The MOST Theological Collection: The Living God
"IV. Original Sin "
1. Definition of Original Justice: It means that before the fall, Adam and Eve had been given sanctifying grace. It does not say if they received it simultaneously with creation or not. We distinguish three kinds of gifts:
a) Mere human nature - which would have in it many drives, all legitimate, but each operating blindly, without regard for the other drives or for the whole man. So in a state of mere nature, mortification would have been needed.
b) Preternatural gifts: freedom from suffering and death, and a coordinating gift (Gift of Integrity) making it easy to keep all drives in proper place. We can see from Genesis that there was such a coordinating gift, since before the sin, Adam was naked, but it did not bother him - afterwards, it did, so that he improvised some covering.
c) Supernatural life of grace.
2. Errors on original justice:
a) Pelagians: Man by nature is fully free and free of any internal necessity towards evil. By his own powers he can avoid sin. It practically denies original sin.
b) Luther: Original justice was part of the essence of man - so in losing it, man became totally corrupt, and cannot help sinning. Cf. Luther, On the Bondage of the Will, and Brief Statement of the Doctrinal Position of the Missouri Synod, 1932, #14: "As to the question why not all men are converted and saved, seeing that God's grace is universal and all men are equally and utterly corrupt, we confess that we cannot answer it." This corruption remains even after Baptism. By faith as it were a white cloak of the merits of Christ is thrown over a person's corruption - and God decides not to look under the rug. He will act as if the man is justified - even though he is still corrupt. This is extrinsic justification, radically different from the Catholic teaching that by Baptism we are "washed off, made holy, and justified in the name of the Lord Jesus Christ and in the spirit of our God." (1 Cor 6. 11). A person becomes a "new creation" which is totally remade, not totally corrupt:2 Cor 5. 17; Gal 6. 15. Cf. 2 Cor 4. 6. The Holy Spirit dwells in the soul of the just: 1 Cor 3:16-17;6:19. The Holy Spirit would not dwell in total corruption. Justification is not extrinsic, but intrinsic: the Holy Spirit is transforming the soul, making it basically capable of taking in the vision of God in the next life by making it a sharer in the divine nature:cf. 2 Peter 1:4. Cf. Justification by Faith. Lutherans and Catholics in Dialogue VII, ed. H. George Anderson, T. Austin Murphy, Joseph A. Burgess, (Augsburg, Minneapolis, 1985), and Righteousness in the New Testament by John Reumann, with responses by Joseph A. Fitzmyer, and Jerome D. Quinn, Fortress, Phila, 1982.
Cf. also the Augsburg Confession, Art IV: "Likewise they teach that men cannot be justified before God by their own strength, merits, or works, but they are justified by grace because of Christ, by faith, when they believe that they have been taken into grace, and that sins are remitted because of Christ who by His death satisfied for our sins. God imputes this faith for [in place of] justice before Himself".
Because of this hopeless corruption , Luther wrote to Melanchthon: Epistle 501: "Pecca fortiter sed crede fortius." -"Sin bravely or strongly, but believe still more bravely or strongly." He probably did not mean to encourage sin, but meant that no matter how much you continue to sin, it is all paid for in advance. Hence: infallible salvation, since the merits of Christ outweigh all sins, past, present, and future. We recall the Missouri Synod, cited above, could not explain how if all are totally corrupt, and grace is everywhere, not all are saved. They saw the conclusion that would be obvious: blind predestination. They shied away from that. Calvin did not. Cf. Wm. Most, Catholic Apologetics Today, cap. 18-19 for the answer to the problem. Cf. also Louis Bouyer, The Spirit and Forms of Protestantism, Newman, 1957.
The authors of the Missouri Synod doctrine either did not know or did not accept what Luther himself said. Luther held a blind predestination (The Bondage of the Will, tr. J. L. Packer, & O. R Johnston , Flemming H. Revell Co. , Old Tappan. N. J. , 1957, pp. 103-04: "So man's will is like a beast standing between two riders. If God rides, it wills and goes where God wills... . If Satan rides, it wills and goes where Satan wills. Nor may it choose to which rider it wil run... the riders themselves fight to decide who shall have and hold it."
c) Baius: (A professor at Louvain, died 1589. Condemned by Pius V and Gregory XIII, and finally after much tergiversation, submitted. ) Held that the supernatural gifts were owed to human nature - this destroys the distinction between natural and supernatural order. Free will is not completely destroyed, but is so weakened that without grace, it has no power except to sin. Yet our works can be called free in that they proceed from an inclination intrinsic to us. The essence of justification lies not in infused grace but in the keeping of the commandments. Cf. DS 1901-80. His errors are sometimes called Semi-Lutheran.
NOTE ON CONDEMNED PROPOSITIONS: 1) If even one thing is false, the whole proposition will be condemned. 2) We must look to see with what theological note they are condemned.
d) Jansenius. He was Bishop of Ypres. In his book Augustinus, published in 1640 after his death, he renewed the errors of Luther and Baius in a more subtle way. -- God owed to His own attributes of justice, holiness, wisdom, and goodness to not create man without sanctifying grace, and He also owed it to Himself not to create man without the gifts of immortality and impassibility. Original sin is concupiscence, which corrupts the soul and all its powers. Even the justified remain subject to it at least interiorly. Sin is possible even without interior freedom of choice. Yet these gifts are gratuitous in relation to man - though not in relation to the attributes of God, to which they are due. God could not have created man in the state of mere nature (i.e., without the preternatural and supernatural gifts). The virtues of pagans are vices. Jesus died only for the Predestined - the mass of men are damned.
He was condemned by Innocent X (DS 2001-07: These 5 propositions are the heart of Jansenism), and by Alexander VIII (DS 2301-32). Clement XI condemned the Jansenistic errors of Paschasius Quesnel: DS 2400-2502. Pius VI in 1794 condemned the teachings of the Synod of Pistoia (held in 1786) in DS 2600- 2700: it was hostile to scholasticism and the papacy, had a Jansenistic and Gallican spirit. Advocated liturgical reform to be managed by local authority and attacked devotion to Sacred Heart, frequent confession and the religious orders. The Jansenists agreed that the five propositions of DS 2001-06 are heretical, but denied they were found in the book Augustinus. Alexander VII in DS 2010-12 declared that the 5 propositions are found in the book.
