Mary: Redemption And Preservation


Mary: Redemption and Preservation


Vol. VII, No. 2
Summer 1981
Christendom College

The following analysis of Mary’s redemption attempts to clarify the Catholic understanding of how it can be said that a person conceived without original sin can be said to be redeemed at all. The importance of William Marshner’s technical treatment of this traditionally vexing question, including his use of modal logic, will be apparent to those who regard it as a chief function of theologians to defend and advance the Faith by precisely answering as many potentially devastating questions as possible. Thus, Marshner proceeds to eliminate false understanding of Mary’s redemption so that a proper understanding might leave the central doctrines of the Church less open to attack.

Besides her total freedom from personal sin, the Church has also defined the Blessed Virgin’s freedom from original sin. The Bull Ineffabilis Deus, in defining the Immaculate Conception, says that she, in the first instant of her conception, was “preserved immune” from that sin.[1]

At the same time, the Church teaches that the Blessed Virgin was redeemed. Pius XII, in the encyclical Fulgens corona, declared that Mary’s privileges, far from removing her from the redemptive work of Christ, or detracting from that work, represent the highest possible intensity of it. She was redeemed “in a most perfect mode.”[2]

The conjunction of these two teachings compels theologians to posit the concept of a “preservative redemption,” i.e. a redemption from sin which consists in being preserved from ever having been in sin, original or actual. The question thereby arises: what impact does such a unique case have on the meaning of the word `redemption’? Does it render `redemption’ an equivocal term? (If it does, the teaching of Pius XII is empty rhetoric.) Does it render `redemption’ an analogous term? If so, what kind of analogy is involved? Proper proportionality? Improper? And what is the basis for the analogy?

It is important to know, because even an analogous term can only be stretched so far, before it snaps into sheer metaphor or equivocation. And in order to know how, and how far, `redemption’ can be stretched before it snaps, a theologian needs to know what factors can vary and what factors must remain constant, in order for anyone to be truly called “redeemed” without equivocation. In other words, the theologian needs a complete set of the necessary conditions for the valid, though analogous, employment of the term `redeemed.’

In fact, however, theological investigation of this topic has a peculiarly confused and arid history-confused largely because it has been entangled in the hyper-confused issue of the debitum peccati (Mary’s alleged obligation, necessity, or consignment to contract original sin, as a daughter of Adam, even though in fact, by grace, she did not contract it). Many theologians have held that, unless at least the debitum peccati can be affirmed of Mary, it makes no sense to call her either “preserved” or “redeemed.” They accuse those theologians who deny the debitum peccati of unwittingly, perhaps, making `redemption’ equivocal.

The purpose of the following essay is to cut through this confused history, to start, so to speak, “from scratch,” and to build from the ground up a solid account of what “preservative redemption” must be. Twelve conclusions will be reached. The impact of this account on the related issue of the debitum peccati will turn out to be both surprising and radical.

I shall try first to establish a general sense of `redemption,’ open to (but not restricted to) the theological interpretation. Then I shall establish a similarly general sense of `preservation.’ Third, giving both terms a theological interpretation, I shall see what possibilities there are for a preservative redemption.

It may be objected that the establishment of a general sense for such terms, prior to considering their theological sense, is an inversion of proper theological procedure, which ought to begin with explication of the revealed datum. I reply that the revealed datum already includes the fact that, under inspiration, the mystery of what Christ did for us has been described by a term derived from human experience, namely, `redemption.’ Without a prior understanding of that term, one cannot explicate the revealed datum. Of course, one must avoid the pitfall of assigning to `redemption’ a natural sense which precludes or arbitrarily restricts its application to the supernatural mystery; I have already acknowledged a need to avoid that danger by proposing to establish a general sense which is open to the theological interpretation. The same remarks apply, mutatis mutandis, to `preservation.’


I think it is clear that someone is said to be redeemed if and only if he stands in some rather complicated relations to at least two other people, one of whom is the redeemer, and the other of whom is the creditor/captor (or whatever) who accepts the work of the redeemer which was done on behalf of the one redeemed. My first conclusion, therefore, is that redemption is a relation involving at least three persons. Of course, the redeemed may be indefinitely many in number, the creditors/captors may be many, and the work of redeeming may be a cooperative effort of many. But the total number involved cannot be less than three.

We shall save many words if we give these three some letter-labels as stand-ins for proper names. Let us call the one who accepts the redemptive work as satisfactory `a‘, the one who does the redemptive work `b,’ and the one who is redeemed by that work `c.’

However, redemption is not simply a relation of three persons. Other items must be taken into account. For example, what a accepts is not directly the person of the redeemer but his action. Differently said, a accepts a complex whole which we may call the state of affairs that b acts in some appropriate way. Likewise, the work of b, the redeemer, does not affect directly the person of c but rather the obligation, indebtedness, or captivity in which c stands vis-a-vis a. Hence, again, the work of the redeemer affects a whole situation which we may call the state of affairs that c is in a certain predicament. My second conclusion, then, is that redemption is a relation involving certain states of affairs.

Again, it will save many words if we give schematic “names” to the states of affairs. Let us take the state of affairs that b acts in some appropriate way on behalf of c and name it ‘Red(b,c).’ And the state of affairs that c is in a certain predicament vis-a-vis a, we shall call ‘Pred(c,a).’

Now, in order to determine whether there are also other facts or states of affairs which are directly and immediately involved in the idea of redemption, one must try to sort out what the idea contains from what the idea presupposes. Part of the complexity of the idea resides in the fact that it seems to presuppose a great deal, in fact, a whole history of previous dealings.

It may be asked, for example, whether redemption in facto esse presupposes a previous agreement between a and b as to what work, action, or price would be satisfactory – an agreement antecedent to the actual accomplishment or payment of that satisfaction. Here I think the answer is negative. I think that redemption per se neither requires nor excludes an understanding between a and b, antecedent to the actual performance of b’s action, as to what kind of action will be satisfactory. Often, there is no need for such an agreement, because redemption occurs within a cultural, juridical, or economic context in which it is already fixed, and a matter of common knowledge, what kind of act or price redeems what kind of fault or default. In the revealed mystery, of course, one has to do with a redemptive act which is not merely conventionally but intrinsically acceptable, and recognized as such by God the Father from all eternity. (That is why, in theology, we think of the redemption as achieved in fact as soon as the passion of Christ is finished, without waiting for an acceptance of that passion by God the Father, since the latter is already, indeed eternally, assured.) In any case, even where there is no prior understanding of any kind, either culturally given or directly contracted between the parties, and even where b simply surprises a with a work done or a price offered, it seems impossible to deny that redemption in fact occurs provided only that a does accept what is offered. Hence my third conclusion is that redemption neither includes nor presupposes as a requirement an antecedent agreement between a and b.

Next, it may be asked whether redemption presupposes an agreement between c and b – that is, whether c must have agreed to accept b as his or her redeemer, before `is redeemed’ can be predicated of c. If one answers this question in the affirmative, the notion of a purely “objective” redemption (in which the knowledge, consent, or dispositions of the intended beneficiary, c, are neither here nor there) will make no sense. If one answers the question in the negative, the general sense of `redemption’ which we are seeking to establish will neither require nor exclude the prior consent of c, and hence it will be possible for that sense to capture what theologians have long called the “objective redemption.”

The negative answer is justified not only by thological convenience but also by the facts of the case in the purely human situation. Suppose that the would-be redeemer, b, has offered to a an equivalent of what c owed to a, and suppose that a has accepted this gesture as closing all accounts between himself and c, and suppose lastly that all of this has occurred entirely unbeknownst to c; in such a situation it is quite undeniable that, no matter how c himself reacts to the news, something has already been altered. Something has happened which changes the status of c in the eyes of a. For the first time since his default, c has been placed in a situation which objectively gives him an option; the initiative has become his.

