Roma Locuta Est, Causa Finita Est
Rome Has Spoken, the Debate Has Ended
Did St. Augustine actually say this? Let us find out!
A Response to James White by Scott Windsor
This is a response to a "popup" from James
White (NA27) that he posted in the #CathApol
chat-channel on Undernet/IRC. James took the time to prepare the popup, but in
"live/realtime chat" it was a bit difficult to respond to (all of it scrolling on
to the screen at once - some of his points not being addressed, because they were missing
in "realtime." Given the oportunity to respond offline at my own
pace, I was able to look at the context of St. Augustine's Sermon 131, plus look up more
details on Pope St. Zosimus.
So, below is the original discussion (on the left) with my responses (on the right),
which is then followed by the actual text of Sermon 131 (on the left) with my commentary
(on the right).
[12:37] <NA27> OK, here's the popup. There are five segments. :-)
I have reformatted James' segments for this webpage.
[12:37] <NA27> Merdinger writes in _Augustine Through the Ages: An Encyclopedia_ (Eerdman's, 1999),
pp. 728-729, "In a memorable sermon preached at Carthage in September 417, Augustine acknowledged
the papacy's pivotal role in the controversy: "For two councils [Carthage and Milevis] have now
sent reports to the Apostolic See; replies have come in turn. The dispute is finished. Would
that the error might be finished sometime as well." (s. 131.10). Augustine's remarks in sermo 131 have
often been quoted out of context, prompting some scholars to assert that the Africans placed the entire
decision in Innocent's hands alone. Elsewhere, however, Augustine clearly stated his belief that
councils and the papacy must both play a role in defining doctrine (see, e.g., c. Jul. 3.1.5)...
I find it interesting that here he admits that St. Augustine
believes the papacy has any role in defining doctrine! But by this version of the
quote, we see that Rome has indeed replied (can that not be that Rome as
"spoken?"). We also see that Rome plays a "pivotal role" in this as well.
[12:37] <NA27> Africa's amicable relationship with Rome took a turn for the worse with the death
of Innocent in March 417. He was succeeded by Zosimus...he readmitted Pelagius and Caelestius to
Communion into what? The One, True Church? And James, I must ask
you, do you REALLY think that Pope St. Zosimus KNEW that Pelagius and Caelestius were disingenuous in
the "confession" that was sent to Rome? Do you REALLY think he KNEW they were still
heretics and yet embraced them anyway? Come now, do you REALLY expect us to make this leap with you?
[12:38] <NA27> In Magnum Pondus and Postquam a Nobis the pope upbraided the Africans
for their treatment of the two men. Disturbed by Zosimus' tactics, the Fathers sent envoys to Ravenna
to seek Emperor Honorius' aid....In a third letter to Aurelius, Zosimus vacillated between making
lofty pronouncements about papal prerogatives and seeking advice from the Africans.
"(L)ofty" is a polemical term, but aside from that what
we see here is that Pope Zosimus has not made anything final in this regard. We can admit that he
wrongfully readmitted Pelagius and Caelestius back into communion with the Church (calling them
both orthodox and Catholic) but this was based upon a deceptive "confession" from
Pelagius which made Pelagius seem orthodox to His Holiness Pope Zosimus. We see here that
Pope Zosimus was open to seeking advice from the African bishops (even if he was
"vacillating" [another polemical term] in this context). We also take note of the fact
that the term "pope" is used here and seemingly not objected to!
[12:38] <NA27> On 30 April the emperor issued an edict banishing Pelagius and his followers
from Rome....He avoided any reference to papal authority over the issue.
Arguing from silence now James? (James
objects that he was quoting something here, not making his own argument - I
respond, if you quote it, you're making it part of your argument!)
[12:38] <NA27> On 1 May the Africans convened a plenary council at Carthage to defeat
Pelagianism on their own terms. Over two hundred bishops categorically anathematized the
central tenets of the movement.
No, it was not "on their own terms" it was on
the terms of orthodoxy in the Catholic Faith.
[12:38] <NA27> In a letter to Zosimus at the close of the council, the Fathers
pointedly remarked that they would uphold his predecessor's decrees, not his....
"The Fathers?" Did this assembly account
for ALL the Fathers of the Church, or just the African Fathers? And yet, this
"council" decreed it would uphold the decrees of "his predecessor"
of what position? Interesting that there IS authority recognized here by the
[12:38] <NA27> Zosimus capitulated, and in July he issued a long letter condemning Pelagianism...."
So rather than accept that His Holiness has decreed the
orthodox position, we detect a bit of sarcasm in "Zosimus capitulated." Let it be
known, that Pope Zosimus DID uphold the orthodox position of the Church all along,
what he "changed" was his statement on Pelagius and Caelestius after being
shown that they were in error/heresy from the One, True Faith.
[12:38] <NA27> It must be remembered that Zosimus, upon taking the throne in Rome, acted
rashly, sending letters to North Africa in which he clearly displayed his pompous attitude.
He arrogantly browbeat the North African bishops for being rash in their decisions concerning
Pelagius and Coelestus; he proclaimed, as the bishop of Rome, that these men were "catholic"
and "orthodox" and commanded that the North African bishops present their case before him.
Ah! So, if we look past the further usage of polemics
(acted rashly, arrogant browbeating, pompous attitude, etc.) we see acknowledgement of a
"throne in Rome" and the fact that Pope Zosimus requested that the African bishops
"present their case" before him. If one wishes to call this a "command"
then sobeit! As we see below, the African bishops submitted to the command!