3. Magisterium on original justice:
a) Council of Trent. DS 1511: "If anyone does not confess that the first man, Adam, when he had transgressed the command of God in paradise, at once lost the holiness and justice in which he had been constituted... Let him be anathema." This implies that he had grace before the fall. It does not make clear if he had it from the start of his existence.
b) Second Council of Orange. 529 AD. Because of special approbation by Pope Boniface II (DS 398) the canons of this council are considered as solemn definitions (DS 389): "Human nature, even it is remained in that integrity in which it was made, in no way could, without the help of the Creator, save itself; hence since without the grace of God it could not keep the salvation which it had received: how without the grace of God could it restore what was lost?"
c) Pius V condemned some propositions of Baius, including DS 1921: "The sublimation and exaltation of human nature into a sharing of the divine nature was owed to the integrity of the way he was first made, and hence should be called natural, and not supernatural."
4. Genesis 1-11
a) Genre of Genesis 1-11:
(1) Pius XII, Humani generis, DS 3898:"We must deplore a certain way of interpreting the historical books of the Old Testament too freely. The first 11 chapters of Genesis, though they do not strictly conform to the rules of historical writing used by the great Greek and Latin historians or historians of our time, yet pertain to history in a true sense, to be further studied and determined by Scripture scholars."
COMMENT: We could satisfy this requirement by saying that these chapters do report, by the vehicle of stories, things that really happened -- in this way they do pertain to history in a true sense. Chiefly the following: God made all things; in some special way He made the first human pair; He gave them some sort of command (we do not know its nature), they violated it, and fell from His favor. (Note that favor even though the word is not used in the text, would be chen in Hebrew, which is the closest word to grace. Hence they lost grace, and did not have it to pass on to their descendants. (Cf. New Catholic Encyclopedia s.v. "grace, in the Bible"). So original sin is contained in the narrative. Really, if we said God did no more than smile at a person, and gave him nothing, and the person could do good by his own power - it would be Pelagianism. Hence favor must imply grace.
(2) John Paul II, Audience of Sept 19, 1979: "The whole archaic form of the narrative... manifests its primitive mythical character." In note 1, he cites at length P. Ricoeur, speaking of "the Adamic myth". However, on Nov 7, 1979 the Pope also said:"... the term 'myth' does not designate a fabulous content, but merely an archaic way of expressing a deeper content." Also in note 1 on Sept 19: "If in the language of the rationalism of the 19th century, the term 'myth' indicated what was not contained in reality... the 20th century as modified the concept of myth.... M. Eliade discovers in myth the structure of the reality that is inaccessible to rational and empirical investigation. Myth, in fact, transforms the event into a category and makes us capable of perceiving the transcendental reality."
ADDENDUM: On Sept 12, 1979:"... the first account of man's creation is chronologically later than the second. The origin of this latter is much more remote. This more ancient text is defined as 'Yahwist. '" -- In note 1 on Nov. 7: "After the creation of the woman, the Bible text continues to call the first man 'adam (with the definite article), thus expressing his 'corporate personality', since he has become the 'father of mankind', its progenitor and representative...." -- God called Adam after the fall and Adam replied: "I was afraid because I was naked, and I hid myself."
It is easy to gather what the inspired writer meant to convey by this narrative. Before the sin, Adam was naked; after the fall, the same. But before the fall it did not bother him, afterwards it did. Clearly, the sex drive, the most rebellious of all, had begun to assert itself. Before the fall Adam must have had some gift that made it easy to keep all drives in proper balance. Each was good in itself, but each would work blindly, without regard for the other drives or for the whole person. So, as we said, a coordinating gift was needed. It used to be called the Gift of Integrity.
5. Anthropology on primitive man: Many anthropologists today, especially those committed to atheistic evolution, think Adam was a stupid lout, who one day emerged from his cave and on hearing thunder and lightning said: Duh! I guess them is gods."
What is the evidence for this view? Precisely nothing except the imagination that constructed a foolish picture and even more foolishly imagined matter came into existence by itself from a sort of methane soup, which gradually gave itself higher and higher characteristics until man was intelligent. But that is irrational - it supposes a being can raise itself to hiegher and higher levels without any outside source for the higher being. I cannot give myself $10,000 if I do not have it. So not only when it is to give a human soul, but also at previous stages of ascent the higher being had to come from outside.
Actully anthroplogists in studying primitive man divide into two sharply different groups whom we might name: 1) The Imaginers: who use only mere imagination, as above; 2) the Extrapolators.
To explain this last term we need to notice that all anthropologists agree that we we study primitives still known in the world today or primitives for whom we have records of recent times, we can as it were construct a ladder, rungs of material progress going up - from hunting and fishing, to highly advanced material cultures. Now we do have a considerable body of evidence for these things and no one would suggest just using imagination instead of empirical data. But then we move away from this known area to the area for which written records are lacking, that is where we find the split given into the Imaginers and the Extrapolators.
It so happens that among the Extrapolators are the members of the Schmidt school of anthopology. Wilhelm Schmidt (1868-1954), in his Der Ursprung der Gottesidee, 12 volumes, Münster, 1912-54, presented evidence from a study of various primitives, at the lowest level of material culture, such as those of Tierra del Fuego in South America, the Negrillos of Rwanda in Africa, and the Andaman Islanders in the Indian Ocean. The 1990 printing of Encyclopedia Britannica, 26, p. 554 says Schmidt and his collaborators, "saw in the high gods, for whose cultural existence they produced ample evidence from a wide variety of unconnected societies, a sign of a primordial monotheistic revelation that later became overlaid with other elements.... Their interpretation is controversial, but at least [Andrew] Lang [1844-1912] and Schmidt produced grounds for rejecting the earlier rather naive theory of evolutionism. Modern scholars do not, on the whole, accept Schmidt's scheme.... it is a very long jump from the premise that primitive tribes have high gods to the conclusion that the earliest men were monotheists."
