Freedom and Necessity

Freedom and Necessity: St. Augustine's Teaching on Divine Power and Human Freedom

GERALD BONNER
Copyright Date: 2007
Pages: 158
https://www.jstor.org/stable/j.ctt284zgm
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  • Book Info
    Freedom and Necessity
    Book Description:

    This book seeks to explain this paradox in Augustine's theology by tracing how these different emphases arose in his thought, and speculating as to why he endorsed, in the end, his theology of predestination. T

    eISBN: 978-0-8132-1587-7
    Subjects: Religion

Table of Contents

  1. Front Matter
    (pp. i-vi)
  2. Table of Contents
    (pp. vii-viii)
  3. PREFATORY NOTE
    (pp. ix-x)
  4. ABBREVIATIONS AND SOURCES
    (pp. xi-xiv)
  5. INTRODUCTION
    (pp. 1-16)

    This book grew out of a course of four lectures which I was due to give at the University of Malta in 2001. My intention was once more to examine the predestinarian theology which Augustine expressed and defended in the course of the Pelagian Controversy, and to consider how valid is his repeated claim, which was forced upon him by a succession of texts from Scripture,¹ that fallen man had, nevertheless, under the influence of grace, the opportunity to exercise free choice, and so to be a responsible agent. Against this I sought to suggest that the Pelagians, an amorphous...

  6. CHAPTER 1 THE PROBLEM
    (pp. 17-33)

    Few students of Augustine’s thought will be disposed to deny the harshness of the predestinarian teaching of the last twenty years of his life. From the composition of the De Peccatorum Meritis et Remissione in 411–12 to that of the De Praedestinatione Sanctorum in 429, Augustine’s assertion of the helplessness of human nature to do anything good without the aid of divine grace is continually reaffirmed and intensified, and the books of the unfinished Opus Imperfectum contra Iulianum re-emphasize what had already been said two decades earlier, but with an added bitterness, inspired and sustained by Augustine’s conviction that...

  7. CHAPTER 2 THE EVIDENCE
    (pp. 34-48)

    Augustine of hippo may be regarded as a major writer, not only in a qualitative, but in a quantitative sense. To look upon his collected works with a view to reading them is an awe-inspiring experience; to realize that he not merely read, but actually wrote them, is overwhelming, the more so when we remember how much of his time was devoted to his diocese which, in contemporary terms, was more like a large and busy modern parish. He had, it is true, his household clergy, to whom he delegated all financial business.¹ How much they were available to help...

  8. CHAPTER 3 THE NATURE OF FREEDOM IN THE MIND OF AUGUSTINE
    (pp. 49-65)

    Freedom may be understood as the absence of constraint, the capacity to follow one’s own desires and inclinations without hindrance. In the human animal, a being endowed with reasoning powers, freedom increases with maturity and is, indeed, a sign of maturity. A child, in its own interests, may be allowed freedom only to a limited degree, because it has only limited judgment. As the individual becomes an adult, more and more freedom may be accorded, and not only accorded but deemed desirable. A grown man or woman is expected to exercise free will, and not be continually turning to another...

  9. CHAPTER 4 FREEDOM AND RESPONSIBILITY
    (pp. 66-80)

    A puppet cannot be held responsible for its actions, nor can a man who, by reason of mental incapacity, has no control over his will. To be fully human, one needs to possess a will and be able to command it. In everyday life we expect this of our fellows; indeed, if we could not, the fabric of any association would disintegrate. In secular society, the notion of punishment includes the expectation that the offender, remembering the correction which he has endured, will in the future take care to avoid the course of action which provoked it. In short, we...

  10. CHAPTER 5 AUGUSTINE’S FINAL THEOLOGY OF FREEDOM
    (pp. 81-96)

    At the end of his life, when his relentless insistence on divine predestination had led to the accusation that he had reduced human freedom to a cipher, Augustine continued to maintain freedom of choice by the elect, despite the vital necessity of grace to enable them to exercise that freedom, and provided an argument to explain it. In about 425 a copy of his Letter 194, written in 418/9 at the crisis of the Pelagian dispute to the presbyter Sixtus, a future bishop of Rome,¹ arrived at the monastery of Hadrumetum in Byzacena, the modern Tunisia. In this letter Augustine...

  11. CHAPTER 6 DIVINE PREDESTINATION AND JESUS CHRIST
    (pp. 97-117)

    The more that one considers Augustine’s theories of man’s Fall and Redemption, the more difficult it becomes to understand how the various elements hold together, logically and theologically. Salvation is extended to only a tiny minority of the human race,¹ while the overwhelming majority is rejected. Augustine falls back—indeed is compelled to fall back—upon the hidden and inscrutable justice of God, witnessed by Scripture.² While Augustine on occasion anticipated later tendencies in scriptural criticism,³ there were certain texts—for example, those which taught the necessity of baptism for salvation⁴—which he would not accept in any way other...

  12. CHAPTER 7 CONCLUSION
    (pp. 118-132)

    The doctrines which Augustine asserted against the Pelagians were formulated long before the controversy began. There is no good reason to doubt his assertion of the decisive effect upon him of the intellectual illumination which occurred when he was writing to Simplicianus of Milan in about 397, in which divine grace triumphed over human initiative and freedom of choice. The notion of the massa or lump of sin, such a decisive issue in the controversy, appears as Question 68 of De diversis Quaestionibus octoginta-tribus, published in 395/6, and must therefore be earlier than that date. So far as Augustine was...

  13. SELECT BIBLIOGRAPHY
    (pp. 133-138)
  14. INDEX
    (pp. 139-142)
  15. Back Matter
    (pp. 143-144)