[12:38] <NA27> Late in 417 or early in 418 the bishops of North Africa gathered in
council to respond to the situation. They sent a letter to the bishop of Rome in
which they pointedly said that they would continue to enforce the decision they had
already rendered against Pelagius and Coelestus; they reminded Zosimus that his
predecessor had agreed with them, and they said that they would refuse fellowship to
the two until they confessed openly that "we are aided by the grace of God, through
Christ, not only to know, but to do what is right, in each single act, so that without
grace we are unable to have, think, speak, or do anything pertaining to piety."
Here is the admission that the African bishops did
indeed submit to the command to present their case by doing just that.
[12:39] <NA27> The refusal of the North African bishops, led by Augustine,
to bow to Zosimus makes it very clear that his words in Sermon 131 are *grossly*
misused by RC apologists. And the rest of the history bears this out.
Well, we have not seen anything that
indicates this is a "grossly misused" paraphrase from Sermon 131.10 of
[12:39] <NA27> Zosimus was rattled by the North African rebuff. He wrote back,
claiming that he had "maturely examined the matter" and had not reached his
decision rashly. But the North Africans were firm: they called another council,
with 200 bishops in attendance, in May and again condemned Pelagianism. Meanwhile,
the Emperor in Ravenna concurred, and sent a letter demanding the expulsion of
Pelagius and Coelestus. Despite his having declared both men "catholic," "orthodox,"
and that he had engaged in a "mature examination" of the case, Zosimus crumbled
under the combined weight, did a complete about face, and joined in the condemnation
of Pelagius and Coelestus.
James likes to say that Pope St. Zosimus
"crumbled" here, but he has taken an extremely polemical approach. There
is little, if any, objectivity in his thesis. Did he even consider a
Catholic source on this issue? The Catholic Encyclopedia online has a bit of a
different take on this matter. I encourage the reader to take a look at that
source as well:
http://www.newadvent.org/cathen/15764c.htm (clicking here will cause a new window
to open, preserving your place in this one). Briefly, it says (as I answered
below) that Pope St. Zosimus was DECEIVED by a false confession of Pelagius, and
believed Pelagius' deception. Perhaps it took the "pressure" of two
African councils and the Emperor to convince him otherwise. What is significant is
that these two councils and the Emperor felt there was a NEED to get Pope St. Zosimus
to change his stand - and the further point is that he DID change his stand and
upon his final decree orthodoxy of the Catholic Faith as taught by the Pope
remained true to the Catholic Faith.
[12:40] <NA27> Let this be a lesson for all who read such sources as
"This Rock" or "Envoy" magazine: it is easy to isolate phrases, or even make
phrases up (such as those who claim Augustine said, "Roma locuta est, causa
finita est"), to create an impression that is false. Let the reader beware:
go to the original sources and discover for yourself.
Did St. Augustine use those very words
in this Sermon 131? Perhaps not, though it would seem that much of this
is based on interpretation. The wording that James admits to is: "For two
councils have now sent reports to the Apostolic See; replies have come in
turn. The dispute is finished." So, "replies have come in
turn" = "Rome has spoken" (for it is Rome that is replying
here); and "the dispute is finished" = "the cause is
Now, I grant you here, St. Augustine goes on to say, "Would that the error
might be finished sometime as well." That latter statement indicates
that St. Augustine is not wholly satisfied with "Rome's answer."
But it must be further noted that he appears to be willing to submit that
"the dispute is finished."
[12:40] <NA27> Modern Roman Papal claims are a-historical and untrue.
[12:40] <NA27> fini
Then I, after allowing James'
"popup" to complete, started answering in realtime.
[12:41] <BigSCOTT> Not ahistorical or untrue...
[12:41] <BigSCOTT> not sure what the point is that you were making in this popup
[12:41] <NA27> I'm sorry, Scott. But, thankfully, everyone else does.
[12:41] <BigSCOTT> Zosimus was "wrong" in declaring these men Catholic?
[12:41] <BigSCOTT> was that the point?
[12:42] <NA27> You *really* don't get it, Scott?
No, I got it - I was attempting to clarify
what James' point was. Upon my first and live reading of this "popup"
I felt his intent was to just show that Pope St. Zosimus was wrong in declaring
Pelagius and Caelestius as "orthodox and Catholic." For, if this was
his point, then we agree! However, James' point was to end the use of
"Roma locuta est, causa finita est" by myself and other Roman
Catholics (another member of his channel had asked me about this because it
was an autoquote from my system when someone "pinged" me on IRC).
[12:42] <NA27> You don't see how the facts demonstrate that Sermon 131
does NOT say what you have always said it says?
Well, to be clear, I have not "always"
said this, but I do admit to quoting it in the past and adding it to my auto-reply.
My point is, does it truly NOT say what I (and others) have said it says?
Clearly, the Latin does not include "Roma locuta est" but the MEANING
of that is conveyed.
[12:42] <NA27> You don't see how this bishop of Rome, Zosimus, made an
error as well? How can you not see these things that are so obvious and clear?
No, I have admitted that Pope Zosimus made
an error, based on a deception, regarding Pelagius and Caelestius. That was
obvious and clear, and likewise clear that he corrected that error, and that
the African bishops and the Emperor felt it NECESSARY that this error be
[12:43] <BigSCOTT> I have not read the full context...
[12:43] <BigSCOTT> It is possible for a Pope to err...
