Thursday, August 21, 2008

There is None Augustinian - No Not Even One...

"...while God touches the heart of man through the illumination of the Holy Ghost, man himself neither does absolutely nothing while receiving that inspiration, since he can also reject it, nor yet is he able by his own free will and without the grace of God to move himself to justice in his sight" - Council of Trent (ch.5 in the 6th session)

"The Council of Trent tried to steer a course on the razor's edge between semi-Pelagianism and Reformed thought. It is arguable that they cut themselves on that razor." - R.C. Sproul "Faith Alone" (p.113)

"John Piper is bad" - Rev. John Piper

One realizes in the Catholic-Protestant debates that the Augustine-Pelagius debates take a centre stage. Many times I greatly dislike St. Augustine - don't get me wrong, he's a great theologian, and I loved his confessions. However it seems he caused too many problems. I can see why some Orthodox don't even think him a saint and think him more heterodox or heretical, than defender of Christian orthodoxy. One Orthodox theologian I read, said the problem with Augustine is that he wasn't consistent, he changed his mind as time went on, and that's why he wrote the retractions. This theologian said that many times people on opposite sides of the debate would quote St. Augustine in their favour and disagree when in actuality, Augustine contradicted himself. This would certainly make sense in my opinion, as Augustine has been cited by people from pretty much every theological camp in existence.

On Jared's blog he has a quote from Augustine's commentary on John 6:44 and it shows that Augustine taught irresistible grace, but I could come up with other quotes from 'grace and freewill' that would probably contradict it. As R.C. Sproul shows us in his polemical - but fair- book, is that the Catholic Church originally took this position of Augustinianism in the Council of Orange, however in Trent they took a semi-Pelagian position (almost identical actually in many ways to John Wesley and Methodist theology, with the whole prevenient grace and semi-Pelagianism).

But like any good portion of history the Catholics always have a loophole, the Council of Orange was local and not ecumenical, hence it can't be seen as infallible. They always find a way...

Thus I find Catholicism not Augustinian.

The Calvinist view which Jared has educated me on, makes alot of sense, and I'd be quick to side with them if I just went on emotion rather than reason (as Total Depravity gives me a good excuse for most things). However I have shown before that other Church Fathers such as St. Gregory of Nyssa clearly contradict this narrow or limited view of free-will, indeed St. Augustine I believe is the only one near it.

Thus I find Calvinism not Augustinian.

...And once again the Orthodox win the argument as the Western Christians squabble for 1000 years about the theology of one man.

...But Orthodoxy and Calvinism lose in the catholicity test... so Catholicism wins by default, according to my arbitrary arbitration.


  1. I found an Eastern Icon of Augustine, so some of them like him! Historically, the Eastern Orthodox were not as much opposed to Augustine as ignorant or indifferent to him. The City of God was influencial in the East. But Pelagianism developed in the West and so their theology had to develop in that area more than the East. In the East, they were dealing with Christology (and the heresies like Monophysitism and Nestorianism) more. And so I think the East would do well to teach the West more about the Trinity and the "mystery of the sacraments," but realize too that Augustine may have something to teach them.

    Much of the middle Ages in the Latin church was spent fighting over who was truly Augustinian. I think Thomism has the best case for the most resemblance to Augustinianism. But the Council of Trent castrated Augustinianism and the response to Jansen (a true Augustinian) put Augustinianism into a comma in Catholicism.

  2. Although logically/theologically I have to believe the Church is without error, on a personal opinion level, I agree with you that Trent killed Augustinianism in it's truest sense, by killing Irresistible Grace.

  3. We can pray for its doctrine, though it is hard to say it is without error in any manifestation. But we can certainly pray:

    Jesus, with Thy Church abide,
    Be her Savior, Lord, and Guide,
    While on earth her faith is tried:
    We beseech Thee, hear us.

    Keep her life and doctrine pure,
    Help her, patient, to endure,
    Trusting in Thy promise sure:
    We beseech Thee, hear us.