Grace (Theology of)
GRACE (THEOLOGY OF)
The theological usage of the term "grace" directly corresponds with that of its Latin equivalent, gratia, from which it is derived. It is notable that the English word has also absorbed the peculiarly Christian character given by St. Paul to the Greek word χάρις. Thus grace is "the free and unmerited favour of God as manifested in the salvation of sinners" (A New English Dictionary, ed. J. A. H. Murray, 5.1:326), or simply "the free and unmerited favour of God" (The Shorter Oxford English Dictionary, ed. C. T. Onions, 817), or even, according to the Shakespearean usage, the very source of favor, God (cf. the phrase "grace of Grace," Macbeth 5.8.72). It is this fundamental emphasis on the total gratuity of grace that effectively relates the totality of its Catholic theological exposition to the affirmations of Christian revelation.
Yet, in addition to this common note, there are connotations. Generally these arise from the fact that historically there are certain problematics that have brought other aspects than gratuity to the fore. As a result, a full grasp of the notion of grace must indicate these emphases. Perhaps the broadest of these would be the antithesis of grace and sin, which has frequently tended to emphasize and even overemphasize the medicinal aspect of grace. Almost equally important has been the problematic of grace and nature, which at times would move in the direction of making grace simply an aid or completion or perfection of nature. Correlative to this would be the controversies engendered by Calvinism, Baianism, and Jansenism concerning "corrupt" nature and "pure" nature (see pure nature, state of), and thus the concern with naturally, or ethically, good acts. Noteworthy too are the lengthy debates over justification, which often seem to equate grace and justification. The long, heated conflict over freedom and grace in terms of divine and human causality accentuates grace and the specific concrete act or the divine motion involved and the human response to that motion (see free will and grace). Added to this would be the trend of the manuals to encompass all of the doctrine of grace under the scholastic categories and so conceive of it almost solely in terms of habitual and actual grace [see habit (in theology)]. Finally, there is the extensive discussion that begins with Denis petau (d. 1652) on the role of the Holy Spirit in the divine indwelling and His relation to grace. The interchange becomes quite concentrated on this point and appears eventually to give a kind of tangential character to the relation between the divine indwelling and grace, the uncreated almost obscured by the created. Some other historical contrasts could be included, but these are central and suffice to set the scene for the modern understanding and emphasis.
For in the light of biblical theology and a deeper appreciation of the history of theology, a much larger perspective has been given. In it the term "grace" is seen not only as a personal gift but as a whole economy. Seen in this perspective, the various aspects stressed as a result of particular historical situations are judged to be derivative and secondary. Grace, then, rather comprises the whole history of God's saving dealing with man. It signifies essentially an economy of love. As such it denotes the Holy Trinity—Father, Son, and Holy Spirit—giving itself freely to man and calling for man's free response through faith, hope, and charity. It connotes at the same time Christ in the supreme moment of the encounter and this in turn embodied in the Sacraments and the Church, His Body. This approach is thus more comprehensive and more fully expressive of the theology of Scripture and the fullness of the Christian tradition.
History of the Catholic Doctrine of Grace
The Catholic doctrine of grace calls for a considerable history of its theological development if it is to be fully understood. In fact, it may well be argued that this historical aspect is more necessary to the understanding of grace than to the understanding of any other doctrinal area in Catholic teaching. Yet, if such a history is to look to understanding rather than be a mere cataloging of events, this development must be regarded as a properly theological enterprise. This means that for the Catholic this theological development results from the effort undertaken by the believer to understand better what he believes. By faith he assents and consents to God's revealing Himself through Christ and the Church, and seeks to understand the divine meaning by bringing to bear rational and philosophical notions and perspectives. Because of this, his theologizing will necessarily have an element of relativity and contingency. In any age the theologian is bound to time, to history, and to the vital exigency of development in understanding. This contingent aspect stands in relation to a permanent element, i.e., the dogmas defined by the Church, all that is contained in Scripture, as well as the total Catholic doctrinal tradition. To this will be added certain fundamental metaphysical acquisitions that constitute the basis of a Christian metaphysical horizon. In seeking to understand or apply these, the theologian will make use of contingent representations or notions or even systematizations, for the theologian must draw upon what he knows. He must seek intelligibility through the natural structures that are open to him in his own cultural milieu. In view of this, a few generalizations may help in understanding the very complex history of the theology of grace in the compressed form in which it must be treated here.
First, there is always a hazard that in the light of an effort of genius men will be tempted to bind the revealed and defined affirmations to a particular theology. It is easy to forget that there can be a number of theologies developed about them and that the only fully realized theology is that of the blessed in heaven. This does not deny the fact that a particular theological effort may arrive at understanding, in particular areas, which becomes a permanent part of the Catholic doctrinal tradition.
Second, often and particularly in the matter of grace the theological formulations rise out of a contemporary and immediate concern, confusion, controversy, or error. Frequently, therefore, the theological representations and formulations may concentrate on only one aspect of the doctrine and so form themselves into counterpositions to the positions taken by the opposition. As a result, both Scripture and the Catholic doctrinal positions may very well be read and understood in the light of these counterpositions. This understanding may then tend to set other elements of the doctrine into the background or to obscure them.
Third, to understand the history of a theological development it is of the essence to ask precisely what the problem was that was the central concern. Why was it a problem, and exactly what were the questions being asked about it? How far was the answer given circumscribed by the particular problem or controversy out of which it came? Finally, were all the biblical possibilities open to the theologians, and were they acquainted with the full doctrinal tradition on the matter?
Fourth, necessarily integrated into this whole approach is the underlying historical fact of development, namely, the theological acceptance that growth in Christian understanding finds its dynamism in the revealed Word of God manifesting itself to men. Hence, for the believer, its past is necessarily incorporated into the living Church here and now. The theologian thus judges, evaluates, enlarges, and reconstructs the theological presentations of the past in the light of this development at once truly historical and truly theological (see doctrine, development of).
General patristic. Central to understanding the teaching of the early Church on grace is a grasp of the basic problematic that determines much of its form: how to harmonize the religion received out of the Jewish-Christian religious life with the Greco-Roman culture? [see J. Daniélou, Message évangélique et culture hellénistique au II e et III e siècles (Tournai 1961)] The Christian teachers were faced with an abundance of religious and philosophical ideas and images and representations out of the Greco-Roman world. Among these they endeavored to find ways to affirm and present what was primarily an experienced way of life rather than a theory (see theology, influence of greek philosophy on). And so, in the earliest writings, what is stressed is that a new life, a new kind of knowledge and immortality, are revealed through Jesus Christ (cf. Didache 9.3; 10.2). Ignatius of Antioch presents salvation as actually achieved through union with Christ, through whom newness of life flows into men so that He is their true and inseparable life (cf. Eph. 15.3; 3.2; Magn. 14; Rom. 6.3; Smyrn. 4).
Greek Fathers. It is with Justin Martyr that two main themes are opened up that directly relate the patristic teaching to the Pauline doctrine on grace. The first is the notion of freedom and responsibility, which will be seen presently. The second thematic comes to the fore in Justin's explanation of the redemptive character of Christ's death on the cross.
Divinization-Recapitulation. Justin explains that because of His redemptive work, Christ has become the source of a new humanity that He has regenerated through water, faith, and the cross (cf. Dial. 40). It is this profoundly biblical perspective that Irenaeus takes up from Justin and develops into a comprehensive theory of recapitulation: "He recapitulated in Himself the long history of man, summing up and giving us salvation in order that we might receive again in Christ Jesus what we had lost in Adam, that is, the image and likeness of God" (Adversus haereses 3.18.1; cf. J. Quasten, Patrology 1:295–297). It is this basic theme set deeply into a Trinitarian context that gives meaning to the whole patristic emphasis on divinization (θέωσις θεοποιε[symbol omitted]ν). Thus it is the Son who makes men participate in His eternal generation through the gift of filial adoption. This runs through from Irenaeus (cf. Adversus haereses 3.19.1) to Cyril of Alexandria [cf. Jo. 1.9 (on Jn 1.13)]. Into this notion of divinization is assumed the understanding of 2 Pt 1.4, "sharers of the divine nature." This is understood as a participation in and a communion with the Triune life itself [e.g., by Cryil of Alexandria, Jo. 9.1 (on Jn 14.11–20)]. Integrated into it is the Johannine and Pauline theme of rebirth and regeneration. To be noted also is the explanation of this participation in terms of a form impressed on the soul as in Basil of Caesarea and Gregory of Nyssa (Hom. 2 in Cant. ). Throughout, as H. de Lubac, SJ, has noted, the supernatural character of grace is developed with increasing clarity [Surnaturel: Études historiques (Paris 1946) 325–394].
Grace and Liberty. Here again the teaching of the Greek Fathers is closely related to a basic affirmation of St. Paul. It is the proclamation that the economy of grace has made the Christian truly free, has freed his liberty that he may act in love. In part this emphasis is to confront the widespread and contemporary Greek fatalism with clarity and assurance. However, its inner emphasis has its source in the conviction that it is precisely through his liberty that man is in the image of God (see, e.g., Irenaeus, Adversus haereses 4.4.1, Patrologia Graeca 7:981; Gregory of Nyssa, Hom. opif. 16, Patrologia Graeca 44:184). Accordingly, it is by man's free choice of light instead of darkness that he renews himself and remodels himself (Gregory of Nyssa, V. Mos. 2.54). It is God's love that places His liberty on the same level as man's (cf. Basil).
As can be seen, the Greek Fathers (with many nuances that cannot be treated here) clearly delineate the main lines that will structure the history of the theology of grace. The notion of divinization and the notion of Christian liberty will be obscured in various ways. At times, aspects of each of these themes will be so emphasized as to distort them, even dangerously so. Yet around these two poles the doctrinal history of grace will revolve.
St. Augustine. The name of St. augustine rather than that of the Latin Fathers in general is used here simply because in fact for the Western Church he is the "Doctor of Grace." As with the Greek Fathers, divinization through grace is a basic theme in St. Augustine, although his Trinitarian context has another accent. The theme of grace and liberty is integrated in a very important way with the dimension of sin.
