Did the Council of Trent Contradict the Second Council of Orange?

Sep 16th, 2012 | By | Category: Blog Posts

John Hendryx is a PCA member who studied at Reformed Theological Seminary and owns and edits Monergism.com, a well known Reformed website and online Reformed library and bookstore. He has posted an article claiming that the sixth session of the Council of Trent (AD 1547) is at odds with the Second Council of Orange (AD 529). Because the acts of the Second Council of Orange were approved by Pope Boniface II on January 25, in AD 531, if Hendryx’s claims were true, this would imply that at the Council of Trent the Magisterium of the Church rejected soteriological doctrines it had previously affirmed over a thousand years earlier, and would thereby strengthen the Reformed claim to have preserved the authentic soteriology of the early Church. Here I show two things: first, that the Tridentine canons Hendryx thinks are contrary to the doctrine promulgated by the Second Council of Orange are not only entirely compatible with the teaching of Orange but in full continuity with it, and second, that in multiple ways Reformed theology deviates from the soteriological doctrines taught at the Second Council of Orange.


Interior of the Cathedral at Orange, France

Hendryx quotes the following three canons from the Second Council of Orange.

CANON 5. If anyone says that not only the increase of faith but also its beginning and the very desire for faith, by which we believe in Him who justifies the ungodly and comes to the regeneration of holy baptism — if anyone says that this belongs to us by nature and not by a gift of grace, that is, by the inspiration of the Holy Spirit amending our will and turning it from unbelief to faith and from godlessness to godliness, it is proof that he is opposed to the teaching of the Apostles, for blessed Paul says, “And I am sure that he who began a good work in you will bring it to completion at the day of Jesus Christ” (Phil. 1:6). And again, “For by grace you have been saved through faith; and this is not your own doing, it is the gift of God” (Eph. 2:8). For those who state that the faith by which we believe in God is natural make all who are separated from the Church of Christ by definition in some measure believers.

CANON 6. If anyone says that God has mercy upon us when, apart from his grace, we believe, will, desire, strive, labor, pray, watch, study, seek, ask, or knock, but does not confess that it is by the infusion and inspiration of the Holy Spirit within us that we have the faith, the will, or the strength to do all these things as we ought; or if anyone makes the assistance of grace depend on the humility or obedience of man and does not agree that it is a gift of grace itself that we are obedient and humble, he contradicts the Apostle who says, “What have you that you did not receive?” (1 Cor. 4:7), and, “But by the grace of God I am what I am” (1 Cor. 15:10).

CANON 8. If anyone maintains that some are able to come to the grace of baptism by mercy but others through free will, which has manifestly been corrupted in all those who have been born after the transgression of the first man, it is proof that he has no place in the true faith. For he denies that the free will of all men has been weakened through the sin of the first man, or at least holds that it has been affected in such a way that they have still the ability to seek the mystery of eternal salvation by themselves without the revelation of God. The Lord himself shows how contradictory this is by declaring that no one is able to come to him “unless the Father who sent me draws him” (John 6:44), as he also says to Peter, “Blessed are you, Simon Bar-Jona! For flesh and blood has not revealed this to you, but my Father who is in heaven” (Matt. 16:17), and as the Apostle says, “No one can say ‘Jesus is Lord’ except by the Holy Spirit” (1 Cor. 12:3).

Against those three canons, he juxtaposes three canons from the sixth session of the Council of Trent:

CANON 4. If anyone says that man’s free will moved and aroused by God, by assenting to God’s call and action, in no way cooperates toward disposing and preparing itself to obtain the grace of justification, that it cannot refuse its assent if it wishes, but that, as something inanimate, it does nothing whatever and is merely passive, let him be anathema.

CANON 5. If anyone says that after the sin of Adam man’s free will was lost and destroyed, or that it is a thing only in name, indeed a name without a reality, a fiction introduced into the Church by Satan, let him be anathema.

CANON 11. If anyone says that men are justified either by the sole imputation of the justice of Christ or by the sole remission of sins, to the exclusion of the grace and the charity which is poured forth in their hearts by the Holy Ghost,[116] and remains in them, or also that the grace by which we are justified is only the good will of God, let him be anathema.

All the canons of the Second Council of Orange are available here, and all the chapters and canons of the sixth session of the Council of Trent are available here.


John Hendryx

The purpose of the Second Council of Orange was to address the error of Semipelagianism, and for this reason the canons of Orange condemn Semipelagian errors. Semipelagianism is not the claim that we, once moved by God’s prevenient grace, freely choose whether to cooperate or not with that grace. Nor is Semipelgianism the notion that fallen man retains free will, or that justification is by divine favor alone. Rather, Semipelagianism is the notion that we, without grace, make the first move toward God, and that God then gives grace in response. While Pelagianism denies that grace is necessary for salvation, Semipelagianism admits that grace is necessary for salvation. But Semipelagianism denies that prevenient grace is necessary for salvation. According to Semipelagianism, post-fall man can draw near to God without God first moving him to do so; God waits for man to make the first move, and then God gives grace to those who entirely on their own initiative first draw near to Him.

In his article Hendryx makes four claims. He claims that the sixth canon of Orange is at odds with the doctrine taught in the sixth session of Trent, that the fifth canon of Orange is at odds with the fourth canon of the sixth session of the Council of Trent, that the eighth canon of Orange is at odds with fifth canon of the sixth session of Trent, and that the eleventh canon of the sixth session of Trent anathematizes both the Second Council of Orange and St. Augustine. Below I examine these four claims each in turn.

Does the Doctrine of Trent Contradict the Sixth Canon of Orange?

Hendryx claims that the sixth canon of Orange (see above) is at odds with the doctrine set forward in the sixth session of Trent. The sixth canon of Orange teaches that in matters of salvation, we cannot make the first move. Any move we make (e.g. belief, will, desire, prayer, etc.) toward God is itself already a gift of God’s grace working in us. In no place does the Council of Trent deny this. In fact, Trent affirms this very doctrine in chapter five of session six, and in Canon 3 of that same session, which reads:

Canon 3: If anyone says that without the predisposing inspiration of the Holy Ghost and without His help, man can believe, hope, love or be repentant as he ought, so that the grace of justification may be bestowed upon him, let him be anathema.

Thus in continuity with the Second Council of Orange, Canon 3 of the sixth session of Trent directly condemns Semipelagianism.

But someone might think that Canon 6 of Orange is at odds with Canon 9 of the sixth session of Trent, which reads:

Canon 9: If any one saith, that by faith alone the impious is justified; in such wise as to mean, that nothing else is required to co-operate in order to the obtaining the grace of Justification, and that it is not in any way necessary, that he be prepared and disposed by the movement of his own will; let him be anathema.