What seems to be rejected is the extrapolation from finding that many low level primitives (hunting and fishing stage) are monotheists to the conclusion that the same was true of the whole human race at a similarly low level of culture.
However, the evidence for many such tribes in historical times still stands. The case seems similar with the Greeks and Romans, both of whom came from the Indoeuropeans. In those days when people traveled, they often tried to see if some of the gods they found in other lands were really the same as their own gods. Herodotus did much of this (in 2. 50 he says that almost all the divine figures came to Greece from Egypt). Many of these attempts were strained, and without real foundation. But when the Greeks and Romans got to know each other, they found they had some myths and divinities in common, even though with different names. We know that the names for the chief God, Jupiter and Zeus (possessive case: Dios) are linguistically the same, both going back to Indoeuropean dyaus - p[schwa]ter. (The computer does not have a character for schwa, which is an obscure vowel, like the a on the end of sofa ). The IE word means "Sky Father".
Really if one does not suppose that it is highly likely that conditions for the whole race at the same level of material culture as known primitives (hunter-gatherers) would be quite similar, there is no solid way to establish what the race was like. It is far better than the mere armchair imaginings, of an evolutionistic type that others have used. So the extrapolation proposed by Schmidt was and is quite reasonable. Actually some scholars today in archaeology do make precisely such an extrapolation. In a recent work, The Adventure of Archaeology, by Brian M. Fagan, published by the National Geographic Society in 1989, on pp. 344-46 we find: "Experimentation in archaeology is not limited to state-of-the-art technology. 'New archaeologists' seek innovative ways to study living societies in order to construct models that describe the behavior of past ones. Jeremy Sabloff of the University of New Mexico said, ' We've gone beyond filling up museums with art objects. The objects are not an end in themselves but a means to inform us about the social and economic behavior of ancient people. ' In the 1970s Lewis R. Binford of the University of New Mexico observed Alaska's Nunamiut Eskimos, a modern hunter-gatherer society. Binford watched the Eskimos set up hunting camps and saw how they hunted, killed, butchered, and ate animals. His insights gave him a fuller understanding of how ancient hunter-gatherers chose their campsites, and helped him analyze the animal bones found at such sites."
Further, as the Britannica says, at least Schmidt blocked the silly evolutionistic view that primitive man must have been stupid, that one day he came out of his cave, saw lightning and heard thunder, thought they were gods. There never was a shred of evidence for such a view. It was just imagination built on the assumption that everything has evolved.
That evolutionistic notion was a further projection from belief in the evolution of the human body from primates. Science, Research Reports of November 21, 1980, pp. 883-87 reports on a meeting of 160 of the world's top paleontologists, anatomists, evolutionary geneticists, and developmental biologists held at the Field Museum in Chicago. The majority of those scientists concluded that Darwin was wrong - not in those words, but they rejected Darwin's idea that there were many intermediate forms between, for example, fish and birds. They recognized that the fossil record does not provide even one clear case of such forms. This did not lead them to reject evolution itself. No, they opted for what they called "punctuated equilibria", the idea that a species might stay the same for millions of years, and then by a fluke, leap up to something much higher, in the same line. If any evidence for the view was offered at the meeting, Science does not mention it. Nor does the report in Newsweek, of November 3, 190, pp. 95-96. They might perhaps point to the high vertical columns exposed in the Grand Canyon, in which low forms, such as Trilobites, appear at the bottom, and higher and higher forms as one goes up. But there is no evidence that the higher came from the lower by a fluke or leap. Further it is admitted that the Grand Canyon was once a sea bottom: naturally the lower things would be found farther down.
The related theory of polygenism has had an inconclusive but impressive blow recently. Allan Wilson of the University of California at Berkeley (Science News, August 13, 1983, p. 101) from a study of mitochondria worldwide, concluded that all existing humans came from one mother who lived 350, 000 years ago. At first Wilson received little acceptance, but now, as Newsweek of Jan 21, 1988 reports, his view is getting widespread acceptance, except that the age of the mother is now put at 200, 000 years ago. As we said, this does not conclusively disprove polygenism - for there could have been, for example, 6 original pairs, but the lines from all but one died out.
As mentioned above, an attempt today is being made to try to trace a common father of all. Cf. A. Gibbons, "Looking for the Father of us all: in Science 261 (1991) pp. 378-90.
Also, history does show in many instances that when a people has high material affluence, religion tends to suffer. The U. S and Japan are examples today.
Is sacrifice universal among primitives? Very widespread, but not entirely universal. Further, the ideas behind sacrifice vary widely. For example, in Mesopotamia sacrifice was food for the gods. Thus in the Epic of Gilgamesh, after the Babylonian Noah, Utnapishtim, came out of his ark and offered sacrifice, the gods - who had been cowering in fear of the flood on the battlements of heaven - came down and swarmed "like flies" about the sacrifice. They had not had anything to eat for some time. Again, Aristophanes the Greek comic poet, in his The Birds, pictures the birds threatening to cut of the supply of sacrifices if the gods would not do what the birds wanted.
Is belief in a Supreme Being universal? At least nearly so, but there are a few cases where it seems lacking, e.g., among the Navahoes in the Southwest of the U. S. A. Even in such cases, we must wonder if perhaps extensive alcoholism has blinded the people. St. Paul in Romans 1. 18-32 describes the gradual descent into blindness, and says that atheists are inexcusable, for the existence of God is so obvious from creation. (More on seeming atheists in our section on St. Justin the Martyr).
2. Human rationality and the beginning of human thought
Aristotle said, in Metaphysics 2. 1, that people began to work for wisdom when they began to wonder, first about obvious things, then on deeper things, and when they got enough leisure to do it. He is, of course, indulging in armchair method. Yet the thought is at least very plausible.
However, at least most of the most primitive peoples - cf. remarks on Navahoes above - do seem to know a Supreme Being. The fact is so evident, that no one, without some kind of mental block, could fail to see it.
Some primitive peoples have even held an idea of creation. One Egyptian creation myth says that Atum (meaning: totality) stood on the mud hillock that emerged from the primeval waters and named the parts of his body, and thus the gods came into being. This reflects a belief held long after the time of the most primitive cultures, that a word spoken by a person in authority produces what it says.