Divinization. Of special importance here is the Christological aspect that Augustine stresses. In a sense, it is the development of one aspect of recapitulation. This is found in his teaching on the totus Christus, the whole Christ. For Christ is not only in the head and so not in the Body, but the whole Christ is in the head and Body (cf. In evang. Ioh. 28.1). "So the Word was made flesh and dwelt among us, and to that flesh the Church is joined so that there comes into being the whole Christ, head and Body" (In epist. Ioh. 1.2). This solidarity and community of the redeemed with Christ is a very important element in the theology of Augustine concerning grace, as will be seen shortly.
In the specifically Trinitarian aspect of the economy of grace, St. Augustine gives a prominent place to the presence or indwelling of the Trinity in the souls of the just. It is this indwelling proper to the regenerated that enables the Christian in grace to know and love God in a special way (Trin. 4.20.28–29). In this life of grace he attributes to the Son, or Word, illumination, which the Greek Fathers attribute to the Holy Spirit. To the Holy Spirit, following St. Paul (Rom 5.5), he attributes charity, since the Holy Spirit is the gift by which men love God. "Love itself which is of God, which is God, is especially the Holy Spirit, by which the love of God is diffused in our hearts, by which love the whole Trinity dwells in us" (Trin. 15.18.32). And so, according to Augustine, to live well is to adhere to the whole Trinity by Christ and the Spirit. In this very personal reflection on the mystery of the Trinitarian indwelling, St. Augustine gives to his doctrine of grace an orientation that will deeply color later Latin theological thought. On this point, however, a number of theologians following De Régnon have felt that Augustine is attempting to balance unity and transcendence, and that this has led to far too strict a formulation of appropriation [see H. Rondet, Gratia Christi (Paris 1948) 162]. In addition to these aspects peculiar to himself, St. Augustine clearly teaches other elements that are found in the Greek Fathers; e.g., men's union in brotherhood with Christ by reason of a filial adoption by God. They are divinized because they are sharers of the divine nature of the Son, who has become a sharer of men's nature (Epist. 140.10).
Grace and Liberty. It is in the development of this Pauline thematic that St. Augustine exerts his deepest and most pervasive tutorial influence on Western theological thought. For reasons both personal and doctrinal, the grace of Christ strikes him above all as liberative. It is the grace of Christ that heals the effects of original sin and personal sin and so frees men to live a genuinely Christian life. More than anyone else, St. Augustine elaborates the Pauline teaching on the supernatural polarity of original sin and the grace of Christ. Yet it is evident that in the doctrinal history of grace his teaching on this polarity has been a source of deeply divisive debate. In the name of his teaching on grace, erroneous positions have been formulated, and in some cases those claiming him as their authority have been authoritatively condemned by the Catholic Church. In view of these facts, therefore, it might be well to apply specifically the principles set down earlier in this article. First, in studying the texts of St. Augustine it must be kept in mind that he is to be read historically, i.e., in the light of his own preoccupations. He is not trying to formulate a theory of sufficient and efficacious grace. Neither is he trying to construct the metaphysical elements proper to the free act. Finally, he is not, as such, concerned with the basic problematic of the Jansenists: to establish a theory reconciling free will with the primacy of predestination. In fact, St. Augustine simply does not eliminate free will as the Jansenists would like to have him do but insists on it even when he insists most strongly on the necessity and power of grace. At the same time, he admits frequently the difficulty of reconciling both these insistences [Grat. Christi 47.52; see G. de Broglie, "Pour une meilleure intelligence du 'De correptione et gratia,"' Augustinus magister (Paris 1954) 2:317–337].
Perhaps the best view of the problematic as St. Augustine himself sees it is found in his De correptione et gratia. Here he affirms that it is the sin of Adam that calls forth the just wrath of God and that man renews his solidarity with sinful Adam by his own personal sins and thus evokes God's wrath on them (Corrept. 7.12, 16; 9.25). All this involves, then, a hereditary and collective responsibility along with personal responsibility. Augustine is not concerned with human nature in the abstract but specific man in a concrete historical situation. In Augustine grace, therefore, refers to the actual states of man: Adam before sin acting in accord with his God-given powers fully free; the present state of man called to eternal life so that any salutary activity absolutely requires the grace of Christ; lastly, redeemed humanity joined with God in the heavenly city. In this present state, then, sin or salvation, merit or demerit, must be recognized as the fruit of men's solidarity with the first Adam or with Christ. Only the grace of Christ enables men to tend freely to eternal life (G. de Broglie, op. cit. 334–335). It is in the light of these doctrinal perspectives drawn from Scripture itself that the Augustinian teaching on grace and liberty must be weighed.
Basic to this perspective on Augustine is his distinction between freedom (libertas ) and free will or free choice (liberum arbitrium ). Freedom, or libertas, is the effective engagement of all man's powers in tending to his only true end, God; it is love fully implemented. Thus, fallen man possesses free choice (liberum arbitrium ), but he is not truly free (libertas ) to accomplish his true purpose. And this purpose is to participate in God's freedom and love Him as He loves us. Only through the grace of Christ can he overcome sin and be free to love God. As long as free choice remains, this freedom can be regained through grace (see Enchir. 32; C. Iulian. 6.11; C. Pelag. 1.3.5; Quaest. Simpl. 1.1.14). Fallen man can act or not act under grace; but if his action is to be free in the Christian (and what one may term supernatural) sense, then grace is absolutely necessary. Sin has caused the loss of freedom, the power to do that which deserves eternal life, the freedom to love God (Corrept. 12.33). Only God can restore this because God is love and only God can give love (Lib. arb. 2.20.54).
This approach serves to bring out a matrix of the conflict with the Pelagians (see pelagius and pelagianism). It is not a question of the Pelagians championing free will and Augustine rejecting it, but rather of Augustine insisting on degrees of freedom rather than a simpliste, undifferentiated idea of it. For Augustine freedom is what St. Paul calls Christian freedom, the freedom of the children of God. Man is in sin, hereditary and personal in solidarity with Adam. Through divinely engraced solidarity with Christ, he is healed and is now truly capable of exercising the freedom of a son of God through love (Corrept. 11.32). For a Pelagian such as Julian, liberty is a matter of indetermination of choice, but for Augustine it is the manifestation of the very nature of man himself, the option that determines his whole fulfillment. Grace alone can give this to sinful man so that, while it is difficult, he is truly free.
Once this is seen, it is also clear why Augustine places so much stress on the gratuity of grace. "After man's fall God willed that man's approach to Him should only be because of His grace, and it was only because of His grace that man did not depart from Him" (Persev. 7.13). So the power of free choice is healed by grace, but man is not exempt from willing—but to will the good and to achieve it, this is the work of grace (libertas; Corrept. 2.4).
It is in this properly Augustinian context that his usage of delectatio victrix and the so-called gratia indeclinabilis must be evaluated. The delectatio victrix has to be set in the framework of Augustine's own psychological theory of choice. First, the will never decides anything without a motive, and evidently some motives are more effective than others (Spir. et litt. 34.60). Second, it is from God that one receives his first thoughts, and so the providential design of God makes it opportune that certain thoughts enter one's mind (Persev. 8.20). Finally, God knows what reaction a man will have to a particular motive. Grace does not cause one to act but evokes the desire to act. It does not dispense with willing but brings one to love the true good and so to act. The delectatio is part of the total free act. In the case of indeclinable grace, or what some have called irresistible grace, the passage in question reads: "Aid has been brought to the weakness of the human will so that divine grace might act indeclinably and invincibly [indeclinabiliter et insuperabiliter ageretur ]" (Corrept. 12.38). This has been treated as though the antithesis rested on the adverbs, whereas, in fact, as De Broglie points out, in the light of the total theology of Augustine, the emphatic word is ageretur. It is this that centers the distinction between the primitive state of Adam in his full power and man's present condition enabled to act by grace but without loss to his power of free choice (liberum arbitrium ) [see G. de Broglie, op. cit. 334; M. T. Clark, Augustine: Philosopher of Freedom (New York 1959) 55–75.]
St. Anselm. The "father of scholastic theology" is introduced here for two reasons. First, because of his mediatorial relationship between the world of Augustine and the scholastic world that is on the horizon. Second, in this matter of grace he reflects and brings to the fore the thematic on grace and liberty present in the traditional teaching. This second point is of considerable importance because the later debates over sufficient and efficacious grace have served frequently to obscure the primary doctrine with a secondary issue.
Anselm's organized treatment of grace and liberty takes both the Augustinian perspective and the patristic tradition and roots them deeply in the soil of Western theology. Like Augustine, he sees freedom from the standpoint of purpose. For him as for Augustine the right will is an engraced will and the only true freedom is a will rightly ordered. As with Augustine, Anselm never considers man except in his actual historical state, called to beatitude and absolutely in need of grace to attain it. Thus, to be free, one must preserve that rectitude whereby man wills what God wills. No creature, however, has such rectitude of will save through the grace of God (De concordia praescientiae et praedestinationis et gratiae Dei cum libero arbitrio 3.3). Yet this grace does not do away with free choice (liberum arbitrium ) because man must choose to cooperate with grace. Grace enables the will to accomplish what it was created to do (libertas ), but the will has the power to refuse this grace. The rectitude that comes with grace results from free choice and joins the free will to its proper supernatural end (ibid. 3.3). As Augustine, Anselm affirms that it is the union of grace and free choice that brings about salvation. Either by itself does not suffice (ibid. 3.5), but the primacy lies with grace (ibid. 3.4). All this explanation is informed with what has been seen as central to the patristic tradition, namely, that true human freedom is a participation in the divine freedom. St. Augustine saw this as the work of love. St. Anselm finds it in the rectitude whereby one seeks justice and so wills what God wills.
St. Thomas Aquinas. With St. Thomas there comes one of the most deeply decisive moments in the history of the doctrine of grace. His work represents a synthesis of the Christian tradition with the resources and perspectives of Greek philosophical thought. It is also, in a sense, the doctrine of Augustine rethought and reformulated in the perspective of his own theological synthesis, which is quite properly called Thomism [see F. Van Steenberghen, in A. Fliche and V. Martin, eds. Histoire de l'église depuis les origines jusqu'à nos jours (Paris 1935) 13:253]. It is this speculative instrument of Christian thought that has been the common basis for the majority of theological treatises on grace since the 16th century. For this reason the teaching of St. Thomas must be considered in some detail.
