36

No Mean Wretch: Against the New Pelagian Captivity

“Convert us, O God: and show us Your face, and we shall be saved” (Psalm 80:3).

Over and above all else, Holy Writ teaches the sovereignty of God. God’s mercy and judgment operate irresistibly throughout the pages of Scripture.  “The counsel of the Lord stands forever, the thoughts of His heart to all generations” (Psalm 33:11). In the course of history, and in the waxing and waning of every individual’s life, the activity of Divine providence is evident to all who see with eyes of faith. “A person cannot receive even one thing unless it is given him from heaven” (John 3:27).

Why, then, are so many contemporary Catholics averse to these essential doctrines, which form the very foundation of our Christian faith? It is hard to deny that the Church is once more besieged by Pelagianism. This ancient heresy, so furiously battled by Saint Augustine, imagines man as morally neutral but capable of great goodness through his own free will.

Wrote the heretic Pelagius: “And lest . . . it should be thought to be nature’s fault that some have been unrighteous, I shall use the evidence of the scripture which lay upon sinners the heavy weight of the charge of having used their own will and do not excuse them for having acted only under constraint of nature.” Adding insult to injury, he insisted that grace is always and everywhere cooperative, requiring synergy between the wills of God and man. “Grace indeed freely discharges sins, but with the consent and choice of the believer.”

Thus one heresy contains three distinct but interrelated errors: first, that man is not by nature the captive of sin; second, that the will of man is healthy and free; third, that grace is cooperative, a partnership between creature and Creator. Perceive how these mistakes are mutually reinforcing. Notice also that Pelagianism is not simply naïve optimism. It is rather a shameful exhibition of pride and vainglory, rooted in the primeval lust to be like God: good, free, and sovereign.

Against such folly, Scripture clearly declares the corruption of human nature, which tends inevitably toward evil so that even man’s good works are secretly motivated by self-interest. The prophet Jeremiah bellowed, “The heart is deceitful above all things, and desperately wicked” (17:9). Solomon in his wisdom lamented, “The heart of the sons of men is full of evil, and madness is in their heart while they live, and after that they go to the dead” (Ecclesiastes 9:3).

“Behold, I was shaped in iniquity; and in sin did my mother conceive me” (Psalm 51:5).  As all men sin, so all men are captives of sin, their wills crippled by habitual vice. As the Lord said, “Whosoever commits sin is the servant of sin” (John 8:34). With palpable dismay, we find Saint Paul rebuking his fellows, “Know you not, that to whom you yield yourselves servants to obey, his servants you are to whom you obey; whether of sin unto death, or of obedience unto righteousness” (Romans 6:16)?

Given that man is thoroughly corrupted by sin, it is evident that he is desperate for sovereign saving grace, by which the Lord “quickens whom He will” (John 5:21). The Incarnate Word made clear that God alone is capable of delivering man, for He said of salvation: “With men this is impossible; but with God all things are possible” (Matthew 19:26).

We do not know why God moves this way instead of that; why He crushes this man and raises up that man; why He scatters life here and spreads death there. But we do know that all things are under His thumb, even the tiniest dust motes floating in the empty gulfs between stars. “I know that, whatsoever God does, it shall be forever: nothing can be put to it, nor anything taken from it: and God does it, that men should fear before Him” (Ecclesiastes 3:14). We should refrain from attempting to penetrate too deeply the mystery of Divine providence and say with the prophet David, “Such knowledge is too wonderful for me; it is high, I cannot attain unto it” (Psalm 139:6).

The crypto-Pelagians who today reduce Christ to a moral exemplar and the Holy Spirit to a friendly ghost would readily agree with their namesake’s description of justification: “But these deserve to be rewarded, who by the right use of free will merit the Lord’s grace, and keep His commandments.” Merit the Lord’s grace. This phrase rightfully incensed Saint Augustine, who knew intimately God’s ability to turn a heart of stone into a heart of flesh (cf. Ezekiel 36:26):