[12:43] <BigSCOTT> I do not dispute that...
[12:43] <BigSCOTT> many have, and have been rebuke for such
[12:44] <NA27> OK, well, no time to argue the obvious today, Scott.
Yes, the Popes have erred many times....and it is obvious that in this case
it was on the very definition of the gospel itself. Oh well, we know how you
get around that. But anyway, must go.
[12:44] <NA27> God's Grace Be Forever Praised!
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Below I am including the full context
of Sermon 131. It will be interesting for the reader to note how much of
this "in context" sermon that James must have a lot of difficulty
accepting, but we'll get to that later. James leaves now, and gives me a
chance to read the Catholic Encyclopedia's account of this. James also,
in a rather quick exit, states that this statement deals with the Gospel
itself. No, it dealt with the Pope being deceived by the false confession
of Pelagius - and the Pope believing that these men were indeed "orthodox
and Catholic" and it would not be until after those two councils and
the Emperor took their stand that the Pope would realize the deception
and correct his position.
[13:06] <BigSCOTT> http://www.newadvent.org/cathen/15764c.htm - This
is the CE entry on Pope St. Zosimus
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[13:25] <BigSCOTT> it seems that he was DECEIVED by Pelagius and
made a ruling...
[13:26] <BigSCOTT> however, after consulting with the African bishops,
he decreed that he had made no "final ruling" and that he would NOT
do so without first consenting the African bishops.
[13:26] <BigSCOTT> <BigSCOTT> And later upheld and defended
the orthodox position of the Catholic Church - which he never denied,
but based on the deceitful "confession" of Pelagius, had pronounced
Pelagius as a "Catholic." And this enraged the bishops of Africa...
[13:26] <BigSCOTT> Now, if there were NO Papal authority here,
why would these allegedly "independent" bishops have been so up in arms
about what the bishop in Rome said?
[13:26] <BigSCOTT> CLEARLY this whole argument implies that there
WAS INDEED authority in Rome, and that is what concerned the African
bishops so much, that the Bishop of Rome had stated Pelagius was a
[13:27] <NA27> lol
[13:27] <BigSCOTT> ?? You laugh?
[13:27] <NA27> Like I said, there is always a way around facts, if
you want a way around facts.
[13:28] <BigSCOTT> those are the facts
And I reiterate now, I have presented
[13:28] <NA27> So the bishop of Rome can be deceived on matters of
faith and morals? Fascinating.
[13:28] <NA27> Or, to quote someone from TV, "How conveeeeeeeeeeeenient."
[13:28] <BigSCOTT> He did not "rule" on this
Please note, in order for the Pope to
make an infallible declaration on matters of Faith and Morals, he must be
NONE of these qualifications can be applied to Pope Zosimus' statement
to the African bishops regarding Pelagius and Caelestius. PLUS he
was not teaching against a matter of Faith and Morals, for based on the
FALSE confession of Pelagius, he believe these two were indeed
orthodox and Catholic. A
point that saddens me is that James KNOWS what constitutes an infallible
decree. I know I have shared it with him in the past and with all his
"research" he has done in the area of Catholicism I believe that James
is truly being disingenuous in attempting to link this to papal
infallibility. It just doesn't apply, not by ANY standard of papal
- Teaching to the entire Church, not just one portion of it.
- It must be a statement that is made binding on all
- He must state what the penalties are for defying this teaching.
[13:28] <NA27> And isn't it very strange, Scott, that it took two
North African Councils AND the Emperor to get Zosimus to escape from his
[13:28] <NA27> :-)
I fail to see the irony. You or I
were not there. Somehow Pope Zosimus was convinced that those two
were orthodox and Catholic, and attempted to stand his ground on the
matter. The fact remains that he withdrew his support for Pelagius
and Caelestius and remained true to the Catholic Faith.
[13:29] <BigSCOTT> http://www.newadvent.org/cathen/15764c.htm - This is
the CE entry on Pope St. Zosimus
[13:29] <NA27> Fact is, big guy, that 1) Sermon 131 is not quoted
correctly by RC apologists; 2) that sermon 131 in no way promotes Papal
authority (which is what started all of this).
[13:29] <BigSCOTT> Well, even as such, it still does...
We shall see, below, how much of Sermon
131 applies to this situation, and how it supports Catholic doctrine on
several other issues as well.
[13:30] <NA27> He sent two letters to the bishops of North Africa
REBUKING them and saying that Pelagius and Coelestus were "orthodox"
and "catholic." What do you call that, Scott?
[13:30] <BigSCOTT> Augustine stated that Rome had spoken, the
case was closed... even though it really wasn't at the time...
[13:30] <NA27> Uh huh. So what do you call that, Scott?
[13:30] <NA27> Please answer my question. What do you call that?
[13:30] <BigSCOTT> He sent those letters while he still believe
the false confession of Pelagius
[13:31] <NA27> If the bishop of Rome writes to you and says that
certain individuals are orthodox and catholic that YOU have
disfellowshipped, what does THAT mean?
[13:31] <NA27> < sigh >
[13:31] <NA27> Goodnight, I don't know if I've ever seen greater
blindness in my life.