In Overall Synthesis. To evaluate properly the teaching of St. Thomas on grace, it must be recognized that this doctrine is subordinate to his overall theological synthesis and so dispersed throughout his Summa theologiae. Yet the full patristic tradition finds proper place in his work. The thematic of recapitulation, already noted, finds full place in the Summa theologiae. The ecclesial emphasis of St. Augustine as to the relation of head and members is properly emphasized in his treatment of the redemption (Summa theologiae 3a, 19.4; 48.2 ad 1). The theological tradition on divinization he expresses by saying that men are beatified through participation, so that in this sense they may be called gods (ibid. 1a2ae, 3.1 ad1). Through grace and the work of charity man is incorporated into the familial life of the Father, the Son, and the Holy Spirit. Accordingly, as sharer in the divine nature man enjoys the Divine Persons (ibid. 1a2ae, 65.5; 1a, 43.3 ad 1) and is therefore deified by them (ibid. 1a2ae, 112.1). And so for St. Thomas grace is seen as the favor of God, the action of His merciful or gracious disposition. God, therefore, gives Himself to humanity by reason of a vital, creative act of love. This in turn effects a responsive action in the creature so engraced (ibid. 1a2ae, 110.1 ad 1; De ver. 27.1). Finally, taking man in his actual historical situation, he incorporates the Augustinian emphasis on the medicinal character of grace as derived from the fact of original sin (Summa theologiae 1a2ae, 109.2;109.4).
Grace Synthesis. It is grace as understood in the synthesis based on St. Thomas's notion of nature that has been most decisive in the history of the theological doctrine of grace as it has come down to modern times. Negatively, this influence manifests itself in the counterpositions taken to it particularly in the nominalist tradition. Positively, it is evidenced in what since the 16th century has been the common scholastic tradition formed in terms of the Summa theologiae. This in turn, in a variety of forms, has been the structure of the manuals of theology that have been the medium of the tradition down to the present time. There are, of course, other and quite different theological traditions, but in the limits of this article St. Thomas alone is the concern because his influence is central to the understanding of the common theological tradition on grace.
To evaluate his role in the history of the doctrine as well as the relationship of his theological work to the modern systematic theology on grace, some preliminary considerations are necessary. First, building on the scholarly achievements in the history of scholastic thought laid by such men as M. Grabmann, A. Landgraf, and É. H. Gilson, such specialists as H. Bouillard, SJ, H. Redon, SJ, and J. Auer have brought about an extensive historical reevaluation of the theological formulations of St. Thomas. The result of these studies, strongly undergirded, is the contention that St. Thomas's own theology of grace has been given perspectives and emphases by his disciples that are not necessarily present in his actual work. For example, the central role given to the problem of grace and liberty as it culminates in the De auxiliis debate is not found in St. Thomas. The compression of the treatment on grace into the categories of habitual and actual grace is alien to St. Thomas. The historical situation that made the topics of justification and merit treatises in themselves is equally foreign to his synthesis. It becomes clear, too, that the extensive and supple use of Aristotelian metaphysical positions results from a deep personal reflection on them so that they might serve the traditional Christian doctrine on grace. His purpose is theological, and so it is the traditional doctrine coming through the Greek Fathers and especially St. Augustine that is rethought and elucidated in terms of its ontological exigencies. Making use of the Greek philosophical resources and synthesizing them with the Christian tradition through the medium of his own personal reflection and judgment, St. Thomas endeavored to employ them to probe the depths of the doctrine of grace. In this he represents with St. Albert the transition from a refined and highly nuanced biblical theology to a deeply speculative enterprise [see J. Auer, Entwicklung der Gnade in der Hochacholastik, 2 v. (Freiburg 1942–51) 1:109–123].
Central to St. Thomas's speculation on grace is the notion of a fixed and stable nature. It is this philosophical conception of nature with its dynamism or principle and the ends proper to it that enabled St. Thomas to formulate the idea of the absolutely supernatural. In harmonizing the received theological tradition with these philosophical considerations, he makes the case that the supernatural end actually given to the intelligent being gives consistency and orientation to the natural order itself. Yet it should be noted that it is this very concern with nature that tends to make him give heavy emphasis in his thought to what the scholastics were beginning to call created grace (see grace, created), a position taken up in opposition to Peter Lombard's identification of charity and the Holy Spirit [see J. Auer, Entwicklung der Gnade in der Hochacholastik, 2 v. (Freiburg 1942–51)]. St. Thomas thus explains the life of grace in terms of nature and its operations. The nature of man, according to his teaching, has three principles or dynamisms of operation, the very being of the soul (essentia animae ) and the faculties of reason and will. Since God does not act less perfectly in the works of grace than of nature, there is, he finds, a parallel (see Summa theologiae 1a2ae, 65.3;110.4 and ad 1). Just as nature, so the life of grace has principles whereby it achieves its proper end: grace itself as the supernatural principle of existence in the soul and the theological virtues perfecting the faculties [see O. Lottin, Psychologie et morale aux XII e et XIII e siècles, 3v. (Louvain 1942–49) 3:468–472].
It is in the light of this parallelism that St. Thomas's notion of grace as a habit, or, more accurately, as a habitual gift (donum habituale ), must be seen. Lottin traces the development of this conception of grace as a habit to two main currents. One of these, a theological conception, stems from Hugh of Saint-Victor and is Augustinian in inspiration. The other is given currency by Peter Abelard and is Aristotelian in source (ibid. 103–115). It is this second line of emphasis for which Thomas opts. It is the application of the thesis noted above that God must provide for the life of grace as He does for the natural life. And so in the natural order God gives forms and virtues that are the principles of action and incline the nature to the movements proper to it. Equally, to achieve the supernatural good, God infuses forms as supernatural qualities to accomplish it. Hence the gift of grace is a kind of quality, qualitas quaedam (Summa theologiae 1a2ae, 110.2). As such, it is a permanent habitude, which is the root of the infused virtues. This idea of a permanent habitude might well signify not so much the Aristotelian habit but a permanent hold of God in man's very being; or, as C. Moeller indicates, in St. Bonaventure, to hold is to be held [see "Théologie de la grâce et oecuménisme," Irénikon 28 (1955) 32–37; H. Bouillard, Conversion et grâce chez s. Thomas d'Aquin (Paris 1944) 211–219 ].
In connection with St. Thomas's formulation of grace as a habitual gift, a word is in order on its correlative in the later Thomistic tradition, actual grace. St. Thomas himself makes the distinction between the habitual gift and divine aid, divinum auxilium (Summa theologiae 1a2ae, 111.2; 110.2). He speaks in these places of God moving the soul of man to know or to will or to act. Yet he would also say that commonly the term "grace" means the habitual justifying gift. Moreover, he recognizes in the preparation for justification a divine aid by which God moves man (ibid. 1a2ae, 112.1 ad 1). Whether this divine aid is to be equated with the usage of the term "actual grace" has been a source of considerable debate since the study of H. Bouillard on the subject (op. cit. ). Bouillard argues quite persuasively that the whole matter must be studied in the light of St. Thomas's own development as a theologian. The issue is a peculiarly subtle one, and St. Thomas's expressions do leave themselves open to divergent interpretations. However, in the light of Bouillard's work and subsequent debates about it, it would appear legitimate to presume this highly complex problematic historically an open issue [see H. Rondet, Gratia Christi (Paris 1948) 218–220; J. Auer, Entwicklung der Gnade in der Hochacholastik, 2 v. (Freiburg 1942–51) 1:211–219].
With regard to the relationship between grace and liberty, St. Thomas brings to its theological structuring a whole philosophical and speculative instrument unavailable to his predecessors. At no point, however, does he treat this relationship for its own sake. His concern is to integrate it into the more universal framework of his metaphysics. Grace does not violate liberty, and God will not save man without the movement of free will (Summa theologiae 1a2ae, 113.3). However, God is absolutely the first cause and moves all other things (ibid. 1a, 19.8). Grace and liberty thus are set into the ontological order of the relationship between the first cause and a secondary one. Hence St. Thomas places emphasis on the fact that this first cause is neither necessary nor contingent but transcendent (In 1 perih. 14). Accordingly, while a good deal of the later debate on sufficient and efficacious grace will center on the interpretation of St. Thomas, nonetheless it will center on a question that he neither raises nor in its essence considers. It will involve also an understanding of actual grace that possibly may not have been present in his work. See in addition to the works already noted: W. A. Van Roo, Grace and Original Justice according to St. Thomas (Rome 1955); G. Lafont, Structures et méthode dans la Somme Théologique de saint Thomas d'Aquin (Bruges 1961); J. Alfaro, Lo natural y lo sobrenatural: Estudio historico desde santo Tomas hasta Cayetano (Rome 1952).
Nominalist tradition. Recent scholarship has tended to see in the nominalist tradition a much more constructive character than has hitherto been conceded it [see H. A. Oberman, "Some Notes on the Theology of Nominalism," Harvard Theological Review 53 (1960) 46–76]. More and more it is emphasized that its accepted historical title, nominalism, is based on an epistemological conception that is not central to the tradition itself but derivative from its religio-theological perspectives and preoccupations. It is because of these theological presuppositions that its teaching on grace is included here. They serve to bring out the continuing evolution and emphasis on the gratuity of grace and help to evaluate properly many of the discussions at the Council of Trent.
Essential to the understanding of the nominalist development is the fact of its very heavy accentuation on the sovereignty of God and its correlative, His absolute freedom. This accentuation, as nominalists see it, is a necessary antidote to a prevailing and dangerously deter-ministic Aristotelianism (represented for many of them by St. Thomas). Opposed to this must be a return to the only law open to the Christian—the law of love proposed by Augustine, wherein alone true liberty acts. For God's work is one of absolute freedom. He gives Himself in total freedom out of love and not by reason of any created structure or exigency such as a stable order of nature would set up [see R. Guelluy, Philosophie et théologie chez Guillaume d'Ockham (Paris 1947) 266–267].
In the realm of grace, this absolute sovereignty and freedom of God is preserved by what is the central religio-theological motif of the whole tradition. This is the potentia absoluta-potentia ordinata principle. The nominalists through this principle clearly articulate "the contingence of the whole order of nature as well as grace, and thus emphasize the dependence of all things with regard to a Principle that acts with a sovereign liberty and gratuity" [P. Vignaux, Nominalisme du XIV e siècle (Montreal 1948) 22]. Through the interaction of the potentia absoluta and the potentia ordinata, divine mercy and divine justice are reconciled. Man becomes just, as he must in order to be saved, but it is solely through divine acceptance.