Egyptian creation stories seldom mention the origin of man. Some say that Atum wept, and thus mankind came. This is a play on words: ramet means mankind, remiet means tears.
6. Did Our Lady know her own Immaculate Conception in Gen 3. 15? We already saw that the Church saw it in Gen. 3. 15. Therefore she, with graces greater than any other creature - cf. Ineffabilis Deus - should have been able to see it. Further, 3 of the 4 Targums see Gen. 3. 15 as messianic - even though with some obscurity, for they make it allegorical. Now if the Jews with the veil on their hearts (2 Cor. 3. 14) could see it was messianic, all the more she must have seen it. If so, she would know she was the woman, and then could see what the Church sees in it. Objection: The Jews did not see original sin in that verse or in other parts of OT. Reply: Largely true, but they should have and could have. Adam & Eve fell from God's favor by their sin. Even though Genesis does not use the Hebrew chen (favor), it is clear they did fall from favor. Now when God favors, He does not just smile and give nothing - it means He gives grace - else the Pelagians would be right: man would be able to do good without grace. So, they fell from grace. So they did not have it to transmit to their descendants. So their descendants arrive in the world without grace -- and that is what it means to be born in original sin. The Immaculate Conception gave freedom from original sin, i.e., sanctifying grace, in surpassing measure. But to say this does not say anything about the preternatural gifts. Of course she was actually free from disorderly inclinations to sin, and free from all sin, even venial (cf. DS 1573, 2800). But was the gift of bodily immortality given? Pius XII in defining the Assumption was careful never to say in his own words that she died. Always he said: "at the end of her earthly course" etc.
7. Infused knowledge in Adam: Some theologians have thought Adam was given infused knowledge, else he would have been in a stupid state such as evolutionists imagine. They note that in Gen 2. 19ss Adam named all the animals. Some of the Fathers appeal to this: St. John Chrysostom, On Genesis 2 Hom. 15. 2; S. Augustine, Opus Imperfectum contra Iulianum 5. 1, RJ 2011 (cites Pythagoras saying great wisdom is needed to first name things); St. John Damascene, De Fide Orthodoxa 2. 30. (RJ 2360). -- But as to the evolutionists' picture we distinguish: they thought first man was stupid as well as lacking in knowledge. The text of Gen 2. 19ss considering genre, seems to mean that Adam was not stupid, but need not indicate great knowledge. Some appeal to Sirach 17. 1-9, but it does not refer specifically to Adam. Sirach says God made man in his own image, gave him limited days, gave man strength and power over all things. In v . 5: "He forms men's tongues and eyes and ears and imparts to them an understanding heart. With wisdom and knowledge he fills them; good and evil he shows them." But this is generic, not specific to Adam: we notice the use of the plural, them. The very fact of being able to use language does point to intelligence that could even use abstract ideas - for even the concept of dog is abstract, formed from seeing many dogs, and then taking away from each dog all that is individual. There is an impassible gap between just one abstract idea -- which no material medium could hold, and any imaginable degree of elevation of lower types of knowledge. A computer can be made to almost instantly check huge number of possibilities to find the right one, can even learn from experiences of this sort -- but there is still an impassible gap between that and an abstract idea for the latter cannot be helped by any material medium as we said. No artist using his choice of medium to work in could possibly produce an image of my concept of dog, or of justice.
Did Adam and Eve develop language on their own over a period of time? Or did God infuse a knowledge of language? More likely He infused it.
8. The nature of original sin:
a) Paul VI, Profession of Faith, (Credo of the People of God) 1968: "We believe that in Adam all have sinned, (1) which means that the original offense committed by him caused human nature, common to all, to fall to a state in which it bears the consequences of that offense. This is no longer the state in which human nature was at the beginning in our first parents, constituted as they were in holiness and justice (2), and in which man was immune from evil and death (3). And so, it is human nature, so fallen, deprived of the gift of grace (4) with which it had first been adorned, injured in its own natural powers (5) and subjected to the dominion of death that is communicated to all men: it is in this sense that every man is born in sin. We therefore hold, with the Council of Trent, that original sin is transmitted with human nature (6), 'by propagation, not by imitation' and that it ' is in all men, proper to each . '" (7)
COMMENTS (following the numbers inserted above):
1) In Adam all have sinned - this reflects the Vulgate translation, not the understanding of the Greek Fathers who take it to mean: "the condition being fulfilled, all have sinned." Trent, DS 1506, said it would be good "if out of all Latin editions... it should be known which one should be considered authentic... in public readings, disputations, preaching, and explanations." This did not address the question of which critical readings were genuine. Nor did it prohibit versions from original languages, as Pius XII pointed out in Divino Afflante Spiritu, EB 549, though many had thought that.
So this statement of Trent is behind the fact that Paul VI used the words "In Adam all have sinned". But Trent also said, DS 1514, that Rom 5. 12 "should not be understood differently from the way in which the Catholic Church, spread throughout the world, has always understood it." Now the Church spread throughout the world has always understood Rom 5. 12 to teach original sin. But there has not been universal belief of the sense of the last clause, "in whom all have sinned", since the Greek Fathers took it in a very different way.
If one reads "in whom all have sinned", there has been a temptation to say all wills were included in the will of Adam. Even today I. F. Sagüés, in Sacrae Theologiae Summa, 4th ed. 1964, III. I I, § 962 wrote: "Now in Romans 5:12-21 there lies hidden for certain the biblical concept of the corporative person, so that Adam bringing on a sin is both an individual and at the same time the collection of humans, or rather, all humanity; in this way in sinning he is considered as taking the part of all men, much as, with due proportion, Christ took the part of all in the redemption." But Sagüés seems unduly moved by the Latin version, which is not reflected in St. Paul's original Greek. Further, Paul VI goes on to explain it in a different way, for he continues: "this means that... the original offense ... caused human nature... to fall to a state in which it bears the consequences of that offense." And he goes on to enumerate those consequences.
2) Our first parents were "constituted in holiness and justice." They lost that, so could not transmit it. This is a privation, rather than something positive transmitted (cf. John Paul II on this, below).
