ANALYSIS OF THE
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Tract 1:John's fictitious
quote the protestation or revocation made by John XXII and comment on
it passage by passage. (See also s 97
, where our author says he merely wants to
reply to reasons given in the report of the consistory.)
Report of the consistory in which John made his
protestation/revocation. After a reading of arguments to prove that the
saints in heaven do already see God, John argued that they will not see
God until Judgment Day.
Hope is inconsistent with vision, but the souls in heaven hope.
Christ hoped, but
Christ from the moment of his conception enjoyed vision of the divine
essence; the angels hope, but they see God. Enjoyment of the vision is
inconsistent with hoping for the vision, but not with hoping for
something else (such as the resurrection of the body, for which the
saint hope). Reply to his appeal to texts of Thomas Aquinas:
Thomas means that the saints who see God do not have the hope that is
theological virtue (since they possess the object of that hope), but
does not mean that they cannot hope for something else besides the
vision of God.
Chapter 3, argument 2: Souls
cannot be exalted beyond vision of God, because this vision is their
highest exaltation and there is nothing higher than highest.
But on Judgment Day God will exalt the saints and their souls.
until then they do not see God.
This argument implies heresies: (1)
That a soul
that sees the divine essence
cannot be exalted to a higher degree of perfection. (Heretical, because
in the rapture Paul
saw God, but will be exalted on Judgment Day to a higher perfection. Also, because there are degrees
of vision, so God can exalt someone to a higher degree.) (2) That if someone's soul sees the
divine essence, the whole man, composed
of the soul that sees the divine essence and a body, cannot be exalted.
(Heretical, because Christ, who at all times saw the divine essence,
exalted by God after death.) (3)
That the souls of the saints do not see God
face-to-face until the day of judgment. (Heretical, because in 2 Cor.
5:6 Paul desired to walk by sight and
not by faith before the day of judgment.) And ambiguities: (1) That souls cannot be
clear vision of the divine essence.(This may mean, that the souls
enjoying vision cannot be exalted to a higher degree of a perfection
they now have, which is false, and is what John means; or
that souls enjoying vision cannot be exalted to any higher
perfection distinct in species from perfections they now have, which is
That clear vision is the highest exaltation of souls. (This may mean
that of perfections distinct in species vision is the highest, which is
disputed; or that souls enjoying God cannot be exalted to any
perfection distinct in species from the perfection they now have, which
is true; or that they cannot be exalted in any way, which is false and
is what John means.)
Answer to argument 2: Face-to-face vision of God has degrees of
clarity, hence one vision of God (e.g. Christ's) can be higher than
another. At the Last Judgment the saints, composed of body and soul,
will attain complete beatitude, including glorious bodies and a higher
degree of vision of God, but this does not imply that their souls do
not already have vision of God. (Comments on Apoc.6:9 and on the view
Chapter 4, argument 3: Those who see God know
all things (according to Gregory), but the saints do not yet know all
things (e.g. according to Augustine, the saints do not know what
happens among the living unless they are told about it).
Reply: It is heretical
to claim that clear vision of God implies omniscience; see Eph. 3:8-10
and other texts. Gregory meant that the saints have all knowledge that
makes the knower blessed, notably knowledge of the divine trinity..
Chapter 5, argument 4:
The reward of vision is promised to the whole
person, body and soul, not to the soul alone; this is proved by various
Reply: The reward
that includes glory of soul and body is promised only to whole persons,
to be attained only at the Last Judgment. But vision of God has been
promised to souls. Christ promised that holy souls before Judgment
Day would enjoy various rewards, including being with Christ and seeing
the glory of his deity. Vision is promised both to souls before
Judgement Day and to complete persons afterwards.
Chapter 6, argument 5:
The reward of vision is promised for after Judgment Day; therefore
before then the saints do not see God.
Reply: Some reward is promised
to complete persons for after Judgment Day, but this does not prove
that vision is not promised to souls for before Judgment Day. The
promise to the robber (Lk 23:43) was for before Judgment Day, and
it was of a happiness that could not exist without vision. Other
texts: John 17:24, 1 Cor. 13:12, Apoc. 6:11.
