Author Topic: Sufficient and efficient grace  (Read 4243 times)

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Offline Raoul76

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Sufficient and efficient grace
« on: March 25, 2010, 10:43:55 PM »
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  • This post will be in several parts, although people can throw in their two cents before I continue.  In the first part, I just want to highlight the concepts of sufficient and efficient grace, and then I will move on to talk about how this has affected theology, with emphasis on EENS.

    Sufficient grace is the grace all men are given but that in itself is not enough to save, except for the Jesuits, who apparently said it was enough.

    Efficient grace is a higher form of grace that if corresponded with leads to justification.  

    If you are anything like me, dear reader, your first thought will be to do away with one of these concepts entirely.  "Why are there two forms of grace?" you might say.  "Why can't there just be 'grace'?"  That kind of thinking, which I'm guessing is typical of newbies, will lead you to the clean and satisfying Jansenist position.  Alas, that position is diabolical and wrong, as I have been fortunate enough to learn very quickly after my whirlwind two or three-day long love affair with it.

    The distinction between sufficient grace and efficient grace is necessary.  That is because if there is only "efficient grace," the more powerful form of grace, then the question arises as to how it can be resisted by so many.  If it can be resisted, then it's not very efficient, is it?  And if it can't be resisted, that destroys free will.  

    But if there is only "sufficient grace," the weaker form of grace, then the whole system falls apart, because sufficient grace cannot compel anyone, in the sense that God compels His chosen.  Briefly, theories that favor efficient grace only tend to deny free will; while those that favor sufficient grace only tend to insult grace itself and the power of God. For that reason, theologians have struggled to reconcile the two types of grace.
     
    The concepts of sufficient and efficient grace were part of a huge battle in the 17th century between Jansenists, Jesuits, and Thomists so let me sum up their positions in my inept and no doubt flawed way --

    * The Jesuits following Molina believed all men had sufficient grace to be saved, and that through free will they could either embrace it or not.

    * The Jansenists abhorred the idea of sufficient grace, eliminating it altogether.  For them it was unthinkable that anyone could resist God's grace, as if this were a lessening of the power of God.  So they claimed that people were given efficient grace, which they can theoretically resist, but practically never do.  

    * The Thomists/Dominicans thought that all men were given sufficient grace, but that God gave MORE grace to those whom He chose, and that those are given efficient grace.  

    ___________

    The problem with the Jesuit theory, at least according to Pascal, is that it denies the necessity of efficacious grace.  With the Jansenists, the underlying implication, what is not said, is that all those who are not saved don't get any grace at all, sufficient or efficient.  This theory denies God's universal salvific will, something that they apparently hoped no one would point out.  The Thomists, as Pascal showed in his Provinciales, agreed with the Jansenists in all but name.  Here is the section in Pascal where he tries to shame a Dominican into acquiescence.

    Pascal, Provinciales
    Quote
    "Where are we now?" I exclaimed; "and which side am I to take
    here? If I deny the sufficient grace, I am a Jansenist. If I admit it,
    as the Jesuits do, in the way of denying that efficacious grace is
    necessary, I shall be a heretic, say you. And if I admit it, as you
    do, in the way of maintaining the necessity of efficacious grace, I
    sin against common sense, and am a blockhead, say the Jesuits. What
    must I do, thus reduced to the inevitable necessity of being a
    blockhead, a heretic, or a Jansenist? And what a sad pass are
    matters come to, if there are none but the Jansenists who avoid coming
    into collision either with the faith or with reason, and who save
    themselves at once from absurdity and from error!"


    Pascal mocked the Jesuits for giving everyone a sufficient grace that is in many cases not really sufficient.  The mockery can be turned around right back at him.  Firstly, "sufficient" does not mean "sufficient in itself," but only "sufficient to lead a man to efficacious grace."  Secondly, the Jansenist theory, though internally consistent, has it so that God literally WILLS for men to be damned and WILLS evil.  If God only gives his efficacious grace to a select few, who cannot resist it, then how can you possibly say that God wants to save all men?  The others are left completely high and dry, abandoned by God.  