Now, given exactly this objective alteration of the situation and nothing more, a large number of denouements are possible. Perhaps c has a personal hatred of b which prevents him from accepting a benefit from b‘s hands. Or perhaps c has a stubborn streak which disinclines him to accept favors from anyone. Or perhaps c has reasons of his own for preferring his present predicament to freedom. It is quite possible, then, that c simply refuses to accept what has been done for him. And in response to such a refusal, there are two basic options for a and b.

On the one hand, they may consider that the deal has “fallen through,” so that, after b’s contribution has been refunded (if possible or necessary), the moral or juridical situation of c is exactly as it was before. On this assumption, the idea of objective redemption reduces to the idea of attempted redemption, and the only permanent alteration which objective redemption makes to the situation of a recusant c is an alteration of the historical record: henceforth c is one for whom a redemption was attempted but failed because rejected by c himself.

On the other hand, a and b may take the line that what they have done cannot be undone, so that, whether c likes it or not, his debt has been cancelled; if c chooses not to think so, that is henceforth a matter of his own distorted thinking; if c is in prison and chooses to remain there, that is henceforth purely a matter between him and the jail administration. On this assumption, the objective redemption remains a true redemption, since the alteration which it makes in the situation is a permanent alteration of c‘s position precisely in its moral or juridical dimensions.

Therefore, under either assumption, the purely objective redemption makes some permanent change in the situation, whether juridical or merely historical. Hence on both assumptions there is good reason to establish a purely objective sense of `redemption’ which can be verified prior to, and independently of, the response by c.

Moreover, it is not only in the case of refusal that one has grounds for distinguishing an objective sense of `redemption’ from a more inclusive, subjective one. For suppose the denouement is that c accepts as his own redemption the work of b, already accepted by a. Still, in different situations, this “acceptance” by c will consist of different things. It might consist simply of walking out the jail door; it might involve signing a document; it might involve making a gesture of reconciliation with a, etc. In other words, depending on the nature of c‘s predicament vis-a-vis a, the act which constitutes c‘s acceptance of the already objectively changed situation may vary greatly both in its overt form and in its subjective pre-conditions. (In the theological interpretation, of course, c‘s acceptance of his redemption will be a very complex affair, involving the openness to and receipt of actual grace, an act of infused faith, etc.) Hence it is appropriate to treat that acceptance as falling outside of redemption in one sense (the objective) and to treat the larger situation which includes that process of acceptance as verifying a larger and hence second sense of `redemption’ (the subjective).

My fourth conclusion, therefore, is that a distinction between objective and subjective redemptions is justified, and that the general sense of `redemption’ we are seeking here ought to be first and foremost an account of objective redemption (it can always be expanded later), and that in this objective sense, an agreement or acceptance on the part of c is neither presupposed nor included nor excluded. The symbol ‘Red(b,c)’ will be used henceforth in the objective fashion.

Next, it may be asked whether redemption presupposes a certain relation or kinship between b and c. Must c be redeemed by a member of his own family, clan, species? Or may c be redeemed by anybody or anything? Here I think that anthropology and philosophy conspire to require the former alternative. Philosophically, one can say that, because the redeemer must render to a an equivalent of what c owed to a, there must be at least enough similarity between b and c to make such an equivalent performance possible. Anthropologically, a kinship between b and c seems to be well nigh universal as a requirement. My fifth conclusion, then, is that redemption presupposes, by way of a necessary condition, some degree of kinship between the redeemer and the one-to-be-redeemed.

Next, it is necessary to probe the nature of the “predicament” in which c stands. Two points are obvious at once. First, it is presupposed that c has been under an obligation to a. Secondly, it is presupposed that c has run afoul of a in failing to meet this obligation. But is it also presupposed that c cannot meet the obligation, given this initial slip and his present circumstances? Surely, the answer is affirmative for the senses of `redemption’ in which we shall be interested. Granted, there are other senses. A singer, for example, after a poor performance, convinced that he can do better, may plead for a “chance to redeem himself.” Whatever one ought to make of this idiom, it clearly bespeaks a different situation from the sort we wish to study. We are interested in the sense of `redemption’ in which self-redemption is impossible. For our purposes, thereforeand this is my sixth conclusion-it is presupposed that c cannot extricate himself from his predicament vis-a-vis a.

But what exactly is that predicament? Is it simply and identically the indebtedness to a? Or is it some further discomfiture consequent upon the indebtedness, such as imprisonment? Or malediction? Depending on which way one answers this question, one commits oneself to a different account of how redemptive work, or the acceptance of redemptive work, alters the predicament of the oneto-be-redeemed. For, so long as one takes the redemptive work itself as b‘s rendering to a a satisfactory equivalent of what c owed to a, it is clear that if Pred(c,a) is identically c‘s indebtedness to a, then Red(b,c) simply, directly, and per se cancels that predicament. In other words, what a does in accepting the redemptive work of b is simply to make that work stand for, or replace, c‘s own rendering of what he owes. Therefore, if c‘s failure to render what he owes is the whole of his predicament vis-a-vis a, that predicament simply ceases to exist as soon as a accepts the redemptive work of b. On the other hand, if c‘s predicament is or includes the fact that a has already taken punitive action of some kind against c, so that the predicament is no longer the simple indebtedness but the consignment of c to captivity or malediction by a, then the redemptive work of b has a quite different impact on that predicament. For this time, if we assume as we did before that Red(b,c) consists of b‘s rendering to a a satisfactory equivalent of what c owed to a, then when a accepts Red(b,c) it is not the case that Pred(c,a) is simply cancelled; rather it is the case that Pred(c,a) ceases to be appropriate, just, or necessary. In other words, on this assumption, once the redemptive work is done and accepted, there is no longer any need for c to languish in captivity or under malediction; if a is just, he will now offer to withdraw his punitive action or terminate it; but the redemptive work itself, qua satisfactory and even qua accepted, will have as its immediate and per se effect not this very termination itself (hence not the annihilation of Pred(c,a) itself) but only the rendering appropriate in justice of the termination. At least, such is the inference unless we expand the notion of redemptive work, e.g., by making it include not only the rendering of what c owed but also the liberation of c. But let us hold this latter possibility in suspension for a moment. Let us try to resolve one issue at a time.

The issue now before us is whether, in the sense of `redemption’ which we wish to establish, the predicament from which c is redeemed is simply and identically his indebtedness to a (which he himself cannot overcome), or whether that predicament is a captivity or malediction imposed upon c by a as a punishment for c‘s default on his indebtedness. I think it is more faithful both to ancient practice and to classical theology to take the latter of these alternatives. We shall assume – this is my seventh conclusion – that the predicament of c vis-a-vis a is a punitive sanction under which c languishes as a result of his default. We must therefore distinguish Pred(c,a) from the different and logically prior state of affairs that c is hopelessly in debt to a, and we shall give this prior state of affairs its own label, namely, ‘Deb(c,a).’ We may add that Deb(c,a) is the provocation for the fact that a has punished c, of which Pred(c,a) is the concrete and achieved effect, that is, the state of captivity or malediction taken passively as a property of c.

Now, if we keep our narrow sense of redemptive action, according to which Red(b,c) consists wholly in the fact that b renders an equivalent of what c owed to a, it will be clear that what is immediately and per se achieved by redemption (that is, achieved by Red(b,c) as accepted by a is simultaneously the cancellation of Deb(c,a) and the rendering unnecessary in justice of Pred(c,a). If the predicament is captivity, one will be able to say that, redemptione peracta, the jail door may stand open. The state of affairs Pred(c,a) no longer ought to obtain. That it actually and de facto ceases (that the jail door actually stands open) is directly and immediately the effect of liberation, not of redemption, although, of course, the open door is mediately the effect of redemption.


