Sunday, July 29, 2007

The Religion Of Science

“Five independent lines of evidence ---the motions of the galaxies, the discovery of the primordial fireball, the laws of thermodynamics, the abundance of helium in the Universe and the life story of the stars--- point to one conclusion; all indicate that the Universe had a beginning. In the past, a few scientists bit the bullet and dared to ask, ‘What came before the beginning?’ Edmund Whittaker, a British physicist, wrote on religion and the new astronomy called The Beginning and the End of the World in which he said, ‘There is no ground for supposing that matter and energy existed before and was suddenly galvanized into action. For what could distinguish that moment from all other moments in eternity?’ Whittaker concluded, ‘It is simpler to postulate creation ex nihilo---Divine will constituting Nature from nothingness.’ Some scientists were even bolder, and asked ‘Who was the Prime Mover?’ The British theorist, Edward Milne, wrote a mathematical treatise on relativity which concluded by saying, ‘As to the first cause of the Universe, in the context of expansion, that is left for the reader to insert, but our picture is incomplete without Him.’

But the views of most physicists and astronomers remained closer to that of Saint Augustine, who, asking himself what God was doing before he made Heaven and Earth, gave the reply, ‘He was creating Hell for people who asked questions like that.’ In fact, some prominent scientists began to feel the same irritation over the expanding Universe that Einstein had expressed earlier. Eddington wrote in 1931, ‘I have no axe to grind in this discussion,’ but ‘the notion of a beginning is repugnant to me…I simply do not believe that the present order of things started off with a bang…the expanding Universe is preposterous…incredible…it leaves me cold.’ The German chemist, Walter Nernst, wrote, ‘To deny the infinite duration of time would be to betray the very foundations of science.’ Phillip Morrison of MIT said in a BBC film on cosmology, ‘I find it hard to accept the Big Bang theory; I would like to reject it.’ And Allan Sandage of the Carnegie Observatories, who established the uniformity of the expansion of the Universe out to nearly ten billion light years, said, ‘It is such a strange conclusion…it cannot really be true.’ (The italics are mine.)

There is a strange ring of feeling and emotion in these reactions. They come from the heart, whereas you would expect the judgments to come from the brain. Why? I think part of the answer is that scientists cannot bear the thought of a natural phenomenon which cannot be explained, even with unlimited time and money. There is a kind of religion in science; it is the religion of a person who believes there is order and harmony in the Universe. Every event can be explained in a rational way as the product of some previous event; every effect must have its cause; there is no First Cause. Einstein wrote, ‘The scientist is possessed by the sense of universal causation.’

This religious faith of the scientist is violated by the discovery that the world had a beginning under conditions in which the known laws of physics are not valid, and as a product of forces or circumstances we cannot discover. When that happens, the scientist has lost control. If he really examines the implications, he would be traumatized. As usual when faced with trauma, the mind reacts by ignoring the implications---in science this is known as ‘refusing to speculate’---or trivializing the origin of the world by calling it the Big Bang, as if the Universe were a firecracker.

Consider the enormity of the problem. Science has proven that the Universe exploded into being at a certain moment. It asks, What cause produced this effect? Who or what put the matter and energy into the Universe? Was the Universe created out of nothing, or was it gathered together out of pre-existing materials? And science cannot answer these questions, because, according to the astronomers, in the first moments of its existence the Universe was compressed to an extraordinary degree, and consumed by the heat of a fire beyond human imagination.

The shock of that instant must have destroyed every particle of evidence that could have yielded a clue to the cause of the great explosion. An entire world, rich in structure and history, may have existed before our Universe appeared; but if it did, science cannot tell what kind of world it was. A sound explanation may exist for the explosive birth of our Universe; but if it does, science cannot find out what the explanation is. The scientist’s pursuit of the past ends in the moment of creation.

This is an exceedingly strange development, unexpected by all but the theologians. They have always accepted the word of the Bible: In the beginning God created heaven and earth. To which St. Augustine added, ‘Who can understand this mystery or explain it to others?’ The development is unexpected because science has had such extraordinary success in tracing the chain of cause and effect backward in time. We have been able to connect the appearance of man on this planet to the crossing of the threshold of life on the earth, the manufacture of the chemical ingredients of life within stars that have long since expired, the formation of those stars out of the primal mists, and the expansion and cooling of the parent cloud of gases out of the cosmic fireball.

Now we would like to pursue that inquiry farther back in time, but the barrier to further progress seems insurmountable. It is not a matter of another year, another decade of work, another measurement, or another theory; at this moment it seems as though science will never be able to raise the curtain on the mystery of creation. For the scientist who has lived by his faith in the power of reason, the story ends like a bad dream. He has scaled the mountains of ignorance; he is about to conquer the highest peak; as he pulls himself over the final rock, he is greeted by a band of theologians who have been sitting there for centuries.”

-Robert Jastrow in God and the Astronomers.

Saturday, July 21, 2007

Whether Sacraments Are Necessary For Man's Salvation?

Objection 1: It seems that sacraments are not necessary for man's salvation. For the Apostle says (1 Tim. 4:8): "Bodily exercise is profitable to little." But the use of sacraments pertains to bodily exercise; because sacraments are perfected in the signification of sensible things and words, as stated above (Q[60], A[6]). Therefore sacraments are not necessary for the salvation of man.

Objection 2: Further, the Apostle was told (2 Cor. 12:9): "My grace is sufficient for thee." But it would not suffice if sacraments were necessary for salvation. Therefore sacraments are not necessary for man's salvation.

Objection 3: Further, given a sufficient cause, nothing more seems to be required for the effect. But Christ's Passion is the sufficient cause of our salvation; for the Apostle says (Rom. 5:10): "If, when we were enemies, we were reconciled to God by the death of His Son: much more, being reconciled, shall we be saved by His life." Therefore sacraments are not necessary for man's salvation.

On the contrary, Augustine says (Contra Faust. xix): "It is impossible to keep men together in one religious denomination, whether true or false, except they be united by means of visible signs or sacraments." But it is necessary for salvation that men be united together in the name of the one true religion. Therefore sacraments are necessary for man's salvation.

I answer that, Sacraments are necessary unto man's salvation for three reasons. The first is taken from the condition of human nature which is such that it has to be led by things corporeal and sensible to things spiritual and intelligible. Now it belongs to Divine providence to provide for each one according as its condition requires. Divine wisdom, therefore, fittingly provides man with means of salvation, in the shape of corporeal and sensible signs that are called sacraments.

