__MAIN_TEXT__
feature-image

Page 63

MINJMALISM

63

law of love is lethal, and all that St. Paul wrote about the Mosaic law would have to be said of it. To grasp Thomas' full meaning one has to understand in what sense the grace of the Holy Spirit is a law. It is obvious that grace and precepts are not said to be law in a univocal sense. It is primarily the grace of the Holy Spirit that is normative for the actions of a Christian, and in this sense both habitual and actual grace are the primary element of the New Law. Habitual grace is the ultimate perfection of the Christian man, and therefore he is to act in accordance with this new nature. As his human nature is normative of behavior to the extent that a man is morally obliged to live in accordance with it and realize its perfection, so too is his new life of grace. Since he has been made a son he must behave as a son. Similarly, actual grace is also normative for a Christian, since it directs his mind and will in doing God's will. For, as everyone knows who has not been tainted with Pelagianism, our good actions are the actions of God's Holy Spirit in us. This inner law of grace, therefore, is what is primary in the New Law. External precepts and rules are only secondary and totally, as Thomas says, in the service of the primary element (ad usum gratiae). The external precepts serve to explicate in a legal way what the Spirit moves us toward in¡ temally. Since in our present state we are still in danger of rationalization and misinterpretation of the inner motion of the Spirit, the external precepts are useful to oppose such falsifications. But primacy in the New Law belongs to the grace of the Holy Spirit. Grace justifies and saves, not external rules and precepts, not even the precept of love. Apart from the law of grace and the charity given with grace even Christ's great commandment to love God and neighbor is deadly, in fact the most deadly of all. To believe otherwise is not Christian but heterodox doctrine. Christ did not come primarily to give us commandments or to teach us rules of morality. Men already had all the rules they needed, including the golden rule. He

Profile for Chicago Studies

Spring 1968  

Volume 7:1

Spring 1968  

Volume 7:1

Recommendations could not be loaded

Recommendations could not be loaded

Recommendations could not be loaded

Recommendations could not be loaded