Prima facie, it might seem that Canon 6 of Orange is condemning the notion that we can prepare to receive grace, while Canon 9 of Trent’s sixth session is at least condemning the notion that we cannot prepare to receive grace. However, that construal oversimplifies what each canon is teaching. Canon 6 of Orange condemns the notion that we make the first move in the reconciliation of our friendship with God, and thus that God’s first movement toward us depends on a prior move by us toward Him. Any movement we make toward Him is a result of His actual grace already at work in us. So the grace in view in Canon 6 of Orange is actual grace. On the other hand, Canon 9 of the sixth session of Trent is not teaching that we make the first move in reconciling with God. Canon 9 of the sixth session of Trent is referring to the grace of justification, which is sanctifying grace. Sanctifying grace is distinct from actual grace.

Actual grace is the grace whereby God moves us to (among other things) respond to the gospel and seek to be baptized, while sanctifying grace is the grace infused into us at baptism, by which, along with infused faith and agape we are immediately justified. Thus when Canon 9 of Trent’s sixth session speaks of the necessity of preparing for grace, it is referring to preparing for the reception of sanctifying grace in baptism. It presupposes that our preparation for baptism is already the fruit of actual grace at work in us. Likewise, when Canon 9 of Trent’s sixth session speaks of cooperating in order to obtain the grace of justification, it is referring to cooperating with actual grace.

Here again, one might think that cooperating with actual grace would be contrary to Canon 6 of Orange if cooperation is seen as something we do by our own strength and choice. But Canon 9 of the sixth session of Trent has in view the Augustinian distinction between operative actual grace and cooperative actual grace.1 Operative actual grace is that grace by which God moves us without us, from a condition in which we cannot cooperate with actual grace or do anything in the supernatural order, to a condition in which we can freely cooperate with actual grace. Cooperative actual grace is that grace by which, after God has moved us by way of operative actual grace and we have then freely corresponded to it, God moves us with us. (On the distinction between actual grace and sanctifying grace, as well as the distinction between operative actual grace and cooperative actual grace, see “Lawrence Feingold on Sanctifying Grace and Actual Grace.”)

While Canon 6 of Orange is teaching that operative actual grace precedes and underlies all cooperation with actual grace, Canon 9 of session six of Trent is teaching that following upon the divine movement within us by way of operative actual grace, cooperation with actual grace is necessary for receiving sanctifying grace in baptism.

Does the Fourth Canon of Trent’s Sixth Session Contradict the Fifth Canon of Orange?

Hendryx claims that the fifth canon of Orange is at odds with the fourth canon of the sixth session of the Council of Trent. He writes:

CANON IV. If any one shall affirm, that man’s freewill, moved and excited by God, does not, by consenting, cooperate with God, the mover and exciter, so as to prepare and dispose itself for the attainment of justification; if moreover, anyone shall say, that the human will cannot refuse complying, if it pleases, but that it is inactive, and merely passive; let such an one be accursed”! [Note: Compare with Orange CANON 5 If anyone says that not only the increase of faith but also its beginning and the very desire for faith, by which we believe in Him who justifies the ungodly … belongs to us by nature and not by a gift of grace, that is, by the inspiration of the Holy Spirit amending our will and turning it from unbelief to faith and from godlessness to godliness, it is proof that he is opposed to the teaching of the Apostles, for blessed Paul says, “And I am sure that he who began a good work in you will bring it to completion at the day of Jesus Christ” (Phil. 1:6). And again, “For by grace you have been saved through faith; and this is not your own doing, it is the gift of God” (Eph. 2:8)….] (emphases his)

By the emphases in his quotations, Hendryx seems to be reasoning that because Orange condemns the notion that the beginning of faith is from us and not by grace, and because Trent teaches that cooperation with grace is necessary for justification, therefore, Trent is contradicting Orange. But that conclusion does not follow. The fifth canon of Orange teaches that the beginning of faith and the desire for the faith that comes to us in the regeneration of holy baptism is not something we have by nature, but is a gift of grace by the inspiration of the Holy Spirit turning our will from unbelief to faith. This canon is directly condemning the error of Semipelagianism. The fourth canon of the sixth session of Trent teaches that after a man has been so moved by the operative actual grace of the Holy Spirit, he must actively cooperate with actual grace by his free will in disposing himself to receive the grace of justification in baptism. So Canon 4 of the sixth session of Trent is affirming that in response to the gift of operative actual grace man must cooperate to prepare himself for justification in baptism, whereas the fifth canon of Orange is affirming that the beginning of faith and the very desire for faith do not belong to us by nature but are gifts of operative actual grace. So there is no contradiction between the two canons, because they are condemning two distinct errors, and neither condemnation entails a denial of the other. The two canons appear to be incompatible only if we fail to distinguish between actual grace and sanctifying grace.

Does the Fifth Canon of Trent’s Sixth Session Contradict the Eighth Canon of Orange?

Hendryx claims that the eighth canon of Orange is at odds with the fifth canon of the sixth session of Trent. He writes:

CANON V.- If anyone shall affirm, that since the fall of Adam, man’s freewill is lost and extinguished; or, that it is a thing titular, yea a name, without a thing, and a fiction introduced by Satan into the Church; let such an one be accursed”! [Note: Compare with Orange CANON 8 If anyone maintains that some are able to come to the grace of baptism by mercy but others through free will, which has manifestly been corrupted in all those who have been born after the transgression of the first man, it is proof that he has no place in the true faith. For he denies that the free will of all men has been weakened through the sin of the first man, or at least holds that it has been affected in such a way that they have still the ability to seek the mystery of eternal salvation by themselves without the revelation of God. The Lord himself shows how contradictory this is by declaring that no one is able to come to him “unless the Father who sent me draws him” (John 6:44), as he also says to Peter, “Blessed are you, Simon Bar-Jona! For flesh and blood has not revealed this to you, but my Father who is in heaven” (Matt. 16:17), and as the Apostle says, “No one can say ‘Jesus is Lord’ except by the Holy Spirit” (1 Cor. 12:3).(emphases his)

Canon 8 of Orange condemns the notion that some men, by free will alone (without grace), are able to come to the grace of baptism. This canon teaches that the grace of the Holy Spirit is necessary for anyone to come to the grace of baptism. Human free will alone, without the aid of grace, is unable to bring any man to seek the grace of baptism. Canon 5 of the sixth session of Trent, by contrast, condemns the notion that fallen man no longer has free will. So while Canon 8 of Orange affirms that grace is necessary to come to baptism, and that free will alone is insufficient to do so, Canon 5 of the sixth session of Trent affirms that man retains free will even after the fall. Once again, there is no contradiction between these two canons because they are speaking of two distinct things: the necessity of grace in order to come to baptism, and the post-fall retention of the free will we have by nature as rational creatures. These two canons are fully compatible because affirming that free will remains after the fall does not entail that grace is not necessary in order to come to baptism.