“What, then, becomes of the apostle’s saying, “Being justified freely by His grace?” And what of his other statement too, “By grace are ye saved”—where, that he might prevent men’s supposing that it is by works, he expressly added, “by faith.” And yet further, lest it should be imagined that faith itself is to be attributed to men independently of the grace of God, the apostle says: “And that not of yourselves; for it is the gift of God.” It follows, therefore, that we receive, without any merit of our own, that from which everything which, according to them, we obtain because of our merit, has its beginning—that is, faith itself. If, however, they insist on denying that this is freely given to us, what is the meaning of the apostle’s words: “According as God hath dealt to every man the measure of faith”? But if it is contended that faith is so bestowed as to be a recompense for merit, not a free gift, what then becomes of another saying of the apostle: “Unto you it is given in the behalf of Christ, not only to believe in Him, but also to suffer for His sake”? Each is by the apostle’s testimony made a gift,—both that he believes in Christ, and that each suffers for His sake. These men however, attribute faith to free will in such a way as to make it appear that grace is rendered to faith not as a gratuitous gift, but as a debt—thus ceasing to be grace any longer, because that is not grace which is not gratuitous” (Anti-Pelagian Writings).

Pelagians identify the grace of God as mere assistance, not unlike a Greek daemon, a nebulous and resistible spirit-force that may be embraced or rejected.  They are fixated on the integrity of the “free will,” their most holy grail. Let those who know better accuse them: “What have you that you did not receive? Now if you did receive it, why do you glory, as if you had not received it” (I Corinthians 4:7)?

Tradition likewise condemns the triplet of Pelagian errors: human goodness, human freedom, and human cooperation with God’s grace. The Council of Orange (AD 529) was convened especially to denounce such vain folly, such fleshly lunacy.

The council fathers affirmed the corruption of human nature and the bondage of human will: “If anyone denies that it is the whole man, that is, both body and soul, that was “changed for the worse” through the offense of Adam’s sin, but believes that the freedom of the soul remains unimpaired and that only the body is subject to corruption, he is deceived by the error of Pelagius” (Canon I). If that was not clear enough, they reiterated the point: “If anyone maintains that some are able to come to the grace of baptism by mercy but others through free will, which has manifestly been corrupted in all those who have been born after the transgression of the first man, it is proof that he has no place in the true faith” (Canon 8).

In addition, they boldly underscored the sovereignty of God’s grace, denying that man naturally seeks salvation or freely uses his will to seek God: “If anyone maintains that God awaits our will to be cleansed from sin, but does not confess that even our will to be cleansed comes to us through the infusion and working of the Holy Spirit, he resists the Holy Spirit himself who says through Solomon, “The will is prepared by the Lord” (Prov. 8:35, LXX), and the salutary word of the Apostle, “For God is at work in you, both to will and to work for his good pleasure” (Phil. 2:13)” (Canon IV).

Probably this revitalized Pelagian madness is due to skepticism concerning the Biblical account of human origins. If, after all, the primordial sin never occurred, then man is not in a fallen state. And if we are not in a fallen state, then we are not naturally corrupt, alienated from God and wicked in deed and thought.

Of course, this line of logic leads inevitably to devaluing the Cross. It is therefore very important to treat carefully the historicity of the Genesis narrative. Christians must be wary not to assume too quickly the paradigms of modernity, one of which is deep time.

That said, it is no surprise that Pelagianism and evolutionism complement each other: both are products of repellent pride and hatred of God; both are fruits of the creature’s insatiable lust to become the Creator.

It must be emphasized that sovereign grace does not destroy free will. It actually secures it! John Calvin put this succinctly, stating that “human will does not by liberty obtain grace, but by grace obtains liberty” (Institutes of the Christian Religion, Book II). He was only repeating Saint Thomas Aquinas, who centuries before wrote, “God does not justify us without ourselves, because whilst we are being justified we consent to God’s justification by a movement of our free-will. Nevertheless this movement is not the cause of grace, but the effect; hence the whole operation pertains to grace” (Summa Theologica I-II, 111, 2, ad. 2).

For some reason, many contemporary Catholics are more concerned about free will than free grace. This despite the fact that, without grace, our “free will” is not free at all, but wracked by temptation and manipulated by transgressor angels. “Without Me you can do nothing” (John 15:5).

The council fathers at Orange summed it up nicely when they somberly declared, “No mean wretch is freed from his sorrowful state, however great it may be, save the one who is anticipated by the mercy of God” (Canon XIV). Let us not glory in our flesh as the pagan does. Let us not in mock strength puff up our chests like idiot animals. But let us meekly allow the Artisan to work His living clay, hoping in the promise of the Word: “If the Son therefore shall make you free, you shall be free indeed” (John 8:36).