[13:31] <NA27> 1,5(4,5)1,5(4,5)1,5(4,5) 0,5 AUGUSTINE NEVER SAID ROME HAD SPOKEN!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!1 1,5(4,5)1,5(4,5)1,5(4,5)
James appears to be getting a bit
The "blindness" we are
seeing is that James is stuck trying to "win" this debate - but it is
clear, he has not. It was already granted that St. Augustine didn't use
THOSE WORDS and it is equally clear "Roma locuta est" MEANS "Rome
has spoken" and that is taken from "rescripts have been sent (from the
Apostolic See" which is clearly Rome).
[13:31] <BigSCOTT> He thought he [Pelagius] was orthodox...
[13:31] <NA27> My goodness man, wake up!!
[13:32] <BigSCOTT> later it was shown Pelagius wasn't
[13:32] <NA27> He said two NORTH AFRICAN councils had spoken
and that Julius, Zosimus' predecessor, had agreed. The case was
closed NOT because of Rome. Will you PLEASE at least admit this
is the simple fact?
[13:32] <BigSCOTT> and the Pope did "wake up"
[13:32] <BigSCOTT> perhaps he was a stubborn man...
[13:32] <BigSCOTT> didn't want to back down, but the fact remains
he did back down...
[13:33] <NA27> Zosimus claimed to have engaged in a "mature
examination" of Pelagius, and he MAINTAINED Pelagius' orthodoxy. The
North Africans told him he was in error, and the Emperor joined in.
Only when faced with these facts (not "new" information on Pelagius)
did he give in.
James speculates that it was not based on this "new information"
but other sources (one of which I have cited on this webpage) say
otherwise. Do we listen to someone who is following a 16th Century
Protestor, or do we listen to those still in communion with the
Church that St. Augustine was a part of and defended so earnestly?
Oh, and by the way, "Julius" was not Zosimus' immediate predecessor, Innocent I was!
Julius I was Pope from 337 - 352. Pelagius wasn't even BORN until 354! (And White
accuses ME of anachronism all the time?)
[13:33] <BigSCOTT> I may agree to your conclusion on that quotation...
I will look into the context of that more...
Which I do below.
[13:33] <NA27> Yes, so, two things: 1) Sermon 131 does not
say "Rome has spoken." This is a FACT. Do you admit this or not?
[13:34] <BigSCOTT> Not those words, I agree
Not those words, exactly, but
that statement can be derived from the text of Sermon 131.
[13:34] <NA27> 2) Augustine and the North African bishops
stood strong against the bishop of Rome's declaration that Pelagius
and Coelestus were orthodox, refused his rebuke, and were proven
[13:34] <BigSCOTT> I agree with the second.
[13:35] <BigSCOTT> Question for you
[13:35] <NA27> Dodge and weave if you wish on the obvious error
the bishop of Rome made on the very nature of the gospel, I expect
that from those who can do nothing more, but PLEASE have the temerity
to allow the facts to be the facts and recognize what really happened.
Sermon 131 does NOT contain a reference to "papal primacy." Thank you.
[13:35] <BigSCOTT> Why were they concerned about the Bishop of
[13:36] <BigSCOTT> Will you answer my question?
[13:36] <BigSCOTT> If he had no jurisdiction over him, then why
would they be concerned over his reproof of them?
[13:36] <NA27> Because Rome was the largest and most influential
see in the West, of course. The bishop of Rome was sticking his nose
in a matter about which he was both arrogant and ignorant, and
Augustine especially did not want to see Pelagius running about spreading
Yes James, Sermon 131 DOES contain reference to papal
primacy! What was the reason for TWO councils to be sent to
Rome? Note also St. Augustine's response after the rescripts were sent
back from Rome, "causa finita est!" The case is closed!
"Rome was the largest and most
influential," at least we're getting somewhere!
[13:37] <NA27> They saw he didn't in their rejection of Zosimus
in two councils, Scott.
[13:37] <NA27> If they believed the bishop of Rome was the infallible
leader of the entire Church, pray tell, why did they rebuke him in council
and refuse to drop their condemnation of Pelagius and Coelestus?
[13:38] <BigSCOTT> Because they knew the truth about Pelagius and
Caelestus and made Zosimus aware of the deception that had transpired.
[13:39] <NA27> Yes, they knew the truth about Pelagius; but Zosimus
did NOT drop his position as a result. He reversed only when the Emperor
told him to do so, and a second council met, showing that the North
Africans would not give in.
No, that is a bit of misinformation.
The Emperor did not "tell" him to reverse his decision, rather,
the Emperor banished Pelagius and Caelestius (siding with the African
bishops). I have already conceded that PERHAPS this is what it took for
Pope Zosimus to change his position on Pelagius and Caelestius, but again
the Pope held the orthodox position, he just believed in the deceptive
"confession" of Pelagius. If you have evidence of the Emperor
"telling" Zosimus something here, I'd like to read it - otherwise
I'd like to see a retraction of that remark.
[13:39] <NA27> Again, if they thought he was the head of the
Church, why did they not obey him?
[13:40] <BigSCOTT> I am not sure if I agree with your spin on "why"
but the fact remains that he did change his stand...
Upon further reflection, and as mentioned
above, they DID "obey" him and submitted to his authority
by presenting their case to him!
[13:40] <NA27> Yes, he gave in to political pressure. That's obvious.
[13:41] <BigSCOTT> Regardless, if that spin makes you feel better, but
the fact remains that the African bishops were concerned with the Pope
condemning them... and they didn't back down (rightfully so)
[13:41] <BigSCOTT> And the Pope came around... he was not the first
Pope to err, and would not be the last...
[13:42] <BigSCOTT> Peter even erred in denying the Christ...