Some have claimed that Canon 5 of the sixth session of Trent is incompatible with Canon 13 of Orange, which reads:

Canon 13. Concerning the restoration of free will. The freedom of will that was destroyed in the first man can be restored only by the grace of baptism, for what is lost can be returned only by the one who was able to give it. Hence the Truth itself declares: “So if the Son makes you free, you will be free indeed” (John 8:36).

At first glance there might appear to be a contradiction between Canon 13 of Orange and Canon 5 of Trent’s sixth session, because Canon 13 of Orange teaches that the free will destroyed in the first man can be restored only by the grace of baptism, whereas Canon 5 of the sixth session of Trent teaches that free will is not lost or extinguished after the fall. But there is no actual contradiction, because by ‘free will’ they each mean something different. Canon 13 of Orange is referring to the power had by Adam and Eve through the sanctifying grace with which they were endowed at their creation, and by which they could avoid sin, and merit eternal life. (See Canon 1 of Orange.) That power was “destroyed” (Orange, Canon 13) by sin, and “corrupted in all those who have been born after the transgression of the first man” (Orange, Canon 8). It is restored “only through the grace of baptism” (Canon 13).

In its conclusion (or “demonstration”) the Council of Orange states:

The sin of the first man has so impaired and weakened free will that no one thereafter can either love God as he ought or believe in God or do good for God’s sake, unless the grace of divine mercy has preceded him.

All these statements indicate that the ‘free will’ in view in the statements at Orange is the power to choose in the supernatural order, whether to believe (with supernatural faith) and whether to love God and men (with supernatural agape). By contrast, the free will in view in Canon 5 of the sixth session of Trent is the natural power of man that belongs to him by nature, by which power he can choose in the natural order between right and wrong, good and evil. That natural power is incapable of choosing or attaining a supernatural end (i.e. heaven) without grace; see “Nature, Grace, and Man’s Supernatural End: Feingold, Kline, and Clark.” That natural power was not destroyed by Adam’s sin; the Council of Orange states that through the fall human nature “remained in that sound state in which it was created.” (Canon 19) And in its conclusion, the Council of Orange notes that faith is not given through natural goodness, but by the grace of God, and adds, “And we know and also believe that even after the coming of our Lord this grace is not to be found in the free will of all who desire to be baptized…” This shows clearly that the Council of Orange distinguished the two conceptions of free will. In Canon 13 of Orange, the free will referred to is that which was destroyed by Adam’s sin and is “restored only through the grace of baptism.” But in the Council of Orange’s conclusion it speaks of the natural free will possessed by those who desire to be baptized. If they desire to be baptized, they cannot have already been baptized, in which case the free will that is “restored only through the grace of baptism” must be distinct from the free will Orange recognizes to be retained even by the unregenerate.

So the appearance of contradiction here between Canon 5 of the sixth session of Trent and Canon 13 of Orange is only an appearance, because in their use of the term ‘free will’ the two canons are not referring to the same power. Canon 13 of Orange is referring to the will as aided by supernatural gifts with which God endowed Adam and Eve at their creation.2 Canon 5 of the sixth session of Trent, however, is referring to the will itself apart from those supernatural gifts lost by Adam’s sin. This conception of natural free will as something possessed by the unregenerate is found even in the conclusion of the Council of Orange.

Does the Eleventh Canon of Trent’s Sixth Session Anathematize the Second Council of Orange and St. Augustine?

Lastly, Hendryx claims that the eleventh canon of the sixth session of Trent anathematizes both the Second Council of Orange and St. Augustine. Hendryx writes:

CANON XI.-If any one saith, that men are justified, either by the sole imputation of the justice of Christ, or by the sole remission of sins, to the exclusion of the grace and the charity which is poured forth in their hearts by the Holy Ghost, and is inherent in them; or even that the grace, whereby we are justified, is only the favour of God; let him be anathema. [Note: this says if the “the grace, whereby we are justified, is ONLY the favour of God; let him be anathema.” In Other her words, RCC outright rejects SOLA GRATIA – salvation by grace alone in Christ alone, thereby anathematizing both Augustine and their own early church council.] (his emphases)

Hendryx asserts that Canon 11 of the sixth session of Trent anathematizes the Council of Orange. But he does not quote anything from the Council of Orange that is supposed to be incompatible with this Tridentine canon, or provide any evidence to substantiate his assertion. Canon 11 of the sixth session of Trent teaches that justification is not solely by an extra nos imputation of righteousness or solely by the remission of sins, and that the grace whereby we are justified is not merely the favor of God. These three notions are each insufficient for justification because they each reduce justification to something only extrinsic to man, whereas a man is not truly justified who is not truly righteous, i.e. righteous internally.3

This canon teaches that we are justified only if grace and charity have been poured forth into our hearts by the Holy Spirit so as to be inherent in us, i.e. as “sanctifying grace,” and as the virtue of agape, not merely actual grace, and an act of agape. Men are justified only when they are made righteous within, by the infusion of grace and agape. That doctrine in no way contravenes any statement by the Second Council of Orange. Hendryx seems to think that by denying that the grace whereby we are justified is only the favor of God, Trent condemned the Second Council of Orange. But the Second Council of Orange in no place teaches that the grace whereby we are justified is only the favor of God. On the contrary, although favor is not something that can be infused or operate upon us, most of the uses of the term ‘grace’ in the Council of Orange are referring to internal gifts or helps operating within or infused into us by the Holy Spirit.

Finally, what of Hendryx’s claim that Canon 11 of the sixth session of Trent anathematized St. Augustine? Whether Hendryx’s claim is true depends on whether St. Augustine believed and taught justification by extra nos imputation, or justification by infusion of agape. In fact St. Augustine understood justification as the infusion of agape — i.e. the writing of the law on the heart “so that they might be justified” (On the Spirit and the Letter, 29). A few lines later St. Augustine writes, “See how he [i.e. St. Paul] shows that the one [i.e. the Law of Moses] is written without [i.e. outside of] man, that it may alarm him from without; the other within man himself, that it may justify him from within.” (On the Spirit and the Letter, 30) And some paragraphs later in that same work St. Augustine writes,

For this writing in the heart is effected by renovation, although it had not been completely blotted out by the old nature. For just as that image of God is renewed in the mind of believers by the new testament, which impiety had not quite abolished (for there had remained undoubtedly that which the soul of man cannot be except it be rational), so also the law of God, which had not been wholly blotted out there by unrighteousness, is certainly written thereon, renewed by grace. Now in the Jews the law which was written on tables could not effect this new inscription, which is justification, but only transgression. (On the Spirit and the Letter, 48)

Here St. Augustine explicitly states that justification is the writing of the law on the heart, i.e. the infusion of agape.