Intercede for us, dear Saint Augustine, for Pelagius again wreaks havoc in the holy Church of God!


Philip Primeau is an associate editor at Catholic Lane. He also blogs at a-heart-of-flesh.blogspot.com. He may be contacted by email at philipryan.primeau@gmail.com.
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  • reyjacobs

    Its funny to read this Protestant dribble on a Catholic site. I mean the whole point of the Reformation was that the Catholic church had rightly moved away from Augustine’s satanic theology and in the direction of Pelagianism. The Protestant churches came into existence in order to give the Augustinian monks an outlet for their spew. Luther, remember, was an Augustinian, and fiercly loyal to the heretic Augustine, much moreso than to the Catholic church, to God, or to the Bible. Augustinianism is Protestantism. Catholicism isn’t exactly Pelagianism, since it does accept Augsutine’s doctrine of original sin…but it doesn’t reject free will or teach determinism! Essentially, you are a moronic Protestant who erroneously thinks he is a Catholic…and its freaking hilarious.

  • reyjacobs

    Lol, you even quote that demon worshipper Calvin as if he’s some kind of authority. You are truly a piece of work. Thanks for the laugh.

  • Philip Primeau

    Rey,

    Before I say anything else, I’ll remind you that we strive for charity in our discussions on Catholic Lane.

    Now then, I find it highly unusual for a supposed defender of Catholic orthodoxy to label Augustine, a pillar of our faith, a “heretic” who spewed “satanic theology.” Especially since I cited not only Augustine, but also on the Council of Orange, an apostolic and Spirit-led synod, the full findings of which can be read here: http://www.fordham.edu/halsall/basis/orange.txt

    Saint Prosper wrote to Rufinus:

    “When unaided and left to itself, free will acted only for its own perdition. It had turned blind through its own fault; it could not recover the light by itself. But now by grace the same free will is turned back to God, not destroyed. It is given new desires, new tastes, new actions; its health is entrusted not to itself but to its Physician. For even now it is not so perfectly healthy as to be proof against what caused its past illness or to be able by its own strength to abstain from what is unwholesome. Accordingly, man who was evil in his free will has been made good in that same free will. Evil he was of himself; he becomes good by God’s gift. God restored him to his original dignity by giving him a new beginning: He not only forgave the guilt which man incurred by willing and doing what is evil; He also gave him to will and to do what is good and to persevere in it.”

    This is my point, confirmed by another saint of the Church: there is no free will apart from grace. The will, unaided by God, is ridden by the Devil as a jockey rides a horse.

    Saint Prosper continues:

    “From this profession of faith in God’s grace some draw back for fear lest, if they accept the doctrine on grace as in Holy Scripture and manifested by the effects of its power, they be compelled to admit also that of all men born in the course of the centuries the number of the predestined, chosen according to the design of God’s call, is fixed and definite with God. But it is as much against holy religion to deny this as it is to gainsay grace itself. For it is no secret, but evident to all who open their eyes, how for so many centuries countless thousands of men were left to their errors and impieties and died without any knowledge of the true God. This is shown, in the Acts of the Apostles, by the words of Barnabas and Paul, who told the Lycaonians: Ye men, why do ye do these things? We also are mortals, men like unto you, preaching to you to be converted from these vain things to the living God, who made the heaven and the earth and the sea and all things that are in them, who in times past suffered all nations to walk in their own ways. Nevertheless, He left not Himself without testimony, doing them good, from heaven giving rains and fruitful seasons, filing your hearts with food and gladness. [Acts 14:14-16] Certainly, had natural reason or the use they made of God’s gifts been enough for them to attain eternal life, then in our day also the light of reason, the mildness of the climate, the abundance of crops and food would be able to save us, because making a better use of nature than they did, we would serve our Creator in gratitude for His daily gifts.”

    Catholic dogma affirms the sovereignty of God and the primacy of grace, which liberates the free will from the bondage of sin and allows it to cooperate with Divine inspiration. Simple as that.