It may seem obvious that the schema just elaborated is not yet adequate to the Christian mystery. After all, Christ’s redemptive sacrifice is not merely an accomplishment of the perfect obedience to God, which we sinners could not of ourselves perform, but also an endurance of the penalty which was rightfully ours to bear. The same redemption was also our objective liberation. Once that redemption was accomplished, the curse for us was fully lifted; the jail door was open in deed. Nothing remained but for us to walk out, by accepting the grace of God which would empower us to do so (subjective liberation). However, before we proceed to amend our schema, let us see if it is really as inadequate as it seems.

In thinking of human cases, such as redemption from debtors’ prison, we naturally posit a real distinction and separability between a’s knowledge that c is hopelessly in debt to him and a’s ordering c’s imprisonment as the punitive sanction. For in fact these things are separable, and that on two grounds. First, if a is a man, his nature does not compel him to be just. Out of laziness or misplaced “charity,” he might fail to do anything against c. Secondly, imprisonment is only contingently and conventionally accepted as a punishment for default on a debt. In modern societies, it is not accepted. Moreover, in human cases, we also find it natural to posit a real distinction and separability between a‘s acceptance of b‘s redemptive work and a‘s objectively liberating (or ordering the liberation of) c. His human nature does not prevent a from behaving tardily or unjustly in this regard. But in God there are no real distinctions save between the Hypostases themselves; perfectly just by nature, He can neither fail to punish sin, nor fail to accept the infinitely perfect atonement offered by Christ, nor fail to remove the entire barrier to man’s restoration, once Christ’s work is completed. Furthermore, there is in the revealed mystery an intrinsic connection between man’s disobedience and the kind of punishment God imposes. Sin, the failure to render to God the perfect love and obedience due to Him, cannot fail to cause, in the man elevated to grace, the immediate loss of that grace. Nor can anything short of an infinite satisfaction merit condignly the restoration of that grace even as available, much less granted. But where the fault and its punishment are intrinsically (and not just conventionally) connected, so are satifaction-for-the-fault and revocation-of-the-punishment. Since God could not fail, in view of Christ’s merits, to remove every barrier to man’s renewed friendship with Himself, it is not too much to say that those merits intrinsically destroyed those barriers, so that the work of Christ, qua redemptive, was also in this unique case liberative.[3] In such a case, the distinction introduced above between objective redemption’s immediate effect and its mediate effect (which is objective liberation’s immediate effect) collapses in the real and becomes purely logical; for the interval between Christ’s rendering otiose Pred(c,a) by cancelling Deb(c,a) and God’s offering the grace whose acceptance terminates Pred(c,a) reduces to a purely logical priority of the former over the latter. Nevertheless, despite this merger of objective redemption into objective liberation in the Christian mystery, the gap between them and the subjective redemption-liberation not only remains but widens. For in the human analogate, what is owed to the creditor is usually some good extrinsic to the person, such as money-so that when the debt is paid by the redeemer, Deb(c,a) ceases to exist, independently of the dispositions of c. By contrast, in the Christian mystery what is owed to God is the interior life of faith, hope and obedient love, so that Deb(c,a) exists not only in the objective world but also in the interior of each person, c. Christ has already offered such a life to God, and in return God has made the life of Christ available to all. So Deb (c,a) is cancelled in principle. Nevertheless, if c does not have the very life of Christ within himself, Deb(c,a) still exists in him. Therefore those objectively redeemed persons who have not yet appropriated the new Life through repentencs, faith and baptism have gained nothing but opportunity to cooperate with the grace of God. And for those objectively redeemed persons who persist to the end in non-cooperation, the objective redemption, for all its majesty, reduces to nothing more than an attempted redemption, a mere item in the historical record of the population of Hell.

So, if I am not mistaken, once the nature of the fault and the punishment are understood in the Christian mystery, it is not so clear that our schema is not adequate to cover it, given the analogical extensions just mentioned. This is not to deny, of course, that de facto Christ’s redeeming work went far beyond rendering the obedience and love which we owed. He bore our guilt and the death which was our punishment, shedding His blood in our place. But He did these things, not because He had to by some ontological or juridical necessity (as though God the Father could be appeased by blood alone), but out of the superabundance of His love and so that the depth of that love might become clear even to us. Christ did more, far more, than any just concept of redemption could have required; it is therefore perfectly in order for this fact to be reflected in the disparity between the narrowness of our above account of redemptive-work-ingeneral and the concrete richness of Christ’s redemptive work in particular. Moreover, if one assumes (as is traditional) the retributive theory of punishment, according to which the defaulter would owe, over and above repayment, the endurance of a certain punishment for his fault, not a syllable of the above analysis needs to be altered. For then a certain suffering on the part of the redeemer is already part and parcel of rendering to a what c owed; and yet it is still true that Christ freely suffered more than justice required.

My eighth conclusion, then, is that the general sense of redemption outlined above (namely, that a accepts Red(b,c) as cancelling Deb(c,a) and hence as bringing it about that Pred(c,a) no longer ought to exist) is open to the theological interpretation and adequate to it.

It can hardly fail to be obvious that this general sense is already analogical. Indeed, it can be extended to the Christian mystery only because it is already analogical. Between simply diverse situations, that is, between quite diverse offenses, quite diverse punishments, and quite diverse redemptive actions, there is yet a similarity of relations. Relative similarity within absolute diversity-that is a textbook description of analogia proportionalitatis propriae. Catholic theology simply does not know a univocal sense of `redemption’. Therefore, when theologians ask what kind of analogy there is between the redemption of sinners and the redemption of Our Lady, they are asking about analogies of an analogy. This is one good reason why their disputes have had so little success: the taxonomy they employ (analogia attributionis, proportionalitatis propriae, impropriae, etc.) was invented to describe how terms univocal in a first usage signify analogously in a second and extended usage; it has little or nothing to do with describing how already analogical terms might signify in further analogical extensions. The problem of iterated analogy (you might say, of analogy squared) has never been faced for its own sake (at least to my knowledge); its rules and possibilities have never been mapped or codified. Therefore, we shall ignore the traditional terminology in what follows; we shall look simply at the data of the problem, that is, at the possible alterations to the general schema, by virtue of which different sorts of redemption might arise in Christianity.

What might these alterations be? Well, it is clear what they cannot be. In the Christian account, all cases of redemption involve the acceptance of Christ’s redemptive work by God the Father and a concomitant benefit for a third party, the redeemed. And in all cases that benefit has (negatively) something to do with sin and the punishment for sin, (positively) something to do with the conferral or availability of sanctifying grace. Well, if the acceptance is fixed, the redemptive work fixed, the debt, the predicament, and their mutual relations all fixed, what, one wonders, can vary so as to bring about different senses of objective redemption? I think it is clear that the only thing which can vary is the actual obtaining or existence of the facts or states of affairs involved, namely, Red(b,c), Deb(c,a) and Pred(c,a) – such is my ninth conclusion.

It is now time for a brief philosophical digression to explain what is meant by `states of affairs’ and their `obtaining’.


