Wednesday, September 30, 2009

Augustine on Unconditional Election, Part 1 of 3

The unconditional nature of salvation lies in the fact that whatever God commands one to do can only be done if God wills it and will be done if God wills it; this is the essence of monergism. God’s will is both necessary and sufficient to fulfill His purpose and desires, and Augustine too recognized this, as was seen in chapters 41-43 of On Grace and Free Will. Augustine more particularly characterizes God’s complete sovereignty in relation to soteric matters, however, lest one believe it to be an exception because it involves the limitations of the will of man.

The Grace of Christ

“What wise insight of the man of God, drawn from the very fountain of God’s grace!“God,” says he, “calls whomsoever He deigns, and whom He wills He makes religious.” See whether this is not the prophet’s own declaration: “I will have mercy on whom I will have mercy, and will show pity on whom I will be pitiful;” and the apostle’s deduction there from: “So then,” says he, “it is not of him that willeth, nor of him that runneth, but of God that showeth mercy.” Now, when even his model man of our own times says, that “whomsoever God deigns He calls, and whom He wills He makes religious,” will any one be bold enough to contend that that man is not yet religious “who hastens to the Lord, and desires to be directed by Him, and makes his own will depend upon God’s; who, moreover, cleaves so closely to the Lord, that he becomes (as the apostle says) ‘one spirit’ with Him?” Great, however, as is this entire work of a “religious man,” Pelagius maintains that “it is effected only by the freedom of the will.” But his own blessed Ambrose, whom he so highly commends in word, is against him, saying, “The Lord God calls whomsoever He deigns, and whom He wills He makes religious.” It is God, then, who makes religious whomsoever He pleases, in order that he may “hasten to the Lord, and desire to be directed by Him, and make his own will depend upon God’s, and cleave so closely to the Lord as to become (as the apostle says) ‘one spirit’ with Him;” and all this none but a religious man does. Who, then, ever does so much, unless he be made by God to do it?”(Chapter 51)

Drawing upon previous observations regarding the total depravity of man and the necessity of regenerative, effectual grace, Augustine approvingly cites Ambrose. The irony of the passage is that Pelagius had contended in his work to which Augustine is responding that their contemporaries (Ambrose specifically) believed that salvation is “effected only by the freedom of the will,” whereas the reality could not be more to the contrary. Augustine had already used Scripture to confound Pelagius’ teachings, so in the three chapters prior to chapter 51, Augustine used Ambrose alone to show just how alone Pelagius was in his understanding. I can’t help but call attention to the fact that before he cites Ambrose, however, Augustine notes: 

““The blessed Bishop Ambrose,” says [Pelagius], “in whose writings the Roman faith shines forth with especial brightness, and whom the Latins have always regarded as the very flower and glory of their authors, and who has never found a foe bold enough to censure his faith or the purity of his understanding of the Scriptures.” Observe the sort as well as the amount of the praises which he bestows; nevertheless, however holy and learned he is, he is not to be compared to the authority of the canonical Scripture.” (Chapter 47)

Augustine thought it unnecessary to appeal to a fellow Christian’s work because he knew that both are supposed to stem from Scripture alone. Only because he found Ambrose to be in complete alignment with Scripture did he also employ his words to refute Pelagius. Or to put it in Augustine’s terms:

“Accordingly, with respect also to the passages which he has adduced, not indeed from the canonical Scriptures, but out of certain treatises of catholic writers, I wish to meet the assertions of such as say that the said quotations make for him. The fact is, these passages are so entirely neutral, that they oppose neither our own opinion nor his. Amongst them he wanted to class something out of my own books, thus accounting me to be a person who seemed worthy of being ranked with them. For this I must not be ungrateful, and I should be sorry – so I say with unaffected friendliness – for him to be in error, since he has conferred this honour upon me. As for his first quotation, indeed, why need I examine it largely, since I do not see here the author’s name, either because he has not given it, or because from some casual mistake the copy which you forwarded to me did not contain it? Especially as in writings of such authors I feel myself free to use my own judgment (owing unhesitating assent to nothing but the canonical Scriptures), whilst in fact there is not a passage which he has quoted from the works of this anonymous author that disturbs me.” (On Nature and Grace, Chapter 71)

On the Spirit and the Letter

In this early Anti-Pelagian work, Augustine is chiefly concerned with expositing the meaning of 2 Corinthians 3:6 in light of the upcoming heresy. Trying to be justified through the Adamic covenant kills. Only when one turns to Christ and submits to the law of grace is one given new, everlasting life. Briefly addressing here what in later discourses he more thoroughly dissect, Augustine introduces the compatibility of human volition with divine sovereignty:

“God acts upon us by the incentives of our perceptions, to will and to believe, either externally by evangelical exhortations, where even the commands of the law also do something, if they so far admonish a man of his infirmity that he betakes himself to the grace that justifies by believing; or internally, where no man has in his own control what shall enter into his thoughts, although it appertains to his own will to consent or to dissent. Since God, therefore, in such ways acts upon the reasonable soul in order that it may believe in Him (and certainly there is no ability whatever in free will to believe, unless there be persuasion or summons towards some one in whom to believe), it surely follows that it is God who both works in man the willing to believe, and in all things prevents us with His mercy. To yield our consent, indeed, to God’s summons, or to withhold it, is (as I have said) the function of our own will. And this not only does not invalidate what is said, “For what hast thou that thou didst not receive?” but it really confirms it. For the soul cannot receive and possess these gifts, which are here referred to, except by yielding its consent. And thuswhatever it possesses, and whatever it receives, is from God; and yet the act of receiving and having belongs, of course, to the receiver and possessor. Now, should any man be for constraining us to examine into this profound mystery, why this person is so persuaded as to yield, and that person is not, there are only two things occurring to me, which I should like to advance as my answer: “O the depth of the riches!” and “Is there unrighteousness with God?” If the man is displeased with such an answer, he must seek more learned disputants; but let him beware lest he find presumptuous ones.”(Chapter 60)

Because the doctrine of sola gratia is paid lip service by most groups perceived to exist within Christendom, the idea that what we have is from God alone is attributed, more often than not, to the Pelagianistic sense that the natural capacity the will is such as it is because of God alone, so all the good merits we do by that natural capacity should be attributed to God alone. Leaving aside the fact that this would force one to attribute evil merits to God alone as well, a synergist might agree with most of what Augustine says here. They would agree God acts upon us, they would pay lip service to sola gratia, and they would agree that we are being persuaded or “wooed” to exercise the function of our will – viz. volition – to God.

What a synergist would have difficulty harmonizing, however, is in the final sentences of the paragraph, in which Augustine discusses the reasons why one is actually persuaded and another is not. Augustine believes it to be inscrutable why one should not believe and another should, and insofar as the synergist cannot explain the reasons one human autonomously believes in Christ and another autonomously denies Him, they might agree. But Augustine rather attributes the inscrutability to God’s will! This implies two things: God unconditionally chooses whom He will persuade, and those whom He persuades will be persuaded. If this is not so, why would Augustine hasten to defend God’s righteousness? What relevance would that have to the discussion if human autonomy is what he is really defending as the reason one believes and another does not? Augustine phrases this inscrutability more explicitly in Book 1 of his Against Two Letters of the Pelagians:

“Did the men of God who wrote these things – nay, did the Spirit of God Himself, under whose guidance such things were written by them – assail the free will of man? Away with the notion! But He has commended both the most righteous judgment and the most merciful aid of the Omnipotent in all cases. For it is enough for man to know that there is no unrighteousness with God. But how He dispenses those benefits, making some deservedly vessels of wrath, others graciously vessels of mercy, who has known the mind of the Lord, or who has been His counselor? If, then, we attain to the honour of grace, let us not be ungrateful by attributing to ourselves what we have received. “For what have we which we have not received?”” (Chapter 38)

It is not by any doing of ours that we are vessels of mercy, yet the fact that we are vessels of mercy does not assail our free will insofar as we “receive” or “yield consent to” the benefits of a vessel of mercy. God’s acting upon us “externally” and “internally” also do not take away from the fundamental characteristic of the will; these unconditioned choices and actions of God “confirm” our volition, actually, as it is only through these unconditioned choices that we are able and willing to will and do what is good. Finally, as grace is unobligated, the inscrutability of God’s choosing to persuade one (or choosing one to be a vessel of mercy) to consent to His commands and choosing not to persuade another (choosing on to be a vessel of wrath) does not affect the righteousness or justice of God.

The Gift of Perseverance

His last explicitly Anti-Pelagian work, The Gift of Perseverance, Augustine designed to eradicate the remnants of Pelagianism by ascribing no merit as the basis for God’s grace. Naturally, as a monergist, Augustine drew allusions in grace in perseverance to that of God’s electing and predestining grace. As he writes in chapter 13:

“…after the fall of man, God willed it to pertain only to His grace that man should approach to Him; nor did He will it to pertain to aught but His grace that man should not depart from Him.”

Nor does Augustine exclude faith from the sole means by which one comes to God:

“…it is not in the power of men, but in that of God, that men have power to become sons of God. Because they receive it from Him who gives pious thoughts to the human heart, by which it has faith, which worketh by love; for the receiving and keeping of which benefit, and for carrying it on perseveringly unto the end, we are not sufficient to think anything as of ourselves, but our sufficiency is of God, in whose power is our heart and our thoughts.” (Chapter 20)

Our faith is predicated on our thoughts, so our “pious thoughts” are said to be the power by which we become sons of God. As Augustine mentions, such thoughts are given to us by God; hence, God’s grace alone is not only necessary but sufficient to cause us to believe – another implicit citation of irresistible grace – and so God’s allotting of this grace must not be according to one’s faith [and works], as it is the grace itself which causes faith [and works]. This argument is worked out in Augustine’s other works, as will be shown later.