The second reason is taken from the state of man who in sinning subjected himself by his affections to corporeal things. Now the healing remedy should be given to a man so as to reach the part affected by disease. Consequently it was fitting that God should provide man with a spiritual medicine by means of certain corporeal signs; for if man were offered spiritual things without a veil, his mind being taken up with the material world would be unable to apply itself to them.

The third reason is taken from the fact that man is prone to direct his activity chiefly towards material things. Lest, therefore, it should be too hard for man to be drawn away entirely from bodily actions, bodily exercise was offered to him in the sacraments, by which he might be trained to avoid superstitious practices, consisting in the worship of demons, and all manner of harmful action, consisting in sinful deeds.

It follows, therefore, that through the institution of the sacraments man, consistently with his nature, is instructed through sensible things; he is humbled, through confessing that he is subject to corporeal things, seeing that he receives assistance through them: and he is even preserved from bodily hurt, by the healthy exercise of the sacraments.

Reply to Objection 1: Bodily exercise, as such, is not very profitable: but exercise taken in the use of the sacraments is not merely bodily, but to a certain extent spiritual, viz. in its signification and in its causality.

Reply to Objection 2: God's grace is a sufficient cause of man's salvation. But God gives grace to man in a way which is suitable to him. Hence it is that man needs the sacraments that he may obtain grace.

Reply to Objection 3: Christ's Passion is a sufficient cause of man's salvation. But it does not follow that the sacraments are not also necessary for that purpose: because they obtain their effect through the power of Christ's Passion; and Christ's Passion is, so to say, applied to man through the sacraments according to the Apostle (Rom. 6:3): "All we who are baptized in Christ Jesus, are baptized in His death."

Whether The Will Is Moved Of Necessity By The Exterior Mover Which Is God?

Objection 1: It would seem that the will is moved of necessity by God. For every agent that cannot be resisted moves of necessity. But God cannot be resisted, because His power is infinite; wherefore it is written (Rom. 9:19): "Who resisteth His will?" Therefore God moves the will of necessity.

Objection 2: Further, the will is moved of necessity to whatever it wills naturally, as stated above (A[2], ad 3). But "whatever God does in a thing is natural to it," as Augustine says (Contra Faust. xxvi, 3). Therefore the will wills of necessity everything to which God moves it.

Objection 3: Further, a thing is possible, if nothing impossible follows from its being supposed. But something impossible follows from the supposition that the will does not will that to which God moves it: because in that case God's operation would be ineffectual. Therefore it is not possible for the will not to will that to which God moves it. Therefore it wills it of necessity.

On the contrary, It is written (Ecclus. 15:14): "God made man from the beginning, and left him in the hand of his own counsel." Therefore He does not of necessity move man's will.

I answer that, As Dionysius says (Div. Nom. iv) "it belongs to Divine providence, not to destroy but to preserve the nature of things." Wherefore it moves all things in accordance with their conditions; so that from necessary causes through the Divine motion, effects follow of necessity; but from contingent causes, effects follow contingently. Since, therefore, the will is an active principle, not determinate to one thing, but having an indifferent relation to many things, God so moves it, that He does not determine it of necessity to one thing, but its movement remains contingent and not necessary, except in those things to which it is moved naturally.

Reply to Objection 1: The Divine will extends not only to the doing of something by the thing which He moves, but also to its being done in a way which is fitting to the nature of that thing. And therefore it would be more repugnant to the Divine motion, for the will to be moved of necessity, which is not fitting to its nature; than for it to be moved freely, which is becoming to its nature.

Reply to Objection 2: That is natural to a thing, which God so works in it that it may be natural to it: for thus is something becoming to a thing, according as God wishes it to be becoming. Now He does not wish that whatever He works in things should be natural to them, for instance, that the dead should rise again. But this He does wish to be natural to each thing---that it be subject to the Divine power.

Reply to Objection 3: If God moves the will to anything, it is incompatible with this supposition, that the will be not moved thereto. But it is not impossible simply. Consequently it does not follow that the will is moved by God necessarily.

-St. Thomas Aquinas in the Summa Theologica, Prima Secunda, Q. 10, a. 4.

Quote Of The Day

"There is no storm that can shipwreck the most sweet heart of Mary. When you see the squall coming, if you seek safety in the firm refuge that is Mary, there will be no danger of your being hauled off course or going down."

-St. Josemaria Escriva, founder of Opus Dei.

Friday, July 20, 2007

Quote Of The Day

"For me, theology is the attempt to get to know the Beloved better."

-Pope Benedict XVI

Thursday, July 19, 2007

God Is Love

"In order to incline our will to fulfill exactly the will of God and to promote His glory, let us remember that He has set the example by loving and honoring us in a thousand different ways. He created us out of nothing, after His own likeness, and He subordinated all other things to our use. In our redemption He passed by the most brilliant angel to choose His only Son, Who paid the price of the world, not with perishable gold or silver, but with His sacred blood in a death as cruel as it was wretched. He continually guards us from the fury of our enemies, He fights for us with His grace, and, to nourish and strengthen us, He is always ready to feed us with the precious body of His Son in the sacrament of the Altar. Do not these constitute convincing proofs of God’s tremendous love for us? Who can understand the immensity of His love for such wretched creatures? What should be our gratitude towards so generous a benefactor! If the great men of the world think they are obliged to do something in return for the respect paid them, even by those inferior as to position and wealth, what return ought not the very worms of the earth make when honored with such remarkable love and esteem by the sovereign Lord of the Universe? In particular, we must never forget that His majesty is infinitely worthy of our service, a service motivated by a single principle of love, whose only object is His will and desire."

-Lawrence Scupoli in The Spiritual Combat.

Wednesday, July 18, 2007

Lawmakers Present Proposal To Proclaim Christ King Of Poland

Forty six Polish lawmakers signed a proposal last week that would proclaim Christ as King of Poland. The idea is being promoted by the League of Polish Families, the Law and Justice Party, and the Party of Farm Workers.

Representative Artur Gorski of the Law and Justice Party is leading the initiative. “We want Jesus Christ to be named king of the Poles,” he said, adding that, “More than ever Poland needs leadership and divine help to face new times. Some may mock our proposal, but for me it is a question of religious sensibility and political respect,” Gorski said in an interview with the Polish daily Gazeta Wyborcza.