There are many other such examples (see, for example, “St. Augustine on Law and Grace“). Justification, for St. Augustine and the Church Fathers is not by extra nos imputation, but by the infusion of grace and agape, which infusion is the writing of the law on the heart. God, who is the Truth, counts us righteous only if by this supernatural gift of grace and agape poured out into our hearts we are truly righteous within. Thus in no way did Canon 11 of the sixth session of Trent anathematize St. Augustine or his doctrine. In teaching justification by the infusion of grace and agape Trent was, in fact, teaching exactly what St. Augustine himself taught about justification.

Conclusion

So why do monergists believe that Trent contradicted St. Augustine and the Second Council of Orange? Primarily because they do not distinguish between actual grace and sanctifying grace, and therefore do not distinguish between the actual grace whereby God operates in us without us, and the sanctifying grace inhering within us whereby we are justified. Because they fail to recognize this distinction, monergists mistakenly treat what St. Augustine and the Council of Orange say about the monergistic character of operative actual grace as though it applies also to cooperative actual grace and sanctifying grace. They therefore mistakenly interpret any notion of cooperation with grace in justification as Semipelagian.

But this distinction between actual grace and sanctifying grace is already apparent in multiple places in the canons of the Second Council of Orange. According to Orange, the grace of regeneration and justification is received through the sacrament of baptism:

If anyone says that not only the increase of faith but also its beginning and the very desire for faith, by which we believe in Him who justifies the ungodly and comes to the regeneration of holy baptism … (Canon 5)

Notice there the distinction between the increase of faith, and the beginning of faith. The beginning of faith is the act of faith through actual grace. But the increase of faith – that by which faith inheres within us as a virtue – comes through baptism. Hence Canon 21 speaks of the grace “which faith in Christ advocates and lays hold of.” The initial faith by which one believes the gospel leads to laying hold of the sanctifying grace that comes to us through the regeneration of holy baptism (Canon 5). That would make no sense if justification were by faith alone, since in that case the person having initial faith would not need to lay hold of anything for cleansing, or be regenerated by holy baptism.

The Council of Orange refers to actual grace when it says “our will to be cleansed comes to us through the infusion and working of the Holy Spirit,” and “The will is prepared by the Lord” (Prov. 8:35, LXX), moving us to desire faith and godliness (Canon 4). The will to be cleansed is something in us prior to being cleansed. The will to be cleansed is not in us by nature, but by grace. So the grace by which we will to be cleansed is distinct from the grace by which we are cleansed. Being cleansed is through sanctifying grace received at baptism. Willing to be cleansed is the result of grace moving us prior to being cleansed. And therefore the willing to be cleansed is the result not of sanctifying grace, but of actual grace. Similarly, the notion of the Holy Spirit working in us to “prepare” the will (Canon 4) is referring to the actual grace given by which we prepare for the sanctifying grace received in baptism. The statement “If anyone maintains that some are able to come to the grace of baptism by mercy but others through free will …” (Canon 8) shows that according to Orange, we receive grace at baptism, and this is not the same grace we receive prior to baptism, the grace by which we desire baptism and prepare for baptism. Here too Orange distinguishes between actual grace and sanctifying grace.

In its concluding paragraphs the Council of Orange also distinguishes between actual grace and sanctifying grace, in the following statements:

And we know and also believe that even after the coming of our Lord this grace is not to be found in the free will of all who desire to be baptized, but is bestowed by the kindness of Christ, …

According to the catholic faith we also believe that after grace has been received through baptism, all baptized persons have the ability and responsibility, if they desire to labor faithfully, to perform with the aid and cooperation of Christ what is of essential importance in regard to the salvation of their soul. … We also believe and confess to our benefit that in every good work it is not we who take the initiative and are then assisted through the mercy of God, but God himself first inspires in us both faith in him and love for him without any previous good works of our own that deserve reward, so that we may both faithfully seek the sacrament of baptism, and after baptism be able by his help to do what is pleasing to him.

Here Orange teaches that grace is “received through baptism,” and that prior to our baptism God is at work in us to inspire within us both faith in Him and love for Him “so that we may … faithfully seek the sacrament of baptism.” The work of God in us, prior to baptism, is actual grace. The grace that is “received through baptism” is sanctifying grace, by which we are cleansed (i.e. justified) and are, with the aid of actual grace, then “able by His help to do what is pleasing to Him.”

In short, the distinction between actual grace and sanctifying grace is present in the canons of the Second Council of Orange, as is the distinction between operative actual grace, whereby God works in us without us, and cooperative actual grace, whereby God continues to move us as we correspond freely to this grace, in order to prepare ourselves to receive the grace of justification in baptism. This doctrine in which upon being moved by operative actual grace we must with God’s cooperative actual grace prepare ourselves to receive the grace of justification through baptism is contrary to the Reformed conception of justification as monergistic. Moreover, Second Orange, like Trent, affirms baptismal regeneration (Canons 5, 8, 13, and Conclusion). By contrast, Reformed theology denies baptismal regeneration and according to PCA pastor Wes White, the doctrine of baptismal regeneration is “impossible in the Reformed system.”4 In its conclusion Second Orange strongly condemned the notion that some people are foreordained to evil (i.e. sin or hell) by the power of God such that they could not but be evil or avoid hell, and in this way Second Orange condemned the notion of double predestination, according to which God created some people for heaven and created other persons for hell. By contrast, for John Calvin, God for His good pleasure predestined some men to hell and sin in the same ‘positive’ way He predestined others to heaven.5

So it turns out that what is contrary to the Second Council of Orange is not anything from the sixth Session of Trent, but rather the Reformed notions that justification is monergistic, is by faith alone, does not require preparation or cooperation on our part, is not given through baptism, and that some people are foreordained to evil by the power of God.6

  1. St. Augustine writes, “He operates, therefore, without our help, in order that we may will; but when we will, and will so as to act, He co-operates with us.” (On Grace and Free Will, 33) St. Thomas explains that distinction in more detail in Summa Theologica II-I Q.111 a.2. []
  2. Regarding the supernatural gifts with which Adam and Eve were endowed at their creation see “Lawrence Feingold on Original Justice and Original Sin.” []
  3. See “Imputation and Paradigms: A Reply to Nicholas Batzig.” []
  4. See “The Church Fathers on Baptismal Regeneration.” []
  5. Cf. Institutes, III.21.6; III.22.11; III.23.1. []
  6. Monergism is motivated by philosophical assumptions among which are that God receives the most glory when God alone receives glory, and that the degree of glory is determined entirely by the degree of causality exercised, such that the greater the causality exercised, the greater the glory received. Claiming on this basis that justification must be monergistic so that God alone receives the glory is inconsistent with accepting synergistic sanctification (see Kevin DeYoung’s “Is Sanctification Monergistic or Synergistic: A Reformed Survey“), or granting that creatures have genuine causal powers. See “The Gospel and the Paradox of Glory.” []
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  1. Thank you, Bryan, for this helpful article. I have a question about comparing the Second Council of Orange to the Council of Trent. Was the Second Council of Orange an ecumenical council? I did not think it was, in which case, it would not bear the same magisterial authority as Trent, as I understand it. But am I mistaken about the Second Council of Orange?

