Monday, June 27, 2011

In Catholic theological anthropology, human nature is not selfish or sinful; human nature is good

Here's an entry that was provoked by a recent Called To Communion statement: "In Catholic theological anthropology, human nature is not selfish or sinful; human nature is good." Such a statement shouldn't be taken lightly. What exactly is meant? Are the CTC folks espousing Pelagianism?  Scott Hahn's Catholic Bible Dictionary does an adequate job of fleshing out this type of Romanist statement:


The phrase "Adam lost for himself and all succeeding generations the supernatural gift of sanctifying grace" should jump out immediately. Note the explanation given by A.A. Hodge:

17. What is the Romish doctrine with respect to thedona naturalia , and thedona supernaturalia ?

1st. They hold that God endowed man at his creation with the dona naturalia, that is, with all the natural constitutional powers and faculties of body and soul without sin, in perfect innocence. There was no vice or defect in either body or soul.

2nd. God duly attempered all these powers to one another, placing the lower in due subordination to the higher. This harmony of powers was called Justicia —natural righteousness.

3rd. There was, however, in the very nature of things, a natural tendency in the lower appetites and passions to rebel against the authority of the higher powers of reason and conscience. This tendency is not sin in itself; but becomes sin only when it is consented to by the will, and passes into voluntary action. This is concupiscence(a strong desire); not sin, but the fuel and occasion of sin.

4th. To prevent this natural tendency to disorder from the rebellion of the lower elements of the human constitution against the higher, God granted man the additional gift of the dona superanaturalia, or gifts extra constitutional. This is original righteousness, which was a foreign gift superadded to his constitution, by means of which his natural powers duly attempered are kept in due subjection and order. Some of their theologians held that these supernatural gifts were bestowed upon man immediately upon his creation, at the same time with his natural powers. The more prevalent and consistent view, however, is that it was given subsequently as a reward for the proper use of his natural powers see Moehler’s “Symbolism,” pp. 117, 118.

5th. Both the “justicia,” and the “dona supernaturalia ” were accidental or superadded properties of human nature, and were lost by the fall.

18. How does this doctrine modify their view as to original sin and the moral character of that concupiscence which remains in the regenerate?

They hold that man lost at the fall only the superadded gifts of “original righteousness” ( dona supernaturalia), while the proper nature of man itself, the dona naturalia, comprising all his constitutional faculties of reason, conscience, free will (in which they include “moral ability”), remain intact. Thus they make the effect of the fall upon man’s moral nature purely negative. The Reformers defined it “the want of original righteousness, and the corruption of the whole nature.”

Hence, also, they hold that concupiscence, or the tendency to rebellion of the lower against the higher powers remaining in the regenerate, being natural and incidental to the very constitution of human nature, is not of the nature of sin.

Luther wrote on the scholastic distinction between the naturalia (which remained after the Fall), and the donum superadditum of grace (which was withdrawn and had to be restored by God):

The scholastic statement that “the natural powers are unimpaired” is a horrible blasphemy, though it is even more horrible when they say the same about demons. If the natural powers are unimpaired, what need is there of Christ? If by nature man has good will; if he has true understanding to which, as they say, the will can naturally conform itself; what is it, then, that was lost in Paradise through sin and that had to be restored through the Son of God alone? Yet in our day, men who seem to be masters of theology defend the statement that the natural powers are unimpaired, that is, that the will is good. Even though through malice it occasionally wills and thinks something besides what is right and good, they attribute this to the malice of men, not to the will as it is in itself. The mind must be fortified against these dangerous opinions, lest the knowledge of grace be obscured; this cannot remain sound and right if we believe this way about the nature of man. Nor can this scholastic teaching be tolerated in the church: that man can keep the Law according to the substance of the act, but not according to the intention of Him who commanded it, since according to His intention not only the work is required, but also a disposition in the heart which is called grace. This would be just like saying that a man who is sound in hands and feet can properly do his job, except that he is hindered by not being dressed in black or white clothes. In exactly the same way they say that God requires something beyond the Decalog and is not satisfied when someone keeps the Decalog, but requires a right disposition as well. All these monstrosities have arisen from the fact that they do not rightly know the nature of sin. I have listed them to show the great difference between our sound doctrine and the monstrous and deceptive doctrine of the pope.[LW 12:308]

The scholastics argue that original righteousness was not a part of man’s nature but, like some adornment, was added to man as a gift, as when someone places a wreath on a pretty girl. The wreath is certainly not a part of the virgin’s nature; it is something apart from her nature. It came from outside and can be removed again without any injury to her nature. Therefore they maintain about man and about demons that although they have lost their original righteousness, their natural endowments have nevertheless remained pure, just as they were created in the beginning. But this idea must be shunned like poison, for it minimizes original sin.
Let us rather maintain that righteousness was not a gift which came from without, separate from man’s nature, but that it was truly part of his nature, so that it was Adam’s nature to love God, to believe God, to know God, etc. These things were just as natural for Adam as it is natural for the eyes to receive light. But because you may correctly say that nature has been damaged if you render an eye defective by inflicting a wound, so, after man has fallen from righteousness into sin, it is correct and truthful to say that our natural endowments are not perfect but are corrupted by sin. For just as it is the nature of the eye to see, so it was the nature of reason and will in Adam to know God, to trust God, and to fear God. Since it is a fact that this has now been lost, who is so foolish as to say that our natural endowments are still perfect? And yet nothing was more common and received more general acceptance in the schools than this thesis. But how much more foolish it is to make this assertion about the demons, about whom Christ says that they did not stand in the truth (John 8:44) and whom we know to be the bitterest enemies of Christ and of the church!