He said he was hopeful the Church would support the measure. “All I can say is that since I first spoke of this idea I have received nine thousand letters of support,” he stated.

350 years ago King John II Casmir proclaimed the Virgin Mary as Perpetual Queen of Poland.

The president of the Congress, Marek Jurek said, “Before debating anything we need to know what the Church thinks.” [Source]

Monday, July 16, 2007

Whether God Loves All Things?

Objection 1: It seems that God does not love all things. For according to Dionysius (Div. Nom. iv, 1), love places the lover outside himself, and causes him to pass, as it were, into the object of his love. But it is not admissible to say that God is placed outside of Himself, and passes into other things. Therefore it is inadmissible to say that God loves things other than Himself.

Objection 2: Further, the love of God is eternal. But things apart from God are not from eternity; except in God. Therefore God does not love anything, except as it exists in Himself. But as existing in Him, it is no other than Himself. Therefore God does not love things other than Himself.

Objection 3: Further, love is twofold---the love, namely, of desire, and the love of friendship. Now God does not love irrational creatures with the love of desire, since He needs no creature outside Himself. Nor with the love of friendship; since there can be no friendship with irrational creatures, as the Philosopher shows (Ethic. viii, 2). Therefore God does not love all things.

Objection 4: Further, it is written (Ps. 5:7): "Thou hatest all the workers of iniquity." Now nothing is at the same time hated and loved. Therefore God does not love all things.
On the contrary, It is said (Wis. 11:25): "Thou lovest all things that are, and hatest none of the things which Thou hast made."

I answer that, God loves all existing things. For all existing things, in so far as they exist, are good, since the existence of a thing is itself a good; and likewise, whatever perfection it possesses. Now it has been shown above (Q[19], A[4]) that God's will is the cause of all things. It must needs be, therefore, that a thing has existence, or any kind of good, only inasmuch as it is willed by God. To every existing thing, then, God wills some good. Hence, since to love anything is nothing else than to will good to that thing, it is manifest that God loves everything that exists. Yet not as we love. Because since our will is not the cause of the goodness of things, but is moved by it as by its object, our love, whereby we will good to anything, is not the cause of its goodness; but conversely its goodness, whether real or imaginary, calls forth our love, by which we will that it should preserve the good it has, and receive besides the good it has not, and to this end we direct our actions: whereas the love of God infuses and creates goodness.

Reply to Objection 1: A lover is placed outside himself, and made to pass into the object of his love, inasmuch as he wills good to the beloved; and works for that good by his providence even as he works for his own. Hence Dionysius says (Div. Nom. iv, 1): "On behalf of the truth we must make bold to say even this, that He Himself, the cause of all things, by His abounding love and goodness, is placed outside Himself by His providence for all existing things."

Reply to Objection 2: Although creatures have not existed from eternity, except in God, yet because they have been in Him from eternity, God has known them eternally in their proper natures; and for that reason has loved them, even as we, by the images of things within us, know things existing in themselves.

Reply to Objection 3: Friendship cannot exist except towards rational creatures, who are capable of returning love, and communicating one with another in the various works of life, and who may fare well or ill, according to the changes of fortune and happiness; even as to them is benevolence properly speaking exercised. But irrational creatures cannot attain to loving God, nor to any share in the intellectual and beatific life that He lives. Strictly speaking, therefore, God does not love irrational creatures with the love of friendship; but as it were with the love of desire, in so far as He orders them to rational creatures, and even to Himself. Yet this is not because He stands in need of them; but only on account of His goodness, and of the services they render to us. For we can desire a thing for others as well as for ourselves.

Reply to Objection 4: Nothing prevents one and the same thing being loved under one aspect, while it is hated under another. God loves sinners in so far as they are existing natures; for they have existence and have it from Him. In so far as they are sinners, they have not existence at all, but fall short of it; and this in them is not from God. Hence under this aspect, they are hated by Him.

-St. Thomas Aquinas, Summa Theologica Prima Pars, Q. 20, a. 2

Sunday, July 15, 2007

You Think His Popular Work Is Great, You Should See His Academic Stuff!

The person I am referring to in the title is Dr. Scott Hahn. If you take theology seriously, then you will definitely want to check out the selection of his academic articles posted on the St. Paul Center for Biblical Theology's website.

Wednesday, July 11, 2007


While procrastinating from studying Greek, I came up with a list of my top five favorite theologians.

The list is as follows (I haven't committed to any particular order yet):

1) Thomas Aquinas
2) Matthias Scheeben
3) Reginald Garrigou-Lagrange
4) John Henry Newman
5) Joseph Ratzinger/ Benedict XVI

I don't know who would be the rest of my top 10. I'd have to procastinate some more to come up with the rest, but I must return to studying.

Anyways, check these guys out. They're incredible!

Also, if anyone has a copy of Scheeben's "Nature and Grace" that they want to sell for $40 or less, let me know!

Tuesday, July 10, 2007

Principals Of Predestination

"What is due to each one, what God refuses to nobody, is sufficient grace for salvation, which makes it really possible to keep the commandments, for God never commands what is impossible. As for efficacious grace, especially the grace of final perserverance, this He grants by reason of His mercy. But of the adults, only those are deprived of it who through their own fault refuse to accept it. The doctors of the Church often pointed this out in the comparison they drew between the death of the good thief and that of Judas who resisted the final appeal of grace."

-Fr. Reginald Garrigou-Lagrange from his book Predestination.

Oh, Really?!

"The Orthodox Church is, according to Apostolic Succession, successor and heir to the old, undivided Church. Which is why everything contained in the Catholic document rightfully applies to the Orthodox Church," [...]Metropolitan [Kirill] said.

....except the parts about the True Church being "One" and "Catholic."

The Orthodox Church may be a "successor and heir to the old, undivided Church", but the Roman Catholic Church is the old, undivided Church!

Sunday, July 08, 2007

Pope Benedict XVI And Our Lady

Pope Benedict XVI has a great devotion to Our Blessed Mother and he has consecrated his pontificate to her.

His devotion to Mary has grown considerably in his lifetime. Read all about it in my paper:

The Mariology of Joseph Ratzinger.

Where Is Mary In The Old Testament?

To find the answer to the above question, there is no one better to ask than the Father's of the Church.

And that is exactly what I did in my paper:

The Church Father's Marian Interpretation of the Old Testament.