    The Dominican theory was deemed stupid because, through wordplay, it pretended to be an improvement on the Jansenist system while really being a rehash of it.  The Jesuits supposedly did not admit efficacious grace, only saying that all men are given sufficient grace.  The Thomist/Dominicans tried to avoid this error by saying that some men are given efficacious grace, out of gratuitous favoritism, because God can do what He wants.  But this denied God's universal salvific will just as surely as the Jansenists did.  It was a difference in name only.  

    Let me put it another way.  The Jansenists said that there was no sufficient grace and that you could only be saved by efficacious grace; the Thomists said that there was sufficient grace, but that you could still only be saved by efficacious grace, which was given gratuitously.  In either case, where does the free will come in?  And where does God's universal salvific will have any part?

    Believe it or not, I mostly side with the Jesuits.  The problem is that there are conflicting reports about what Molina, their controversial representative at this time, actually believed.  The 19th century Cardinal Gousset, for one, says that the "Molinists" believed in both efficacious and sufficient grace, while Pascal says they only believed in sufficient grace ( and for the sake of convenience, it is Pascal's line that I have taken throughout this post ).  If Gousset is right, then I don't see why there was ever a controversy, because that would mean that Molina really held what later became known as "congruism."  Congruism is what was later believed by St. Alphonsus Liguori, and earlier, in embryonic form, by both Aquinas and Augustine, in my opinion.

    Via congruism, all men are given sufficient grace, and if they correspond with it, by their free will, working together with God's predestination, they are given efficient grace.  St. Thomas speaks somewhere about how theologians often assume that predestination and free will are two opposed principles when they actually harmonize perfectly.  They work together in a simultaneity, man choosing with his free will what God grants through predestination.  This is congruism in its essence although it didn't have the fancy name yet. I believe both Aquinas and Augustine held an incipient form of congruism and that this is the correct position on grace.  

    Of all three disputants listed above, Jansenists, Jesuits and Thomists, the Jesuits came closest to pure congruism, and maybe they actually espoused it.  Due to conflicting reports, it's hard to say, but they definitely came the closest.  

    ******

    The next post will try to show how this tempest in a teapot, one that consumed 17th century theology, had ramifications much bigger than anyone saw.  After the smoke cleared, it became evident that something had been revealed that was not intended to be revealed, that the bomb blast had opened Pandora's box -- suddenly, the Catholic world became aware that there was grace outside the Church.  

    This had always been known, of course -- if there's no grace outside the Church, how could anyone convert to the Church? -- but it wasn't known known.  I'd compare it to how we all know that we're going to die, but that it doesn't hit us that we're really going to die until a midlife crisis or some other shocking moment.   Until then, you know but without really knowing, living in blissful, affected ignorance.

    Very few in the Church before the 16th century really wanted to go very deeply into the consequences of grace existing outside the Church.  You can see how St. Thomas teetered on this precipice and continually pulled himself back.  St. Augustine hinted at it as a "vortex of confusion."  

    The Jesuits did not have that kind of prudence.   With their tendency to pick apart every piece of information like Swiss watchmakers, they set themselves to their volatile work.  
    Because if God gives his grace to all men, without exception, and this must be maintained without falling into heresy, then the question arises, at which point does this grace save?  You cannot be saved outside the Church, of course, but WHERE is the Church?  Isn't it where the grace is?  

    This is what led to what looks, to the naked eye, like a new semi-Pelagianism.  But maybe it is not as simple as I'd previously thought.

    A suivre...
    As I was a new convert when posting here, my posts are often full of error, even unwitting heresy and rash judgment, all of which I renounce, and all my writings are best avoided -- MDLS

    Offline Ladislaus

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    Sufficient and efficient grace
    « Reply #1 on: March 26, 2010, 06:55:19 AM »
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  • I still dispute this notion that God gives every man sufficient grace to be saved.  It's patently false.  How does God give sufficient grace for salvation to aborted babies?  Grace is by definition a FREE gift and God is under absolutely no obligation to give it to anyone.  Sometimes He witholds it out of His Mercy, knowing that it will be rejected and wishing to spare souls the additional eternal punishment that would have been the result of their rejection.

