Reductio of the hardened Augustinian position: St. John Cassian

From God, History, and Dialectic:

The Limitations of Augustine’s Dialectic vis-a-vis Christology—St. John Cassian:

“For if He willeth not that one of His little ones should perish, how can we imagine without grievous blasphemy that He does not generally will all men, but only some instead of all to be saved?… The grace of Christ then is at hand every day, which, while it ‘willeth all men to be saved and to come to the knowledge of the truth,’ calleth all without any exception, saying: ‘Come unto Me, all ye that labour and are heavy laden, and I will refresh you.’ But if He calls not all generally but only some, it follows that not all are heavy laden with original or actual sin, and that this saying is not a true one: ‘For all have sinned and come short of the glory of God;’ nor can we believe that ‘death passed on all men.’” (Conferences XIII, C.VII, NPNF II, v.11, p. 425)

+Photios Farrell Commentary:
This is the crux of the christological difficulty of the developed Augustinian position, and in order to understand what St. John is implying, one must unpack his statement. Again, I will cite from previous remarks in my Free Choice in St. Maximus the Confessor:
“Christ, being truly consubstantial (in His humanity) with all men, truly died for all men, and thus His atoning Passion, Death, and Resurrection are in no way limited (but affect all men irresistibly).
In turn, the doctrine of the limited atonement may be reversed to show its hidden and heretical implications: If not all men rise with the second Adam then not all die with the first Adam. There would consequently be some men who, not being affected by the consubstantiality of Christ’s human nature, would not be consubstantial with Him. Therefore, they would not be in Adam either. Not being in Adam, they would have no need of Christ. This is a denial of the inheritance of ancestral sin [mortality], and is therefore Pelagianism.

Furthermore, if Christ’s human nature is efficacious in salvation only for a limited number of elected individuals, then it would appear that Christ’s humanity, insofar as it is efficacious for those individuals, is united with them not naturally but only by the object of their wills (i.e., salvation), since His human nature itself is not united with them. This union in the ‘object of will’ between God and man in Christ is Nestorianism. (One might also notice again the effect of Augustine’s theory of illumination on his Christology and predestinarian doctrine).

It would also appear that, on this view, the human nature of the elected individuals gives nothing to election, and Christ’s human nature certainly does not, as it effects only the elected individuals. Human nature therefore either has no will, which is a kind of ‘anthropological’ apollinarianism, or it is merely ineffectual in salvation (‘soteriological’ Apollinarianism). Christ’s human decision of salvation at Gethsemane is therefore illusory, and this is Doketism.” (Free Choice in St. Maximus the Confessor, pp. 224-225)

Throughout Augustine’s predestinarian doctrine and its christological consequences, St. John is really saying that there are other factors at work than the exposition of Christian doctrine.

God, History, and Dialectic by +Photios Farrell
Note: This text is not to be copied without written consent of Bishop Farrell himself.

2 Responses to Reductio of the hardened Augustinian position: St. John Cassian

  1. glisetals says:

    Sounds crazy. Be good to my nosy bike Oh, good joke) Why did the bald man put a bunny on his head? He wanted a full head of hare.

  2. dts says:

    Wait a second, man…

    (By the way, this is disillusioned theological student from the PP blog)

    1. Is this advocating ultimate universalism? Because that is the implication that it seems such reasoning leads to.

    2. I think that the statement “the human nature of elected individuals does not give anything to election” exactly reflects Paul’s teaching in Romans 9, where he argues that all are from the “same lump of clay.” My point is I don’t see how this aspect of the Augustinian view is problematic. Farrell says this as though it reduces the view to absurdity…but it is not as if he is pointing out some sort of logical conclusion that Augustine was not aware of. This is universally and openly affirmed by Augustinians, and I think it is also taught in Paul.

    Not sure what my other thoughts are…

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