A Grace Unworthy of the Name

“Sanctifying grace, or the grace of the just, is not a mere extrinsic favor of God but a permanent created gift inhering in the soul. It can be defined as a formal principle of justification. A form is a kind of quality, an accident that modifies the substance in which it inheres. Thus redness qualifies a book and makes the book red; it is an accident inhering in the substance, and it is hence an intrinsic accidental form. Similarly, grace is a form inhering in the soul; it modifies the soul and reders it ‘such.’

Obviously, when man receives grace, it is not God who changes; it is man who is qualified, who receives a new mode of existence. Sanctifying grace is not Uncreated. It is distinct from the Holy Spirit, who is also given to the soul, but not distinct in a manner excluding relationship to the Holy Spirit. There is an intrinsic and essential connection between the presence of sanctifying grace and the presence of the Holy Spirit. God, when He indwells, confers sanctifying grace, grace is the result of this inhabitation and is at the same time its condition.”

R. W. Gleason, S.J., Grace

85 Responses to A Grace Unworthy of the Name

  1. Anthony,

    “what he took upon himself to restore.” is the key part of it. The human nature Christ took upon Himself was in a state of needing restoration, therefore it was not in it’s intended state. He restored it by fixing it as He went along through every stage of His earthly life, death, and resurrection.

    Human nature was in a weakened state, liable to sins. But Christ lived His human life choosing not to sin. If He had not assumed our weakened state and had been untempted by sins, He could not have cured human nature – that which is not assumed is not healed.

  2. Anthony James Puccetti says:

    Here is the passage in Pope Leo’s Tome which shows that Jesus had an unfallen human nature.

    “Thus was true God born in the undiminished and perfect nature of a true man, complete in what is his and complete in what is ours. By “ours” we mean what the Creator established in us from the beginning and what he took upon himself to restore. There was in the Saviour no trace of the things which the Deceiver brought upon us, and to which deceived humanity gave admittance. His subjection to human weaknesses in common with us did not mean that he shared our sins. He took on the form of a servant without the defilement of sin, thereby enhancing the human and not diminishing the divine.”

  3. I think you need to read it again.

  4. Anthony James Puccetti says:


    His liability to passions does not mean he had a corrupt human nature. It only means that he was subject to strong emotions like anger and fear of death. But passions are not by themselves sinful.

  5. Anthony James Puccetti says:

    I don’t see anything in that quote from Maximos that suggests Christ inherited a fallen nature. His “liability to passions” does not necessarily mean he
    Adam and Eve also had liability to passions before they fell,because they had freedom of choice. But liability to passion does not mean inherent inclination to sin. Anyone who has freedom of choice may be liable to choose to sin,but a sin is not committed without a choice.

  6. Anthony,

    Go try reading Maximus, Ad Thalassium 42. I have cited it here http://eirenikon.wordpress.com/2008/07/20/on-original-sin-and-the-immaculate-conception/

    As for Leo’s Tome, you’ll need to breing forward the citation that you think supports your case.

    As for a state of grace, preparation doesn’t amount to wholesale construction.

    And plenty of the Fathers say we in fact become what God is. I’d suggest you look it up.

  7. AnthonyJamesPuccetti says:

    Where did the Church Fathers say that Christ inherited a fallen human nature?

    The Council of Chalcedon accepted what Pope Leo wrote about the sinless human nature of Christ,inherited from Mary:

    I don’t think the Platonic idea of the immortality of the soul has the same understanding of sin that Christianity does. I do think that God creates souls for immortality. But immortal existence is not by itself salvation. To be saved is to be alive in God. Hell is eternal separation from God. In that sense,it is eternal death,though there is consciousness in that death.

    The phrase “state of grace” is justified by scripture. stand”.

    Jesus tells his disciples that a dwelling will be MADE with those who love him.

    John 14,23
    “Whoever loves me will keep my word, and my Father will love him, and we will come to him and make our dwelling with him.

    Paul speaks of “grace in which we stand”.
    Romans 5
    1 Therefore, since we have been justified by faith, we have peace with God through our Lord Jesus Christ,
    through whom we have gained access (by faith) to this grace in which we stand, and we boast in hope of the glory of God.

    The phrase is also justified by the fact that Adam and Eve fell out of grace with God when they sinned. If they had sinned and had yet remained in God’s grace,then there would be no point in speaking of the Fall of Man or unfallen nature.
    Obviously,they were in a state of grace before they sinned.

    We partake of what God is,but we don’t become God what God is. And partaking of the divine nature is not consubstantiality with Christ’s human nature.

  8. Anthony,

    No, actually I think Christ inherited our corrupt and weakened nature. If it is not by consubstantiality with our humanity that we are raised, why are the wicked raised on that basis? 1 Cor 15:21ff

    The Platonic idea is that the soul is intrinsically immortal suc that sin will not lead to its annihilation. Do you subscribe to that? The wicked are saved from annihilation and made immortal. Immortality is part 0of salvation last I checked.

    Substituting fudge words for an explanation won’t do. State ofg race doesn’t help in explaining the union. Do you become what God is or not? That is what the scriptures says, which is why it picks out the divine NATURE.

    Frankly, I suggest you go read up on the history and theology of theosis before commenting again.

  9. AnthonyJamesPuccetti says:


    It is the Spirit that gives life,not human nature.
    The dictum you mention does not suggest that it is Christ’s incarnation alone that saves men. It was the Spirit that raised Christ from the dead,and the Spirit will raise us.

    I never said that the divine nature is separate form the human nature of all other men.
    Whether we partake of the divine nature depends upon God’s grace,which is the Spirit,and our free choice to accept God’s grace.

    The doctrine of Christ’s divine and human natures is about Christ’s person,not about the consubstantiality of his divine nature with our persons. Where there is a separation of persons,there is a separation of human nature,even if the nature is of the same kind. Christ came into the world a distinct person,and his human nature was distinct from ours because it was without sin.

  10. anthonyjames puccetti says:


    Do you agree that Christ was a separate and distinct person from the rest of humanity? And was he not conceived with an unfallen human nature,unlike us?

    If so,then how could his human nature be consubstantial with ours in the sense of being united with ours? It is not by his human nature that we will be raised,but by partaking of the divine nature and by the power of the Holy Spirit.

    I don’t subscribe to the Platonic idea that the soul will be immortal separately from the body. That is not a Catholic teaching anyway.

    That the wicked will be raised is hardly what is meant by “saved”. The wicked will be raised to condemnation.

    The example of Christ living in Paul being an example of created grace does not mean that Christ himself is created. It means Paul has been put into a state of grace which did not exist before his conversion. He has been made into a new man by the grace which has been infused into him. He has been born again. The Holy Spirit is uncreated,but the Spirit creates a state of grace for a man,just like the Spirit creates human persons.

    It is true that the divine life is uncreated,but it is also true that our human life is created by the divine life. Human life is dependent upon divine life,but not identical with it. There are two senses of the word “life” in regard to human beings. Divine life is the cause,and our personal life,or existence,is the created effect. Our Creator made us as persons other than himself. We did not exist prior to our temporal creation.

  11. trvalentine says:

    I agree with Perry’s statement, ‘If Christ’s humanity was not consubstantial with all men, then not all men would be raised’, but would take it a step further:

    If Christ’s humanity was not consubstantial with all men, then NO ONE would be saved.

    An ancient dictum of the Church:
    That which is not assumed is not saved.

    And how can one possibly reconcile the statement:
    ‘his divine nature is separate from the human nature that all other individual men are born with’
    with the touchstone of Chalcedon:
    ‘Following the holy Fathers we teach with one voice that the Son and our Lord Jesus Christ … must be confessed to be in two natures, without confusion, without change, without division, WITHOUT SEPARATION …’

    Convicted by his own words, it is obvious Mr Puccetti has sided with the heretics on this issue.


  12. Anthony,

    Needless to say, I think you are mistaken. If Christ’s humanity was not consubstantial with all men, then not all men would be raised. Likewise the same goes for Adam. In Adam all died since Adam was the font of the race. In Christ all are raised since Christ is now the font of the race.

    Human persons are distinct qua persons and qua instantiation, but not qua nature, which is the logos of humanity in Christ. And all of humanity is saved from annihilation in the incarnation as I pointed out before, which is why the wicked are raised and persist forever. Everyone is predestined in Christ to eternal life, but how they spend it is up to how they use their freedom.

    God alone enjoys immortality underivatively and humans both body and soul were mortal until the hypostatic union. I think you are importing a Platonic conception of the immortality of the soul into Christianity.

    If Christ living in Paul were an example of created grace, then Christ must be either created or only contiguously related to human nature. Both of which are false. Virtues are not created effects for nature is not opposed to grace. Virtues are natural things via the imago dei. In God we have life, outside of God we have nothing. The divine life is not created. If the life we have is created, then it isn’t the divine life. We become partakers of the divine nature, not of a created nature.

  13. Anthony James Puccetti says:


    Christ’s works and our works are the same in the sense that we follow his example by obeying the will of God,as Christ obeyed his Father. Our works are salvific and meritoious in that we do as God commands,as Christ obeyed his Father. But Christ’s work on the cross was the work of an individual man,separate from the rest of humanity. Both his divine nature is separate from the human nature that all other individual men are born with. We partake of the divine nature by grace and by following the commandments. His human nature is also distinct from that of that of other men,because he is a distinct man,and he was conceived without sin. Human nature may be spoken of as a universal substance,in that it is common to all men. But it is not consubstantial in the sense that the Trinity is. Human nature is individualized,because humanity is made up of individual persons. And individual human persons are distinct from each other.

    So the hypostatic union in Christ,an individual man,does not make for an unbreakable union with human nature as a whole. If that were the case,then we are already saved for eternal life in God. Human beings have always had immortal souls,even before the Incarnation. But immortality is one thing,and eternal union with God is another.

    When Paul says that it is not he who lives but Christ who lives in him,that is a perfect example of what Catholics mean by created grace. That is,Paul became a new man by the state of grace that Christ created him in. This state of grace is “created” in that it is given to temporal beings. God creates grace just as he creates life in his creatures. God is life himself,but he also creates life in other beings. Both life and grace are from the Holy Spirit. If there is no problem with the idea that God creates life in men,why should there be a problem with the idea that God creates grace in men?

  14. Anthony,

    Christ’s works and my works had better be the same in some relevant respect, otherwise I will not in fact be just and salvation will not be gratuitous. That is, in order for the works to be salvific and meritorious they had better be Christ works and Paul speaks like this on many occasions (not I who work but Christ living in me). On the other hand, the works had better be mine, otherwise I will not be made just at all since works done by natural powers apart from grace are not meritorious or sufficiently just.
    The Incarnation does not make good works any less necessary any more than the atonement does. But the hypostatic union accomplishes an eternal and unbreakable union between human nature and God, and that accomplishes the immortality of all humans regardless of their personal orientation to God. Consequently, the Incarnation is the ground of our deification, which is why the Fathers argue so and by extension argue that the sacraments deify us, they being an extension of the Incarnation via the church, which is also an extension of the Incarnation, which is why Paul uses the head/body language.

    Simply fist pounding and saying that Grace means something different than what I say it means is not an argument and I see no reason to accept your definition. In any case, “divine assistance” is frankly quite vague. One could drive a theological truck through it, sideways.

    If we do not exist by grace, then is the imago dei autonomus from God or is it a grace? If the former, then you are committed to Pelagianism. To say that the imago dei is grace does not commit us to Pelagianism for we distinguish between image and likeness. Our natural powers are of grace even though they may not be sufficient apart from further cooperation and grace.