Therefore the perfect natural endowments in man were the knowledge of God, faith, fear, etc. These Satan has corrupted through sin; just as leprosy poisons the flesh, so the will and reason have become depraved through sin, and man not only does not love God any longer but flees from Him, hates Him, and desires to be and live without Him. [LW 1:164-165]

42 comments:

Ryan said...

Thanks, James. This was a very helpful post.

James Swan said...

Thanks Ryan

Nick said...

There appears to be some confusion about how to understand the Catholic position in this article. This can be addressed on two fronts:

(1) When taking the contrary position, what does the Reformed/Lutheran side mean in regards to "corruption of the whole nature"? If they don't mean it as a privation of some good (as Catholics state), then the only alternative left (as far as we can see) is that of nature becoming *ontologically* evil/sinful. But how can evil/sin have ontological existence? It cannot, and this very issue was what originally had Augustine in the grip of Manicheanism until he realized such a claim of evil or sinful "nature" to be relative rather than ontological.

(2) There is a long history of the Reformers not being fair to Catholic teaching, and hence misrepresenting it. For example, when you say Catholics teach Free Will "remains intact," without qualification, then you're spreading or embracing incorrect information. Catholic dogma and the great Catholic theologians have always taught free will was weakened and unable to please God without predisposing and enabling grace.

The best proof of the Catholic position is that Adam was originally created with the super-added gift of the Indwelling of the Holy Spirit (which is the epitome of communion with God). If the Protestant wants to say Adam originally had the Indwelling of the Holy Spirit, they've all but conceded the Catholic point. If they want to say Adam wasn't originally created with the super-added gift of the Holy Spirit, they have to explain how Adam was in true communion with God.

Ryan said...

The best proof of the Catholic position is that Adam was originally created with the super-added gift of the Indwelling of the Holy Spirit (which is the epitome of communion with God)... If they want to say Adam wasn't originally created with the super-added gift of the Holy Spirit, they have to explain how Adam was in true communion with God.

Wouldn't this mean you think angels must possess super-added gift of the indwelling of the Holy Spirit?

James Swan said...

Nick, I'll play along for a bit:

The best proof of the Catholic position is that Adam was originally created with the super-added gift of the Indwelling of the Holy Spirit

Before I comment any further, would you please produce a few Romanist dogmatic statements that the Holy Spirit is the dona superanaturalia that Adam lost in the fall?

Think of this as an opportunity to share your Roman Catholic faith.

@GodnChzburgers said...

What is the problem with the fact that the ideal of human nature not bad but good?

To say otherwise is to say that God is the creator of evil or that which/who God creates is imperfect/not good. All of this is completely contrary to Scripture.

Then there is your response, Mr. Swan, to request to Nick, "show me an infallible document." Just because the Church was given the charism of infallibility does not mean that she needs to exercise it at every turn especially in this case when there is no real controversy.

For you self-proclaimed "[tampered canon] Bible believers" you may be surprised to find that the sections in the Catechism dealing with this are chock full of Scripture references from both Old and New Testaments: mostly Genesis and Romans, respectively).

Oh, as for some infallible documents on the matter. I think the Council of Trent (check the 5th session or search the Catechism of Trent for the breakdown) deals with this subject at some length.

God bless!

Ryan said...

What is the problem with the fact that the ideal of human nature not bad but good?

Nothing, which is the same answer to the question as to what that has to do with the topic at hand.

@GodnChzburgers said...

@Ryan, I guess you did not read the post and the quoted segments too closley.

It has everything to with the initial topic because God made us perfect in a natural sense and endowed us with preternatural gifts. This is because God is good and thus all he creates is good.

These are gifts that are not due to human nature but do not exceed human nature. It is a gift of grace. Adam and Eve rejected the gift and thus Christ redeemed man and gave us the Sacrament - the means - to better accept and maintain that gift of grace.

Concerning the angels, there is a lot of room for debate but certainly by their own nature they experience/experienced a closer union with God - to the extent He allows. Thus giving the fallen angels no means of redemption after their own fall, unlike man.

So yes, those angels that remained united with God share in the beatific vision of God just like the human saints in heaven (or "Cloud of Witnesses" from Heb 12:1).

Ryan said...

The ideal of human nature is good. That's what you said, and I see no reason why I have to reject that. The key word is "ideal." Having lost original righteousness, however, our nature became corrupt:

...the Scriptures make the original moral perfection of man the most prominent element of that likeness to God in which he was created, it is no less true that they recognize man as a child of God in virtue of his rational nature. He is the image of God, and bears and reflects the divine likeness among the inhabitants of the earth, because he is a spirit, an intelligent, voluntary agent; and as such he is rightfully invested with universal dominion. This is what the Reformed theologians were accustomed to call the essential image of God, as distinguished from the accidental. The one consisting in the very nature of the soul, the other in its accidental endowments, that is, such as might be lost without the loss of humanity itself.

That should also answer Nick's first question.

- Charles Hodge, Systematic Theology Part 2 Chapter 2

Whether or not angels exist in God's presence is not in dispute. I was simply curious as to whether or not the RC must believe angels are indwelled by the Holy Spirit as seems to be implied by Nick's post.

I am also interested in your statement that certainly by their own nature they experience/experienced a closer union with God - could you expand on this?

Ryan said...

Objections to the Romish Doctrine.

