Turretinfan has given me more material to write about. Here he is attempting to fend off the accusation that Reformed anthropology is fundamentally Pelagian. He characterizes the error of Pelagius in the following way.
Pelagius’ primary error was denying the necessity of grace – he consequently also denied the sufficiency of grace. Calvinists affirm the necessity of grace, and it is a central aspect of Calvinism to affirm the necessity of grace. Furthermore, another error of Pelagian was in arguing that people (other than Christ himself) are born without sin. Calvinism, however, affirms the Total Depravity of fallen mankind, making Original Sin a doctrine of central importance in Calvinism. Thus, no consistent Calvinist could be a Pelagian. Any superficial similarity between Calvinism and Pelagius with respect to the state of Adam before the fall would be a trivial matter.
It is true of course that Pelagius denied the necessity of grace. Of course part of the question was what constituted grace in the first place so that Pelagians never outright deny the necessity of gace but rather deny what others consider grace to be. The question of the sufficiency of grace is another matter since Augustine seems to distinguish between those recipients of grace who receive sufficient grace that is effective to glory and hence are elected to glory as well as those who receive grace that is sufficient that is effective only to regeneration. In any case, the primary error of Pelagianism is not about the necessity of grace and not even over the idea that humans can make themselves autonomously right with God. That is, the error of Pelagianism is not primarily thinking of salvation entirelly in terms of our effort, though that is certainly a serious error. That is a consequence of Pelagianism’s fundamental error. Pelagianism proffers a kind of monergism with respect to salvation. Any aiding grace not already intrinsic to human nature that could be effective is extrinsic and external to human nature. That is just one theological irony when Calvinists discuss Pelagianism. Both are monergists, but just with respect to different ends of the spectrum-humanity or divinity? This should be a clue that both systems share some fundamental presuppositions. But we haven’t even gotten to the fun stuff yet.
The primary error of Pelagianism is the identification of nature with grace. For Pelagians, nature is grace, completely. Because they thought this was so, Adam was not deprived of anything at the Fall and children inherit no deprivation of divine power or corruption. Adam’s nature is impenetrable by sin since grace or righteousness is intrinsic to it. The only way for this not to be so along Pelagian lines is for Adam’s nature to be fundamentally changed, for him to then possess a sinful nature or a nature of sin. But Pelagians thought this was impossible since God created Adam intrinsically righteous. Consequently, for the Pelagians, Adam only requires not power to achieve salvation, but a good example to follow. The effect of the Atonement could only be an extrinsic moral influence according to an imposed law. The Law then was a grace, but only an extriniscally effective one which is why it required a free consent. Pelagianism denied then the necessity of grace if by grace one understands it as something that is not an actualized power intrinsic to nature from the begining of creation. Adam was then perpetually under a “covenant of works” since he intrinsically possessed the requisite power to fulfill it. This is why incidentally the Reformed doctrine of the Covenant of Works is essentially Pelagian.
Turretinfan cites material from the famous Reformed theologian Charles Hodge to fend off the accusation of a Pelagian anthropology. I am not certain where in Hodge’s work he cites from since there is no citation, but he should have cited another far more relevant passage concerned direcltywith the original condition of humanity.
They [Rome] distinguish, therefore, between the image of God and original righteousness. The latter they say is lost, the former retained. Protestants, on the other hand, hold that it is the divine image in its most important constituents, that man forfeited by his apostasy. This, however, may be considered only a difference as to words. The important point of difference is this, that the Protestants hold that original righteousness, so far as it consisted in the moral excellence of Adam, was natural, while the Romanists maintain that it was supernatural…Protestants maintain that original righteousness was concreated and natural.” Systematic Theology, vol. 2, p. 103.
Now, that is clearly a Pelagian anthropology. Grace or righteousness is intrinsic to nature for Hodge. The only way to stave off full blown Pelagianism after the Fall is to posit a fundamental alteration in human nature, specifically in a loss in some respect or another of the imago dei. And this is exactly what the Reformed have historically asserted. Total Depravity is therefore required to stave off a complete Pelagian soteriology while motivated by a Pelagian anthropology. And so the dialectic moves from a Pelagian anthropology to essentially a Manichean anthropology post Fall. Augustine by contrast takes grace to be a supernatural addition to nature so that his dialectic is nature/grace, as opposed to the Reformed dialectic, which is sin/grace. This is why there are no works of nature post-Fall for the Reformed, even works done of common grace that are not sin.
