Friday, September 18, 2009

Augustinian Soteriology

In an attempt to gain an Augustinian understanding of soteriology I'm planning on reading "On the Spirit and the Letter" ...but not in Latin. I just started skimming already this morning and found two passages interesting and almost contradictory:

"What, however, is the spirit of this world, but the spirit of pride? ... they too are deceived, who, while ignorant of the righteousness of God, and wishing to establish their own righteousness, have not submitted to God's righteousness...we conclude that a man is not justified by the precepts of a holy life, but by faith in Jesus Christ—in a word, not by the law of works, but by the law of faith; not by the letter, but by the spirit; not by the merits of deeds, but by free grace." - Chapter 22, "On the Spirit and the Letter"

Now this is probably quoted in the Formulas of Concord or something and sounds REALLY Lutheran, but look at the next quote:

"Now He that has wrought us for the self-same thing is God, who also has given unto us the earnest of the Spirit; 2 Corinthians 5:5 and after a little he thus briefly draws the conclusion of the matter: That we might be made the righteousness of God in Him. 2 Corinthians 5:21 This is not the righteousness whereby God is Himself righteous, but that whereby we are made righteous by Him." - Chapter 31 "On the Letter and the Spirit, St. Augustine of Hippo

That is a passage the Council of Trent quotes on Justification against the Lutheran doctrine of Imputed Righteousness.

So what the Hell is St. Augustine trying to say?! I'm going to try to figure out... and if he teaches Luther's view of Justification I'll leave the Roman church, but for some strange reason, I don't think he's going to. Knowing my luck, he'll teach some weird hybrid of both that will leave me forever guessing.

The next book I'll have to read after this is Henri De Lubac's "Augustinianism and Modern Theology" where he critiques both Jansenism and (I think) St. Thomas Aquinas doctrines that seem to be "pure nature" without grace.


  1. I am not trying to attack Augustine, but Andrew what would Augustine say to you? Would he say study my works for my theology? Or would he say search the Scripture for the theology of the Apostles and the Prophets that foretold Christ.

    There is a reason as Protestants its Sola Scriptura and not Prima Augustinia!

  2. Matthew, I'm pretty sure he would say to believe the church, and not the opinion of self. None of us are smart enough to fully understand the scriptures.

  3. Honestly, I don't know Matt. What Augustine taught seems to have been divided up by the Western Church and Protestants have half (Grace -the good half I may add) and Catholics have the other half (The Church - which he even called a whore).

    As to Chinese lettering named man, I don't know who he is, but he attacked Jared pretty good, and I read part of his blog and he's like the antidote to Calvin. The scariest most intelligent Arminian my blog has ever seen. ... so mysterious chinese arminian man, I mean no offense.

  4. Andrew, I hear you. As to the Chinese friend, the problem is what Church? His was different from the medieval Church, and the Roman Church, and the PostVII Church?

  5. It's Japanese, not Chinese, but hey. Most people don't get the difference, so it's cool.

    Oh man, I'm not trying to attack anyone. I can be argumentative sometimes, but really, I try to be polite. Do I need to apologize to Jared? I'm not technically Arminian anymore; for the time being, I accept no authorities after 2nd Nicea.

    I'm not sure if you're being sarcastic, commenting on my intelligence, but it made me laugh a lot. So funny.

    Following the model of Ignatius, I would say at least find a church that takes apostolic succession seriously. I know that's not a great answer, but it narrows things down a little bit. I say that as a total hypocrite because I'm not there yet, so don't believe anything I say.

  6. It can be challenging, I definitely see the progression from an Eastern model of the Church Presbytery of Bishops (Elders) and deacons to to the hierarchy of Bishop, Presbyter (Priest/Elder/whatever) and deacon. I am often torn over that issue when I seek at a valid Church. I would love to be an Anglican maybe a hundred years ago, but today they are a joke of a religion.