The obvious objections to the Romish doctrine that original righteousness was a supernatural gift, are, (1.) That it supposes a degrading view of the original constitution of our nature. According to this doctrine the seeds of evil were implanted in the nature of man as it came from the hands of God. It was disordered or diseased, there was about it what Bellarmin calls a morbus or languor, which needed a remedy. But this is derogatory to the justice and goodness of God, and to the express declarations of Scripture, that man, humanity, human nature, was good. (2.) This doctrine is evidently founded on the Manichean principle of the inherent evil of matter. It is because man has a material body, that this conflict between the flesh and spirit, between good and evil, is said to be unavoidable. But this is opposed to the word of God and the faith of the Church. Matter is not evil. And there is no necessary tendency to evil from the union of the soul and body which requires to be supernaturally corrected. (3.) This doctrine as to original righteousness arose out of the Semi-Pelagianism of the Church of Rome, and was designed to sustain it. The two doctrines are so related that they stand or fall together. According to the theory in question, original sin is the simple loss of original righteousness. Humanity since the fall is precisely what it was before the fall, and before the addition of the supernatural gift of righteousness. Bellarmin says: "Non magis differt status homins post lapsum Adae a statu ejusdem in puris naturalibus, quam differat spoliatus a nudo, neque deterior est humana natura, si culpam originalem detrahas, neque magis ignorantia et infirmitate laborat, quam esset et laboraret in puris naturalibus condita. Proinde corruptio naturae non ex alicujus doni naturalis carentia, neque ex alicujus malae qualitatis accessu, sed cx sola doni supernaturalis ob Adae peccatum amissione profluxit." The conflict between the flesh and spirit is normal and original, and therefore not sinful. Concupiscence, the theological term for this rebellion of the lower against the higher elements of our nature, is not of the nature of sin. Andradius (the Romish theologian against whom Chemnitz directed his Examen of the Council of Trent) lays down the principle, "quod nihil habeat rationem peccati, nisi fiat a volente et sciente," which of course excludes concupiscence, whether in the renewed or unrenewed, from the category of sin. Hence, Bellarmin says; "Reatus est omnino inseparabilis ab eo, quod natura sua est dignum aeterna damnatione, qualem esse volunt concupiscentiam adversarii." This concupiscence remains after baptism, or regeneration, which Romanists say, removes all sin; and therefore, not being evil in its own nature, does not detract from the merit of good works, nor render perfect obedience, and even works of supererogation on the part of the faithful, impossible. This doctrine of the supernatural character of original righteousness as held by Romanists, is therefore intimately connected with their whole theological system; and is incompatible with the Scriptural doctrines not only of the original state of man, but also of sin and redemption. It will, however, appear in the sequel, that neither the standards of the Church of Rome nor the Romish theologians are consistent in their views of original sin and its relation to the loss of original righteousness.


- Charles Hodge, Systematic Theology Volume 2 Chapter 5

Nick said...

Ryan,

The Angels would require such grace as well, since they are creatures.


James,

You said: "would you please produce a few Romanist dogmatic statements that the Holy Spirit is the dona superanaturalia that Adam lost in the fall?"

The Holy Spirit is not strictly synonymous with super-added-grace, but comes with it. The super-added grace is what enables the soul to have the Spirit Indwell. Session 6, Canon 11 of the Council of Trent says:

"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,[Rom 5:5] 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."

Now in regards to Adam having 'original justice' (the old terminology for sanctifying grace), Session 5, Canon 1 says:

"1. If anyone does not confess that the first man, Adam, when he transgressed the commandment of God in paradise, immediately lost the holiness and justice in which he had been constituted, and through the offense of that prevarication incurred the wrath and indignation of god ... let him be anathema"

And St Pius V (the same one who led Trent) issued a further dogmatic statement against Michael Du Bay who embraced Calvinist-Pelagianist errors. Here are some of the condemned propositions:

"Denz: 1015 The reason of merit does not consist in this, that he who works well should have grace and the indwelling Holy Spirit, but in this only, that he obeys the divine law."

This is condemned, meaning the reverse is true: the grounds for merit "DO consist in this".

"Denz:1021 21. The sublimation and exaltation of human nature in participation with the divine nature has been due to the integrity of the first condition, and hence must be called natural, and not supernatural.

1023 23. Absurd is the opinion of those who say that man from the beginning, by a certain supernatural and gratuitous gift, was raised above the condition of his nature, so that by faith, hope, and charity he cherished God supernaturally."

These two are some of the most explicit statements I know of. Again, since these are condemned propositions, the reverse is true: the exaltation of man's original state is a super-natural one.

@GodnChzburgers said...

"I am also interested in your statement that certainly by their own nature they experience/experienced a closer union with God - could you expand on this?"

@Ryan: Angels are spiritual beings and reside in a world unseen to us. They are immortal and their intellect is such that they do not/cannot change their minds. For example, an angel can grab a book and no its entire content in an instant. Thus, when an angel acts he does so knowing the complete outcome of his actions.

So in the case of the fallen angels, when they choose against God they did so in complete knowledge of the outcome as far as in they would remain eternally separated from our mutual Creator.

Angels like Gabriel, Rafael and Michael remain in close union with God. They are saints. On the flip side, demons (fallen angels) such as Lucifer and Legion are forever in disunity with God. There is no need to pray for them for they can never and will never repent. That is what makes them such wicked advisories.

Now on the quoted text from Charles Hodge, Systematic Theology Volume 2 Chapter 5. He does a good job of summing up the majority Protestant position, from what I understand it to be, and erroneously attributing it to the Church.

The Church does not teach and never taught that man is inherently evil or that matter is evil. To the contrary, we successfully fought that heresy which seems to have made come back in Protestantism by the denial of the Real Presence of Christ in the Eucharist (to start). Also, concupiscence does remain after the saving grace of Baptism because, as you rightly stated "our human nature became corrupt."

The question is, how can our human nature become corrupt if original righteousness was not a gift and is part and parcel of human nature? It cannot. You see, if we were to lose something that is part of our nature - then we would cease to exist. Thus God gave us preternatural gifts, such as His grace and communion so that we may be separate from the other creatures. It is the Holy Spirit and our immortal souls that set us apart. Other creatures are not endowed with the same - except for the angels. Yet their spiritual nature makes them and the way these works with them vastly different than us here on earth.