  • Philip Primeau

    “Call forth Thy servant. Although I am bound with the chains of my sins, being now buried in dead thoughts and works, yet at Thy call I shall go forth free and be found one of those sitting at thy feast.” –Saint Ambrose

    Does that sound free to you? No, dead men are not free.

    “And you, being dead in your sins and the uncircumcision of your flesh, hath He quickened together with Him, having forgiven you all trespasses” (Colossians 2:13).

    So we have it. Scripture compels us to affirm that man is dead, utterly paralyzed and helpless, until he is regenerated by the sovereign grace of God. This gift of new life is not based upon the merits of man, past or present or future, but upon the inscrutable wisdom of God. We glory in His righteousness, not our own.

    • reyjacobs

      Stylistically it sounds too much like Augustine’s Confessions for me to believe it was written by Ambrose. I think you’ve taken a quote from Augustine and attributed it. Or you pulled it from Augustine’s writings where he claims to be quoting Ambrose, yet is in fact presenting his own statement.

    • reyjacobs

      “So we have it. Scripture compels us to affirm that man is dead, utterly paralyzed and helpless”

      No, Mr. Calvinist–it just says “dead” not “utterly paralyzed and helpless” — and by “dead” it means “ON DEATH ROW.” Dead man walking on the green mile–ever heard the expression? “You’re a dead man!” That’s a promise of death to come, not a statement that one is literally dead right now.

      Paul is saying that we were dead — on death row — we were sentenced to death. He is not saying we are literally dead and incapable of doing anything. That’s pure foolishness! This is why the Catholic church moved away from Augustine’s position in the centuries between Augustine and the Reformation. So quit being a Lutheran or a Calvinist already.

      • Philip Primeau

        We are in a state of death, which implies paralysis and utter helplessness. Saint Paul over and over states that we are dead in our transgressions, slaves to sin, unable to do good accept by grace.

        “For I know that nothing good dwells in me, that is, in my flesh. For I have the desire to do what is right, but not the ability to carry it out. For I do not do the good I want, but the evil I do not want is what I keep on doing. Now if I do what I do not want, it is no longer I who do it, but sin that dwells within me.

        So I find it to be a law that when I want to do right, evil lies close at hand. For I delight in the law of God, in my inner being, but I see in my members another law waging war against the law of my mind and making me captive to the law of sin that dwells in my members. Wretched man that I am! Who will deliver me from this body of death? Thanks be to God through Jesus Christ our Lord! So then, I myself serve the law of God with my mind, but with my flesh I serve the law of sin” (Romans 7:18-25).

        You will never comprehend the wonder of justification, nor savor the bliss of salvation, until you understand the miserable lot to which man is consigned by his fallen nature.

        The Church does not and did not “move away” from any of its affirmations of grace, election, or predestination which were clarified by Augustine and dogmatized by the Council of Orange. Until the resurgence of Pelagianism in the last century, Catholicism was famous for its strong position on original sin. Only recently has the Church even begun to consider the possibility that unbaptized children may be saved!

        • reyjacobs

          “The Church does not and did not “move away” from any of its affirmations of grace, election, or predestination which were clarified by Augustine and dogmatized by the Council of Orange. Until the resurgence of Pelagianism in the last century, Catholicism was famous for its strong position on original sin.”

          Only on original sin did they retain the Augustinian opinion. On all else, they moved away from it–especially on predestination.

  • fishman

    There is a balance in this issue that is not fully touched on in the article.

    From the Catholic catechism.
    (http://www.vatican.va/archive/ENG0015/__P1C.HTM)

    406 The Church’s teaching on the transmission of original sin was articulated more precisely in the fifth century, especially under the impulse of St. Augustine’s reflections against Pelagianism, and in the sixteenth century, in opposition to the Protestant Reformation. Pelagius held that man could, by the natural power of free will and without the necessary help of God’s grace, lead a morally good life; he thus reduced the influence of Adam’s fault to bad example. the first Protestant reformers, on the contrary, taught that original sin has radically perverted man and destroyed his freedom; they identified the sin inherited by each man with the tendency to evil (concupiscentia), which would be insurmountable. the Church pronounced on the meaning of the data of Revelation on original sin especially at the second Council of Orange (529)296 and at the Council of Trent (1546).297

    So you see there is Augustine, who is right and then there is the protestant reformers interpretation of Augustine , which was refuted, by the Church.

