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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12 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

  8. In the John Calvin and the Reformation discussion, in comment #155, Eric said:

    By the way, unless man’s choices ARE in some sense predetermined, then God is not sovereign.

    It seems to me that this is your fundamental objection to the Molinist view. Dr. Feingold discusses this objection to free will in the talk above by discussing two models of how God could govern the world:
    (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.

    In Option (b), God can infallibly govern the world without predetermining any of man’s free choices.

    God could of course force free creatures to do His will, but would go against the nature of a free person. It makes more sense that God would govern free creatures not by determination (which would take away freedom), but in a voluntary way. I believe St. Thomas is referring to this voluntary way of governing creatures in the section on free will, which we have been discussing.

    No, God does NOT predetermine our free choices, but he does predetermine their outcomes.

    Do you mean that regardless of what we choose, the outcome is the same? That would seem to contradict reality, or it would deny any ability to choose freely.

    In other words, he doesn’t have something in mind plan-wise and then go back to the drawing board once our two cents’ worth is calculated.

    Dr. Feingold discusses something like this objection in Question #6 in the Q&A section. In short, God doesn’t need to know our choices by perceiving them in time. He foreknew our choices by knowing Himself from the beginning. So the Plan is the Plan is the Plan.

    Man’s concept of the freedom of the will (based on independence) is not worth defending with any vehemence. A will totally free from God is totally in bondage to sin (and thus, genuine autonomy, in this case, is the exact opposite of genuine freedom).

    Libertarian free will is worth defending because the ability for man’s free will to self-determine amongst finite choices is one of the greatest gifts God has given to man. Our will is made in the image of God who freely created the universe without any necessity. In this sense we are made in the image of God. But we can agree man does not have freedom for the good which God wants without grace. For it is only by grace that we can:
    1. Know God as He has revealed Himself
    2. Have supernatural hope for heaven
    3. Have the power to act out of love for God.

    But without free will, we would not be able to act out of love for God, because love is something which is freely given.

    Besides, if push ever came to shove, wouldn’t it be more important to assure God’s power to defeat sin and death than to protect man’s ability to resist righteousness and life?

    This is a false dilemma because we can affirm both. But man’s ability to resist grace is Catholic dogma, so this fact is worth defending, because it is Truth.

    Dr. Feingold mentions Isaiah 5, another text which shows God has not failed to give any man what is sufficient for that man to come to eternal life.

    Isaiah 5:

    Let me sing for my beloved
    my love-song concerning his vineyard:
    My beloved had a vineyard
    on a very fertile hill.
    He dug it and cleared it of stones,
    and planted it with choice vines;
    he built a watchtower in the midst of it,
    and hewed out a wine vat in it;
    he expected it to yield grapes,
    but it yielded wild grapes.
    And now, inhabitants of Jerusalem
    and people of Judah,
    judge between me
    and my vineyard.
    What more was there to do for my vineyard
    that I have not done in it?

    When I expected it to yield grapes,
    why did it yield wild grapes?

    Jonathan

  9. Jonathan,

    #8

    But without free will, we would not be able to act out of love for God, because love is something which is freely given.

    This assumption is unfounded, unless we want to deny the love of God for Himself. Of necessity the Father loves the Son. We’re made in God’s image who doesn’t have other goods to choose from with respect to His affection for the other persons of the Trinity. Thus, love does not demand libertarian free will.

    Apparently in God’s love for Himself at least, there is some kind of freedom and some kind of necessity. Seems as if it would be absolutely necessary for God to love Himself. Perhaps we would not speak of necessity of the same way with respect to human love, although it seems clear it is absolutely necessary for human beings to love something. Is there a human being who loves nothing, not even himself?

    Whatever necessity we speak of, it limits freedom.

    Dr. Feingold mentions Isaiah 5, another text which shows God has not failed to give any man what is sufficient for that man to come to eternal life.

    Or it’s prophetic hyperbole. God also tells Isaiah that He is sending Him to preach in order to harden the hearts of some so that they WILL NOT repent. How does God send a Word that will certainly cause man to hate Him and give them what is sufficient for eternal life. One of these things is not like the other.

  10. Jonathan–

    1. Option (b) is merely predestination based on foreknowledge, and, as such, is incompatible with Catholic dogma.

    2. Compatibilism is indeed contrary to limited, human concepts of reality. One gets to choose, Jonathan. Straightforward, secular logic or the clear teaching of Scripture.

    3. Once again, you want to predestine according to foreknowledge. NOT Catholic!

    4. You might as well say that lovers don’t love out of necessity. Creators create. It’s who he is.

    5. Yes, I know it’s a false dilemma and that you can certainly affirm both. But if you HAD to choose–kind of like Sophie’s choice—I have the impression that you personally would choose the free will of man…because THAT is what you (at least appear to) prioritize.

    6. Certain versions of sufficient grace are problematic, but neither I nor the Reformed in general have major problems with sufficient grace, per se. Sufficient grace, however, does not necessitate those so graced to ever respond. Not a single one. (And that is how both classical Thomism AND Calvinism would depict the situation. The elect never become reprobate, and the reprobate never become elect.)

  11. Eric, (re: #10)

    I see that you’re new to CTC. If you wish to participate here, you need to follow our comment guidelines. See also “Virtue and Dialogue,” and especially the ground rule explained therein. The tone, stance, and methodology expected here at CTC is a high standard of respect, civility, a willingness to listen (to understand), and the provision of reasons and argumentation, rather than mere gain-saying, or an exchange of question-begging assertions.

    In the peace of Christ,

    – Bryan

  12. Hi Eric,

    1. Option (b) is merely predestination based on foreknowledge, and, as such, is incompatible with Catholic dogma.

    2. Compatibilism is indeed contrary to limited, human concepts of reality. One gets to choose, Jonathan. Straightforward, secular logic or the clear teaching of Scripture.

    Option (b) is the Molinist position (as presented by Dr. Feingold in his series), so I don’t understand why you think that position is incompatible with Catholic dogma, or with St. Thomas.

    I also don’t understand your second point. Could you elaborate or make an argument for your objection?

    Third, when I said “without free will, we would not be able to act out of love for God”, you objected:

    This assumption is unfounded, unless we want to deny the love of God for Himself. Of necessity the Father loves the Son. We’re made in God’s image who doesn’t have other goods to choose from with respect to His affection for the other persons of the Trinity. Thus, love does not demand libertarian free will.

    This is a good point that God loves Himself out of absolute necessity (as described by St. Thomas). In a similar way, man necessarily loves happiness, and we are not free to not love happiness. But this fact does not contradict the Catholic understanding of free will.

    To say God has free will or that man has free will refers to the choice of particular acts which are chosen by the will. In the case of God, these particular acts are the “means” by which He loves Himself. In the case of man, these acts are the means by which we choose to seek happiness.

    God’s freedom (and man’s freedom to a limited extent) is free in three ways:
    1. freedom for particular acts
    2. freedom from coercion
    3. freedom to choose between particular acts

    God’s will to love Himself is free in each of these three senses in the particular acts by which He chooses to love Himself.
    1. God possesses maximum (infinite) capability to will His own goodness in particular acts.
    2. God is the first mover – thereby His will is entirely free from coercion to choose particular acts
    3. God has freely chosen particular acts which He did not have to choose, for instance, the acts by which He has created every individual human person. We can know that God has freely chosen to create each of us because nothing in God nor outside God necessitated that He do so.

    In summary, God’s love for Himself is freely given in that He chooses particular acts by which to love Himself, and He is free from coercion in choosing these particular acts.

    Does this clarify things?

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