The stress of the nominalist tradition on acceptance in order to preserve absolute gratuity leads to a further step in the rejection of the medieval, and particularly the Thomistic, explanation of grace as a kind of habit or habitude. For, as nominalists see it, God's acceptance alone makes man and his works worthy of heaven and thus makes the whole notion of habitus superfluous [see H. A. Oberman, "Some Notes on the Theology of Nominalism," Harvard Theological Review 53 (1960) 65]. In addition, as William of Ockham specifically indicates, this notion of grace as a habit, a structuring of the will itself, can interfere with the concept of human freedom, which is the cause of the meritoriousness of the act. God, after all, can accept this action without any grace, since grace is only a status required by God in man's actual situation (de potentia ordinata ) (see H. A. Oberman, ibid. 64–65). This point is important in the history of the theology of grace, since attention to it can help to explain the strong counterposition taken by the 16th-and 17th-century Thomistic commentators who make of the notion of habit so central an element in their theology of grace.
Great debates. For methodological purposes this article bypasses at this point the Council of Trent and takes it up rather in the consideration of the systematic theology of grace. The next stage is represented by Baianism, the Catholic theological debate over efficacious grace, and Jansenism. These are three chronologically interrelated phases in the development of this stage. Each of them interacts on the other, and all of them affect very deeply both the direction and emphasis of subsequent theologizing on grace.
Baianism. The fundamental characteristic of Baius's teaching may be summed up as follows. He is directly, even bitterly, opposed to the scholastic development on grace, particularly as represented by St. Thomas; and so he draws his own explanation from what he conceives to be the thought of St. Augustine. The result is that Baius rejects the whole notion of grace as a created and totally gratuitous gift that permanently elevates man and makes him a sharer of the divine nature—an understanding of grace strongly emphasized by St. Thomas (see elevation of man). Yet while claiming Augustine as his master, Baius ignores the role that divinization plays in the theology of the Augustine. Likewise, in his distaste for philosophical conceptions, he does not appear to see in St. Augustine's teaching the distinction between freedom (libertas ) and free choice (liberum arbitrium ). He thus equates the two and gives man no freedom of choice, so that in man's present state grace becomes a necessitating thing. In this way he opens the way to the debate on sufficient and efficacious grace and prepares the way for Jansenism as well [see X. Le Bachelet, "Baius," Dictionnaire de théologie catholique 2.1:81–89; H. Rondet, Gratia Christi (Paris 1948) 287–293]. Finally, with all of his objections to philosophical formulas, he in fact begins with a conception of nature that desupernaturalizes Augustine's whole conception of the relationship between grace and nature. Whereas St. Augustine sees human nature finding its fulfillment and completion in God's gracious gifts, Baius looks upon the informing work of the Holy Spirit as being of the very nature of man and the gifts given to Adam as serving the ends of nature and not a gratuitous elevation and divinization. And thus in so radically denying the gratuity of the supernatural order, he denies the supernatural order itself. When he comes to grace in the case of fallen man, then he sees it as only extrinsic and being only a matter of mode, not of substance [see H. de Lubac, Surnaturel: Études historiques (Paris 1946) 30–37; see baius and baianism].
De Auxiliis Controversy. The Latin phrase De auxiliis, meaning "On the matter of aids," has come to be the historical title of one of the most extensive theological controversies in Western Catholic theology. It had its source in the opposing theories employed by the Jesuits and the Dominicans to harmonize grace, predestination, and human liberty. In its early stage the issue was, for the Jesuits, a decidedly practical affair. Confronting both Calvinism and Baianism in the Low Countries, their emphasis is on the role of man's freedom in salutary activity. To be noted also is the role given to voluntary effort in the Jesuit method of spiritual direction. Likewise, in the ascetical orientation of the spiritual exercises of St. Ignatius, while the initiative belongs to grace, there is a mutual interaction and development with voluntary activity. It is this approach that finds in the work of the Jesuit theologian Luis de molina many points that are attractive. The orientation is also particularly notable in the case of Leonard lessius, who is teaching in Louvain during this period [see H. Rondet, Gratia Christi (Paris 1948) 294–295].
Essentially, the concern of Molina is with the concrete salutary act; his aim is to preserve the free activity of man without undermining God's governance of the economy of salvation. To accomplish this aim, Molina maintains that free will cannot be touched or moved from within without destroying freedom itself. Rather, grace must look only to attracting the will to move itself. And so all grace as it is offered to man is called gratia oblata. If the will by its innate liberty consents to the proferred grace, it becomes efficacious. If the will resists the grace, then it remains merely sufficient (see grace, efficacious; grace, sufficient). There is, therefore, only one grace offered; whether or not it efficaciously attains a salutary act derives ultimately from man's free choice. On the other hand, the divine governance of the salutary economy for humanity is preserved through the introduction of a theological concept that becomes the touchstone of much of the subsequent controversy. This is the famous scientia media, the middle knowledge, between God's knowledge of all possibles and His knowledge of what actually is. By this scientia media God knows all the futuribles, i.e., all the possibilities of a free will under an infinite variety of circumstances. Thus when God chooses a particular order, He knows infallibly how a given man will respond to grace. The divine governance then looks to infallible knowledge and in no way enters into human causality [L. de Molina, Concordia liberi arbitrii cum gratiae donis, divina praescientia, providentia, praedestinatione, et reprobatione (Paris 1876); see E. Vansteenberghe, "Molinisme," Dictionnaire de théologie catholique 10.2:2094–2187; H. Rondet, Gratia Christi (Paris 1948) 294 and following] (see molinism).
While accepting with reservation the notion of scientia media, neither Bellarmine nor Suárez felt that Molina's explanation satisfies the biblical affirmations or sufficiently protects God's role in predestination. Bellarmine held that, while the efficacy of grace is exterior to the will, still the grace itself has a moral congruity that so accommodates it to the circumstances, the character, and the dispositions of the man that he unfailingly consents even though he could resist [R. Bellarmine, De gratia et libero arbitrio 1.12; Opera omnia, 12 v. (Vivès ed. Paris 1870–74) 5.529–531]. Suárez would accept congruent grace, but this congruency for him would appear to stem from extrinsic circumstances rather than from any special adaptation of the grace itself (see congruism). It should be noted too that Suárez's acceptance of the scientia media is reserved and is to be understood in the light of his own philosophical perspectives (F. Suárez, De gratia 5.21; Vivès ed. 8: 498–500).
Domingo Báñez and those who follow him place their emphasis on the divine will as absolute in priority if the gratuity of God's salvific economy is to be preserved. They therefore reject totally the whole idea of scientia media, describing it as a pure construct without any real object in the order of divine knowledge. God knows infallibly what will be because He has decreed that it should be. Since God is absolutely the first cause, then He must be the mover of every second cause and in the order of existence the first mover of every act. On the basis of this metaphysical position, it is maintained that the grace that moves man to a salutary act must be efficacious by its very nature and so must enter into the very structure of the free act. The reconciliation of this affirmation with man's freedom calls for a subtle and complex analysis of the interaction of intellectual judgment as formal cause and the will as efficient cause (see R. Garrigou-Lagrange, "Thomisme," Dictionnaire de théologie catholique 15.1:823–1023, esp. 979–985; see bÁÑez and baÑezianism).
The presentation here on the De auxiliis debate is admittedly but a sketch of a controversy that has permeated and frequently dominated the scholastic tradition down to the present (see congregatio de auxiliis). However, enough had to be said to throw light on the reasons why the consideration of actual grace has been so much to the fore in the scholastic treatment and in so many of the manuals. As has already been noted, this emphasis on actual grace calls for a good deal more historical perspective than is as yet available. It seems too that the penetration of the unique causal relationship between God and man in the supernatural order calls for the development of further speculative resources than are presently at hand.
Jansenism. While jansenism may be better remembered for its ultrarigid moral outlook, its teaching on grace has the same character. It is the work of Cornelius jansen, who lived, reflected, and wrote his work in the turbulent atmosphere engendered by the debates over efficacious grace. Like Baius, he is the product of the Louvain atmosphere and harbors an even deeper resentment of the Jesuits and shares his antipathy for scholasticism. The future bishop of Ypres is totally committed to Augustine and entitles his book augustinus. Yet, as happens so often to the disciples of the bishop of Hippo, in attempting to draw out a synthesis from the master's work, he ended up forcing his own construction on St. Augustine's thought. At the heart of his position, as well as at that of the Jansenist school throughout its history, is the same distortion that blinds Baius to the meaning of Augustine. It is his conception of nature before the Fall, Adam in the state of innocence. It may be argued that the notion of Jansen does not expressly exclude the gratuity of the original state of grace, but it surely caricatures it beyond recognition. For Jansen man is created in a state of innocence and rectitude; his will is naturally turned toward God as his last end. The first man possesses liberty of indifference toward good and evil but is naturally turned toward good. Grace is given to man to accomplish the good but it waits upon man's consent. It is, in fact, the sufficient grace of the contemporary theologian (see J. Carreyre, "Jansenisme," Dictionnaire de théologie catholique 8.1:345–348).
However, when Adam falls all this is radically changed. Adam and his descendants are now committed to concupiscence-self-love and have no freedom of choice. The will is free only from outside intervention. Interiorly the will is determined either to sin or to charity. If man is to be saved, then the all-powerful grace of Christ will do it of itself. In such a conception, Jansen sees sufficient grace as a monstrosity, for fallen man has no power either to consent or to resist if the grace of Christ is bestowed upon him. Once again St. Augustine's distinction between liberty and free choice is not understood, and an absolutely irreconcilable opposition is seen between man's original state and his fallen state in the matter of grace [see J. Carreyre, ibid. 349–367; H. Rondet, Gratia Christi (Paris 1948) 309–314; R. Knox, Enthusiasm (New York 1950) 204–230]. For understanding the subsequent history of the theology of grace, it is important to recognize that it was the effort to soften this radical opposition of the original to the fallen state posed by Baius and Jansen that led to so much stress on "pure nature" in contemporary and later theology [see J. Carreyre, "Jansenisme," Dictionnaire de théologie catholique 362–363; H. Rondet, "Le Problème de la nature pure et la théologie du XVIe siècle," Recherches de science religieuse 35 (1948) 481–521; H. de Lubac, Surnaturel: Études historiques (Paris 1946) 101–127].