    The protestant reformers basically believed that man had no part whatsoever in his salvation, that Jesus ‘covered’ mans nature and hid it from God , but it remained corrupt.

    Your quote from St. Thomas refutes that idea and suggests that man does consent to his salvation by ‘a movement of free will’.

    “God does not justify us without ourselves, because whilst we are being justified we consent to God’s justification by a movement of our free-will. Nevertheless this movement is not the cause of grace, but the effect; hence the whole operation pertains to grace”

    I do understand what you mean by too much focus on the freedom of the will of man by some. I think basically it is an attempt to escape the idea that there is no salvation without the church.

    It is questionable weather anyone who is not baptized is saved at all, but moderns are made uncomfortable by the idea that any non-baptized person my go to Hell.

    The reality is that scripture is mute on the issue , other then to assert that baptism in unnecessary for salvation.

    Is there some other way that those who , through no fault of their own, are not given the opportunity to be baptized can enter heaven?
    If they is it is certainly by a mechanism wholly
    unrevealed to man by God.

    Still, we can hope , because God, is merciful, just , and good. Thus recently the Vatican declared there was ‘good reason to hope’ that still born babies enter heaven.

    • reyjacobs

      As I said, the Catholic church moved away from Augustine’s position. This is why the Reformation came about. The Augustinian monks, like Luther, were angry that the Catholic church no longer accepted the full Augustinian position but had moderated it, tempered it with reason. This made the irrational monks so angry that they became all the more irrational. And it is shocking to see a supposed Catholic today writing something that looks like an English translation of Luther!

  • Philip Primeau

    “Your quote from St. Thomas refutes that idea and suggests that man does consent to his salvation by ‘a movement of free will’.”

    Yes, the will co-operates once it is freed and inspired by grace, but before that there is no “free will” of which it is worth speaking.

    “Believe both that man’s will is free, and that there is also God’s grace, without whose help man’s free will can neither be turned towards God, nor make any progress in God” (A Treatise on Grace and Free Will 1.7).

  • noelfitz

    Philip,
    your articles are brilliant and provocative. Thanks and congratulations.

    To reply in detail would take me study and time.

    I am particularly grateful that you challenge us.

    However could I please ask contributors to be respectful and courteous?

    Robust discussion and debate differ from personal attacks, which should have no place in eh www, especially is a Catholic site.

  • reyjacobs

    Council of Trent. Session Six. ON JUSTIFICATION. CANON IV.-“If any one saith, that man’s free will moved and excited by God, by assenting to God exciting and calling, nowise co-operates towards disposing and preparing itself for obtaining the grace of Justification; that it cannot refuse its consent, if it would, but that, as something inanimate, it does nothing whatever and is merely passive; let him be anathema.”

    In other words, if you call it heresy to say “that grace is cooperative, a partnership between creature and Creator” (as was done in the article above) then the Council of Trent anathemizes you. How then can the position presented in this article be Catholic? It is Protestant.

    http://history.hanover.edu/texts/trent.html

    • reyjacobs

      Also, CANON V.-“If any one saith, that, since Adam’s sin, the free will of man is lost and extinguished; or, that it is a thing with only a name, yea a name without a reality, a figment, in fine, introduced into the Church by Satan; let him be anathema.”

      • Philip Primeau

        Indeed. Who is denying free will does not exist? It just does not exist apart from grace.

        Really, “free will” makes no sense, since the will is always committed. Without God’s grace, we have an evil will, and with God’s grace we have a good will. We are either cooperating with Satan by demonic coercion or cooperating with God by loving inspiration.

        Quit glorifying in the flesh of man. Recall the condemnation of Scripture: “How much less man, who is a maggot, and the son of man, who is a worm” (Job 25:6).

        • reyjacobs

          Here you have fallen into the trap that Calvinists always fall into of quoting not Job but Job’s opponents as teaching the truth. This is said by Bildad the Shuhite who is seeking to unjustly condemn job. At the end of the book of Job, of course, God says to Job’s opponents “You have not spoken as accurately about me as has my servant Job.” And they are made to offer a sacrifice for having spoken inaccurate theology. Yet when the Calvinist goes to quote from the book of Job, he always chooses to quote Job’s opponents, and never Job himself.