[13:42] <BigSCOTT> But came back and was still given the place of
authority... "Feed My sheep...."
[13:43] <BigSCOTT> gotta run... bbiab
[13:46] <NA27> in the issue. They rebuked him and stood strong.
[13:46] <NA27> Finally, I would say that any further use of
"Roma locuta est" etc. would be most disingenuous. Thanks.
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Thus ended our discussion, this
sixth day of April, 2000.
I must comment that it is NOT
disingenuous to use that terminology. Rome DID speak and the case
was closed (according to Sermon 131.10 of St. Augustine). What IS disingenuous
is to attempt to prove that Rome had not spoken on this matter - when in FACT
Rome had spoken (sent rescripts).
Perhaps James' hyper-vigilance on this
matter is because if it can be shown that "Rome has spoken" and St.
Augustine has accepted this and that the case is concluded then James has lost
this battle and lost his patron Saint! Since James' life/income/lifestyle
hinges upon him "winning" we can understand his "need" to
The original electronic text of this is found at:
This version has the "King's English" removed.
[CXXXI. BENEDICTINE EDITION.]
ON THE WORDS OF THE GOSPEL, JOHN VI. 53, " EXCEPT YE EAT THE FLESH," ETC.,
AND ON THE WORDS OF THE APOSTLES. AND THE PSALMS. AGAINST THE PELAGIANS.
Delivered at the Table of the Martyr St. Cyprian, the 9th of the Calends of
October,--23 Sept., on the Lord's day.
I. We have heard the True Master, the Divine Redeemer, the human Saviour,
commending to us our Ransom, His Blood. For He spoke to us of His Body and
Blood; He called His Body Meat, His Blood Drink. The faithful recognise the
Sacrament of the faithful. But the hearers what else do they but hear? When
therefore commending such Meat and such Drink He said, "Except you shall eat
My Flesh and drink My Blood, ye shall have no life in you; " (and this
that He said concerning life, who else said it but the Life Itself? But
that man shall have death, not life, who shall think that the Life is
false), His disciples were offended, not all of them indeed, but very many,
saying within themselves, "This is an hard saying, who can hear it? "
But when the Lord knew this in Himself, and heard the murmurings of their
thought, He answered them, thinking though uttering nothing, that they
might understand that they were heard, and might cease to entertain such
thoughts. What then did He answer? "Does this offend
you?" "What then if you
shall see the Son of Man ascend up where He was before?" What does this
mean? "Does this offend you ?" "Do you imagine that I am about to make
divisions of this My Body which you see; and to cut up My Members, and give
them to you? ' What then if you shall see the Son of Man ascend up where He
was before?'" Assuredly, He who could ascend Whole could not be consumed.
So then He both gave us of His Body and Blood a healthful refreshment, and
briefly solved so great a question as to His Own Entireness. Let them then
who eat, eat on, and them that drink, drink; let them hunger and thirst;
eat Life, drink Life. That eating, is to be refreshed; but you are in such
wise refreshed, as that that whereby you are refreshed, does not fail. That
drinking, what is it but to live? Eat Life, drink Life; you shall have
life, and the Life is Entire. But then this shall be, that is, the Body and
the Blood of Christ shall be each man's Life; if what is taken in the
Sacrament visibly is in the truth itself eaten spiritually, drunk spiritually. For we have heard the Lord Himself saying, "It is the Spirit
That quickeneth, but the flesh profiteth nothing. The words that I have
spoken unto you, are Spirit and Life. But there are some of you," He said,
"that believe not." Such were they who said, "This is a hard saying, who
can hear it?" It is hard, but only to the hard; that is, it is incredible,
but only to the incredulous.
Wow! St. Augustine is talking about
what would later (by St. Thomas Aquinas) be defined as transubstantiation!
"For He spoke to us of His Body and Blood; He called His Body Meat, His
Blood Drink. The faithful recognise the Sacrament of the faithful. This
is a hard saying, who can hear it?" It is hard, but only to the hard; that
is, it is incredible, but only to the incredulous."
"...if what is taken in the
Sacrament visibly is in the truth itself eaten spiritually, drunk
spiritually." Most Protestants will try to say the Eucharist is only
symbolic. Well, "visible" and "spiritually" indicate
that this is more than symbolic. Something that is visible is
"real;" likewise something that is spiritual is "real."
Sorry James, you gain no points in this argument from paragraph 1, and
in fact lose ground on a side issue (to this discussion) on the
matter of the Real Presence in the Eucharist.
2. But in order to teach us that this very believing is matter of gift,
not of desert, He says, "As I have said unto you, no man comes unto Me,
except it were given him of My Father." Now as to where the Lord said
this, if we call to mind the foregoing words of the Gospel, we shall find
that He had said, "No man comes unto Me, except the Father which has sent
Me draw him." He did not lead, but draw. This violence is done to the
heart, not the body. Why then do you marvel? Believe, and you come;
love, and you are drawn. Do not suppose here any rough and uneasy
violence; it is gentle, it is sweet; it is the very sweetness that draws
you. Is not a sheep drawn, when fresh grass is shown to it in its hunger?
Yet I imagine that it is not bodily driven on, but fast bound by desire. In
such wise you come too to Christ; do not conceive of long journeyings;
where you believe, there you come. For unto Him, who is everywhere we
come by love, not by sailing. But forasmuch as even in this kind of voyage,
waves and tempests of divers temptations abound; believe on the Crucified;
that your faith may be able to ascend the Wood. You shall not sink, but
shall be borne upon the Wood. Thus, even thus, amid the waves of this world
did he sail, who said, "But God forbid that I should glory, save in the
Cross of our Lord Jesus Christ."