    So this bogus notion of sufficient grace has been used to argue that invincibly ignorant natives can be saved through the natural lights available to them.  Absolutely not.  God wills for all men to be saved.  We know that IF it were at all possible for a soul to be saved, i.e. that the grace would be efficacious, that God in His goodness would not withold sufficient grace for salvation.  But the witholding of non-efficacious sufficient grace is not ruled out by the notion of God's goodness.  In fact, it is precisely because God is good that He sometimes witholds non-efficacious sufficient grace.  Why should God be under some "obligation" (as some theologians have wrongly said about the free gift of grace) to waste grace, i.e. pour out grace that He know will be wasted, rejected, and despised?  God allowed some souls to be born in such a state most probably to spare them additional torments for the sin of infidelity.  As Our Lord said, had He not come, they would have no sin.  So Our Lord in His Mercy sometimes "does not come" to people in order to spare them the guilt of and punishment due to this sin.

    This false theological axiom that God actually gives all men sufficient grace to be saved was a setup for the erosion of EENS.


    Offline Belloc

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    Sufficient and efficient grace
    « Reply #2 on: March 26, 2010, 07:22:11 AM »
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  • Quote from: Ladislaus
    I still dispute this notion that God gives every man sufficient grace to be saved.  It's patently false.  How does God give sufficient grace for salvation to aborted babies?


    God gives what He gives as he is all powerful, that is enough...or He would not be good, despite humans trying t o pigeon hole Him....
    Proud "European American" and prouder, still, Catholic

    Offline SJB

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    Sufficient and efficient grace
    « Reply #3 on: March 26, 2010, 02:24:30 PM »
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  • Quote from: Denzinger 814
    Session 4, Can. 4. If anyone shall say that man's free will moved and aroused by God does not cooperate by assenting to God who rouses and calls, whereby it disposes and prepares itself to obtain the grace of justification, and that it cannot dissent, if it wishes, but that like something inanimate it does nothing at all and is merely in a passive state: let him be anathema [cf. n. 797].

    It would be comparatively easy for us to be holy if only we could always see the character of our neighbours either in soft shade or with the kindly deceits of moonlight upon them. Of course, we are not to grow blind to evil

    Offline SJB

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    Sufficient and efficient grace
    « Reply #4 on: March 26, 2010, 02:40:09 PM »
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  • The following is the conclusion (in a Dogmatic theology manual) of the discussion on The Efficacy of Actual Grace or Efficacious and Sufficient Grace. I actually brought this confict up once before and was told it was irrelevant. Of course, I imagine none of the resident theologians here will pay any attention to Pope Paul V ... maybe he was a heretic along with Tanqurey.   :smile:


    Quote from: Dogmatic Theology, A. Tanqurey
    940 Conclusion. In practice, according to the authority of Pope Paul V, concluding the Congregation in the matter of Aids, it is not licit to condemn the opinion of the Molinists as Pelagianism nor that of the Thomists as Jansenism. Therefore, on so difficult a subject let each one freely embrace the opinion which he thinks is more in agreement with Catholic dogma; at the same time let him not brand the opinion of those who disagree with theological censure.


    It would be comparatively easy for us to be holy if only we could always see the character of our neighbours either in soft shade or with the kindly deceits of moonlight upon them. Of course, we are not to grow blind to evil


    Offline gladius_veritatis

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    Sufficient and efficient grace
    « Reply #5 on: March 27, 2010, 01:27:58 PM »
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  • Quote from: Raoul76
    Sufficient grace is the grace all men are given but that in itself is not enough to save...


    So, you are saying sufficient grace is...insufficient?
    + Vincit veritas +

    Offline Raoul76

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    Sufficient and efficient grace
    « Reply #6 on: March 29, 2010, 03:51:12 PM »
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  • This question of grace absolutely is the backbone of the Church.  That is why I'm bringing up this controversy of the 16th-17th  century, because as Ladislaus said, this began the erosion.  

    Here is the root of the confusion as I see it.  The Molinists avoided heresy while opening up the Church to rampant error, while the Jansenists fell into heresy while trying to protect the Church from this error.