    • Philip Primeau

      Rey,

      I do affirm the total passivity of the will, just the paralysis and worthlessness of the will divorced from the grace of God.

      Consider this, from the Sixth Session, Chapter V:

      “The Synod furthermore declares, that in adults, the beginning of the said Justification is to be derived from the prevenient grace of God, through Jesus Christ, that is to say, from His vocation, whereby, without any merits existing on their parts, they are called; that so they, who by sins were alienated from God, may be disposed through His quickening and assisting grace, to convert themselves to their own justification, by freely assenting to and co-operating with that said grace: in such sort that, while God touches the heart of man by the illumination of the Holy Ghost, neither is man himself utterly without doing anything while he receives that inspiration, forasmuch as he is also able to reject it; yet is he not able, by his own free will, without the grace of God, to move himself unto justice in His sight.”

      Let me repeat: grace does not destroy but rather establishes our will. We are able to cooperate — that is, to will in some small part — our salvation only because we are quickened (reborn) by the sovereign will of God.

      It as though we are in a dank and dark dungeon, bound by chains, chains jerked by Satan and our own innate sinfulness. God breaks these chains and illuminates the dungeon with His infinite radiance, thus showing us the path of escape. We proceed to escape by our own will. But that will is only effective because our chains were broken by God’s strength, our path revealed by God’s light, and our courage fueled by God’s inspiration.

  • Philip Primeau

    Lactantius says it better than I: “We who before as blind men, and as shut up in the prison of folly, sat in darkness, ignorant of God and truth, are enlightened by God, Who hath adopted us in His covenant, and being delivered from evil bonds, and brought into the light of wisdom, He hath took into the inheritance of the heavenly kingdom.”

    • reyjacobs

      But is he here not speaking simply of the status of Gentiles as not having a written revelation?

      “We who before as blind men, and as shut up in the prison of folly, sat in darkness, ignorant of God and truth,” — is this about Christian men who have grown up hearing God’s word?

  • Mary Kochan

    Phil and Rey, you are talking past one another because you are referring to freedom of the will in different contexts.

    Phil, you are correct about the bondage of the will apart from grace, but you should add that that grace is avaialable to all men.

    Rey, you are correct regarding the freedom of the will in that the will is free to resist or even wholly reject that grace of God.

    The Calvinist position is that the grace of God is not made available to all, but that those to whom it is made avaialable find it irresistable and cannot reject it.

    Rey, calling Phil’s position Calvinist betrays a lack of understanding of what the Calvinist position really is.

    • reyjacobs

      I don’t think Phil agrees that grace is made available to all. I don’t get that impression at all.

      And when he says “Tradition likewise condemns the triplet of Pelagian errors: human goodness, human freedom, and human cooperation with God’s grace.” He is denying a major Catholic tenet, that humans cooperate with God’s grace. Even Augustine didn’t deny that humans cooperate with God’s grace! Only a Calvinist goes that far!!!!

      • reyjacobs

        He says below “It is a mystery: the call to salvation is universal (cf. I Timothy 2:4), yet only certain are elected.” That confirms that he doesn’t believe grace is available to all.

  • Philip Primeau

    It is a mystery: the call to salvation is universal (cf. I Timothy 2:4), yet only certain are elected. Thus the Word said, “For many are called, but few are chosen” (Matthew 22:14). Furthermore, Saint Paul wrote, “In Him also we have obtained an inheritance, being predestined according to the purpose of Him who works all things according to the counsel of His will.”

    Sometimes, this seems to be a function of God’s foreknowledge. That is, those who God foreknew as believers he predestined to salvation. So we read in Romans:

    “For whom He foreknew, He also predestinated to be made conformable to the image of His Son: that He might be the Firstborn amongst many brethren. And whom He predestinated, them He also called. And whom He called, them He also justified. And whom He justified, them He also glorified” (8:29).

    Other times, election appears much more mysterious, however, even to the point of being superficially arbitrary:

    “And He said, I will make all My goodness pass before thee, and I will proclaim the name of the LORD before thee; and will be gracious to whom I will be gracious, and will show mercy on whom I will show mercy” (Exodus 33:19).

