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Church Fathers
Crossroads Initiatitve, a ministry of Dr. Marcellino


Council of Orange on Grace



(529 AD)

CANON 1.  If anyone denies that it is the whole man, that is,
both body and soul, that was "changed for the worse" through
the offense of Adam's sin, but believes that the freedom of
the soul remains unimpaired and that only the body is subject
to corruption, he is deceived by the error of Pelagius and
contradicts the scripture which says, "The soul that sins shall
die" (Ezek. 18:20); and, "Do you not know that if you yield
yourselves to anyone as obedient slaves, you are the slaves
of the one whom you obey?" (Rom. 6:126); and, "For whatever
overcomes a man, to that he is enslaved" (2 Pet. 2:19).

CANON 2.  If anyone asserts that Adam's sin affected him
alone and not his descendants also, or at least if he
declares that it is only the death of the body which is the
punishment for sin, and not also that sin, which is the death
of the soul, passed through one man to the whole human race,
he does injustice to God and contradicts the Apostle, who
says, "Therefore as sin came into the world through one man
and death through sin, and so death spread to all men because
all men sinned" (Rom. 5:12).

CANON 3.  If anyone says that the grace of God can be
conferred as a result of human prayer, but that it is not
grace itself which makes us pray to God, he contradicts the
prophet Isaiah, or the Apostle who says the same thing, "I
have been found by those who did not seek me; I have shown
myself to those who did not ask for me" (Rom 10:20, quoting
Isa. 65:1).

CANON 4.  If anyone maintains that God awaits our will to be
cleansed from sin, but does not confess that even our will to
be cleansed comes to us through the infusion and working of
the Holy Spirit, he resists the Holy Spirit himself who says
through Solomon, "The will is prepared by the Lord" (Prov.
8:35, LXX), and the salutary word of the Apostle, "For God is
at work in you, both to will and to work for his good
pleasure" (Phil. 2:13).

CANON 5.  If anyone says that not only the increase of faith
but also its beginning and the very desire for faith, by
which we believe in Him who justifies the ungodly and comes
to the regeneration of holy baptism -- if anyone says that
this belongs to us by nature and not by a gift of grace, that
is, by the inspiration of the Holy Spirit amending our will
and turning it from unbelief to faith and from godlessness to
godliness, it is proof that he is opposed to the teaching of
the Apostles, for blessed Paul says, "And I am sure that he
who began a good work in you will bring it to completion at
the day of Jesus Christ" (Phil. 1:6).  And again, "For by
grace you have been saved through faith; and this is not your
own doing, it is the gift of God" (Eph. 2:8).  For those who
state that the faith by which we believe in God is natural
make all who are separated from the Church of Christ by
definition in some measure believers.

CANON  6.  If anyone says that God has mercy upon us when,
apart from his grace, we believe, will, desire, strive,
labor, pray, watch, study, seek, ask, or knock, but does not
confess that it is by the infusion and inspiration of the
Holy Spirit within us that we have the faith, the will, or
the strength to do all these things as we ought; or if anyone
makes the assistance of grace depend on the humility or
obedience of man and does not agree that it is a gift of
grace itself that we are obedient and humble, he contradicts
the Apostle who says, "What have you that you did not
receive?" (1 Cor. 4:7), and, "But by the grace of God I am
what I am" (1 Cor. 15:10).

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).

CANON 8.  If anyone maintains that some are able to come to
the grace of baptism by mercy but others through free will,
which has manifestly been corrupted in all those who have
been born after the transgression of the first man, it is proof
that he has no place in the true faith.  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.  The Lord himself shows how contradictory this is by
declaring that no one is able to come to him "unless the
Father who sent me draws him" (John 6:44), as he also says to
Peter, "Blessed are you, Simon Bar-Jona!  For flesh and blood
has not revealed this to you, but my Father who is in heaven"
(Matt. 16:17), and as the Apostle says, "No one can say
'Jesus is Lord' except by the Holy Spirit" (1 Cor. 12:3).

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 10.  Concerning the succor of God.  The succor of God
is to be ever sought by the regenerate and converted also, so
that they may be able to come to a successful end or
persevere in good works.

CANON 11.  Concerning the duty to pray.  None would make any
true prayer to the Lord had he not received from him the
object of his prayer, as it is written, "Of thy own have we
given thee" (1 Chron. 29:14).

CANON 12.  Of what sort we are whom God loves.  God loves us
for what we shall be by his gift, and not by our own

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 16.  No man shall be honored by his seeming attainment,
as though it were not a gift, or suppose that he has received
it because a missive from without stated it in writing or in
speech.  For the Apostle speaks thus, "For if justification
were through the law, then Christ died to no purpose" (Gal.
2:21); and "When he ascended on high he led a host of
captives, and he gave gifts to men" (Eph. 4:8, quoting Ps.
68:18).  It is from this source that any man has what he
does; but whoever denies that he has it from this source
either does not truly have it, or else "even what he has will
be taken away" (Matt. 25:29).

