Tuesday, November 06, 2007

Jesus can't justify Himself

CrimsonCatholic has responded, and while I find his response quite foreign-sounding (which is probably my own fault), he said sthg that concerns me a GREAT deal. How ironic that I started out questioning the legitimacy of the link between Christology and justification, and now I'm following that trail! Oh well...

-Even a perfect human can't justify himself, not even Jesus, so the notion that Jesus saved us through His perfect obedience is likewise Pelagian.

I actually once heard a charismatic pastor trying to defend the idea that the baptism of the Holy Spirit is evidenced by speaking in tongues - "Jesus was born saved!" Strange to hear the same repeated by a Roman Catholic!

So, a few questions to flesh out the most important thing CC said here:
1) Why would a perfect human need to be justified? Do you mean b/c of the original sin?
2) If #1 is b/c of original sin, how could a perfect human exist at all?
3) If #1 is b/c of original sin, that human wouldn't be perfect, right? He'd have sin, wouldn't he? And therefore not be perfect?
4) Did Jesus have original sin?
5) Why would Jesus need to be justified?
6) If Jesus did not save us thru His perfect obedience, then why does the Scripture say this?
Heb 5:7-8 -
7In the days of His flesh, He offered up both prayers and supplications with loud crying and tears to the One able to save Him from death, and He was heard because of His piety. 8Although He was a Son, He learned obedience from the things which He suffered. 9And having been made perfect, He became to all those who obey Him the source of eternal salvation...

And especially,
Rom 5:18-20 -
18So then as through one transgression there resulted condemnation to all men, even so through one act of righteousness there resulted justification of life to all men. 19For as through the one man's disobedience the many were made sinners, even so through the obedience of the One the many will be made righteous. 20The Law came in so that the transgression would increase; but where sin increased, grace abounded all the more...


7) Was it not, then, Jesus' actions that provided salvation for fallen humanity? If not, what?
8) Related to #7, are not Christ's passion, crucifixion, and resurrection actions that were performed in obedience to the eternal plan of God?

'Course, anyone is welcome to chime in. If you're RC or EOx, I'd also like very much to know your estimation of what CrimsonCatholic has said.

39 comments:

anon said...

Rhology:

I'm a bit of a twit in regard to abreviations--as you might have noticed, I have enough trouble with spelling out words entirely, so you can imagine. Would it be much of a burden for you to avoid using shorthand in your posts for the character-challenged such as me?

thks mch nd God bls

Lucian said...

Christ saved us by destroying death in his own human flesh. (The sting of death being sin [1 Corinthians 15:56]; and the wages of sin resulting into even more death [Romans 6:23] --> it's like a vicious cycle ... which Christ has broken).

Ronnie said...

CrimsonCatholic said:
-Even a perfect human can't justify himself, not even Jesus, so the notion that Jesus saved us through His perfect obedience is likewise Pelagian.

Maybe Jesus justifying himself is not the right way to phrase. However, Jesus did merit eternal life for all those He represented as Adam failed to merit in the Covenant of Works. Pelagianism speaks to fallen man attempting to chose good without the intervention of God, this cannot apply to Jesus Christ, because he was never fallen. So Jesus does save us from the wrath of God and the power of sin by satisfying God’s righteous requirements( CoW) and taking on our just punishment(at the Cross ). Both acts comprise His perfect obedience. As Jesus himself says, “For them I sanctify myself, that they too may be truly sanctified.”

CrimsonCatholic said...

See this post. I concur with Ronnie that the notion of Christ's self-justification was inapt. The self-sanctification metaphor is much more helpful, and the "made perfect" description from Hebrews more helpful still. Since we were in the context of justification, I was focused on that, but far from making the matter clearer, it just ended up being confusing. Sorry for that.

CrimsonCatholic said...

One quibble:
Pelagianism speaks to fallen man attempting to chose good without the intervention of God, this cannot apply to Jesus Christ, because he was never fallen.