Thus God became man in order to redeem man and restore these gifts primarily by means of the Sacraments: Baptism, Confirmation, Holy Orders, Holy Matrimony, Reconciliation, Extreme Unction and the Eucharist.

Through these means, which are rooted in faith and displayed by works (Jm 2:18), we are gifted with God's saving Grace.

***Before I forget, I wanted to address Hodges point that on the Saving Grace of Baptism (1 Pt 3:21). He says, and most Protestants agree (I believe) that Baptism does not save. That one is saved by Faith alone or accepting Christ as "your personal Lord and Savior" (not in the Bible by the way). If this is true, then how come Protestants still sin. How come you all still suffer from concupiscence same as me and every other Catholic, Christian, pagan, etc.? That is because, Salvation is a process. A restoration of the gift of Grace that we lost via Original Sin. In other words, we must actively and continuously cooperate with God in order for us to be saved.

What is inherent to human nature is free will - the ability to freely choose for or against God. We cannot lose what is intrinsically part of us.

EA said...

"That is because, Salvation is a process. A restoration of the gift of Grace that we lost via Original Sin. In other words, we must actively and continuously cooperate with God in order for us to be saved."

The Protestant would differ on several points here:

1) Sanctification is a process, while salvation is a one time event. In Catholicism, you can "lose your salvation", so you can be "saved" repeatedly. So even in the RCC salvation is a binary state, you either are or you are not saved.

2) Grace is not being restored. What is being "restored" through salvation is the original relationship with God. Grace is the unmerited / unearned favor of God which He gives to whom He chooses.

3) The Protestant denies that we can either add or subtract from our salvation through works. However, we need to be obedient to God.

@GodnChzburgers said...

@EA: Great summary!

Of course you must already know that I differ from you on some issues. And the more that I speak with my separated brethren the more I notice that God is really working to break down those walls that caused your founders to leave the Church.

For example:
1. Scripture does not support the "once saved, always saved" position. Never has. Part of this is what John says in 1 John 5:16-17, "If any one sees his brother committing what is not a mortal sin, he will ask, and God will give him life for those whose sin is not mortal. There is sin which is mortal; I do not say that one is to pray for that. All wrongdoing is sin, but there is sin which is not mortal."

So all sin is bad but some are worse. Mortal, referring to mortality or ability to die, sins are those that cause spiritual death. Death we know is the penalty for sin. In order to be alleviated of such a penalty one must remain in Christ. However, in John's words above, there are such sins that would cause one to no longer be united with Christ. For example, denying Our Blessed Lord or His commandments (yes, Jesus asks is to do something). As such, we need to seek forgiveness from God for these deadly sins in order to restore the gift of Grace.

God does not take His Grace away, we willingly choose to take His gift and toss it in the trash. So yes, in a "binary" sense you are either saved or not. Only God knows for sure.

2. Our original relationship with God is one defined by the Grace He gave us at creation so as to be in perfect communion with Him. God must give us the Grace to be in communion with Him as it is not in our nature to be Divine as He is.

3. To be obedient to God means that one must do something. You cannot earn your salvation, true. But you can merit extra gifts by keeping His commandments. Otherwise, what is the point of being obedient if nothing you do can cause you loss?

You see, no human can know the heart of another or even their own for that matter (1 Cor 4:3-5). So in reality, no one person can truly know that they are saved because only God knows the true state of your soul and your relationship with Him.

So no person on earth can rightly say they are saved whether by a one-time pronouncement of faith or even my frequenting the Sacraments. What we in the Church can say is, that God has provided us with every tool to help us remain in a state of Grace, in firm possession of that which only He can give.

Nick said...

Ryan,

That quote from Hodge was good but what must be kept in mind is that 'evil' and 'sin' when applied to 'nature' can only be speaking *relatively* - as opposed to inherently or ontologically.

All things that exist are *good* in their *nature*, since God holds everything in creation in existence. God cannot hold something *evil* in *nature* in existence, for that would require Dualism (competing powers). St Augustine struggled on this very issue before his conversion (since he was associated with Manicheanism), and talks about this in his Confessions:

"For corruption harms, but, unless it could diminish goodness, it could not harm. Either, then, corruption harms not, which cannot be; or, what is most certain, all which is corrupted is deprived of good. But if they be deprived of all good, they will cease to be. For if they be, and cannot be at all corrupted, they will become better, because they shall remain incorruptibly. And what more monstrous than to assert that those things which have lost all their goodness are made better? Therefore, if they shall be deprived of all good, they shall no longer be. So long, therefore, as they are, they are good; therefore whatsoever is, is good. That evil, then, which I sought whence it was, is not any substance; for were it a substance, it would be good. For either it would be an incorruptible substance, and so a chief good, or a corruptible substance, which unless it were good it could not be corrupted. I perceived, therefore, and it was made clear to me, that Thou made all things good, nor is there any substance at all that was not made by You
http://www.newadvent.org/fathers/110107.htm

Evil is simply an abusing of good or a degrading of good. Evil is akin to darkness. Darkness doesn't exist, it is simply the *absence* of Light. Similarly, evil is the privation of good. When it comes to man's human nature, it is always 'good', though with the lack of sanctifying grace man is by definition unrighteous. When sanctifying grace enters man's soul, he becomes (super-naturally) righteous.

Human nature itself, while good, has had it's physical and spiritual appetites confused, this is concupiscience (but this only is sin if *acted* upon, James 1:13-15). As an example, take the body's desire for food. The body naturally needs food and the individual is to take pleasure in eating, but after the fall these desires went out of harmony, such that man now desires more food than he needs (but it only becomes the actual sin of gluttony if he acts on those desires).