A related argument is that one who asserts God’s “foreknowledge” refers to a sort of crystal-ball analogy so as to preserve a faulty notion of free will is thereby debunked, as any “foresight” God has of one’s faith in Him or good works is grounded in God having chosen and caused one to have faith and good works logically prior to such foresight. To put it simply, foresight of our merits implies God has first predestined one to those merits. Otherwise, it would not be by God’s grace alone that we become sons of God, nor would God’s will alone be sufficient for us. So, unsurprisingly, we see Augustine tease out the same conclusion:

“No one, therefore, who understands these things is permitted to doubt that, when the apostle says, “God hath not cast away His people whom He foreknew,” He intended to signify predestination. For He foreknew the remnant which He should make so according to the election of grace. That is, therefore, He predestinated them; for without doubt He foreknew if He predestinated; but to have predestinated is to have foreknown that which He should do.” (Chapter 47)

Bringing together the doctrines which have so far been discussed (Total Depravity, Irresistible/Regenerative Grace, and Unconditional Election), here is a fitting passage on which to end this post:

“Neither would inability to believe have been a hindrance to them, if they had been so predestinated as that God should illuminate those blind eyes, and should will to take away the stony heart from those hardened ones. But what the Lord said of the Tyrians and Sidonians may perchance be understood in another way: that no one nevertheless comes to Christ unless it were given him, and that it is given to those who are chosen in Him before the foundation of the world, he confesses beyond a doubt who hears the divine utterance, not with the deaf ears of the flesh, but with the ears of the heart…”(Chapter 35)

Summary

Augustine believed that:

1. “God calls whomsoever He deigns, and whom He wills He makes religious.”

2. “it is God… who makes religious whomsoever He pleases” such that no one hastens to, depends upon, cleaves to, nor desires God “unless he be made by God...”

3. because “God acts upon us by the incentives of our perceptions, to will and to believe… whatever [man] possesses, and whatever [man] receives, is from God...”

4. the mystery of why one should be persuaded of the gospel and another should not lies, not in human autonomy, but in “the depths of His riches!”

5. we should not attribute what we have received to ourselves, because it is according to God‘s own mind and counsel that “He dispenses those benefits, making some deservedly vessels of wrath, others graciously vessels of mercy...”

6. “God willed it to pertain only to His grace that man should approach to Him…"

7. Christians “receive [the power to become sons of God] from Him who gives pious thoughts to the human heart, by which it has faith...”

8. “we are not sufficient to think anything as of ourselves, but our sufficiency is of God, in whose power is our heart and our thoughts.”

9. “no one… comes to Christ unless it were given him, and that it is given to those who are chosen in Him before the foundation of the world...”

10. foreknowledge “signif[ies] predestination.”

Monday, September 28, 2009

Augustine on Efficacious Grace, Part 3 of 3

The following passages in Augustine’s works are so self-evidently in favor of the doctrine of irresistible grace that I believe any sort of commentary would be superfluous:

Rebuke and Grace

“The first man had not that grace by which he should never will to be evil; but assuredly he had that in which if he willed to abide he would never be evil, and without which, moreover, he could not by free will be good, but which, nevertheless, by free will he could forsake. God, therefore, did not will even him to be without His grace, which He left in his free will; because free will is sufficient for evil, but is too little for good, unless it is aided by Omnipotent Good. And if that man had not forsaken that assistance of his free will, he would always have been good; but he forsook it, and he was forsaken. Because such was the nature of the aid, that he could forsake it when he would, and that he could continue in it if he would; but not such that it could be brought about that he would. This first is the grace which was given to the first Adam; but more powerful than this is that in the second Adam. For the first is that whereby it is affected that a man may have righteousness if he will; the second, therefore, can do more than this, since by it it is even effected that he will, and will so much, and love with such ardour, that by the will of the Spirit he overcomes the will of the flesh, that lusteth in opposition to it. Nor was that, indeed, a small grace by which was demonstrated even the power of free will, because man was so assisted that without this assistance he could not continue in good, but could forsake this assistance if he would. But this latter grace is by so much the greater, that it is too little for a man by its means to regain his lost freedom; it is too little, finally, not to be able without it either to apprehend the good or to continue in good if he will, unless he is also made to will.” (Chapter 31)

“At the present time, however, to those to whom such assistance is wanting, it is the penalty of sin; but to those to whom it is given, it is given of grace, not of debt; and by so much the more is given through Jesus Christ our Lord to those to whom it has pleased God to give it, that not only we have that help without which we cannot continue even if we will, but, moreover, we have so great and such a help as to will. Because by this grace of God there is caused in us, in the reception of good and in the persevering hold of it, not only to be able to do what we will, but even to will to do what we are able.” (Chapter 32)

“God willed that His saints should not – even concerning perseverance in goodness itself – glory in their own strength, but in Himself, who not only gives them aid such as He gave to the first man, without which they cannot persevere if they will, but causes in them also the will; that since they will not persevere unless they both can and will, both the capability and the will to persevere should be bestowed on them by the liberality of divine grace. Because by the Holy Spirit their will is so much enkindled that they therefore can, because they so will; and they therefore so will because God works in them to will. For if in so much weakness of this life (in which weakness, however, for the sake of checking pride, strength behooved to be perfected) their own will should be left to themselves, that they might, if they willed, continue in the help of God, without which they could not persevere, and God should not work in them to will, in the midst of so many and so great weaknesses their will itself would give way, and they would not be able to persevere, for the reason that failing from infirmity they would not will, or in the weakness of will they would not so will that they would be able. Therefore aid is brought to the infirmity of human will, so that it might be unchangeably and invincibly influenced by divine grace; and thus, although weak, it still might not fail, nor be overcome by any adversity. Thus it happens that man’s will, weak and incapable, in good as yet small, may persevere by God’s strength; while the will of the first man, strong and healthful, having the power of free choice, did not persevere in a greater good; because although God’s help was not wanting, without which it could not persevere if it would, yet it was not such a help as that by which God would work in man to will. Certainly to the strongest He yielded and permitted to do what He willed; to those that were weak He has reserved that by His own gift they should most invincibly will what is good, and most invincibly refuse to forsake this. Therefore when Christ says, “I have prayed for thee that thy faith fail not,” we may understand that it was said to him who is built upon the rock. And thus the man of God, not only because he has obtained mercy to be faithful, but also because faith itself does not fail, if he glories, must glory in the Lord.” (Chapter 38)

“…when men either come or return into the way of righteousness by means of rebuke, who is it that worketh salvation in their hearts but that God who giveth the increase, whoever plants and waters, and whoever labours on the fields or shrubs, that God whom no man’s will resists when He wills to give salvation? For so to will or not to will is in the power of Him who willeth or willeth not, as not to hinder the divine will nor overcome the divine power. For even concerning those who do what He wills not, He Himself does what He will.” (Chapter 43)

The Predestination of the Saints

“This grace, therefore, which is hiddenly bestowed in human hearts by the Divine gift, is rejected by no hard heart, because it is given for the sake of first taking away the hardness of the heart. When, therefore, the Father is heard within, and teaches, so that a man comes to the Son, He takes away the heart of stone and gives a heart of flesh, as in the declaration of the prophet He has promised. Because He thus makes them children and vessels of mercy which He has prepared for glory.” (Chapter 13)

““In whom also after ye had heard the word of truth, the gospel of your salvation; in whom also, after that ye believed, ye were sealed with the Holy Spirit of promise, which is the pledge of our inheritance, to the redemption of the purchased possession unto the praise of His glory. Wherefore I also, after I had heard of your faith in Christ Jesus and with reference to all the saints, cease not to give thanks for you.” Their faith was new and recent on the preaching of the gospel to them, which faith when he hears of, the apostle gives thanks to God on their behalf. If he were to give thanks to man for that which he might either think or know that man had not given, it would be called a flattery or a mockery, rather than a giving of thanks. “Do not err, for God is not mocked;” for His gift is also the beginning of faith, unless the apostolic giving of thanks be rightly judged to be either mistaken or fallacious. What then? Does that not appear as the beginning of the faith of the Thessalonians, for which, nevertheless, the same apostle gives thanks to God when he says, “For this cause also we thank God without ceasing, because when ye had received from us the word of the hearing of God, ye received it not as the word of men, but as it is in truth the word of God, which effectually worketh in you and which ye believed”? What is that for which he here gives thanks to God? Assuredly it is a vain and idle thing if He to whom he gives thanks did not Himself do the thing. But, since this is not a vain and idle thing, certainly God, to whom he gave thanks concerning this work, Himself did it; that when they had received the word of the hearing of God, they received it not as the word of men, but as it is in truth the word of God. God, therefore, worketh in the hearts of men with that calling according to His purpose, of which we have spoken a great deal, that they should not hear the gospel in vain, but when they heard it, should be converted and believe, receiving it not as the word of men, but as it is in truth the word of God.” (Chapter 39)

““The Lord opened her heart, and she gave heed unto the things which were said by Paul:” for she was so called that she might believe. Because God does what He will in the hearts of men, either by assistance or by judgment; so that, even through their means, may be fulfilled what His hand and counsel have predestinated to be done.” (Chapter 41)

The Grace of Christ

As I’ve summarized the intentions and background of the other books I’ve cited, I may as well mention that The Grace of Christ was written on the heels of the condemnation of the Pelagian heresies. Here, as in On Grace and Free Will, Augustine exposes Pelagius’ understanding of grace as only related to man in the sense that God has given him the capacity to will what is good, and man wills and does what is good without the help of any sort of enabling grace. In the following chapter, instead of relating this unbiblical notion of grace to man’s will prior to the Fall irrespective of salvation, Augustine goes further in his contradiction of it by expounding upon the way in which men come to Christ."