Petavius. The French Jesuit Denis Petau (Petavius, d. 1652) is singled out because he restores a perspective to the theology of grace that will be most important in its modern development. By the time the controversy over efficacious grace has reached its climax, and in part due to it, the whole emphasis is on created grace. The aspect of uncreated grace, of the divinization of the Christian, is being presented as a formal effect of habitual grace. The indwelling of the Holy Spirit as well as the ecclesial aspect of the grace of Christ have both been placed in the background of theology. It is due to the work of Petau, even while the Jansenist struggle is continuing under Antoine arnauld, that these deeply biblical and traditional aspects of the theology of grace begin to be restored to their proper proportion.
Petau himself is the first of the great positive theologians, deeply erudite in the history of dogma and particularly well versed in the Greek Fathers and Scripture. It is from the standpoint of positive theology that he studies the mission of the Holy Spirit. His guide is St. Cyril of Alexandria. As a result, he is convinced that the Holy Spirit has a far more personal role in the divinization of the Christian than his contemporaries propose [De Trinitate 8.4; Dogmata theologica, 8 v. (Paris 1865–67) 3:453–465]. The data as he interprets it seems to require that the work of sanctification be proper to the Holy Spirit. Accordingly, he maintains that the scholastic doctrine of appropriation does not suffice to explain either Scripture or the Greek patristic tradition of the role of the Holy Spirit (see ibid. 8.6; 3:481–487).
It must be admitted that the speculative capacities of Petau are limited and that he is not really able to answer the question he has posed. He frankly leaves the problem for someone else to answer and makes of his own proposal simply a tentative. His tentative is vigorously criticized in his own time as well as in modern times [see A. Michel, "Trinité," Dictionnaire de théologie catholique 15.2:1851–55; P. Galtier, Le Saint Esprit en nous d'après les pères grecs in Analecta Gregoriana 35 (Rome 1946)].
The problem raised by Petau is treated again by M.J. scheeben, whom Grabmann described as the greatest speculative theologian of the 19th century. Scheeben is a dedicated disciple of St. Thomas Aquinas and is also deeply influenced by the Fathers and especially the Greek patristic tradition. Like Petau, he studies the mission of the Holy Spirit in the light of Cyril of Alexandria's thought. As a result, it is his Trinitarian theology that determines his theology of grace. Avoiding any simplistic commitment to the hypostatic character of the Holy Spirit's mission of sanctification, nonetheless he maintains that each of the Divine Persons dwells in us in a manner that is personal and proper. They are present formally by what constitutes them as Persons [M. J. Scheeben, The Mysteries of Christianity, tr. C. Vollert (St. Louis, Mo. 1946) 158–180]. While more developed and nuanced speculatively than the tentatives of Petau, Scheeben's position does not find much favor and is generally rejected by the manuals. The importance of Scheeben, however, lies less in his theory than the fact that he gave very strong impetus to the return to the tradition that emphasizes the Trinitarian ground of the doctrine and theology of grace. This return is given a further impulse by the extensive and detailed patristic studies of T. de Régnon [Études de théologie positive sur la Sainte Trinité, 4 v. (Paris 1892) 4:466–498; 524–572]. While De Régnon's own resolution of the issue raised by Petau receives very little popular assent, his work insures that the study of the Greek tradition will become a theological exigency.
Contemporary. In the mid-20th century, the emphasis on the study of the Fathers joined with a renewal of biblical theology began to bring about a considerable change in the systematic treatment of the theology of grace. As has been already implied, there was considerable emphasis of the Pauline and patristic insistence on the Trinitarian ground of the whole doctrine of grace. Biblical theology as well as the history of theology more and more made theologians conscious that the categories of habitual and actual grace are unable to encompass fully the revealed reality of grace. Hence the trend in theologizing on grace was to give primacy to the supernatural economy of God's personal and saving activity. Along with this was an effort to disengage the treatment of grace from the limitations imposed on it by the polemics of the Reformation, Baianism, and Jansenism. There was also a strong trend to set the long debate over sufficient and efficacious grace into a historical perspective where it no longer dominates the treatment of grace and freedom. In the place of this emphasis, many contemporary theologians sought to restore the Augustinian distinction between liberty, or Christian freedom, and freedom of choice. By this distinction they sought to give to Christian freedom a dimension that touches the very roots of man's personal supernatural relation with the Triune God.
Even before Vatican Council II, theologians such as Hans Küng were rethinking historic Protestant-Catholic controversies about grace in the light of contemporary developments. Increasingly, both Catholic and Protestant theologians showed a willingness to recognize elements in each others' traditions as valid. Thus Catholics sought acceptable interpretations of such phrases as "justification through faith," "simultaneously justified and sinful," etc. Meanwhile, they found inspiration for their thinking in the works of such Protestant theologians as Barth, Bultmann, Tillich, and Bonhoeffer.
At the same time, Catholic thought on grace became more "secular." That is, grace was seen as the all-pervasive reality of God's love to be found in every dimension of life in this world, rather than as a discrete entity transmitted only through "sacred" channels. All constructive human activity is in some sense supernatural insofar as it is carried out under the force of God's call to friendship with Himself, and grace is thus available to all men everywhere. Reexamination of the distinction between natural and supernatural, and the discussions of "anonymous" Christianity, led to a greater appreciation of the universality of grace.
The influence of ecumenical discussions and of the secularizing trend converged in the development of personalist theologies of grace. Personalist theology offered not a new doctrine of grace but a new approach to understanding and expressing the realities found in Scripture and tradition. Grace was to be understood as an interpersonal relationship between God and man, the appreciation of which stands at the very heart of the theological endeavor. The impact of grace on consciousness, on acts of faith and hope and love, and on human psychology in general received greater and greater attention, and theologians' vocabularies and frames of reference were likely to be drawn from existential philosophy and contemporary psychology.
Finally, the need for a social theology of grace became clear in light of developments in other areas of theology. For example, Vatican II reiterated the biblical notion that God does not call us as individuals but as a people. In moral theology, the deprivatization of sin calls for a corresponding deprivatization of grace. In addition, sacramental and liturgical theology shifted their focus to the social, viewing Baptism as the initiation of a person into the Christian community, and Eucharist as the sharing of a communal meal. Traditionally, the impact of grace has been a major factor in the study of each of these areas. However, a purely personalist approach to grace proved an inadequate grounding for these social understandings. This inadequacy, in turn, led many theologians to ignore the topic of grace.
Liberation theologians were among the first to point out the general neglect of the social dimensions in theological tracts on grace. Not only did they develop a social theology of grace to counterbalance their notion of sin as systemic evil, but they claimed that human beings receive grace within society and by transforming society. More specifically, for them, grace is liberation, the freeing action of God in society.
Systematic Treatment of Grace
In the biblical perspective, grace is the generous kindness and favor of God that He witnesses to by His personal action in the people of god and each of its members. St. Thomas Aquinas speaks for this theological tradition when he declares that grace is fundamentally God's gracious disposition. This disposition for St. Thomas is, above all, an act of love that produces in the very being of man a correlative response and activity (see Summa theologiae 1a2ae, 110.1–3).
This favor and love of God that makes man pleasing to Him is not an abstract but a personal reality that finds its full manifestation in the historical reality of Jesus Christ, the Son of God. The incarnate Word is the grace and the favor of God appearing for the salvation of all men and "of his fullness we have all received grace upon grace" (Jn 1.16). It is the grace of the Father in Jesus Christ that is given men by the Holy Spirit. This whole approach is beautifully phrased in the Tridentine decree on justification.
The commencement of justification itself in adults must be understood as coming from the prevenient grace of God through Christ Jesus, i.e., from His vocation, by which He summons them without any anterior merits on their part so that those who have been averted from God through their sins are turned to their own justification through His grace that excites and aids. In freely consenting and cooperating with this grace [these sinners] are so disposed that God touches their heart in such a way through the illumination of the Holy Spirit that it cannot be said that man does nothing at all when he receives this inspiration, for he can reject it; neither may it be said that without the grace of God he can move himself to justice before God by his own free will. (H. Denzinger, Enchiridion symbolorum 1525)
In this magisterial statement are the two poles central to the systematic theology of grace: the absolute primacy of God as savior and the realism of regeneration. As C. Moeller has so cogently brought out, these two poles must orient any theology of grace if it is to be true to God's revealed word and at the same time be as genuinely ecumenical as the present age demands ["Théologie de la grâce et oecuménisme," Irénikon 28 (1955) 21–23].
Absolute primacy of God in the work of salvation. "The Eternal Father by a free and hidden plan of His own wisdom and goodness created the whole world. His plan was to raise men to a participation of the divine life. God the Father did not leave men fallen in Adam to themselves but ceaselessly offered helps to salvation for the sake of Christ the Redeemer, 'who is the image of the invisible God, the firstborn of every creature' (Col 1.15). All the elect, before time began, the Father 'foreknew, and He predestined them to become conformed to the image of His Son so that He should be the firstborn among many brethren' (Rom 8.29)"—Vatican Council II, Dogmatic Constitution on the Church 2; Acta Apostolicae Sedis 57 (1965) 5–6. In these words the Church reaffirms both the gratuity and the supernaturality of God's gracious favor and salutary activity.
In the conception of grace outlined above, there is found in direct focus what the Greek Fathers described as the divinization of the Christian. God became man that men might share in the divine life. By the love of the Father man is introduced into the life of the three Divine Persons. Through this freely given love is communicated to the redeemed a share (although in a human degree) of the love of the Son for the Father. It is this love of the Father in the image of the Son that is realized and vitally sustained by the Holy Spirit.
Supernaturality. In this context of grace, considered as an absolutely free and personal act through which God communicates Himself to men, the traditional usage of supernatural must be understood. Man through God's love is endowed with the divine through a personal act of God's own self-giving. Such an act by its very nature must be absolutely free; it cannot be necessitated. On the other hand, the spiritual creature must respond to this divine self-donation freely. Hence, the doctrine of grace supposes a creature already constituted in its own being in such ways that it has the possibility of entering into a free and personal relationship with the Divine Persons or of rejecting that relationship. The fact of a completely gratuitous operation on the part of God and the possibility of a free response or refusal on the part of the creature makes God's self-communication supernatural. For it means that it cannot be something owed or necessitated. God can deny it to man since it is a participation in the divine life, which belongs and is proper only to the Father, Son, and Holy Spirit. The scholastic terminology describes it as that which by its very nature goes beyond the essence, capacity, or claim of any creature (cf. K. Rahner, Lexikon für Theologie und Kirche 4:993).
