To send content items to your account,
please confirm that you agree to abide by our usage policies.
If this is the first time you use this feature, you will be asked to authorise Cambridge Core to connect with your account.
Find out more about sending content to .
To send content items to your Kindle, first ensure email@example.com
is added to your Approved Personal Document E-mail List under your Personal Document Settings
on the Manage Your Content and Devices page of your Amazon account. Then enter the ‘name’ part
of your Kindle email address below.
Find out more about sending to your Kindle.
Note you can select to send to either the @free.kindle.com or @kindle.com variations.
‘@free.kindle.com’ emails are free but can only be sent to your device when it is connected to wi-fi.
‘@kindle.com’ emails can be delivered even when you are not connected to wi-fi, but note that service fees apply.
When Paul gave consideration to the issue of what was wrong within God’s good creation, he saw a consistently repeating pattern all around him. No matter where he looked, Paul observed relationships distorted by the on-going and ever-present quest for self-preservation, together with the consequent abuse of power that all too often characterizes that quest. Paul saw this same pattern of distorted relationality repeated in every area of life. This essay teases out the character of the relational distortion that Paul found lying at the heart of the problem that required God’s salvific intervention. Profitable advances into understanding Paul’s view of “the problem” can be achieved if we place our focus on a single motif: power. But that motif includes within itself at least two separate but interrelated phenomena that, for Paul, lie at the heart of all that had gone wrong within God’s good creation. Those two phenomena are: (1) the abusive application of power within patterns of dysfunctional relationship, and (2) human inability (or the lack of power) to offset those abusive applications of power.
Kant’s thesis that there is in human nature an innate, universal, inextirpable, and radical propensity to evil belongs to his attempt to choose fragments of (Christian) revelation and see if they cannot be seen to lead back to the religion of pure reason. Though Kant regards this thesis as unproven, he offers it as an interpretation of the Christian doctrine of original sin that can be used in moral discipline, though not in moral dogmatics. To understand Kant’s concept of evil, we must understand his concept of freedom and disentangle it from incomprehensible metaphysical speculations with which it has often been associated in the literature. Kant’s concept of moral evil is extremely abstract, consisting in the choice of some nonmoral incentive over the moral incentive. Evil can never be made entirely intelligible because evil is action, hence done for reasons, but there can never be a sufficient or decisive reason for doing it because the moral incentive is rationally prior to all nonmoral incentives. But Kant thinks evil can be made intelligible to an extent by seeing it as part of nature’s purposiveness in developing human species predispositions in the social condition.
Ancient Egypt, its society, law and belief system were brought into being, and sustained, by the threat and application of violence in the form of cruel and unusual punishments intended unabashedly to intimidate. The ‘Big Man’ role which informs the office of kingship from the outset of Egyptian history, maintains itself on celestial as well as terrestrial levels. The fertility of valley and delta promised untold agricultural riches to the human community if there was general cooperation; it was essential therefore to deter free thought and action by all available means of violent force. Prosperity would come through the plans of a single authority, not the collective debate of a people. Similarly, in Egypt’s sphere of influence whole-hearted subservience was required on pain of violent punishment. From the third millennium BCE Egypt had begun the process of cloning this life to produce a heaven and hell.
This chapter analyses the innovative moral structure of Dante’s afterlife as a whole. Where some scholars, such as Cogan and Moevs, have tried to set out an overarching moral rationale for the Commedia, Dante incorporates diverse ethical criteria for Hell, Purgatory, and Paradise.
Chapter 5 engages proposals that deny the importance of a historical Fall. I begin with Kant’s account of radical evil. An influential reading is this. Every human being who reaches the age of reason freely subordinates the moral law to self-interest. Next is Karl Barth’s “christologized” version of radical evil: the Fall is the universal act of unbelief in Christ. I argue that the reduction of original sin to the universality of actual sin is insufficiently inclusive. Neither infants nor the severely mentally disabled choose wrongdoing. Schleiermacher separated original sin from the Fall in a different way. Original sin is the corporate act of humanity. The “force” of sin is present in infants, albeit in germinal form, and when they mature they lack God-consciousness and tend to sinful self-love. Schleiermacher’s view leads to a problematic conclusion. Either sin is numerically one, or sin is merely environmental, external to the will. Schoonenberg defends a similar view but stresses human freedom. McFarland intriguingly proposes a synthesis of Maximus’s and Augustine’s accounts of the fallen will, while arguing that we can avoid etiological explanations of sin altogether. I argue, however, that we have to choose: we need either to explain why original justice is theologically unnecessary or to defend it in some form.
Chapter 1 puts Thomas’s account in its historical context by discussing Augustine and his medieval reception. The first part of the chapter focuses on Augustine’s mature account of original sin, drawing on The City of God and his anti-Pelagian works. I argue that Augustine’s account contained several fruitful ambiguities which would be the basis for medieval reflection. How should we understand the transmission of original sin and the origin of the soul? In what sense are infants guilty of sin? How can we make sense of the claim that human nature has been “corrupted”? The second major part of the chapter discusses Anselm of Canterbury, Peter Abelard, and Peter Lombard. Each of these theologians defended original sin while challenging at least one important aspect of Augustine’s teaching. Anselm claimed that concupiscence cannot be sinful. Abelard denied original guilt. The Lombard emphatically denied traducianism and insisted that infants who die unbaptized are guilty only in a highly mitigated sense.
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 3 argues that Thomas radically reconfigures the relation between original sin and human nature. Whereas Augustine had argued that nature is “corrupted” by the Fall, Thomas draws on Denys the Areopagite to argue that strictly speaking, human nature survives the Fall. For Thomas, there are two senses of the word “nature.” In the strict sense, “nature” refers to the principia naturae and the propria that follow therefrom. The secondary sense of “nature” refers to what is good for nature – including communion with God. Thomas regularly uses Augustinian language concerning the corruption of nature by sin (e.g., STh I–II, q. 109), but when he explains this usage he indicates that it is improper (e.g., De malo q. 5, a. 2). Nature is “corrupted” only insofar as human beings have lost the good of nature, original justice. The principles and properties of human nature – including the orientation to God – remain. This is why Thomas argues that children who die unbaptized will know and love God in limbo.
Chapter 7 proposes a new Thomist view of original sin. The core of Thomas’s proposal – that original sin has more to do with the lack of a right relation to the Triune God than the inheritance of personal guilt or corruption – is defensible today. His mature teaching stressing the necessity of supernatural grace for original justice, however, implies that he should have denied that original sin has a necessary connection to Adam’s failure to sexually transmit justice. I propose a “new Thomist view,” on which original sin is the lack of sanctifying grace. Grace is the Father’s gift of the Holy Spirit that orients the person to Jesus Christ. Every infant is born with human nature but called to exist in Christ. I construct this account in dialogue with biblical scholarship and respond to the challenges posed by evolution. I sketch two possible views of the Fall compatible with the new Thomist view of original sin.
Analyzing the work book by book, this essay discusses the many aspects of sin and concupiscence in Augustine’s “Confessions.” It leads to the conclusion that confessio in the sense of confession of sexual sins is an essential feature of the title and contents of Augustine’s most famous writing.
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.
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 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.