Saturday, September 18, 2010

Was Augustine a Determinist?

Many years ago this statement by Arminius about Augustine caught my eye and I have been passively looking for it ever since:

Are those who are thus the reprobate necessarily damned, because either no grace at all, or not sufficient, has been destined to them, that they may assent to it and believe, Or rather, according to St. Augustine, Are those who are thus the elect assuredly saved, because God decreed to employ grace on them as he knew was suitable and congruous that they might be persuaded and saved; though if regard be had to the internal efficacy of grace, they may not be advanced or benefited by it (link)

This sounds like congruism - a variant of Molinism that holds to both unconditional election libertarian free will (advocated by Suarez and the Jesuits).  (info on Congruism) Early in life Augustine strongly advocated libertarian freedom. Latter in life, Augustine sounded more like a Calvinist, but was he really a proto-congruist?

I finally stumbled across the quote and it's interesting. It's questionable as to if this is a flicker of freedom in Augustine or not.  While Augustine is less than clear, and I could see why Arminius said what he did, I still think on the balance of things Augustine was a determinist or at best he was inconsistent at times advocating libertarian freedom other times advocating determinism. Here's the quote:

But if that calling is the effectual cause of the good will so that every one who is called follows it, how will it be true that “Many are called but few are chosen”? If this is true, and consequently not everyone who is called obeys the call, but has it in the power of his will not to obey, it could be said correctly that it is not of God who hath mercy, but of the man who willeth and runneth, for the mercy of him that calleth is not sufficient unless the obedience of him who is called follows. Possibly those who are called in this way, and do not consent, might be able to direct their wills towards faith if they were called in another way; so that it would be true that “Many are called but few are chosen.” Many, that is to say, are called in one way, but all are not affected in the same way; and those only follow the calling who are found fit to receive it. It would be no less true that “it is not of him that willeth, nor of him that runneth, but of God that hath mercy.” For God calls in the way that is suited to those who follow his calling. The call comes also to others; but because it is such that they cannot be moved by it and are not fitted to receive it, they can be said to be called but not chosen. And again it would not be true that it is not of God who hath mercy but of man who willeth and runneth. For the effectiveness of God’s mercy cannot be in the power of man to frustrate, if he will have none of it. If God wills to have mercy on men, he can call them in a way that is suited to them, so that they will be moved to understand and to follow. It is true, therefore, that many are called but few chosen. Those are chosen who are effectually [congruenter] called. Those who are not effectually called and do not obey their calling are not chosen, for although they were called they did not follow. Again it is true that “it is not of him that willeth, nor of him that runneth, but of God that hath mercy.” For, although he calls many, he has mercy on those whom he calls in a way suited to them so that they may follow. But it is false to say that “it is not of God who hath mercy but of man who willeth and runneth,” because God has mercy on no man in vain. He calls the man on whom he has mercy in the way he knows will suit him, so that he will not refuse the call. (Augustine. To Simplician para 13)


The Seeking Disciple said...

I have to admit one thing: Augustine was a weird guy. His theology was all over the place and it seemed, at times, that he would even hold conflicting viewpoints both at the same time. Odd guy indeed.

Godismyjudge said...

Hi Roy,

That's funny. I think I see where you are coming from, but I don't know, aside from his overreaction to Pelagious, I kinda like Augustine.

God be with you,