Chapter 15 He Who Has Been Taught by Grace Actually Comes to Christ.

“Every man that hath heard, and hath learned of the Father, cometh unto me.” Of the man, therefore, who has not come, it cannot be correctly said: “[He] has heard and has learned that it is his duty to come to Him, but he is not willing to do what he has learned.” It is indeed absolutely improper to apply such a statement to that method of teaching, whereby God teaches by grace. For if, as the Truth says, “Every man that hath learned cometh,” it follows, of course, that whoever does not come has not learned. But who can fail to see that a man’s coming or not coming is by the determination of his will? This determination, however, may stand alone, if the man does not come; but if he does come, it cannot be without assistance; and such assistance, that he not only knows what it is he ought to do, but also actually does what he thus knows. And thus, when God teaches, it is not by the letter of the law, but by the grace of the Spirit. Moreover, He so teaches, that whatever a man learns, he not only sees with his perception, but also desires with his choice, and accomplishes in action. By this mode, therefore, of divine instruction, volition itself, and performance itself, are assisted, and not merely the natural “capacity” of willing and performing. For if nothing but this “capacity” of ours were assisted by this grace, the Lord would rather have said, “Every man that hath heard and hath learned of the Father may possibly come unto me.”This, however, is not what He said; but His words are these: “Every man that hath heard and hath learned of the Father cometh unto me.” Now the possibility of coming Pelagius places in nature, or even—as we found him attempting to say some time ago—in grace (whatever that may mean according to him),—when he says, “whereby this very capacity is assisted;” whereas the actual coming lies in the will and act. It does not, however, follow that he who may come actually comes, unless he has also willed and acted for the coming. But every one who has learned of the Father not only has the possibility of coming, but comes; and in this result are already included the motion of the capacity, the affection of the will, and the effect of the action." 

Summary

Augustine believed soteric grace:

1. “…effect[s] that man will, and will so much, and love with such ardour, that by the will of the Spirit he overcomes the will of the flesh, that lusteth in opposition to it.”

2. “…is too little… not to be able without it either to apprehend the good or to continue in good if he will, unless he is also made to will.”

3. is “…so great and such a help as to will, [b]ecause by this grace of God there is caused in us…not only to be able to do what we will, but even to will to do what we are able.”

4. is given to the elect so that they “…should most invincibly will what is good, and most invincibly refuse to forsake this…”

5. is given by “…that God whom no man’s will resists when He wills to give salvation...”

6. “…is rejected by no hard heart, because it is given for the sake of first taking away the hardness of the heart.”

7. “is that for which [man] gives thanks to God… [for] it is a vain and idle thing if He to whom he gives thanks did not Himself… worketh in the hearts of men with that calling according to His purpose… that they should not hear the gospel in vain, but when they heard it, should be converted and believe, receiving it not as the word of men, but as it is in truth the word of God.”

8. is such that “…[man] not only knows what it is he ought to do, but also actually does what he thus knows… [for] He so teaches, that whatever a man learns, he not only sees with his perception, but also desires with his choice, and accomplishes in action."

9. is such that the “…volition itself, and performance itself, are assisted, and not merely the natural “capacity” of willing and performing, [f]or if nothing but this “capacity” of ours were assisted by this grace, the Lord would rather have said, “Every man that hath heard and hath learned of the Father may possibly come unto me.””

10. is such that “…every one who has learned of the Father not only has the possibility of coming, but comes; and in this result are already included the motion of the capacity, the affection of the will, and the effect of the action.”

 

Friday, September 25, 2009

Augustine on Efficacious Grace, Part 2 of 3

On Grace and Free Will

Recall from a previous note that Augustine wrote Rebuke and Grace to refute the following principle: “no man ought to be rebuked for not doing God’s commandments” (Retractations). The origin of this idea was a conclusion the monks to whom Augustine was writing had drawn upon consideration of a prior letter from Augustine, On Grace and Free Will.

One can sympathize with Augustine’s struggles. He is trying very hard to demonstrate that “freedom of the will” – which, as has been shown, Augustine regards as “volition” – “is [not] denied whenever God’s grace is maintained” (Retractations), yet at the same time he feels compelled to emphasize in the strongest possible terms God’s sovereignty. I may as well have entitled this particular note “Augustine on God’s Sovereignty,” for those chapters which I suspect comprise that which the monks misunderstood are themselves provocatively labeled:

Chapter 41: The Wills of Men are So Much in the Power of God, that He Can Turn Them Whithersoever It Pleases Him.
Chapter 42: God Does Whatsoever He Wills in the Hearts of Even Wicked Men.
Chapter 43: God Operates on Men’s Hearts to Incline Their Wills Whithersoever He Pleases

As I believe examination of these chapters will provide the framework in which Augustine will more explicitly discuss soteric, efficacious grace, those who refer to themselves as “6 [or 7] pointers” will have to forgive my subsumption.

Prior to these chapters, Augustine briefly anticipated objections to what was to come. He asserted that God works operatively in the hearts of men prior to belief, at which point God co-operates with men. Man is not a “robot,” as some so like to caricature monergists. Robots do not have wills, intellect, emotions, &c. That we have those attributes, however, does not imply we also have the ability to exercise them towards an end we do not desire. As we are born in sin and do not desire to submit to God, one can understand why God must, according to Augustine, operate on us without our assistance. 

What it means for God to co-operate with us when we will, however, is more ambiguous. Despite a clear rejection of synergism elsewhere, in order to demonstrate a consistency within Augustine’s thoughts, it would be best to display from the same work that Augustine is really trying to convey that we who have been regenerated are voluntary and willing persons who desire to come to the Father through faith in Christ:

Chapter 41 – The Wills of Men are So Much in the Power of God, that He Can Turn Them Whithersoever It Pleases Him.

“I think I have now discussed the point fully enough in opposition to those who vehemently oppose the grace of God, by which, however, the human will is not taken away, but changed from bad to good, and assisted when it is good. I think, too, that I have so discussed the subject, that it is not so much I myself as the inspired Scripture which has spoken to you, in the clearest testimonies of truth; and if this divine record be looked into carefully, it shows us that not only men’s good wills, which God Himself converts from bad ones, and, when converted by Him, directs to good actions and to eternal life, but also those which follow the world are so entirely at the disposal of God, that He turns them whithersoever He wills, and whensoever He wills – to bestow kindness on some, and to heap punishment on others – as He Himself judges right by a counsel most secret to Himself, indeed, but beyond all doubt most righteous.
For we find that some sins are even the punishment of other sins, as are those “vessels of wrath” which the apostle describes as “fitted to destruction;” as is also that hardening of Pharaoh, the purpose of which is said to be to set forth in him the power of God; as, again, is the flight of the Israelites from the face of the enemy before the city of Ai, for fear arose in their heart so that they fled, and this was done that their sin might be punished in the way it was right that it should be; by reason of which the Lord said to Joshua the son of Nun, “The children of Israel shall not be able to stand before the face of their enemies.” What is the meaning of, “They shall not be able to stand”? Now, why did they not stand by free will, but, with a will perplexed by fear, took to flight, were it not that God has the lordship even over men’s wills, and when He is angry turns to fear whomsoever He pleases? Was it not of their own will that the enemies of the children of Israel fought against the people of God, as led by Joshua, the son of Nun? And yet the Scripture says, “It was of the Lord to harden their hearts, that they should come against Israel in battle, that they might be exterminated.” And was it not likewise of his own will that the wicked son of Gera cursed King David? And yet what says David, full of true, and deep, and pious wisdom? What did he say to him who wanted to smite the reviler? “What,” said he, “have I to do with you, ye sons of Zeruiah? Let him alone and let him curse, because the Lord hath said unto him, Curse David. Who, then, shall say, Wherefore hast thou done so?” And then the inspired Scripture, as if it would confirm the king’s profound utterance by repeating it once more, tells us: “And David said to Abishai, and to all his servants, Behold, my son, which came forth from my bowels, seeketh my life: how much more may this Benjamite do it! Let him alone, and let him curse; for the Lord hath bidden him. It may be that the Lord will look on my humiliation, and will requite me good for his cursing this day.” Now what prudent reader will fail to understand in what way the Lord bade this profane man to curse David? It was not by a command that He bade him, in which case his obedience would be praiseworthy; but He inclined the man’s will, which had become debased by his own perverseness, to commit this sin, by His own just and secret judgment. Therefore it is said, “The Lord said unto him.” Now if this person had obeyed a command of God, he would have deserved to be praised rather than punished, as we know he was afterwards punished for this sin. Nor is the reason an obscure one why the Lord told him after this manner to curse David. “It may be,” said the humbled king, “that the Lord will look on my humiliation, and will requite me good for his cursing this day.” See, then, what proof we have here thatGod uses the hearts of even wicked men for the praise and assistance of the good. Thus did He make use of Judas when betraying Christ; thus did He make use of the Jews when they crucified Christ. And how vast the blessings which from these instances He has bestowed upon the nations that should believe in Him! He also uses our worst enemy, the devil himself, but in the best way, to exercise and try the faith and piety of good men – not for Himself indeed, who knows all things before they come to pass – but for our sakes, for whom it was necessary that such a discipline should be gone through with us. Did not Absalom choose by his own will the counsel which was detrimental to him? And yet the reason of his doing so was that the Lord had heard his father’s prayer that it might be so. Wherefore the Scripture says that “the Lord appointed to defeat the good counsel of Ahithophel, to the intent that the Lord might bring all evils upon Absalom.” It called Ahithophel’s counsel “good,” because it was for the moment of advantage to his purpose. It was in favour of the son against his father, against whom he had rebelled; and it might have crushed him, had not the Lord defeated the counsel which Ahithophel had given, by acting on the heart of Absalom so that he rejected this counsel, and chose another which was not expedient for him.”