We may begin by distinguishing states of affairs from facts. Facts are complexities in esse naturae, such as the composition of a substance with one of its accidents. Suppose that the substance is this piece of paper, and the accident is whiteness; then there is a real composition or complexity in esse naturae which we call the fact that this paper is white. So understood, facts are bits of the world; they are the bits of the world which make declarative sentences true by existing. A state of affairs, by contrast, is a complexity in esse intentionali; it is what we know when we know what a declarative sentence means without knowing whether or not it is true. So taken, a state of affairs is the sense or “intention” of a declarative sentence, whereas a fact is the reference or “extension” of such a sentence, if it is true. Because facts are bits of the world, one cannot speak of false or non-existent facts; because states of affairs are bits of meaning, one can speak of false or non-obtaining states of affairs. A fact has to exist in order to be the fact which it is (priority of existence over essence); a state of affairs need not obtain in order to be the state of affairs which it is (priority of meaning over verification). Facts are outside of language, over against it, as that which language is about; states of affairs are not outside of language; they are just understood language. For this reason, the conditions for saying that a state of affairs obtains are exactly the same as for saying that a sentence is true.

We may now face the complication introduced by time. Sometimes the sentence which we say is true is phrased in the present tense; and in that case, what we mean by `is true’ is that there is a bit of the real world (a fact) which here-and-now corresponds to that sentence. In such a case, we shall also say that the state of affairs picked out by that sentence is satisfied. However, at other times, the sentence which we say is true is phrased in the past or future tense; in this case, we must mean something else by `is true.’ For whatever exists in esse naturae exists now (or else exists in eternity), and hence there are no past or future facts, as we have defined `fact.’ Therefore, when we say that a past-tense sentence is true, we cannot mean that a bit of the real world here-and-now corresponds to it. We mean rather that what was once a bit of the world once corresponded to the similar sentence which results from changing the past-tense verbs into present-tense ones. And insofar as we can foresee or predict the future, the same remarks (mutatis mutandis) hold good for future-tense sentences. This amounts to a broader sense of truth, namely, correspondence to a fact existing at some time. And in these cases, we shall want to say that the state of affairs picked out by the sentence obtains. For by `obtains’ we shall mean `is realized at some time.’ Thus, when predicated absolutely, `is satisfied’ is the special case of `obtains’ which arises when the “sometime” is now. We may summarize our usages this way: sentences are always tensed in one way or another; states of affairs are tenseless; truth in the broad sense is a tenseless predicate of sentences; obtains is a tenseless predicate of states of affairs; truth in the narrow sense is exclusively a present-tense predicate of present-tense sentences; is satisfied is exclusively a present-tense predicate of states of affairs.

Now, it is obvious that states of affairs which obtain but are not satisfied have many uses, in that they stand in various important relations to states of affairs which are satisfied. The most important of these relations are causality, pastness and futurity. But it may appear that a state of affairs which does not obtain is a thoroughly useless bit of meaning, like a false proposition. In fact, such a state of affairs can also have its uses, since it also can be related to reality. Here the key relations are logical possibility, futuribility, and various kinds of oughtness (for want of a better word). Just as a state of affairs which is not satisfied may be thought of as obtaining because it belongs to the past or the definite future, so also a state of affairs which does not obtain may be thought of as something which might have obtained, or as something which may obtain, or as something which ought in justice to obtain. These are relations of reason, of course; we express such relations by using what the logicians call operators. Transparently, our knowledge of what actually exists is immensely enriched by considering it under these relations to what did or will exist, may exist, ought to exist, or must also exist.

In what follows, we shall require five operators. Our first, `P,’ shall be read, `it has been the case that,’ and shall indicate that the state of affairs is now past, no longer satisfied. This does not mean that the fact of which it has been the case that it satisfies that state of affairs is now without consequences; it may have altered the world permanently; it simply means that that fact or action, whatever it was, is now finished and hence no longer appears in the observable, space-time world. Our second operator, `F,’ shall be read, `it will be the case that,’ and shall indicate that the state of affairs will be realized. This does not imply that the state of affairs is necessarily, absolutely or unconditionally future; it may be contingently future; but `F’ indicates that even if there are any conditions which must be fulfilled in order for the state of affairs to be satisfied, those conditions will in fact be fulfilled. Our third operator, ‘MF,’ may be read, `it can be the case that it will be the case that ‘; the idea which it conveys is roughly that of futuribility. (Strictly speaking, the `M’ part should be indexed with a subscript indicating the signum in which God’s decrees still leave the futurity or non-futurity of the state of affairs undetermined; then, for example, ‘MnF(p)’ could be read, `it is consistent with everything God foresees in signum n that p will be realized.’ But we shall dispense with this nuance here. Suffice it to observe that ‘MF(p)’ is an extremely weak claim: it does not say that something has happened or been foreseen by God which positively makes p physically possible or which confers on p, by known laws, even the slightest probability; it merely says that nothing which has happened or been foreseen (in some signum) makes p impossible as yet.) Our fourth operator, `O,’ is read, `it ought to be the case that,’ where the `ought’ has deontic force. In other words, we use this operator to express a perception of what is right, good, demanded in justice.[4] Lastly, we shall use a necessity operator, `N,’ which may be read either as `a sufficient condition obtains for’ or as `it follows from what God foresees that.’[5]

The reasons which have led us to interpret the five operators as we have will become clear, hopefully, as we look at concrete applications. We now make an end of the philosophical parenthesis and return to our subject.


In the theological debate over the senses of `redemption’ all sides agree, of course, that the states of affairs involved need not be satisfied-i.e. need not obtain at the present moment-in order for the “proper sense” of ‘redemption’ to be verified. For instance, in the case of an adult Catholic, baptized as an infant and currently in a state of grace, the person is certainly redeemed sensu proprio, and yet neither Red (b,c) nor Deb(c,a) nor Pred(c,a) is satisfied, where c is the person in question, b is Christ, and a is the Father as standing, by appropriation, for the whole Trinity. For in such a case, all these states of affairs are past. It also seems to be agreed that redemption can be verified sensu proprio when at least one of these states of affairs is purely future, namely Red(b,c), where we let c stand for one of the just of the Old Testament. Surely Elias was just in his own lifetime and had this justice through the grace which was to come by Jesus Christ; and since it will hardly be denied that he was redeemed sensu proprio, it follows that redemption can be verified even when Red(b,c), which is the theandric action taken by Christ in history, has not been realized but will be realized. It is agreed, then, that the states of affairs involved in redemption need not be satisfied, provided that they have been or will be realized at some time, i.e., provided that they obtain.

Where the agreement breaks down is where one confronts a case in which one or another of these states of affairs does not obtain-has never been and will never be realized. Most notoriously the problem arises with Pred(c,a), where c stands for the Blessed Virgin.

According to some, `is redeemed’ cannot be affirmed truthfully at all of anyone for whom the captivity of original sin (which is what Pred(c,a) will initially amount to in our context) has not already begun; they require, in other words, either that Pred(c,a) be satisfied or that it be past; this position has ceased to be tenable after the definition of 1854, for it amounts either to the heresy of maculism or to the claim that Mary was not redeemed by Christ in any sense.[6]

Others say that `redemption’ signifies truly, perhaps, but equivocally in a case in which captivity has not already begun; these are hard-core extractionists.[7]

Others say that `redemption’ continues to signify properly so long as captivity at least ought to begin, because Deb(c,a) has already begun or ought to begin; and these are moderate extractionists.[8]

Still others, conceding that the extractionist sense is the “proper one,” nevertheless insist that there are other legitimate or true senses, and that redemption from the possibility of captivity is one of these (cf. Psalm 29:4; 48:26; 85:13; 143:10; Ephesians 5:16, etc.)[9]

Still others hold that redemption from a bare possibility or futuribility of incurring debt and captivity is still a “proper” redemption, because they reject the claim that the extractive sense is mandatory in theology (even though it may be the original sense).[10]

Rather than indulge in arbitrary quarrels over the boundaries of the “proper” usage, one may fruitfully work to establish just how many true senses there are-that is, how many different combinations of the three states of affairs with various operators are already recognized, in effect, as verifying `redemption’ in theology. The handiest way to do this is simply to run through the list of 150 possible combinations, eliminate those which make no sense, then eliminate those which have no application, then list and comment upon the more important senses remaining.

