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The Afterword brings together the contributions of the individual chapters in this collection and draws out what they have in common. It explains the shift in puritan studies through what does not appear (American exceptionalism, typology, and jeremiads), and it maps the current state of the field through two dueling frameworks: the puritan imaginary and the puritans’ world. The “puritans’ world” designates the way that historical, circumstantial, interconnected people and events affected how the puritans came to their ideas and how those ideas came to be written down. The “puritan imaginary” means the ideas themselves – the ways in which puritans tried to make sense and meaning out of the world in which they lived. Puritan literature requires scholars who come at the subject through both perspectives – those who seek to see as the puritans saw and those who look askance at puritan literature for the world that kept intruding and reshaping it. As the Afterword makes clear, that principle of combined perspectives is on full display in the book’s collection of essays, which revisit puritan literature from multiple angles of vision.
In “Family Dynamics and the Re-definitions of Papa-hood,” Suzanne del Gizzo tracks the construction of Hemingway’s famous “Papa” persona and the way, especially since the end of the twentieth century, scholars and critics have explored how the assumption his parternal if not paternalistic image may have been rooted in vulnerability and anxiety about masculinity – and indeed about identity more broadly – that began in the author’s childhood and extended into his public and private performances of “Papa”-hood into his adulthood, performances further complicated by a rapid decline in health and mental well-being in his fifties. Del Gizzo observes that the issue of “Papa”-hood is found at a busy intersection of Hemingway scholarship, where biography, psychoanalytic criticism, trauma studies, masculinity studies, and clinical assessments of the author’s mental health issues converge. Informed by developments in our understanding of the impact of mental health on family life, the essay surveys biographical criticism and literary scholarship related to representations of fathers and sons in Hemingway’s work.
In the writings of Isaac of Nineveh, a seventh-century East Syriac solitary, one finds a profound compassion for every created being, including wild animals, heretics and demons. This article shows that this compassionate attitude towards external negative entities is rooted in the creature's relationship with its own condition of vulnerability. This vulnerability is distinctive of the human condition. Isaac conceives of the passions as attempts to remove this ontological condition, proposing that one can instead learn to deal with it and to ‘take it on’. This occurs through a demanding exercise of relationship with one's suffering self, and only once this relationship has been discovered does grace reveal itself to the creature. Grace, therefore, emerges from Isaac's writings as something that never removes one's creaturely poverty, but reveals itself only to the person who has the courage to experience, ‘bear’ and ‘take on’ this poverty.
Moral progress is understood religiously as the hope that despite our having begun from evil, we can make ourselves well-pleasing to God. This hope rests on the hope that we have undergone the change of heart, which is symbolized in rational religion as faith in the Son of God or the ideal of humanity well-pleasing to God. Understanding this requires further investigation of the role of symbols and analogy in religion, which was discussed in Chapter 1. The hope to become well-pleasing to God is threatened by three difficulties, two of them based on doubts that we have undergone the change of heart or can sustain it in our lives, and the third (and greatest) based on the fact that we began from evil and have incurred a guilt we cannot wipe out. The hope to become well-pleasing to God therefore depends on God’s decree of grace. We can understand this in terms of God’s forgiveness – not the forgiveness of a debt but God’s willingness to accept our change of heart as an atonement making us morally receptive to his freely given mercy.
Justifying grace is for Kant the way religion symbolizes, in terms of our relation to God, our hope to overcome the propensity to evil through the change of heart. Divine forgiveness does not abolish or transcend morality but occurs in accordance with morality. The Son of God symbolizes as vicarious atonement our moral receptivity to God’s mercy. The sacrifice of Jesus Christ on the cross is the way Christianity symbolizes it in revealed religion. For Kant rational religion includes faith in God’s justifying grace. It does not include prevenient or sanctifying grace but does not exclude these either. They are religiously acceptable parts of revealed Christianity, but their reality and our need for them lie beyond what pure reason can know. Some critics claim that Kant’s account of divine grace is inconsistent with itself. But closer examination shows that it is self-consistent, and for Kant rational religion is even consistent with Augustinianism about grace, while neither affirming nor denying it.