The perspicuity of God’s word has, Augustine believed, revealed God not only works all men’s actions for good, but also “turns” man’s will to do His purposes. God is proactive in creation, not reactionary. One important point Augustine makes immediately is that our volition is not taken away by the necessity of acting in accordance with God’s desires. It would seem that it was indeed the case the co-operation to which he referred was that between beings willing with identical purposes rather than allusion to some form of synergism. The many examples he specifies in Scripture in which God is confirmed to have inclined even evil men’s wills to do that which, as in all other things, is ultimately to the “praise and assistance of the good.” Augustine further develops the idea God ordains even the evil will of fallen men, which some may have found shocking, in the next chapter:

Chapter 42 – God Does Whatsoever He Wills in the Hearts of Even Wicked Men.

“Who can help trembling at those judgments of God by which He does in the hearts of even wicked men whatsoever He wills, at the same time rendering to them according to their deeds? Rehoboam, the son of Solomon, rejected the salutary counsel of the old men, not to deal harshly with the people, and preferred listening to the words of the young men of his own age, by returning a rough answer to those to whom he should have spoken gently. Now whence arose such conduct, except from his own will? Upon this, however, the ten tribes of Israel revolted from him, and chose for themselves another king, even Jeroboam, that the will of God in His anger might be accomplished which He had predicted would come to pass. For what says the Scripture? “The king hearkened not unto the people; for the turning was from the Lord, that He might perform His saying, which the Lord spake to Ahijah the Shilonite concerning Jeroboam the son of Nebat.” All this, indeed, was done by the will of man, although the turning was from the Lord. Read the books of the Chronicles, and you will find the following passage in the second book: “Moreover, the Lord stirred up against Jehoram the spirit of the Philistines, and of the Arabians, that were neighbours to the Ethiopians; and they came up to the land of Judah, and ravaged it, and carried away all the substance which was found in the king’s house.” Here it is shown that God stirs up enemies to devastate the countries which He adjudges deserving of such chastisement. Still, did these Philistines and Arabians invade the land of Judah to waste it with no will of their own? Or were their movements so directed by their own will that the Scripture lies which tells us that “the Lord stirred up their spirit” to do all this? Both statements to be sure are true, because they both came by their own will, and yet the Lord stirred up their spirit; and this may also with equal truth be stated the other way: The Lord both stirred up their spirit, and yet they came of their own will. For the Almighty sets in motion even in the innermost hearts of men the movement of their will, so that He does through their agency whatsoever He wishes to perform through them, even He who knows not how to will anything in unrighteousness. What, again, is the purport of that which the man of God said to King Amaziah: “Let not the army of Israel go with thee; for the Lord is not with Israel, even with all the children of Ephraim: for if thou shalt think to obtain with these, the Lord shall put thee to flight before thine enemies: for God hath power either to strengthen or to put to flight”? Now, how does the power of God help some in war by giving them confidence, and put others to flight by injecting fear into them, except it be that He who has made all things according to His own will, in heaven and on earth, also works in the hearts of men? We read also what Joash, king of Israel, said when he sent a message to Amaziah, king of Judah, who wanted to fight with him. After certain other words, he added, “Now tarry at home; why dost thou challenge me to thine hurt, that thou shouldest fall, even thou, and Judah with thee?” Then the Scripture has added this sequel: “But Amaziah would not hear; for it came of God, that he might be delivered into their hands, because they sought after the gods of Edom.” Behold, now, how God, wishing to punish the sin of idolatry, wrought this in this man’s heart, with whom He was indeed justly angry, not to listen to sound advice, but to despise it, and go to the battle, in which he with his army was routed. God says by the prophet Ezekiel, “If the prophet be deceived when he hath spoken a thing, I the Lord have deceived that prophet: I will stretch out my hand upon him, and will destroy him from the midst of my people Israel.” Then there is the book of Esther, who was a woman of the people of Israel, and in the land of their captivity became the wife of the foreign King Ahasuerus. In this book it is written, that, being driven by necessity to interpose in behalf of her people, whom the king had ordered to be slain in every part of his dominions, she prayed to the Lord. So strongly was she urged by the necessity of the case, that she even ventured into the royal presence with out the king’s command, and contrary to her own custom. Now observe what the Scripture says: “He looked at her like a bull in the vehemence of his indignation; and the queen was afraid, and her colour changed as she fainted; and she bowed herself upon the head of her delicate maiden which went before her. But God turned the king, and transformed his indignation into gentleness.” The Scripture says in the Proverbs of Solomon, “Even as the rush of water, so is the heart of a king in God’s hand; He will turn it in whatever way He shall choose.” Again, in the 104th Psalm, in reference to the Egyptians, one reads what God did to them: “And He turned their heart to hate His people, to deal subtilly with His servants.” Observe, likewise, what is written in the letters of the apostles. In the Epistle of Paul, the Apostle, to the Romans occur these words: “Wherefore God gave them up to uncleanness, through the lusts of their own hearts;” and a little afterwards: “For this cause God gave them up unto vile affections;” again, in the next passage: “And even as they did not like to retain God in their knowledge, God gave them over to a reprobate mind, to do those things which are not convenient.” So also in his second Epistle to the Thessalonians, the apostle says of sundry persons, “Inasmuch as they received not the love of the truth, that they might be saved; therefore also God shall send them strong delusion, that they should believe a lie; that they all might be judged who believed not the truth, but had pleasure in unrighteousness.”

Piling on case after case of God sovereignly leading men to do what He pleases, Augustine – even at this point in history – introduces the concept of secondary causes. God sends spirits (angels too, as said in the next chapter) to do that which is necessary to effect evil actions. God does not “force” man to sin, as if men were unwilling objects. Instead, the desires upon which our will and deeds are predicated can even be determined – by whatever intermediate cause, according to His just yet secret counsel – such that we actually do evil, so Augustine can consistently maintain that we do indeed exercise our volition. In the first half of chapter 43, Augustine summarizes his thoughts:

Chapter 43 – God Operates on Men’s Hearts to Incline Their Wills Whithersoever He Pleases

“From these statements of the inspired word, and from similar passages which it would take too long to quote in full, it is, I think, sufficiently clear that God works in the hearts of men to incline their wills whithersoever He wills, whether to good deeds according to His mercy, or to evil after their own deserts; His own judgment being sometimes manifest, sometimes secret, but always righteous. This ought to be the fixed and immoveable conviction of your heart, that there is no unrighteousness with God. Therefore, whenever you read in the Scriptures of Truth, that men are led aside, or that their hearts are blunted and hardened by God, never doubt that some ill deserts of their own have first occurred, so that they justly suffer these things. Thus you will not run counter to that proverb of Solomon: “The foolishness of a man perverteth his ways, yet he blameth God in his heart.” Grace, however, is not bestowed according to men’s deserts; otherwise grace would be no longer grace. For grace is so designated because it is given gratuitously. Now if God is able, either through the agency of angels (whether good ones or evil), or in any other way whatever, to operate in the hearts even of the wicked, in return for their deserts – whose wickedness was not made by Him, but was either derived originally from Adam, or increased by their own will – what is there to wonder at if, through the Holy Spirit, He works good in the hearts of the elect, who has wrought it that their hearts become good instead of evil?"

In the climax of the exposition, Augustine’s thoughts are unmistakable: God works immediately in the hearts of the elect to become flesh instead of stone, which proves the relevance of the three chapters to soteriology, He uses secondary causes to work in the hearts of the reprobate to do evil, and He is righteous throughout. In his subsequent letter, Rebuke and Grace, one should observe that Augustine dispels the monks’ false notion of what is the purpose of rebuke and continues to state concisely the very point he made in his first letter:

“It is not, then, to be doubted that men’s wills cannot, so as to prevent His doing what he wills, withstand the will of God, “who hath done all things whatsoever He pleased in heaven and in earth,” and who also “has done those things that are to come;” since He does even concerning the wills themselves of men what He will, when He will.” (Chapter 45)

Summary

Augustine believed the sovereignty of God is such that:

1. “…the human will is not taken away, but changed from bad to good, and assisted when it is good… [and] that it is… the inspired Scripture which has spoken to you, in the clearest testimonies of truth…”

2. “…He turns them whithersoever He wills, and whensoever He wills...”

3. “…not by a command [does] He bade [man], in which case… obedience would be praiseworthy; but He inclined… man’s will, which had become debased by his own perverseness, to commit… sin, by His own just and secret judgment.”

4. “…God uses the hearts of even wicked men for the praise and assistance of the good.”

5. “…the Lord both stirred up [man’s] spirit, and yet [men act] of their own will. For the Almighty sets in motion even in the innermost hearts of men the movement of their will, so that He does through their agency whatsoever He wishes to perform through them...”

6. “…God, wishing to punish [sin, can wrought it in] man’s heart...”

7. “…His own judgment [is] sometimes manifest, sometimes secret, but always righteous.”

8. God “…is able, either through the agency of angels (whether good ones or evil)… to operate in the hearts even of the wicked…”

9. “…through the Holy Spirit, He works good in the hearts of the elect, who has wrought it that their hearts become good instead of evil…”

10. “…men’s wills cannot… withstand the will of God… since He does even concerning the wills themselves of men what He will, when He will.”

 

Wednesday, September 23, 2009

Augustine on Efficacious Grace, Part 1 of 3

It is indisputable that Augustine believed that prior to regeneration effected solely by God’s will, man is unable to act in obedience to God, for man’s free will avails only for sinning while subjected to the devil. What is as yet unclear is whether or not Augustine believed all men without exception are regenerated and whether or not those who are regenerated are merely put in a position in which they can accept or reject the gospel. The first question is one related to the intention and choice of God; the second question is related to the efficacy of grace. The latter will be considered in what follows.