    All of the commotion was based on a sort of Augustinian amnesia.  Because of the Protestant Reformation, which claimed to be based on Augustine, the Jesuits ( most of whom defended Molina ) felt compelled to place the emphasis on free will.  The Jansenists, rightfully alarmed, unfortunately were not able, in the eyes of the world, to sufficiently distinguish themselves from Protestants.  The Molinists overreacted to the Protestants; the Jansenists overreacted to the Molinists.

    The sense of the five condemned propositions of the Jansenists is that God does not will all men to be saved.  I have detected the same sense even from Pascal ( who I guess is still on the Index and I shouldn't be reading ).  Without saying it outright, they make God the author of evil.  Whether this is due to clumsiness of expression or they actually were heretics, I don't know.  

    The Molinists thus became the champions of God's universal salvific will, while the Jansenists were those who said or implied that God was the author of evil.  It's no surprise that Molinism and the Jesuits prevailed.

    ******

    But God doesn't have to give everyone sufficient grace in order to preserve His universal salvific will.  This simple truth just hit me today.  If everyone has "sufficient grace," and there is no one who is struggling without any grace whatsoever, original sin is downplayed.  

    The solution seems to be to take Molina's scientia media, the "middle knowledge" of God, and apply it to Augustinian soteriology ( it was already there in Augustine, just without the term "scientia media." )  "Scientia media" is less harsh and more amenable to free will than "predestination" or the Thomistic "physical premotion" by which God compels our wills.  

    This is how I've worked it out so far.  God gives sufficient grace only to those who He knows, via His scientia media -- that is, His foreknowledge of every possible contingency of human free will -- are able to respond to it.  Those who do respond then are given efficient grace.  But others are left entirely in darkness and given over to reprobation, not because God wills their damnation, but because He sees beforehand that they will not correspond with grace.  

    In my view, this is what Augustine was saying without the more developed terminology.  

    The question then arises, why not just eliminate sufficient grace altogether and say God gives His chosen efficient grace by which they are irresistibly compelled at the same time as they respond with their free will?  The answer is that this is Jansenism.  If there is only efficient grace, free will is essentially in-name-only.  That is why they get so mealy-mouthed when they are accused of denying free will.  Their free will is a shadow, a joke.  

    But they could likewise accuse my system above of being Molinist in-name-only, with the slight difference that I do not say everyone has sufficient grace.  It seems that with sufficient grace, the emphasis is always placed on free will.  Without sufficient grace, the emphasis is always placed on grace.  Each one is unsatisfactory.

    The next step is to apply congruism and say that, for the elect, God's gift of grace and the human acceptance of this grace through free will are happily and harmoniously congruous.  It's still not perfect, and feels more like an exhausted boxer's clinch than an elegant solution, but I can go no further.  Really, the relation of grace and free will is like the Trinity, it is a mystery that cannot be fully explained.

    ******

    I understand the craving for a theory that gives the preeminence to grace, with free will playing a more minor role.   That is what I am working on but without the mental resources, frankly, to solve the problem.  But if I can get someone else with more Latin and more theological background working on this, that would be great.  

    Maybe the problem is that theologians are trying to make it 50-50 instead of 70-30 or 90-10 in favor of grace, as if free will and grace have to share and share alike.  What if free will gets the short end of the stick?  What's wrong with that, as long as it isn't a complete denial of free will?  The reason why grace must prevail over free will for a healthy and sound theology is because God's will must prevail over our own.

    Technically, Molina's free-will-centered theology is not heretical or "semi-Pelagian" but it leads ineluctably to semi-Pelagian thought, because it diminishes the thankfulness and love one feels for God if he knows he has been gratuitously chosen or elected.  That love is the greatest deterrent to sin.  With the Molinists, so much emphasis is placed on free will that essentially a convert to the faith who agrees with Molina -- that it is his own response to grace that saved him -- could consider himself an equal partner with God in his own salvation, which could easily lead to lukewarmness and backsliding.