In eliminating the nonsensical or inapplicable, we shall be guided by the following interpretations. Setting aside the entire issue of personal sin, we take Pred(c, a) to be the contraction of original sin by c; then, since Deb(c,a) must be either temporally or logically prior to Pred(c,a), as crime is to punishment, we are more or less compelled to take Deb(c,a) as that solidarity with sinful Adam on c‘s part by virtue of which Adam’s deed is morally or mystically causative of original sin in c. We should also note that when a state of affairs appears in the list without a prefixed operator, it is understood that the state of affairs is satisfied (that is, a currently existing fact in space-time realizes it); hence, when a state of affairs appears with a prefixed operator, it is not satisfied but merely stands in some relation to what is satisfied, the precise relation being indicated by the operator. The list of significant senses follows.

I. P(Red(b, c)) &Deb(c, a) & Pred(c, a)

This is the situation, in the first moment of their existence, of those human persons whose existence begins after the redemptive work of Christ has been historically completed. In that first moment of existence, the person c exists in solidarity with Adam who sinned, satisfying Deb(c,a); and in the same first moment, but in logical posteriority to the “debt” and as its moral effect, c contracts original sin and so satisfies Pred(c,a). The two states of affairs are logically ordered but temporally simultaneous. What, then, is the significance for c of the fact that Christ has already redeemed him or her?

Because Christ has redeemed c “objectively,” Deb(c,a) is cancelled in principle and it is no longer true that Pred(c,a) ought to obtain. By cancelling in principle what men owed in Adam, Christ has made Himself the new head of the human race. In coming into being, c ought to exist in solidarity with Christ, not Adam. Therefore, it is not the case that Pred(c,a) ought to obtain. But in fact the person c begins to exist in solidarity with Adam, and for that reason Pred(c,a) must obtain. For between Deb(c,a) and Pred(c,a) there is a connection which is both deontic and ontological.[11] But why is Deb(c,a) satisfied at all? Why doesn’t the redemptive work of Christ, as accepted by the Father, simply annihilate Deb(c,a), abolishing in fact as well as in principle our link to Adam and liquidating original sin along with it?

The answer lies primarily in these three facts. (1) God excluded the state of pure nature from the world order He has actually created; (2) therefore, in the first moment of any person’s existence, if that person is not deprived of sanctifying grace, he must actually have grace; but (3) God has willed that the treasure of sanctifying grace should be restored to man by the Sacraments of the Mystical Body and by man’s free cooperation, not automatically and simply by beginning to exist in human nature. Therefore, in order to secure the greater good of man’s free cooperation in the subjective redemption, sacramentally manifested, God permits to obtain the states of affairs Deb(c,a) and Pred(c,a) for each particular c, although they no longer ought to obtain, thanks to the objective redemption, until either the person c makes a free choice for God or until the Church, co-redeeming with Christ and in Christ, baptizes c. It is as though God permitted each of us to be born in a jail cell whose door was already thrown open, just to see whether we would accept His invitation to come out and to let others out.

Now a currently obtaining (i.e. satisfied) state of affairs is also logically possible, of course, but not futurible, since it already is realized. Therefore P(Red(b, c)) & Deb(ca) & MF(Pred(c, a)) is an impossible combination. For Pred(c,a) must actually obtain whenever Deb(c,a) obtains, given the theological interpretation of those two states of affairs.

However, we use `O’ as an operator for states of affairs which ought to obtain, whether they do in fact or not. Suppose that Pred(c, a) is satisfied; it might still seem, then, that P(Red(b, c)) & Deb(c, a) & 0(Pred(c, a)) is a proper combination to express the necessity of Pred(c,a) given Deb(c,a). But this is wrong on two grounds.

First, the oughtness operator cannot be used to express necessity. For if what ought to be the case were necessarily the case, sins would be impossible. Now in the case at hand, there is a real necessity. If a “sin unto death” is committed, deprivation of grace necessarily follows immediately. Therefore, it is necessary that, given Deb(c,a), Pred(c,a) obtain. But if we wish to express this necessity, we replace `O(Pred(c,a))’ with ‘N(Pred(c,a)),’ where `N’ simply expresses the fact that Deb(c,a)⊃Pred (c,a).

Secondly, after the objective redemption has occurred, there is no sense of `ought’ in which it is appropriate to say that Pred(c,a) ought to obtain; it is false that sin ought to obtain, because the “debt” contracted in Adam is an evil which has been cancelled in principle by Christ, who has broken our old solidarity and established, jure divino, a new solidarity of man with Himself. For those who have been redeemed already objectively and whose de facto solidarity with Adam therefore exists only provisionally and for the sake of their probation – for them, I say, original sin exists not by right but solely by necessity. Such is my tenth conclusion.

Let us now move to a second group of senses. II P(Red(b, c)) & P(Deb(c, a)) & P(Pred(c, a))

This is the situation after baptism of all persons whose existence has begun after the redemption was completed. So long as Deb(c,a) is a past event or state, no other operator is possible in front of Pred(c,a) except the combination, N(P(Pred(c,a))). We pass therefore to a third group of senses.

III. P(Red(b, c)) & F(Deb(c, a)) & F(Pred(c, a))

This is the situation of all persons whose existence will begin at some future time, after the redemption has occurred. Persons whose existence will begin at some such time are persons who have been foreseen by God. Their existence, solidarity with Adam, and contraction of original sin are not merely futurible but simply future. This does not mean that they are absolutely or unconditionally future; it means that they are future contingencies whose conditions sine qua non will in fact be fulfilled.

However, since whatever is future is already at least futurible, there is nothing wrong with P(Red(b, c)) & MF(Deb(c, a)) MF(Pred(c, a)) as a weaker entailment of sense III. On the other hand P(Red(b, c)) & F(Deb(c, a)) & 0(Pred(c, a)) is wrong for the same reasons stated above. Again, if one wishes to express the necessary connexion between the future guilt and its punishment, one will have to replace ‘O(Pred(c,a))’ with Deb(c,a)⊃Pred(c,a), whence it follows necessarily that F(Pred(c,a)).

Now let us see what happens when the guilt-in-Adam is not even future but merely futurible: P(Red(b, c)) & MF(Deb(c, a)) & … How shall we complete this formula? What operators may be prefixed to Pred(c,a)? Well, it must be obvious that futuribility is entailed by, but does not entail, futurity and hence is a far weaker claim. So, if the guilt is no more than futurible, the punishment can be neither future, nor obligatory, nor necessary. It also can be no more than futurible.

Therefore: IV. P(Red(b, c)) & MF(Deb(c, a)) & MF(Pred(c, a))

is the only logically allowable combination, if the guilt is merely futurible. But the question remains whether IV is coherent as a whole. What sort of persons, c, could be described by IV? The answer is complicated by the deep ambiguity of ‘MF(Deb(c,a).’ Are we to understand that c‘s coming-into-existence in solidarity with Adam is merely futurible because c himself (or herself) is a possible person who will never actually exist? Like Dwight Eisenhower’s second son? Then IV surely makes no sense. For unless we are prepared to say that Christ suffered for the sake of possible people who will never exist (as well as for those who will), it is surely nonsense to posit P(Red(b,c)) for a merely futurible c. Or are we to understand that Deb(c,a) is merely futurible because, although c will exist, he or she will never exist in solidarity with Adam? In that case, IV is coherent and describes a person such as the Blessed Virgin is conceived to be in exemptionist Mariology, with the exception that a person described by IV would come into being after the work of Christ was historically completed. It is certain, of course, that there is, and is to be, no such person; nevertheless, on this second interpretation IV is coherent.