The Church in its official teaching has given considerable emphasis to both the idea and the term "supernatural." The idea itself first appears in Benedict XII's exposition of the beatific vision (H. Denzinger, Enchiridion symbolorum 1000–01). The term itself is employed in the condemnation of Baius (ibid. 1921, 1923; cf. 1926). The same notion is to be found in the statements issued against quesnel (ibid. 2435) and in 1794 against the Synod of Pistoia (ibid. 2616). Pius IX employed the term "supernatural" to bring out the semirationalist errors of J. Frohschammer (ibid. 2851, 2854). In its constitution on the Catholic faith, Vatican Council I makes the supernaturality of God's will to give Himself to man the foundation of the necessity of grace as well as a necessary property of divine faith (ibid. 3005, 3008). The encyclical of Pius XII humani generis gives heavy emphasis to the absolute gratuity of the supernatural order (ibid. 3891).
Grace and Nature. The correlative aspect of God's self-revelation that is man's free response to it is also set into focus by the absolute gratuity of grace. By the very nature of the relationship of love, man must enter into communion with God freely. Yet as both the Councils of Orange and Trent affirm, he is incapable of either earning this grace of response, or preparing himself positively for it, or ever attaining it by his own acts (ibid. 373–397, 1523, 1525). For the very nature of God's personal communication of Himself requires that man's actual ability to respond freely be itself the action of God's unnecessitated grace.
While insisting on this supernaturality, one is also to be aware that, since man must respond freely, even without grace there is in the spiritual creature a capacity for this self-disclosure of God in Christ. It is this capacity that theologians have termed an obediential potency (potentia obedientialis ). This term simply formulates this fact: what God can achieve in and with man can be impossible for man himself to do. Yet, because man is God's creature, then inherent in his created nature is the possibility of becoming what God can and does will. Although this implies no capacity for self-realization, there is a real possibility that God has the power to actualize if He so wills.
Modern theology has devoted considerable attention to the actual nature of this obediential power as found in historical man called to grace. A number of theologians have felt that the relationship between nature and grace has been too much confined to the discussions of the relationship of the supernatural with man's natural desire to see God. This itself is a source of extensive debate in the Thomistic tradition [ see, e.g., W. O'Connor, The Eternal Quest (New York 1947)]. By focusing on this perspective, it is maintained, the whole relationship is reduced to a kind of extrinsicism. For one of the elements involved, viz, pure nature, is solely a speculative construct that has never had any existence. This extrinsicism would, it is maintained, make of human nature so determinable and thus so self-enclosed a system that the supernatural adds only a veneer or an extrinsic layer. Hence really to understand the relationship constructively one must return to the fact that the one thing revelation tells man is that God has created him with the purpose of giving Himself in Christ. The sole final end that is given in fact to the creation of spiritual creatures is the possession of God Himself, and this with the fact of sin foreseen.
In view of such judgments, a number of theologians have striven to reconstruct the relationship between nature and grace by centering it on historical man called to grace from the beginning of human history. Implicitly this point of view reaches back to the early part of the 20th century and the work of M. Blondel and J. Maréchal, SJ. Later it was given prominence by H. de Lubac, SJ, K. Rahner, SJ, and H. U. von Balthasar [see L. Malevez, "La Gratuité du surnaturel," Nouvelle revue théologique 75 (1953) 561–586, 673–689; H. de Lubac, Surnaturel: Études historiques (Paris 1946); K. Rahner, "Concerning the Relationship between Nature and Grace," Theological Investigations, v. 1, tr. C. Ernst (Baltimore, Md. 1961) 297–317; H. von Balthasar, Karl Barth: Darstellung und Deutung seiner Theologie (Cologne 1951) 278–335; J. P. Kenny, "Reflections on Human Nature and the Supernatural," Theological Studies 14 (1953) 280–287].
The best-elaborated and most carefully balanced exposition of this position is that offered by K. Rahner. As he sees it, the divine decree that calls all men to the beatific vision must have a real effect on each man so called. God could not will to make men adopted sons unless there resulted an interior orientation to this actual end that would oblige men to choose or reject it. To conceive of the call as a purely extrinsic, juridical reality is to leave an actual historical decree of God without a corresponding historical term. For the possession of God is men's only true end in fact. How, therefore, can this be if there is no actual attraction or tension in regard to this de facto situation? As a vocation, it is totally God's gift, His gracious intervention; and the resonance it strikes in man is thus the work of His own free gift. It is this supernatural destiny, freely conferred, that in turn engenders in man an affinity to the end for which he was in fact made. This affinity touches the very source of man's existence so that man never ceases to be called by God's love. It is this that Rahner terms the supernatural existential, an attrait, a resonance, that results from an unconditioned and positive tendency to the vision of God derived from God's gift of a vocation to supernatural life.
It should be remarked here that Rahner is aware that some have pushed this position to extremes, as indicated in the encyclical Humani generis. He emphasizes that this position in no way attenuates the absolute gratuity of the supernatural. He insists that the concept of pure nature is necessary to defend this divine gratuity. He also accepts the validity of the notion represented by obediential power but maintains that it is not mere nonrepugnance but an inner ordination. He would, however, make it plain that because of this supernatural existential, the concept pure nature is not something clearly determinable or open to exact definition. Pure nature can only be described as what would remain in concrete human nature after the existential has been abstracted as not due. Since one does not know the full impact of the supernatural existential, one cannot say definitively what this pure nature would be.
As might be expected, this position has not gone unchallenged. Perhaps the best critique is offered by H. E. Schillebeeckx, OP. He sees the whole tentative as a shifting of the problematic from the relationship between nature and grace to a relationship between nature and a medium between nature and grace, a medium that is neither natural nor supernatural as such. He would hold that the basic error arises from a false perspective. By reason of this false perspective, the proponents of the supernatural existential hold that a sinner can be really and actually called in the concrete and yet still remain a sinner. Hence he maintains that Rahner would place in human nature as the term of man's destiny a reality present in both man in the state of grace and man a sinner. Schillebeeckx would claim that the actual and real destination to the supernatural order is sanctifying grace since only this in fact places man in the supernatural order. Hence in actuality the distinction is either acceptance and personal relationship with God or a deliberate refusal and thus being truly a sinner—these are the only terms of God's call. Vocation by its nature remains extrinsic to man because it cannot become actual save by free response or rejection. For the destination to the supernatural order is the fruit of God's will to save; this involves either effective assumption into friendship with God or, if one is not in the state of grace, the reality of being a sinner. There is no other possibility [see H. E. Schillebeeckx, "L'Instinct de la foi selon s. Thomas d'Aquin," Revue des sciences philosophiques et théologiques 48 (1964) 396–400].
Reality of regeneration. Theology has systematized the various aspects of grace insofar as it affects man. The variety of categories and formulas represents the effort by theologians to grasp and give intellectual precision to the scriptural affirmations that the man in grace is a new creature, a sharer of the divine nature, a son of God not only nominally but in truth.
Created and Uncreated Grace. This terminology and division has been very prominent in Western Catholic theology since the early 13th century. As the historical treatment indicated, this terminology came into use in order to signify the effect that God's self-giving in grace produces in man. Peter Lombard had resolved the issue by identifying charity in the justified man with the Holy Spirit Himself. Since the Sentences of Peter Lombard was the textbook for theologians until the 16th century, his answer to the problematic demanded an explanation. To the great theologians who followed him, it seemed evident in Scripture that God in giving Himself to man had pledged an enduring and transforming result in man. Yet it was also apparent that if this effect was simply God Himself, one must ultimately deny any personal activity to the Christian in grace. This problematic was ultimately resolved by introducing the distinction of uncreated and created grace (see grace, created and uncreated). In this formula, uncreated grace stands for the Father, the Son, and the Holy Spirit as out of love they communicate themselves to man. Created grace is seen correlatively as signifying the effect of this divine communication. Employing this distinction, the scholastics sought to keep clearly in the forefront the reality or the realism of man as regenerated. As they used it, they stressed the incapacity of man as regards justification and the actual reality of the sanctification that God works in man. In such a context, the concept created grace simply marks the continuous influence of God's personal and sanctifying activity in man.
It is in the light of this same problematic but raised in the context of Lutheran teaching that the Council of Trent's teaching on inherent grace must be understood. The Tridentine fathers deliberately eschewed the term "created grace" and used "inherent grace" and infused grace. Both of these Tridentine usages looked to emphasizing the fact that when God justifies man a true inner transformation takes place. This emphasis was given primacy because, as they saw it, the Lutheran teaching clearly appeared to deny or, at least, jeopardize the Catholic teaching on this point. In view of this, the Council of Trent taught: "Finally the unique formal cause [of justification] is the 'justice of God, not the justice whereby He is just but that by which He makes us just.' And this means that by this gift of His we are renewed in the spirit of our mind so that justice is not merely reputed to us but we are truly called just and indeed are just by the fact that each one receives his own justice in the measure that the 'Holy Spirit destines to each one' and in accord with each one's disposition and cooperation" (H. Denzinger, Enchiridion symbolorum 1529). In the light of this statement, the subsequent declaration on inherent grace should be understood: "through the Holy Spirit charity is poured forth in the hearts of those who are justified and inheres [ inhaer et ] in them" (ibid. 1530). Again: "For the justice that is called ours, because we are justified by its inhering in us, is God's justice because He infuses it into us through the merit of Christ" (ibid. 1547).
The doctrine of grace in the Council of Trent, then, concentrates on the results of God's sanctifying activity in man. This emphasis stems from the conviction that it is grace as it affects man that is threatened by the reformers. Yet, as so often happens after a conciliar decision, what had been intended as a specific response to a determined problematic becomes in the post-Tridentine theologians the important element in the whole treatise on grace. Thus created grace viewed only in the light of the scholastic and Counter Reformation perspectives gradually was isolated from its necessary correlative, uncreated grace. The dominant Aristotelian emphasis on causality then began to show how created grace was an effect; thus it insisted on attributing grace to God not as triune in Person but as one in nature. Conceived of in this fashion, grace is seen as uniting one to the Godhead and not so much to the individual Divine Persons. Hence, to share in the divine nature is not to enter into personal relationship with the three Divine Persons but with what makes God to be God [see R. Garrigou-Lagrange, Grace (St. Louis, Mo. 1952) 153–156]. Such a position leads to a further consequence in the history of the theology of grace: the indwelling of the Blessed Trinity is described as a formal effect of sanctifying grace.
