Tuesday, August 3, 2010

Clement of Alexandria on Faith and Freewill

Here's what Clement of Alexandria (died around 215 AD) had to say about faith and freewill. While he was combating Gnosticism, not Calvinism, there are some parallels.

Further, the followers of Basilides say that faith as well as choice is proper according to every interval; and that in consequence of the supramundane selection mundane faith accompanies all nature, and that the free gift of faith is comformable to the hope of each. Faith, then, is no longer the direct result of free choice, if it is a natural advantage.

Nor will he who has not believed, not being the author [of his unbelief], meet with a due recompense; and he that has believed is not the cause [of his belief]. And the entire peculiarity and difference of belief and unbelief will not fall under either praise or censure, if we reflect rightly, since there attaches to it the antecedent natural necessity proceeding from the Almighty. And if we are pulled like inanimate things by the puppet-strings of natural powers, willingness and unwillingness, and impulse, which is the antecedent of both, are mere redundancies. And for my part, I am utterly incapable of conceiving such an animal as has its appetencies, which are moved by external causes, under the dominion of necessity. And what place is there any longer for the repentance of him who was once an unbeliever, through which comes forgiveness of sins? So that neither is baptism rational, nor the blessed seal, nor the Son, nor the Father. But God, as I think, turns out to be the distribution to men of natural powers, which has not as the foundation of salvation voluntary faith.

But we, who have heard by the Scriptures that self-determining choice and refusal have been given by the Lord to men, rest in the infallible criterion of faith, manifesting a willing spirit, since we have chosen life and believe God through His voice. (link)

1 comment:

Jnorm888 said...

Great post! Hey, there is something wrong with your left side border. It cuts off your posts, thus making it a little hard to read.

Hey, Clement of Alexandria wasn't the only one. They pretty much all were pro free will advocates. The issue permeates their writings, and so it's hard to miss.

Things start to change with Saint Augustine in his later years. It seems as if he was influenced by the determinism of the philosopher Plotinus.....since he quoted him in that area shortly before his death.