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BAIUS


211


BAITTS


is not, and cannot be, according to Baius, the mere forfeiting of gratuitous or supernatural gifts, but some positive evil reaching deep into our verj- nature. That evil is original sin. By original sin Baius under- stands, instead of a simple privation of grace, ha- bitual concupiscence itself, transmitted according to the laws of heredity and developed according to the laws of physical and psychical growth. It is a sin or moral evil by itself, even in irresponsible children, and that outside of all relation to a will, be it original or personal. What. then, becomes of human liberty as a source of moral resptonsibility? Baius does not think it necessarj' that, in order to be moral agents, we should be free from internal de- terminism, but only from external compulsion. From so tainted a source. Redemption apart, only tainted actions can flow. They may sometimes appear \-irtuous. but it is only an appearance (I'itia virtutes imitantia). In truth all human actions, not purified by Redemption, are vices pure and simple and damning vices at that (vitia sunt et dam- nant).

(3) State of Redeemed Nature. — ^The gifts of primi- tive innocence, forfeited by original sin, are restored by Jesus Christ. Then and then only do they be- come graces, not, indeed, on account of their super- nattu'al character, but becau.se of fallen man's positive unworthiness. Aided by grace, the re- deemed can perform \-irtuous actions and acquire merits for heaven. Does that entail a higher status, an inner renovation or sanctifj-ing grace? — Baius does not consider it necessary. Moral action, whether called justice, or charity, or obedience to the law, is the sole instnmient of justification and \nrtue and merit. The role of grace consists exclusively in keep- ing concupiscence under control, and in thus enabling us to perform moral actions and fulfil the law. True, Baius speaks of the remission of sin as necessary for justification, but this is only a fictio iuris; in fact, a catechumen before baptism, or a peni- tent before absolution may. by simply keeping the precepts, have more charity than certain so-called just men. If the catechumen and penitent are not styled just, it is only in deference to Holy Scripture, which requires for complete justice both newness of life (i. e. moral action) and pardon of sin (i. e. of the reatus, or liability to punishment). To grant that kind of pardon is the only object and efficacy of the sacraments of the dead, baptism and penance. With regard to the sacraments of the living, the Eucharist — the only one on which Baius expressed his views — has no other sacrificial value than that of being a good moral action drawing us close to God.

A mere glance at the above sketch cannot fail to reveal a strange mixture of Pelagianism, Cal\nn- ism, and even Socinianism. Baius is a Pelagian in his concept of the primitive state of man. He is a Calvinist in his presentation of the downfall. He is more than a Lutheran and little short of the Socin- ian in his theorj- of Redemption. Critics know that all these errors were in a manner harmonized in Baius' mind, but they are not agreed as to what may have been the genetic principle of that theological formation. Some find it in the 38th proposition: "Omnis amor creature rationalis aut ^■itiosa est cupiditas, qua mundus diligitur, quae a Joanne pro- hibetur, aut laudabilis ilia charitas, qua per spiritum sanctum in corde diffusa Deus amatur" (The ra- tional creature's love is either ^ncious desire, with its attachment to the world, which St. John forbids, or that praiseworthy charity which is poured forth in our hearts by the Holy Spirit, and through which God is loved). Others "see it in a ^\Tong analysis of man. the higher faculties, appertaining to the moral and religious life, being \-iolently torn apart from the lower powers, and so magnified as to become


identical T\'ith grace and the indwelling of the Holy Ghost. Others, again, think it is optimism in ai>- praising mans native condition, or pessimism in gauging his condition after sin, the result being the same with regard to the value of Redemption. Taking the question from an historical standpoint, we find that Baius was from the beginning a humanist with a perfect enthusiasm for Christian antiquity in general, St. Paul and St. Augustine in particular, and a dislike almost amounting to abhorrence for the thoughts and methods of medieval schoolmen. The self-assumed task of interpreting the Apostle of the Gentiles and the great African Doctor apart from the traditional cm-rent of Scholastic thought was perhaps an impossibility in itself, but certainly one for Baius' limited erudition and paradoxical mind. To this all-absorbing mania, much more than to a lack of sincere loyalty to the Chiu-ch, must we trace Baius' blindness to the already defined dogmas and his half-revolts against the liWng viagisterium. A partial ejcplanation of, if not excuse for, that monomania is, however, found in the fact that at the very outset of his theological career Baius came under the influence of men who, like the Dominican Peter de Soto, believed the Catholic reaction against the Reformers had gone somewhat too far, and sug- gested that more stress be laid on Scripture and Pa- trologj' and less on Thomism. That, in his intention at least, BaiiLS only wanted to take the most advan- tageous position in order the better to defend the Faith against heretics, we know from a letter he isTOte (1569) to Cardinal Simonetta: "After reading Peter the Lombard and some other Scholastic Doctor. I endeavoured to bring theologj- back to Holy Scrip- ture and the ^Tilings of the Fathers, those at least who stiU enjoy some credit with the heretics: Cj-p- rian, Ambrose, Jerome, Augustine, Leo. Prosper, Gregory, and the hke. " Such are the various causes which may in a measure account for the position taken by Baius. The chronologj- of his T\Titings teaches us little more. It fails to give us a true in- sight into the logical development of his thought. It may be, after all. that each of the above-mentioned genetic principles held priority in his mind at dif- ferent times and in different needs.

Doctrine of the Chitrch. — The Catholic teach- ing, already outlined against the Pelagians by various covmcils and popes from the fifth centurj'. is fully presented against the Reformers by the Council of Trent, especially Session V, Decree on Original Sin, and Session VI, Decree on Justification. In those two sessions, both anterior to Baius' writings, we find three statements which are obviously irreconcilable with Baius' three main positions described above: (1) Man s original justice is represented as a super- natural gift; (2) Original Sin is described not as a deep deterioration of our natiu-e, but as the forfeiture of purely gratuitous privileges: (3) Justification is depicted as an interior renovation of the soul by inherent grace. The condenmation by Pius V of the 79 Baianist tenets is an act of the supreme magis- terium of the Church, an ex eathedrd pronouncement. To say, with the Baianists, that the papal act con- demns not the real and concrete tenets of the Louvain professor, but only certain hj-pothetical or imaginarj- propositions; to pretend that the censure is aimed not at the underlying teaching, but only at the vehemence or harshness of the outward expressions, is to practically stultify the pontifical docimient. From the tenor of the Bull, "Ex Omnibus", we know that to each of the 79 propositions one or several or all of the following censiu-es will apply: htretica, erronea, suspeeta, temeraria, scandalosa, in pias aures offendens. For a more precise determination of the Catholic doctrine, we have to consult, besides the Council of Trent, the consensus Catholicorum the- ologorum. That consensus was voiced with no un-