At least from the Catholic perspective, Pelagianism speaks to the fact that neither fallen NOR unfallen man can bring himself before God by his own power. That's where I think some of the confusion arises. The idea that unfallen man could make himself fit for God's presence through obedience to God's commands would be termed "prelapsarian Pelagianism" in Catholic theology. Even Adam needed grace to be perfected in holiness.

Rhology said...

Anon,

Which one bothers you? B/c? RC? EOx?


CrimsonCatholic,

I think you're saying you misspoke. So, do you retract all or part of the quoted statement? If part, which part?
Thanks!

Rhology said...

Oh, you posted on it. I'll read that. Thanks.

Ronnie said...

At least from the Catholic perspective, Pelagianism speaks to the fact that neither fallen NOR unfallen man can bring himself before God by his own power. That's where I think some of the confusion arises. The idea that unfallen man could make himself fit for God's presence through obedience to God's commands would be termed "prelapsarian Pelagianism" in Catholic theology. Even Adam needed grace to be perfected in holiness.

If man is not fallen, we only have two examples(i.e Adam and Christ), then are they not already in communion, fellowship, and right relationship with God? Therefore, unfallen man is already fit for God’s presence which is what Adam had before the fall. The obedience was a stipulation by God for unfallen man remaining forever( perfected?) in that state.

CrimsonCatholic said...

If man is not fallen, we only have two examples(i.e Adam and Christ), then are they not already in communion, fellowship, and right relationship with God? Therefore, unfallen man is already fit for God’s presence which is what Adam had before the fall.

From the Catholic perspective, there's an equivocation on the type of relationship, so the conclusion doesn't follow. The saints in Heaven have an immediate vision of God, which is a different kind of relationship than the communion, fellowship, and right relationship than Adam had (or for that matter, different than those in the bosom of Abraham before the Incarnation). Even Adam required grace to reach the former state. The goal of the trial was not to perpetuate the relationship Adam already had, but to increase Adam's love for God to the point that he could have the intimate relationship with him that the saints have now. But he rejected the opportunity.

Certainly, we desperately need salvation from sins in order to have this relationship with God. But like Adam, right relationship doesn't get us to Heaven; only grace does. Again, this is basic Tridentine teaching on justification: "whence, man, through Jesus Christ, in whom he is ingrafted, receives, in the said justification, together with the remission of sins, all these (gifts) infused at once, faith, hope, and charity." I don't expect you to simply accept that view, but it's important to understand it. From the Catholic view, having Adam "fit for God's presence" simply because he was sinless would be creating a debt by God to sinless human nature, which is impossible. God's presence is strictly a gift of grace to which no created nature can possibly be entitled, so there must be an act of grace to achieve it. He must have something to give, beyond even in being right relationship vis-a-vis nature (i.e., sinless).

Anonymous said...

Rhology, Crimson Catholic stumbled on the danger of the Manichean doctrine of inherited guilt or "original sin" as you prefer to call it. It is quite obvious to anyone with sense that neither the Calvinist nor Catholic explanations shield Jesus from original sin if original sin really exists at all.

Jesus came from the loins of David (Acts 2:30) and therefore was in Adam. If everyone died spiritually in Adam, so did he. The virgin birth would not shield him, because original sin is passed on by mothers, i.e. "in sin my MOTHER conceived me" Psalm 51:5. Was Jesus conceived? Yes. By a mother? Yes. So much for the Calvinist answer. Now to the Catholic, Mary was conceived immaculately by an extra miracle, and hence Jesus too, but since scripture is silent on this, and it is properly cheating, we will dismiss it for the fiction it is.

This means that Jesus inherited from Adam whatever we inherit. If we are born unable to will anything good, so was he. If we were totally disabled, so was he. Now, this is a full proof that original sin is a Manichean false doctrine. We can still go to Ezekiel 18:20 and Romans 7:9 to show that, however, since in the one God says that the son will not inherit the guilt of the father, and in the other Paul says he was alive apart from the Law until he personally sinned.

Thank you, Crimson Catholic, for showing that Augustine has messed up both Catholic and Protestant theology with his false doctrine of inherited guilt and inability. Thank you very much.