In Book 2 of his Against Two Letters of the Pelagians, Augustine, who has by this juncture in his treatise established the complete extensiveness of the depravity of fallen men’s wills, links this fact with how one can come to desire what is good: 

“God does many good things in man which man does not do; but man does none which God does not cause man to do. Accordingly, there would be no desire of good in man from the Lord if it were not a good; but if it is a good, we have it not save from Him who is supremely and incommunicably good.” (Chapter 21)

In an effort to contravene the obvious import of this passage, one might contrive the last sentence to mean: “the use of what capacity we have to do good is in what sense any good desire comes from God alone, for God alone provided us with that capacity.” This Pelagianistic explanation, however, is not consistent with Augustine’s premise; to wit, God “causes” us to do good. Such a statement relates to [will and] action. God does not only enable us to will; He causes us to will. 

Augustine supports this thesis in various ways. In Book 4, Chapter 15 – “Grace is Proved to Be Gratuitous and Effectual” – Augustine’s disbelief of Pelagian presumption is practically palpable:

“Nothing so overturns the presumption of men who say, “We do it, that we may deserve those things with which God may do it.” It is not Pelagius that answers you, but the Lord Himself, “I do it and not for your sakes, but for my own holy name’s sake.” For what good can ye do out of a heart which is not good? But that you may have a good heart, He says, “I will give you a new heart, and I will put a new Spirit within you.” Can you say, We will first walk in His righteousness, and will observe His judgment, and will do so that we may be worthy, such as He should give His grace to? But what good would ye evil men do, and how should you do those good things, unless you were yourselves good? But who causes that men should be good save Him who said, “And I will visit them to make them good”? and who said “I will put my Spirit within you, and will cause you to walk in my righteousness, and to observe my judgments, and do them”? Are ye thus not yet awake? Do ye not yet hear, “I will cause you to walk, I will make you to observe,” lastly, “I will make you to do”? What! are you still puffing yourselves up? We indeed walk, it is true; we observe; we do; but He makes us to walk, to observe, to do.”

He argues the point in many other books as well. In On Grace and Free Will, he provides at least two such arguments:

“For Paul’s… conversion [was] by that great and most effectual call, God’s grace was alone, because his merits, though great, were yet evil.” (Chapter 12)

“Now if faith is simply of free will, and is not given by God, why do we pray for those who will not believe, that they may believe? This it would be absolutely useless to do, unless we believe, with perfect propriety, that Almighty God is able to turn to belief wills that are perverse and opposed to faith.” (Chapter 29)

The reasons for believing efficacious grace is necessary are many: biblical precedent; allusion to man’s inability to will or do good prior to such grace; absurdities that must be maintained if one believes man is not given belief by God (among which would include the uselessness of prayer and total disregard of Scripture). This is not to say that Augustine denied man’s participation in his own salvation. Many who misunderstand the doctrines of grace believe that if a will is determined, the will itself is rendered passive. This is not at all the case nor is it what Augustine taught.

The Predestination of the Saints

One of his latest works, The Predestination of the Saints, was written against semi-Pelagians, those who, among other heresies, ascribed the beginning of faith (and hence, salvation) to man. One would expect, then, that Augustine would be chiefly concerned with the God-ward side of salvation. In reading the whole book, one can see that this is evidently the case. But in several chapters, Augustine highlights the man-ward side of salvation as well:

““Wherefore is it preached and prescribed to us that we should turn away from evil and do good, if it is not we that do this, but ‘God who worketh in us to will and to do it’?” But let them rather understand that if they are the children of God, they are led by the Spirit of God to do that which should be done; and when they have done it, let them give thanks to Him by whom they act. For they are acted upon that they may act, not that they may themselves do nothing.” (Chapter 4)

“…faith is the gift of God, although when it is said, “If thou believest, thou shalt be saved,” faith is required of us, and salvation is proposed to us as a reward. For [faith and mortifying the deeds of the flesh] are both commanded us, and are shown to be God’s gifts, in order that we may understand both that we do them, and that God makes us to do them, as He most plainly says by the prophet Ezekiel. For what is plainer than when He says, “I will cause you to do”? Give heed to that passage of Scripture, and you will see that God promises that He will make them to do those things which He commands to be done.” (Chapter 22)

Conditional salvation is approved by synergists and monergists. The difference lies in the distinction between a necessary and sufficient condition. Synergists (the semi-Pelagians, here) believe God’s grace is necessary to be saved but is intrinsically insufficient to effect that which it was purposed to produce: our repentance, faith, and perseverance. Monergists like Augustine not only believe that grace is necessary to procure the conditions of salvation but also believe that grace is sufficient to effect one’s will to achieve the conditions; thus, Christians are said to have been “made” to will the conditions, even though the Christian was not passive in the willing.

Enchiridion

“It is obvious that a man who is old enough to exercise his reason cannot believe, hope, or love unless he wills it, nor could he run for the prize of his high calling in God without a decision of his will. In what sense, therefore, is it "not a matter of human willing or running but of God's showing mercy," unless it be that "the will itself is prepared by the Lord," even as it is written? This saying, therefore, that "it is not a matter of human willing or running but of God's showing mercy," means that the action is from both, that is to say, from the will of man and from the mercy of God. Thus we accept the dictum, "It is not a matter of human willing or running but of God's showing mercy," as if it meant, "The will of man is not sufficient by itself unless there is also the mercy of God." By the same token, the mercy of God is not sufficient by itself unless there is also the will of man. But if we say rightly that "it is not a matter of human willing or running but of God's showing mercy," because the will of man alone is not enough, why, then, is not the contrary rightly said, "It is not a matter of God's showing mercy but of a man's willing," since the mercy of God by itself alone is not enough? Now, actually, no Christian would dare to say, "It is not a matter of God's showing mercy but of man's willing," lest he explicitly contradict the apostle. The conclusion remains, therefore, that this saying: "Not man's willing or running but God's showing mercy," is to be understood to mean that the whole process is credited to God, who both prepareth the will to receive divine aid and aideth the will which has been thus prepared.”(Enchiridion, Chapter 32)

As one of the more often cited monergistic passages, Augustine’s exegesis of Romans 9:16 is noteworthy, especially in that it begins by affirming the obvious role man’s will must play in his salvation and ends having explained that such a will can be caused without being negated. Regeneration changes our nature such that we more strongly desire to repent and believe than to continue fulfilling the lusts of the flesh:

On Grace and Free Will

“I offer this particular petition to God, you may understand in what sense I said, “If thou wilt, thou mayest keep the commandments.” For it is certain that we keep the commandments if we will; but because the will is prepared by the Lord, we must ask of Him for such a force of will as suffices to make us act by the willing. It is certain that it is we that will when we will, but it is He who makes us will what is good, of whom it is said (as he has just now expressed it), “The will is prepared by the Lord.” Of the same Lord it is said, “The steps of a man are ordered by the Lord, and his way doth He will.” Of the same Lord again it is said, “It is God who worketh in you, even to will!” It is certain that it is we that act when we act; but it is He who makes us act, by applying efficacious powers to our will, who has said, “I will make you to walk in my statutes, and to observe my judgments, and to do them.” When he says, “I will make you… to do them,” what else does He say in fact than, “I will take away from you your heart of stone,” from which used to arise your inability to act, “and I will give you a heart of flesh,” in order that you may act? And what does this promise amount to but this: I will remove your hard heart, out of which you did not act, and I will give you an obedient heart, out of which you shall act? It is He who causes us to act, to whom the human suppliant says, “Set a watch, O Lord, before my mouth.” That is to say: Make or enable me, O Lord, to set a watch before my mouth, a benefit which he had already obtained from God who thus described its influence: “I set a watch upon my mouth.”” (Chapter 32)

“In beginning He works in us that we may have the will, and in perfecting works with us when we have the will. On which account the apostle says, “I am confident of this very thing, that He which hath begun a good work in you will perform it until the day of Jesus Christ.” He operates, therefore, without us, in order that we may will; but when we will, and so will that we may act, He co-operates with us.”(Chapter 33)

Some might jump on the phrase “co-operates” as though Augustine did not just finish explaining that until we will, God acts alone. But if read in the context, Augustine is not at all supporting a perspective of autonomy but rather aiming to show that we do not act involuntarily when we do will His precepts. In fact, Augustine makes quite clear a little later in On Grace and Free Willprecisely how sovereign God is in all matters (which will be examined in the next note).

Summary

Augustine believed soteric grace:

1. is necessary due to the fact that “…out of a heart which is not good [we can do no good].”

2. is “…gratuitous and effectual.”

3. “…makes us to walk, to observe, to do.”

4. shows “…[faith and mortifying the deeds of the flesh]… to be God’s gifts, in order that we may understand both that we do them, and that God makes us to do them.”

5. is “…able to turn to belief wills that are perverse and opposed to faith.”

6. is such “…that [men] may act, not that they may themselves do nothing.”

7. is “…sufficient by itself.”

8. is the result of a God who “…makes us act, by applying efficacious powers to our will.”

9. “…remove[s] your hard heart, out of which you did not act and… give[s] you an obedient heart, out of which you shall act.”

10. “operates without us.”

Monday, September 21, 2009

Justification: a brief outline

Justification: the forensic declaration of the Father that a sinner is pardoned of any charge of sin and is righteous in His sight on the basis of a double imputation: our sin to Christ [on the cross] and His righteousness to us. We access this double imputation only by grace through faith in the expiatory and propitiatory power of Christ’s active obedience [to the law] in life, passive obedience in [vicariously substituting Himself in our place for our penalty by His] death, and vindication [in His victory over the charges against us] in resurrection. This declaration is evidence that the double imputation has caused our sins to have been forgiven and the wrath of the Father appeased. The result of the declaration is reconciliation to the Father – having peace with Him through our Lord Jesus Christ – and zealousness for good works.

