Donum Superadditum & Donum Concreatum

Richard Muller, who is retiring this year from his post at Calvin Theological Seminary, provides us with many enlightening terms in his Dictionary of Latin and Greek Theological TermsAmong those we have the donum superadditum and the donum concreatum. Understanding these two terms and what they entail can go along ways in helping us understand certain debates between Reformed and Roman theologians about the nature of nature, the nature of grace, and the relationship between the two.

donum superadditum: superadded gift; specifically the gift of grace superadded to human nature after creation but before the fall, a concept debated in the medieval theory of grace and merit and rejected by the Protestant orthodox. The concept arises out of the problem of explaining the hypothetical ability of Adam and Eve to have retained their original righteousness. Augustine recognized (City of God,XIV.27) that a finite nature, such as that present in Adam would be of necessity mutable (as indeed he was), then any change would constitute a fall. Augustine therefore argued a gift of resistible grace to Adam, before the fall, that made Adam able to choose the good and preserve his will in its pristine integrity. This grace can be described as an auxilium sine quo non (q.v.) an assistance without which no continuance of righteousness is possible. The medieval scholastics raised the question of the relation of this superadded grace to Adam’s original righteousness. Aquinas maintained that the donum superadditum was part of the original constitution of man and that its loss was the loss of the original capacity for righteousness. Since the superadded grace was not merited in the beginning, it cannot be regained by merit after the fall. Franciscan theology,  particularly as mediated to the later Middle Ages by Scotus, argued that the donum superadditum was not part of the original constitution or original righteousness of man, but was to be considered truly as a gift merited by a first act of obedience on the part of Adam performed by Adam according to his purely natural capacities (ex puris naturalibus). Since Adam could, by doing a minimal or finite act, merit the initial gift of God’s grace, fallen man might, by doing a minimal act, also merit the gift of first grace (SEE meritum de congruo). The Reformers and the Protestant orthodox reject the idea of any remaining ability in man to do good and argue the necessity of an effective gracia praeveniens (q.v), or prevenient grace. In place of the idea of a donum superadditum, they argue that the original righteousness of Adam and the posse non peccare (q.v.), or ability not to sin, was a donum concreatum (q.v.). A gift given in the original constitution of man. SEE homo; status purorum naturalium. (96-95)


donum concreatum: concreated gift; also donum naturale: natural gift; or donum intrinsecum: intrinsic or inward gift;terms used by Protestant scholastics in opposition to the medieval svholastic concept of a donum superadditum(q.v.). The Protestant argument was that the donum gratuitum, the utterly free gift, of iustitia originalis(q.v.) was part of the original constitution of man and therefore a donum concreatum, naturale, or intrinsecum rather than something superadded to the original constitution of man. By extension, the loss of the iustitia originalis in the fall was the loss of something fundamental to the constitution of man that could be resupplied only be a divine act and not, as the semi-Pelagian tendency in late medieval Scotism and nominalism indicated, something superadded that could be regained by a minimal act of human obedience. SEE facere quod in se est; homo; imago Dei; meritum de congruo. (96)

For a helpful discussion of the implications of accepting one of these two views, please see Peter Escalante’s Two Ends or Two Kingdoms? For a Roman Catholic perspective, please see Edmund Waldstein’s Protestantism, Nature, Grace.


One comment on “Donum Superadditum & Donum Concreatum

  1. […] [1] Richard A. Muller, Dictionary of Latin and Greek Theological Terms, (Ada: Baker Academic, 2017), 95. [2] Ibid., 96. [3] Also, for reference see,… […]


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