The Protestant Use Of "Texts"

"Protestants judge of the Apostles' doctrine by "texts," as they are commonly called, taken from Scripture, and nothing more; and they judge of our doctrine too by "texts" taken from our writings, and nothing more. Picked verses, bits torn from the context, half sentences, are the warrant of the Protestant Idea, of what is Apostolic truth, on the one hand, and, on the other, of what is Catholic falsehood. As they have their chips and fragments of St. Paul and St. John, so have they their chips and fragments of Suarez and Bellarmine; and out of the former they make to themselves their own Christian religion, and out of the latter our Anti-christian superstition. They do not ask themselves sincerely, as a matter of fact and history, What did the Apostles teach then? nor do they ask sincerely, and as a matter of fact, What do Catholics teach now? they judge of the Apostles and they judge of us by scraps, and on these scraps they exercise their private judgment,—that is, their Prejudice, as I described two Lectures back, and their Assumed Principles, as I described in my foregoing Lecture; and the process ends in their bringing forth, out of their scraps from the Apostles, what they call "Scriptural Religion," and out of their scraps from our theologians, what they call Popery.

The first Christians were a living body; they were thousands of zealous, energetic men, who preached, disputed, catechized, and conversed from year's end to year's end. They spoke by innumerable tongues, with one heart and one soul, all saying the same thing; all this multitudinous testimony about the truths of Revelation, Protestants narrow down into one or two meagre sentences, which at their own will and pleasure they select from St. Paul, and at their own will and pleasure they explain, and call the Gospel. They do just the same thing with us; Catholics, at least, have a lively illustration and evidence of the absurdity of Protestant private judgment as exercised on the Apostolic writings, in the visible fact of its absurdity as exercised on themselves. They, as their forefathers, the first Christians, are a living body; they, too, preach, dispute, catechize, converse with innumerable tongues, saying the same thing as our adversaries confess, all over the earth. Well, then, you would think the obvious way was, if they would know what we really teach, to come and ask us, to talk with us, to try to enter into our views, and to attend to our teaching. Not at all; they do not dream of doing so; they take their "texts;" they have got their cut-and-dried specimens from our divines, which the Protestant Tradition hands down from generation to generation; and, as by the aid of their verses from Scripture, they think they understand the Gospel better than the first Christians, so, by the help of these choice extracts from our works, they think they understand our doctrine better than we do ourselves. They will not allow us to explain our own books. So sure are they of their knowledge, and so superior to us, that they have no difficulty in setting us right, and in accounting for our contradicting them. Sometimes Catholics are "evasive and shuffling," which, of course, will explain everything; sometimes they simply "have never been told what their creed really is;" the priest keeps it from them, and cheats them; as yet, too, perhaps they are "recent converts," and do not know the actual state of things, though they will know in time. Thus Protestants judge us by their "texts;" and by "texts" I do not mean only passages from our writers, but all those samples of whatever kind, historical, ecclesiastical, biographical, or political, carefully prepared, improved, and finished off by successive artists for the occasion, which they think so much more worthy of credit and reliance as to facts, than us and our word, who are in the very communion to which those texts relate. Some good personal knowledge of us, and intercourse with us, not in the way of controversy or criticism, but what is prior—viz., in the way of sincere inquiry, in order to ascertain how things really lie, such knowledge and intercourse would be worth all the conclusions, however elaborate and subtle, from rumours, false witnessings, suspicions, romantic scenes, morsels of history, morsels of theology, morsels of our miraculous legends, morsels of our devotional writers, morsels from our individual members, whether unlearned or intemperate, which are the "text" of the traditional Protestant view against us. This, then, is the last of the causes, which in the course of these Lectures I shall assign, and on which this evening I shall insist, by way of accounting for the hatred and contempt shown towards the Catholics of England by their fellow-countrymen—viz., that the Catholics of England, as a body, are not personally known."

-John Henry Cardinal Newman from his series "Present Position of Catholics in England- Lecture 8: Ignorance Concerning Catholics the Protection of the Protestant View."

Thursday, July 05, 2007

On Whether Naps Are Necessary For Salvation

I was reading through the Summa earlier today and I stumbled upon this question posed by St. Thomas Aquinas. Funny, though, I can't remember ever seeing it before:

Thus we proceed to the only article:
Whether naps are necessary for salvation?

Objection 1: It would seem that naps are not necessary for salvation.
Salvation consists in becoming like God. God is most actual.
Hence, we must be actual. Now, naps are opposed to actuality and are hence opposed to salvation.

Objection 2: Besides, the Apostle says, “Be watchful and awake, for your salvation is near at hand.” Naps are opposed to being watchful. Hence, it follows that naps are opposed to salvation.

Objection 3: Furthermore, Aristotle says that virtue consists in activity. Naps are not activity and are therefore not counted as virtuous. Hence, it follows that naps are opposed to salvation.

On the contrary, the Psalmist says, “He pours gifts on his beloved while they slumber.” Now, salvation is a gift, and we must sleep to receive the gifts of God. Hence, naps are necessary for salvation.

I answer that, naps can be spoken of in two ways: naps in a relative sense (secundum quid) and naps simply speaking (simpliciter dicta). Relatively speaking, naps are neutral in that they can be used for a good or a bad purpose. Naps, simply speaking, are those naps which give us the rest that we might wake “refreshed and joyful” to praise God (as the Roman Breviary says). To this end, naps are necessary for salvation, since praising God is necessary for salvation. Furthermore, contemplation is said to be “rest in God.” Now, contemplation flows from charity, and charity is necessary for salvation; it follows that naps, which are also a kind of rest, are necessary for salvation. Likewise, contemplation is said to be a foretaste of heavenly beatitude. Naps are a foretaste of heavenly beatitude. Furthermore, Jesus slept in a boat. Hence, we are to sleep in the Church, for the boat is a type of the Church. Hence we are to sleep during Church, often during homilies. Consequently, it must be said that naps are necessary for salvation.

Reply to objection 1: One cannot mistake immobility for potency. For a man acts even in immobility; for instance, the liturgy compels us to times of silence. Sleep is perfect silence. God is all perfection. Hence, God is most actually napping.

Reply to objection 2: The Apostle spoke figuratively, not literally. For Saint Joseph was watchful in his sleep, that is why God spoke to him in a dream. So also God spoke to many Saints in dreams. Hence, we are to nap watchfully, that God might speak to us.