Anonymous said...

I actually once heard a charismatic pastor trying to defend the idea that the baptism of the Holy Spirit is evidenced by speaking in tongues - "Jesus was born saved!" Strange to hear the same repeated by a Roman Catholic!

What does that mean? How does the being baptized in the Holy Spirit relate to "Jesus being born saved," and how do those relate to what the Roman Catholic said?

CrimsonCatholic said...

Thank you, Crimson Catholic, for showing that Augustine has messed up both Catholic and Protestant theology with his false doctrine of inherited guilt and inability.

In whatever sense Catholic theology was "messed up" by Augustine's traducian theory of original sin, it was long since cleared by St. Thomas and subsequent dogmatic teaching making clear that original sin is sin only analogously, and that it is a condition rather than a property passed from parent to child. The doctrine of the Immaculate Conception of Mary makes that clear. Likewise, the condition of concupiscence and vulnerability to sin is a condition and not a flaw of nature, else Jesus Himself would have inherited along with the vulnerability to death and the other consequences of sin.

Anonymous said...

"Likewise, the condition of concupiscence and vulnerability to sin is a condition and not a flaw of nature..."

blah blah blah philosophy of men

CrimsonCatholic said...

blah blah blah philosophy of men

In non-philosophical language, Jesus did not desire to sin.

In Biblical language, "For we have not a high priest who is unable to sympathize with our weaknesses, but one who in every respect has been tempted as we are, yet without sin" (Hebr. 4:15).

Don't get hung up on the language. It's the ideas that matter.

Lucian said...

Anonymous,

I've noticed the same things that You also make ake mention of ... but I wasn't sure until reading it expressed in a theological treatise two yrs ago. -- Believe it or not, I thought that I was some sort of doubting-Thomas, or a scholastical and skeptical Thomas-Aquinas at that, putting my own private beliefs above those [that I thought were] of the Church ... but -just like it happened with GK Chesterton- when I've pilled up all my little heresies, ... I found them to be Orthodoxy all along! :-) What a relief I felt in my mind, when I reealised that ...

Lucian said...

And that's what I've always liked about Orthodoxy: it makes sense -- from on ened to the other: it makes sense. It's like a city, with all streets illumined, no dark corners, and no dead-ends. It all fits perfectly together, and it makes sense; a LOT of sense! This is especially relieving for a man that spends much of his time "upstairs", like me.

Ronnie said...

CrimsonCatholic said:
From the Catholic perspective, there's an equivocation on the type of relationship, so the conclusion doesn't follow. The saints in Heaven have an immediate vision of God, which is a different kind of relationship than the communion, fellowship, and right relationship than Adam had (or for that matter, different than those in the bosom of Abraham before the Incarnation). Even Adam required grace to reach the former state. The goal of the trial was not to perpetuate the relationship Adam already had, but to increase Adam's love for God to the point that he could have the intimate relationship with him that the saints have now. But he rejected the opportunity.

The issue before us was if unfallen man was fit to be in God’s presence. I say yes, but in order to have this position eternally Adam had to adhere to God’s just requirement for a period of time( i.e. Covenant of Works ). Adam would have merited eternally life for himself and all those he represented, but this is not merit in a condign sense, but instead because of the covenantal agreement that God graciously entered with Adam. So the covenantal pact was gracious on God’s part, but eternal life was “merited” based on that covenant. It was do these things and you live, otherwise you die. Adam did not do those things perfectly and he died.

CrimsonCatholic said:
Certainly, we desperately need salvation from sins in order to have this relationship with God. But like Adam, right relationship doesn't get us to Heaven; only grace does. Again, this is basic Tridentine teaching on justification: "whence, man, through Jesus Christ, in whom he is ingrafted, receives, in the said justification, together with the remission of sins, all these (gifts) infused at once, faith, hope, and charity." I don't expect you to simply accept that view, but it's important to understand it. From the Catholic view, having Adam "fit for God's presence" simply because he was sinless would be creating a debt by God to sinless human nature, which is impossible. God's presence is strictly a gift of grace to which no created nature can possibly be entitled, so there must be an act of grace to achieve it. He must have something to give, beyond even in being right relationship vis-a-vis nature (i.e., sinless).