This is essentially how Rom 7b is to be understood. When Paul says things like "sin dwelling in me" (depending on how it's translated), this is not to be taken in the sense a black blob of evil is literally living in him (for that is heresy). Instead, it's to be understood in the sense of concupiscience, such as described above, and older translations like the KJV actually use the term "concupiscience" in Rom 7. The person without the Indwelling of the Spirit is a slave to sin in that they're spiritually dead in sin apart from having sanctifying grace (i.e. God's Love and the Holy Spirit in one's soul Rom 5:5). The person dead in sin can do no super-natural good at that point, since their works are merely on the natural level. They are not continually sinning, but their 'good works' have no value in God's sight for they are not done in a relationship with Him.

Nick said...

To elaborate on that point, as others have touched up as well, if the Protestant is going to say human nature (Humanity I) itself became corrupted, then it ceases to be human nature and is now a new nature consisting of an evil substance (Humanity II).

To compound this problem, this entails Jesus assumed this new (corrupted/sin) human nature too, otherwise He would be assuming a nature not common to us.

The Hodge quote actually takes the problem in the opposite direction of what he was (improperly) accusing Catholics of teaching (needing grace to correct an inherent sinful disorder) by transferring this very problem to his own Protestant position which states after man's fall, human nature became inherently sinfully disordered.

steelikat said...

an excellent explanation. thanks James.

EA said...

"Scripture does not support the "once saved, always saved" position. Never has."

I don't want to "go down the rabbit hole" on OSAS, but I would like to make this point:

The result of "being saved" is that you are a new creature in Christ (2 Cor. 5:17), you are "born again" (Jn. 3). You are a new creature in Christ with a new life; His life. You have died to yourself and have risen in the new life of Christ. How does one leave that state? Are they born again backwards becoming an old creature? Do you resurrect the old man Adam in yourself? How exactly does that work?

EA said...

"So in reality, no one person can truly know that they are saved because only God knows the true state of your soul and your relationship with Him."

Except that the RCC claims that those who are declared saints are in Heaven. So the RCC makes the precise claim that it DOES know...

@GodnChzburgers said...

On the saints, the Church has what I would call the authority to "bind and loose." However, she remains dependent on the Holy Spirit to "guide [her] into all truth" so she conducts rigorous investigations into alleged miracles performed by God at the request (intercession) of a particular candidate or saint. Thus she is able to canonize a saint.

Another key difference is that saints are physically dead and incapable of sinning as they received their personal judgment. You and I on the other hand remain quite capable of sinning despite being born again in the spirit.

Thus touching on your other issue, that of rebirth. We are made new creations through baptism but remain in a corrupt world with an attachment to sin. That is why no one can say they are saved. Because as John says in 1 John 4 (I think) the truly saved are incapable of sin. So you remain a sinner even after being saved or born again right?

The only answer is yes. And the antidote are the sacraments especially the Eucharist.

EA said...

"Another key difference is that saints are physically dead and incapable of sinning as they received their personal judgment. You and I on the other hand remain quite capable of sinning despite being born again in the spirit.

We are made new creations through baptism but remain in a corrupt world with an attachment to sin. That is why no one can say they are saved... So you remain a sinner even after being saved or born again right?

The...antidote are the sacraments especially the Eucharist."


Let's take a look at what this equates to.

No one, other than the saints in heaven are saved, since they can't sin anymore and have left this life in the "friendship of God".

We're "saved through Baptism", but are left sinners. Since Baptism only remits the "stain of Original Sin", we need the other Sacraments to "keep saving us" as the sin nature is still left. What all this adds up to is a powerless and ineffectual salvation that requires the frequent reception of temporarily efficacious sacraments. Each reception of sacramental grace except (maybe!) the very last one in one's life is overridden by the tendency to sin. This sounds like a drug company that will only produce a treatment for the symptoms of a disease rather than a cure because the sick are needed to keep revenue up.

@GodnChzburgers said...

@EA: Let me get this straight, you are no longer a sinner right? You are a living saint correct? You can commit no sin that would separate you from God like murdering a child while in the womb, right? You know for a fact that you are in complete and total communion with God. There is no lust, no fornication, no anger, no malice, no judgement, etc. in your life, thoughts, motives - heart correct?

The bible is real clear on the state of men so long as there is air in their lungs. (Rom 3:23)

You see, the grace that God gives is sufficient. Yet it is our free will that destroys it from working within us. There is nothing temporary about God's grace. The only thing that is temporary is our own desire to keep His commandments, such as the one that says, "Truly, truly, I say to you, unless you eat the flesh of the Son of man and drink his blood, you have no life in you; he who eats my flesh and drinks my blood has eternal life, and I will raise him up at the last day. For my flesh is food indeed, and my blood is drink indeed. He who eats my flesh and drinks my blood abides in me, and I in him. As the living Father sent me, and I live because of the Father, so he who eats me will live because of me. This is the bread which came down from heaven, not such as the fathers ate and died; he who eats this bread will live for ever." (John (RSV) 6:53-58)

The Sacraments are a way for us to combat sin, which is the deliberate choosing of the self instead of God.

@GodnChzburgers said...

Even "Dear Abby" got this:

"A church is a hospital for sinners, not a museum for saints."

EA said...

@ GodnChzburgers

Since you continue to justify the Sacramental Treadmill as it has been called, I'll provide a picture of it for you:

http://2.bp.blogspot.com/_7kiJg_zbgtw/TKLwFYxcwpI/AAAAAAAAAI4/GdfxJG_GvyU/s1600/RCC-Justification-Flow-Chart-150-DPI.jpg

Peace.

@GodnChzburgers said...

Dude. Just answer the question. Do you continue to sin after being "saved?" Yes or no.

Or better yet...If you die tonight are you certain that you will go to heaven (even though you remain filthy with sin - and we all know "nothing unclean shall enter in it..." Rev 21:27)?