CANON 17.  Concerning Christian courage.  The courage of the
Gentiles is produced by simple greed, but the courage of
Christians by the love of God which "has been poured into our
hearts" not by freedom of will from our own side but "through
the Holy Spirit which has been given to us" (Rom. 5:5).

CANON 18.  That grace is not preceded by merit.  Recompense
is due to good works if they are performed; but grace, to
which we have no claim, precedes them, to enable them to be

CANON 19.  That a man can be saved only when God shows mercy.
Human nature, even though it remained in that sound state in
which it was created, could be no means save itself, without
the assistance of the Creator; hence since man cannot safe-
guard his salvation without the grace of God, which is a
gift, how will he be able to restore what he has lost without
the grace of God?

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 21.  Concerning nature and grace.  As the Apostle most
truly says to those who would be justified by the law and
have fallen from grace, "If justification were through the
law, then Christ died to no purpose" (Gal. 2:21), so it is
most truly declared to those who imagine that grace, which
faith in Christ advocates and lays hold of, is nature: "If
justification were through nature, then Christ died to no
purpose."  Now there was indeed the law, but it did not
justify, and there was indeed nature, but it did not justify.
Not in vain did Christ therefore die, so that the law might
be fulfilled by him who said, "I have come not to abolish
them <the law and prophets> but to fulfil them" (Matt. 5:17),
and that the nature which had been destroyed by Adam might be
restored by him who said that he had come "to seek and to
save the lost" (Luke 19:10).

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 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

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.

CANON 24.  Concerning the branches of the vine.  The branches
on the vine do not give life to the vine, but receive life
from it; thus the vine is related to its branches in such a
way that it supplies them with what they need to live, and
does not take this from them.  Thus it is to the advantage of
the disciples, not Christ, both to have Christ abiding in
them and to abide in Christ.  For if the vine is cut down
another can shoot up from the live root; but one who is cut
off from the vine cannot live without the root (John 15:5ff).

CANON 25.  Concerning the love with which we love God.  It is
wholly a gift of God to love God.  He who loves, even though
he is not loved, allowed himself to be loved.  We are loved,
even when we displease him, so that we might have means to
please him.  For the Spirit, whom we love with the Father and
the Son, has poured into our hearts the love of the Father
and the Son (Rom. 5:5).

CONCLUSION.  And thus according to the passages of holy
scripture quoted above or the interpretations of the ancient
Fathers we must, under the blessing of God, preach and
believe as follows.  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.  We
therefore believe that the glorious faith which was given to
Abel the righteous, and Noah, and Abraham, and Isaac, and
Jacob, and to all the saints of old, and which the Apostle
Paul <sic> commends in extolling them (Heb. 11), was not
given through natural goodness as it was before to Adam, but
was bestowed by the grace of God.  And we know and also
believe that even after the coming of our Lord this grace is
not to be found in the free will of all who desire to be
baptized, but is bestowed by the kindness of Christ, as has
already been frequently stated and as the Apostle Paul
declares, "For it has been granted to you that for the sake
of Christ you should not only believe in him but also suffer
for his sake" (Phil. 1:29).  And again, "He who began a good
work in you will bring it to completion at the day of Jesus
Christ" (Phil. 1:6).  And again, "For by grace you have been
saved through faith; and it is not your own doing, it is the
gift of God" (Eph. 2:8).  And as the Apostle says of himself,
"I have obtained mercy to be faithful" (1 Cor. 7:25, cf. 1
Tim. 1:13).  He did not say, "because I was faithful," but
"to be faithful."  And again, "What have you that you did not
receive?" (1 Cor. 4:7).  And again, "Every good endowment and
every perfect gift is from above, coming down from the Father
of lights" (Jas. 1:17).  And again, "No one can receive
anything except what is given him from heaven" (John 3:27).
There are innumerable passages of holy scripture which can be
quoted to prove the case for grace, but they have been
omitted for the sake of brevity, because further examples
will not really be of use where few are deemed sufficient.

According to the catholic faith we also believe that after
grace has been received through baptism, all baptized persons
have the ability and responsibility, if they desire to labor
faithfully, to perform with the aid and cooperation of Christ
what is of essential importance in regard to the salvation of
their soul.  We not only do not believe that any are
foreordained to evil by the power of God, but even state with
utter abhorrence that if there are those who want to believe
so evil a thing, they are anathema.  We also believe and
confess to our benefit that in every good work it is not we
who take the initiative and are then assisted through the
mercy of God, but God himself first inspires in us both faith
in him and love for him without any previous good works of
our own that deserve reward, so that we may both faithfully
seek the sacrament of baptism, and after baptism be able by
his help to do what is pleasing to him.  We must therefore
most evidently believe that the praiseworthy faith of the
thief whom the Lord called to his home in paradise, and of
Cornelius the centurion, to whom the angel of the Lord was
sent, and of Zacchaeus, who was worthy to receive the Lord
himself, was not a natural endowment but a gift of God's

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