Proof:

1. That salvifically, justification is a forensic declaration in that we are “declared” right[eous] over against “made” righteous:

a. Justification and its infinitive form – justify – is often written in a courtroom context. In His role as our Judge, we would expect the Father’s purpose in relating Himself to us as such would be to compare His function in such a role to that of a human judge, a person who does not “make” absolved but rather “declares” absolved. (cf. Deut 25:1; Job 9:2-3; Rom. 3:19-20, 26)

b. Condemnation, being set opposed to justification, is not a process of being made guilty; rather, it is a declaration of guilt. For there to be an analogy, therefore, in forensic passages which set justification opposed to condemnation, justification must refer to a polar declaration of acquittal. (cf. Deut 25:1; Prov. 17:15; Rom. 5:16, 8:33-34)

c. Substituting the alternative (“make righteous”) reduces Scripture to absurdity, as “making righteous” oneself or one who is guilty would be apparently condemnable offenses. (cf. Job 32:2; Prov. 17:15)

2. That we are justified only by grace through faith [in Christ]:

a. The only means and ground by which we are soteriologically (i.e. not James 2:14-26) justified are grace, faith, and Christ’s blood. (cf. Titus 3:7; Rom 4:5, 5:9)

b. Faith and grace are antithetical to works. If we are saved by grace through faith, works cannot play a causal role in our salvation or justification. (cf. Eph. 2:8-10, Rom. 4:3-5, 11:6)

c. That we are unconditionally elected, established by Romans 8:29-33 and proven below, establishes that justification is by grace alone:
1) We for whom Christ died are eternally secure, as all who are justified are glorified. (cf. verse 30; also read #2)
2) We for whom Christ died (the elect) will freely be given all things. Would this not include regeneration, faith, justification, adoption, sanctification, glorification, and various spiritual blessings? [Notice this also establishes a particular redemption, as we can show, by a modus tollens, that because not all are freely given all things, Christ was not delivered for all without exception] (cf. verse 32-33)
3) That faith is contingent on whether or not one has been predestined to be conformed to the image of Jesus, demonstrable by the fact that the ability to come to faith is contingent on God’s call (Rom. 10:14-17; John 6:44, 65) which is itself contingent on whether or not we have been predestined. (cf. verse 29-30)

d. Faith is the only instrumental cause of justification, which is proved by the fact we are justified in His sight apart from works [of the law]. That “works of the law” is synonymous with “good works,” an assertion some have objected to, is proven thusly:
1) Works of the law are “good” and are also demanded of the believer upon justification. Works of the law do not refer to “non-good” works, as though there is such a thing as a work of the law which is bad. (cf. Rom. 7:12, 16; 1 Tim. 1:8-9)
2) The modifier “of the law” is often dropped altogether in the relevant passages, showing an all-encompassing scope and symmetry between works “of the law” and works “in general.” (cf. Rom. 3:27-28, 4:2-6, 9:32)
3) Works of the law are, in fact, explicitly said to be the same works referred to by objectors who wish to distinguish between “good works” and “works of the law,” as we are said to be prepared for both [upon justification]. (cf. Rom. 8:3-4, 13:8-10; Eph. 2:8-10; Titus 2:14)
4) The absurdity that arises if we try to formalize a definition of “works of the law” distinct from “general” or “good” works. Asserting that only the need to perform “certain” works (those of the law) is a curse, that only by “certain” works do we know that we sin, that only by performing “certain” works [of the law] (done by Gentiles, those without the law!) can it be ascertained that the “work of the Law” is written on one’s heart, etc. are self-evidently vacuous arguments. (cf. Rom. 2:15, 3:20; Gal. 3:10)

3. That there exists a double imputation – namely, our sins to Christ [on the cross] and His righteousness to us [upon faith] – which is the ground of our justification over against an infused righteousness (analytic justification):

a. The numerous parallels that point to a double imputation:
1) Our sin to Christ – since He was not a sinner, He likewise was not “infused” with sin – is parallel to His righteousness being imputed to our account. (cf. 2 Cor. 5:21)
2) The wage that is credited to our account is parallel to the righteousness that is credited to our account. (both are external imputations, cf. Rom. 4:3-5)
3) Adam is a type of Christ, so that Adam’s original sin was imputed to us establishes a parallel by which we know Christ’s righteousness is imputed to us. (cf. Rom. 5:12-21)

b. OT precedence and typology:
1) The consideration of one as something he is intrinsically not lays the groundwork for the possibility we can be reckoned to be that which we are intrinsically not: righteous. (cf. Gen 31:14-15; Lev. 25:31)
2) The foreshadowing of Christ as sin-bearer. If our sin is not imputed to us, it has to be imputed to Him. (cf. Gen. 22, 50:20-21; Lev. 16:21-22; Rom. 3:25-26, 4:6-13; 2 Cor. 5:19-21; Heb. 9:22)
3) The necessity of a perfect Priest, Sacrifice, Mediator, Advocate, etc. such that our sin could actually be expiated and the Father’s wrath propitiated. (cf. Heb. 9-10; 1 John 2:1-2)

c. The impossibility to the contrary (elenctic argumentation):
1) We cannot be saved by practicing righteousness; therefore, only the righteousness of another will do. (cf. Titus 3:4-7; Phil. 3:7-9; Rom. 9:30-10:4)
2) If the ground of justification were a process culminating in infused righteousness – that is, sanctification (being “made” righteous) – no one in this lifetime would be justified. Christians would by necessity be required to live perfectly according to the law following “initial” justification. (cf. Heb 10:10-14; Gen 15:16; Rom 5:1)
3) It is absurd that one who is analytically justified should proceed to increase in righteousness. One is righteous or is not. (cf. Acts 13:38-39; Rom. 6:6-7, 15-16; 1 Cor. 1:30-31)
4) God justifies the ungodly. (cf. Rom. 4:5)

“…to him who does not work but believes on Him who justifies the ungodly, his faith is accounted for righteousness.”

Conclusion: “to him who does not pursue righteousness through any work(s) but believes on Him who declares righteous the one who is inherently ungodly, his faith, which alone is the instrumental means, caused by grace, by which he is accounted righteous, accesses the ground of justification, the double imputation of our sin to Christ [on the cross] and His righteousness to us, the believer.”

Suggested reading:

John Piper: Counted Righteous in Christ

Francis Turretin: On Forensic Justification

Louis Berkhof: Systematic Theology

James Buchanan: Doctrine of Justification

Saturday, September 19, 2009

Augustine on Men's Fallen Wills, Part 2 of 2

Having established Augustine believed that prior to divine assistance, everything which man wills is sinful, the structure of this note will be formatted as a metaphorical bridge between Total Depravity and Irresistible Grace: that is, Augustine’s belief that regeneration is a necessary precondition for faith.

Rebuke and Grace

Augustine wrote Rebuke and Grace to refute the idea that “no man ought to be rebuked for not doing God’s commandments...” (Retractations). Why the monks to whom he was writing would entertain such an idea is as illuminating as it is perverse: having accepted Augustine’s teaching in a previous letter that men are unable to positively respond to God’s commandments apart from [effectual] grace, some had inferred that those struggling with sin should not be rebuked. Even so far back as the fourth and fifth centuries, Christians like Augustine were faced with arguments that implicitly appealed to an unbiblical notion of moral responsibility.

Insofar as Augustine’s replies are not relevant to his beliefs regarding fallen men’s wills, his responses will be examined later. It should be noted, however, that before answering such arguments, he, rather than tempering his address, reaffirmed what had caused so much controversy:

“For the grace of God through Jesus Christ our Lord must be apprehended as that by which alone men are delivered from evil, and without which they do absolutely no good thing, whether in thought, or will and affection, or in action…”(Chapter 3)

One wonders, however, what Augustine regards as “the grace of God [given] through our Lord Jesus Christ.” At the risk of anticipating discussion on Augustine’s beliefs regarding efficacious grace, he writes to Valentinus in his prior work, On Grace and Free Will:

“It is certain that it is we that act when we act; but it is He who makes us act, by applying efficacious powers to our will, who has said, “I will make you to walk in my statutes, and to observe my judgments, and to do them.” When he says, “I will make you . . . to do them,” what else does He say in fact than, “I will take away from you your heart of stone,” from which used to arise your inability to act, “and I will give you a heart of flesh,” in order that you may act? And what does this promise amount to but this: I will remove your hard heart, out of which you did not act, and I will give you an obedient heart, out of which you shall act?” (Chapter 32)

Augustine here quotes Ezekiel 36:26-27, a passage often cited in his works. While that which the grace is said to effect – our response – is a point worthy of consideration, it is actually his description of the heart of stone which is apropos. Those with hearts of stone are unable to act according to the statutes of the Lord prior to being given a heart of flesh. If Augustine had said no more, this would simply be yet another useful evidence Augustine believed that fallen men’s wills are “wholly depraved” (On Merit and Forgiveness of Sins, Book 2). In On Christian Doctrine, however, he exegetes Ezekiel 36:23-29, concluding:

“…that there is here a promise of that washing of regeneration which, as we see, is now imparted to all nations, no one who looks into the matter can doubt.” (Book 3, chapter 34)

It cannot be doubted that Augustine believed that this “washing of regeneration” describes the process by which the Lord takes out our heart [or table] of stone and replaces it with a heart [or table] of flesh, for he then cites 2 Corinthians 3:2-3. Only those who are regenerated, then, can observe His judgments &c. Is faith too obtained by regeneration? Going back to Chapter 32 of On Grace and Free Will, he wrote:

“…God commands some things which we cannot do, in order that we may know what we ought to ask of Him. For this is faith itself, which obtains by prayer what the law commands. He, indeed, who said, “If thou wilt, thou shalt keep the commandments,” did in the same book of Ecclesiasticus afterwards say, “Who shall give a watch before my mouth, and a seal of wisdom upon my lips, that I fall not suddenly thereby, and that my tongue destroy me not.”