Chapter 2 argues that Thomas’s mature view of the formal cause of original justice created an unresolved problem for his doctrine of original sin. Though his early writings sharply distinguished the rectitude of the human will in the state of original justice from supernatural sanctifying grace, by the mid-1260s (e.g., STh I, q. 95, a. 1) he implied that the formal cause of original justice is sanctifying grace. The problem is that Thomas also held (1) that Adam should have been the principal cause of original justice in his posterity and (2) that no creature can be the principal cause of sanctifying grace. Thomas’s mature view implies that the disposition to original justice never could have been sexually transmitted. This implies that his account of original sin as a whole needed to be modified. Adam’s failure to transmit the disposition to original justice rendered the lack of original justice sinful in his posterity: if Adam couldn’t have done this in the first place, how could his descendants have original sin?
Chapter 8 responds to potential objections. Against the objection that my proposal is a recrudescence of “two-tier Thomism,” I argue that it is deeply congruous with Henri de Lubac’s view that nature innately desires grace. The second objection is that my view implies that a state of pure nature is impossible. I argue that it is in fact compatible with a wide variety of views of divine providence. Further objections are raised that focus on the nature of sanctifying grace, the ecumenical potential of a Thomist perspective, and Pelagianism. My proposal, I suggest, is compatible with a wide variety of views of justification, and it is not “Pelagian” in any meaningful sense.
In the “Confessions,” Augustine presents himself to the reader as the object of God’s grace. His life is not interesting as such but is the place where God’s grace operates. God’s grace in Augustine’s life is not limited to information and help, rather it is a deep and direct influence of God on the most internal part of one’s soul.
This chapter deals with the question of how the established order of salvation, expressed in terms of the processus iustificationis, can be reliable without in some sense being necessary – and hence violating the divine freedom. This debate became increasingly important in late thirteenth-century theology, and was generally framed in terms of a dialectic between the ‘two powers’ of God. God’s ordained power designated the realm of the actual which, though reliable and grounded in God’s promises, was contingent. God’s absolute power referred to a world of possibilities which subverted the established order of salvation – such as God’s ability to accept someone without a created habit of grace. The chapter opens by considering how medieval theology used the notion of God’s ordained power (potentia ordinata) to explore the self-limitation of God, simultaneously establishing the provisionality and reliability of the established order of salvation. It then moves on to consider criticisms of the logical necessity of certain aspects of this established order, particularly those developed by Duns Scotus, William of Ockham, and representatives of the via moderna,such as Gabriel Biel.
This chapter continues the exploration of the development of the doctrine of justification during the Middle Ages, focussing on the important concept of grace. Although medieval theologians based their thinking on this significant element of the Christian doctrine of justification on the writings of Augustine of Hippo, it became clear that the idea required further development to engage with the questions being explored at this time. The chapter opens by exploring the increasingly important correlation between grace and the concept of the supernatural, which is expressed in Aquinas’s famous definition of grace as ‘something supernatural within the soul’. The analysis then shifts to the distinction between actual and sanctifying grace. Although this distinction is implicit within Augustine’s theology of grace, it lacked the conceptual precision necessary to engage certain questions. This is also true concerning the distinction between operative and co-operative grace, which became increasingly important in Aquinas’s theological analysis. The chapter concludes by exploring one of the most distinctive themes in thirteenth-century theology: the role of supernatural habits of grace in justification. What factors led to its introduction, and why did Ockham and the via moderna criticise this? This analysis establishes a significant continuity of argument between the via moderna and Luther on the relational aspects of grace.