Nick said...

I am interested in hearing what James and Ryan have to say about the St Augustine quote I posted yesterday.

David Waltz said...

For reasons unknown to me, the link provided by Blogger is not functioning...for those who may be interested in the issue of Pelagianism/semi-Pelagiansim and the RCC, here is the correct link:

http://articulifidei.blogspot.com/2011/06/does-roman-catholic-church-teach-either_29.html

Ryan said...

Sorry about the delay, I haven't had internet access for a few days.

@GodnChzburgers

Protestants deny that Christ is ontologically the bread eaten, not that He is present. We reject the former for reasons other than Manichean presuppositions. This is off topic. Regarding concupiscence:

...according to the doctrine of the Protestant churches, original sin, or corruption of nature derived front Adam, is... (1.) That this corruption of nature affects the whole soul. (2.) That it consists in the loss or absence of original righteousness, and consequent entire moral depravity of our nature, including or manifesting itself in an aversion from all spiritual good, or from God, and an inclination to all evil. (3.) That it is truly and properly of the nature of sin, involving both guilt and pollution. (4.) That it retains its character as sin even in the regenerated. (5.) That it renders the soul spiritually dead, so that the natural, or unrenewed man, is entirely unable of himself to do anything good in the sight of God.

This doctrine therefore stands opposed...

4. To the doctrine which admits a hereditary depravity of nature, and makes it consist in an inclination to sin, but denies that it is itself sinful. Some of the orthodox theologians made a distinction between vitium and peccatum. The latter term they wished to confine to actual sin, while the former was usied to designate indwelling and hereditary sinfulness. There are serious objections to this distinction: first, that vitium, as thus understood, is really sin; it includes both guilt and pollution, and is so defined by Vitringa and others who make the distinction. Secondly, it is opposed to established theological usage. Depravity, or inherent hereditary corruption, has always been designated peccatum, and therefore to say that it is not peccatum, but merely vitium, produces confusion and leads to error. Thirdly, it is contrary to Scripture for the Bible undeniably designates indwelling or hereditary corruption, or vitium, as a`marti,a. This is acknowledged by Romanists who deny that such concupiscence after regeneration is of the nature of sin.


To your question:

The question is, how can our human nature become corrupt if original righteousness was not a gift and is part and parcel of human nature? It cannot. You see, if we were to lose something that is part of our nature - then we would cease to exist.

Not at all. Not only did you ignore Hodge's criticisms of the RC position, you ignored Hodge's distinction between the essential and accidental endowments to our nature. Our nature became wholly corrupt insofar as our moral inclinations now tend to sin while unregenerate, but our ability to reason, while damaged, was never lost.

Yet their spiritual nature makes them and the way these works with them vastly different than us here on earth.

Could you point me to some of your sources regarding the information you've posted on the nature of angels?

If this is true, then how come Protestants still sin. How come you all still suffer from concupiscence same as me and every other Catholic, Christian, pagan, etc.?

Our sin nature is not immediately mortified upon regeneration because regeneration is the bestowal of new nature, not an erasure of the old one.

What is inherent to human nature is free will - the ability to freely choose for or against God. We cannot lose what is intrinsically part of us.

You haven't established free will is "intrinsically part of us," regardless of whether or not we were given a donum superadditum.

Ryan said...

Nick,

I think you too missed Hodge's distinction between the essential and accidental elements of our nature. Our moral inclinations are accidental, our ability to reason is essential. Christ didn't need to be incarnated with our moral inclinations. Hodge's comments in my above post on concupiscence may suffice as a response to your first few paragraphs.

Quick question: is a distinction between the image and likeness of God a dogmatic teaching in RC with the former referring to man's nature and the latter referring to a donum superadditum?

kaycee said...

If the transubstantiated host is the antidote for sin, why aren't Catholics given a weeks worth of hosts to take 2 or 3 a day or in case of emergencies, take a couple right after a particular naughty thought?

Nick said...

Ryan,

First your question: There is no dogmatic formulation regarding a distinction between the language of "image" and "likeness," only respected opinions, but the distinction between nature and donum superadditum is dogma.

In regards to your essence-accidents distinction - if man is only accidentally unrighteous, then I'd say you concede the Catholic point that man's nature (essence) is good and cannot be otherwise, thus refuting James' main assertion. The notion that sin is a substance or in any sense tangible has no merit, even if applied only to accidents, for the reasons already stated by Augustine.

To say Concupiscience is sin-proper is thus impossible, leaving only the Catholic option which is that it's an imbalance among otherwise good 'urges'. This is why Concupiscience has less and less sway the more one's soul is mortified.

Nick said...

Ryan,

I would add that a essence-accidents distinction doesn't avoid the issue of Indwelling of the Holy Spirit required to be super-added, since such cannot belong to man's nature as creature be it essence or accident.

The same goes for gifts like Faith - they must be super-added and Adam must have originally had them. A creature cannot believe in super-natural truths (e.g. Trinity) by their own (created) natural powers. But to say Adam had Heb11:1,6 type Faith is a problem for Protestant theology since it belongs solely to post-lapsarian man.

Constantine said...

Mr. Cheeseburgers wrote, “Scripture does not support the "once saved, always saved" position. Never has.”


That this position is taken by Roman Catholics has always fascinated me for two reasons: the first is that it directly contradicts their first “pope” and secondly because it contradicts both Old and New Testaments.
Here is what Peter had to say:

Praise be to the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ! In his great mercy he has given us new birth into a living hope through the resurrection of Jesus Christ from the dead, 4 and into an inheritance that can never perish, spoil or fade. 1 Peter 1:3-4


An inheritance that can “never perish, spoil or fade” cannot be lost.