3) Our first parents had been immune from evil and death. But again, they lost this boon, and could not transmit it.
4) So now our fallen nature is "deprived of the gift of grace".
5) It is "injured in its own natural powers". This refers to the common teaching that the mind is darkened and the will weakened. -- This does not mean the total corruption that Luther spoke of, which was condemned by Trent, DS 1568. Further St. Paul speaks of Christians as a "new creation" which is incompatible with total corruption: 2 Cor 5. 17; Gal 6. 15. -- But there are two view possible other than total corruption: (1) Original sin reduces us to the same state we would have had if there had been no original sin, but if there were also no added gifts. Then since our body and soul include many legitimate drives, which each operate blindly, mortification would be needed to tame them. This is clearly a state of weakness of will, since it has to fight these imbalances, which the rabbis called yetzer hara. That in turn lets the mind see less clearly: cf. the two spirals. (2) Original sin reduces us somewhat further, but not so far as total corruption. -- Below we will quote John Paul II clearly teaching the first of these possibilities.
6) It is transmitted with human nature in the sense that we receive a nature minus the things just mentioned. The state can be called a state of sin by the analogous use of terms. We compare an adult who has committed a mortal sin, and a newborn baby. They both lack grace which they should have - but the adult lacks it by grave personal fault, the baby without any fault. But since they both have the same privation, we can, analogously, speak of a state of sin.
7) It is proper to each in that each has the same state of privation.
b) John Paul II, General Audience of Oct 1, 1986: "In context it is evident that original sin in Adam's descendants has not the character of personal guilt. It is the privation of sanctifying grace in a nature which, through the fall of the first parents, has been diverted from its supernatural end. It is a 'sin of nature' only analogically comparable to 'personal sin. '"
c) John Paul II, General Audience of Oct. 8, 1986: "It is human nature so fallen, stripped of the grace that clothed it, injured in its own natural powers and subjected to the dominion of death, that is transmitted to all men, and it is in this sense that every man is born in sin... . . However, according to the Church's teaching, it is a case of a relative and not an absolute deterioration, not intrinsic to the human faculties ... . not of a loss of their essential capacities even in relation to the knowledge and love of God." [emphasis added].
COMMENTS: We notice changes in the language, from saying original sin is transmitted by heredity to saying original sin is "the privation of sanctifying grace", the lack of what should be there. This really means that original sin is the non-transmission of grace. Further, our mind is darkened and will weakened only in a relative sense, for there is "not an absolute deterioration... not a loss of their essential capacities." It seems to mean that original sin took our nature down only to the level it would have been in had God given only basic humanity to
Adam and Eve -- for in that, without a coordinating gift, there would be need of mortification to gain control over the various drives which would tend to be rebellious.
In making such changes, we are observing, at the same time, two official texts: 1) Vatican II, On Ecumenism § 7:"... if any things -whether in morals or in ecclesiastical discipline, or even in the way of expressing doctrine - to be carefully distinguished form the deposit of faith - have been kept less accurately, at the suitable time they should be restored in the right order and form." 2) Paul VI, Mysterium fidei, Sept 3, 1965:"The rule of speaking which the Church in the course of long ages, not without the protection of the Holy Spirit, has introduced, and has strengthened by the authority of Councils... must be kept sacred, and no one at his own whim or under pretext of new knowledge may presume to change them. To sum up: Vatican II said that some expressions in older documents may need improvement, but Paul VI added: true, but we must not say the old expressions are false, merely that they are capable of improvement.
9. Concupiscence and original sin:
a) Trent defined: DS 1515: "If anyone denies that through the grace of Our Lord Jesus Christ, which is conferred in Baptism, the guilt of original sin is remitted, or even asserts that not all that has the true and proper nature of a sin is taken away, but says it is only scraped or not imputed: Let him be anathema... . This Holy Synod declares that the Catholic Church has never meant that this concupiscence, which at times the Apostle calls 'sin' [Rom 6:12 ss] is a sin in that it is truly and properly a sin in those reborn -- but [it teaches that it is called sin] because it comes from sin and inclines to sin. But if anyone hold the contrary: Let him be anathema."
b) St. Augustine's view is not fully clear. He had written, in De duabus animabus contra Manichaeum 10. 12:"There is never sin anywhere except in the will." In Retractations 1. 15. 2 he comments: "But this sin, of which the Apostle spoke thus [referring to Rom 7:16-18] is called sin for the reason that it comes from sin, and is the penalty of sin; at times it is called concupiscence of the flesh... . the guilt of this concupiscence is taken away in Baptism, but the weakness remains." COMMENT: He speaks of concupiscence as a "guilt" [reatus]. So it seems he means there is a guilt to it before Baptism takes the guilt away, leaving the weakness. Hence concupiscence would be a part of original sin. This fits with his tendency to hold Traducianism [souls of children derive from souls of parents] - since otherwise he would find it hard to explain how original sin is transmitted, if God would create each soul separately. Then there would be nothing positive to original sin. As we saw above most clearly in the teaching of John Paul II, original sin in us is a privation, not something positive.
Augustine's view seems to hold some influence today: I. F. Sagüés, op. cit. §956 says Salmanticenses, Gonet, Pignataro, Billot, Boyer and others hold that concupiscence is the material element of original sin even in a strict sense. -- Others deny this; D. Soto, Bellarminus, Silvius and more commonly the Thomists and many others. Sagüés himself comments at the end of §956: "Perhaps it would be better, to help avoid confusion, if concupiscence were simply not called a material element of original sin."
10. Was it once thought that intercourse in marriage is sinful? The charge is sometimes made. It seems to be present in some, not in others. Tertullian and Clement of Alexandria seem to say it is not sinful:
Tertullian, To his wife: "How beautiful, then, the marriage of two Christians, two who are one in hope, one in desire, one in the way of life they follow, one in the religion they practice. They are as brother and sister, both servants of the same Father. Nothing divides them ether in flesh or in spirit. They are, in very truth, two in one flesh, and where there is but one flesh there is also but one spirit. They pray together... . Hearing and seeing this, Christ rejoices. To such as these, He gives His peace. Where there are two together, there also He is present, and where He is, there evil is not."