It is also worth mentioning that on the second interpretation IV describes more than an objective redemption. For in the order actually established by God, the only way in which c can begin to exist without existing-in-solidarity-with-Adam is to be filled at once with the grace of Christ. Thus IV involves an immaculate conception, which is a redemption at once objective and subjective. We shall return to these points below.

Let us now see whether the `O’ operator can be prefixed to our second state of affairs, Deb(c,a). Suppose we try P(Red(b,c)) & 0(Deb(c, a)) & 0(Pred(c, a)). The last parts of this formula seem well-matched, since, if for some person, c, Deb(c,a) ought to obtain, Pred(c,a) ought to obtain also. Moreover, we have conceded that O(Deb(c,a)⊃Pred(c,a)). But it is impossible to see how O(Deb(c,a)) can be reconciled with c‘s already having been redeemed objectively by Christ. As I have argued above, God permits objectively redeemed persons to come into existence in original sin for the sake of a greater good. But there is all the difference in the world between saying that God’s permitting Deb(c,a) is permissible or appropriate (or even preferable in view of something else which ought to be the case) and saying that Deb(c,a) itself ought to obtain. How can it be said that a guilty deed or state objectively cancelled ought to be nevertheless held against the person objectively redeemed? Did Christ nail to the Cross the handwriting of offenses which was against us, or did He not? If He did, it is not true that the offenses ought to be lodged against us, else His Cross changes nothing. I conclude, therefore, that for any person c, whose existence is to begin after the Crucifixion and Resurrection of Christ, it is impossible to posit ‘O(Deb(c,a)).’ This is only a repetition of my tenth conclusion.

Let us now see how the situation is changed, when we consider senses of `redemption’ in which the redemptive work of Christ is not past but future.

V. F(Red(b, c)) & Deb( c, a) & Pred(c, a).

This is the situation, in the first moment of their existence, of all human persons (save one) who came into the world between Adam and Christ. It remains the situation, in all subsequent moments of existence, of those who fail to be justified by faith and hope in Christ-to-come. By contrast, the just of the Old Testament are described by: VI. F(Red(b, c)) & P(Deb(c, a)) & P(Pred(c, a)).

Since Christ died for all men, c, who existed before His advent, sense V is true of the unjust of the Old Testament as well as the just; it expresses the objective redemption of all who lived before the Incarnation. But the just of the OT have a subjective appropriation of this redemption, through faith and hope in Christ-to-come. The just of the OT are saved by a gratia Christi venturi which is (I should argue if it were my topic) at least modally different from the full gratia Christi of the New Covenant. Since grace is incompossible with sin, the debt and predicament in Adam of the just of the OT are merely past states of affairs as soon as a subjective appropriation of the coming redemption is made.

Let us now face a more difficult question. Shall we accept:

VIL F(Red(b, c)) & Deb(c, a) & O(Pred(c, a))?

Here is a person, c, coming into existence prior to the temporal work of Christ; he is in solidarity with Adam; hence Deb(c,a) is satisfied, and so is Pred(c,a); but with Christ’s work still to come, can we affirm that c‘s contraction of original sin not only is but ought to be satisfied? I am inclined to think that we can affirm this. Until Christ comes to assume and redeem our nature, Adam remains objectively the head of the race by divine institution. His sin is not yet expiated. Therefore those who come into existence in de facto solidarity with him ought to bear the punishment which he bore and hence ought to contract original sin, until Christ comes. To be sure, God eternally foresees that Adam’s sin will be expiated; but this foreknowledge and even pre-acceptance of Christ’s work cannot itself count as that work; otherwise what happened in history was useless motion. No, we are objectively redeemed by the theandric operations as actually occurent in history, not by a shellgame of signa. Christ’s historical actions really and truly changed the situation of man in respect to God. And before those actions occurred, those who existed in solidarity with Adam contracted original sin not simply Deo permittente but also Deo juste puniente.

However, our admission of VII provides no ground whatever for the so-called debitum proximum.[12] For where VII is true of some person, c, Pred(c,a) not only ought to obtain but also does and must obtain, so that an immaculate conception is impossible. It seems likely that certain theologians overlooked this point because they failed to realize to what degree the Christian mystery is only analogous to redemption in the human, juridical sphere. For example, in the human case of debt, the connection between crime, Deb(c,a), and the punishment, Pred(c,a), is merely juridical and conventional; therefore it is possible that even where the former obtains, the latter fails to obtain and merely ought injustice to obtain. But in the Christian mystery, the connection between solidarity with Adam’s sin, Deb(c,a), and the deprivation of sanctifying grace, Pred(c,a), is intrinsic and metaphysically necessary; therefore it is impossible that the latter fail to obtain where the former obtains. Hence, a juridical sense of the debitum proximum overlooks this element of real necessity, and a nomological or necessitarian sense of debitum proximum is incoherent unless it entails maculism.

Now let us look at the case of merely foreseen persons:

VIII. F(Red(b, c)) & F(Deb(c, a)) & F(Pred(c, a)).

If what we have just said is correct, we may also posit: IX. F(Red(b, c)) & F(Deb(c, a)) & O(Pred(c, a)).

That is, for anyone whose existence in solidarity with sinful Adam is simply future and obtains prior to the coming of Christ, the contraction of original sin ought to occur. Of course, it also will occur and will occur necessarily. Hence IX also excludes an immaculate conception and hence cannot be used by defenders of the debitum proximum.

But can we go a step further and posit:
X. F(Red(b, c)) & O(Deb(c, a)) & 0(Pred(c, a))?

This posits in effect a debitum remotum with a deontic or juridical sense of debitum.[13] If X is true, a person conceived prior to the coming of Christ ought to have been in solidarity with sinful Adam. But surely no person ought to be in solidarity with Adam precisely qua sinful, and yet this is what ‘O(Deb(c,a)’ would amount to. Nor can God desire such a thing. If one switches the `O’ to an `N’, claiming that some or all foreseen persons had to be in solidarity with Adam’s sin, given God’s antecedent arrangements, one simply excludes the possibility of an immaculate conception for any of those persons. Nor will ‘it help to shift the obligation or necessity back another step, so as to assert that man’s inclusion with Adam itself was obligatory or necessary. Human nature as such can neither demand in justice nor naturally necessitate such an inclusion, since the solidarity is a supernatural arrangement. And if the `ought’ or `must’ has no basis on our side, it is hard to see how such a requirement could be grounded on God’s side. Shall one claim that, thanks to what God is, the Adamitic arrangement was a feature of every theologically possible world in which man existed at all? Then it is not a contingent arrangement. Is it alleged that God, not thanks to what we are but thanks to what He is, could not have created man without raising him to a supernatural fellowship with Himself? Then we have a claim on grace after all; grace becomes, if not precisely wages, an obligatory honorarium. Since these claims do not adequately protect the gratuity of the supernatural order, X is impossible for any person, c, and Xt. F(Red(b, c)) & N(Deb(c> a)) & N(Pred(c, a)) is impossible for any person, c, who will in fact be conceived immaculately.


We may now face, at last, the situation of Our Lady: XII. F(Red(b, c)) & MF(Deb(c, a)) & MF(Pred(c, a)).