Reply to objection 3: Aristotle was a pagan and cannot be expected to have understood the deep mysteries of God’s napping. Had he known the revelation, he would have slept much more than he did.

-No, Thomas Aquinas did not really write this. It is a joke (although I bet he thought about writing it!). I have no clue who is responsible for this clever display of wit. All I know is that it wasn't me. Three cheers to the Anonymous writer and three cheers for St. Thomas, as well as four cheers for naps!

Br. Josh has informed me that naps as a necessity for salvation "is made more clear by the fact of certain other actual references that Angelicus himself makes in I-II 38, 5 and 34, 1 ad 1. Just one more reason to love the prima secundae!"

Monday, July 02, 2007

Sola Gratia, Solo Christo: The Roman Catholic Doctrine Of Justification

by Richard A. White (written while a Calvinist)
Trinity Evangelical Divinity School, December, 1987

The doctrine of justification was, as John Calvin stated, the "hinge of the reformation." James Buchanan provides us with the classic "reformed" definition: "Justification is a legal, or forensic, term, and is used in Scripture to denote the acceptance of any one as righteous in the sight of God." (The Doctrine of Justification, p. 226). Understood in this way, justification is purely extrinsic to the sinner, inasmuch as he is justified solely on the basis of Christ's righteousness graciously imputed to him. The sinner does not become righteous himself, but because he trusts in Christ's work for him, he is considered innocent by God the judge. In this way, works contribute nothing to justification; it is "by faith alone" (sola fide).

In contrast is the Roman Catholic position, which sadly, few evangelicals even bother to consider, let alone understand. In many cases, the issue is naively boiled down to justification by faith, on the one hand (evangelicalism), versus justification by works, on the other hand (Roman Catholicism). This crass caricature has little basis in reality, and hampers the cause for theological truth and Christian unity. In this essay then, I will summarize the Roman Catholic teaching on justification. To accomplish this task, I will consider the Council of Trent's "Decree Concerning Justification," (Session VI) the most authoritative, even-handed, representative Church pronouncement on the issue to date (the Council was held 1545-1563). I will also consider a wide array of Catholic authors, both past and present.

My goal is to set forth the Catholic position, not to critique it. Thus, I will not preface my remarks with such phrases as "the Catholic position says" or "in Rome's view." The reader should assume that all of the text represents the Catholic teaching.

Now the Catholic view of grace and justification is very complex. Due to the scope of this essay, therefore, many subject areas (e.g., metaphysical questions, purgatory, indulgences, the mode of God's indwelling in the soul, etc) relating to the Catholic teaching on justification have been excluded. The reader should consult the bibliography for elaboration on certain points.

The Roman Catholic Teaching
Our study of the Roman Catholic doctrine of justification begins, as the Council of Trent suggests, with a discussion of original sin. (see A.M. Dubarle, The Biblical Doctrine of Original Sin, 1964). The Council states:

“The holy council declares first, that for a correct and clear understanding of the doctrine of justification, it is necessary that each one recognize and confess that....all men had lost innocence in the prevarication of Adam [Rom 5:22; 1 Cor 15:22], having become unclean [Isa 64:6], and, as the Apostle says, by nature children of wrath [Eph 2:3]...” (Session VI, Chapter I)

Adam's sin involved the loss of his supernatural status as a son of God. Matthias J. Scheeben, an eminent German Roman Catholic theologian of the 19th century, explains, "It is a complete estrangement and separation of man from God as his supernatural end, and is met with on God's part not by a simple displeasure -- involving disfavor in the moral sense -- but by a forcible ejection from the state of the children of God, a stripping away of the supernatural raiment of grace." (The Mysteries of Christianity). In short, the divine sonship of Adam was lost through original sin.

The Roman Catholic doctrine of justification, therefore, is concerned essentially with "the restoration of that justice which Adam possessed prior to his sin, and which he loses by his sin." (ibid, p. 614-615) The Council of Trent itself summarizes the justification of the sinner as "a translation from that state in which man is born a child of the first Adam, to the state of grace and of the adoption of the sons of God through the second Adam, Jesus Christ, our Savior." (Chapter IV)

As an outcast estranged from God's family, the sinner can do nothing to merit justification; he is dead in sin and in need of God's grace. The sola gratia (grace alone) then, is an integral aspect of the Catholic doctrine of justification. The Council of Orange, in condemning the Pelagian and semi-Pelagian heresies, states, "If anyone asserts that we can, by our natural powers, think as we ought, or choose any good pertaining to the salvation of eternal life, that is, consent to salvation or to the message of the Gospel, without the illumination and inspiration of the Holy Spirit, who gives to all men facility in assenting to and believing the truth; he is misled by a heretical spirit...." (Canon 7) For a good discussion of the Catholic teaching, see Louis Bouyer, The Spirit and Forms of Protestantism, p. 43-58.

This is clearly affirmed by Trent: "...we are therefore said to be justified gratuitously, because none of those things that precede justification, whether faith or works, merit the grace of justification." (Chapter VIII) It is impossible for man, as a sinner, to contribute anything to his justification; it is purely gratuitous. Michael Schmaus, a Catholic dogmatician, sums it up nicely, "Man needs something, as vital to him as his daily bread, which he himself cannot earn. Grace is for him a matter of life and death; yet he cannot obtain it through his own efforts. Thus he must learn that grace is a gift. The ultimate reason for this is that God is absolute transcendence, and no amount of effort or exertion on man's part can bring God within his grasp." (Justification and the Last Things, p. 21)

Grace then, enables individuals to have faith, repent, and be baptized. Trent states, "....we are therefore said to be justified by faith [Rom 3:24; 5:1], because faith is the beginning of human salvation, the foundation and root of all justification, without which it is impossible to please God [Heb 11:6] and come to the fellowship of sons...." (Chapter VIII). In the case of the infant, "the process has simply the character of an ineffable, supernatural generation, to the exclusion of all cooperation between the person generated and his begetter. With adults the case is different....Hence the grace which comes down from above is met by an ascent from below; the descent of the supernatural into nature is matched by an effort of the latter to raise itself. In this case also the activity of God, regarded in its power and efficacy as the communication of supernatural existence and life, remains a true generation." (Scheeben, The Mysteries of Christianity, p. 633).