Clement of Alexandria, Paedagogos, 1. 12. 99 PG 8, 368C: "As for deeds, walking and reclining at table, eating and sleeping, marriage relations and the manner of life, the whole of a man's education all become illustrious as holy deeds under the influence of the Educator [Christ]." And in 2. 10. 94: "Yet, marriage in itself merits esteem and the highest approval... . To indulge in intercourse without intending children is to outrage nature, whom we should take as our instructor."
The words of some writers were influenced by the Vetus Latina version of 1 Cor 7. 6: "I say this by way of pardon." (It really should mean that it is by way of kindness, not by way of command, that Paul said what he had just said).
St. Jerome, Adversus Jovinianum 1. 7: "'It is good' he [St. Paul in 1 Cor 7:1]] says for a man not to touch a woman. ' If it is good not to touch a woman, therefore it is evil to touch one: for nothing is contrary to good except evil. If ... it is evil, but is forgiven [We recall the confusion just mentioned on "pardon"] it is granted so that worse may not happen.... Let each one, he says, have [his own wife] which he had before he came to the faith, whom it was good not to touch, and after receiving the faith of Christ [it is good] to know only as a sister, not as a wife, unless [the danger of] fornication would make the touch excusable."
St. Jerome, Sermon On Eating the Paschal Lamb (PL 40. 1024; once thought not genuine, now seen as genuine: G. Morin, Anecdota Maredsolana 5. 3): "If the Shew Bread [cf. 1 Sam 21:4-5] could not be eaten by those who had touched their wives, how much more can that bread which came down from heaven not be eaten by those who a bit before adhered to conjugal embraces.... ? Not that we condemn marriage, but that, at the time when we are about to eat the flesh of the Lamb, we should be free from the works of the flesh."
COMMENTS: The first of the texts of Jerome seems to mean real sin, the second refers to fittingness, not necessarily to sin.
St. Augustine, Enchiridion 78. 21:After quoting St. Paul, 1 Cor 7:5, saying: "Do not deprive one another...." he adds: "If mingling with the wife to procreate children..., could be thought to be not a sin, but also [it could be thought not to be a sin to do it] for the sake of carnal pleasure.... Therefore, as I said, this could be thought not to be a sin if he [St. Paul] had not added, 'I say this by way of pardon, not by way of command'. Who now would deny it is a sin, when he admits that a pardon is given to those who do it, by apostolic authority?"
St. Gregory the Great, Epistle 11. 64 (PL 77. 1196-- a note in col. 1185 comments that there are some things in the letter that seem foreign to the thought of Gregory. And the Corpus Christianorum edition omits this letter, since it was lacking in the official Lateran Register which the Pope kept for future reference. So we are not sure the Epistle is genuine.): The Epistle says that a man sleeping with his wife should not enter the church until he has washed with water. Here the letter draws on the ritual purity rules of Lev. 15. 18. But the letter reinterprets Leviticus: "This is to be understood spiritually... unless first the fire of concupiscence cools in the soul, he should not think himself worthy of the assembly of the brethren.... Only a tranquil mind can occupy itself in contemplation."
S. Lyonnet, Annotationes in Priorem Epistulam ad Corinthios, Romae, 1965-66. pp. 100-101 reports that after St. Augustine, because of his authority, very many authors even though they did not have the mistaken reading of 1 Cor 7:6 [reading 'pardon" instead of "concession"] still held that the conjugal act was a fault, which became venial because of marriage." Lyonnet refers the reader to the Dictionnaire de Théologie Catholique at the word marriage.
St. Thomas Aquinas, II. 80. 7. He asks whether a nocturnal emission impedes anyone from receiving Holy Communion, and replies: Only mortal sin makes it necessary for a person to abstain from receiving this sacrament.... But out of certain fittingness there is an impediment in two ways. One always happens, the uncleanness of the body.... The other is the wandering of the mind, which follows on a nocturnal emission, especially when it comes with unclean imagination."
Vatican II, Gaudium et spes § 49:"The Lord has seen fit by a special gift of grace and love to heal, to perfect, and to elevate this love... . So the actions by which the spouses are intimately and chastely united are honorable and worthy, and, carried out in a truly human manner, signify mutual self-giving, and promote it."
COMMENTS: In this difficult matter, we need to be very careful to preserve two truths simultaneously.
1. Marriage is good, even can be a means of perfection: Vatican II just cited corrects the errors of a few earlier writers. Marriage even offers great means of spiritual growth, if one uses it according to our Father's plans. Paul VI said to the 13th National Congress of the Italian Feminine Center, Feb. 12, 1966: "Christian marriage and the Christian family demand a moral commitment. They are not an easy way of Christian life, even though the most common, the one which the majority of the children of God are called on to travel. Rather, it is a long path toward sanctification." Cf. Pius XI, Casti connubii, DS 3707: "This mutual interior conforming of the spouses to one another, this constant zeal to make each other better, in a certain very true way, as the Roman Catechism teaches [II. 8. 13] can even be called the first purpose of marriage, provided however, that marriage be understood not in a narrow sense as an institution to rightly procreate and educate offspring, but in a broader sense as a communion, habituation, and association in all of life."
How this works is seen in God's plan for maturing. Cf. Our Father's Plan, pp. 144-49. Within marriage there are countless occasions that demand self-sacrifice - because male and female psychology are so very different - and for the sake of the children. "Their goals become your goals", said a commercial for insurance policies. The celibate lacks this pressure, and so, if care is not taken, can remain selfish. The Eastern Fathers stress that abstention from marriage alone is not enough - detachment from everything is needed for spiritual growth. Cf. St. John of the Cross, Ascent of Mt. Carmel I. 11. 4: A bird tied to the ground by a string can fly only so high as the string permits. It makes no difference if the string is stout or thin. Similarly, an attachment to even one imperfection can set limits to one's growth. Cf. also St. Francis de Sales, Treatise on Love of God, 12. 3. (Many scents in the spring can confuse a hunting dog, make it unable to follow the game. So, having many desires makes it hard for us to follow the trail of God).
2. St. Paul does say that objectively virginity/celibacy offers a spiritual help not to be found in marriage. We said "objectively" since God's plans are that most people marry. If they do this, intending to follow His plan, there is no lack of generosity. For those for whom He intends it, to omit marriage could be a danger. But yet, for those for whom God intends it, virginity/celibacy offers an additional help to spiritual growth. St. Gregory of Nyssa wrote in On Virginity 20: "No more do our emotional powers possess a nature which can at one and the same time pursue the pleasure of sense and court the spiritual union; nor, besides can both those ends be gained by the same course of life; continence, mortification of the passions, avoidance of fleshly needs, are the agents of the one union; but all that are the reverse of these are the agents of bodily cohabitation."
Socrates many times over urged the seeker for truth to have as little as possible to do with things of the body: Phaedo 62, 65, 66, 82-82, 114; Republic 485-86, 517, 519, 543, 608, 613.
Vatican II LG § 46: "The counsels [poverty, chastity, obedience] contribute not a little to spiritual freedom; they constantly arouse the fervor of love, and are able to make the Christian more conformed to the kind of virginal and poor life which Christ the Lord chose for Himself, and which His Virgin Mother embraced." And in Optatam totius [on priestly training] § 10 the Council added: "Let seminarians recognize the duty and dignity of Christian marriage, which is an image of the love of Christ and His Church; but they must see the greater excellence of consecrated virginity."
St. Paul in 1 Cor 7. 5 urges spouses to abstain from intercourse, by mutual consent, for a time, so they may be free for prayer. This is not a matter of clock hours. Rather it depends on the insights shown by St. Gregory the Great and St. Gregory of Nyssa cited above. This is explained by Mt 6. 21: "Where your treasure is, there is your heart also." For one can put his treasure in anything. We note (1) some things are farther below God than others, (2) there is a difference in the degree of hold creatures have on a person - only as far as imperfection - or occasional venial sin - or habitual venial sin - or occasional mortal sin - or habitual mortal sin. In proportion to these, it will be just that much less easy for thoughts and hearts to rise to the divine level. This is true even in the lawful use of marriage, as the two Sts. Gregory indicate (a thing can be good and also be the thorns of the Gospel parable). Again, a galvanometer will measure current correctly if it has no outside pulls. Very strong outside pulls may mean the current in the coil (grace, which respects my freedom) will have no effect at all. Then the man is blind, and since grace cannot do the first task, to show him what God wills, it will not do anything further either. So he is lost - for cannot be saved without grace -- unless a grace comparable to a miracle is provided. Probably this is done when someone puts an extraordinary weight into the scales of the objective order, to call for an extraordinary grace.
7. Man's Need of Redemption:
a) There is need of redemption arising from original sin in that the privation of grace which constitutes original sin means the soul lacks the means necessary to take part in the beatific vision. This does not mean that an unbaptized baby goes to hell. St. Augustine thought so: Enchiridion 93; Contra Iulianum 5. 11. 44 He speaks of the "mildest punishment" [mitissima poena]. However in Epist. 166. 6. 16: "But when we come to the punishment of infants, believe me, I am pressed in the tightest place, and I do not know at all what to answer." St. Fulgentius, De fide ad Petrum 27, 68 agrees with Augustine. Sadly, Leonard Feeney does too: Cf. Thomas M. Sennott, They Fought the Good Fight, Monrovia, 1986, pp. 395-06. He quotes Pope Pius IX (DS 2866,"God... would never of His supreme goodness and mercy permit anyone to be punished with eternal torments... who has not incurred the guilt of voluntary sin."- on the previous page he had given an equivalent translation of Pius IX and called it in error!) and then ridicules the words of Pius IX : "If God cannot punish eternally a human being who has not incurred the guilt of voluntary sin, how then, for example, can He punish eternally babies who die unbaptized?"
St. Gregory Nazianzen, Orationes 40, 23: "I think that... these [babies who die unbaptized] are neither glorified, nor are punished by the Just Judge, who on the one hand were not sealed [baptized], but on the other hand are not evil, but rather suffered a loss than inflicted one."
COMMENT: St. Gregory speaks of the Just Judge - implying he thought it would be unjust to damn infants.
St. Gregory of Nyssa, On Infants taken away prematurely. R. 1059, thinks that those infants who die without baptism are those who would have been lost by sinning had they lived a full life.
St. Thomas Aquinas: The Church has never taught the damnation of infants. Rather, the view of St. Thomas Aquinas has been widely taught, without censure, for centuries: De malo q. 5. a. 3 ad 4: "Children who die in original sin are on the one hand perpetually separated from God in regard to the loss of glory, of which they do not know, but not in regard to the participation of natural good things, which they do know." And ibid. c. : "That which they have in nature they have without pain."
Pius VI, in 1794 in DS 1616, condemned the teaching of the Synod of Pistoia for saying that the idea that there is a limbo for unbaptized infants is a Pelagian fable.
12. Theological reasoning on unbaptized infants:
1) On the one hand, a baby who dies without baptism lacks the transformation of the soul by grace that makes it capable of taking in the Beatific Vision; on the other hand, original sin is sin in an analogous sense, i.e., the soul lacks the grace it should have, but it lacks it without any personal fault at all. Therefore it deserves no positive punishment at all.
2) God surely could, in His own way, supply that grace. He did it in the case of the Holy Innocents. He could do it in other cases too, if He should so will. His hands are not tied by the Sacraments. As St. Thomas said, ST III. 68. 2. c. ," His [God's] power is not tied by( or:to) the Sacraments."
3) Does He actually do so?
a) Theologians commonly hold that God provided for the salvation of those who died before Christ in some way. Girls of course were not circumcised. (cf. Summa 3. 62. ad 3: "By circumcision the ability was given to boys to arrive at glory." It was enough to belong to the People of God. St. Paul in 1 Cor 7. 14 says that the unbelieving mate in marriage is consecrated, or made holy, through union with the Christian, who does come under the Covenant: "Otherwise your children would be unclean, but as it is, t hey are holy." So they are holy precisely by belonging to a family with even one party Christian. - Paul does not at this point mention Baptism as the reason for their holiness -- he speaks of the mere fact that they belong to a family with one Christian parent. -- Similarly, the Jews believed that merely belonging to the People of God insured their salvation, unless they positively ruled themselves out by great sins. Cf. Talmud, Sanhedrin 10. 1: "All Israel has a share in the age to come." It adds there are three groups who do not have a share: those who deny the resurrection, those who deny the Law is from heaven, and Epicureans. Cf. E. P. Sanders, Paul and Rabbinic Judaism, (Fortress, Philadelphia, 1977 pp. 147-82).
St. Paul insists, in Romans 3. 28-30 that if God had not provided for those who did not know the Law, He would not be their God. So He must have done so, and did it through the regime of faith. Could we argue that if God makes no provision for unbaptized infants, He would not act as their God? Probably yes.
Also, St. Paul insists many times over, in Rom 5. 15-17, that the redemption is superabundant, more so than the fall. But since God did provide for infants before Christ, if He did not do so after Christ, the redemption would not be superabundant, it would be a hellish liability for infants and many others.
b) God shows great concern for the objective moral order. Cf. Our Father's Plan, chapter 4. But He seems concerned also with the objective physical order: In the parable of the rich man and Lazarus, Abraham explains (Lk 16. 25): "Remember that you in your lifetime received good things, and Lazarus in like manner evil things; but now he is comforted here, and you are in anguish." - No mention of sins on the part of the rich man or virtue in the poor man. - Could it be then that God decides: These infants were deprived of what in the normal objective order they should have had, according to my intention. So now they must receive compensation? Cf. also the reversals of material fortune in Luke 6:24-26.
Objection: The Council of Florence (DS 1351): It has strenuous language which Feeney and his friends love to quote: "... none who are outside the Catholic Church... can partake of eternal life... and ... the unity of the ecclesiastical body has such force that only for those who remain in it are the sacraments of the Church profitable for salvation, and fasting, alms and other works of piety and exercises of Christian soldiery bring forth eternal rewards [only] for them. 'No one, howsoever much almsgiving he has done, even if he sheds his blood for Christ, can be saved, unless he remains in the bosom and unity of the Catholic Catholic Church. '"
COMMENTS: 1. This is merely a very strong statement of the need of belonging to the Church. It does not explain in what that membership consists. Other documents of the Church supply for that (cf. also the Patristic and Scriptural study in W. Most, Our Father's Plan, Appendix, for a way of understanding the requirement, such that it removes any problem). Feeney liked to assume that milder sounding texts, such as Pius IX, Holy Office and Pius XII, and Vatican II, all contradict this text. It is really hard to imagine that the Church would contradict herself! We should never assume that if there is a plausible way of taking into account ALL texts.
2. It is quite possible to suppose Florence speaks of those who explicitly and contumaciously reject the Church. Pius IX (DS 2866 ) does explicitly speak that way. Or we may take the broader definition of membership worked out in Our Father's Plan.
3. As to infants - the teaching is true that if some soul actually dies in original sin, that one cannot reach the vision of God. That could be described as a penalty, but it would be better to speak of it as a loss than as a positive punishment, in line with St. Thomas Aquinas and other texts given above in this section. And we recall that Vatican II, Decree on Ecumenism § 6 said: "If... there have been deficiencies in the way that Church teaching has been formulated, to be carefully distinguished from the deposit of faith itself, these can and should be set right at the opportune moment." We notice that only the wording may need improvement - the content is to remain (cf. Paul VI, in Mysterium fidei, Sept 3, 1965, 23-24, AAS 57. 758). This text of Florence is surely a case where the wording might be improved, while keeping the teaching - again, making use of the two possibilities listed above, i.e., that the text refers to those who explicitly and contumaciously reject the Church, or, u sing the broader Patristic understanding of membership.
As to infants we can also add that our theological speculation given above may be true. The Council of Florence speaks only of those who actually die in original sin. Perhaps the infants do not actually die in it.
4) John Paul II, Redemptoris missio, Dec. 7, 1990 § 10: "The universality of salvation means that it is granted not only to those who explicitly believe in Christ and have entered the Church. Since salvation is offered to all, it must be made concretely available to all. But it is clear that today, as in the past, many people do not have an opportunity to come to know or accept the Gospel revelation or to enter the Church... . For such people salvation in Christ is accessible by virtue of a grace which, while having a mysterious relationship to the Church, does not make them formally part of the Church, but enlightens them in a way which is accommodated to their spiritual and material situation." COMMENT: The Pope has in mind basically adults. Yet his words,"since salvation is offered to all, it must be made concretely available to all," show a pattern of thought which logically should apply to infants too.
b) We need redemption also for forgiveness of our personal sins. On the way redemption operates, see Our Father's Plan, chapters 4-11.
13. Nature of the first sin: There is no magisterium statement on this. Some have thought it was sexual. Cf. I. Kikawada, and A. Quinn, Before Abraham Was, Abingdon, 1985, pp. 68 & 81, n. 9. Kikawada thinks it was a refusal to carry out the command to increase and multiply (Gen 1. 28). For certain, the use of sex was not forbidden to them, rather, the command to multiply implied it. But Kikawada's idea meets with the objection that Genesis depicts the sin as done on one particular occasion - the refusal would have been spread out. Some. e.g., J. Coppens, La connaissance du bien et du mal et le péché du paradis, Lovain, 1949, thinks this the passage is a polemic against Canaanite sexual practices -- which were a temptation to the Jews.
In view of the genre of Genesis, we think it best not to press the specific nature of the sin. Rather, the account is psychologically brilliant, to bring out the root of all sin: pride. We can retell the incident to show this: Eve is in the garden one day, and along comes the tempter: "What a nice garden! Do they let you eat of all the trees?: Yes - but wait, over there is one tree we must not eat. We will die if we do." The tempter puts on a surprised look: "He said that! Don't you see he is selfish. He knows if you eat that you will become like gods. He wants to keep that all for himself." Eve looks at the fruit- "I can just SEE it is good." This implies: God may know in general what is good, but right here and now, I know better.