With the claims of proximate and remote debita eliminated, XII is the only formula which can possibly describe the case of the Mother of God. This is my eleventh conclusion. The state of affairs that Mary contracts original sin was never to obtain, never simply future; but by an intrinsic necessity, rooted in the nature of grace, that state of affairs would have had to be future, if her existence in solidarity with sinful Adam had been future.[14] Therefore Deb(c,a) is also in her case merely and at most futurible, never simply future. Again, Deb(c,a) can be merely futurible for a certain person, c, under one of two (and only two) conditions: if c is a merely futurible person who will never actually exist, or if c will exist without ever having had Adam as head. Since Mary will exist, obviously, the second of these conditions fits her case. Having no supernatural connection with Adam, such a person is capitulated in Christ alone, or else has no mystical head at all. Well, in the order actually created by God, there is no state of pure nature; hence the only way in which a person whose existence is simply future (and occurs after Adam) can have a merely futurible contraction of original sin is for her to receive sanctifying grace in the first instant of her existence; since such grace can only be gratia Christi, such a person is capitulated in Christ and in Him alone; therefore XII describes a redemption which is at once objective and subjective. Furthermore, in God’s design the sole source of grace is Jesus Christ; therefore, in order for a person’s fullness of grace in the first instant of existence to be simply future and about to obtain at a time when Christ’s redemptive sacrifice will not have occurred yet, it is necessary for God to have applied Christ’s future merits to that person in a most unusual way, and hence that person must be about to stand in a most unusual intimacy to Christ’s future work. Indeed, such a person will be that work already beginning.

So much for the various senses of `redemption’ which can arise by allowing the three states of affairs involved either to obtain or not obtain, and to stand in various relations (pastness, futurity, futuribility, oughtness, or necessity) to what is satisfied.

We turn next to the problem of preservation. This is a very much easier affair. I have already worked out the general sense of `preservation’ in the above cited article, “A Logician’s Reflexions” (supra, note 4). I can summarize and illustrate my results by taking a case quite foreign to theology.

Take the case of a rose perfectly preserved in clear plastic. First, we say that the rose is preserved because it has certain properties; it has not decayed or been dismembered. The properties which it has are the ones we associate with the thing’s integrity. Secondly, we consider these properties to be the ideal properties of a rose, the properties which it ought to have. We would never say of a seedy, torn, chewn, or dismembered rose that it was “preserved”, because these are not properties which we think the thing ought to have. Thirdly, we know that roses which have the properties of integrity usually lose them quickly. By a merely accidental change, roses can lose integrity. Their decay is physically and logically possible. If a thing’s decay is not possible in a given respect, we never call it “preserved” in that respect; and the more resistant to decay a thing is, the less likely we are to call it “preserved” in any respect. Does one speak of a preserved diamond? Fourthly, a preserved thing must never have lost its integrity. It must have been arrested and maintained in its integrity. A thing which has once decayed and been brought back to integrity is called “restored” or “repaired” rather than “preserved”. Fifthly, a thing is not usually called preserved unless another thing or agent preserves it by some causality. The plastic preserves the rose. Formaldehyde preserves specimens. The seat-belt preserved his life. A thing whose integrity survives unexpectedly but without the aid of a preserving cause is not properly called “preserved” but rather “surviving” or perhaps just “lucky”.

In sum, a preserved thing, as adequately distinct from a restored, incorruptible or lucky thing, is integral (has properties it ought to have), can decay (can have properties it ought not to have), has never in fact decayed, and is integral because of the causality of something else.

If we call the preserved thing `c‘ and the preserving agent `b‘, then we have three states of affairs: ‘Integ(c)’ standing for the fact that c is integral, ‘Dec(c)’ standing for the fact that c is decayed, and ‘Preserv(b,c)’ standing for the fact that b exerts upon c the causality whose effect is Integ(c). We need to add that Integ(i) is something which ought to obtain, i.e. O(Integ(i)); that integrity and decay are mutually exclusive, i.e. Integ(i) implies Not-(Dec(c)); that c has never decayed, i.e. Not(P(Dec(i))); and that c can decay or at least could have decayed, i.e. M(Dec(c)) or P(MF(Dec(c))).

Now let us assign to these states of affairs their theological interpretation in Mariology. Clearly either Dec(c) = c contracts original sin = Pred(c, a) or else Dec(c) = c is in solidarity with sinful Adam – Deb(c, a). It does not much matter which identification we choose, since the two are inseparable if either obtains. Further, the integrity of c must be something which excludes Dec(c), and that can only be grace in the present case. Hence Integ(c) = c is graced = Red(b, c) & Not (Deb(c, a)) & Not (Pred(c, a)), that is, integrity in theology, whether preserved or restored, is subjective redemption.

What is peculiar about the theological situation is the fact that the issue between integrity or decay must be decided in the first instant of c‘s existence and hence that, if c exists, there is no third possibility. Under these peculiar circumstances, it is also clear that if c exists and Dec(c) has never obtained, Dec(c) must have been at most logically possible (rather than physically possible). For prior to the fact that Integ(c) is satisfied and Dec(c) fails to be satisfied, c never existed at all, and what does not exist has no real or physical potentiality to Dec(c) or to anything else.

Note that theological preservation is once again an analogical extension of the natural senses of `preservation.’ In nature, a thing already exists in integrity before it decays; and its decay takes time, so that an incipient decay can, by intervention, be arrested; one can have preservation after decay has reached the point of beginning or already slightly begun. Nothing of the kind is possible in the theological analogue. To begin to exist in solidarity with sinful Adam and to contract original sin are instantaneous and temporally simultaneous. And they are not connected by a mere oughtness (like human crime and human punishment) but by a metaphysical necessity of the supernatural order. A temporal instant in which Deb(c,a) is satisfied and Pred(c,a) is not, is impossible. A person of whom Deb(c,a) is verified or will be verified and of whom Pred(c,a) is not or will not be verified is a square circle – impossible.

Theologians seem often to have overlooked these points, or forgotten them in the heat of battle, thanks to a failure to appreciate fully the degree to which theological `redemption’ and `preservation’ are merely analogous to natural cases. They imagine the redeemer arriving at the “nick of time” to save one who is already a debtor from actually going to debtors’ prison and so “preserving” her. They imagine that so long as the debtor already ought to go to prison, they salvage the sensus proprius of `redemption’ and `preservation.’ Or some, more stringnent, imagine that so long as the debtor has only one foot in the prison door, they salvage the sensus proprius of the two terms. Such maneuvers are the sheerest nonsense. In theology, a person cannot be preserved from Pred(c,a) unless she is also preserved from Deb(c,a); she cannot be preserved from either unless neither will ever occur; if neither will ever occur, both are at most futurible. Therefore the one and only sense of `redemption’ which also verifies the theological sense of ‘preservation’ or ever can verify it is, again, XII. F(Red(b, c)) & MF(Deb(c, a)) & MF(Pred(c, a)).

This sense, whether it is a “proper” one or not, must be admitted by all theologians to be a true sense of `redemption.’ Those who deny this and who also shrink from maculism, have no coherent alternative short of denying outright that Our Lady was redeemed. Those who admit that Our Lady was redeemed and yet shrink from admitting that (16) is a true sense of `redemption’ have no coherent alternative short of maculism. Such is my twelfth and last conclusion.