The Council of Trent states:
“Now, they (the adults) are disposed to that justice when, aroused and aided by divine grace, receiving faith by hearing [Rom 10:17], they are moved freely toward God, believing to be true what has been divinely revealed and promised, especially that the sinner is justified by God by his grace, through the redemption that is in Christ Jesus [Rom 3:24]; and when, understanding themselves to be sinners, they, by turning themselves from the fear of divine justice, by which they are salutarily aroused, to consider the mercy of God, are raised to hope, trusting that God will be propitious to them for Christ's sake; and they begin to love Him as the fountain of all justice, and on that account are moved against sin by a certain hatred and detestation, that is, by that repentance that must be performed before baptism [cf. Acts 2:38; Session XIV, chapter 4]; finally, when they resolve to receive baptism, to begin a new life [Rom 6:3-4; 2 Cor 5:17] and to keep the commandments of God [cf. Matt 19:16-21; John 14:15,21; 15:10]. Of this disposition it is written...[then follows quotations from Heb 11:6; Matt 9:2; Mark 2:5; Sirach or Ecclesiasticus 1:27; Acts 2:38].....” (Chapter VI)

In this process, the sacrament of baptism is the instrumental cause (Chapter VII) of justification. Emile Mersch states, "In the order of logical succession, the first effect of baptism will be the destruction of original sin and all other sins. By joining a man to the Church, the sacrament joins him to Christ in His union with men, that is, to Christ who gives Himself to mankind in His passion and in the Mass. And Christ who thus gives Himself is Christ who destroys original sin and all sins. By uniting us to Christ finally, baptism unites us to the Son, to God, to the Trinity; it incorporates us into Christ [cf. Gal 3:27; Rom 6:3-4; 1 Cor 12:13] and confers on us divine adoption, grace, the supernatural life, and the indwelling of the whole Trinity." (The Theology of the Mystical Body, p. 561-61).

In baptism, the sinner is endowed with new qualities, and passes from a state of enmity towards God to a state of grace; he is adopted into God's family as a son. In short, justification in the Catholic view is the gift of divine sonship, lost in original sin, and regained in Christ.

The three theological virtues, faith, hope, and love [1 Cor 13:2,13] are infused into the soul. Schmaus states, " the divine act of justification man is given the capacity for a divinizing life in faith, hope, and love. Actually this teaching of the Council of Trent does not differ from the idea of regeneration put forward by the Reformers, which refers simply to the justifying action of God himself in man." (Justification and the Last Things, p. 83)

In Calvinist doctrine, regeneration leads to faith, which in turn leads to justification. Thus, justification is preceded by an infusion of new qualities, i.e., an inner transformation which produces in the individual an orientation towards faith and works. The Calvinist then, finds himself in the same camp with the Catholics in placing regeneration before justification in the order of salvation. To many Lutherans, this amounts to denying the sola fide. If justification depends on an inner transformation, then it is no longer justification by faith alone. See for example, Edward Boehl, The Reformed Doctrine of Justification, p. 195-196; Robert Brinsmead, "Further Observations on the Order of Justification and Regeneration," Present Truth 5/6 (Sept 1976), p. 17. (Also of importance is the Norman Shepherd controversy at Westminster Seminary in Philadelphia. The views of Professor Shepherd were vigorously debated because he did not make clear the distinction between faith and works in justification. He maintained that inasmuch as they are both the result of God's regenerating work, there is no warrant for separating them; they are both equally necessary for justification (even if faith is given priority). Professor Shepherd eventually left Westminster because of the controversy.)

Justification understood in this way involves both the imputation of sonship and the infusion of Christ's grace. These two aspects are inseparable, for as God imputes family standing to the sinner, the sinner does in fact become a member of the family; sonship is no legal fiction. Canon F. Cuttaz states, "With God, no abstraction or fiction is possible. He does not call anyone His child unless He has made him His child. He does not love anyone with a Father's love unless he is really His son." (Our Life of Grace, p. 78-79)

God effectuates what He declares. Hence, when God declares the sinner righteous, it is more than a mere legal declaration. It is a creative and transformative action whereby God takes someone and breathes into Him that Spirit of sonship which cries, "Abba!" "Father!" [Rom 8:14-17; Gal 4:4-7] John Henry Newman sums up the matter with his usual eloquence, "Justification is an announcement or fiat of Almighty God, which breaks upon the gloom of our natural state as the Creative Word upon Chaos; that it declares the soul righteous, and in that declaration, on the one hand, conveys pardon for its past sins, and on the other makes it actually righteous." (Lectures on the Doctrine of Justification, p. 83).

Gratuitous, therefore, means more than the receipt of divine favor. What God imparts in the gift of grace is Himself, nothing less, and this life-giving divine gift is a metaphysical, ontological communication of Christ's sonship. "Hence divine sonship formally consists in an impression of the hypostatic likeness of the Only-begotten Son of God...." (Joseph Pohle, Grace: Actual and Habitual, p. 360).

This internal renovation is essential. For individuals are both imputed with Adam's guilt and infused with his corrupt nature; they are declared sinful, and at the same time, they really are sinful. Hence, justified persons are both imputed with Christ's righteousness and infused with His life; they are declared righteous because, in virtue of Christ's indwelling life and holiness, they really are righteous. Robert W. Gleason states, "The two, infusion of grace and remission of sin, are simultaneous in the order of time, but in the order of casual priority the infusion of grace is prior, since it brings about the remission of sin." (Grace, p. 97). Scheeben explains,

“To join together again the severed strands of the supernatural bond with God, no mere change of the direction of man's will can suffice. If man is to be reunited to God as Father, God himself must raise him up again to His side, and through the Holy Spirit must pour forth into man's heart filial love for Himself. If the sinner is to be freed from God's disfavor, it will not at all suffice for God to cover up the sinful deed with the cloak of forgetfulness, and simply remit the guilt in response to the sinner's repentance. To forgive the sin fully, God must again confer on man that favor and grace which He had bestowed on him before he sinned. God must again draw man up to His bosom as His child, regenerate him to new divine life, and again clothe him with the garment of His children, the splendor of His own nature and glory.” (The Mysteries of Christianity, p. 615-616)