I think James and I can both agree
on paragraph 2, so no further comment.
3. But wonderful it is, that when Christ Crucified is preached, two hear,
one despises, the other ascends. Let him that despises, impute it to
himself; let not him that ascends, arrogate it to himself. For he has
heard from the True Master; "No man comes unto Me, except it were given
unto him of My Father." let him joy, that it has been given; let him
render thanks to Him who gives it, with a humble, not an arrogant heart
lest what he hath attained through humility, he lose through pride. For
even they who are already walking in this way of righteousness, if they
attribute it to themselves, and to their own strength, perish out of it.
And therefore Holy Scripture teaching us humility said by the Apostle,
"Work out your own salvation with fear and trembling." And unless hereupon
they should attribute ought to themselves, because he said, "Work," he
subjoined immediately, "For it is God who works in you both to will and
to do of His good pleasure." "It is God who works in you;" therefore
"with fear and trembling," make a valley, receive the rain. Low grounds are
filled, high grounds are dried up. Grace is rain. Why do you marvel
then, if "God resist the proud, and gives grace unto the lowly "?
Therefore, "with fear and trembling;" that is, with humility. "Be not high-
minded, but fear." Fear that you may be filled; be not high-minded,
or else you will be dried up.
I think James and I can both agree
on paragraph 3, so no further comment.
4. But you will say, "I am walking in this way already; once there was
need for me to learn, there was need for me to know by the teaching of the
law what I had to do: now I have the free choice of the will; who shall
withdraw me from this way?" If you read carefully, you will find that a
certain man began to uplift himself, on a certain abundance of his, which
he had nevertheless received; but that the Lord in mercy, to teach him
humility, took away what He had given; and he was on a sudden reduced to
poverty, and confessing the mercy of God in his recollection, he said, "In
my abundance I said, I shall never be moved." "In my abundance I said."
But I said it, I who am a man said it; "All men are liars, I said."
Therefore, "in my abundance I said;" so great was the abundance, that I
dared to say. "I shall never be moved." What next? "O Lord, in Your favour
You gave strength to my beauty." But "You have turned away Your Face from
me, and I was troubled." "Thou hast shown me," said he, "that that
wherein I did abound, was of You. You have shown me Whence I should seek,
to Whom attribute what I had received, to Whom I ought to render thanks, to
Whom I should run in my thirst, Whereby be filled, and with Whom keep that
whereby I should be filled. ' For my strength will I keep to Thee;'
whereby I am by Your bounty filled, through Your safe keeping I will not
lose. ' My strength will I keep to You.' That You might show me this,
' Yhou turnedst away Your Face from me, and I was troubled.' 'Troubled,'
because dried up; dried up, because exalted. Say then you dry and parched
one, that you may be filled again; ' My soul is as earth without water
unto Thee.' Say, ' My soul is as earth without water unto You.' For
You have said, not the Lord, ' I shall never be moved.' You have said it,
presuming on thine own strength; but it was not of thyself, and you did
think as if it were."
Again, I think James and I can both
agree on paragraph 4, so no further comment.
5. What then doth the Lord say? "Serve the Lord in fear, and rejoice
unto Him with trembling." So the Apostle said too, "Work out your own
salvation with fear and trembling. For it is God who works in you."
Therefore rejoice with trembling: "For at any time the Lord be angry." I
see that you anticipate me by your crying out. For you know what I am about
to say,' you anticipate it by crying out. And whence have you this, but that
He taught you to whom you have by believing come? This then He says; hear
what you know already; I am not teaching, but in preaching am calling to
your remembrance; no, I am neither teaching, seeing that you know already,
nor calling to remembrance, seeing that you remember, but let us say all
together what together with us you retain. "Embrace discipline, and
rejoice," but, "with trembling," that, humbly you may ever hold fast
that which ye have received. "Unless at any time the Lord be angry;" with the
proud of course, attributing to themselves what they have, not rendering
thanks to Him, from whom they have. "Unless at any time the Lord be angry,
and you perish from the righteous way." Did he say, Unless at any time the
Lord be angry, and you come not into the righteous way "? Did he say, "Unless
the Lord be angry, and He bring you not to the righteous way "? or "admit
you not into the righteous way? You are walking in it already, be not proud,
lest you even perish from it. ' And you perish,' he says,' from the
righteous way." " When His wrath shall be kindled in a short time"
against you. At no distant time. As soon as you are proud, you lose at
once which you had received. As though man terrified by all this were to
say, "What shall I do then ?" It follows, "Blessed are all they that trust
in Him:" not in themselves, but in Him. "By grace are we saved, not of
ourselves, but it is the gift of God."
Here we see St. Augustine denying
the "P" in TULIP (Perseverance of Saints). James' definition of
the "P" is:
Since salvation is entirely the work of
the Lord, and man has absolutely nothing to do with 'getting saved' in the
first place, it is obvious that 'keeping saved' is also the work of God,
apart from any good or bad on the part of His elect. The saints will
'persevere' for the simple reason that God promises this, assuring us that
He will finish the work He has begun in us!"
But, St. Augustine says: "As soon as you are proud, you lose at
once which you had received." So, what the Lord has given you (grace)
can be lost, and "pride" is one way this gift can be lost.