Later in the same chapter, immediately proceeding from his resolution of Ezekiel 36 provided above, he brings the discussion full circle by applying this resolution to the means by which we come to be able and willing to pray in the first place:

“It is He who causes us to act, to whom the human suppliant says, “Set a watch, O Lord, before my mouth.” That is to say: Make or enable me, O Lord, to set a watch before my mouth, a benefit which he had already obtained from God who thus described its influence: “I set a watch upon my mouth.””

The God who revealed that we keep His commandments through prayer also revealed that He has secured for His people – through regeneration [and subsequent efficacious grace] – that will by which we come to pray. Augustine is even clearer on this point when discussing by what means infants can be regarded as among the body of believers:

“As, therefore, by the answer of those, through whose agency [infants] are born again, the Spirit of righteousness transfers to them that faith which, of their own will, they could not yet have; so the sinful flesh of those, through whose agency they are born, transfers to them that injury, which they have not yet contracted in their own life. And even as the Spirit of life regenerates them in Christ as believers, so also the body of death had generated them in Adam as sinners. The one generation is carnal, the other Spiritual; the one makes children of the flesh, the other children of the Spirit; the one children of death, the other children of the resurrection; the one the children of the world, the other the children of God; the one children of wrath, the other children of mercy; and thus the one binds them under original sin, the other liberates them from the bond of every sin.” (On Infant Baptism, Book 3)

It is to be plainly admitted that Augustine believed baptism was the mode of regeneration. While this may have had some consequences upon his belief in perseverance, it does not preclude – in fact, it establishes – his belief that regeneration logically precedes faith. The above quote is not difficult to understand: those through whose agency an infant is born again are the baptizers. The parents of the infant are those who transfer to the infant Adam’s injury (original sin). It is that generation he contrasts with the generation of the Spirit. Augustine was fond of questioning Pelagians as to their reasoning for infant baptism, given they did not believe any injury from Adam was transferred to infants. That he uses infant baptism to establish an aspect of the ordo salutis, then, is unsurprising, especially since Pelagians thought one’s will prompts one’s salvation apart from extrinsic grace.

Against Two Letters of the Pelagians

In what may be his most overtly Anti-Pelagian treatise, Against Two Letters of the Pelagians contains much support of the doctrines of grace. Perhaps inflamed due to what he thought, as he recorded in his Retractations, a “calumnious mention of [his] name,”Augustine replied in four books to two Pelagian letters he received from Julian. In it, he writes:

“But who of us will say that by the sin of the first man free will perished from the human race? Through sin freedom indeed perished, but it was that freedom which was in Paradise, to have a full righteousness with immortality; and it is on this account that human nature needs divine grace, since the Lord says, “If the Son shall make you free, then shall ye be free indeed” – free of course to live well and righteously. For free will in the sinner up to this extent did not perish, that by it all sin, especially they who sin with delight and with love of sin; what they are pleased to do gives them pleasure.” (Chapter 5)

Why did our nature need divine assistance? To answer that, one must ask to what extent our free will perished. It did not perish in that what one pleases to do, he does; it did perish in that the fallen man is not pleased to “live well and righteously.” He is here speaking of the loss of one’s capacity to not sin, which was corroborated in On Nature and Grace. Hence, he continues in the next two chapters:

“…he is drawn to Christ to whom it is given to believe on Christ. Therefore the power is given that they who believe on Him should become the sons of God, since this very thing is given, that they believe on Him. And unless this power be given from God, out of free will there can be none; because it will not be free for good if the deliverer have not made it free; but in evil he has a free will in whom a deceiver, either secret or manifest, has grafted the love of wickedness, or he himself has persuaded himself of it.” (Chapter 6)

“It is not, therefore, true, as some affirm that we say, and as that correspondent of yours ventures moreover to write, that “all are forced into sin,” as if they were unwilling, “by the necessity of their flesh;” but if they are already of the age to use the choice of their own mind, they are both retained in sin by their own will, and by their own will are hurried along from sin to sin. For even he who persuades and deceives does not act in them, except that they may commit sin by their will, either by ignorance of the truth or by delight in iniquity, or by both evils, as well of blindness as of weakness. But this will, which is free in evil things because it takes pleasure in evil, is not free in good things, for the reason that it has not been made free.” (Chapter 7)

Men are not coerced into sinning: the punishment excited from Adam’s sin is exactly that men do not by nature will or do anything except sin. The remedy is prescribed in the second book:

“We do not say that by the sin of Adam free will perished out of the nature of men; but that it avails for sinning in men subjected to the devil; while it is not of avail for good and pious living, unless the will itself of man should be made free by God’s grace, and assisted to every good movement of action, of speech, of thought. We say that no one but the Lord God is the maker of those who are born, and that marriage was ordained not by the devil, but by God Himself; yet that all are born under sin on account of the fault of propagation, and that, therefore, all are under the devil until they are born again in Christ. Nor are we maintaining fate under the name of grace, because we say that the grace of God is preceded by no merits of man. If, however, it is agreeable to any to call the will of the Almighty God by the name of fate, while we indeed shun profane novelties of words, we have no use for contending about words.” (Chapter 9)

In other words: “[to be] subjected… under the devil [is to possess a nature which cannot] avail for good…unless the will itself… should be made free by [being] born again in Christ [by] God’s grace… preceded by no merits of man.” Why Augustine should mention “fate” in this context is impenetrable unless it is understood that regeneration is that grace by which we are made free and that it is given to select individuals prior to any merit of man, of which one’s faith is one:

“For who maketh thee to differ” from the vessels of wrath; of course, from the mass of perdition which has sent all by one into damnation? “Who maketh thee to differ?” And as if he had answered, “My faith maketh me to differ, my purpose, my merit,” he says, “For what hast thou which thou hast not received? But if thou hast received it, why dost thou boast as if thou receivedst it not?” – that is, as if that by which thou art made to differ were of thine own. Therefore He maketh thee to differ who bestows that whence thou art made to differ, by removing the penalty that is due, by conferring the grace which is not due.” (Chapter 15)

The following quote appropriately closes this investigation of Augustine belief concerning fallen men’s will much in the same way it began:

“In accordance with the apostle, no one is justified by the law; and therefore, for the sake of making alive those whom the letter has killed, that is, whom the law, enjoining good, makes guilty by transgressions, the Spirit of grace freely brings aid. Also in that we say that the will is free in evil, but for doing good it must be made free by God’s grace, this is opposed to the Pelagians; but in that we say it originated from that which previously was not evil, this is opposed to the Manicheans.” (Book 3, Chapter 25)

Summary

Augustine believed fallen man:

1. “…do absolutely no good thing, whether in thought, or will and affection, or in action [apart from] the grace of God through Jesus Christ our Lord.”

2. must have the Lord “remove [his] hard heart, out of which [he does] not act, and… give [him] an obedient heart, out of which [he] shall act.”

3. must be regenerated in order to come to the “faith… which obtains by prayer what the law commands.”

4. by “the Spirit of righteousness [have transferred] to them that faith which, of their own will, they could not yet have.”

5. ”needs divine grace... to live well and righteously. For free will in the sinner did not perish [to the extent that] what they are pleased to do gives them pleasure.“

6. has no “power… of free will [to believe]; because it will not be free for good if the deliverer have not made it free; but in evil he has a free will.”

7. ”is free in evil things because it takes pleasure in evil, is not free in good things, for the reason that it has not been made free.”

8. “avails for sinning in men subjected to the devil; while it is not of avail for good and pious living, unless the will itself of man should be made free by God’s grace, and assisted to every good movement of action, of speech, of thought… born again in Christ.”

9. “art made to differ [by] He… who bestows that… [regenerative] grace which is not due.”

10. is “free in evil, but for doing good it must be made free by God’s grace, [which] is opposed to the Pelagians; but in that we say [man’s will] originated from that which previously was not evil, this is opposed to the Manicheans.”

Wednesday, September 16, 2009

Augustine on Men's Fallen WIlls, Part 1 of 2

There is no doubt in my mind that Augustine was a monergist, and this series of posts will attempt to show this to be the case. One who is a monergist believes that God's grace is the sufficient and decisive means by which one acts in accordance to the soteric precepts of God. In establishing Augustine's belief in the extend of the depravity of fallen men, a framework will be provided such that one may better understand Augustine's reasons for believing as he does:

Retractations

Retractations is a compilation of Augustine’s reflections upon his earlier works. It was written around two years prior to his death, and by that time he had written many books. The purpose of Retractations was to afford Augustine the opportunity to briefly summarize his earlier works, correct his statements as necessary, and clarify his beliefs to those who misunderstood or misused his statements.

Because Pelagians attempted to undercut Augustine’s monergistic attack by citing his three books On Free Choice, Augustine’s thoughts in this chapter of his Retractations (Bogan, pages 33-39) are worth noting:

“We took up this discussion in order to refute those who deny that the origin of evil lies in the free choice of the will and therefore contend that we should blame evil on God, the Creator of all natures. In keeping with this perverse error, these men, the Manichees, wish to assert the existence of an unchangeable principle of evil coeternal with God. Since this was the debate we had in mind, there was no discussion in these books of the grace of God, by which he so predestines his chosen people that he himself prepares the wills of those who are already using their free choice. Consequently, wherever the subject of grace arose, it was mentioned only in passing and not given the careful treatment that would have been appropriate if it had been the principal topic of discussion. For it is one thing to search for the origin of evil and quite another to ask how we can be restored to our original innocence or press on toward a greater good.