    Whatever the case, the question of whether or not Trent agrees with the Second Council of Orange remains a valuable one to answer. Thanks for taking the time to think through it carefully!

    Cheers!
    Paul Weinhold

  2. The following video is an excerpt from a DVD series titled “Amazing Grace: The History and Theology of Calvinism,” put together by Reformed Christians. In the clip below, note the function of the philosophical assumptions described in footnote 6 above, and the claim that the Tridentine teaching that human free will, moved first by prevenient grace, then cooperates with actual grace prior to justification, is “Semipelagianism.”

    From what I’ve shown above, the criticisms these Reformed believers make of Trent’s doctrine likewise apply to the Second Council of Orange. The previous video in that series claims that in the debate between Erasmus and Luther regarding free will, Erasmus took the “Semipelagian” position. But in fact in the third chapter of his Discourse on Free Will, Erasmus clearly distinguishes between what he calls “extraordinary grace” (or what he also calls “operative grace”) by which God moves the sinner to contrition, an “efficient” or “cooperative” grace by which God promotes that which is begun, and “ultimate grace” which he also calls “sanctifying grace.” In this way it is clear that Erasmus affirmed the doctrine taught by the Second Council of Orange, and so was not a “Semipelagian.”

  3. Hello Paul (re: #1)

    You are correct that the Second Council of Orange was not ecumenical. But, nevertheless, it is authoritative for Catholics, because it was confirmed by Pope Boniface II and is an instance of the exercise of the Church’s ordinary magisterium. Below I have pasted an excerpt from his confirmation of the Second Council of Orange, taken from Denzinger 200.

    In the peace of Christ,

    – Bryan

    BONIFACE II 530-532

    Confirmation of the Council of Orange II

    [From the letter “Per filium nostrum” to Caesarius of Arles, January 25, 531].

    . . . To your petition, which you have composed with laudable solicitude for the Faith, we have not delayed to give a Catholic reply. For you point out that some bishops of the Gauls, although they now agree that other goods are born of God’s grace, think that faith, by which we believe in Christ, is only of nature, not of grace; and that (faith) has remained in the free will of man from Adam-which it is a sin to say and is not even now conferred on individuals by the bounty of God’s mercy; asking that, for the sake of ending the ambiguity, we confirm by the authority of the Apostolic See your confession, in which in the Opposite way you explain that right faith in Christ and the beginning of all good will, according to Catholic truth, is inspired in the minds of individuals by the preceding grace of God.

    And therefore, since many Fathers, and above all Bishop Augustine of blessed memory, but also our former high priests of the Apostolic See are proved to have discussed this with such detailed reasoning that there should be no further doubt in anyone that faith itself also comes to us from grace, we have thought that we should desist from a complex response, especially since according to these statements from the Apostle which you have arranged, in which he says: I have obtained mercy, that I may be faithful [1 Cor. 7:25], and elsewhere: It has been given to you, for Christ, not only that you may believe in Him, but also that you may suffer for Him [Phil. 1:29], it clearly appears that the faith by which we believe in Christ, just as all blessings, comes to each man from the gift of supernal grace, not from the power of human nature. And this, too, we rejoice that your Fraternity, after holding a meeting with certain priests of the Gauls, understood according to the Catholic faith, namely in these matters in which with one accord, as you have indicated, they explained that the faith, by which we believe in Christ, is conferred by the preceding grace of God; adding also that there is no good at all according to God, that anyone can will, or begin, or accomplish without the grace of God, since our Savior Himself says: Without Me you can do nothing” [John 15:5]. For it is certain and Catholic that in all blessings of which the chief is faith, though we do not will it, the mercy of God precedes us, that we may be steadfast in faith, just as David the prophet says: “My God, his mercy will prevent me” [Ps. 58:11]; and again: My mercy is with him [Ps. 88:25]; and elsewhere: His mercy follows me [ Ps. 22:6]. And similarly blessed Paul says: Or did anyone first give to him, and will he be rewarded by him? Since from him, and through him, and in him are all things[ Rom. 11:35 f.]. So we marvel very much that those, who believe the contrary, are oppressed by the remains of an ancient error even to the point that they do not believe that we come to Christ by the favor of God, but by that of nature, and say that the good of that very nature, which is known to have been perverted by Adam’s sin, is the author of our faith rather than Christ; and do not perceive that they contradict the statement of the master who said: No one comes to me, except it be given to him by my Father [ John 6:44]; but they also oppose blessed Paul likewise, who exclaims to the Hebrews: Let us run in the contest proposed to us, looking upon the author and finisher of faith, Jesus Christ [ Heb. 2:1 f.]. Since this is so, we cannot discover what they impute to the human will without the grace of God for belief in Christ, since Christ is the author and consummator of faith.

    3. Therefore, we salute [you] with proper affection, and approve your confession written above in agreement with the Catholic rules of the Fathers.

  4. Excellent Post. This is definitely one of the top ten on CTC for this year. I’m just in awe of Canon 19, once it was pointed out to me on a CTC article last year (not just in this article), I never looked at Orange the same way: “Human nature, even though it remained in that sound state in which it was created, could be no means save itself, without the assistance of the Creator” Right there the Nature-Grace distinction is plainly affirmed, and I have no idea how the Reformed could even make sense of this canon.

  5. Thanks for that clarification, Bryan!

  6. Bryan,

    Thank you so much for your labors at CTC, brother. Your many writings here, on Scripture, Tradition, and Church history, played no small part in my return to the Catholic Church. In that light, thank you to *all* of the official contributors here– and to all who comment, Catholics and non-Catholics alike! Iron sharpens iron!

    I hope to soon have the actual time to read this article. I wish that I could do so now, but I’m buried under with (great) reading for graduate school. Seasons of life… Can’t wait to read this piece though, Lord willing!

  7. Bryan,

    Yes, I too, thank you for all of your work (and help!). I had to smile when I saw this article, because one of my reformed friends had recently brought up the Second Council of Orange to use against me. Therefore this is a relevant topic even for everyday talks among Protestants and Catholics. Thankfully I had listened to Feingold’s messages on grace and realized that the second council of Orange was against the reformed beliefs and agreed with Trent .There was the bonus treatment about double predestination in the council which was clearly against what many in the reformed faith embrace.

    One question–you mentioned that White says the reformed do not believe in baptismal regeneration. I was wondering if Lutherans believed in Baptismal regeneration? I know the Augsburg confession in Article 9 states:

    Of Baptism they teach that it is necessary to salvation, and that by Baptism the grace of God is offered, and that children are to be baptized, who by Baptism, being offered to God, are received into God’s favor.

    http://www.ccel.org/ccel/schaff/creeds3.iii.ii.html

    Is this considered the same as Baptismal regeneration or not?

