Did Trent condemn free will?

The Council of Trent defined: “If anyone shall say that a man once justified can sin no more, nor lose grace, and that therefore he who falls and sins was never truly justified; or, on the contrary, that throughout his whole life he can avoid all sins even venial sins, except by a special privilege of God, as the Church holds in regard to the Blessed Virgin: let him be anathema.”

Since man is free, he is never forced by anything to sin. Even if there were no grace given, his free will would be intact, and he wouldn’t have to sin, only when he gives in. So it is theoretically possible for a person to never sin. So it seems that Trent condemned free will.

Your turn. Go!

This only reaffirms the Church’s condemnation of Pelagianism that was made at the Council of Orange in 529 AD.

Canon 7. If anyone affirms that we can form any right opinion or make any right choice which relates to the salvation of eternal life, as is expedient for us, or that we can be saved, that is, assent to the preaching of the gospel through our natural powers without the illumination and inspiration of the Holy Spirit, who makes all men gladly assent to and believe in the truth, he is led astray by a heretical spirit, and does not understand the voice of God who says in the Gospel, “For apart from me you can do nothing” (John 15:5), and the word of the Apostle, “Not that we are competent of ourselves to claim anything as coming from us; our competence is from God” (2 Cor. 3:5).


I highly suggest reading all of the canons. They’re not that long, especially compared to everything from Trent.

It’s important to understand that Christians don’t view freedom as absolute liberty. That actually leads to slavery to our appetites. True freedom comes from God.

A good analogy is speech. Who is truly freer: The man who doesn’t know right grammar and with a poor vocabulary who speaks in gibberish? Or the man who understands the rules of the language so that he can properly communicate ideas? Sin is slavery, not freedom, and original sin weakened our free will such that we’re incapable of choosing right in all things on our own, whereas God’s grace regenerates it. Or to continue the analogy, original sin gave us a speech impairment, and God’s grace heals us of it. This doesn’t absolve us of our own actions, for God does provide us all with sufficient grace to come to Him freely.

This is not about assenting to salvation, but going through life without sin per se. Your analogy doesn’t provide the mechanism that shows how it is possible to be both free and basically required to sin without God’s grace.

Yest the analogy is consistent with both Orange and Trent.

Council of Orange 529

Canon 8. …For he denies that the free will of all men has been weakened through the sin of the first man, or at least holds that it has been affected in such a way that they have still the ability to seek the mystery of eternal salvation by themselves without the revelation of God…

Canon 9. Concerning the succor of God. It is a mark of divine favor when we are of a right purpose and keep our feet from hypocrisy and unrighteousness; for as often as we do good, God is at work in us and with us, in order that we may do so.

Canon 13. Concerning the restoration of free will. The freedom of will that was destroyed in the first man can be restored only by the grace of baptism, for what is lost can be returned only by the one who was able to give it. Hence the Truth itself declares: “So if the Son makes you free, you will be free indeed” (John 8:36).

Canon 14. No mean wretch is freed from his sorrowful state, however great it may be, save the one who is anticipated by the mercy of God, as the Psalmist says, “Let thy compassion come speedily to meet us” (Ps. 79:8), and again, “My God in his steadfast love will meet me” (Ps. 59:10).

Canon 15. Adam was changed, but for the worse, through his own iniquity from what God made him. Through the grace of God the believer is changed, but for the better, from what his iniquity has done for him. The one, therefore, was the change brought about by the first sinner; the other, according to the Psalmist, is the change of the right hand of the Most High (Ps. 77:10).

Canon 20. **That a man can do no good without God. **God does much that is good in a man that the man does not do; but a man does nothing good for which God is not responsible, so as to let him do it.

Canon 22. Concerning those things that belong to man. **No man has anything of his own but untruth and sin. But if a man has any truth or righteousness, it is from that fountain for which we must thirst in this desert, **so that we may be refreshed from it as by drops of water and not faint on the way.

Canon 23. Concerning the will of God and of man. Men do their own will and not the will of God when they do what displeases him; but when they follow their own will and comply with the will of God, however willingly they do so, yet it is his will by which what they will is both prepared and instructed.

