Friday, September 10, 2010

More on the donum superadditum and the unBiblical Roman Doctrine of Grace

There are more than a few areas where Protestants and Roman Catholics differ at a very fundamental level. One of these is over the very meaning of the word "grace." And when we talk about something as fundamental as being "saved by grace," we really end up talking about two different things.

I noted yesterday at the top of my post (which unfortunately was ignored in the comments throughout the day) how 1 Clement (supposably a pope!) misunderstood the New Testament concept of grace. That's one area of study that I hope to follow through with here.

A second area of fundamental difference (closely related) is in the doctrine of man. In Protestant theology, man was very good when God created him. In Roman Catholic doctrine, natural man wasn't quite good enough, and so over time and apparantly upon reflection the Roman church, needed something more.

Ludwig Ott, in Fundamentals of Catholic Dogma (103 ff.) puts it this way:
Our first parents, before the Fall, were endowed with sanctifying grace. (De Fide.)

The Council of Trent, in opposition to Pelagianism and to modern Rationalism, teaches: If anyone will not confess that when the first man Adam had transgressed the mandate of God in paradice he did not immediately lose the sanctity and justice in which he had been constituted ... [let him be anathema -- Council of Trent, session V (June 17, 1546) Decree on Original Sin, D. 788]
That's what the dogma is. What follows is sort of like the supporting cast, the theological underpinnings of the dogma:
The elevation to the state of grace is indicated by the intimacy between God and the progenitors of the human race in Paradise. A scriptural proof is provided by St. Paul's teaching on the Redemption. The Apostle teaches that Christ, the second Adam, restored what the first Adam had lost, the state of holiness and justice. But if he had lost it, he must previously have received it.
Ott gives the following Scriptural verses in support of this doctrine: Romans 5:12 ff, Ephesians 1:10, Ephesians 4:23 ff, 1 Corinthians 6:11, 2 Corinthians 5:17, Galatians 6:15, Romans 5:10 ff (not sure why he didn't list this up with 5:12, except maybe that this is an illustration again of how Roman Catholics treat the Bible: it's not God's Word to us, but a series of "proof-texts" to be mined in support of Catholic dogma, wherever they can find it.), and Romans 8:14 ff.) Continuing with Ott (Latin omitted):
The Fathers find the supernatural endowment with grace indicated in 1:26 (supernatural identity of image and likeness with God); in Genesis 2:7 (supernatural life-principle), and in [the apocryphal] Ecclesiasticus 7:30 ("Only this have I found that God made man right").

St. Augustine declars that our renewal (Eph 4:23) consists in this that: "We have received justice from which man had fallen off through sin" (De Gen. ad Litt. VI 24, 35). St. John Damascene says: "The Creator has communicated His Divine Grace to man and thereby made him a participant in his community" (De fide orth. II 30).

As regards the time of man's elevation to the state of grace, most theologians, including St. Thomas and his school, are of the opinion that the first men were created in the state of sanctifying grace. Petrus Lombardus and the Franciscan school, on the other hand, teach that the first human beings on their creation received only the preternatural gifts of integrity, and were required to prepare themselves with the help of actual grace for the reception of sanctifying grace. The Council of Trent has deliberately left the question undecided.
So this is the doctrine of the donum superadditum. Ryan posted a comment fairly far down the other thread, a selection by Gordon Clark that goes into some detail about the origin of this doctrine, and I thought it would be helpful to reproduce some portion of it:
"The idea that God created man in his own image is so clearly stated in Genesis that the early church fathers could not miss it. It is also such an amazing idea that they could not refrain from discussing it. Some of the first attempts were, naturally, less than intelligible. For example, Gregory of Nyssa expatiates in flowery metaphors conveying awe of the subject, but which lack any explanatory clarity. Well, perhaps there is one clear point: The image has something to do with human intelligence. This is at least better than Justin Martyr’s identification of it with the bodily form. Augustine took the image to be the knowledge of the truth, and he took the likeness to be the love of virtue. In his Summa Theologica (Q. 93, Art. 9) after stating some views to be rejected, Thomas Aquinas in his usual form writes, “On the contrary, Augustine says, ‘Some consider that these two were mentioned not without reason, namely image and likeness, since if they meant the same, one would have sufficed.’ “This attempt to distinguish rather than to identify image and likeness was not one of Augustine’s happiest tentatives. If the Bible were written in the technical language of Aristotle’s Metaphysics, one could well imagine that the two words bore different meanings. But in literary language such as the Bible uses, two such words can be synonymously used for the sake of emphasis. The Psalms are replete with this device: “I cried unto Thee, O Lord, and unto the Lord I made my supplication”; and “Blessed is he whose transgression is forgiven, and whose sin is covered,” where there are two pairs of synonyms; and “Thy word is a lamp unto my feet and a light unto my path.” There are many such.

Even so, it is not fatal to the doctrines of grace if a distinction, without faulty additions, is made between image and likeness. Since the New Testament refers to knowledge and righteousness, we could call the one the image and the other the likeness. Such a speculation, however, is rather fanciful and futile. One must therefore consider what distinction the Roman church imposed on the terms and how it fitted into a distortion of Biblical truth."