Chapter 7, argument 6: Judgment Day will be
in vain if the souls already see God.
Reply: Judgment Day will not
be in vain, because the saints will after Judgment enjoy a clearer
vision and the glorification of the body. And the Last Judgment also
has other purposes.
Having given his arguments, John then made his
fictitious protestation or
First, he says he has concerned himself with this question because the
doctrine that the saints already see God would make the final judgment
empty and fictitious".
Second, he says that he
has been motivated by love of truth. (All heretics, Jews and
pagans hold their errors out of love of truth. Who would say that
he would more willingly hold a
falsity than the truth? Ignorance does not always excuse. Love of truth
does not always excuse.)
he shows why he has wished to promulgate the aforesaid assertion of his
and preach it publicly. (He tried to study without a teacher and
without academic training; not understanding rightly, he
to infer heresies from authorities badly understood.)
Fourth, he says that he did not intend to contradict the faith and
therefore makes a protestation or revocation lest he
be condemned for heresy.
(1) Although some parts of the
Catholic faith may be believed only implicitly, some things must be
(2) Some things must be believed
explicitly by all Christians, others only by some. The former include
all things published among all Catholics as being Catholic. The latter
include things necessary to know for persons who hold certain offices,
and other things that some people happen to know to be contained in the
Bible and the teaching of the Church.
(3) Knowing heretics knowingly
reject the Christian faith. But some who think they are Christians are
in fact unknowing heretics.
(4) Four categories: those who err
against something they are bound to believe explicitly, those who err
against something they are bound to believe only implictly, some of
whom may be pertinacious, others ready to be corrected.
(5) Pertinacity may be shown by
words, or by deeds.
(6) There is a difference between
protestation and revocation; one who discovers that he has been in
error must revoke..
(7) Revocation must be
1. John's words
do not excuse him. They are a protestation, not a revocation. They are
words that any heretic could use. He has erred against something he was
bound to believe explicitly, and must therefore immediately be
Even if at some future time he is converted, nevertheless he has been a
heretic. His pertinacity is also proved by his actions.
What sort of revocation he must make, namely he must confess his error
and revoke it unconditionally.
Fifth, he claims that he
is not pertinacious, by claiming that he is happy to hear arguments
against his position. (But his words are deceptive, as is shown by his
is narrated that he sought that a public
instrument of his revocation should be made. Our author's protestation.
Tract 2: Answers
arguments in support of John's error.
rulers are served by flatterers, and some try to support John's errors.
This tract will answer arguments of some who have supported his heresy
concerning the vision of God.
Argument 1: Vision comes after the time of believing, but the time
of believing lasts until
Reply: A given person cannot
have both vision and faith at the same time, but at a given time
some can have vision while others have faith. While wayfarers believe,
Christ, the angels and the saints see God. At Judgment Day some will be
taken up from this life, so some will be in faith when they come to
Judgment Day; but those have been saved who are already dead then will
already have vision. Eph. 4:11-13 does not mean that all who come
together at Judgment Day will be in faith.
The Church prays for dead saints that they be granted light to see God,
i.e. after Judgment Day. It is not a prayer for souls in purgatory,
since it mentions that they "sleep the sleep of peace", which could not
be said of souls in purgatory. The prayer is for those at peace, that
they may in future see God.
Reply: Peace has several
senses; purgatory does not exclude peace in one sense, viz.
reconciliation with God, so one answer to argument (2) is that the
is for the souls in purgatory. Another answer is that the prayer is
also for saints in heaven, that they may come with their bodies to a
higher peace than the one they now enjoy, which includes vision of God.
After Judgment Day they will see God more clearly, will rejoice at the
resumption of their bodies, at the completion of the eternal city, and
Ambrose says that after death the saints see per
speciem, but no
as effective a medium as the humanity of Christ. Therefore the saints
do not now see God [any more than the Apostles did during their
Reply: "Per speciem" in this
context means by direct vision, and is distinguished against knowing by
faith (cf. 2 Cor. 13:12). Ambrose means that after death
the saints have the vision of God. If "per speciem" is taken to
mean through some representation, some say that it is not true that the
humanity of Christ is the most effective medium of knowledge of God,
rather the whole of nature is; also, face-to-face vision
is a more effective means.
