[Milton-L] had removd

Michael Gillum mgillum at unca.edu
Mon Apr 7 12:47:42 EDT 2014


Regarding "God makes quite clear that the sincere prayer etc. to which he
will respond will come to him precisely because he makes it happen." Is it
really so clear? PL's God in Book 3 says emphatically that, while everyone
will receive prevenient grace, not everyone will take advantage of it. In
Arminian thought generally and in Milton's belief, prevenient grace makes
repentance possible rather than "making it happen." Prevenient grace
is sufficient to allow people to choose to repent, but is not in itself
sufficient to salvation. Salvation requires voluntary repentance and faith,
which then evokes saving grace from God. DDC is quite explicit about how
the two forms of grace operate. Admittedly, it is not so clear in PL,
because the Book 11 passage says prevenient grace caused A&E to be
regenerate, while the Book 3 passage says that it merely softens stony
hearts, which still must respond appropriately to God's persistent calling.
So we could either embrace the contradiction, or we could understand that
the Book 11 passage is a shorthand account of the more complex process God
describes in Book 3 and Milton describes in DDC.


On Mon, Apr 7, 2014 at 12:10 PM, JD Fleming <jfleming at sfu.ca> wrote:

> But the fact remains, as I said earlier (a point which you ignore below)
> that there is zero indication at the beginning of 11 (contrary to a claim
> you made previously) that A and E are "free to accept or reject" that
> prevenient grace--indeed the passage could scarcely make that a less
> sustainable reading. Here, in 3, we certainly have an Arminian soteriology,
> but that is to say a soteriology articulated as "Calvinism plus": some just
> plain elect (such is my will), without the rest being symmetrically shut
> out as reprobate. And even for the latter, God makes quite clear that the
> sincere prayer etc. to which he will respond will come to him precisely
> because he makes it happen. A good thing, to be sure; but one that occurs
> through human freedom? Only through significant equivocation.
>
>
>
> Look: my dog in this fight was not in the first place theological at
> all--rather I was after making a point about the semi-viability of the
> deceived/undeceived distinction, based on the great hermeneutic
> significance of the Abdiel episode. I don't think, in PL, that M is
> primarily concerned with offering a systematic theology (that's what CD is
> for).
>
> ------------------------------
> *From: *"alan horn" <alanshorn at gmail.com>
> *To: *"John Milton Discussion List" <milton-l at lists.richmond.edu>
> *Sent: *Sunday, 6 April, 2014 20:54:32
> *Subject: *Re: [Milton-L] had removd
>
>
> "[R]emov'd / The stonie from thir hearts" is an echo of the Father's
> decree on the subject of grace in Book III:
>
> Man shall not quite be lost, but sav'd who will,
> Yet not of will in him, but grace in me
> Freely voutsaft; once more I will renew
> His lapsed powers, though forfeit and enthrall'd
> By sin to foul exorbitant desires;
> Upheld by me, yet once more he shall stand
> On even ground against his mortal foe,
> By me upheld, that he may know how frail
> His fall'n condition is, and to me ow
> All his deliv'rance, and to none but me.
> Some I have chosen of peculiar grace
> Elect above the rest; so is my will:
> The rest shall hear me call, and oft be warnd
> Thir sinful state, and to appease betimes
> Th' incensed Deitie while offerd grace
> Invites; for I will cleer thir senses dark,
> What may suffice, and soft'n stonie hearts
> To pray, repent, and bring obedience due.
> To Prayer, repentance, and obedience due,
> Though but endevord with sincere intent,
> Mine ear shall not be slow, mine eye not shut.
>
> "[S]av'd who will"--salvation requires an act of will (and will not be
> denied to those who make it). "Yet not of will in him, but grace in me"--it
> is not the will of fallen man that ultimately saves him (that would be a
> Pelagian teaching); God must "renew / His lasped powers" to turn away from
> sin (compare: "and made new flesh / Regenerate grow instead"). Leaving
> aside the admittedly vexed question of who receives "peculiar grace" and
> what it might entail, everyone else at least is promised sufficient grace
> ("[w]hat may suffice") that has the power to "soft'n stonie hearts / To
> pray, repent, and bring obedience due," which sincere repentance will not
> be for naught. This unhardening of hearts, then, is not a violation of
> human freedom, but rather a restoring of the freedom to avoid sin that man
> once enjoyed before the fall. In his fallen state, he needs God's help to
> do so (he cannot be saved "of will in him" alone). But it takes an act of
> will to avail himself of this aid. Heart-softening is what enables fallen
> man in his state of total depravity to repent, but to be effective that
> repentance must be "endevord with sincere intent."
>
> As for the other matter, I still do not understand how a teaching that is
>> Calvinist can't be called Calvinist, whatever else it is. And yeah--that
>> kind of pointless harrumph is indeed pedantic.
>>
>
> I'm sorry you didn't see the point of my insistence that the need for
> prevenient grace is not a specifically Calvinist doctrine. Let me try
> again. You seemed to be making the assumption that prevenient grace is
> necessarily irresistible, as Calvin would have it. I was concerned to
> remind you that the need for prevenient grace is held by all Christians who
> accept the doctrine of total depravity, which includes a lot more than just
> Calvinists. It includes those, like Milton, who believe that while grace is
> needed for repentance and salvation it can also be rejected at will. Thus,
> as it says in some lines I quoted earlier today in a different thread,
> salvation is available to all those, and ONLY those, "as offered life /
> Neglect not, and the benefit embrace / By faith not void of works" (XII,
> 425-7).
>
>
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>
>
> --
> James Dougal Fleming
> Associate Professor
> Department of English
> Simon Fraser University
> 778-782-4713
>
> Burnaby -- British Columbia -- Canada.
>
> *Upstairs was a room for travelers. 'You know, I shall take it for the
> rest of my life,' Vasili Ivanovich is reported to have said as soon as he
> had entered it. *
> -- Vladimir Naboko*v*,* "Cloud, Castle, Lake'*
>
>
>
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