    Such verses are plentiful and can be disturbing to our sense of fairness. However, given that God is the Good One, I have no doubt that His will, which is perfect and holy and righteous.

  • goral

    John Calvin being the proper catholic that he was knew how to quote Aquinas.
    Philip, why would you put references of that shade into an article if not to raise the ire of Rey? and others, I might add.

    I mean, one would have to be a maggot or a worm not to get irritated.

    I will quote our Editor’s comment to another poster in another article, but this time I will attribute it to Reyjacobs –
    “while your instincts are right on” you may have some questionable points.
    Nevertheless, I can’t resist being drawn in by your instincts.

  • Philip Primeau

    This isn’t the 16th century, Goral. Calvin was a brilliant theologian and pious Christian who, for all his flaws, possessed a keen sense of the Divine. The same is the case with Luther, of whom Pope Benedict spoke warmly during his visit to Germany (he even trekked to Wittenberg!).

    I have no idea who Rey is. It was not my intention to draw anyone’s ire. I was simply writing.

    • reyjacobs

      Nobody would ever call Calvin a pious Christian but a Calvinist. This is the guy who destroyed Christianity for all time by teaching that its just a big cosmic lottery — if your number was pulled in the raffle back in eternity past, congrats you go to heaven; it is wasn’t, you go to hell to burn forever for no reason other than you lost a raffle you didn’t even participate in. This is the stuff that creates atheists. He was a Satanist not a pious Christian, and anyone who supports him is the same.

      • Mary Kochan

        You are correct that Calvinism creates atheists. But Calvin, like many others, cannot wholly be blamed for not seeing where his errors would eventually lead. This is what happens once one leaves the Holy Spirit-guided authority of the Catholic Church. Calling him a Satanist is just silly.

        Rey, you need to moderate your conversation. You come across as intemperate and unreasonable and you fly off the handle with unsubstantiated attacks against your fellow Catholics. If you think such communication is of any value in defending the Catholic faith, you are sorely mistaken.

        Mary Kochan, Editor-in-chief, Catholic Lane

  • goral

    Brilliant theology, unfortunately, is neither works nor Grace so I don’t know where that got them, Philip.

    John Paul II visited a mosque and Castro, these are gestures of friendship not approval.

    I have no idea who Rey is either. Let’s just say he’s your typical, contemporary, morally neutral Catholic.

  • Philip Primeau

    I apologize if I offended anyone, though I stand by what I wrote. I do not think it was inflammatory or dishonest. The current Holy Father is a prolific top rate scholar. Doubtlessly he has quoted Protestant theologians with approval. Even broken clocks are right twice a day.

  • Philip Primeau

    Rey,

    I don’t think you are interested in an honest discussion, so I will bid you goodbye and God bless. It seems clear to me that you have, in rejecting Calvinism, recoiled into semi-Pelagianism, which is just as much a heresy as Pelagianism. I think you are at odds not only with dear Saint Augustine, but also with Saint Thomas, Thomas a Kempis, Saint Bonaventure, and the whole Catholic tradition.

    “The chains of grace are so powerful, and yet so sweet, that though they attract our heart, they do not shackle our freedom. . . . Our yielding to the impulse of grace is much more the effect of grace than of our own will, and resistance to its inspirations is to be attributed to our will alone. . . . ‘If thou didst know the gift of God’….Grace is so gracious and so graciously seizes on our hearts to draw them, that it in no way offends the liberty of our will; it touches powerfully but yet so delicately the springs of our spirit that our free will suffers no violence from it.” –Saint Francis de Sales, Treatise on the Love of God, Bk. II, chap. II.

    God bless and keep you, friend.

  • noelfitz

    Philip,

    please do not apologize.

    Even though I am a bit lost in theological details here I appreciate the discussion and am grateful to Mary, as well as to you of course, that we can have such deep and profound discussions here.

    We are here to build each other up in the faith, and you certainly do that.

  • Gabriel Austin

    One of the most succinct expressions of Pelagianism:

    “I’ll do it myself”.

  • Philip Primeau

    Gabriel,

    Exactly. Which is why the heresy sells so well in America, the land of “rugged individualism.” Ironically, given the convictions of its founders (“Soli Deo gloria!”), this country has become the Zion of creature-worship. The United States remains Christian only insofar as it practices Christianity as a self-help program.

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