    All men are raised by grace, by the grace of the hypostatic union. In Christ all men are raised for Christ is united to all men. Furthermore, the chasm between God and man isn’t bridged by some third thing called grace, but by God for grace is God, it is deity. It is not some created intermediary. To think it is so is to capitulate to Arianism. And if there is such a “chasm” between God and human nature, what then is the image of God? If grace were extrinsic to human nature then God and creation would be in opposition, which they aren’t. And if grace were extrinsic to human nature, then humans wouldn’t be made in the divine image, which is not lost even after the fall. Further, if grace were extrinsic to nature, then the Hypostatic union would be impossible for there would be no intrinsic union between God and humanity. But there is and so grace is not extrinisic to nature.

    Having grace “by nature” as you put it doesn’t entail that fulfill the commandments since it didn’t do so for Adam for grace does not determine actions and secondly persons must use grace. So the mere possession of divine power doesn’t entail the proper use of it. Sin is in the using and not in the nature.

    I don’t think Hades or any prison language is tantamount for purgatory. If humans have the potential for immortality then they must be formally related to God for that potentiality must be intrinsic to them. Consequently immortality is a maker of deification. I never wrote that the divine nature is not intrinsically good. I never said that the essence and energies cannot be equated with eternal goodness, but the problem is that I am not working with a Platonic notion of the Good, which Plato takes to be simple and I don’t. This is where my view is fundamentally anti-platonic. Goodness just isn’t what Plato and Augustine thought it was, which is just another way of saying that they were wrong about God.

    Christ in dying for all men, since all men were summed up in him, did deify all men, which is why all men now die in Christ, otherwise they would never be raised. It had an immediate effect on all peoples in so far as they were made immortal. Christ came that they might have life and have it adbundantly. Admittedly not all have it abundantly, but they all have it. Sin no longer brings about annihilation-death has been taken captive. It serves a new Lord, which makes a whole lot of sense out of the material in Revelation.

    The problem in part is that you are seeing deification as an all or nothing deal and I see it as a matter of degree. Immortality is the base line so to speak in which all participate, but it doesn’t follow that merely because you have the basics of salvation that you have the whole package so to speak. This makes better sense I think out of the scriptural language of people who are said to be redeemed but deny Christ.
    Another problem with what you offer is that you make grace strictly personal, which if true would imply that Adam pre-existed his embodied existence since he had grace that he did not choose. The only way he could have had it was by choosing it in a non-embodied state. The same could be said of your doctrine of the Immaculate Conception.

    Christ is the eternal Logos, but in the Logos there are many logoi and human nature is one of the logoi and the Incarnation was thus always willed by God so that God would be all in all as Paul says. This is why in Christ all of creation is recaptiulated, all of the logoi of nature are done over and reunited in their proper source, the Logos in Christ.

    I never claimed that a manfiestation of God alone purifies in baptism, but rather that there is a distinction between the manifestation, the energy and the person doing the purifying. Your view conflates the person with the action and last time I checked, while I do different things, I am not any one of my actions.

    And when you write that when God manifests himself in the world, it is he in person. Who is the “he” that specifically denotes God? Father? Son? Spirit? I agree that the acts of God are distinct from the persons of God, but I do not agree that they are therefore created things.

    I know plenty of places where Athanasius distinguishes between essence and energy, but I don’t know why I should have to do your work for you. Try Khalid Anatoloios’ monograph on Athanasius’ thought for example. There are plenty of references there. Of you could just read Athanasius works, like say Against the Arians for example. I don’t equate nature with energies or with essence. Nature, physis denotes in my usage either or both essence and energies. Ousia refers to the divine essence. Most English translations do not make this clear and just translate ousia as nature, but in Greek philosophical and theological usage, this is confusing and ambiguous.

  15. Anthony James Puccetti says:


    I should have asked “Can you show where Athanasius equates nature with essence?”
    If he was referring to essence,why did he use the word “nature”? In any case,he said that we become as God by imitating Christ,which is the Catholic understanding of deification.

  16. Anthony James Pucetti says:

    To Perry,

    How are Christ’s works and our works the same? We can imitate Christ by following his commandments,but that is not to say that Christ has done our work for us and deified us just by becoming incarnate. There’s no connection between his incarnation and our deification except the gift of grace and faith and works. Grace means divine assistance. To say that we have grace in our own nature because we are created in God’s image is to say that we have divine assistance inherent in our own nature,which doesn’t make sense. “Assistance” is from another person,not something we have by nature. If we have grace by nature,then it is not grace – we are self-sufficient and need no more help from God.

    How can all men be raised in Christ except by grace which is sent by God? The chasm between us and God is crossed by grace,which is sent to us,but not inherent in our nature. If this grace were not extrinsic to us,it would not be “assistance”.
    If we had grace by nature,then we would already be fulfilling the commandments.

    Immortality is a property of deity,but to be deified is to be purified and perfected in nature. Even before Christ,mankind had the potential for immortality. The Jews spoke of the “Bosom of Abraham”,or Paradise,and also of a “prison” (purgatory) after death,places where those who had died awaited judgement.

    How could the divine nature not be intrinsically moral and good? If the energies-essence distinction means that the divine nature cannot be equated with eternal goodness,then that is another reason for me to reject that distinction.

    Christ did die for all men,but he did not thereby deify all men. His death had no immediate effect on the rest of humanity. Our deification is contingent upon the gift of grace and our own choice.

    Christ himself was always the Logos. Human nature is not a Logos,but a creation of the Logos.

    When we are baptised into Christ,it is the Holy Spirit in person who purifies us,not merely a manifestation of God. Wherever God manifests himself in the world or makes himself known to men,it is he in person. The manifestation of God is a different thing from the “works” of God. God’s works are acts,and created things,which are distinct from himself.

    Do you know of any quotes by Athanasius where he makes a distinction between essence and nature,or where he equates nature with energies?

  17. Form or essence need not be in potency as the divine essence is not in potency on your view. 2nd Thomas denies that God is the formal cause because for him it would imply that we were the divine essence and hence compromise simplicity. His problem is that there is nothing else that is deity other than the essence.

    I never said we were made from God qua the divine essence so that is something of a straw man.

    Even on an Augustinian notion of justification, our works and Christ’s works had better be the same, because if they are not then our works of grace can have no merit before God and justification would be impossible.

    If we are not now descended from Christ, then why is Christ called the new Adam? why are all men raised in Christ. They aren’t raised in Adam. You speak of a gulf being crossed but how can two things extrinsically related constitute a crossing of that gulf?

    Isn’t immortality a property of deity? If the wicked are immortal then they have been deified to that extent, whether they like it or not. A divine nature would only be equivalent to a moral nature if essence and energy were identical and if every energy were identical with itself, but they aren’t.

    If we are not consubstantial with Christ’s humanity then it will be the case that not only could Christ not die for all men, but that he did not take up the logos of our nature and so could not be the new Adam and font of the race.

    The citations from Athanasius do no work for you because he is talking about deification by essence, which we deny. We affirm deification by energy, which is what Athanasius affirms. One of his major arguments against the Arians is that baptism deifies us with divine energies and we are baptised into Christ and so Christ is God. If our deification in baptism is a mere created simultude, then Christ is a creature. When Athanasius uses “nature” there it is in reference to ousia, not energia.

  18. Anthony James Puccetti says:


    “There be one Son by nature…we too become sons, not as He in nature and truth, but according to the grace of Him that calleth, and though we are men from the earth, and yet called gods, not as the True God or His Word…. We are sons, not as the Son, as gods, not as He Himself.” (Orat 3.19-20)

    “We are as God by imitation, not by nature” (Orat 3.20)

  19. Anthony James Puccetti says:

    To Perry,

    If Thomas Aquinas denied that God was the formal cause of creation,that was because a formal cause is something that was previously in potency made into an actuality,as fire is the formal cause of fire. But we are not made God from God. Christ is the image of God,whereas man is only made in the image of God.

    I don’t see how Christ’s doing and our doing are the same. Christ was an individual person,he was not “man in general” (as the German mystic Meister Eckhart believed). Our nature is not descended from Christ,who is the image of God,but from Adam,who was made in the image of God. Between the Incarnation and our own rebirth and divinization there is a gulf which can only be crossed by God’s grace and our faith and works.

    To Photios,

    We all have immortal souls. But immortality is not the same as having a divinized nature. A divine nature would be a perfect moral nature. That we are created in God’s image doesn’t necessarily mean that we have divinity as our own.

    I don’t believe that we are consubstantial with Christ’s human nature. His human nature was unfallen,unlike ours. Christ was an individual person,as we are individual persons.

    The wicked will have immortality in condemnation,but that can hardly be called deification.

  20. Anthony,

    I do think that Athanasius thinks that the incarnation conveys immortality to all and this is part of deification. And trying to tar the idea with Protestant ideas which have a separate history isn’t a very good argument. In fact it turns on a straw man since deification can apply to nature and not person so that the wicked have life, but they do not have it to the full measure because they personally turn away from it. So I am afraid that you haven’t yet understood the patristic teaching on deification.

    When Peter speaks of deification he isn’t talking of bits of knowledge or an intentional union but that which makes us immortal, namely the divine nature. And I didn’t claim that 2 pet 1 says that the incarnation makes all of humanity a partaker of Christ, but I do think Eph 1:10 does that work.

  21. Anthony,

    Do both the wicked and the blessed have immortality? Is immortality a property of humanity or a property of divinity? Are both the wicked and the blessed consubstantial with Christ’s human nature? Even the wicked share in some form of deification, in ever-ill-being.


  22. Anthony,

    In the beginning man was created in God’s image, but that image became tarnished. In the Incarnation, God assumed man’s image and by deifying it, he cleansed it and set it back right again. But this is about human nature. Individual persons have a choice whether to participate in Him or not. Since the Incarnation, man has to 24/7 join himself to Christ to realize his saved nature. We do not believe as the Protestants do that this is personally actualized “once and for all”, though eternal life was secured for all when Christ conquered death by His death. Orthodoxy is all about ascetic struggle to attain His likeness. It’s a two-fold reality. We were all saved unto eternal life, but to live it well, we must struggle to free ourselves from the sin that He rendered powerless, and to realize our life in Him through joining in His death, burial, resurrection and life through baptism and continuous repentance, etc as I mentioned above.

    Peter said we partake of Christ’s nature by grace, not necessarily by knowledge. And it is through the power of the Holy Spirit after Pentecost.

    “Contagion” sounds more like the Orthodox understanding of sin as sickness. The essence of humanity is not illness. If illness were natural we would not go to the hospital/church to be cured.

    One line of thinking that I do not yet grasp, and so I have to rehearse it, is that the fall is more about death than sin, and that we now die, not as a result of the fall, but because Christ died and we join with Him in His deified human experience.

  23. Anthony James Puccetti says:

    To Perry,

    When Athasnasius said that the Son of God became man so that man might become God,I don’t think he was saying that man became divinized simply on account of the Incarnation.

    He said “might become”,not “has become”.

    The belief that man became divinized because of the Incarnation reminds me of the Protestant belief that Christ’s “once and for all” sacrifice on the cross means that we do not have to make any sacrifices of our own.
    In both cases,there is the idea that Christ has finalized something about humanity,as if divinization were an accomplished fact,or our works unnecessary. These views put the cart before the horse.

    What Christ did and what our nature is like are two separate things. We become divinized by following the commandments. When Peter said that we may partake of the divine nature,it is in the context of knowledge of Christ (as person,not energies) and devotion and excaping the corruption of the world. He does not say that we partake of the divine nature simply on account of the Incarnation.

    To Andrea,

    No,I’m not a former Protestant,and I don’t believe in the total depravity of human nature. The Catholic view of original sin doesn’t entail the total depravity of human nature. It just means that by nature we incline toward evil,because we inherit the inclination toward evil from Adam.by way of the flesh,or seed. There is sinfulness in the flesh,but that is not the same as “human nature” itself. The flesh drags down human nature into sinfulness. This not not mean,in Catholic theology,that the flesh is inherently evil either. It isn’t,because the flesh is God’s creation,and God desires to save all flesh. It just means that the flesh has a contagion in it.

    “He has contracted the contagion of that old death from his first being born. For this very reason does he approach more easily to receive the remission of sins: because the sins forgiven him are not his own but those of another [from Adam].” Cyprian, Epistle to Fidus, 68[64]:5 (c. A.D. 250).

    To Perry and Andrea,

    I’d like to address most of your points,but I’ll have to do it piecemeal and over the course of weeks. Good discussion,though.

  24. Anthony,

    If there were no opposition or opposite property between created and uncreated grace, then they would be the same essence. Uncreated and created can’t be the same essence since A and Not-A are opposites. Furthermore the essence of life in creatures is not the same as that of the Spirit, which smacks IMHO as Platonism Third Hypostasis of Psuche or the Cosmic Soul/Life.

    As I noted before the cause/effect opposition is inadequate for glossing the theology of deification since God’s energies are activities not passivities and so our participation in them doesn’t make us passive but active. Secondly, I don’t know how you can say that God gives his life to man when the life that man has is a created effect and not that life itself. Last I checked eternal life was eternal and not created. The mere presence of divine power in the soul won’t get you to the point where you need to be. It won’t imply divine power in the body. And it won’t get you any further than anthropological Nestorianism, where God merely inhabits a body. Inhabitation isn’t sufficient for deification. Christ doesn’t put on humanity like a coat and we don’t put on Christ like one either. Our union with God is metaphysically tighter than that.
    If philosophy were not an adequate handmaiden to theology I would think this would be a rather large surprise to a whole lot of people in the history of western Christian thought. Now there is a conflation between scientific accuracy and theemployment of dialectic. Aristotle makes clear that one should not expect the same kind of accuracy across the sciences. That said, this is not tantamount to a denial of the employment and appropriateness of using dialectic in any science. If theology is a science then it employs dialectic and this is why the Filioque necessarily relies on it and relations of opposition. If God gives mysteries why are Catholic theologians in giving definitions of them using philosophical cateogories? Why is the major selling point of the Papacy that the formal defining buck stops with him if they are mysteries?

    I don’t believe that there can’t be distinction without opposition, but I am just forcing you to be consistent within the parameters of your own methodology and hopefully to bring you to a more full self consciousness.

    Eph 3 certainly seems to speak of grace as all referring to the same thing. I simply don’t see any exegetical, theological or philosophical basis in the text to make the kind of distinction you think is present. I don’t deny that Paul is a new man by grace, but it is Paul who is the new man or rather the renewed man. Again with the distinction between dunamis and energia I don’t deny that nature requires grace so that agents can please God. So here I can’t see how any of these passages do any work for you.

  25. Anthony James Puccetti says:

    To Perry,

    Created grace may be said to be opposed to uncreated grace for the sake of making a distinction,but in essence there is no opposition. The essence of created grace is the same as that of uncreated grace,just like the essence of life in creatures is the same as that of the Holy Spirit. In both cases,the temporal effect is dependent upon the eternal cause. The essence is the same on earth as it is in heaven. God gives his life to man,and he takes it away from man. God gives his grace to man,and man sins and falls out of it. The condition of being in a state of grace is what is created – it is a matter of uncreated grace being present where it was not present before. As for the properties of created grace,these are gifts like charisms and the ability to persevere in righteousness. But again,the essence is the same as that of uncreated grace. Philosophers may think that there must always be opposition with a distinction,but that is one of the limitations of philosophy in describing spiritual things. Philosophers want scientific accuracy,but this is not possible in regard to the Trinity,or the ways in which God communicates with the world. These are mysteries.
    Anyway,if it is true that there can be no distinction without opposition,then what should we say about the distinction between energies and essence? Does God oppose himself?

    The word “grace”,as it is used in scripture,has different meanings,and they don’t all refer to something uncreated. For example:

    Ephesians 3,7-8:
    “f this I became a minister by the gift of God’s grace that was granted me in accord with the exercise of his power.
    To me, the very least of all the holy ones, this grace was given, to preach to the Gentiles the inscrutable riches of Christ,
    and to bring to light [for all] what is the plan of the mystery hidden from ages past in God who created all things,
    so that the manifold wisdom of God might now be made known through the church to the principalities and authorities in the heavens. ”

    In verse 7 Paul refers to uncreated grace,whereas in verses 8-10 he refers to his
    charism,which is a created grace of one who stands in grace.

    Romans 5,1-2:
    Therefore, since we have been justified by faith, we have peace 2 with God through our Lord Jesus Christ,
    through whom we have gained access (by faith) to this grace in which we stand, and we boast in hope of the glory of God.

    1 Corinthians 15,9-10:9
    “For I am the least of the apostles, not fit to be called an apostle, because I persecuted the church of God.
    But by the grace of God I am what I am, and his grace to me has not been ineffective. Indeed, I have toiled harder than all of them; not I, however, but the grace of God (that is) with me.”

    Here he distinguishes grace from who he is. He does not give credit to himself,but to the grace which he has received. The grace of God made Paul a new man.

  26. Anthony,

    Are you a Catholic convert from the Reformed tradition? It sounds like you believe in total depravity. I’m not sure if Catholics believe in that too.

    Perry said, “Consequently grace does not come infused from the outside or external sources from human nature because the imago dei is eternal in Christ.”

    This seems to contradict my mud analogy. I tend to think of grace as being like water. When we pray or someone else prays for us, we get more, I’ve assumed from outside. Mary is “full of grace” because of her prayer life. But I can also see it as a quickening of our unclaimed-for-God, though dormant, scattered but potential-laden parts. If our attention is toward sin, our potential lies dormant or even atrophies. If our attention is toward God, we reach our potential as distinct persons through imparted grace. Sin and death are foreign objects that have clouded our vision, obscured our nature, and keep us shallow and small.

    The new man is the Saint whose sins have been washed away, and his nature revealed by baptism and continued confession, repentance and communion with God. These are grace-filled Sacraments, right? So if grace is imparted, or in your words, received, then it is not created inside of us, though its effects are. The effect is a divinized nature. So I guess my question is, if virtue is our nature, then can it only be activated by grace so that we achieve virtue only through union with God. There are virtuous people who do not profess to be Christians and do not commune through the Church, but determining why they are virtuous, such as if God is deifying them subconsciously though with their willing participation, or if they are independently Palegian would be speculation which we don’t have to do.

  27. Athony,

    If there were no opposition between created and uncreated grace then there would be no difference. Suarez for example is clear in his work On the Various Kinds of Distinctions that distinctions only take place through negation. The same fundamental idea can be found all across the philosophical landscape. Things are distinguished by opposite properties and effects are distinguished from their causes by opposite properties, lesser and greater, which is why an effect cannot be greater than its cause. To say that created grace is always dependent is to posit an opposition or opposite property, dependence/independence. If they aren’t other then they would be the same. But this is exactly for example what Aquinas denies, that God is the formal cause of created things.

    There are many ways how it can be said that our union with God is not one of passivity or dependency. First because we are not instruments and our union with God is not (pace the Reformers) an extrinsic one, because Christ’s union with our nature is not an extrinsic one. Second, the imago dei as an energy or logos of deity is not passive, which is why passivity squelches human nature. Humans are characterized by activity. I agree that without Christ we can do nothing, but it doesn’t follow that with Christ we do noting (are passive) in Christ’s doing. Christ’s doing and our own are the same. Furthermore, it is true that humans cut off from God do nothing, but nature is not freestanding or autonomous and so it doesn’t follow that actions done by natural power are “nothing” or passive in grace. I would think that a good Augustinian would grant me this point.

    If God and nature were dialectically related by way of grace then Arius would have been right, that God is fundamentally opposed to and beyond nature so that a created intermediary is necessary, which is why as far as I can see the doctrine of created grace strikes me as very Arian. This was a major point in Athanasius’ arguments against the Arians which is why he focused a good deal of energy on the doctrine of creation.

    We fell because our personal use of our natural powers using divine power was not yet perfect. Sin is in the using and not in the nature. This is why it was possible for Adam to fall but not the saints in heaven. Adam was created naturally good but not yet morally righteous as Ireneaus and Theophilius for example indicate. Paul does in Rom 6 indicate that out nature is weak and I do believe that, because we have lost a good measure of divine power but we have not lost the imago dei. Human choices cannot thwart what God irresistibly wills and what God has willed with respect to human nature per se can’t be made otherwise. Divine power, grace is therefore quite appropriate to human nature. The loss of divine power doesn’t imply that humans can’t aim at the mark and make a shot, it just means that we lack sufficient power to make our arrow reach the target.

    The new man is brought about in Christ, with respect to different features. First it is brought about in the Incarnation where Christ begins to recapitulate and heal human nature for all, granting it immortality. It is also brought about by the free choices of individuals who align their wills with Christ’s human will and divine will and receive divine power. This is not Pelagianism for a few simple reasons. First because Christ’s work is prior to our initiatives. Second, because while the imago dei is of grace it is not sufficient without personal employment and divine power, and divine power or the energies is not identical with the imago dei. Consequently while the virtues, including the theological virtues are natural things following Maximus, they cannot be had without free and personal ascesis and divine power. Faith, hope and love are not alien to our nature, but intrinsic to it.

    I agree that our nature is weakened after the fall, but I don’t buy that it is per se misdirected. The passions most certainly are, but this is a result of weakness and not because the image itself has been corrupted.

    If the Incarnation did not divinize all of humanity and make them immortal then plenty of the Fathers were just flat wrong, in particular Athanasius. Furthermore, we have a big problem explaining then why the wicked persist eternally and more specifically are raised on the basis of Christ’s resurrection. In Adam all died, so in Christ all shall be made alive.

    So far, all I have done is simply reherese Orthodox theology and Patristic Christology. I am sure it would be more profitable if you spent some time in a good set of patristic mongraphs on these issues and then came back to discuss matters.

  28. Anthony James Puccetti says:

    To Perry,

    In regard to created grace,it is not an effect which is opposed to the cause of uncreated grace;rather,created grace is always dependent upon uncreated grace,just as humans are always dependent upon God for the state of being alive.
    Since we are talking about spirit and man’s dependency upon eternal spirit,and not about physical objects,no-one can say that the effect of being in a created state of grace is opposed to uncreated grace. Being dependent,in this case,is not being opposed to the cause.

    I don’t see how it can be said that our union with God is not one of passivity,or rather dependency. Christ said to his apostles that without him,they could do nothing.
    I disagree that God and nature are not dialectically related by way of grace. God initiates a relationship with man by sending him grace,which means divine assistance,in order so that man can fulfill the commandments. If grace is not extrinsic to our nature,then how did we fall from it,and why is our nature inclined to evil?

    “I am speaking in human terms because of the weakness of your nature. For just as you presented the parts of your bodies as slaves to impurity and to lawlessness for lawless ness, so now present them as slaves to righteousness for sanctification.”

    Galatians 5,4:
    “You are separated from Christ, you who are trying to be justified by law; you have fallen from grace.”

    Galatians 5,16:
    “I say, then: live by the Spirit and you will certainly not gratify the desire of the flesh.”

    If the “new man” is not brought about from grace which is extrinsic to human nature,them how is it brought about?
    It’s true that sin is personal and not natural,but it is our nature,which we inherited from the Adam who had fallen,that inclines us to evil. Being made in the image of God does not mean having grace,or divine assistance,inherent in one’s nature. Those are two different things. Sins are personal and not natural,and the same is true with the reception of grace,which helps us to avoid sin.
    That Christ became incarnate does not mean that the rest of humanity became divinized.

    I’ll respond to your other points later.

  29. Anthony,

    For the Orthodox, created grace is an oxymoron. From our perspective, part of the problem is the imposition of a platonic causal theory where cause and effect are dialectically related. Effects are opposed to their causes and thereby distinguished in so far as effects are metaphysically deficient and hence passive.

    Consequently our union with God and our distinction from him isn’t one of activity/passivity. Grace does not passify nature. God and nature are not dialectically related in that way. Consequently grace does not come infused from the outside or external sources from human nature because the imago dei is eternal in Christ.
    The bringing about the of the new man isn’t via something alien to nature and the image per se isn’t affected by sin since sin is personal and not natural. If humans could alter what God had eternally willed to be so, then there would be a different nature for every human being since every human wills differently. Furthermore, the imago dei isn not per se a rational soul since that would imply that Christ was merely a rational soul prior to his incarnation and would probably imply Apollinarianism afterwards.

    The doctrine of the energies is firmly planted in the scriptures as well as the Fathers. Moses sees the divine glory as do the apostles with their eyes, and this glory is eternal since Christ says it existed prior to creation, so it is not a created effect. Neither is it the divine essence for no one can see God.

    There are a variety of distinctions of essence ane energies in Greek philosophy, among the Platonists, Parapatetics and the Stoics, but they do not all think of it the same way. So noting that there is such a distinction among the Greeks doesn’t imply that it is identical to that of the Church. And furthermore it isn’t, for with the Greeks an energy or effect is metaphysically deficient in relation to its cause, the energies are not less deity than the divine persons or the divine essence.

    If you are going to complain about the intrusion of Greek philosophy then you had better dump a number of things you advocate above, not the least of which is the causal theory you endorse which is entirely Platonic. So is the idea that what identifies man is a rational soul. Not only that, but the Thomistic view that God has no real or formal relations with the world is quite Hellenistic as is the idea of God as pure activity. And the notion of life as intrinsically active is entirely Hellenistic. The paganizing shoe I think is on the other foot.

    It doesn’t follow that if we cannot know the essence that we cannot distinguish it from the essence for the simple reason that qua energies, they “be” and can be known. Certainly I can distinguish things that I know from things that I am ignorant of. Secondly, you are assuming that the energies are free standing entities cut off from the essence and this isn’t the teaching of the Fathers. The energies are the divine power brought to act. This is why some divine acts have a begining and others do not. God is not pure act. He always has the power to create but he is not essentially or necessarily creator.

    I agree that God is love but I don’t see how on your view God’s love which is supposed to be on your view his essence can be manifested via efficient causation in effects that aren’t his essence if there are no energies. Is this love the essence or some created effect? If the latter, then how can we know that it is truely the way God is? In point of fact it seems that your position suffers from the objection you raise against the Orthodox view.

  30. Anthony James Puccetti says:

    To Andrea,

    I know that grace and life as they exist in God are uncreated. But there is also created grace and life as they exist in humans. It’s the difference between cause and effect.
    If we’re going to say that there is no created grace,then we may as well say that grace does not bring about what Paul called the “new man”,and is thus ineffectual. Uncreated grace must bring about a “new man” who is in a state of grace,who is sanctified. It is a state of grace that had a beginning from uncreated grace. That is what created grace means.

    I’m not sure what you mean by “God’s image is virtuous”. Our “image of God” is tarnished by sin. We are made in the image of God in that we are given rational souls.
    We have free will and can choose. We are virtuous when we follow the commandments.

    I don’t believe in energies distinct from essence. That is a distinction which derives from Greek philosophy,and it is not applicable to the God of the scriptures. Neo-Platonic philosophy insisted upon the complete transcendence of God,and Aristotle said that eternity cannot communicate with history. The distinction is like a compromise with the Greek philosophical view of God.

    If we cannot know anything about the essence of God,then we cannot distinguish
    his essence from energies.

    God is love,and love is both an essence and the actualizing,or manifestation,of that essence. To be alive is to have movement within. God is spirit and is alive,and so he has movement within himself.

  31. anthony022071 says:

    edited by Photios–your objections are all answered elsewhere on this blog. don’t care to hear the anonymous opinion that doesn’t take the time to read.

  32. Anthony,

    And which of those Fathers teach the doctrine of created grace?

  33. Anthony,

    We were talking about grace and life, not matter, as is clear by how life was given to Adam’s created body. Seeing grace and life as uncreated reveals how God brings us into participation with His uncreated, immortal life through His energies.

    God’s image is virtuous, is it not? The fall did not change the fact that humans are created in His image. The rest of your proof texts talk about post-lapsarian man, who is still made in the image of God, but must learn to overcome sin and attain the likeness of God, which we believe occurs through life in the Church.

  34. Anthony James Puccetti says:

    To Andrea,

    Matter was created from nothing.


    “Men, indeed, are not able to make something from nothing, but only from existing material. God, however, is greater than men first of all in this: that when nothing existed beforehand, he called into existence the very material for his creation” (Against Heresies 2:10:4 [inter A.D. 180-199]).

    Our life was created by the Spirit.

    I don’t know see how it can be believed that we are created with a pre-ordained virtuous nature.

    Psalm 51:5
    Behold, I was brought forth in iniquity, and in sin did my mother conceive me.

    Job 14:1 & 4;
    Man that is born of woman is of few days, and full of trouble…Who can bring a clean thing out of an unclean? There is not one.

    Rom 5:18-19
    Then as one man’s trespass led to condemnation for all men, so one man’s act of righteousness leads to acquittal and life for all men. For as by one man’s disobedience many were made sinners, so by one man’s obedience many will be made righteous.

    Eph 2:3
    “Among these we all once lived in the passions of our flesh, following the desires of body and mind, and so we were by nature children of wrath, like the rest of mankind.”

    Cyprian of Carthage:
    If, in the case of the worst sinners and of those who formerly sinned much against God, when afterwards they believe, the remission of their sins is granted and no one is held back from Baptism and grace, how much more, then, should an infant not be held back, who, having but recently been born, has done no sin, except that, born of the flesh according to Adam. He has contracted the contagion of that old death from his first being born. For this very reason does he approach more easily to receive the remission of sins: because the sins forgiven him are not his own but those of another [from Adam].” Epistle to Fidus, 68[64]:5 (c. A.D. 250).

    Cyril of Jerusalem
    “Through him our forefather Adam was cast out for disobedience, and exchanged a Paradise bringing forth wondrous fruits of its own accord for the ground which bringeth forth thorns. What then? Some one will say. We have been beguiled and are lost. Is there then no salvation left? We have fallen: Is it not possible to rise again? We have been blinded: May we not recover our sight? We have become crippled: Can we never walk upright? In a word, we are dead: May we not rise again? He that woke Lazarus who was four days dead and already stank, shall He not, O man, much more easily raise thee who art alive? He who shed His precious blood for us, shall Himself deliver us from sin.” Catechetical Lectures, 2:4-5 (A.D. 350)

    “Little given, much gotten; by the donation of food the original sin is discharged. Just as Adam transmitted the sin by his wicked eating, we destroy that treacherous food when we cure the need and hunger.” Eulogies & Sermons, Famine & Drought 8:7 (ante 379)

    Gregory of Nyssa:
    “Evil was mixed with our nature from the beginning…through those who by their disobedience introduced the disease. Just as in the natural propagation of the species each animal engenders its like, so man is born from man, a being subject to passions from a being subject to passions, a sinner from a sinner. Thus sin takes its rise in us as we are born; it grows with us and keeps us company till life’s term.” The Beatitudes, 6 (ante A.D. 394).

  35. So is rain created in the ground to make mud?

    And is life different? The Spirit breathed life into Adam – it seems more like a transfer than ex nihilo creation.

    We are created with a pre-ordained virtuous nature, meant to reach it’s potential in union with Christ through the impartation, not creation, of grace.

  36. Anthony James Puccetti says:

    To Perry,

    There’s more than one definition of the word “grace”. Of course the grace of God is uncreated,but being in a state of grace,to preach the gospel and have charisms — this is something created in a human soul. This state was not present before uncreated grace was infused into the human soul. It is the same with “life” in humans. Spirit gives life to created forms,and is life itself. Spirit is uncreated,but the state of our being alive is created. Catholic doctrine does not teach that grace is “a similitude that is an intermediary between us and the divine”.
    The state,or condition of grace is an actuality. You’ll have to explain what you mean by “the theological virtues are natural and are not infused or effects of divine activity”.
    When the Holy Spirit came upon the apostles at Pentecost and they began to preach in different languages,was that not the infusion of the Holy Spirit? Christ is not merely the image of God but is the Son of God incarnate. (Are the things you have stated actual beliefs among the Orthodox?) Christ is uncreated,but our “being” in the image of God is created. If the theological virtues were natural,then there would have been no need for God to have become incarnate and no need for Christ to send the Holy Spirit.

  37. Anthony,

    Yes I am familiar with the concept, but it is false, for grace is not created and our union with God is not a simultude that is an intermediary between us and the divine. grace is deity. Second, the theological virtues are natural and hence not infused or effects of divine activity. If Christ is the image of God and we are created in the image, then the image is not created and this is why virtues are natural.

  38. Anthony James Puccetti says:

    “Created grace” is the state of being in grace — the gift of God’s grace as it has been received by the soul. It is the effect,or accident,of God’s uncreated grace,the gift of God’s love,upon the created human soul. This kind of grace is created in a man just as surely as the soul of a is created. It is grace which has been infused. It is “created” simply because it was not there in the man’s soul before.


  39. Rob G says:

    “That’s interesting, since Ruthenians have a reputation of being one of the more latinized Eastern Churches”

    True enough, Matt, although there seems to be a rather strong ‘anti-Latinization’ movement there too.

  40. Matt says:


    That’s interesting, since Ruthenians have a reputation of being one of the more latinized Eastern Churches. Perhaps that is a bit exaggerated though. They have taken a lot of flack for their recent liturgical revisions, and as justified as that may be I’m sure there are many orthodox Ruthenians.

  41. Rob G says:

    NeoC — that’s a good question, and one that has come up in discussion as well. My take on it is that they would say yes, provided that said formal teaching did not contradict any traditional Eastern doctrine. But then, they often question whether the post-schism councils actually apply to the Eastern Churches, i.e., whether they’re really ecumenical.

  42. Robert,

    Would your friends agree that all Catholics are dogmatically bound to what the Roman Church formally teaches (explicitly or implicitly) through the post-schism Councils?

  43. Rob G says:

    For what it’s worth, I have several friends who are Byzantine Catholics (Ruthenians), including one who’s a PhD that teaches theology at a RC college, and another who asked his priest about this very issue. All of them, including the priest, accept the Orthodox idea of uncreated grace and do not believe that the RC understanding of created grace is a de fide doctrine.

    As someone said above, there are some things I’ve read that make the claim that what RCs mean by ‘created’ isn’t as simple or reductionist as we EO sometimes portray it, and that in reality the views are the same. I find this difficult to accept, however, given some statements such as those quoted above. If the doctrine of created grace isn’t a de fide one for RCs, then even if they’re wrong, it’s not really an issue, at least in terms of ecumenical dialogue.

    Is there any way to find out whether it really is a de fide doctrine or not, since there seems to be some confusion on the issue, even among RCs?

  44. “Nature of Sanctifying Grace.

    What is sanctifying grace? It has been called the “masterpiece of God’s handicraft in this world … far more glorious than anything we can behold in the heavens above us or on the earth at our feet.” Is it just God’s favor toward us, as Luther wanted? No, it is much more. Is it God’s life or nature or God’s love, as some have called it? No, for God’s life and love and nature are uncreated, are God Himself. Sanctifying grace is not God, it is not the Holy Spirit, it is not just God’s favor. It is something created, given to us by God out of love and mercy, which gives us a created likeness of God’s nature and life. It is a supernatural gift infused into our souls by God, a positive reality, spiritual, supernatural, and invisible.” Taken From Fr. John Hardin’s “Course on Grace,” Part Two – A, Grace Considered Intensively.

    See: http://www.therealpresence.org/archives/Grace/Grace_003.htm

  45. Lucian says:

    “Be holy even as I am Holy”. “Be holy even as your Heavenly Father is Holy”.

    Holiness ins’t created: it’s as old as God Himself. And the fact that I choose to let God’s Holy Spirit enter into my soul doesn’t mean that holiness appered right then and there. Likewise, it doesn’t mean that after the Holy Spirit deserts me, holiness dies. Quite on the contrary: I die.

    It’s like letting a person into a room (namely, into the inner-most chamber of our hearts, where the divine union between the Bride and the Bridegroom takes place). It doesn’t mean that that certain person was created right then and there: only that he entered the room. And when he leaves the room, and I lose track of him, it doesn’t mean that he dies or is destroyed: just that it leaves the room.

    And manifesting something that’s implicit is not the same thing as creating it, destroying it, and recreating it: God didn’t lose His creative power on the Sabbath. He just chose not to enact it. Persons through their own good will chose when and where to act according to their own inner characteristics; they chose when and where to enact their own inner pre-dispositions.

    Goodness, Love, Wisdom, et al aren’t created. They’re uncreated. They aren’t strange or exterior to God, but His very characteristics, in which we can freely share, without being transformed into gods (i.e., without becoming gods as only God is such). We chose if we want to participate in them via the Holy Spirit indwelling us… or not to take any part in them. If we “choose life”, then we become AS God, without becoming gods or God (though, as I’ve said, the energies or graces in which we share are very much part of God).

  46. Benjamin says:

    Josh S could probably benefit from getting his nose broken*:


    *That’s a saying Rod Rosenbladt coined, I believe.

  47. Elliot,

    I’ve read Most’s stuff and I don’t think it really helps much. Perhaps this summer I’ll do a post explaining why I think so.

    First we are told that we are unfaithful to the tradition if we reject Augustinian predestinarianism, then we are told its just an opinion. This ping pong game between dogma and theology needs to stop. On your own principles there is no content to the dogma apart from the theological explication so shifting over to the dogma isn’t an escape hatch.

    Secondly, Rome permits such views which is problematic in and of itself. And you don’t burn and excommunicate people for theological speculation.

    Third, the Gnostics didn’t hold to any one form of Gnostic explication either, though they all shared the same fundamental principles and methodology.

    Fourth, why is it that Rome accepts the assumptions but can’t seem to come to ne clear teaching on the matter? Maximus did. Why not just follow Maximus’ teaching?
    I haven’t simply repeated “You must believe X” a million times over. I am not insisting, I am arguing. If my arguments are poor, then show where. I am not above error and I have made mistakes in the past. I haven’t read everything either. I am open to correction, but I am not open to being dismissed as if I am merely fist pounding. Moreover, if “logic demands” a conclusion and your theology is committed to being informed by logic aren’t you being inconsistent with your own presuppositions? If logic does in fact demand the conclusion on what grounds do you reject it? Non-logical grounds?

    And that wasn’t the reason why the LDS Ostler was banned. He was banned because he was quite rude. After repeated warnings to attack arguments and not persons, he threatened my family and job. That, my friend, is beyond the pale of acceptable dialog. In any case, he self confessed that he was quite ignorant of Orthodox theology so I think his claims should be taken with a grain of salt. His fundamental problem was that he took the hypostatic union to be a union of essences in a substantial union which would preclude the possibility of certain accidents being held by the same substance. But I don’t think a hypostasis is a substance which is one of my reasons why his formal argument is unsound.

    If you don’t like being told this or that here, then you are quite free to find some other venue. No one is forcing you to be here. I learned a long time ago not to argue with people where there is nothing to win, either persuading the individual or the audience. So if you judge us to be intransigent, there is the door.

    The prescriptions of subjecting the creed to dialectical development is not something I have imposed on Rome, but something Catholicism claims for itself and that for a very long time. Send complaints to the Vatican, not me.

    Keefe’s stuff sounds like 19th century Russian ecclesiological thinking, in which case I’d wonder how he is going to make that square with the Papacy since the latter isn’t an epiphenomenon of the Church. In any case, I find “covenant” to be a popular fudge word. It is akin to the Reformed phrase “union with Christ.” When you poke around as to what exactly that means you get blank stares, so I can’t see it doing much work. I suppose I’d have to read the book.

    Shifting to the Eucharist just moves the problem for taken at face value terms like “actual” “substantial” and so forth still own their meaning to dialectic. Keefe’s apparent contrast with “cosmic” to “immanent” I think betrays the fact that he is probably working with the same old dialectical model. I smell Hegel or perhaps Schelling.

    If all existence is grace, what is nature? And if God is not existence and existence is grace, is God graceless?

    As for the O’Keefe quote, Augustinianism never really gets beyond Platonism. Sure this or that Platonic view is rejected, but Augustine never for example renounces major Platonic teachings, like the Cosmic Soul for instance. His last words were from Plotinus for a reason.

    The comments on Form point out the Augustinian gloss on the Incarnation and show its inadequacies. Augustine in facts adopts Arian assumptions concerning the invisibility/visibility of God and then proceeds to interpret the biblical material on the visibility of the Son in terms of the Incarnation. And this is not just my view but Michel Barnes, a Catholic patristics scholar of no small stature. Consequently the emphasis on the historical doesn’t really help matters. What he has done seems similar to me to what Lacunga and others have done is just externalize theology, making everything historical. Reason can’t permit the God who hides in Darkness.
    The cleavage between acceptance and rejection can’t be a personal acceptance or rejection of the eucharist because that would eradicate nature and the fact of a cosmis predestination of all men to immortality in Christ regardless of their personal orientation to Christ.

  48. Scylding,

    1. We condemned it at Ephesus. Your welcome.
    2. Synergism isn’t tantamount to Pelagianism unless Augustine is a Pelagian too since he was a synergist.
    3. Pelagianism is the thesis that humans were created intrinsically righteous and that since humans cannot change human nature they only require a good example afternwards. It is not a thesis primarily about merit, but about the relation of nature to grace.
    4. Because of 3, it is the Reformed who, in holding to the same essential anthropology re Adam are the Pelagians.
    5. Because of 4 the Reformed have to hold tha the will of humans overcame the divine will regarding human nature so that the choice of Adam altered human nature in the losing or altering of the imago dei, thereby lapsing into Manicheanism.
    6. 5. rests on the further Pelagian confusion between person and nature which is why they think that nature determines personal choices.

    Thats as short as I can make it.

  49. The Scylding says:

    I don’t believe that is going to work. but surely somebody has said something like that before? Do you have a “short and sweet” answer to that ?

  50. Scylding,

    Why not invite him to come here and substantiate the claim?

  51. The Scylding says:

    Slightly off topic, but yesterday Josh S said the following over at the Boar’s Head Tavern:

    “7. The East never struggled with Pelagianism because the East was (and in some cases still is) largely Pelagian to begin with.”

    Comments / discussion?

  52. Elliot,

    It is wonderful that Fr. Keefe thinks that RC theology has suffered from a perverted ordo theologiae, but now he’s going to have to justify that position with what Rome has boxed herself into in the form of all her dogmatic decrees. That sounds like a tough position to be faced with when Florence says for example that all is One in God except for a relation of opposition.


  53. Elliot,

    You are actually saying Orthodox stuff about predestination. Good. But what Rome has said about the Eucharist in dogmatic decrees (according to her) is dialectical. In other words, while you are correct that predestination is Christological and liturgical (Eph 1 is christological), you are then forced to have to deal with Rome’s dogmatic decrees that are quite dialectical (transubstantiation). While I’m impressed that you are thinking biblical things about predestination, instead of reading predestination as just another pagan term (and other terms homoousios) exported from a pagan context, I’m not impressed by the up hill battle that you have to deal with in affirming in the end of Rome’s dialectical theology. You can’t affirm Orthodox “stuff” and then turn around and have to deal honestly with what ROME HAS SAID about these things in her official statements.

    I’ve read Most’s papers on Augustine and Thomas many years ago. And though I found them quite interesting at the time, many things he says about Thomas I don’t find exegetically defensible when we look at Thomas’ mature thought on the matter. The work wouldn’t stand up to counter exegesis of a Garrigou-Lagrange. It’s like quoting Augustine from “On Free Choice” and then quoting Augustine on “Predestination of the Saints” and trying to melt the two together as somehow both being true. It ignores the development in the writer’s thinking. I see this all the time by Roman Catholic defenders of Augustine when arguing with Calvinists. But the Calvinists have the better upper hand, because this is naturally how it develops from Augustine’s own principles in theology.

    The stuff from the Morman on logic doesn’t work, because we don’t embrace dialectical theology as a presupposition. As he knows, you argue your way right out of the Incarnation, at least the Orthodox Chalcedonian one. What do you think Nestorianism and Monophysitism are based on? Christological dialectics. Again, we use these tools against you to pull you down so you’ll come up to where we are.


  54. jude says:

    Anything on contingeny ?

  55. Matt says:

    In my class on the Trinity, my professor said that all theology is dialectical. I don’t think that’s compatable with Byzantine theology. Dialectics seem pretty embedded in the West though.

  56. ebdesales says:

    Sorry, I am now going to have to bow out of this thread. It’s finals and I’ve got too much to do. This is a diversion I need to stifle for now. I got my fix.

    As such, I want to tie off some things as best I can (while minding the Prolix-Meter).

    First, I will go deeper into Palamas and Cyril and all the gang (as I have been doing slowly). What I will leave standing is my wish for any takers here, and especially the hosts, to read both Fr. William Most’s _Grace, Predestination, & the Salvific Will of God_ and Fr. Donald Keefe’s _Covenantal Theology_.

    The first book shows something I want to say to the thread Photios and I were in about Augustine and predestination.

    Namely, because predestination is not a cut and dried problem in the Church, it is simply unrealistic to hold Her to the excesses of rarified Augustinianism (Aug’ism). Photios objects that the mere fact Rome does not espouse arch-Frankish Gottschalkianism is just because Rome does not pursue the logical conclusions of Aug’ism.

    Well, that’s exactly the point: Rome doesn’t espouse those excesses (where they are actually excesses). That fact, not erudite Farrellian reconstructions of Frankish history (with all due respect), must be taken at face value. This is why the Faith is subject not to one Father or even one school of theology, but to the episcopally grounded, liturgically centered magisterium of the faithful and the clergy.

    Further, as Fr. Most explicates the matter, because the RCC does not hold to any one extreme form of predestinarianism, She is not obliged to do so. The night is still young (before the dawn, Ephesians 5), and the Spirit has not tired of giving gifts of insight into these matters. What is true in St. Augustine’s oeuvre the Church affirms; what is off, She puts aside.

    Fortunately, as I will discuss in connection with Fr. Keefe’s book, while the predestinarian writings of St. Aug get the most press, they are not principally why he is a Church Doctor. There is less to his predestinarianism than some (Calvinist, Jansenists, critics) would like precisely because there is more to his witness than predestinarianism. It is that “more” which preserves him from being a predestinarian monster and which makes him a Saint.

    In any event, Photios (and Perry) should, I think, understand better than anyone how irksome it is to have an interlocutor insist you HAVE to affirm X, Y or Y because logic demands it. That was half of the hubbub a few months back in that dustup with the Mormon (Ross? Russell?) who got blocked from this blog. He kept insisting logic trumped the actual ordo theologiae of EO.

    Well, what comes around goes around, I guess. For now I am being told that I––and Rome itself––must subject the actual creed, worship and magisterium of the Church to the logic of historical theology. Alas, I must demur from such rash prescriptions.

    This leads me to the second book I recommend.

    Fr. Keefe’s book looks squarely into the face of the pervasive rot that has accrued in Roman Catholic theology over the centuries and yet insists there is no fundamental problem for the simple reason that theology is an epiphenomenon of the Church, and therefore cannot impinge on the actual substance of the Faith. Theology can beautify and enrich the house, like ivy on walls, but it can also shroud and disfigure the house, like mold.

    The proper and ineluctable ordo of RC theology is the Eucharistic covenant as it thrives in the Church. All theological principles and categories must submit to and be subsumed under this one triune matrix of actual, substantial, concrete, and free (because historical) communion in and through the μια σαρχ (One Flesh).

    Predestination IS a perversion of the Faith when it is imagined as belonging to some antecedent ‘cosmic’ order. Predestination is only orthodox when subsumed under the Eucharist. There is no antecedent rational necessity to divine predestination, since God’s providence is only truly real in the historically immanent Lordship of the Eucharistic Jesus. There is no ‘reason’ for creation and salvation, but this does not mean they are arbitrary, meaningless realities, since the only grounding of them is the free, coherent, historical action of God in the Eucharistic covenant.

    People are not predestined according to some cosmic, pre-incarnate decree, but are predestined precisely in the free, actual, historical appropriation or rejection of the New Adam in the Eucharist. There is no natural order that exists prior to creation’s covenantally grounded structure in the triune work of God. All existence is grace.

    I know these sound like pretty cut and dried de Lubacian themes, and may seem trivial, but I want to quote from Keefe about how this relates to predestination.

    On pages 551 and 552 he says:

    “When, as often, the Platonic resolution of fallenness by its dehistoricization is mistaken for theology, its self-salvific rationalizing thrust finds a pseudo-Christian expression in theories of predestination; these, whether single, as in Origen’s hypothesis of apokatastasis, echoed by Barth’s systematics and, as has been feared, by von Balthasar’s aesthetics, or double, as from Gottschalk to Calvin to the Synod of Dort, are all led by the same conviction that man’s dignity, his moral freedom, must evanesce before the divine omnipotence, and that the truth and reality of the historical human condition is actual only in a union with divinity outside of time, whether in the world of Forms or in an inscrutable divine judgment. … Augustinianism ineluctably relapses into its pre-conversion condition, that of Platonism, when the sacrificial realism of the Catholic Eucharistic tradition is refused or systematically ignored.”

    Then on pages 558 he says:

    “‘Form’ cannot then mean in Augustinian theology what the term Logos has generally been understood to mean whether by Thomists or by Augustinians: viz., the eternal Son in some cosmic moment prior to his becoming man. ‘Form’ in Augustinian theology must refer to the Son of God who is the Son of Mary, ‘one and the same,’ and this not as static fact but as covenantal Event. … However thorough the methodological conversion of theology from cosmological to historical metaphysics may be, we still are very largely under the sway of a cosmological imagination, which simply takes for granted a nonhistorical status quo ante as the prius or starting point for all theological inquiry … [which] conforms to a cosmological but not a Christian quaerens intellectum: it seeks always for the God behind the revelation, convinced that only there may be found the quintessential divinity…. The time-honored notion that it is the nonhistorical and cosmological God behind the revelation that is the object of theology forgets that theology is a quaerens directed solely at the revelation, and that the revelation is not information provided in the Old and New Testament about the eternity and the freedom of God, but rather is the Lord in whom the act of faith ‘terminates,’ Jesus Christ, the Son of God and the Son of Mary, ‘one and the same,’ in whom the divine freedom and divine transcendence over history is concretely actual in and by his Eucharistic immanence in history.”

    In a word, the vision Fr. Keefe’s places at center is that there is no “world out there” outside the actual, historical Event of the One Flesh being offered triunely. Literally nothing––nihil––exists outside the Event-structure of the Mass.

    Hence, predestination is coterminous with the historical entry into or flight from grace in the Eucharist. The truth that “Christ died for all” is coterminous with Christ being received or rejected by all in the Eucharist, as it is offered, historically and actually, to all. Historical worship is thus theologically and Christocentrically antecedent to cosmological predestination.

    Predestination, in other words, happens now, here, in the Eucharist.

    Because Christ is “pan-historical” by virtue of His covenantal kenosis, as opposed to cosmically “immanent” presence, in fallen humanity, He is transhistorical. His pervasive grounding of history as the arena of grace is what simultaneously makes Him the transcendent Lord of “predestination.”

    (As for those outside the reach of formal Eucharistic worship, Fr. Keefe’s notes the trahi a Deo in St. Thomas and the Lumen mundi of St. Augustine provide the grounds for culpability, since, in any case, original sin is already present, metaphysically but not temporally, in fallen human existence.)

    It is St. Augustine’s fundamental commitment to a “liturgical phenomenology” that outweighs and corrects for his Platonic detours in Form-based predestinarianism.

    Because the liturgy, as free celebration of the Covenant in the μια σαρχ, is not subservient to logic, but vice versa, that the hoary logic of dialectic can only cut so deep in RC dogmatics. Dogmas that violate or suppress the living Lordship of Jesus in the Eucharist are themselves rejected, tout court, automatically, even without need of a formal magisterial intervention. The Church itself, as the covenantally grounded Body of Christ, expels such errors like the body expels splinters: slowly perhaps, but naturally and surely. Please, therefore, don’t try to glue the Church’s splinters into her when She is in fact always living to expel them.

  57. There was an interesting thread at the Byzantine Forum some time ago that discussed “created” grace and the true nature of theosis as an uncreated enhypostatic union of man with God through the divine energies. Sadly, there was no resolution to the controversy, but the thread is interesting to read nonetheless. Those interested may read the thread (warning: it is rather long) by clicking the link below:


    God bless,

  58. ebdesales says:

    D’oh! Double goof:

    I meant to type “I was NOT sniping at your prolixity”.

  59. ebdesales says:

    Whoa whoa, let me nip that in the bid, since it’s a point of charity, not academics: I was sniping at your prolixity. I was just stating it (as one who knows prolixity heheh!). Retract your saber beam, dude. I type in peace.

  60. Death Bredon says:

    . . . I have *read some . . .

  61. Death Bredon says:

    Lee Faber,

    Actually, I have some Roman theologians do say grace truly is “uncreated” in the sense that Eastern Christians use the word “uncreated,” but that within the scholastic framework, along with its irreducible definitions, grace is created. In short, they try to reconcile Eastern and Western theology on the grounds that their vocabulary is so different that, in certain contexts, “uncreated” and “created” can actual signify the same substantive meaning.

    Personally, I have my doubts about this sort of ‘ecumenical theology,’ but nevertheless I thought I would mention that it does exists in both the East and West. Perhaps this, or something like it, is how Eastern Catholics intellectual reconcile themselves with the Papal Magesterium?

  62. Elliot,

    MY habits? Ahem. Is that a log I see? Anyhow, saying that the energies are essentially divine is not tantamount to saying that the energies are essences or identical with the divine essence. Thats a rather large leap you make.

    I am not denying the immateriality of the intellect. I am denying your platonic view of it. As for Thomism and Platonism, there are lots of myths about Platonism and this is because people read mainly the early dialogs and ignore works like the Sophist, or the Laws or lesser read works like the Cratylus.

    The way you glossed the notion of the intellect was quite Platonic. I’d suggest reading Plotinus Ennead 4 on the soul to see what I am talking about. I am not convinced that Thomistic substances are persons since I don’t cease to be a hypostasis when the substantial being ceases at my death.

    Platonists like Plotinus are quite confortable with thinking of the body soul relation in terms of a substantial composite. It is just that the soul enjoys a kind of priority over the composite and this is admitted by Aristotle since the soul is the source and telos for bodily acitons, thereby narrowing the supposed philosophical space that is thought to exist between Platonism and Aristotelianism.

    Since the energies “be” they fall under cataphatic discourse so I am not sure why you are suprised at that. I am not convinced that analogy is for the west what apohaticism is the for the East. For that to be the case, analogical language would have to be equivocal language, which it isn’t. Why? Because there is no analogia entis in terms of God’s essence.

    Participation in a causal notion which carries withit the concept that effects are not essentially different than their cause, at least in Platonism so if you wish to say that creatures participate in God in a way suitable to the biblical and patristic teaching on theosis, you are going to have to spell out how creatures become the divine essence and also how theyd on’t become the divine essence. Good luck. Otherwise its back to subordinationing causal relations.

    I really do not know what stands behind saying that you have an analogous mode of participation in the divine essence. By participation do you mean caused to be like God in a creaturely mode? If so, how do you become what God is? How is that theosis at all?

    God became man so that man may become God. So yes, the saints become God in so far as their acts are God’s acts. Their flesh is divinized as is their soul. Since the energies are God, then the saints in defication become God. The nature stuff you list doesn’t pan out for us for the simple reason that nature isn’t a hedge oppositionally distinguished from grace for the simple reason that the imago dei, human nature is an energy of Christ. Christ IS the image we are made in so the activity that is appropriate to my nature is that which is appropriate to Christ energetically.

    INhabitation isn’t sufficient for theosis since it would not distinguish the deification of Christ’s humanity from that of the indwelling of God in the prophets. Here I think you need to take Cyril more seriously. God’s relation with the world is direct and formal which is what your account leaves out.

  63. Matt says:


    I’ll just let the Melkite points slide for now. I do think there is a pretty good argument there, but perhaps it will come up when there is a more relevant post.

    I would assume that one is united to the effect in that situation. You would become something akin to divinity, but not divinity itself. Of course, no one believes that you become divine EXACTLY as Jesus is divine. Otherwise, one would be participating in God’s essence – a big no, no.

    I agree with your statements about V2 and Trent (obviously). The issue arrises in the interpretations of the doctors and the councils though. That is where Romans find a lot of wiggle room I believe. It has been a while since I looked at Trent, but I believe justice at least appears to be created. Of course, I don’t really feel bound by Trent – ever read the stuff on infant communion? – so I have no problem disagreeing with it here (assuming I read it correctly to begin with).

    I have some additional questions that are mostly definitional, but I think they will have to wait until tomorrow. All the best.

  64. ebdesales says:

    Well, Perry, I cant be surprised you brought a wheelbarrow of points out but I can’t reasonably reply to it all. This is one of your habits, of course, being a doctoral student: prolixity. (Not that I’m complaining, I’m just lawing ahead of me what I can manage.)

    What I will fixate on is your “frank” (heh!) admission the energies are essentially divine.

    The energies are essentially divine.

    The essence of the energies is “as divine as” the essence of God.

    Humans participate in the energies and thus participate in God.

    Ergo, humans participate in the essence of God by participating in the essentially-divine energies.

    The problem is that I think you are applying my talk of analogy to the divine being, whereas I am applying the term to participation.


    As for the immateriality of the intellect, if you are denying that, I would personally say you are off your rocker for a Christian philosopher. Are you a physicalist? Perhaps, but if not I fail to see how you can escape the hallowed tradition of immaterial intellection as a formal power of man.

    Defending the immateriality of thought as a formal operation of the human soul is NOT Platonic dualism; it is standard Thomism, and I am sure you know the difference between the Platonic soul as the man at the reins and Thomistic substance dualism as a formal unity of body and soul in one PERSON.

    The difficulty I am having is this:

    Normally an EO should be steeped in apophaticism, but when it comes to the energies, cataphatic statements appear the order of the day.

    Analogy is for the West what apophaticism is for the East. If you can posit a formal distinction between the essence and energies in God, then why can’t I recognize an analogy of being in things and people that participate in God’s nature in different ways?

    You say the energies JUST ARE God; that’s cataphatic. I say divinization IS participation in God, but in analogous mode of appropriation; that’s Thomistic apophaticism.

    You never are God; you are elevated by grace to the mode of His existence, but in a manner appropriate to your nature and receptivity to grace. To say you JUST ARE God, some day in an irrevocable way, is to suggest a cataphatic dismissal of grace. We are divinized because the Spirit eternally pledges to dwell in us. His “effects” are eternal by dint of His eternal abiding.

    Time to monitor tests.

  65. jude says:

    How exactly do “you become what God is”?

  66. Elliot,

    I do think there is official teaching about many of those things and in cases where there is not, it is because such an official teaching would go beyond the stated bounds of the Church’s knowledge in such areas. For example, on the canon, I’d suggest starting with 2nd Nicea.

    In any case, if Rome has no official teaching on this matter concerning grace, it seems quite odd that Roman theologians would charge us with heresy for teaching differently.

    Focusing on the effects of grace doesn’t per se make Rome any more epirically oriented than the East. What it does do is seemingly posit a concept of nature somehow autonomous from God. And that has been the subject of no small dispute in Rome. Just read Lubac.

    Pointing us to the liturgical texts does no work for you and here is why. Given your own theological methodology, an analysis of those texts will bring us right back to the points before us.

    Logic is a knife that cuts, specific things. I don’t dismiss logic rather I sequester it and if anything try to improve it. In any case, even if it were reserved to the “Franks” I am only cutting the Franks with their own knife. If they don’t like the problems that their own principles raise, then perhaps they should go shopping for some new culterly.

    Even if your equivocations were no less scandalous, I fail to see how that implies that they aren’t scandalous per se or equivocations. Second, if you are working with analogy, then there shouldn’t be an equivocal use of the terms. Third, if there is an analogy between created and uncreated, what grounds the analogy? The plurality of the energies being a real plurality doesn’t compromise God’s simplicity because distinction doesn’t imply opposition or negation. To put the shoe n the other foot, do you take the divine relations of the Persons of the Trinity to be really distinct?

    Sure God is simple, but doesn’t that depend on how one uses the term since even in your own tradition people think of simplicity differently? For Scotus and Aquinas is God simple or not? Well, that depends on what you mean, doesn’t it? Here it seems you are hardly being fair because you are being simplistic.

    You ask how are the energies plural, how are my own actions plural? And sure the energies are essentially divine. If you would sit down and read Palamas he is quite clear on the matter. Or take Bradshaw. He makes that point over and over again.

    The citation I think you give is mistaken for a number of reasons. First, what is the difference in western theology between nature and grace? How are they distinguished? If you say a negation, then this will create havoc with Christology. This is the whole point of Maximus’ Dyothelite Christology. Distinction does not imply opposite properties or opposition, but for Aristotelian as well as Plaotnic philosophy it does.

    The BV would only follow from an unqualified identity between Christ’s nature and ours if Apollinarianism were true. Second, it would only follow if the imago dei were identical with the divine essence, but its now. The human nature or logoi of humanity is not the divine essence.

    If the Fathers got the cart before the horse, do you suppose that the Fathers were uninspired at that point? Logically I see no reason why we should start with the essence. Secondly, metaphysically, God’s ousia would have to be being, but its not. Third, it seems you don’t grasp the underlying structure of the Father’s thinking here. We only know of things via their energies so it is not possible to start with essences, unless of course you wish to be Lockean or Kantian.

    Some of the energies have a beginning or end or both, but not all. Again, the energies are deity.

    As for the metaphysical principles regarding causation I think this is a good juncture to illustrate our problems. Plato is quite clear on the matter. Causes do not fully preserve themselves in their effects. Why? Because if they did, you would have first, just another instance of the cause and second there would be no way to distinguish case from effect. Causes and effects are therefore distinguished by a metaphysical diminishment and so an opposition necessarily exists between them. This is why the power of the Cold that you experience does not last forever and hence is not the Form or Power of Cold itself. For Plato, reality is a cascade of causal powers with matter being all effect and no cause at all. This causal theory forms the basis for Aristotle’s logic with some things that are all cause and no effect, some that are some cause and some effect and things that are no cause and all effect. All S are P, some S are P, Some S are not P and No S are P.

    By contrast, the divine energies are not less deity than the essence or the Persons. There is no negation or opposition between them. Consequently the relation of grace to nature is not one of activity and passivity but of one activity, which is why virtues are, according to Maximus, natural things. So with that in mind, given that Christ is the image in which we are made, is the imago dei only like Christ in some ways? Or to put it another way, does deification mean that you become a created object in which God indwells and effects or do you in fact become what God is? Is immortality something created or uncreated? Modulation won’t help here since I am not asking about the modes of being but in what in fact it is. Can you say with us that God is the formal cause of human being? Why does Aquinas explicitly deny this do you think? This is why Daniel’s talk isn’t wobbly but rather yours is just pagan. This is why you employ the standard Platonic model of the relation of body and soul, but that won’t work either for our bodies become divine as well, which is the entire point of Iconic veneration, matter is redeemed. The body is not distinguished from the soul by causal diminishment and subordination and we aren’t distinguished from God in a subordinating relationship.

    Moreover to point out that the “created” part of the term only applies to humans only highlights the problems I pointed out above. If my union with God only amounts to an efficient power producing created dispositions in me, in what genuine sense can I said to be God? And further, my createdness could only modulate the Spirit’s uncreatedness if the imago dei was something created, but Jesus isn’t created.

  67. Elliot B says:

    Oh and as for why there is no “official” RC teaching about grace, I would like to ask why there is no “official” teaching in EO about Tradition, or Our Lady’s sinlessness, or contraception, or the Scriptural canon, or the status of the Roman Pope, or the number of councils.

    The plurality of teaching on grace is, in part, a sign of scattered post-V2 discourse. More important, however, it is a sign of the whole idea of created grace in RC theology. Because RC theology tends to focus on the personalized effects of grace in the faithful, it is ipso facto more “empirically” open to those effects in informing theological discourse. The Catholic Church is enormous; Joyce’s (?) “here comes everybody” is right. Hence, Catholic theology on grace can only just keep up with the wild lived experience of God in the faithful. Ephesians 3, one Spirit, but many measures of grace; 1 Cor 12, one Spirit in one Body, but many gifts to the many members.

    In any case it is academic to debate how the faithful talk about grace, since all that matters in principle is that the faithful receive grace. Grace is a sacramental reality, not a theological plaything. If you want to know the deepest teaching on grace in the RCC, look not to Gleason or de Lubac or Ott or Denzinger or even the CCC, but to her baptismal (and total sacramental) proclamations. If for one instant the faithful or the bishops thought RC teaching meant we receive only some “divine stuff” from God, and not God Himself, that would be the end of the Church; no one would bother if there were even a suspicion “grace” were just some “created juice”; but the faithful and the bishops abide because everybody knows grace is really the vessel in which God Himself gives us Himself.

  68. Anymore posts presented here under anonymous users will be deleted for accountability reasons. I don’t like to see people hiding behind such surnames, especially when acting as mere cheerleaders.


  69. anon says:

    Certainly well expressed, Elliot B.

    While I appreciate the “energy-essence” distinction, I’ve never understood it as a metaphysical argument. There’s too many problems that pop up if one takes it as metaphysics.
    As an argument explaining/ describing theosis, it is unsurpassed.

    It’s similar to the concept of emptiness in Mahayana Buddhism. Emptiness is not a metaphysical construct but a way of describing enlightenment.

    I think the same reservations should be made regarding grace. Created, uncreated…who really knows?

    Perhaps the problem is confusing categories. It seems the “West” concerns itself with metaphysics. It’s good to think metaphysically but only so far and it does no good to use that way of thinking when reflecting on an experience or experiences that are “beyond” metaphysical, ( which are only logical categories), knowledge.

    The Orthodox make a similar mistake when they confuse a non-metaphysical argument as metaphysical.

  70. Elliot B says:

    As an aside, it tickles me to see the seesawing this blog does about “logic”.

    At times, logic is a pagan, Frankish straitjacket on the kerygma. At other times, it is the only knife that cuts.


    My “equivocations” about create and uncreate–when understood in the larger framework of analogical reason–are no less scandalous than the “equivocations” rife in Palamism about the plurality and simplicity of God in the energies and essence.

    Is God simple or not?

    If yes, how are his energies plural?

    Because they are “different”.

    Well, are the energies essentially divine?

    I”m hardly the man to enlighten you or change your views. I dialogue here more for my sake than that of all my betters who also visit. We are batting with hugely different perspectives about theological discourse, but I keep coming back to learn and cut my teeth.


    “…the distinction between uncreated and created energies can be expressed in Western terminology by the distinction between the natural and the supernatural. …the East is concerned … with what it is in God that makes it possible for Him to give Himself; while the West is also concerned–though not to the exclusion of all else–with what it is in man that makes it possible for him to receive and take to himself God and His divine life. … Catholic theologians, anxious to explain as much as possible about the recipient of divine life, obviously do not deny the ‘uncreated’ character of the life itself; they merely introduce distinctions that are useful to them, but which the East has always distrusted, especially when they are taken from the philosophy of Aristotle.”

    (The Theology of Grace and the Oecumenical Movement, pp. 8-9)

  71. Elliot B says:

    Hi Photios,

    Thanks for your feedback.

    QUOTE: “If you say that it is between you and the Holy Spirit, that would seem to be Nestorian.”

    Ah, so it would “seem” to be Nestorianism.

    Unfortunately, this seeming connection strikes me as a facile use of the term.

    Our baptismal regeneration in, and adoption into, Christ also “seems” to be Ebionitism, but surely there is an important difference between heresies about the Incarnation and facts about human salvation.

    The parallel you propose between the hypostatic union and our hypostatic theosis presents a grave risk, if not to dogmatics, then at least to logic. For the dogma of the hypostatic union deals with the divine Logos, the Second Person of the Trinity–NOT with the Holy Spirit.

    Just as it is taboo to depict the Father in icons, so it is taboo, or at least “a bit off”, to talk about incarnating the Holy Spirit, since the Incarnation is the proper mission of the Son. The Holy Spirit is not incarnate. He is immanent in Christ, who is incarnate.

    Hence, just using the term “hypostatic union”, while intriguing, is recklessly facile if it makes a mess of the structure of the actual dogma.

    I agree that we hypostatically take on the divine nature by dint of the indwelling Holy Spirit–BUT this is only a lesser, “anthro-analogous” version of the hypostatic union.

    We enjoy “a” hypostatic union, but not to the same degree, and not in the same way, as Christ, since ours is by sheer grace while Christ’s is by proper merit as the Logos.

    Once you start ascribing unqualified identity between Christ’s nature and ours, you are wide open to the beatific vision, since surely you agree Christ sees/saw the divine essence. We do too…only not to the same degree and not in the same way.

    QUOTE: “In EO theology, there is a hypostatic union between uncreate and created by dent of the created person.”

    Please unpack this for me. I am aware of only THE hypostatic union.

    So, while I grasp the point of a connatural union between hypostases, I want to know more about how this squares with the singular mediatorship of Christ as THE theandric Savior.

    What I already anticipate is that “a” hypostatic will just be an analogized form of “the” hypostatic union, which goes right back to my point about how the proper mode of human theosis is what makes for “created” grace.

    The image I go to is that of light through a prism. Just as one pure beam of “simple” pure white light “becomes” an array of complex colors by passing through a prism, so the Holy Spirit, as enhypostatized grace, “becomes” created graces by passing through the human mode.

    (Also, and please know I am not being small with this, I have seen you type “by dent of” numerous times, but I am pretty sure it should be “by dint of”. The reason I bring it up is to be sure I am not missing something. One learns all sorts of new and grammatically offsetting words in theological discussion (e.g., condign, uncreate, chiliastic, etc.), so I have to ask.)

    QUOTE: “If the “power” of the Holy Spirit is “created grace” why isn’t the Holy Spirit also created if his energy and power is created, that seems quite logical to me. The Father’s argue that the Son and Spirit are uncreate because their powers and energies are uncreate.”

    Until you clarify this, Photios, these claims strikes me as simply embarrassing.

    I might as well ask, “If the ‘sovereignty’ of God is materialized in creation, why not say God is creation?”

    Or, “If the ‘eternity’ of God is transcendentally immanent in time, why not say God is temporal?”

    Or, worse, “If my ‘ideas’ are verbalized and audible, why not say my ideas are sound waves?”

    This is very, ahem, wobbly logic. But perhaps I am missing something.

    You say the Fathers argue the Persons are uncreate BECAUSE their energies are uncreate…but that seems to put the cart way ahead of the horse. Logically, this should be: the energies are uncreate BECAUSE the Trinity is uncreate.