On the point of the original state of man, Turretinfan could have just skipped Hodge and gone to his namesake since Francis Turretin says essentially the same thing as Hodge.
Where two things immediately opposed belong to any subject, one or the other of the two must necessarily be in it. Now righteousness and sin are predicated of man as their fit subject and are directly opposed to each other. Therefore one or the other must necessarily be in him; nor can there be a man who is not either righteous or sinner.” Institutes of Eclenctic Theology, vol. 1, p. 464.
Here Turretin is writing against the Pelagian notion of a pure nature. Notice the dialectic first in terms of opposition and second in terms of sin or righteousness. If nature is to be good, it must be good in terms of moral or personal goodness. There is an apparent conflation between the personal and the natural. Natural goodness is personal righteousness for Turretin.
For the Son of God only is ‘the image of the invisible God’ (Col 1:15)-the essential and natural, and no mortal can attain to it because the finite cannot be a partaker of the infinite. And if we are said by grace to be ‘partakers of the divine nature’ (2 Pet 1:4), this is not to be understood of an essential, formal and instrinsic participation, but an analogical, accidental and extrinsic participation (by reason of the effects analogous to the divine perfections which are produced in us by the Spirit after the image of God).” Institutes of Eclenctic Theology vol. 1, p. 465
Notice that the patristic notion of deification is impossible for Turretin. He has to strain against the obvious import of the biblical material. For him human nature remains impenetrable to divinity and must remain so, except either morally in terms of an imposed law or in terms of efficient causation volitionally. This is why he must interpret 2 Pet 1:4 in terms of a created analogs in the soul-virtues or “created grace.” The human and divine are divided up on the dialectical fulcrum of cause and effect. Keep in mind that for Plato, cause and effect are to be distinguished dialectically, in terms of opposition. If this weren’t the case, Plato thinks, effects would simply be a complete duplicate of the cause without any means to differentiate the two.
Indeed, the opposite is true of them-an image cannot remain an image if it presents all the details of what it represents.” Cratylus, 432b
Here you can see this principle at work. The opposition between cause and effect for Turretin functions to leave human nature always and only extrinically related to the divine. If this weren’t so, Turretin argues, therre would necessarily be a formal or essential confusion between the human essence and the divine essence, which is impossible. There would be no way to distinguish humanity from divinity. God for Turretin obviously lacks intrinsically related energies or activities that can be united inherently and intrinsically to human nature without an abosrption of humanity into the divine essence. Humanity can only be a tool or instrument of the divine will or influenced by moral principles. Humanity at best can only be brought into a kind of contiguity of analogs with God through a subordinating relation of will. The two wills work side by side doing similar things. It goes without saying that this schema is Nestorian in structure.
If we look at the Eleventh Question of Turretin’s Fifth Topic, we see that Turretin holds the same Pelagian anthropology as Hodge.
Was original rightouesness natural or supernatural? The former we affirm, and the latter we deny against the Romanists.” (Institutes, v. 1, p. 470)
However, the orthodox [the Reformed] (although not denying that this rightousness may be called supernatural with regard to the corrupt state and holding that it is not natural constitutuvely or consecutively) yet think it may well be called natural orioginally and perfectively (with regard to the pure state because created with it). (Ibid, 471)
Although original righteousness can properly be called ‘grace’ or ‘a gratuitous gift’ (and so not due on the part of God, just as the nature itself also, created by him), it does not follow that it is supernatural or not due to the perfection of the innocent nature. For although God owned nothing to man, yet it being posited that he willed to create man after his own image, he was bound to create him righteous and holy.” (Ibid, 473)
If rightouesness can be called superntural with respect to the corrupt state of man after the fall, then it follows that nature is righteousness or grace prior to the Fall. Here the Pelagian anthropology is quite apparent and along with a nascent confusion of the categories of person and nature. Now this is rather isomorphic and not a mere similarity. And historically, the neo-semi-pelagian anthropology of the Ockhamist school trickled down on this point to the Reformers. The obvious irony is that the Protestant protestation against Pelagianism is directly applicable to their own theological system. Providing as a foundation for the Pelagian scheme an Augustinian soteriological doctrine of divine pre-emption doesn’t make the fundamental outlook any less Pelagian.