  1. Denzinger-Schoenmetzer, Enchiridion symbolorum(32) (New York: Herder, 1963) #2803.
  2. Ibid. #3909. This teaching of Pius XII confirmed the view of the immense majority of theologians and rejected the view of a small handful who had claimed that the Blessed Virgin was in no need of redemption in any sense. Defenders of this rejected view included the 14th century Byzantine theologian, Nicholas Cabasilas, the 17th century Jesuit Augustine Bernal, a Carmelite of the same era, Peter of St. John, a 19th century Italian bishop, Livio Parladore, and a 20th century theologian from Nebraska, J. Loughran. For bibliographical particulars, see Juniper B. Carol, O.F.M., “Reflections on the Problem of Mary’s Preservative Redemption,” Marian Studies 30 (1979), 19-88, especially 23-29.Fr. Carol’s article, by the way, is the finest survey and analysis of theological opinion on the preservative redemption done in this century. The present writer is utterly indebted to the good Franciscan’s erudition.
  3. The fact is that the Christian mystery of redemption transcends the distinction between the deontic and the ontic, the “juridical” and the “intrinsic.” One is tempted to say that the mystery is eminently both and formally neither. The juridical language of `covenant’, ‘debt’, `crime’, `punishment’ and (of course) ‘redemption’ serves appropriately to describe it, but so also does the ontological language of `participation’, `fall’, `elevation’ and `restoration.’ The Eastern and Western theologies are more complementary than is sometimes realized.
  4. There are other senses of `ought’, such as the doxastic sense explained in my article, “A Logician’s Reflections on the Debitum Contrahendi Peccatum, “Marian Studies 29 (1978), 134-187. These other senses are excluded from our present discussion.
  5. These suggested translations for `N’ are designed to obviate confusion with “absolute” or logical necessity. Technically speaking, logical necessity and possibility are best captured by the axioms of the Lewis system, S5, while the sort of necessity in which we are interested by the weaker axioms of systems such as S4 or t. For the reader unfamiliar with the several systems of modal logic, the best work to consult is G. E. Hughes and M. J. Cresswell, An Introduction to Modal Logic (London: Methuen, 1968).
  6. The most famous maculists include Peter Lombard, Liber Sententiarum d.31, c.5-6, and Liber III Sent. d.3, al; St. Thomas Aquinas, in 111 Sent. d. 3, 1. 4, a. 1; John of Naples, Quodl. I, q. 11; and John of Torquemada, Tractatus de veritate conceptionis Beatissimae Virginis (Rome, 1547).
  7. Thus, for example, Francisco Suarez, De vitiis et peccatis, tr. 5, disp. 9, s. 4; Norbert del Prado, O.P., Divus Thomas et Bulla dogmatica `7neffabilis Deus” (Friburg, 1919) pp. 130-136, 241-243, 334f., 379f.; Emilio Sauras, O.P., “Contenido doctrinal del misterio de la Inmaculada,” Estudios Marianos 15 (1955) 29-51.
  8. Thus Reginald Garrigou-Lagrange, O.P., in Virgo Immaculata 11 (1957) 458-60; J. M. Simon, O.M.I., “L’Immaculee Conception et le concours salvifique de Marie,” Virgo Immaculata 10 (1957) 50ff.; Marceliano Llamera, O.P., “El problema del debito y la redencion preservativa de Maria.” Estudios Marianos 15 (1955) 212.
  9. Among the more prominent defenders of this view are J. M. Alonso, C.M.F., “De quolibet debito a B.M. Virgine prorsus excludendo,” Ephemerides Mariologicae 4 (1954) 225 and “Redempta et corredemptrix. El problema y su solucion,” Marianum 20 (1958) 86ff.; N. Garcia-Garces, “?Debio tener la Santisima Virgen el pecado original?” Emphemerides Mariologicae 5(1955) 102-106; Pedro de Alcantara Martinez, in articles too numerous to list here; for a bibliography of his work, see Ephemerides Mariologicae 27 (1977) 111-119; Caspar Friethoff, O.P., A Complete Mariology (London, 1958) 59; J.B. Carol, OFM, art cit. (above, footnote 2).
  10. Thus Franciscus Turrianus, S.J., Epistola de definitione propria peccati originalis . . . et de conceptione Virginis Matris Dei (Florence, 1581) 26-27; Fernando Quirino de Salazar, S.J., Pro Immaculata Deiparae Virginis Conceptione Defensio (Compluti, 1618) 186-188; Alejandro de Villalmonte, O.F.M.Cap., “La Inmaculada y el debito de pecado,” Verdad y Vida 12 (1964) 80-96; Crisostomo de Pamplona, O.F.M.Cap., “La redencion preservativa de Maria y el requisito esencial de la preservacion,” Estudios Marianos 15 (1955) 157ff.
  11. That is, between these two states of affairs there is both a causal connection expressible in the (material) sufficient conditional, Deb(c,a)⊃Pred(c,a), and a deontic connection expressible in the “deontic implication,” O(Deb(c,a)⊃Pred(c,a)). For the logic of this latter sort of implication, see Jaakko Hintikka, “Some Main Problems of Deontic Logic,” in Risto Hilpinen, ed., Deontic Logic: Introductory and Systematic Readings (Dordrecht: Reidel, 1971) 59-104.The following points may prove helpful to the reader of the present essay. First, there is all the difference in the world between not-Op and 0 not-p: the former is consistent with saying that p is permitted (or permissible or tolerable), while the latter contradicts it. Secondly, in standard deontic logic (the system is nicely outlined in Hilpinen’s book), the two premisses, O(p⊃q) and p, do not imply Oq. Therefore, quite appropriately, the connection-in-justice between our solidarity with sinful Adam and our contracting original sin, plus the fact of that solidarity, does not imply that we ought to be in original sin. Thirdly, however, in the same standard logic, the same two premisses, O(p⊃q) and p, plus the additional premise not-Oq, do imply 0 not-p. hence, as soon as we concede that it is not the case that we ought to be in original sin, it follows that we ought not to be in solidarity with sinful Adatti,
  12. The debitum proximum is the doctrine that Mary was, in her oWn physical person, under the influence of a causal factor sufficient of itself to produce original sin in her soul (presciding from the intervention of God). This causal factor is usually identified with the “infected flesh,, inherited from Adam, flesh which, as a damaged material cause, affects the soul which informs it as formal cause. The hypothesis that original sin is spread by infected flesh is derived from St. Augustine, De nuptiis et concupiscentia I, 24 (PL 44, col. 429). St. Anselm strongly criticized this theory, but Peter Lombard retained it. St. Thomas synthesized the two positions, agreeing with Anselm that original sin is not identically a fleshly disorder but the privation of original justice, and yet retaining the idea of infected flesh, putting it into the context of Aristotelian hylomorphism. The resulting Thomistic theory of original sin was used by St. Thomas himself, by John of Naples, by Juan de Torquemada, and by many others, to prove the thesis of maculism. By the 16th century, the practice of the Church (though not yet her solemn definition) made it impossible for a theologian to profess maculism publicly. Thereupon the same Thomistic theory was used by Cajetan, John of St. Thomas, the Salmanticenses, and their modern followers, to prove the debitum proximum. Much as it grieves the present writer ever to disagree with the great Thomistic commentators about anything, there is a lengthy critique of the debitum proximum in my article cited above, footnote 4; see also my “Critique of Marian Counterfactual Formulae,” Mariar Studies 30 (1979) 115f.
  13. The debitum remotum is the doctrine that, although Mary was nevel actually under the influence of causes sufficient of themselves tc produce original sin in her, nevertheless she ought to have been. Aftel all, she was a daughter of Adam. Prominent defenders of this vieW include Catharinus, Domingo Banez, St. Peter Canisius, the Portuguesf theologian Giles of the Presentation, O.S.A., Ludwig Ott, Michae: Schmaus, and the great Mariologist recently deceased, Gabriele Roschini.For a full bibliography of the defenders of all the theories on tht debitum, the indispensable work is Juniper B. Carol, O.F.M., A Histon of the Controversy over the “Debitum Peccati “, (St. Bonaventure: Tilt Franciscan Institute, 1977).
  14. Note this “Marian counterfactual formula”; it does not fall under the strictures of my above-cited critique, but neither does it establish the so-called debitum conditionatum. This latter is the doctrine that, if Mary had not been preserved from original sin, she would have existed anyway and would have contracted that sin. My counterfactual does no entail any such thing. In Marian counterfactuals, it makes all the difference in the world whether Mary’s actual existence is posited in the protasis (in which case the thing is harmless) or held as a corollary of the apodosis (in which case some sort of conditional debitum is bein) asserted).

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