Conclusion. …The sin of the first man has so impaired and weakened free will that no one thereafter can either love God as he ought or believe in God or do good for God’s sake, unless the grace of divine mercy has preceded him.

There’s a fundamental difference between having your will coerced by an external mover to sin involuntarily and lacking the fundamental power to do good apart from God’s grace.

The analogy doesn’t explain. And its not about a power to do good except to exercise the freedom not to sin. If I am not coerced, it is within the possibility for me not to sin. Trent says no

If it holds good for one temptation, it holds good for all


Speak Swahili for me right now.

I can choose not to do what I am in the power not to do

Why not weigh the truth of things

Are you being coerced into not speaking Swahili for me? Is someone imposing on your voluntary will to prevent you from doing so?

I don’t know how to speak it. Resisting temptation is choosing not to violate one’s conscience which he knows. You are shooting in the dark

Considering I’m reiterating Christian teaching that’s been clearly and definitively defined for at least 1500 years, I hardly think I’m taking shots in the dark.

Every time you do good, that’s from God improving your wounded free will such that it’s capable of making that choice. That is not something you do on your own. It’s not a coercion, it’s God restoring your function.

But that’s what the faith’s always been about: “Apart from Me you can do nothing”. The more fully we exist in a state of communion with God, which is only imperfectly attained in this life, the more sin is excluded.

God’s help - which Trent asserts is indispensible - is like power steering. We get the help - consciously or unconsciously - if we are open to inspiration to want to do good.

(God not being an ideologue, but self-effacing, will let it go unacknowledged.)

Some - only some - of the Protestants then as now held that once reborn one underwent an ontological change which redefined all one’s acts as not sinful. Trent (just the same as all standard teaching of Jesus and the Apostles before and since) goes as far as addressing this and no further. I don’t see why you think it means any more than this.

Free will is about doing things willingly. Free will is not about disposition to good over evil or disposition to evil over good.

Trent is saying there is still in the Catholic the defective nature that likes to do what is evil, calling it “desirable.” And unless he strains toward the goal, he will go after these temporal pleasures as if they would be able to give him life.
And it is saying that even though he strains at this he will still inadvertently or to a greater level still get caught off guard and offend God.
He is never forced to sin, as if he didn’t desire to do it. It is his nature to desire to do it; his will is free, he does what he desires and not under compulsion.

And he also desires to do what is against his nature, (again this is free will,) and that desire is to serve and to trust in the One sent from the Bosom of the Father. So there are two desires in him, and he willingly does either when he does either.

You can’t be both free and have only one road ahead of you (sin). You must have options. I see no way out of it. Catholicism does not believe in free will

Because if you are free, it is within the realm of possibility not to sin throughout your life. Trent says no. What gets thrown out is free will

Are you not aware of these dogmas of faith on 1) antecedent grace and its necessity for the achieving of justification and 2) the reality and necessity of consequent grace? :

Council of Trent

Chap. 5. On the Necessity of Preparation for Justification of

Adults, and Whence it Proceeds

Denzinger 797 It [the Synod] furthermore declares that in adults the beginning of that justification must be derived from the predisposing grace [can. 3] of God through Jesus Christ, that is, from his vocation, whereby without any existing merits on their part they are called, so that they who by sin were turned away from God, through His stimulating and assisting grace are disposed to convert themselves to their own justification, by freely assenting to and cooperating with the same grace [can. 4 and 5], in such wise that, while God touches the heart of man through the illumination of the Holy Spirit, man himself receiving that inspiration does not do nothing at all inasmuch as he can indeed reject it, nor on the other hand can he [can. 3] of his own free will without the grace of God move himself to justice before Him. Hence, when it is said in the Sacred Writings: “Turn ye to me, and I will turn to you” [Zach. 1:3], we are reminded of our liberty; when we reply: “Convert us, O Lord, to thee, and we shall be converted” [Lam. 5:21], we confess that we are anticipated by the grace of God.

The Church says it believes in free will but in the other hand is denying it. Why are you trying to act like it makes sense when it doesn’t. At least say “this is a mystery I don’t understand”. That’s more honest

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