Well, just so you can understand my view better. Adam is not fit for God’s presence just because he is sinless( and also righteous there are two sides to that coin), but because that is the covenant God himself established with Adam. So God’s presence would have been Adam’s entitlement if Adam had fulfilled the requirements of the covenant. For it to be otherwise after God himself promise would be a violation of God’s nature.

Anonymous said...

"In non-philosophical language, Jesus did not desire to sin."

How was he tempted in all points like we are? Do you have a different definition of temptation? You can't be tempted by something you have no desire for? If someone says "hey, want some cocaine" I am not tempted because I have no desire for it. The same with alcohol. But other things will tempt me. To be tempted requires a desire for the thing of which the temptation is composed, does it not?

Anonymous said...

Lucian, if you are saying that all the little heresies of Catholicism when added together make orthodoxy, you are simply wrong. Where is the comfort of the Jesus who was in all points tempted like as we, yet did not sin, if he could not desire sin? If Jesus was born without any inclination to sin, as some sort of space alien rather than a human being, then his triumph over sin was automatic and robotic and in no wise requires resistance to temptation. Thus, this "little heresy" of Catholicism makes Hebrews 4:15 into a lie, and results in us not having a high priest who can sympathize with our weakness, since he never was truly tempted as the verse says he was. And his triumph over sin ceases to be a triumph if he was never tempted, seeing it is very easy to not sin when not tempted. Do you not see how this doctrine of both Catholicism and Calvinism is a mockery of Christ?

Lucian said...

Anonymous,

I wasn't talking about Catholicism ... I was talking about the copy-pasted anti-Protestant phraseology that we Orthodox use, borrowed directly and indiscrimately from Catholics.

I was (and still am) an Orthodox, and I believed in original sin. That's what I was taught. Then, when seeing that biblical parables and Orthodox prayers and certain Churchly expresions or imageries from pious stories just don't add up to something in the least compatible with the doctrine of original sin, I thought of myself as a doubting Thomas, or even as an over-rationalizing Thomas Aquinas, that puts his own speculative thougthts above the received tradition of the Church ... until I found out about two or three yrs ago that I was actually right all along: original sin and Church teaching just don't go hand in hand ...

My "heresy" was the Orthodox lex orandi, lex credendi: i.e., taking my prayers seriously; coupled with taking cute little Church teachings and pious little traditional stories seriously.

This, ... and the fact that the doctrine of original sin as imputed on any man born of Adam is self-contradicting: first it would seem that only those out of concupiscence are subjects to it ... BUT when You couple it with God's wrath on any man, being some sort of debt that has to be paid by any man (no word of concupiscence there); PLUS the fact that EVEN the innocent little soil was cursed because of Adam's sin ... how much more so any other human being, who's body descends from Adam ! -- that obviously includes Christ also, since His Body is from another human being: Mary.

The normal way out is the doctrine of Immaculate Conception: but that's utterly devoid of sense: God is in any way infinite ... so, if He could've pardon ONE man (without him/her paying anything back), He could've pardoned 6 billion also : numbers are all ZERO in front of the One Who's infinite in any aspect !

And then, there's another problem: Mary died -- that's what Church Tradition unanimously says. But, according to the teaching of Original Sin, ... she couldn't have! -- because "the wages of sin is death" ==> if she died, she must've had SOME sin ... which means Christ had Original Sin inherited from His Mother also !

It's nonsense! Utter and complete nonsense! --> and the very title of this post shows the kind of blasphemious ideas to which it ultimately leads!

The West has good apologetic because it creates for itself MANY problems:

1) we interpret the Bible literallly ... we don't "eisegete" our way on it ... BUT this sort of thing only leads to destroying the basis of Christianity, which is based on the *Christological* interpretation of the OT ... we take it literally, and we and up all Jews !

