[Milton-L] De Doctrina Christiana

Harold Skulsky hskulsky at email.smith.edu
Tue Jan 13 17:02:06 EST 2009

Louis Schwartz's and Michael Gillum's suggestions about "peculiar grace"
in PL 3 are plausible and have the virtue of letting Milton's theory of
justification proceed on a single track. But note that even if it
doesn't — even if, on the showing of PL 3, some enjoy "peculiar" grace
that can't be resisted and the rest enjoy general grace that can be
resisted by a misuse of free will — there is no logical absurdity or
oddity in Milton's theory. Granted, it will be true (and atypical of
Milton) that not all of God's arrangements are explained or explicable.
But this doesn't alter the fact that what we will have is a rule with
arbitrary exceptions, not an inconsistency. 

The consistency of the relevant passage has been defended with
characteristic incisiveness by Steve Fallon, and I will limit myself to
pointing out that, despite being inadequately supported, the
inconsistency thesis has powerful attractions for some readers. Ditto
the thesis that PL3 is required by its genre or discourse category to be
evasive or equivocal on doctrinal matters. 

I strongly suspect that debate across this divide will quickly arrive
at a point of diminishing returns.

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