Peter undoubtedly got the idea not only from Christ but also from the prophets. Jeremiah foretold that the children of the new covenant would have their wickedness forgiven and their sins forgiven as part of their creation into the new covenant. Of course, children who are forgiven in advance of their creation can never lose their salvation either. (Jeremiah 31:31-34. This passage is so critical to the entire Judeo-Christian heritage that it is repeated verbatim in Hebrews 8 and partially in Hebrews 10 for emphasis.)

So the Scripture does speak of once saved, always saved. Always has.

Meanwhile, back to your regularly scheduled topic.

Peace.

Constantine said...

Ryan,

Thanks for the Hodge quote. It was a great refresher.

The fact that Roman Catholics believe man was created in a fallen state, in contradiction to Genesis 1:31, is telling.

Peace.

Constantine said...

Mr. Cheeseburgers wrote,

The Church does not teach and never taught that man is inherently evil or that matter is evil.

What God the Father wrote,

The LORD saw how great the wickedness of the human race had become on the earth, and that every inclination of the thoughts of the human heart was only evil all the time. Genesis 6:5


Every inclination…only evil…all the time…from God the Father.

Hmmm. You may want to reevaluate your position Mr. Burgers.


Peace.

Constantine said...

Mr. Cheeseburgers wrote,

Otherwise, what is the point of being obedient if nothing you do can cause you loss?

The interesting thing, of course is that the Gospel is primarily about glorifying God and not saving ourselves. We tend to lose that meaning when we focus on our selves.
Therefore, the primary point of being obedient is to glorify God by living a life that is a worthy sacrifice to Him.

As to loss, Jesus knew nothing of this when He explained the plan of salvation in John 6:37-40 wherein you will find absolutely no human interaction.

Peace.

Ryan said...

Nick,

I think good is that which is intended to and in fact does manifest God's glory, whereas evil or sin is that which isn't and doesn't. Man's unregenerate nature is corrupt insofar as it tends toward evil. Whether or not you want to view that statement in light of Augustine's belief in relative goods such that it would mean what the corrupt nature most highly desires is something good "in itself" but is a desire not teleologically related to God's glory, the fact is I'm not conceding man's nature is good, but neither am I asserting man is physically prone to evil as did Manicheans. [In fact, I believe the opposite: sin is a result of fallacious thinking.]

What I am doing is distinguishing between what are the mutable and immutable predicates of human nature.

To say Concupiscience is sin-proper is thus impossible...

I didn't follow how you came to this conclusion.

I would add that a essence-accidents distinction doesn't avoid the issue of Indwelling of the Holy Spirit required to be super-added, since such cannot belong to man's nature as creature be it essence or accident.

I am not prepared to admit that the indwelling of the Spirit was necessary for prelapsarian Adam to commune with God. That may be the case, but I would need to see an argument for it. Moreover, this isn't directly related to whether or not there was a donum superadditum, so far as I can tell.

The same goes for gifts like Faith - they must be super-added and Adam must have originally had them. A creature cannot believe in super-natural truths (e.g. Trinity) by their own (created) natural powers.

Not since the entrance of sin, but why couldn't Adam have believed such if original righteousness was natural?

But to say Adam had Heb11:1,6 type Faith is a problem for Protestant theology since it belongs solely to post-lapsarian man.

Says who? I've not heard that.

@GodnChzburgers said...

@Constantine:
1) An inheritance that can “never perish, spoil or fade” cannot be lost. [Your logic is wrong. Just because the gift of grace and salvation can "never perish, spoil or fade" does not mean that you cannot reject it through sin. If your statement were correct, then Adam and Eve would not be able to "fall."

The same for Jer 31:31-34. It speaks of the covenant God makes with the "new Israel" and of course all is true but there is our freely chosen reject of the covenant through sin, which can and does occur even after "being saved."]

2) The fact that Roman Catholics believe man was created in a fallen state, in contradiction to Genesis 1:31, is telling. [That you believe Hodge is even more telling - as Hodge is not the Bible and was not even inspired. So what he is writing is bigoted opinion and you are falling right for it. Besides if this were the case then your next point is pure nonsense because you are trying to refute the opposite of what you say the Church teaches and the Faithful believe.]

3) Genesis 6:5; Every inclination…only evil…all the time…from God the Father. [Not much different from today no? However, this does not speak to the fact that Man was created good, yet through Original Sin, became corrupted and as always been the case: no good work comes from man - if must always come through, be aided by and in cooperation with God. This is attributed to the fallen nature we now have thanks to Original Sin.

See, you speak solely because you have a mouth.]

4) The interesting thing, of course is that the Gospel is primarily about glorifying God and not saving ourselves. We tend to lose that meaning when we focus on our selves. [Well, I would say you are partially right, except that our salvation is why Jesus became incarnate, no?


As to loss, Jesus knew nothing of this when He explained the plan of salvation in John 6:37-40 wherein you will find absolutely no human interaction. [Of course, Jesus does not speak on loss from His part because He does not do the throwing - we do. We choose against Him through sin and thus exclude ourselves. He loves us enough to allow our free choice to speak for itself. Also, there is an inherent human interaction for one must "believe" in Him. He does not believe in Himself for us. He merited the grace necessary for us to even be able to think about it.

Lastly, I love that you spoke of John 6 because in it Jesus speaks of the most precious gift He continues to give us - the Real Presence of Himself. If you recall He makes sure that everyone knows that He, "is the Bread of Life" and that we must, "eat the Flesh and drink the Blood of the Son of Man to have everlasting life and be risen on the last day."

Praised be the Lord Who humbles Himself daily to make Himself present before us in Love!]

@GodnChzburgers said...

@Ryan I wanted to quickly address your question on angels: "Could you point me to some of your sources regarding the information you've posted on the nature of angels?"

The Catechism of the Catholic Church
Saint Thomas Aquinas
and a great primer would be The Angels and Their Mission by Fr. Jean Cardinal Danielou, S.J. - check out my review at http://tiberriver.com/index.cfm/fuseaction/home.viewReview/review/1265

Constantine said...

Hi Cheesy,

You wrote, “If your statement were correct, then Adam and Eve would not be able to "fall."”

I'm sorry, I should have gone a little slower. Genesis 6:5 comes after the Fall of Adam and Eve which occurs in Genesis 3. God's pronouncement in Gen. 6:5 is about fallen humanity and does not have a thing to do with Adam and Eve.

Once more, “The same for Jer 31:31-34. It speaks of the covenant God makes with the "new Israel" and of course all is true but there is our freely chosen reject of the covenant through sin, which can and does occur even after "being saved."

So, there are two questions: 1. who is the “new Israel” and 2. what is the nature of the covenant God has made with them? The answer to the first can be found in Ephesians 1:4 or 1 Peter 1:11; God made His covenant with the elect He chose before time began. The answer to the second can be found in Christ's own words about the effect of the covenant:

I give them eternal life, and they shall never perish; no one will snatch them out of my hand. 29 My Father, who has given them to me, is greater than all; no one can snatch them out of my Father’s hand. 30 I and the Father are one.” (John 10:28-30)

Please note how far Christ goes out of His way to explain that those His Father has given Him can not be taken away. That is, those predestined to salvation will receive it and nothing can thwart the Father's will.

Please also note that when you say, “ all is true but there is our freely chosen reject of the covenant through sin” you are simply begging the question.


I would ask that you stop with the hateful comments.

Peace.

Nick said...

Ryan, (Part 1 of 2)

For the sake of others reading, I think there should be clarification on how the term "good" is being used:

1) Natural Good is that which relates to something's nature and is opposed to nothingness/degradation.

2) Good Acts are those actions Persons Will to be done that are in accordance with God's laws. These are opposed to Evil acts, which are actions Persons Will to be done contrary to God's laws.

To conflate #1 and #2 is a serious error. In Catholicism, Grace raises nature to make it capable of super-natural actions (#2) and super-natural qualities (#1).

So when you said:
"I think good is that which is intended to and in fact does manifest God's glory, whereas evil or sin is that which isn't and doesn't."

I would agree with this, but only applies to #2.

You then said:
"Man's unregenerate nature is corrupt insofar as it tends toward evil.

I could agree with this in so far as it applies to #1 - and in this case you're conceding the Catholic position that man's nature isn't evil - but things get sticky the way you're applying "regenerate" (see below).

You said:
"...I'm not conceding man's nature is good, but neither am I asserting man is physically prone to evil as did Manicheans. [In fact, I believe the opposite: sin is a result of fallacious thinking.]"

What you appear to be saying is that you don't believe man's *nature* is Good#2, which is correct, but it's incorrect in so far as it fails to take into consideration Good#1.


When I spoke of Concupiscience as sin proper, you responded:
"I didn't follow how you came to this conclusion."

You don't appear to have affirmed this, but traditional Protestant sources do. For example, the Westminster Confession Ch 6:5-6 says:
"This corruption of nature , during this life, does remain in those that are regenerated; and although it be, through Christ, pardoned, and mortified; yet both itself , and all the motions thereof, are truly and properly sin.

Every sin, both original and actual, being a transgression of the righteous law of God"

So "corruption of nature" is "turly and properly sin" just as Sinful Actions are - and this is repeated in the next quote where it says original sin is a transgression of God's law. This is Manicheanism and this is a conflating of #1 and #2.

Nick said...

(Part 2 of 2)



You said:
"I am not prepared to admit that the indwelling of the Spirit was necessary for prelapsarian Adam to commune with God. That may be the case, but I would need to see an argument for it."

This is directly related to the donum superadditum issue since the Indwelling is at the heart of it. For you to say "that may be the case" would require you to doubt Reformed theology, since it's wholly incompatible. I would give three arguments for why prelapsarian Adam had (to have) the Indwelling of the Holy Spirit:

A) To deny it would entail something akin to Pantheism, where either God would have to be reduced to the level of human experience or man would have to be naturally deified beyond the level of creation. When Paul says "nobody can say Jesus is Lord except by the Holy Spirit" and that it is the Spirit in us that causes our hearts to cry Abba, Father, this shows it is beyond man's natural powers to do such. If you were to say this only applies to sinners, then you grant Adam natural powers which only the Holy Spirit naturally has.

B) Paul says Christians are "temples of the Holy Spirit," meaning a function of humanity (since human nature never changed) is to have the Holy Spirit indwelling, and those that do not are by definition not Adopted.

C) Christ had the Indwelling of the Holy Spirit, and thus if Adam did not then there is no true First-Adam Second-Adam Parallel. For example, it would result in a grossly lop-sided account of Adam needing perfect obedience attained by his own natural powers while Jesus was not limited to natural human powers.

In response to my claim Adam needed Faith, you said:
"Not since the entrance of sin, but why couldn't Adam have believed such if original righteousness was natural?"

Because such is a super-natural power. Only God is infinite, thus creation needs a bridge of sorts to be able to reach Him. One example I use is that of a telescope: our eyes cannot naturally see deep-space distances, but with the aid of a super-added gift like a telescope your eyes now can see far distant objects. Further, to admit such would entail affirming synergism (anathema to Protestant ears), for then Adam would be cooperating with grace from the moment he was called to obey.


In regards to Adam having Heb 11:1,6 type faith, I said that would be a problem for Protestantism, to which you said:
"Says who? I've not heard that."

Such a thing would demolish the whole idea of "saving faith," since Adam would have saving faith himself - indeed, he would have needed Heb 11 Faith to even be able to obey God.