2) we make up all this fuss about truth having to be scientifically accurate ... then we try to defend EVERYTHING from Genesis 1, to the Red Sea, to Joshua, to Daniel, to Esther ... !

3) we create our own philosophical prism and theological lens ... and then we end up having to defend absurdly obvious things, like the fact that God is good! (theodicy) -- why does this particular problem even exist IN THE FIRST PLACE !?

... and sorry for my kilometrical commnent ... :-(

Lucian said...

and results in us NOT having a high priest who can sympathize with our weakness, since he never was truly tempted as the verse says he was.

That's an *extremely accurate* example as to what I'm talking about overe here: just read the prayer preceding the Acatist of Our Lord Jesus Christ, and You'll see what I mean ! -- Lex Orandi, Lex Credendi: either the concept of original sin has to go ... or the Lord's Acatist has to be re-written ! -- it's *THAT* simple, really !

Rhology said...

RE: what Lucian just said about "interping the Bible literally" and all that, Lucian has a record of having NO idea what he's talking about on this issue.

And if you want to know how the Bible should be interpreted, see here.

Lucian said...

Rhology,

when You'll have a little time, just read *SOME* of the stories over here. Then PROVE their *arguments* WRONG -- if You can, (using Your adorable GHM). Good luck! (You're gonna need it!).

Why prove them wrong, and not just defending You own? ... well, because these guys take the OT pretty literally, so ... TWO literally interpretations of a SINGLE passage can't be BOTH right, ... right? ... Or? ...

Rhology said...

QED.

Lucian said...

Ok, fine. Then don't. Just walk out knowing better. With your eyes wide shut. That's a responsible grown up attitude. Way to go. You totally blew my socks off. I'm really very impressed.

Anonymous said...

Lucian, thanks for the clarification. I agree with your arguments against original sin, against literal interpretation of the OT (the NT must be literally interpreted though) and against altering Scripture to fit modern science. I also agree that there is certainly a tendency among men to create a convoluted theological system and then spend the rest of their natural lives defending all its absurdities rather than going back to the Bible and starting over to get it right. I don't, however, have any idea what an Acatist is, or how exactly you are relating "Lex Orandi, Lex Credendi" to it although I know this phrase means "Law of prayer, law of belief."

Anonymous said...

(When I said above that the OT shouldn't be interpreted literally, I only meant that most prophecy and poetry should not, not that prose should not.)

CrimsonCatholic said...

Well, just so you can understand my view better. Adam is not fit for God’s presence just because he is sinless( and also righteous there are two sides to that coin), but because that is the covenant God himself established with Adam. So God’s presence would have been Adam’s entitlement if Adam had fulfilled the requirements of the covenant. For it to be otherwise after God himself promise would be a violation of God’s nature.

Well stated. This is essentially the problem that Trent was intended to resolve: whether God's promise alone, absent supernatural grace, can bring man to God. Catholics answer in the negative, so we reject both this account of the covenant of works and imputed justification. In our view, the covenant itself is not grace, but rather, it is conditioned on need for grace, because of the natural gap between creature and Creator.

That's a pretty good statement of the difference (and restatement of the title of this thread). In Catholicism, a covenant of works cannot save (or even preserve) fellowship with God by its very nature. Hence, Christ's perfect obedience and sacrifice on the Cross doesn't actually save us; it simply provides the vehicle through which we are saved by grace, just as the covenant with Adam did.

Ronnie said...

Well stated. This is essentially the problem that Trent was intended to resolve: whether God's promise alone, absent supernatural grace, can bring man to God. Catholics answer in the negative, so we reject both this account of the covenant of works and imputed justification. In our view, the covenant itself is not grace, but rather, it is conditioned on need for grace, because of the natural gap between creature and Creator.


Yes, and part of the problem is that we even define grace different in this context. You are speaking of grace as a substance, that even the pre-lapsarian Adam needed, and I’m using it in the sense of God’s unmerited favor. The whole concept of God entering into covenant with man screams creature and Creator distinction. The creature would have no claim of eternal life or anything else if it was not for God’s gracious act of condescension to enter into covenant with him. The creature could make no demand, merit anything, or even have any fruition of the Creator as his blessedness or reward without His condescension which He has done through means of the covenant.