Chapter 22 considers an attempt to secure some degree of rapprochement between Catholics and Protestants as rising tensions seemed to point towards an irreversible fissure within western Christianity. Aware of the significance of the divisions over the nature of justification and justifying righteousness, a group of Catholic and Protestant theologians met to discuss these at the Regensburg Colloquy (also known as the Colloquy of Regensburg) in April and May 1541. This chapter considers the positions that were represented at this Colloquy, and the outcomes of their deliberations. The importance of the Colloquy rests in part on first-hand accounts and explanations of the theological concerns about justification from each side of the debate. Although the Colloquy secured an informed and balanced way of approaching the doctrine of justification, its outcome was inconclusive, and unable to prevent a final rupture between Catholic and Protestant.
The fifth section of this volume deals with the discussion of justification in the modern period, and deals mainly with Protestant approaches to the issue. Chapter 27 opens this discussion by considering the emergence of new attitudes to justification in England, in response to growing interest in the cultural virtue of ‘reasonableness’, the concept of ‘natural religion’ and the wider issue of religious toleration. Although there is now growing support for the notion that ‘Deism’ is partly socially constructed for polemical purposes, it remains a useful tool for discussing more rationalist approaches to the Christian faith which emerged in the eighteenth century. This chapter thus considers the Deist critique of the foundations of justification, such as the notion of original sin, focussing on writers such as John Toland and Matthew Tindal. The chapter then turns to consider the debates about justification which took place during the German Enlightenment, particularly the approaches associated with Johann Gottlieb Töllner and Gotthilf Samuel Steinbart. Finally, the chapter considers the philosopher Immanuel Kant’s views on radical evil and justification, which some scholars consider to mark a re-appreciation of the continuing significance of justification in secular moral discourse.
This chapter continues the exploration of the development of the doctrine of justification during the Middle Ages, focussing on the question of how sinners are able to appropriate justification. The chapter opens by considering the nature of the human free will (liberum arbitrium), a question discussed by Augustine, but which was found to require further conceptual development in the light of ambiguities and lack of precision at certain points. One of the questions regularly raised for discussion in the early medieval period concerned whether some form of predisposition for justification was required, and how this was to be correlated with the compromised capacities of fallen humanity. This chapter considers the debates within medieval theology over the the necessity and nature of the proper disposition for justification, which often centred on the question of the relation of human and divine contributions to the process of justification. Finally, the chapter considers the origins and application of the medieval theological axiom facienti quod in se est Deus non denegat gratiam (‘God does not deny grace to anyone who does their best’).
Chapter 25 considers the 1547 Tridentine Decree on Justification. This document is widely regarded as one of the most significant statements on the doctrine of justification. It set out a full exposition of the Catholic position, rather than simply rejecting opinions regarded as unacceptable. The Council saw its task as ‘expounding to all the faithful of Christ the true and sound doctrine relating to justification’, not simply identifying what they considered to be the errors of Protestantism. This chapter consists of four sections. The first considers the Decree’s teaching on the first stage of justification, which includes a strongly transformist concept of justification, and a rejection of any idea that justification can be said to be merited. It also firmly links justification with the sacrament of baptism. The second considers its teaching on the second stage of justification, dealing with the way in which believers increase in righteousness. The third deals with the restoration of justification through the sacrament of penance. Finally, the canons of the decree, dealing with views that the Council regarded as unacceptable, are noted and their significance assessed.
Chapter 14 explores the complex and shifting views on justification that emerged during the Reformed evangelical groups in Zurich, Strasbourg and Geneva over the period 1519 to 1560. Early Reformed theologies of justification, such as that of Zwingli, tended to reflect an Erasmian perspective, seeing justification as one of several ways of framing the transformation of the life of faith through divine grace. However, a growing awareness of the views emerging within the Wittenberg evangelical movement led to more emphasis being placed on the notion of justification, which increasingly came to be understood in a forensic manner. Bucer’s theology of justification can be seen as an important landmark in this process of transition, which is generally considered to have been completed through the theological synthesis achieved by John Calvin in Geneva, particularly in the 1559 edition of his Institutes of the Christian Religion.Calvin’s approach placed an emphasis on the importance of ‘union with Christ’ as a framework for understanding justification as a forensic category, linked with the essentially transformist notion of sanctification.