As the historical treatment in this article has indicated, the position delineated above has had a very articulate, though minority, opposition. That opposition, at best, served only to keep the question alive. It is only in recent years that it has been recognized that the notion created grace demands as its proper correlative uncreated grace (see K. Rahner, "Some Implications of the Scholastic Concept of Uncreated Grace," Theological Investigations 1:319–346; this article contains a good bibliography of contemporary articles). Richer and more profound biblical and patristic studies, a more perceptive understanding of the history of the theology of grace, as well as ecumenical exigencies have combined to bring this about. Rahner sums up this contemporary situation by pointing out that in Scripture it is the Father in the Trinity who is man's Father, while the Spirit dwells in man in a particular and proper way. Such expressions of Scripture and the monuments of tradition are first of all in possession. It is necessary to prove that they may be merely appropriations and that the contrary interpretation is impossible; this cannot be taken for granted. So long as this has not been achieved, one must understand Scripture and its expressions quite precisely (cf. ibid. 345–346).
This contemporary effort to give to the notion of uncreated grace its due primacy has given rise to a number of theological tentatives. Chronologically, the first of these is the proposal of M. De la Taille [The Hypostatic Union and Created Actuation by Uncreated Act, tr. C. Vollert (West Baden Springs, Ind. 1952)]. De la Taille postulates as his point of departure the scholastic concepts of obediential power and the composition of the finite being as act and potency. He would then maintain that God as pure act can communicate Himself as perfection to this obediential power. This communication, however, is not as a form but nevertheless as an act, or actuation, and so it is capable of transforming the creature [see P. de Letter, "Created Actuation by the Uncreated Act," Theological Studies 18 (1957) 60–92; M. J. Donnelly, "The Inhabitation of the Holy Spirit," Catholic Theological Society of America 4 (1949) 39–77; see created actuation by uncreated act]. K. Rahner urges as an interpretation of the scholastic conception of uncreated grace the notion of quasi-formal causality. This notion and its context of theory relate glory and grace. In this relationship, uncreated grace is not just a consequence of grace but the central gift in the life of grace ("Some Implications of the Scholastic Concept of Uncreated Grace," Theological Investigations 319–346). More recently he has maintained that this central gift is specifically the Incarnation of the Word because this is the only way in which divine self-communication can take place [see "Zur Theologie der Menschwerdung," Schriften zur Theologie (Einsiedeln 1960) 4:137–155]. B. Lonergan, SJ, in treating of the sanctifying mission of the Holy Spirit, objects to the idea of immanent actuation. He takes the position that the divine indwelling is caused efficiently by the three Divine Persons. This indwelling, however, is constituted intrinsically by the divine relation of origin that constitutes the Person of the Holy Spirit. Yet, because this indwelling is in a creature, it has a created term (sanctifying grace), which is received in the soul as an obediential potency. This created term does not enter in any way into the constitution of the indwelling but is consequent upon the union of the Holy Spirit with the soul [Divinarum personarum conceptio analogica (2d ed. Rome 1959) 206–215].
Habitual Grace. Very widely used in theology since Trent, the term "habitual grace" has frequently designated one of the basic divisions of the treatise on grace. Like the term "created grace," it too is an effort that after Trent would emphatically formulate both the reality of the effect of God's grace and the permanence of that effect in man. Martin Luther had strongly rejected this notion of habitus partly by reason of his nominalistic background and partly by reason of his own preoccupation with the absolute gratuity of grace. In the face of this, the Council of Trent placed strong insistence on the real transformation wrought in man through justification. Hence, while it did not employ the terms "created grace" or "habit," it did speak of a grace that is infused in the justified and inheres in them (H. Denzinger, Enchiridion symbolorum 1530, 1561). This, in turn, was taken by the post-Tridentine theologians as a confirmation of the fact that the term "habit" is descriptive of the reality of grace. By reason of this and of what they conceived to be the polemical exigencies of the Counter Reformation, the notion of habitual grace became a central aspect of their presentation.
Contemporarily there has come to the fore a strong trend that would nuance much more carefully the term "habit" when it is applied to the life of grace. It is the contention of some theologians that this term, if properly nuanced, can in fact fulfill a valuable theological role. Properly understood, it can help one keep clearly in view the fact that regenerated man is truly and actually a new creature. It also enables the theologian to give proper stress to the fact that grace's transformation is a continuing reality involving a dynamic and developing intimacy of knowledge and love of the Trinity. Finally, it can be seen as a divinely conferred instrumentality through which one participates continually, vitally, and immediately in the active and continual presence of God ["Théologie de la grâce et oecuménisme," Irénikon 28 (1955) 36–38].
Actual Grace. While there has been a flood of discussion and debate on the nature and notion of actual grace, the explicit teaching of the Church about actual grace is relatively limited. The Church distinguishes between actual grace and habitual grace (as seen above) only to the extent that it teaches that elevating grace is absolutely necessary for the supernaturally good acts through which the nonjustified man prepares himself for justification (H. Denzinger, Enchiridion symbolorum 375). The Church also teaches against the Pelagians and Semi-Pelagians that supernatural grace is absolutely necessary for every supernaturally good act (ibid. 238–249, 373–380). In treating the acts that positively prepare for faith and justification, the Council of Trent teaches that this grace comes to man without any merit on his part whatsoever (ibid. 1525). In general, the First Vatican Council makes clear the supernaturality of these graces by affirming their absolute necessity for supernaturally good acts (ibid. 3008–10).
In affirming God's will to save all men as well as the sinfulness of man, the theologians conclude that there is a sufficient grace. The sufficient grace is constantly offered by God but is not always efficacious. This theological position is clearly the significance of the teaching of the Council of Trent in chapter 5 of the decree on justification as well as the fourth canon that is attached (ibid. 1525, 1544, 1554). The same doctrine is to be seen explicitly in the series of condemnations issued against Baius and the Jansenists (ibid. 2002, 2305–06, 2621). The correlative of sufficient grace, which is efficacious grace, has been the object of decades of unresolved dispute. The crux of the debate is the determination of how the free salutary act of man can also be God's gift. As far as Catholic doctrine is concerned, the theological consensus is that although man's freedom to accept or resist remains, still the efficacy has its source in God's gratuitous election.
From the standpoint of systematic theology, several points about actual grace should be mentioned. First, whatever be the resolution of the discussion about St. Thomas's position on actual grace [see historical section of this article; also M. C. Wheeler, "Actual Grace According to St. Thomas," Thomist 16 (1953) 334–360], there is no question that beginning with the post-Tridentine theologians the general teaching is quite clear. Almost unanimously the position has been that actual graces are distinct supernatural motions ordained to man's sanctification. Additionally, in what has been the more dominant tradition of Thomism, these actual graces are held to be given for each supernatural act and to elevate man's powers in such ways that the act is at once truly supernatural yet freely placed by man.
Commonly in post-Tridentine theology a further distinction has been introduced with regard to actual graces. It is the division between indeliberate and deliberate acts. Indeliberate acts, in this theological context, are those that are produced by grace independently of any deliberation or free election on man's part. They are, as it were, calls or invitations to salutary action that can be consented to or rejected. The way in which actual grace accomplishes this illumination of the intellect and inspiration of the will radically divides the Thomists and the Molinists. Deliberate acts are, then, those acts of the will that, consequent upon intellectual deliberation, constitute man's free choices as well as the acts commanded by such free choices. The theological debate here has centered on the free act of the will and its relationship with the absolutely gratuitous character of God's efficacious grace. Lastly, it is in view of this distinction between indeliberate and deliberate acts that modern theology has generally tended to limit the traditional Augustinian division of grace to actual graces. Thus gratia praeveniens, excitans, and operans would apply to the indeliberate act, and gratia subsequens, adjuvans, and cooperans to the deliberate act (cf. J. Van der Meersch, "Grâce," Dictionnaire de théologie catholique 6.2:1654).
Account, however, must be taken of the fact that some theologians have questioned this whole systematic development. The questions raised by H. Bouillard in his study of St. Thomas, already cited, plus historical studies on the Council of Trent, as well as the Trinitarian dynamism of the traditional doctrine of grace have been the source of a number of reservations. This contemporary position recognizes the legitimacy of the distinction between actual and habitual grace insofar as the term "actual grace" is applied to the supernatural acts of the nonjustified man preparing himself for justification. These theologians hold, however, that it is an open question whether this actual grace is distinct from the self-communication of God that, when accepted, is called habitual. They also hold that there is no agreement as to whether actual grace as distinct from justifying grace in man is necessary for every supernatural act.
To sum up: "Grace is called habitual insofar as the supernatural self-communication of God is offered to man (from Baptism on) permanently and insofar (with regard to adults) as it is freely accepted—to the particular degree possible, to the particular degree accepted. This same grace is called actual insofar as it actually produces the act of its acceptance and actualizes itself in it. This act of acceptance by its very nature is existentially gradated and ever to be renewed" (K. Rahner,"Gnade," Lexikon für Theologie und Kirche 4:996).
With regard to this contemporary opinion on actual grace, it should be kept in mind that it is tentative. As yet there has not been any confrontation either in extent or depth with the common theological teaching. Likewise, it must not be lost sight of that, whatever be the ultimate foundations of these distinctions in the manifold reality that is grace, such distinctions are inescapable if the complex reality of grace is to be opened to any systematic understanding [see M. Schmaus, Katholische Dogmatik, v.3.2 (Munich 1951) 16]. Finally, in the present state of historical research and biblical theology, the common theological teaching on actual grace is supported by a legitimate and defensible interpretation of Scripture and the magisterial documents. Therefore, though the question may be an open one, in the present state of the case the weight of theological opinion rests with the common teaching.