6. Peradventure you are saying, "What does he mean, that he is so often
saying this? A second and a third time he says it; and scarcely ever
speaks, but when he says it." Would that I may not say it in vain! For men
there are unthankful to grace, attributing much to poor and disabled
nature. True it is, when man was created he received great power of free-
will; but he lost it by sin. He fell into death, became infirm, was left in
the way by the robbers half dead; the Samaritan, which is by interpretation
keeper, passing by lifted him up on his own beast; he is still being
brought to the inn. Why is he lifted up? He is still in process of curing.
"But," he will say, "it is enough for me that in
baptism I received remission of all sins." Because iniquity was
blotted out, was therefore infirmity brought to an end? "I received," says
he, "remission of all sins." It is quite true. All
sins were blotted out in the Sacrament of Baptism, all entirely, of words,
deeds, thoughts, all were blotted out. But this is the "oil and
wine" which was poured in by the way. You remember, beloved Brethren, that
man who was wounded by the robbers, and half dead by the way, how he was
strengthened, by receiving oil and wine for his wounds. His error indeed
was already pardoned, and yet his weakness is in process of healing in the
inn. The inn, if you recognise it, is the Church. In the time present, an
inn, because in life we are passing by: it will be a home, whence we shall
never remove, when we shall have got in perfect health unto the kingdom of
heaven. Meanwhile receive we gladly our treatment in the inn, and weak as
we still are, glory we not of sound health: unless through our pride we
gain nothing else, but never for all our treatment to be cured.
And in this paragraph, St. Augustine
states the fact that the Sacrament of Baptism does indeed wash away sin.
Baptism is not merely an outward sign, but an outward sign that gains
grace! (This is another "sideissue" that James would disagree
with, or at least has disagreed with on previous occasions).
7. "Bless the Lord, O my soul." Say, yes say to your soul, "You are
still in this life, still bear about a frail flesh, still "does the
corruptible body press down the soul;" still after the entireness of
remission have you received the remedy of prayer; for still, while your
weaknesses are being healed, do you say, "Forgive us our debts." Say
then to you soul, you lowly valley, not an exalted hill; say to your soul,
"Bless the Lord, O my soul, and forget not all His benefits." What
benefits? Tell them, enumerate them, render thanks. What benefits?
"Who forgives all your iniquities." This took place
in baptism. What takes place now? "Who heals all your weaknesses."
This takes place now; I acknowledge. But as long as I am here,
"the corruptible body presses down the soul." Say then also that which
comes next, "Who redeems your life from corruption." After redemption
from corruption, what remains? "When this corruptible shall have put
on incorruption, and this mortal shall have put on immortality, then
shall be brought to pass the saying that is written, Death is swallowed
up in victory. Where, O death, is your contention?" There rightly, "O
death, where is thy sting?" You seek its place, and find it not. What is
"the sting of death"? What is, "O death, where is your sting?" Where is
sin? Thou seekest, and it is nowhere. For "the sting of death is sin."
They are the Apostle's words, not mine. Then shall it be said, "O death,
where is your sting?" Sin shall nowhere be, neither to surprise you, nor
to assault you, nor to inflame thy conscience. Then it shall not be said,
"Forgive us our debts." But what shall be said? "O Lord our God, give
us peace: for You have rendered all things unto us."
More evidence that St. Augustine taught the remission of sins through
8. Finally, after the redemption from all
corruption, what remains but
the crown of righteousness? This at least remains, but even in it, or
under it, let not the head be swollen that it may receive the
mark well the Psalm, how that crown will not have a swollen head. After he
had said, "Who redeems your life from corruption;" he said, "Who crowns
you." Here you were ready at once to say, "' Be crowned ,' is an
acknowledgment of my merits, my own excellence has done it; it is the
payment of a debt, not a gift." Give ear rather to the Psalm. For it is
you again that says this; and "all men are liars." Hear what God says; "Who crowns you with mercy and pity." Of His mercy He
you, of His pity He crowns you. For you had no worthiness that He
should call you, and being called should justify you, being justified
glorify you. "The remnant is saved by the election of grace. But if by
grace, then is it no more of works; otherwise grace is no more grace. For
to him that works, the reward shall not be reckoned according to grace,
but according to debt." The Apostle says, "Not according to grace, but
according to debt." But "you He crowns with pity and mercy;" and if your
own merits have gone before, God says to you, "Examine well your merits,
and you shall see that they are My gifts."
Again, this paragraph is downplaying Perseverence of the Saints. It states
that "after the redemption from all corruption (baptism), what
remains but the crown of righteousness?" but then St. Augustine says
that we are not to be proud, because the crown of righteousness will
not have a swollen head. So,
one can receive the redemption from all corruption, and still not get the crown
of righteousness if they are proud.
