Cooperation with Grace

Making sense, I think, but I think you’re wrong. The mind should discern and analyze.

Protestants would generally agree with this post:

But God gave us minds capable of analytical reasoning; we should use them. We just shouldn’t use them to the extent that we are focused on analysis to the exclusion of its fruits.


Oh. Like when Saint Thomas Aquinas said Faith and Reason?

So, here’s my thought: The real trick is balancing when to discern and when to analyze?


We’re rational creatures; reason is a big part of what defines us as human.

More or less.

It depends on what you mean by cooperation.
If you say that cooperation is only possible because of grace, that no one cooperates of their own will, then yes, the response to grace is to follow His commands.
Free will comes in when one chooses to reject grace.

And that fits the soteriology I was taught.

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Thanks, Reb. As always, I appreciate and enjoy our conversations and your insights.

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I understand you, Jon.

But, here’s the problem: How do you reconcile the position that, if I’m understanding Luther correctly; man has no free will. He’s helplessly bound to sin and evil; even if he expresses a desire to God to be free of sin. I’m thinking of an alcoholic in this instance.

From what I understand of your soteriology; man cannot stretch out his hand to God in supplication; prior to God extending His first and Boom! God gives him the grace to be free. Like He’s putting it on offer to the alcoholic in this case. Only then, does man have the free will to accept God’s grace and cooperate with Him.

Am I understanding you right?

To be clear, this is basically the Catholic position on this as well. Lutherans and Catholics would agree in this, and that God extends that Grace to everybody.

It’s the Calvinists who would take it further and say that that Grace is only offered to the Elect.

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Okay, Reb. I accept that. But, I’ve always been of the mind that man always has free will ever since the Garden. That, despite the wound of original sin and our concupiscence; we have the free will to obey God or sin.

Am I misunderstanding something?

Just as Augustine is not infallible, neither is Luther.
Man is bound to sin except that grace intervenes. I received the Holy Spirit at my baptism. My faith has its roots there, even though I was a month old when it happened.
It has changed me, and made it possible for me to seek word and sacrament, and to follow His commands, even though I regularly fail.

Catholicism teaches this , too, AFAIK. Otherwise, one is teaching pelagianism.

Yes, you’re right. I think I am, too

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Simple question: what would “cooperate” mean in this context? And whatever an ECF has to say does not really “refute” my beliefs, since I only regard the Scriptures as an infallible revelation of God’s will (aka sola Scriptura).

What I mean is: Because of concupiscence, it’s obviously a lot easier to sin than to obey God. That’s why we need God’s grace in order to help us obey Him.

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:thinking: It seems we’re agreeing on some basic points.

Here’s where I’m at: If neither Saint Augustine or Luther are infallible; then where’s the argument? Which is correct?

In other words: If we agree on soteriology; then why in the heck have we been arguing for 500 years?

There’s more to soteriology than that question.

Lutherans and Catholic disagree on other matters of soteriology.

The way I understand by “ cooperation “ is this:

I ask God for help in overcoming my sins. God responds with giving me those graces to do so as He always has them on offer. I can freely choose to reject that grace and sin again. Or: I can freely choose to work with God in His efforts to help save me from sinning again.

Am I helping you to understand?

As for Sola Scriptura: I’ve unfortunately seen that many errors have arisen in exegesis; based on complicated readings of Sacred Scripture as opposed to more straightforward readings that we in the Church understand.

For me personally, the issue is more ecclesiology than soteriology.


I think Augustine struck a fine balance between grace and free will. Naturally he strongly emphasized grace when combating Pelagianism, just as St Paul emphasized grace and faith against legalism, but neither would ever completely remove the will of man from the equation as I see it, and the Church certainly doesn’t as well. None of God’s working with man since Eden up through and including the gospel makes any real sense if the will of man plays no role.

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Yes, I think it is clear enough, but that is not at all how I understand salvation. In my understanding, we are not saved by overcoming sin by means of God’s grace, but by Christ overcoming sin on our behalf on the cross. Grace is not some kind of empowerment, but what God shows His people because of their sins.

The law was brought in so that the trespass might increase. But where sin increased, grace increased all the more. (Rom 5:20)

Ironically, I rather find the Catholic exegesis pertaining to soteriology overly complicated.

He then brought them out and asked, “Sirs, what must I do to be saved?” They replied, “Believe in the Lord Jesus, and you will be saved—you and your household.” (Acts 16:30-31)

That is precisely how simple salvation is.

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:thinking: Interesting point with your Scripture quote.

I remember Cross theology from my Lutheran days in the ELCA.

:thinking: I’m remembering the Last Supper Discourse in the Gospel of John. You’re making me think, Johan. Thank you.

I’m thinking of the verse: “ This is My… given up for you. “

:thinking: What if I put it to you this way, brother?

Jesus offered up Himself as a sacrifice. What if this sacrifice simply opened up a door into Heaven, making salvation possible for all those who persevered in working out their salvation on Earth, fighting the good fight of faith? Upon which Our Lord says to the soul who did the Father’s Will on Earth: “ Enter, good and faithful servant. “

Does this make any sense to you, brother Johan?


As HopkinsReb pointed out, there is more to the disagreement than soteriology.

Just wondering, Michael : have you read the Joint Declaration on the Doctrine of Justification (Catholic-Lutheran), and the official Catholic response ?

It gives precious insight about what is agreed upon and what is still in debate.

(Edited to fix links)

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