That's a pretty good statement of the difference (and restatement of the title of this thread). In Catholicism, a covenant of works cannot save (or even preserve) fellowship with God by its very nature. Hence, Christ's perfect obedience and sacrifice on the Cross doesn't actually save us; it simply provides the vehicle through which we are saved by grace, just as the covenant with Adam did.


I think it is important that we are clear if we are talking pre or post-lapsarian Covenant of Works( CoW ). However, in reference to Adam I’m not saying the CoW saved or preserved Adam. What was there for the pre-lapsarian Adam to be saved from? Sin? God’s wrath? No, Adam was already in a saved stated. The fulfilling of the CoW was the means by which Adam would merit eternal preservation in the state of bliss for himself and his seeds. Now where the 1st Adam failed to accomplish this task, the 2nd Adam succeeded. Christ redeemed His people from the curse(e.g. sin, death, wrath of God ) of the CoW that was in affect per the 1st Adam’s failure and He merited the eternal life for His seeds where the 1st Adam had failed. And now based on the merits of the 2nd Adam, salvation from the curses of the CoW is only possible through the Covenant of Grace( CoG ) which God freely offers to all.

Anonymous said...

Athanasius (in De Incarnatione Verb Dei) says that Adam was not created immortal and was not immortal before the fall--not by nature--and that he was only immortal before the fall due to the superabiding grace of the Word in him which preserved him against his own proper nature, which he lost via the fall and thus succumbed to the mortality of his proper nature.

Anonymous said...

(cont. from post above.) Athanasius also views the continuance of the superabiding grace of the word in Adam not as being a "covenant of works" (a thing non-existent) but of being, as he says, "contingent upon one simple law" (i.e. not to eat the forbidden fruit). Adam was not required to keep a laundry list of moral laws--note that public nakedness was allowed him before the fall--but only to not eat the fruit. So the very terms of meriting righteousness that are oft used in this discussion are specious and have nothing to do with the discussion. There was only one command for him to obey--one simple law. And this was not a covenant, since a covenant contains both promises of blessings to those that keep it and curses to those that do not. But here, no promise of blessing exists--Adam is only told that if he eats the fruit he will die. This is properly law without covenant. This is simply God demanding obedience, not condescending to enter into covenant relationship.

Anonymous said...

And now based on the merits of the 2nd Adam, salvation from the curses of the CoW is only possible through the Covenant of Grace( CoG ) which God freely offers to all.

The curse of the disobedience of the one simple law that Adam disobeyed (I call it not a covenant) is physical death, pain in child bearing, and the curse of the ground. No mention is found (in God's enumeration there in Genesis 3 of the curses resulting from the fall) of hell. Hell does not accrue to men as a direct result of Adam's sin, but as a secondary result. Adam ate the fruit of the knowledge of good and evil, because of which all his descendants know by nature the moral law. Hell is not the direct result of Adam's sin accruing to me, but is the result of the fact that I am born knowing good and evil (a thing I inherited from Adam who ate that fruit) yet choose evil. The fall itself caused us to die physically, to have to work hard for food, to have pain in childbearing, and to know good and evil. It is this knowledge, that leads us to sin, for knowing what evil is makes us culpable in doing it. Adam was naked, yet God counted it not against him until Adam knew it was wrong. After he ate the fruit and knew nakedness was evil, only then was it imputed to him as sin. We are condemned on the basis of using the knowledge of good and evil to do evil rather than eschew evil. This is a result of the fall in a sense, since the knowledge comes from Adam.

Anonymous said...

So, it is not so much Adam's failure to obey that condemns us, as the fact that through his disobedience we inherit the knowledge of good and evil, which we misuse to our damnation.

Lucian said...

Anonymous,

here's the Prayer that I was talking about in all its beauty:

Lord Jesus Christ, our God, Who seeks into Your creature, to Whom the passions and weaknesses of our human nature are shown, and Who knows the strength of our enemy, You Yourself cover us from his evil, for his power is mighty yet our nature is impassioned, and our strength is weakened. You, then, O Good One, Who knows our weakness, Who also bears our weakness' heaviness, guard us from the disturbance of our thoughts and from the flood of passions, and make us worthy of this Holy service of Yours, least that we, in our mudied passions, should perchance forsake its sweetness and to find ourselves shamelessly and fearlessly standing in front of You. But, Lord, our most-sweet Jesus, mercy us and redeem us, Amen.


Then it goes on with the first Condac: Defender the greatest and Lord, Conqueror of Hell, etc.

Anonymous said...

Thank you very much Lucian. This is the kind of stuff you read in the earliest "fathers" too. Jesus is presented as victoriously defeating the devil by resisting temptation, not as being some non-human pseudo-human with a different sort of human nature than ours, but as taking on our exact nature yet resisting all temptation and thus conquering Satan and leading away his captives as the spoils of war. While I would disagree greatly with the Eastern Orthodox on their practice of infant baptism, prayer ropes, leavened bread in communion, etc., you can't fault them for their accurate portrayals of Christ as victor over temptation rather than robotically untemptable.

CrimsonCatholic said...

Yes, and part of the problem is that we even define grace different in this context. You are speaking of grace as a substance, that even the pre-lapsarian Adam needed, and I’m using it in the sense of God’s unmerited favor.

Exactly. Catholics believe that only what is not metaphysically due can be unmerited. Consequently, for God to give an unmerited favor, He must metaphysically give Himself. Nothing less would do, because, metaphysically speaking, nothing short of the divine can achieve the divine.

I think it is important that we are clear if we are talking pre or post-lapsarian Covenant of Works( CoW ). However, in reference to Adam I’m not saying the CoW saved or preserved Adam. What was there for the pre-lapsarian Adam to be saved from? Sin? God’s wrath? No, Adam was already in a saved stated. The fulfilling of the CoW was the means by which Adam would merit eternal preservation in the state of bliss for himself and his seeds.

Again, this is well stated. In Catholic theology, fulfilling of the covenant of works cannot be the means by which Adam would merit eternal preservation in the state of bliss, because it is metaphysically impossible for him to merit through his acts eternal preservation in the state of bliss, no matter what his state of relationship. Thus, Catholic theology holds that the CoW is the means by which grace is received, but that the receipt of grace itself that merits eternal life with God (as Augustine put it, God crowns His own merits). The covenant is simply the mechanism for the delivery of grace. The grace itself, freely given to the creature, is what merits God's favor.

You've pretty much identified the key issue. Catholics argue that grace must be intrinsic because of the creature/Creator distinction; Protestants argue that it must be extrinsic for the same reason. The whole Reformation can be distilled down to that one metaphysical issue, because the entire Catholic account of salvation, including all the Sacraments, the Sacrifice of the Mass, and the authority of the Magisterium, turns on that one little point. One can quibble about Scripture, but the entire interpretation turns on that issue as well. And as one might expect from the law of non-contradiction, only one side can be right.

Granted, it does seem a bit untoward that five centuries of religious struggle can turn on being right or wrong on a single truth about reality, but there are truths that important.

GeneMBridges said...

Of course, not one time does CC resort to exegesis to frame a response here. Not one time does he refer to Scripture exegeted.

CrimsonCatholic said...

Gene:
See the post I linked earlier. Unless you have a rather odd definition of "exegesis," saying what you understand a passage to intend is generally considered "exegesis."

Anonymous said...

"Of course, not one time does CC resort to exegesis to frame a response here. Not one time does he refer to Scripture exegeted."

Aside from the fact that he cited scripture, then used reason to explain its meaning, thereby drawing meaning from scripture (which is what exegesis is), who told Gene that Catholics are bound to the same (actually quite pliable) rules of "sola scriptura" he claims for himself (but also ignores when convenient)?