    Also, if everyone on Earth has sufficient grace, then of course you're going to end up with a lot of "good pagan" sentimentality.  And this is where I wanted to take the thread originally.  Molinist theology is the backbone of invincible ignorance.  Although invincible ignorance pre-dated it, it is Molina's theology that sustained it and helped it grow into the overwhelming scourge that it is now.  That is why Karl Barth is so insistent that we all become Molinists and that even the VII Church is not Molinist enough.  
    As I was a new convert when posting here, my posts are often full of error, even unwitting heresy and rash judgment, all of which I renounce, and all my writings are best avoided -- MDLS

    Offline Raoul76

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    Sufficient and efficient grace
    « Reply #7 on: March 29, 2010, 03:58:50 PM »
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  • Quote
    I still dispute this notion that God gives every man sufficient grace to be saved. It's patently false. How does God give sufficient grace for salvation to aborted babies?


    Sufficient grace is only a potential.  We are all in original sin until we act on sufficient grace.  A baby cannot act on sufficient grace and needs baptism.  Molina doesn't really dilute original sin, like I'd thought at first, but he does dilute grace.
    As I was a new convert when posting here, my posts are often full of error, even unwitting heresy and rash judgment, all of which I renounce, and all my writings are best avoided -- MDLS


    Offline Caminus

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    Sufficient and efficient grace
    « Reply #8 on: March 29, 2010, 04:08:17 PM »
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  • First of all, you continue to malign Fr. Garrigou-Lagrange through your own ignorance.  Secondly, it's 100% and 100% with regard to grace and free will.  It's a mystery indeed.  Thirdly, you seem to think that "sufficient" and "efficient" grace are qualitatively different graces, which they are not.  Those terms refer to different aspects of one and the same grace.  Fourthly, you seem to be operating under the assumption that if God gives one man a grace, He is obliged to continually give him grace.  This is not so.  Why one man is only given one grace and another many is a mystery that you will not figure out.  Fifthly, if grace is a free gift, then you have no grounds to complain whether he gives it to all men or not.  Sixthly, you (and Lad) still haven't been able to grasp the difference between theoretical speculation of theologians and the illicit inference to the concrete particular of the nouvelle theologian.  Seventhly, though Molina is excused of heresy, that doesn't mean that some of his work could not be censured as erroneous, as Fr. Garrigou-Lagrange had done in his work to defend the absolute gratuity of grace and the supreme distinction between the natural and supernatural orders.      

    Offline SJB

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    Sufficient and efficient grace
    « Reply #9 on: March 29, 2010, 04:16:41 PM »
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  • Quote from: Caminus
    First of all, you continue to malign Fr. Garrigou-Lagrange through your own ignorance.  Secondly, it's 100% and 100% with regard to grace and free will.  It's a mystery indeed.  Thirdly, you seem to think that "sufficient" and "efficient" grace are qualitatively different graces, which they are not.  Those terms refer to different aspects of one and the same grace.  Fourthly, you seem to be operating under the assumption that if God gives one man a grace, He is obliged to continually give him grace.  This is not so.  Why one man is only given one grace and another many is a mystery that you will not figure out.  Fifthly, if grace is a free gift, then you have no grounds to complain whether he gives it to all men or not.  Sixthly, you (and Lad) still haven't been able to grasp the difference between theoretical speculation of theologians and the illicit inference to the concrete particular of the nouvelle theologian.  Seventhly, though Molina is excused of heresy, that doesn't mean that some of his work could not be censured as erroneous, as Fr. Garrigou-Lagrange had done in his work to defend the absolute gratuity of grace and the supreme distinction between the natural and supernatural orders.      


    Anybody who was educated pre-V2 by the Dominicans was taught that Molina was in error on this point. That does not condemn Molinism, but it was treated it as a definite error.

     
    It would be comparatively easy for us to be holy if only we could always see the character of our neighbours either in soft shade or with the kindly deceits of moonlight upon them. Of course, we are not to grow blind to evil

    Offline Caminus

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    Sufficient and efficient grace
    « Reply #10 on: March 29, 2010, 04:21:11 PM »
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  • I think Molina was in error because his theory ultimately destroys the principle of predilection.  


     

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