The remission of sins is possible because the grace of Christ is infused into the person, making him a child of God. By virtue of this new filial relationship, the individual is no longer subject to the wrath of God. Scheeben elaborates, "That is to say, as long as we think of ourselves merely as God's creatures and bondsmen, we can be objects of the divine wrath and abhorrence on account of the guilt we have loaded upon ourselves....God is ever entitled to adequate satisfaction, which the creature himself can never render. But if....we pass from the condition of bondage to the bosom of God by a supernatural birth, that is, if we become God's children, we immediately cease to be objects of God's wrath and abhorrence." (ibid, p. 619)

God's judgment then, is directed towards a child in the second Adam, and not a rebel criminal in the first Adam. This helps explain why justified persons need not be perfect themselves; they are justified by virtue of their new relationship to God as sons. The judgment is taking place then with regard to Christ's grace alive in the individual, at whatever degree of growth; the indwelling grace of Christ justifies sinners. The legal satisfactory aspect of the atonement is not denied by Catholics. Scheeben, for example, recognizes the "infinite value of Christ's satisfactions, by which the debt is literally paid and cancelled." (ibid, p. 617) What is primary, however, is the paternal act of the father with regard to the child, not the juridical act of the judge, with regard to the criminal. Now the child has been a criminal, so Christ dies to take the punishment and in his suffering, he does have that vicarious role.

In this study, we have referred to God's grace in several different ways. First of all, the supernatural enlightenment of the understanding, enabling people to shun evil and do good, is called "actual grace." "It is called actual because it is not permanent or inherent, but a transient divine influence upon the soul." (W. Wilmers, Handbook of the Christian Religion, p. 282). An initial act of faith, for example is a result of "actual grace." We have also seen that "grace is an inward gift communicated by God to the soul, in virtue of which man is made holy and pleasing to God, a child of God, and heir of heaven." This abiding quality in the soul is called "habitual" or "sanctifying grace." (ibid).

As long as the individual retains this grace, he remains justified. While sanctifying grace removes sin from the soul in baptism, the inclination towards sin, or concupiscence, remains in the justified person. Now a person can commit venial sin and remain in a state of grace, but he loses this grace by committing mortal sin. As Trent states, " must be maintained that the grace of justification once received is lost not only by infidelity....but also by every other mortal sin." (Chapter XV, also Peter Fransen, The New Life of Grace, p. 250-272)

Now this grace is nothing less than the presence of God in the soul. As Cardinal Newman states, "....He justifies us, not only in word, but in power, bringing the ark with its mercy seat into the temple of our hearts; manifesting, setting up there His new kingdom and the power and glory of His Cross." (Lectures on Justification, p. 102-103). For as we have seen, grace is an abundant provision, an ontological substance, and not just a subjective attitude of favor. The justified person continually seeks to obtain this grace. The Council of Trent states:

“Having, therefore, been justified and made the friends and domestics of God…they, through the observance of the commandments of God and of the Church, faith cooperating with good works, increase in that justice received through the grace of Christ and are further justified, as it is written: He that is just, let him be justified still [Rev 22:11-12; cf. 1 John 3:7].” (Chapter X)

Understood in this way, it is clear that justification is a process, and not merely a once and for all act. In defense of this idea, some Catholics point to the justification of Abraham cited in Romans 4:3: "For what does the Scripture say? And Abraham believed God, and it was reckoned to him as righteousness." In this passage, Paul quotes from Genesis 15:6 in order to show that Abraham was justified by faith and not circumcision (in order to refute the judaizers), for he was not circumcised until Genesis 17. The Catholics maintain that Paul also refutes the evangelical interpretation, for it is apparent that "Abraham was," as Myles M. Bourke points out, "put into a condition of friendship with God (cf. Isaiah 41:8) by his first response to the call and promise of God narrated in Genesis 12:1." ("St. Paul and the Justification of Abraham," Bible Today 10, Feb 1964, p. 649). Abraham was justified in Genesis 12, before he was declared righteous in Genesis 15. This declaration, therefore, could not, as evangelicals believe, refer to Abraham's conversion; in this passage then, justification is a process.

The sinner is reborn as a son of God. After the birth process, however, the Father expects for that life to be nurtured, to be cultivated by the son. In other words, the Father has not simply given sonship as a welfare check; He has given life that is to be lived out. The inheritance of salvation is then the natural culmination of lifelong growth in filial dependence, obedience, and maturity, all of which require the subsequent cooperation of the regenerated person with God's operating grace.

"Sanctifying grace" is precisely the means by which the children of God "grow up," so to speak. We have seen how this grace is infused in individuals through baptism when they are first justified [John 3:5; Acts 2:38; Titus 3:5; 1 Cor 6:11], incorporating them into God's family [1 Cor 12:13]. Simply put, the rest of the sacraments (especially the Eucharist) are covenantal dispensers of divine grace, whereby the children of God receive spiritual food [John 6:51ff] to help them further mature in the family. Inasmuch as the justified person continually seeks to obtain this grace through the sacraments and by doing good works [James 2:14-26], justification is indeed by works. The sola fide [faith alone] then, is not a part of Catholic doctrine.

It is beyond the scope of this essay to discuss the Catholic sacramental system in any detail. For a good introduction, see Colman E. O'Neil, O.P. Meeting Christ in the Sacraments. While this grace is conveyed ex opere operato, the sacraments are of no positive value without real faith. Louis Bouyer, the distinguished French Oratorian, explains,

“The guiding principle of Catholic ascetical teaching has always been the necessity of a personal effort from each individual -- from which no person or thing can absolve him -- to appropriate the spiritual riches of faith and the sacraments....neither adherence to the faith of the Church, nor the sharing in its rites and sacraments, are of the least value to us apart from an effort no one can make in our stead, the effort to carry faith in our lives, to make the grace of the sacraments fecundate our lives. Without this interior response, authentic and personal, so we are assured by the whole Catholic tradition, the most scrupulous observance of the externals of religion, the most verbally correct profession of the faith of the Church will, in effect, be quite useless to us and will serve to our own condemnation.” (The Spirit and Forms of Protestantism, p. 112-113)

Joseph Pohle explains, "Being our father by adoption, God is bound to provide us with food worthy of a divine progenitor. The food He gives us (the Holy Eucharist) corresponds to our dignity as His children, sustains us in this sublime relation, and at the same time constitutes the pledge of a glorious resurrection and an eternal beatitude." (Grace: Actual and Habitual, p. 360)