"In support of the distinction, Thomas had already (Q. 93,Art. 1) argued that where an image exists, there must be likeness; but a likeness does not necessarily mean an image. Now, the Roman church developed this, which so far is innocuous, into something that contradicts important parts of the Biblical message. Their present view is that the image itself is rationality, created because, when, and as man was created. But after man was created, God gave him an extra gift, a donum superadditum, the likeness, defined as original righteousness. Man therefore was not strictly created righteous. Adam was at first morally neutral. Perhaps he was not even neutral. Bellarmin speaks of the original Adam, composed of body and soul, as disordered and diseased, afflicted with a morbus or languor that needed a remedy. Yet Bellarmin does not quite say that this morbus is sin; it is rather something unfortunate and less than ideal. To remedy this defect God gave the additional gift of righteousness. Adam’s fall then resulted in the loss of original righteousness, but he fell only to the neutral moral level on which he was created. In this state, because of his free will, he is able-at least in some low degree-to please God.

Obviously this view has soteriological implications...One horrendous implication of all this is that although Christ’s death remains necessary to salvation, it is not sufficient. Human merit is indispensable.

However logically implicated this soteriology is, the present study should not stray too far from the image itself. Above, it was said that an assertion of a distinction between image and likeness, by itself, is not fatal. But it is not Biblical either. Scripture makes no distinction between image and likeness. Not only does the New Testament make nothing of such a distinction, even in Genesis the two words are used interchangeably. Genesis 1:27 uses the word image alone, and Genesis 5:1 uses likeness alone, though in each case the whole is intended. The likeness therefore is not an extra gadget attached to man after his creation, not a donum superadditum, like a suit of clothes that he could take off. It is rather the unitary person."
- Gordon Clark, "The Biblical Doctrine of Man" (pgs. 11-14)

My hope is that more of this will follow -- I do want to get into Torrance's study of how the definition of the word "Grace" changed over time -- and how the Roman church, at least, lost its original meaning in favor of later constructions. That will have to come later.


Nick said...

I think this is a very important subject, and I feel obligated to respond considering some of the things you said:

-I believe when the Bible says "by grace you have been saved," only the Catholic understanding fits the context, as this post clearly shows.

-You say Clement1 "misunderstood" one of the central tenets of soteriology, yet his writing is one of the closes to the Apostles we have, meaning you're saying either (a) you know better than Clement or (b) he couldn't have been a genuine or reliable Christian.

-Your comments on anthropology are a bit off and even confusing. For example, you say in Protestantism man was created "very good"...but what does this MEAN?

-You say in Catholicism natural man "wasn't quite good enough"...yet where are you getting this? It's a distortion. There is no "good enough" when it comes to the Indwelling of the Holy Spirit - it can *only* be a donum superadditum. In Catholicism, grace builds on nature, raising nature. It's not that nature isn't "good enough," but rather nature doesn't in itself carry the abilities gracious gifts do. Here's an example St Augustine gave, a person can have perfect eyesight, but they cannot see in the dark. However, if they are assisted by fire, they can now see in the dark. It's not that they eye "wasn't quite good enough" but rather it took something beyond the eye's natural abilities. Same thing with faith, enabling the individual to believe in God. A person with perfect eyesight cannot see far away stars and planets no matter how hard they try, but with a telescope they can. Faith is akin to a telescope.

Or do you not believe the divine gifts God grants through the spirit are anything but simply natural abilities of man, had he not fallen?

In the Protestant scheme, this doesn't make sense, but worse than that, the Protestant scheme leads to all sorts of heresies, such as manicheanism, when they say man has a "sin nature" after the fall. Further, this entails that Christ had to take on something other than human nature when He became Incarnate.

EBW said...

Mr. Bugay,

If I trace this out carefully, one may see the very good man of Protestant theology as ACTUALLY a better state than regenerated man of Protestant theology. The VG man was CAPABLE of fulfilling the Covenant of Works (true merit without grace) in original righteousness, but without an immutable will. After the fall, God regenerated some of Adam's sons and ENABLES them to will freely and DO (but no merit) that which is spiritually good. Though still very good, the will of man remains mutable.

Please tell us why the RCC is degraded for seeing natural man as not good enough and requiring something superadded ?

Before the fall:

VG man was able to fulfill C of Works
VG man had no grace
VG man had a mutable will

After the fall (regenerated):

VG man was unable
VG man needs grace (not withstanding the different understandings of grace)
VG man has a mutable will

Nick said...

Well, it's interesting that there have been no new comments on this topic. Seems like not enough thought was put into the original post.

I don't see my original post up there where the first comment should be, but I don't believe it was intentionally removed since I've seen reports of posts disappearing due to blogger errors.

EBW's claims in many ways echo my own.

Matthew D. Schultz said...

Nick writes:

Well, it's interesting that there have been no new comments on this topic. Seems like not enough thought was put into the original post.

Yes, Nick, clearly that's the only possible explanation. I'm glad we finally have a simple, yet objective method to determine whether a blog post is thoughtful.

Nick said...


It is not an uncommon trend *at all* for substantial issues to receive little to no attention, while irrelevant, name-calling, and otherwise going-nowhere-fast type posts and discussions quickly rack up posts.

MORE OFTEN THAN NOT, whenever a thread has more than 10 posts, and especially when it goes over 50 posts, the thread is nothing but name calling and cheap shots with little to no substance.

Algo said...


I found Ott online: