Man’s natural state: an attempt to recover the Ordo Theologiae

“God could not have created man at the beginning such as he is now born.” – Augustinian Professor Michael Baius

“For the Word of God, who is God, wills always and in everything to bring about the mystery of His embodiment.” – St. Maximus the Confessor

In other words, grace is natural to man. The divine power is a part of man’s NATURAL integrity. There is not a set of gifts given to “nature” and then another set of gifts given to “supernature”. When our parents “fell from grace” there was not a fall into “nature” stripped of “supernature,” rather it is something UNnatural (this means that there is no concept of ‘natura pura’ either actually or theoretically). The fall is a fall into dialectic. I cannot be a human person without grace. We stand within the Incarnation and understand this question and we can equally say with Michael Baius — against the Thomistic tradition on some conception of the “absolute gratuity of grace” without reference to the Incarnation — that given that God wills the mystery of His embodiment in Jesus Christ, God could not have created me other than I already am. The vision of God is natural to man, what God does in Redemption, He does in Creation. God intention in Creating was to will the mystery of His embodiment in Jesus Christ.



  1. Mike Liccione has responded to my post here:

    Couple of comments and rhetorical question on his choice of title:

    Is Maximus the Confessor a “backwards Christian solider”? How about Palamas? Am I making these things up? Of course not. Where do you think I’m learning this “theological anthropology from?”

    Notice that in Mike’s post there’s no talk of Christ or Christology. Why is this? This leaves hollow any kind of engagement or refutation from my perspective. Mike’s solution is to give the same standard RC answer whether it is the De Lubac variety or the Garigou Lagrange variety on the “gratuity” of grace. He gives the same answer to the question as a loyal son of Rome. Rome has already dictated how Mike is to see this question.

    Mike talks about rights and what man is his “due” with regard to Michael Baius. But was Michael Baius concerned about “rights” ? And more importantly was Maximus the Confessor concerned about it? Both try to give a patristic answer to a question in theological anthropology. If God created to will the Mystery of His Embodiment, I.e. Jesus Christ, then where is the legal manifestation of this concern? This is a polemical argument with no weight coming from De Lubac, that if one doesn’t see gratuity, i.e. separating nature and grace, then grace must be a “right.” All this highlights, is that they don’t wish to understand the question from there opponents perspective. If this is to be an internal critique and reductio, I suggest they work a little harder. Mike refuses to recognize and engage the ordo theologiae in this thought and the soundness of it: vis., that the gratuity of grace is in the decree of God wishing to be embodied, and in God willing that embodiment, human nature cannot be ‘other’ than what it is because the many logoi–which are the one Logos–are the foundation and FORMAL cause of my being. To point out a saying of St. Dionysios, “the being of beings is the *divinity* beyond being.” God did not create and then tack on the addition of human nature’s “elevation.” He willed this and fixed this already in willing the Incarnation. Nature and grace are indeed distinct, but there is an intimate connection between the two because the very order in which the questions are handled and dealt with: I stand within Christ and understand Creation. I do not stand “outside” of Christ to understand this question. Hence, Mike’s method of how to handle this question is still quite secular. It is not Christ centered. To think of a hypothetically ungraced human is not only Christologically backward, but it would no longer be a “human.” As I have written a few posts lately about the patristic ordo theologiae, ask yourself, did the Fathers refute the heretical Christologies starting from “inside” Christ or did they start from the “outside”?

    Mike also makes a few more observations about my comments on the Immaculate Conception from the Eirenikon blog. My engagement against the IC does not stand on moral virtues alone but also on theological virtues. Does the IC imply an infusion of the theological virtues at Mary’s creation? I think that would be a resounding yes. The point is that virtue, as exercised morally or theologically, are acquired by the gnomic will. Since the gnomic will is a type of ‘mode of willing’ for created hypostasis, then there is no IC in the sense that they understand it. All[!] the virtues are indeed natural as regard to their power (nature), but are only recapitulated in their actualization (person). If the IC implies the former, then it is superfluous doctrine and means nothing, if the latter it is an example of predestinarianism or Origenism depending on which side of that dialectic extreme one chooses. The IC is just another example of the confusion between person and nature as this confusion manifests itself in the Roman communion.



  2. Photios,

    Your post brought this quote from C.S. Lewis to mind:

    “I believe in Christianity as I believe that the sun has risen. Not only because I see it, but because by it I see everything else.”

    Now your point was also, I believe, that not only is this true for Lewis of Christianity, but it is also true ultimately of everyone else for something or someone. Would you agree that the goal of a proper Orthodox apologetic is not to “prove” the Incarnation scientifically or philosophically but to identify the anthropology and cosmology implicit in the set of presuppositions through which the other views Christ and by that very act force a decision?


  3. So grace is proper to human nature? Homo sapiens isn’t human without grace? But this explains so much! I can’t see, now, why everyone doesn’t believe this.

    I suppose that the “image of God” is grace, though…so maybe every Christian really does believe this, but not all know that they believe it.


Comments are closed.