    Thanks, Kim

  8. PS. On the video in comment 2 it indicated (if I remember correctly) that if one does not believe in monergism then one robs God of glory. I am just wondering if it wouldn’t rob God of glory if God treated man like a robot . I remember in a comment on another article (comment 7 http://www.calledtocommunion.com/2009/08/a-catholic-reflection-on-the-meaning-of-suffering/) in speaking of the saints’ intercession you stated:

    Because God is love, He does not do everything Himself. He created us, and gave us real causal powers. So, He doesn’t operate by the principle, “If I can do it, then there is no point in having anyone else do it.” He works by love, which is the very opposite of such egoism, because by love He gives to us the dignity of participation in His glorious activity. This is what we mean in speaking of His love as self-effusive. Strictly speaking, God did not need to give us causal powers of any sort. God could have done everything, entirely, Himself. He loves to give to us the opportunity to participate as real [secondary] causes in His work.

    Could this quote also be applied to the person who cooperates with God’s grace? The fact that He does not will to save us without us as I think Augustine states would then not reduce the Glory of God. Am I seeing this correctly?

  9. Thank you Bryan,

    I read the article but I will need to reread it a couple of times to get it in me.The differences in “grace” is very difficult for me to grasp.
    Just this past Saturday evening, a friend referred to these two councils to prove that the Magisterium of the Catholic Church condradictes itself. Wish I had been armed with this so that I could have helped him.

    I would like to know whether or not righteous behaving and devout people,who are outside of any Christian church, have grace. Is there such a thing as common grace and is it salvific?

    More than likely my answers are to be found by a more careful reading, but if anyone would chime-in and help me, I thank you.

    Susan

    I

  10. Certainly it would rob God of glory to say that, in creating men, He created mere automatons. Humans can do that, already, and will be able to make them outwardly indistinguishable from men within the century.

    I have often wondered why the Reformed resist the notion of cooperation or synergism. The term is entirely Scriptural, from…

    “And they went forth and preached everywhere, while the Lord worked with [sunergountos] them and confirmed the message by the signs that attended it. Amen” (Mark 16:20. Yes, the context is different from matters related to justification, but here the Lord works with them. The Son only does what He sees the Father doing. Apparently the Son sees the Father cooperating with men.)

    …to…

    “We know that in everything God works for good with [sunergei eis agathon] those who love him, who are called according to his purpose” (Romans 8:28)

    …to…

    “Working together with [sunergountes] him, then, we entreat you not to accept the grace of God in vain” (2 Corinthians 6:1, a double-whammy inasmuch as it, like Acts 7:51, also rejects the notion that the Grace of God is irresistible)

    …to…

    “For we are God’s fellow workers [sunergoi]; you are God’s field, God’s building” (1 Corinthians 3:9)

    …which pretty much makes the concept about as Scriptural as you can get.

    Now obviously none of this argues for monergism on the other (human) side! All is grace. All is preceeded by grace, proceeds in grace, has any value at all only by grace. So: No Pelagianism, no Semipelagianism.

    But if by God’s grace we are made capable of cooperation with Him, so much so that in some instances the emphasis seems to lean the other way to say that He is cooperating with us (!) then why would anyone work so hard to try to reject the amazing miracle of God making non-automatons…let alone Orange’s and Trent’s agreement on the matter? What are we to say, that because it is God’s grace that makes it cooperation, that it isn’t cooperation? Why then would Paul begin by calling it cooperation?

    And anyway, surely it matters that God is Our Father, and not just a Father, but a good one. What Father, apprenticing his sons in the family trade, would be content with sons who were mere inanimate dolls until he manipulated their limbs with strings and pulleys? A good father wants his sons to grow to maturity, to partner with him in the work of the household. Truly monergism is the theology not of an omnipotent and all-good loving Father, but a sort of mad scientist manipulating his test subjects. Not a view that glorifies God, I think. But when I see Paul write of God working with His sons even while He raises them up by grace to the glory of working with Him, I think, “what a wonderful, good, loving Father!”

    That, at least, is how it seems to me. I suppose I ought to hear more of the Reformed view, that they might have a fairer hearing. I might not find their view persuasive but I might find it easier to understand why they found it persuasive.

  11. Kim, you wrote:

    One question–you mentioned that White says the reformed do not believe in baptismal regeneration.

    Kim, have you had a chance to look at the CTC article that Bryan hyper-linked in his footnote #4? I think that you would find that article informative along with the combox comments that follow. Most interesting to me, is a combox post #93 by David Anders, where Dr. Anders quotes this from John Calvin:

    “. . . in baptism, God, regenerating us, engrafts us into the society of his church and makes us his own by adoption.” Institutes 4.17.1

    That quote is very interesting to me because clearly John Calvin, at least, believed in baptismal regeneration. The question that I have is this, when did the “Calvinists” stop believing in baptismal regeneration, and why did they stop believing in baptismal regeneration?

  12. Kim, (re: #7,8)

    Yes, Lutherans believe in baptismal regeneration. See the Holy Baptism section of the Larger Catechism in the Book of Concord, and this document on baptism by the LCMS.

    Could this quote also be applied to the person who cooperates with God’s grace?

    Yes. Allowing cooperation with providence while denying the possibility of cooperation with grace is soteriological Marcionism. And as I pointed out in footnote 6, the claim that monergism (in justification) must be true in order to give God all the glory, is undermined by allowing synergism in sanctification, because it either makes sanctification irrelevant to salvation, or it falsifies the claim that cooperating with actual grace in order to receive the grace of justification in baptism robs God of glory.

    The fact that He does not will to save us without us as I think Augustine states would then not reduce the Glory of God. Am I seeing this correctly?

    Yes, exactly. Participation is a gift God gives to us, and He is more glorified by this gift than if He were to withhold it and do everything Himself.

    In the peace of Christ,

    – Bryan

  13. Susan (re: #9)

    You asked:

    I would like to know whether or not righteous behaving and devout people,who are outside of any Christian church, have grace. Is there such a thing as common grace and is it salvific?

    There is not unanimity among Reformed Christians regarding whether there is common grace or what common grace is. The disagreement over common grace led to the split in 1924 between the CRC and the PRCA, and a 2003 debate shows that the disagreement remains unresolved.