Bernard says that before Judgment Day the souls of the saints see
Christ's humanity but do not see God directly.
Reply: Bernard does not deny
that the saints have vision before Judgment Day, though he denies that
they have consummate blessedness before then. ("Blessedness" has
various senses. The vision of God, in the absence of certain other
goods, is not consummate blessedness, which includes not only the
"robe of the soul" but also the "robe of the body".)
A gloss on 1 Cor. 9:24 says that although "one receives the prize here,
in another life all receive it together",
and so before Judgment
Day no holy soul
will have the prize of the vision of the divine essence.
Reply: Cf. the gloss to Heb.
11:39-40, according to which none of the saints "receive the promise",
including beatitude of body, until they all all receive it. Both
glosses mean that before Judgment Day none of the saints will receive
the "robe of the body", though the saints who die before Judgment Day
will receive the "robe of the soul" before Judgment Day.
2 Tim. 4:8, "there is laid up for me a crown of justice, which the
Lord, the just
judge, will render to me in
that day", therefore not
before Judgment Day.
Reply: In verse 6 Paul
refers to the day of his death, so in verse 8 "that day" means the day
of his death, when he will receive the robe of the soul. Or, if
Paul means Judgment Day, the crown is the robe of the body. Some wish
to say that Paul refers to the whole
person, composed of soul and body,
which will not have either robe until Judgment Day [because the whole
man is not reconstituted before then]. [That is, "that day" means
Judgment Day, and "crown of justice" refers to both robes: but
this does not imply that the soul does not have the robe of the soul
before Judgment Day.]
In Apoc. 6:9 John "saw the souls of
them that were slain for the word of God" "under the altar", that is,
under the humanity of Christ, where they remain until Judgment Day.
Even after Judgment Day they will be in subjection to Christ, so
when they rise then "above the altar", that must be by the ascent of
contemplation [i.e. by receiving for the first time the vision of God]..
Reply: To say that after
Judgment Day they will be in subjection to Christ is inconsistent with
the opinion of John XXII that Christ will not reign after Judgment
truncate and misinterpret Apoc. 6:9-11, which mentions the single robe,
which Gregory interprets as the vision of God; and the text does not
say or imply that after Judgment Day the souls will rise above the
altar. "Under the altar" in Apoc. 6:9 means that the souls are hidden
from many--they see God, but they are not themselves visible to us or
to those who are in purgatory or hell. On Judgment Day they will be
visible to all. They will not then for the first time see God, since
they will earlier receive the robe of the soul.
Chapter 8: Trying to nullify texts
inconsistent with his opinion, John's defenders
say that if any texts and writings
of the saints [i.e. holy Church writers] say that souls now see God,
they are using the language of devout love, since the saints,
when expressing their love, often take past for
present and present for
Reply: Often the Saints speak
of the vision of the holy souls intending to show the present truth of
their vision (e.g. when Gregory says "now they enjoy the blessedness of
souls only but afterwards they will also enjoy..."), and in doing this
they cannot be using present tense for future.
To discourage ordinary people from examining the errors of John
and his defenders, they tell
them that ordinary people should not concern themselves with theology
but should simply believe the teaching of Church authorities.
Reply: Every Christian must
believe explicitly anything he is certain follows from things contained
in the Bible. Others apart from the Pope and Cardinals and people
instructed by them can be certain about many truths that follow from
things contained in the Bible. Heretics rouse Catholics to seek truths
previously unknown, not already taught by pope and cardinals. Simple
people reading the Bible can notice something the pope and cardinals
not taught, and then they they ought to believe it, without clearing it
first with pope and cardinals, since they ought to prefer the Bible to
pope and cardinals.
If it is said that the simple are saved in the faith of the seniors,
the answer is that they saved by their own faith, though with respect
to many things it is enough for them to believe implicitly.
If it were true that no simple person should study the Bible, then,
since a beginning student is a simple person, this would mean that no
one should begin to study the Bible until he is made pope or cardinal.
It is true that simple people should not be presumptuous, but they
should adhere to the Bible; the pope and cardinals are not the rule of