Therefore, these new Pelagian heretics – who claim that the choice of the will is so free that they leave no room for God's grace, which they claim is given in accordance with our merits – should not congratulate themselves as if I had been pleading their cause, simply because I said many things in support of free choice that were necessary to the aim of our discussion.”

Augustine goes on to cite several statements he made in On Free Choice, essentially to the effect that he readily acknowledges that the statements used against him by the Pelagians are, in fact, his own. He denies, however, that what they conclude logically follows:

“In these and similar passages I did not mention the grace of God, which was not then under discussion. Consequently, the Pelagians think, or could think, that I held their view. Far from it. As I emphasized in these passages, it is indeed by the will that we sin or live rightly. But unless the will is liberated by grace from its bondage to sin and is helped to overcome its vices, mortals cannot lead pious and righteous lives. And unless the divine grace by which the will is freed preceded the act of the will, it would not be grace at all. It would be given in accordance with the will's merits, whereas grace is given freely. I have dealt satisfactorily with these questions in other works, refuting these upstart heretics who are the enemies of grace. But even in On Free Choice of the Will, which was not aimed at the Pelagians (who did not yet exist) but at the Manichees, I was not completely silent on the subject of grace, which the Pelagians in their abominable impiety are trying to take away altogether.”

Just as before, he then quotes sections of his own work, this time to illustrate that “long before the Pelagian heresy had arisen, [he] argued just as if [he] were combatting the Pelagians.” One of these quotes reads:

“And again in another place I say, "But to accept falsehoods as truths, thus erring unwillingly; to struggle against the pain of carnal bondage and not be able to refrain from acts of inordinate desire: these do not belong to the nature that human beings were created with; they are the penalty of a condemned prisoner. But when we speak of free will to act rightly, we mean the will with which human beings were created.”

From this, Augustine concludes:

“Then I said that the grace of God frees us from the misery that was justly imposed upon sinners. For human beings cannot pick themselves up voluntarily – that is, by their own free choice – as they fell voluntarily. To the misery imposed by this just condemnation belong ignorance and difficulty, which afflict all human beings from the very outset of their lives. And no one is freed from that evil except by the grace of God. The Pelagians deny that this misery derives from a just condemnation, for they disbelieve in original sin.”

Resultantly, no one can use On Free Choice to support the idea Augustine believed fallen men can “act rightly,” for he explains that whenever he refers to such a will, it is a reference to the will man had prior to the Fall. Because we fell voluntarily, our penalty – the inability to “refrain from acts of inordinate desire” – is just. The Manichean heresy was with regards to man’s nature prior to the Fall; the Pelagian heresy was with regards to man’s nature after the Fall.

Enchiridion

Although Pelagianism is not specifically mention in Enchiridion, given the material presented throughout the book, it is indisputable that it was one of those heresies Augustine meant his correspondent to "…avoid above all else.” As Enchiridion is written before Retractations, it is especially beneficial to show that Augustine indeed was consistent when he wrote in his latter work that “free will to act rightly” is not found in contexts of his books in which the will of fallen man is discussed:

“…can that part of the human race to whom God hath promised deliverance and a place in the eternal Kingdom be restored through the merits of their own works? Of course not! For what good works could a lost soul do except as he had been rescued from his lostness? Could he do this by the determination of his free will? Of course not! For it was in the evil use of his free will that man destroyed himself and his will at the same time. For as a man who kills himself is still alive when he kills himself, but having killed himself is then no longer alive and cannot resuscitate himself after he has destroyed his own life—so also sin which arises from the action of the free will turns out to be victor over the will and the free will is destroyed. "By whom a man is overcome, to this one he then is bound as slave." This is clearly the judgment of the apostle Peter. And since it is true, I ask you what kind of liberty can one have who is bound as a slave except the liberty that loves to sin?

He serves freely who freely does the will of his master. Accordingly he who is slave to sin is free to sin. But thereafter he will not be free to do right unless he is delivered from the bondage of sin and begins to be the servant of righteousness. This, then, is true liberty: the joy that comes in doing what is right. At the same time, it is also devoted service in obedience to righteous precept.

But how would a man, bound and sold, get back his liberty to do good, unless he could regain it from Him whose voice saith, "If the Son shall make you free, then you will be free indeed"? But before this process begins in man, could anyone glory in his good works as if they were acts of his free will, when he is not yet free to act rightly? He could do this only if, puffed up in proud vanity, he were merely boasting. This attitude is what the apostle was reproving when he said, "By grace you have been saved by faith."” (Chapter 30)

As strong as Augustine’s language is, it is important to remember that he does not deny fallen men have free wills. He just realized that freedom, like slavery, is relational: if one is free, he is free “to do” something or free “from” something. Fallen men are very free to commit all kinds of depravity, and they do so because they desire to do so. Fallen man’s freedom ""to act rightly,” however, has been "destroyed" such that fallen man is said to be in bondage to sin rather than free from it. God is not our Master, so we cannot exercise our volition to do that which is in accordance with the precepts of He who ought to be our Master.

On Nature and Grace

Pelagius believed that three faculties must be present in order for God’s law to be fulfilled: capacity, volition, and action. Pelagius posited that God’s grace is necessary insofar as He created our capacity to will His precepts; that is, mankind is created with the ability to choose good or evil, and this is a result of God’s grace. The other two faculties which Pelagius affirmed must be present in order to fulfill the law – volition and action – he denied require any divine assistance. In essence, he taught that these two faculties proceed autonomously from men. As Pelagius also regarded man’s capacity to will what is good as inherent to his nature, he denied that original sin corrupted this capacity. 

Because, then, Pelagius denied that grace is necessary in order to restore our capacity to will what is good – as Pelagius believed that capacity cannot be lost – Augustine concluded Pelagius believed God’s grace to fallen men was no different than His grace to Adam in the garden. As one of Augustine’s earlier Anti-Pelagian works, On Nature and Grace was written to expose (and thereafter refute) in what sense Pelagius regarded God’s grace as necessary prior to fulfillment of the law. One such chapter clearly manifests Augustine’s belief:

“[Pelagius] does not say, “Whether we wish it or do not wish it, we do not sin,” – for we undoubtedly do sin, if we wish; but yet he asserts that, whether we will or not, we have the capacity of not sinning, a capacity which he declares to be inherent in our nature. Of a man, indeed, who has his legs strong and sound, it may be said admissibly enough, “whether he will or not he has the capacity of walking;” but if his legs be broken, however much he may wish, he has not the capacity. The nature of which our author speaks is corrupted. “Why is dust and ashes proud?” It is corrupted. It implores the Physician’s help. “Save me, O Lord,” is its cry; “Heal my soul,” it exclaims. Why does he check such cries so as to hinder future health, by insisting, as it were, on its present capacity?” (Chapter 57)

Synthesizing this with Augustine's other writings, it is evident he believed “There is No Incompatibility Between Necessity and Free Will” (the title of a chapter in his On Nature and Grace). Though unable to will the precepts of God, because the necessity to sin in which fallen man has been placed is a penalty rather than an aspect of the nature with which mankind was created, God is just for condemning fallen men for failure to live according to a standard which cannot be met apart from liberation by the Son. In a later book, Augustine similarly observed – in rhetorical form – that no Christian should have qualms with the idea necessity and free will are compatible, for “...[nothing] shall be more free than free will, when it shall not be able to serve sin…” (Rebuke and Grace, Chapter 32).

Man’s Perfection in Righteousness

Written around a year after On Nature and Grace, Man’s Perfection in Righteousnessfollowed as Augustine’s next major work against Pelagianism. By this time it seems as though the Pelagian heresy had spread such that Augustine’s friends were encountering works of Pelagius’ disciples. One such disciple, C┼ôlestius, apparently wrote a list of breviates, reasoning that acceptance of the corruption of man's nature via original sin would lead to unbiblical conclusions. Augustine replies to each breviate, one of which induces Augustine to reply exactly to what extent the punishment of original sin has spread in fallen men:

“”By what means is it brought about that man is with sin? – by the necessity of nature, or by the freedom of choice? If it is by the necessity of nature, he is blameless; if by the freedom of choice, then the question arises, from whom he has received this freedom of choice. No doubt, from God. Well, but that which God bestows is certainly good. This cannot be gainsaid. On what principle, then, is a thing proved to be good, if it is more prone to evil than to good? For it is more prone to evil than to good if by means of it man can be with sin and cannot be without sin.” The answer is this: It came by the freedom of choice that man was with sin; but a penal corruption closely followed thereon, and out of the liberty produced necessity. Hence the cry of faith to God, “Lead Thou me out of my necessities.” With these necessities upon us, we are either unable to understand what we want, or else (while having the wish) we are not strong enough to accomplish what we have come to understand. Now it is just liberty itself that is promised to believers by the Liberator. “If the Son,” says He, “shall make you free, ye shall be free indeed.” For, vanquished by the sin into which it fell by its volition,nature has lost liberty…” (Breviate 9)

Summary

Augustine believed fallen man:

1. “Is not be able to refrain from acts of inordinate desire…”

2. is not able to do “good works… [until]… rescued from his lostness.”

3. had his “…free will [to do right]… destroyed.”

4. lost all moral liberty except “…the liberty that loves to sin.”

5. “…serves freely… the will of his master.”

6. is not “…free to do right unless he is delivered from the bondage of sin and begins to be the servant of righteousness.”

7. “…is not yet free to act rightly.”

8. has not “…the capacity of not sinning…”

9. sins of “…necessity.”

10. is “either unable to understand what [he] wants, or else… not strong enough to accomplish what [he has] come to understand.”