Anthony D. Baker notes that because Irenaeus “assumes that perfection is a participation,” he therefore,

does not construe active performing in opposition to passive accepting, but rather always sees performance as a way of accepting the gift: ‘God therefore has given that which is good, as the apostle tells us in this Epistle [Romans], and they who work it shall receive glory and honour, because they have done that which is good …’ (Adv. Haer. IV.38.1). Human agency is therefore, at its most perfect, the reception of grace. Pure passivity, on the  other hand, aligns ironically with the impatience of Adam and Eve, insofar as it marks an attempt to stop acting like humans and receive one’s telos immediately. But this attempt at pure reception destroys both nature and its perfection; it would have, that is, had not God recapitulated humanity in the perfect mediation of his Son (Adv. Haer. III.18.7).

Here Irenaeus builds upon St. Paul’s logic of grace and mediation: rather than excluding participation by the receiving agent, Grace in fact requires co-operation.

*Anthony D. Baker, Diagonal Advance, 167

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