Works in the Catholic sense, however, are themselves gratuitous. Gleason states, "Our justice is still gratuitous even when it depends upon our works, because the radical principle for all merit is itself the original gift of grace. While our justification implies activity on our part, still the only reason that we can act in the divine order is the original gift of grace...." (Grace, p. 92). Obedience and faith are inseparable [Rom 1:5; 6:16; 16:26], and are both a result of grace. Cardinal Newman's observation clears up the matter,

“It seems, then, that whereas Faith on our part fitly corresponds, or is the correlative, as it is called, to grace on God's part, Sacraments are but the manifestation of grace, and good works are but the manifestation of faith; so that whether we say we are justified by faith, or by works or by Sacraments, all these but mean this one doctrine, that we are justified by grace, which is given through Sacraments, impetrated by faith, manifested in works.” (Lectures on Justification, p. 303)

One effect of "sanctifying grace" is the power of merit, i.e., the capacity to win heaven as a reward. Now, if grace is gratuitous (as its name indicates), and merit is an effect of grace, then merit too is gratuitous. But how is this so? As a plethora of biblical passages indicate, there is a direct connection between works performed and an individual's future standing in heaven (e.g. Matt 10:42; 19:29; 25:35-40; 2 Cor 4:17, 5:10; 2 Tim 4:7-8, see Cuttaz, Our Life of Grace, p. 239). Simply put, this is God's free promise to the justified person to reward his actions when that person obeys His commands. When God rewards meritorious works, therefore, He is simply crowning His own achievements in the justified person as a result of the Holy Spirit working in him.

Cuttaz states, "God's pledge to reward good works by the gift of new degrees of participation in His happiness is an effect of His love for His children. It makes them share even now in His own divine life, thus giving them the means of intensifying at will their supernatural life and dignity and their future beatitude." (ibid, p. 243). Gleason explains, "It is with no abdication of His limitless rule that He graciously binds Himself to reward our good actions. In doing so He rewards His own goodness, for the source of all merit is the gift of grace...It is only His promise to reward us that enables us to claim a reward." (Grace, p. 173-174). As Augustine states, "When He rewards man He rewards only His own gifts."

“What merit, then, does a man have before grace, by which he might receive grace, when our every good merit is produced in us only by grace, and, when God, crowning our merits, crowns nothing else but His own gifts to us?” (St. Augustine, Letters 194:5:19)

Summary and Conclusion
Due to the limitations of time and space, I must draw this study to a close. To summarize, we saw that the original justice, or the divine sonship, of Adam was lost through original sin. Justification, in the Catholic sense, is the restoration of that sonship through the second Adam, Jesus Christ; sinners are reborn through baptism as sons of God. In this process, justification is purely gratuitous. The Holy Spirit works in the sinner, effectuating in him an orientation towards faith and good works. Through baptism, he is imputed standing in God's family and infused with Christ's grace.

Justification then, involves both the legal remission and the actual removal of sin. The forgiveness of sins is possible precisely because the justified person stands in a new relationship to God as a son. Because the grace of Christ is in him, original sin is blotted out, actual sins are remitted, and grace is continually imparted to overcome concupiscence. The justified person continually seeks to obtain "sanctifying grace" through the sacraments (which in the case of adults, we are useless without real faith) and by doing good works. In this sense, individuals are justified by works as well as faith, but always by grace alone and Christ alone. Justification is a process, therefore, whereby higher standing is progressively conferred upon children growing up.

Finally, we saw that one of the benefits of being in a state of grace is the ability to merit the reward of heaven. God is a faithful father, promising to reward the good works of justified persons. In doing so, He crowns his own achievements, for even the most pious saint is ever dependent on God's grace.

As I stated in the introduction, a critical evaluation of the Catholic view is beyond the scope of this study. Yet, I think a few brief comments are in order. First of all, this study has forced me to abandon some false notions I have had for some time now, including my belief that Roman Catholic doctrine and the sola gratia (grace alone) are mutually exclusive. Furthermore, the stereotypical picture of Catholicism (among evangelicals) is that of a legalistic system unconcerned with saving faith in Christ. While this may be true sometimes in practice, it has no place in the actual teaching of the Catholic Church.

Secondly, I find appealing the way in which Roman Catholics explain justification through the covenant family idea, without ignoring the imputative legal aspect. The family is the covenantal motif throughout Scripture, according to some theologians. The eminent Roman Catholic OT scholar D.J. McCarthy, for example, understands the covenant in terms of a family relationship (see Treaty and Covenant, p. 177).

In fact the imputative aspect is naturally explained within the framework of the covenant family. In the natural realm, a father imputes family standing to his new born son, not on the basis of any works done on the son's part, but because of the seed of sonship alive in the son as a result of the father. In the same way, God the Father declares us to be heirs in His supernatural family. But just as the birth process in the natural realm, God expects His children to grow up, and, He is glorified in raising them up in His likeness, making them stronger and wiser. The inheritance of eternal life, therefore, is the reward of filial obedience and maturity. This in essence, is the Roman Catholic doctrine of justification. The strongest case for the Catholic view is made by those who explain justification in this way, and yet, paradoxically, many Catholics themselves seem unaware of the covenant family paradigm.

M.J. Scheeben, writing in the 19th century, makes this important appeal,

“...both factors comprised in justification -- the remission of sin and the assimilation to our supernatural end -- are rooted in the grace of divine sonship and are based on that grace. At one and the same time the grace of sonship expels all guilt from us, and infuses into us a love for God which is the love of a child or a friend. For this reason the Council of Trent, when propounding the true nature of justification, could confine itself to the statement that it is 'a transference from the state in which man is born a son of the first Adam to a state of grace and adoption of the sons of God'....In these words the Council singles out the element that imparts to Christian justification its supernatural, mysterious character. We must cling to these words and make them our point of departure, if we would appreciate the full excellence of justification. If all the theologians had done this, the notion of justification would have escaped the shallow and muddled treatment that has so often disfigured it.” (The Mysteries of Christianity, p. 622-623)

On the negative side, I still, as a Calvinist, affirm the notion of the perserverance of the saints. Yet, it is clear that in the Catholic view, the threat of losing one's salvation and falling out of a state of grace is very real. I must confess, however, that this misgiving is made without really having made an effort to understand the Catholics on this point. Indeed, the Catholic doctrine of grace is very complex; I have only scratched the surface in this essay. Further study on this important issue, I think, would prove fruitful for evangelicals.

[Rich White is now a member of the Roman Catholic Church.]