    In Catholic theology, the term ‘grace’ is defined as that by which we are moved or ordered to a supernatural end, beyond our natural end. So in Catholic theology the relevant distinction is between nature and grace. (See “Nature, Grace, and Man’s Supernatural End: Feingold, Kline, and Clark.”) Reformed theology does not draw the distinction between nature and grace, that is, between the natural order and the supernatural order. (This leads to a Pelagian conception of how salvation would have occurred prior to the fall had Adam and Eve not sinned; see “Pelagian Westminster?.”) In Reformed theology, grace is broadly defined as God’s undeserved favor in response to sin, and common grace refers (generally) to the undeserved favor God shows to the whole post-fall world, though it is not soteriological in purpose or effect for the non-elect. Common grace is distinct from the special salvific grace God shows to the elect, by which they are brought to salvation. Reformed theologian Louis Berkhof claims that by common grace the execution of the sentence of judgment is stayed, civil society maintains some understanding of moral and religious truth, unregenerate persons perform [outwardly] good actions, and God bestows all the natural blessings of sunshine, rain, food, health, peace, family, friendship, etc.

    In the Reformed system, appealing to common grace is especially necessary to explain how people believed to be unsaved are able to do so many good things, even though they are ‘totally depraved.’ Were it not for common grace, according to this perspective, all unbelievers would be serial murdering, raping, pillaging, rampaging barbarous savages, because that would be the true expression of fallen man’s actual depraved condition. By common grace God generally restrains fallen men from expressing the full measure of their fallen nature. That is the primary way the concept of common grace is utilized in practice; it fills the explanatory gap between the Reformed account of fallen man’s condition and our experience of fallen men who seem not to reflect that account in their behavior.

    In the Catholic understanding, the goodness we see in unregenerate persons is not the result of some special grace that keeps them from expressing the full measure of their wickedness. Rather, this goodness we see in unregenerate persons is the goodness of nature, of creation. For the Catholic understanding of the fall and fallen man’s condition, see “Lawrence Feingold on Original Justice and Original Sin.” Of course Catholic theology affirms divine providence, but divine providence is not acting on the hearts of unregenerate men like the wind that held back the walls of water of the Red Sea as the Israelites passed through, preventing it from acting according to its nature. Providence is not acting to hold back or restrain the nature of fallen men, and so make them seem much better than they actually are. Rather, they have free will, and so sometimes choose good, and sometimes choose evil. But if they are not in a state of grace (i.e. do not have sanctifying grace and the supernatural virtue of agape) then their actions have no soteriological value, because they are not ordered by agape to our supernatural end.

    So in Catholic theology there is no ‘common grace’ in the Reformed sense of the term. According to Catholic doctrine, God gives “actual grace” to all men. (See “Lawrence Feingold on Sanctifying Grace and Actual Grace,” and “Lawrence Feingold on God’s Universal Salvific Will“.) But in Catholic doctrine, actual grace is soteriological, and ordered to the supernatural end to which God calls all men. Actual operative grace is the prevenient grace described in the Second Council of Orange. The natural goodness exhibited by unregenerate persons is just that, an expression of the goodness man has by creation. By contrast, in the Reformed system common grace is not soteriological, because it does not lead unregenerate persons to salvation, nor is it intended to do so. From a Catholic point of view, the Reformed doctrine of common grace is something of a stop-gap measure to cover an anthropological error regarding the Reformed position on the post-fall corruption of human nature. The simpler explanation, from the Catholic point of view, is that man is what we see – capable of good and evil. Yet as Second Orange teaches, to move toward faith actual grace must first move man from the limitation of his orientation to his natural end toward the supernatural end of union with God as Father.

    In the peace of Christ,

    – Bryan

  14. Maeto (comment 11),

    I have not read all of the article linked to footnote 4, but parts of it. I do need to read that at some point! I do remember reading the reference to Calvin, so Mr. White’s statement is not true historically in reference to the reformed (nor of course in reference to Church Fathers).

    Bryan (comment 12),

    Thanks for making that clear on Lutherans. I need to remember to look more carefully at your footnotes–the links you gave in footnote 6 were very helpful to me. Thanks again for your detailed work –there are few places I can go for this.

    RC (comment 10),
    Thanks, and furthermore I did find Bryan’s link mentioned in footnote 6 helpful on this as well: http://principiumunitatis.blogspot.com/2009/02/gospel-and-paradox-of-glory.html

    Susan, (comment 9),
    You will find the links that Bryan gives in comment 12 very helpful. I especially found the series of Feingold’s lectures here helpful http://hebrewcatholic.org/manelevatedtosha.html

  15. The comments on this blog alone are worth their weight in gold!

    Keep it up guys, I sincerely enjoy this blog. :)

    In Christ,

    Daniel Maldonado

  16. One might think that John Hendryx is unique in his claim that Trent repudiated Orange. But in fact R.C. Sproul makes basically the same claim in Michael Horton’s magazine Modern Reformation. In Sproul’s essay titled “The Pelagian Captivity of the Church” in the May/June 2001 issue of Modern Reformation, Sproul writes:

    Ironically, the Church condemned semi-Pelagianism as vehemently as it had condemned original Pelagianism. Yet by the time you get to the sixteenth century and you read the Catholic understanding of what happens in salvation the Church basically repudiated what Augustine taught and Aquinas taught as well. The Church concluded that there still remains this freedom that is intact in the human will and that man must cooperate with-and assent to-the prevenient grace that is offered to them by God. If we exercise that will, if we exercise a cooperation with whatever powers we have left, we will be saved. And so in the sixteenth century the Church reembraced semi-Pelagianism.

    However, the Council of Trent in no place repudiates St. Augustine’s or St. Thomas Aquinas’s teaching on salvation. The very distinction between operative actual grace and cooperative actual grace, as well as the distinction between actual grace on the one hand, and on the other hand the sanctifying grace by which we are justified, are clearly laid out in St. Thomas drawing from St. Augustine, as I pointed out in footnote #1 above. It seems to me, from Sproul’s article, that he puts the label ‘semi-Pelagian’ on any position in which man cooperates in any way in coming to justification, that is, any position in which justification is not monergistic. But that would make both St. Augustine and St. Thomas (and all the Church Fathers, who all believed in baptismal regeneration and the need to prepare for baptism — see the link at footnote #4) “semi-Pelagian.” Sproul is therefore wrongly extending the definition of ‘semi-Pelagianism’ beyond the position condemned at Orange, by including in his definition of ‘semi-Pelagianism’ the very position affirmed at Orange.

  17. Bryan,

    Thank you for your response, but this is difficult to grasp. I will listen to Dr. Feingold’s lectures very soon. I have immediate questions, if you might help.
    What I think I understand is that in Catholic soteriology the person who does not have sanctifying grace and agape, is a person post-fall without super natural grace ( positive substance from the Trinity?). And that the person in this state is truly free to choose good or bad. However the person with sanctifying grace and the gift of agape also has a free will and can also make truly free will sorts of choices because he can still sin and even sin mortally? This is terribly confusing……not to be helped however ;)
    This does makes sense in light of true secondary causation, but I do not understand how it is that man as a spiritual creature can fail to realize his own telos when he bears the image and likeness of God, This is even harder to grasp since you said that every person has actual grace. I guess I do not understand what actual grace is, unless it is the power that sustains us every instant. Did you mean that actual grace is given us in order to save our souls or for preserving our natural life?
    You did say that God does not act on unregenerate hearts to keep them from freely acting either good or bad, but then you said that he does give all men actual grace. Unless I misunderstood you, you said that actual grace is ordered to a supernatural end.
    I understand that everyone will not participate in the divine nature, but it seems as if heaven is the hoped for destination with weight stations along the route, and that the distance one will cover depends on the amount of grace that he has. Are we accumulating or meriting more grace along the way?
    How does one know if they have supernatural grace and the gift of agape?

