfm?worknum=146

    Interestingly, on the second article Fr Most shares a view on another subject which is central to this site, interpreting two historic events (unexpected deaths of Popes) as showing that the Lord will fulfill his promise of not allowing the Magisterium to teach error “by any means necessary”.

    “When debates became acute in Spain, and people were becoming disturbed, Clement VII in 1597 ordered both sides to send a delegation to Rome to have a debate before a commission of Cardinals.

    In March 1602 Clement VIII began to preside in person. In 1605 he very much wanted to bring the debate to a conclusion. So he worked long into the night, and finally came up with a 15 point summary of Augustine’s doctrine on grace, intending to judge Molina’s proposals by it. That would have meant condemnation of Molina and probable approval of the so-called Thomists. But according to an article in 30 Days, No. 5 of 1994, on p. 46, “But, it seems barely had the bull of condemnation been drafted when, on March 3, 1605 Clement VIII died.” Another Pope had died at the right time centuries earlier. The General Council of Constantinople in 681 had drafted a condemnation of Pope Honorius for heresy – which was untrue – Pope Agatho had intended to sign it. But he died before being able. The next Pope, Leo II, having better judgment, agreed only to sign a statement that Honorius had let our doctrine become unclear, in his letters to Sergius, which did not teach the Monothelite heresy, but left things fuzzy.

    So it seems if there be need, God will take a Pope out of this life if needed to keep him from teaching error.”

  5. Edward Feser has a post on this topic

    http://edwardfeser.blogspot.com/2012/01/point-of-contact.html

  6. Dear Bryan,

    In reaction to Pope Francis’ words on redemption, I was thinking about sufficient and efficient grace in terms of the redemption. After listening to this talk, I still was wondering: is it true that Christ’s passion merited sufficient grace for the salvation of all men but not efficient grace for all men?

    Also, if Christ has truly objectively accomplished the redemption of all men and satisfied the Father for humanity’s crimes, how can some people end up not saved even though the satisfaction for those people’s sins was already paid for by Christ? (I wasn’t sure where to post this question, I’m sorry if it’s off topic, I can move it to another article if you want).

    Sincerely,

    Christie

  7. Christie (re: #6)

    I still was wondering: is it true that Christ’s passion merited sufficient grace for the salvation of all men but not efficient grace for all men?

    The internal theological disagreement described in the lecture above extends to the very concept of “efficacious grace.” As Prof. Feingold explains above, for Molina there is no intrinsic difference between efficacious grace and merely sufficient grace. Given that conception of “efficacious grace,” Christ’s Passion merited efficacious grace for all men, and yet this grace can be resisted successfully, and so not all are saved. For Báñez, by contrast, there is an intrinsic difference between efficacious grace and merely sufficient grace, and “efficacious grace” cannot ultimately be successfully resisted. Given that conception of “efficacious grace,” and given the falsehood of universalism, it would follow that Christ’s Passion did not merit efficacious grace for all men. So answering your question depends upon the particular definition of “efficacious grace” in view.

    Also, if Christ has truly objectively accomplished the redemption of all men and satisfied the Father for humanity’s crimes, how can some people end up not saved even though the satisfaction for those people’s sins was already paid for by Christ?

    Hopefully that question has been answered in “Pope Francis, Atheists, and the Evangelical Spirit,” and in the comments below that post.

    In the peace of Christ,

    - Bryan

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