Medicinal Grace. Ever since Augustine's controversies with the Pelagians, the medicinal aspect of Christ's grace has had an essential place in Western theology. Essentially this medicinal aspect of grace simply brings to the fore the fact of original sin and the redemptive character of Christ's saving work. In the history of theology, however, this fact has required a whole series of correlative affirmations. On the one hand, concupiscence as of sin and tending to sin (H. Denzinger, Enchiridion symbolorum 1515) can only be overcome by the special help of God. On the other hand, it must also be held that this teaching does not mean that each new act of the unjustified man is thereby a sin. Out of this arises the distinction between elevating grace and medicinal grace (see St. Thomas, Summa theologiae 1a2ae, 109.2, 3, 4, 8). Magisterially this distinction is implied by the Councils of Orange and Trent (e.g., H. Denzinger, Enchiridion symbolorum 384, 1541, 1572). Trent specifically condemns the teaching that all works done before justification are sins (ibid. 1557). Against Baius and the Jansenists the Church teaches that those not yet justified can perform genuinely holy acts with the help of grace and correlatively that their (presumed) sinful state does not make each act of theirs a mortal sin (see ibid. 1925, 1935, 1937, 2307, 2311, 2445, etc.). This teaching led to a further theological distinction: supernatural grace is absolutely necessary for supernaturally good acts, but for simply honest acts, i.e., those that fulfill the natural law, medicinal grace need not be supernatural in the fullest sense but only relatively, and might even be only external. This matter is still a debated point, as well as its further refinement as to whether it need be the grace of Christ at all. The theologians in the Thomist tradition, however, have always held firmly that the perfect fulfillment of the natural law demands that this healing grace be justifying grace.
A further consequence has followed upon the condemnations of Baius and Jansen that affirm the possibility of naturally good acts that have no bearing on salvation. In view of this teaching, the greater number of theologians have maintained the existence, in fact, of such naturally good actions that have no relation to the grace of Christ. Only a small minority of theologians, including Ripalda, for example, have taught that free will could do no good without some kind of grace [see J. M. de Ripalda, De ente supernaturali, 4 v. (Paris 1870–71) 1:209–269].
In recent years there has been a strong trend toward the reconsideration of this whole point of view. It begins with Hefele's study of the councils. In his treatment of the Council of Orange, he puts forward the opinion that canon 22 must be taken in its Augustinian context. He therefore holds that when only the natural forces of man are involved, the result is the opposite of morality, namely, sin and falsehood. Thus sin is what man has on his own and not by virtue of grace in its widest sense [see C. J von Hefele, Histoire des conciles d'après les documents originaux (Paris 1907–38) 2.2:1100–03]. This would be correlated with proposition 27 in the condemnation of Baius ("Free will without the aid of grace avails for nothing save sinning," H. Denzinger, Enchiridion symbolorum 1927) by interpreting grace here as meaning the grace of justification [see H. Küng, Justification, tr. T. Collins et al. (New York 1964) 178; H. Rondet, Gratia Christi (Paris 1948) 161]. The whole thing is summed up by Schmaus: "[S]o it must be stressed that the Church's doctrinal statements only declare the possibility of a natural morality and not its actuality. The Church's teaching, therefore, leaves the way open for the position that no purely natural act exists in fact …. The propositionthat on a purely natural level there is no such thing as a good action finds support in the fact that the whole creation is centered on Christ and nothing stands apart from this relationship with Jesus Christ. The result of this relationship with Christ is that mankind was never without grace; grace was never absent regardless of how sparingly it might have been given. Thus, humanity never had to live under a situation totally without grace nor to bear sin in its entire horror. Baius erred in thinking unbelievers to be without grace. This error gave rise to the other that all works of the unbeliever and the pagan are sins and the virtues of the philosophers vices" [M. Schmaus Katholische Dogmatik, v. 3.2 (Munich 1951) 3.2:274–275; cf. K. Rahner, "Nature and Grace," Nature and Grace, tr. D. Wharton (New York 1964) 131–134].
Grace and freedom. As the historical part of this article indicated, the question of grace and freedom is being treated in the context of a much broader horizon contemporarily. Historical studies have served to remove layers of controversy that have tended to confine the whole discussion to the matter of free choice. Contemporary biblical theology has studied freedom in Scripture independently of these controversial presuppositions as well as of the politico-philosophical formulations of the Enlightenment. Accordingly, the treatment of grace and freedom takes as its point of departure the scriptural horizon. Biblically, human freedom is opposed not to necessity but to bondage. Only those who are naturally free can suffer bondage. In the realm of the spiritual, such bondage is sin, whereby man orders his life without reference to God. Modern thinkers have tended to correlate freedom with independence, so that the greater the freedom, the greater the independence and therefore the self-sufficiency. In Scripture, however, the reverse is true. To love and be loved gives to freedom both its meaning and its development. Yet man cannot attain this of himself. It is God who out of love delivers man from sin and through His Spirit incorporates him into the redeemed community of free men enjoying the freedom of the children of God [E. La B. Cherbonnier, "Liberty," Dictionary of the Bible, et. J. Hastings, rev. F. C. Grant and H. H. Rowley (New York 1962) 582–583; J. Marsh, "Liberty," The Interpreters' Dictictionary of the Bible (Nashville 1962) 3:122–123; J. Dheilly, "Liberté," Dictionnaire biblique (Tournai 1964) 664–666].
Both St. John and St. Paul give much prominence to this theme of Christian freedom. "[E]very one who commits sin is a slave of sin. The slave has no permanent standing in the household, but the son belongs to it forever. If the Son sets you free, you shall be truly free" (Jn8.35–36). "Christ set us free; to be free men stand firm then and refuse to be tied to the yoke of slavery again" (Gal 4.31–5.1). Starting with this biblical perspective, a number of theologians have begun to give prominence to St. Augustine's distinction between Christian liberty (libertas christiana ) and free choice (liberum arbitrium ). From this standpoint, only the Christian in grace really possesses liberty since only the Christian united with God in love is able to accomplish the ends for which he was created. In terms of systematic theology with a strong personalist emphasis, this has been particularly well expressed by P. Fransen, SJ, in "Towards a Psychology of Divine Grace," Cross Currents 8 (1958) 211–232. He states that if one's exercise of free will is to become truly human, then "this early form of liberty [free will] must be directed by something deeper, more stable, supported and directed by a profound and total commitment, by a fundamental option in which I express myself wholly with all that I wish to be in this world and before God" (214). It is this fundamental, spontaneous orientation of a man's life that is at the same time actualized in a series of particular actions forming the visible woof of his life. This involves a constant interaction between one's conscious actions of the moment and his fundamental option and orientation.
Man, however, is born a sinner, and it is precisely at the depth of this fundamental option that the problem of sin is most acute. Fransen finds the essential alternative facing man's personal liberty posed by St. Augustine: love of God or love of self. Either the love of God through others and the forgetfulness of self or the love of self to the denial of God and the inclusion of all the forms of pride and hate. Only grace can overcome this solitude of sin. For the grace of Christ is first of all a call of divine love to man to make the fundamental option by which alone he will be fully free. This grace calls and urges from without and from within, and if man consents to it he is restored to that liberty that wells up out of the very center of his existence. Man, in grace, is free and able to actualize in union with the Father, Son, and Holy Spirit the total gift of himself that is God's call and grace for man. Thus grace as the love and mercy of God is the soul of Christian freedom, the very gift of the Spirit. The vocation of the Christian is the vocation to freedom, for the Christian law is the law of love, "the glorious liberty of the sons of God" (Rom 8.21) [see also A. M. Henry, OP, "The Law of the Spirit and Freedom," The Holy Spirit, tr. J. Lundberg and M. Bell (New York 1960) 119–138;R. Guardini, Freedom, Grace and Destiny, tr. J. Murray (New York 1961)].
Grace and the Church. Once grace is viewed in its full scriptural reality as the supernatural economy of God's personal and saving activity, then the ecclesial dimension of grace must also be taken into account. As the Dogmatic Constitution on the Church of Vatican Council II states, "He [the Father] planned to assemble in the holy Church all those who would believe in Christ. Already from the beginning of the world the foreshadowing of the Church took place. It was prepared in a remarkable way throughout the history of the people of Israel and by means of the old covenant. In this present era of time the Church was constituted and by the outpouring of the Spirit made manifest. At the end of time it will gloriously achieve completion, when, as is read in the Fathers, all the just from Adam and 'from Abel the just one to the last of the elect' will be gathered together with the Father in the universal Church" [ Lumen gentium 2; Acta Apostolicae Sedis 57 (1965) 6].
Underlying this magisterial statement is the clear proclamation of Scripture that the grace of the Father in Christ working through the Spirit establishes a communion of fellowship with Christ. The whole economy of grace is established to draw men into the Church, the gathering together of all those who believe. Grace, therefore, cannot be seen as distinct from the Church, since both are indivisible aspects of the one saving design of God. The Church is the very heart of the redeeming work of God. Through it the Father has gathered for Himself a people sanctified in Christ through the Holy Spirit. This people, freed from sin and united with God through grace, constitutes a family of divinely adopted sons, the Body of Christ. As P. Fransen has written: "It ought to be plain that the being and substance of the Church ought not to be thought of as distinct from grace. In fact, the Church is grace par excellence insofar as she manifests visibly that aspect of grace which binds us all like brothers and sisters into a true and everlasting people of the promise and the inheritance" [Divine Grace and Man, tr. G. Dupont (New York 1962) 111].
This ecclesial aspect of grace finds its central manifestation in the worship of the Church. For in the liturgy ecclesial, communal worship is offered by the mystical body of christ—head and members. The liturgical action of the Church is the supreme expression of grace in the Church. To this loving worship of the community of Christ all the actions of the Church are ultimately ordered—authority, Sacrament, and ministry of the Word. It is from this worship that the saving activity of the Church itself flows. "The liturgy in its turn moves the faithful, filled with 'the paschal sacraments,' to be 'one in holiness'; it prays that 'they may hold fast in their lives to what they have grasped by their faith'; the renewal in the Eucharist of the covenant between the Lord and man draws the faithful into the compelling love of Christ and sets them on fire. From the liturgy, therefore, and especially from the Eucharist, as from a fount, grace is poured forth upon us; and the sanctification of men in Christ and the glorification of God, to which all the other activities of the Church are directed as towards their end, is achieved in the most efficacious way possible" [Vatican II, Constitution on the Sacred Liturgy 10; Acta Apostolicae Sedis 56 (1964) 102].
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