    I really do want to understand and will soon give full attention to the lectures that you linked. I thank you very much for your time. If I have changed track and got off topic, I apologize.

    Maybe to put this more clearly: How can a person have actual grace and still be unregenerate?

    ~Susan

  18. Mateo (Re #11),

    You asked:

    That quote is very interesting to me because clearly John Calvin, at least, believed in baptismal regeneration. The question that I have is this, when did the “Calvinists” stop believing in baptismal regeneration, and why did they stop believing in baptismal regeneration?

    Not to go off topic, I’ll briefly say that Calvinists seem to have always believed in baptismal regeneration, but in a different sense than what it should mean. They seem to mean that baptism (a) proves one was regenerate, and (b) does contribute to the sanctification of those already regenerate (as do any other good works the regenerate do). Those not regenerate (and also unelect, who never will be mongergistically regenerated) who get baptized are simply getting wet in the Reformed view. In the Lutheran view, baptismal regeneration is something between the Reformed view and the Catholic view.

    The New Testament only uses the term “regeneration” twice: once in Matthew 19:28 (speaking of Resurrected Glorified Bodies) and once in Titus 3:5, which speaks of the “washing of regeneration and renewal in the Holy Spirit”. The unanimous consent of the Fathers and Councils is that Titus 3:5 is speaking of Baptism. This is important because the Reformed have a dogmatic definition of “regeneration” which has no actual Scriptural basis. (The closest they come is claiming the “Born Again” in Jn 3:5 refers to monergistic regeneration, despite the fact context and Church Fathers clearly show it means Baptism.) What is fascinating though is that John Calvin was very clear that Titus 3:5 was speaking of Baptism, and even the Westminster Confession Ch 28:1 cites Titus 3:5 as speaking on Baptism. This naturally should entail that the Reformed should believe in Baptismal Regeneration to this day, but as I noted they must ‘reinterpret’ this. Indeed, I’m often amused when Reformed folks (especially Baptists) demand that Catholics show where in Scripture Paul says Justification entails an inner transformation, especially at Baptism, and yet when I point out Titus 3:4-7, I’ve never gotten a coherent alternate interpretation.

  19. Susan (re: #17),

    Before I answer your questions, I recommend that you listen carefully (taking notes) to the lectures and Q&A sessions at the following three links: “Nature, Grace, and Man’s Supernatural End: Feingold, Kline, and Clark,” “Lawrence Feingold on Original Justice and Original Sin,” and the two lectures at “Lawrence Feingold on Sanctifying Grace and Actual Grace.” At that last link, the first lecture is on sanctifying grace, and the second lecture is on actual grace. If I begin to answer your questions here, I’ll just be repeating what’s already been laid out there. It is also quite possible that some of the questions you might have, after listening to those lectures, have already been answered in the comment boxes under those posts. So, first I suggest that you take some time and listen to those lectures, skim through those comboxes to see if any of your questions have already been answered, and then let’s go from there.

    In the peace of Christ,

    – Bryan

  20. Hi Bryan,

    Please consider the following questions:

    1. Why is it necessary to have operative-cooperative actual grace prior to the endowment of sanctifying grace ?
    2. Since operative and sanctifying grace are unmerited, then why does only one require a certain kind of disposition ?
    3. A man cooperates with operative actual grace before receiving sanctifying grace. In this condition is he just or unjust ?
    4. Why can’t the theological virtues be infused in adults without regard to actual grace ?

    Thanks,
    Eric

  21. No doubt there’s lots of fuzzy thinking with respect to volition, its role in God’s way, and semi-Pelagianism in Reformed/Lutheran Protestantism. But be careful also not to overstate what Calvinians and Lutherans (who best understand their forebears) are saying on this score: the quickening grace of God for salvation is all or nothing. Cooperation is necessary, but that cooperation, in light of prevenient (i.e., efficient in this construct) grace, becomes a given. The level of cooperation, however, is not a given (i.e., individuals are sanctified to various degrees throughout their life’s journey).

    All this to say, there are certain points in Trent and in the early Reformational works that appear to be talking past each other. This is not to suggest that at other points they quite clearly are antithetical (i.e., the instrumental cause of justification, etc).

    Remember, I’m no spokesman—I’ve happily lost that right . . .

  22. I want to thank the author and all the commenters. I am not Catholic, yet your perspective rings true. As a non denominational evangelical the monergism faction is on the rise and I have to deal with it often now. The whole of it is baffling why the god of monergism would be so attractive to some smart people. I just do not get why they read some verses and ignore others to keep this distortion alive. Monergism makes God small, petty, and abusive. Even the hardest person would be revolted by a god that picks only a lucky few for his enjoyment and leaves the multitude to perish for eternity in agony. Removing freewill entirely from salvation creates a whole new god very different than the God known by believers throughout history. Monergism changes the nature of God and the purpose of the divine plan radically. Disturbing to say the least.

    Much appreciated

  23. I borrowed this from EWTN as to what they believe the Second council of Orange concluded, Do you think ST. Augustine would have approved? thanks

    “The Council of Orange was an outgrowth of the controversy between Augustine and Pelagius. This controversy had to do with degree to which a human being is responsible for his or her own salvation, and the role of the grace of God in bringing about salvation. The Pelagians held that human beings are born in a state of innocence, i.e., that there is no such thing as a sinful nature or original sin. As a result of this view, they held that a state of sinless perfection was achievable in this life. The Council of Orange dealt with the Semi-Pelagian doctrine that the human race, though fallen and possessed of a sinful nature, is still “good” enough to able to lay hold of the grace of God through an act of unredeemed human will.”

  24. Jay (#23),

    The EWTN link says the Council “dealt with”, not that it approved the notion that man, by an “unredeemed” act of the will (that is, an act of nature not preceded and unassisted by grace), lays hold of the justifying grace of God. In fact, Orange condemned that notion in the canons listed above in the article (i.e., canons 5, 6, and 8). So yes, St. Augustine would have approved of Orange’s condemnations. Orange did not adopt semi-Pelagian doctrines, but condemned them. This is in fact the basis on which some Protestants mistakenly suppose that Trent betrayed the Augustinian emphasis of Orange, for example, John Hendryx, to whom Bryan was responding in this article.

    pax,
    Barrett

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