Second Council Of Orange On Death Through Sin

CANON 2. If anyone asserts that Adam’s sin affected him alone and not his descendants also, or at least if he declares that it is only the death of the body which is the punishment for sin, and not also that sin, which is the death of the soul, passed through one man to the whole human race, he does injustice to God and contradicts the Apostle, who says, “Therefore as sin came into the world through one man and death through sin, and so death spread to all men because all men sinned” (Rom. 5:12). Read More»
—Canons And Decrees Of The Second Council Of Orange, (AD 529)


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  1. Do you recommend a commentary on the Canons? I am particularly interested in Canon 13 and also the language in the conclusion such as “through baptism, all baptized persons have the ability and responsibility, if they desire to labor faithfully, to perform with the aid and cooperation of Christ what is of essential importance in regard to the salvation of their soul” and “after baptism be able by his help to do what is pleasing to him.”

    • Bill,

      On the language you quote, it’s perfectly true. What we must do is distinguish between is and through. This is what too many people simply seem unable or unwilling to grasp. The Council was articulating the Augustinian consensus that certain things are true regenerated people. Now, the Reformed churches dissent from Augustine on the efficacy of baptism so that is a major disagreement. Nevertheless, the Augustinian tradition, as distinct from the semi-Augustinian majority that developed in the centuries after the 2nd Council of Orange, turned that is into through or because of. The made what was a monergistic thing into a synergistic thing.

      Warfield was right about Augustine. There was a great tension between his doctrine of salvation and his doctrine of the church. The Reformation (and particularly the Reformed Reformation) rescued the soteriological Augustine from the sacerdotal and from the semi-Pelagian/semi-Augustinian.

      The WSC helps us very much here when it says “sanctification is the work of God’s free grace, whereby we are renewed…”. Notice that the verbs are in the passive voice. Notice that we don’t contribute anything. Justification is “an act of God’s free grace…”. Again, this is God’s declaration. Obviously, glorification is all God’s work. We are consistent Augustinians.

  2. Dr Clark, I don’t get “What we must do is distinguish between is and through”. Seing that the first is a verb and the second a preposition, in what possible context would they need to be distinguished? If that was a typo, it’s one I can’t unravel.
    “that certain things are true regenerated people” – If there shouldn’t be an “of” between “true” and “regenerated”, then I’m as totally mystified as to your meaning with this as with the previous.

    • John,

      You’re not alone. Lots of people struggle with this.

      Logically they are distinct. It is the case that my Jeep is grey. It does not run because it is grey or through being grey but it is grey. The color of my Jeep is an attribute. It must be some color obviously. Good works are a necessary fruit of being regenerate. Those good works do not, thereby, become either the instrument of our salvation or the ground. They are necessary as a concomitant of salvation, as fruit and evidence but not as instrument or ground.

      Here’s a longer explanation.

      Salvation Sola Gratia, Sola Fide: On Distinguishing Is, With, And Through

  3. So, would Lutheran’s agree with this language of the Second council of Orange? For example Article 9 of the Augsburg states, “through Baptism is offered the grace of God” and “that children are to be baptized, who, being offered to God through Baptism, are received into God’s grace.”

    • Bill,

      Yes, I think so but so would Calvin and the Reformed. Calvin signed some version of the Augsburg. The Lutherans believe that he signed the Invariata (unrevised) but it’s more historically likely that he signed the Variata (c. 1540). To be sure, Calvin and the Reformed didn’t understand baptism the way the Lutherans did but they agreed that baptism is a gospel sacrament, a gracious promise to believers and to their children. We say things like this in our liturgical forms too. One need not adopt a sacerdotalism view of the sacrament to affirm that baptism is an offer of grace. What is at issue is whether baptism works automatically to confer necessarily on the baptized what it signifies? By 1577 the Lutherans were affirming that it does and the Reformed typically denied the same. The automatic view tends to confuse the sign with the thing signified.

      There’s some discussion of this in next week’s episode of the Heidelcast.

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