Chapter 19 analyses the approaches to justification found within the movement known as ‘Pietism’, which is generally regarded as a reaction against the excessive cerebralism of the theology of Lutheran Orthodoxy. Pietism developed a focus on a ‘living faith’ and the ‘new birth’, which countered a more intellectual and institutionalised account of the Christian faith dominant in German Lutheranism in the late seventeenth century. Pietist theologians and pastors – such as Philipp Jakob Spener – were suspicious of the Lutheran notion of ‘imputed righteousness’, which they considered as being destructive of piety. These concerns were developed in the writings of both John Wesley and Charles Wesley, who urged the importance of moving beyond purely forensic approaches to justification. John Wesley argued that the notion of ‘the imputed righteousness of Christ’ was neither Scriptural nor necessary, and was damaging to personal holiness. For Wesley, the ‘plain scriptural notion of justification’ is pardon or the forgiveness of sins.
Chapter 23 considers the range of Catholic positions that were represented during the Council of Trent’s debates on justification. Although some representatives are best considered as independent theologians, not specifically committed to one of the leading schools of theology of this period, it is clear that many of those present aligned themselves with one of three schools: the early Dominican school (based mainly on the works of Thomas Aquinas), the early Franciscan school (based mainly on the works of Bonaventure), and the later Franciscan school (based mainly on the works of Duns Scotus). This chapter considers the basic position of each of these schools of thought in relation to the questions being discussed. Although some earlier accounts of the Tridentine discussions of justification suggest that there was a distinct Augustinian school of theology represented, the evidence does not support this view.
Chapter 26 considers how the Council of Trent’s Decree on Justification was received within Catholicism, particularly during the second half of the sixteenth century. The chapter contains two main blocks of material. First, it considers early Catholic Interpretations of the Decree, noting how the Decree was open to several interpretations at points. The most interesting of these concerns whether the Decree permitted the teaching that justification could be merited de congruo, an opinion which was widely held within Franciscan theological circles. The Council of Trent also gave rise to a series of Catholic catechisms, designed to blunt the Protestant advantage in this field. The Catechismus Romanus and Peter Canisius’s Summa doctrinae christianae (1555) are of particular importance. The chapter also notes how the Council of Trent’s decree on justification initially led to Catholic discussion of salvation focussing on the concept of justification. However, a gradual return to the more traditional Catholic use of multiple images of salvation, including but not restricted to justification, can be seen taking place in the seventeenth century.
The second part of this work consists of seven chapters exploring the development of the doctrine of justification in the Middle Ages, set against the backdrop of the discussion of theological method during this important and extended period. This chapter focusses on the medieval understandings of the nature of justification, in which the views of Augustine on the nature of justification as a ‘making righteous’ of the believer is amplified and elaborated. Of particular importance here is the medieval exploration of the inner dynamics of justification, framed in terms of the Processus Iustificationis (‘process of justification’), which correlates the various elements of the transformation of the believer, including ontological and relational issues. Particular attention is paid to the discussion of this theme in the early medieval theological tradition, focussing especially on the early Dominican and Franciscan schools.
Chapter 15 considers the reception and development of continental theologies of justification in England from Henry VIII to Elizabeth I. Early English reforming theologies of justification tended to be Augustinian, interpreting justification as a process of making people righteous by grace. An increasing familiarity with the works of Luther does not appear to have led to a widespread adoption of Lutheran ideas on the forensic character of justification. Many of the Church of England’s formularies of faith speak of justification as consisting of the ‘remission of our sins’ and our ‘perfect renovation in Christ’. The essential feature of Luther’s doctrine of justification appears to have been understood to be its emphasis on faith alone. Luther’s influence over the English Reformation declined after the death of Henry VIII, and was replaced by various forms of Reformed theology, particularly that of Bucer. By the middle of the reign of Elizabeth I, the English Reformation appears to have developed its own approach to understanding the nature of justification, while affirming the basic Protestant notion of justification ‘by faith alone’.