    (In any case, what you say here confuses me, since I was under the impression the powers are the cosmically immanent “contingent” acts of God, not themselves divine, but only the effects of the energies.)

    Your wobbly talk about uncreate energies ignores at least two fundamental metaphysical principles, namely that, 1) the cause is greater than its effect (not vice versa!), and 2) the effect is like the cause only in some ways.

    All this debate seems to come down to is either accepting or rejecting a metaphysical axiom: The higher can inhabit the lower without becoming the lower, while the lower cannot grasp the higher without becoming higher.

    A man can talk to a toddler without losing his adult status. So too the Holy Spirit can “adapt” His nature to the mode of human salvation without becoming a creature strictly within that mode. The adult can become infantile to infants; the uncreate can become create to creatures.

    The man can make his adult speech into baby talk, even though that baby talk is in principle adult speech. “Created grace” is just the Holy Spirit’s baby talk in us, to us, and through us; it is grace as we can grasp Him, though such grace has an uncreate source and nature in principle.

    Meanwhile, the baby can never talk up to the adult without becoming adult. So too, man can never respond with grace to Grace without first becoming grace-full by grace.

    A last illustration:

    Intellection is an immaterial power of the soul. Nonetheless it manifests itself in countless material effects by virtue of being executed by humans.

    Intellection in angels is not material, since the mode of angelic existence is immaterial. Intellection in God is immaterial AND simple since the proper mode of divine existence is immaterial and simple.

    This is exactly what “created grace” means vis-a-vis “uncreated grace”, the latter being the analogate for intellection, the former for materialized intellectual acts. Only because humans exist materially must intellection “come out” materially.

    Nonetheless, intellection never loses its immateriality in principle. Material means (e.g., the brain, the tongue, pen and paper, etc.) are the means THROUGH which but not BY which intellection takes palce.

    Likewise with grace: “created grace” is the means THROUGH which but not BY which the Holy Spirit divinizes man. The term “created” is ascribed to man, not to the Holy Spirit. Grace is “created” only insofar as man cannot fully appropriate the divine life of the Spirit. His createdness modulates the Spirit’s uncreatedness.

    Finally, it is analytically clear that grace is, as Gleason says, “Sanctifying grace is . . . distinct from the Holy Spirit, who is also given to the soul”. The Holy Spirit and grace have different properties, and are therefore distinct realities. Grace can come and go but the Holy Spirit does not change. The endurance of sanctifying grace is just a scholastic way of saying the “covenantal faihtfulness of the Spirit.”

  72. anon says:

    Has anybody caught grace and put it in a bottle in order to study its effects?

    Has anybody distinguished within themselves grace or its effects?

    Anybody on this blog?

    Saints attribute all good things to God, period and keep silent about it.

  73. Matt,

    I am familiar with that disposition among Eastern Rite Catholics, but Catholics they are and subject to the Supreme Pontiff they are nonetheless.

    If Grace is uncreated and the effects are created, to which are you united, an activity or an effect? Do you become deity or something like deity?

    Scholasticism or not, doctors of the church are no less so than after v2. V2 does not annull the Lateran councils for example or Trent. According to Trent what is the justice whereby we are made just? Is it created or uncreated?

  74. Matt says:


    Many Melkites distinguish between Roman Catholic and Byzantine theology. Thus, they would deny that you can simply point to Rome’s position as being binding on them. I realize you may not accept that; I just thought it worth noting.

    As for Roman Catholic theology on Grace, it strikes me as more or less a mess at the moment. Some would dismiss your quote as neo-scholastic and say that all Grace is uncreated, but that the effects of that Grace are created. What do you think of that position?

    Also, in my personal experience, it’s difficult nailing Roman Catholic theology down on more detailed points like this because there are conflicting interpretations over what councils and dogmatic pronouncements actually mean. Thus, I can read Vatican I or whatever, talk to two different professors, and have three different interpretations of the document 🙂 Because of this I try to be careful in discussing what Rome considers dogma. There just seems to be a great deal of wriggle room in things. Someone like Mike L. might disagree with that statement, but I’m not convinced.

    Photios’s tack may work better. Instead of trying to cut off all the heads to the hydra, ask why there are so many heads to begin with. That’s another reason to hope for East-West reconciliation actaully. Roman theology seems to be pretty good at adapting to new arguments.

  75. Elliot,

    How can something created and something uncreated be the same thing? How is what I am not simply a similtude of God rather than deity itself? What kind of deification is that? It seems like no deification at all.

    Secondly, why can’t you be convicted of equivocating when you speak of grace since created and uncreated aren’t essentially the same things?

    As for your question, the power of God is brought to act by the divine persons so that the energies are not cut off from the essence. But if you think that actus and potentia are and must be the same, there isn’t much to talk about.

  76. Elliot,

    If the “power” of the Holy Spirit is “created grace” why isn’t the Holy Spirit also created if his energy and power is created, that seems quite logical to me. The Father’s argue that the Son and Spirit are uncreate because their powers and energies are uncreate.


  77. Elliot,

    Just to cut to the chase of the argument,

    Since the Holy Spirt is uncreate and a person, is there a hypostatic union between a Saint and the Holy Spirit? It seems to me that the only hypostatic union you can have between you and grace is this “created grace.” If you say that it is between you and the Holy Spirit, that would seem to be Nestorian. In EO theology, there is a hypostatic union between uncreate and created by dent of the created person.

    To anyone else,

    Why ISN’T there an official position on grace in RC theology? How can you have a dogma on such incredibly esoteric issues like Mary’s immaculate conception (something couldn’t possibly be known) and not on the very grounding of soteriological issues.


  78. ebdesales says:

    ebdesales = Elliot B.

    I would add this question: Are the Palamite powers of God the same as the energies?

    I have asked this before, and I know the answer is No (the rubric being: Essence, Energies, Powers).

    Well, I ask it again to make this point (in Palamite terms for the sake of dialogue): Catholic “created grace” IS the “power” of the Holy Spirit as the divine “energy” is made immanent in man’s life.

  79. ebdesales says:

    I have a feeling one or three of Perry’s latest postings have been prompted, in part, by the things I am saying a couple earlier threads here.

    I may as well say why I have difficulty with some comments about grace that I find to be importantly unqualified. Hopefully, this will clarify how I view things when we discuss words like “grace” and “theosis”. (I am also aware it counts for not a heap of beans what “I” “think”, since I submit to the magisterial Tradition of the Church, but at least I ca clear in my insignificance.)

    When I use the term “grace”, I fundamentally mean by it the saving power and presence of the Holy Spirit as the “Pure Gift” immanence of God in Christ.

    This does not obviate the reality, in my mind and in the Scriptures, that “grace” can and does also refer to distinct gifts of the Holy Spirit (whether than are the classical Fruits and Gifts of the Spirit or even just “little graces” we experience on a daily basis). You just can’t button-hole “grace” into one concept, at least not across the board.

    So of course I agree that Grace––as the Holy Spirit––is uncreated, insofar as the charis of God is poured into our hearts by and as the Holy Spirit.

    However, the reason I object to unqualified objections to the very idea of “created grace” is this: precisely because the uncreate Holy Spirit dwells in create mortals, He will produce created effects. Uncreated grace “becomes” created grace by “passing into” the created world proper to human existence. This is of course a phenomenological and analogical fieri.

    In a similar way, our created wills can be divinized to “become” uncreated, but only by grace, as opposed to by essence, as in God.

    If ever there were a case of “God becoming man that man might become God”, it is God the Holy Spirit becoming “modally humanized” that man might become “modally divine”.

    That is, the very act of “welcoming” the Holy Spirit, on the part of humans, will result in create effects in humans.

    To say the plentitude and multitude of graces in each person are solely and fully the energies of God Himself––energies that allegedly fully bear/possess/express the divinity––is, I think, to revoke the proper mode of theosis as a HUMAN experience.

    While the Holy Spirit is the “hypostatic essence” of grace, the very root and lifeblood of grace, how He is expressed or manifested in our lies is dependent on the mode of our humanity and the mode of our wills for or against Him.

    This is the only way I can see of accounting for the variety of graces in the faithful without introducing actual plurality into the simple nature of God.

    For if the energies are absolutely and essentially God, then they cannot fail to absolutely and essentially be partaken of by their subject.

    But if, as is evident, the energies of God are modulated in each person based on each person’s will, then surely the modulation is not to be found in the divine nature, but in the subject undergoing theosis.

    Hence, the reason I am comfortable with BOTH “uncreated” and “created” grace is because I think most disputes about the word rest on a fallacy of equivocation.

    The West primarily speaks of the Spirit AS charis, while the West––and I repeat I find such schematic divisions very fishy and pat––while the West primarily speaks of the charis AS the life of the Spirit IN humans.

    “Created grace” just means grace as modulated in and by humans.

    Without this qualification, about the human mode of theosis, I see talk of uncreated grace being a form of Calvinism: God does not “restore” man as much as He simply and totally recreates him by the irresistible power of His grace. (Why was Jonathan Edwards a perdurantist again…?)

    So when someone like Fr Patrick talks about God’s grace being limited or enhanced in us based on our will, I hear him saying exactly what the Church teaches: how we create beings appropriate uncreate Grace is by willing it to become grace in us.

    The EO says, “Well, when we have Grace, WE have the Holy Spirit; you semi-Arian Latins only have created effects.”

    But then the Latin justifiably replies, “Well, no, we have grace AS the Holy Spirit too, since God has given His all in Christ, but we know we have ‘uncreate’ grace precisely by living by create grace.”

    To sum up, I would put it this way:

    Uncreate Grace (the Holy Spirit) IS grace for man only by being create grace. Big Grace IS little grace insofar as He dwells in us. I might call this the “kenosis of Grace”, a kenosis that works much as Christ’s did: it is an emptying of God’s full glory and power in light of the receptivity of man as His beloved.

    I think this schema holds all the way down the line, too which is why I invoke as a principl, not as an ad hoc patch.

    Truth is uncreate and simple in God, but in this world it becomes (phenomenologically, not essentially) many and create according to the mode of men who grasp it. There is no contingent truth for God, but there is for man––and yet both “forms” of truth are truth.

    Life is a simple, eternal principle in God, but in man, it is a variable, contingent kind of thing.

    The Word of God is one and eternal in the triune perichoresis, and yet, in the mode of human existence, it is periodic and verbally plural in the preaching of the Church.

    The image of God in man has both a simple, incorruptible aspect (as it is rooted in God) and a complex, damaged manifestation in man.


    I’m sorry if any grammar is unclear; I am writing in a distracting environment.

  80. Lee,

    I am not concerned if the words of this author are de fide, but if the concepts are or what the official status of the concept is. The same idea seems to be taught by various Catholic doctors.

  81. Lee Faber says:

    That being said, I really doubt that any modern catholic theologian would say grace is uncreated.

  82. Lee Faber says:

    These comments are not “official teaching.” If one were to consult Ott, written at the height of neo-scholasticism/thomism, one would find that all of this is below the level of de fide, as far as doctrinal certainty is concerned. The current Catechism is not specific enough on this point, though it may assume the Holy Spirit and the gifts are distinct.

    The above is certainly representative of scholasticism, at least the thomistic and scotistic varieties but I think contemporary catholic theologians, of whatever stripe, would probably all object to the aristotelian terminology (though, being a Scotist, I do not). The Church is bigger than scholasticism.

  83. Matt,

    To be fair, it depends on what the official teaching is, doesn’t it? I take Fr. Gleason to be accurately representing the official teaching of Catholicism at that point. Am I mistaken in doing so?

  84. Matt says:

    For whatever it’s worth, perhaps not much, my Melkite priest is quite clear that Grace is the Holy Spirit dwelling within us. I’m pretty sure the above would strike him as quite inaccurate. Not all Catholics follow the above.

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