9. This then is the righteousness of God. As it is called, "The Lord's
salvation," not whereby the Lord is saved, but which He giveth to them
whom He saveth; so too the grace of God through Jesus Christ our Lord is
called the righteousness of God, not as that whereby the Lord is righteous,
but whereby He justifies those whom of ungodly He maketh righteous. But
some, as the Jews in former times, both wish to be called Christians, and
still ignorant of God's righteousness, desire to establish their own, even
in our own times, in the times of open grace, the times of the full
revelation of grace which before was hidden; in the times of grace now
manifested in the floor, which once lay hid in the fleece. I see that a few
have understood me, that more have not understood, whom I will by no means
defraud by keeping silence. Gideon, one of the righteous men of old, asked
for a sign from the Lord, and said, "I pray, Lord, that this fleece which I
put in the floor be bedewed, and that the floor be dry." And it was
so; the fleece was bedewed, the whole floor was dry. In the morning he
wrung out the fleece in a basin; forasmuch as to the humble is grace given;
and in a basin, you know what the Lord did to His disciples. Again, he asked
for another sign; "O Lord, I would," saith he, "that the fleece be dry, the
floor bedewed." And it was so. Call to mind the time of the Old Testament,
grace was hidden in a cloud, as the rain in the fleece. Mark now the time
of the New Testament, consider well the nation of the Jews, you will find
it as a dry fleece; whereas the whole world, like that floor, is full of
grace, not hidden, but manifested. Wherefore we are forced exceedingly to
bewail our brethren, who strive not against hidden, but against open and
manifested grace. There is allowance for the Jews. What shall we say of
Christians? Wherefore are ye enemies to the grace of Christ? Why rely ye on
yourselves? Why unthankful? For why did Christ come? Was not nature here
before? Was not nature here, which you only deceive by your excessive
praise? Was not the Law here? But the Apostle says, "If righteousness come
by the Law, then Christ is dead in vain.
"What the Apostle says of the Law, that say we of nature to these men.
"If righteousness come by nature, then Christ is dead in vain."
As other apologists have pointed out before me, the objection to
"works" is based on "works of the Law" not works
done in the state of grace. St. Augustine does not belittle the
attainment of grace by works done in the state of grace. Grace does
indeed precede "good" works in Catholic teaching, and this
teaching of St. Augustine supports the Catholic position. This is
another side issue to the main reason this webpage was produced, but
I am more than willing to engage James in the "works"
10. What then was said of the Jews, the same altogether do we see in
these men now. "They have a zeal of God: I hear them record that they have
a zeal of God, but not according to knowledge."What is, "not according
to knowledge"? "For being ignorant of God's righteousness, and wishing to
establish their own, they have not submitted themselves unto the
righteousness of God."My Brethren, share with me in my sorrow. When you
find such as these, do not hide them; be there no such misdirected mercy
in you; by all means, when ye find such, hide them not. Convince the
gainsayers, and those who resist, bring to us. For
already have two councils on this question been sent to the Apostolic see;
and rescripts also have come from thence. The question has been brought
to an issue; would that their error may sometime be brought
to an issue too! Therefore do we advise that they may take heed, we
teach that they may be instructed, we pray that they may be changed.
Let us turn to the Lord, etc.
And finally, in the last paragraph of this sermon, we find the statement
that has often been paraphrased, "Roma locuta est, causa finita
est." Marked in red to the left you can see the statement
that St. Augustine actually made. He does seem to be saying that
this issue has been brought to Rome, Rome has responded and the issue
is decided upon. The next line seems to relate some frustration in
this sermon, "would that their error may sometime brought to an
issue too!" On the one hand St. Augustine has admitted to and
yielded to the authority of Rome, since the "causa finita est."
On the other hand, St. Augustine takes a stand that he wishes the
error would be "finita" (or "brought to an issue")
and we can assume that this "error" is that of Pelagius and
Caelestius so that the Pope would reverse his stand that they are truly
not "orthodox and Catholic" (which Pope Zosimus later
does make such a pronouncement. Clearly St. Augustine respects
the authority and decision of the Pope and hopes the Pope will take
up the issue of Pelagius' true heterodoxical/heretical position.
It is in no way clear, as James would have us believe, that St.
Augustine's position is not saying
"Roma locuta est, causa finita est."
|Addendum: (from May 8, 2000)|
[17:29] NA27 has joined #cathapol
[17:29] <Wolf_Song> hi james
[17:29] <NA27> I see you put your page back up, Scott.
[17:29] <CathApol> Yes...
[17:29] <CathApol> With a few extra comments....
[17:29] <NA27> I thought I'd try, one last time, to save you from the embarrassment you are providing
[17:30] <NA27> As I have explained to you, the material you mock at the beginning is the direct
quotation of Dr. J.E. Merdinger of the Catholic University of America.
[17:30] <NA27> The fact that you can ask the questions you do of a Roman Catholic scholar, well, it says
a lot to anyone semi serious about such things, Scott.
James came back in today and right out of the chute he starts attacking my credibility rather than
my arguments. It is noted, James has not even attempted to deal with what I said he is only
attacking my method.
[17:31] <NA27> You might wish to look up the most recent work of Merdinger at Amazon or some place
like that: the most recent I know of Rome & the African Church in the Time of Augustine.|
[17:31] <NA27> Look it up sometime. :-)
[17:31] <Yor> NA27: Why do you allways have to use ad hominems?
[17:31] <NA27> God's Grace Be Forever Praised!
[17:31] NA27 [ortho@dialupK214.phnx.uswest.net] has left #cathapol
[17:31] <CathApol> that was quick...
[17:33] <CathApol> my point in the Merdinger argument was that James was using that
[17:33] <CathApol> so hence, it becomes HIS argument
Yor points out James' ad hominem attack (James' implication that I am less than semi serious about this,
and James makes a hasty exit with no chance of refutation of his claims.
James makes a fuller response to this topic shortly after seeing this webpage. I include James' complete
response and use the same method of adding my comments on the right side (as in the above page). To see
James's response and my comments, go to:
Number of visitors to this page
since April 7, 2000: