No “Gospel” For Augustine

Protestants of the Classical Reformation variety think of Augustine as their historical anchor. When responding to the objection that such and so doctrine was unknown prior to the Reformation, the first name to fall off their lips is Augustine.  Such is not the case with justification. Augustine didn’t adhere to the doctrine of Sola Fide.

To be clear, the doctrine is quite specific. Sola Fide is the idea that faith as a virtue is worthless in and of itself before God. It cannot please God, but what it can do is function as a conduit for the transfer of moral credit. Faith then is the means or the highway by which moral credit travels from Christ to me and my demerit travels to Christ.  The respective merit and demerit are extrinsically applied and related to their subjects. That means that the merit applied to me is not grounded in my character, actions or nature or my demerit in the person or natures of Christ. This is because my character, actions or nature cannot produce moral credit that is complete and at best only partial. But justification is glossed as an all or nothing deal so that divine justice requires a complete righteousness.  So I cannot participate in my own justification. Hence Christ’s righteousness that he merits during his earthly sojourn is applied to me as a label. I am classed as righteous even though I am not so. And because it is complete, justification and its merit cannot increase or decrease.

This merit it should be noted is earned by Christ. It is not the righteousness Christ has by virtue of being the divine person he is. The relation qua righteousness or rather the material relation between Christ and the sinner is therefore contingent. It may be an eternally planned for righteousness or justice, but it is not an eternal righteousness. In this sense this merited righteousness is a created grace and as such it is appropriate to human nature that was created intrinsically righteous or with natural grace. The righteousness on the schema of Sola Fide then that is applied forensically or taxonomically to me is a created intermediary between me and God. That in sum is the doctrine. And that doctrine is taken by Protestantism to be the Gospel so that if one rejects that idea, one is rejecting the Gospel.

But Augustine doesn’t believe or teach this schema. When Augustine precludes works or our participation in justification he does so in terms of precluding our participation apart from the influence of grace. Further, Augustine understands justification not in terms of being labeled righteous, but in being made righteous. When Augustine does consider justification as purely forensic, he takes it in terms of a false or hypocritical justice.

“Now he could not mean to contradict himself in saying, ‘The doers of the law shall be justified,’ must be so understood, as that we may know that they are not otherwise doers of the law, unless they be justified, so that justification does not subsequently accrue to them as doers of the law, but justification precedes them as doers of the law. For what else does the phrase ‘being justified’ signify than being made righteous,-by Him, of course, who justifies the ungodly man, that he may become a godly one instead? For if we were to express a certain fact by saying, “The men will be liberated,” the phrase would of course be understood as asserting that the liberation would accrue to those who were men already; but if we were to say, The men will be created, we should certainly not be understood as asserting that the creation would happen to those who were already in existence, but that they became men by the creation itself. If in like manner it were said, The doers of the law shall be honoured, we should only interpret the statement correctly if we supposed that the honour was to accrue to those who were already doers of the law: but when the allegation is, “The doers of the law shall be justified,” what else does it mean than that the just shall be justified? for of course the doers of the law are just persons. And thus it amounts to the same thing as if it were said, The doers of the law shall be created,-not those who were so already, but that they may become such; in order that the Jews who were hearers of the law might hereby understand that they wanted the grace of the Justifier, in order to be able to become its doers also. Or else the term “They shall be justified” is used in the sense of, They shall be deemed, or reckoned as just, as it is predicated of a certain man in the Gospel, “But he, willing to justify himself,”-meaning that he wished to be thought and accounted just. In like manner, we attach one meaning to the statement, “God sanctifies His saints,” and another to the words, “Sanctified be Thy name;” for in the former case we suppose the words to mean that He makes those to be saints who were not saints before, and in the latter, that the prayer would have that which is always holy in itself be also regarded as holy by men,-in a word, be feared with a hallowed awe. The Spirit and the Letter, 45.

          In another passage Augustine argues that we actually participate in our justification and it increases relative in part to our efforts under the influence of grace.

“But I had suggested considering which of these four things we have already gained, which we are still waiting to acquire. Obviously, we have already been predestined, even before we existed. We were called, when we became Christians. So we have already got that. What about being justified? What does it mean, being justified? Have we got the nerve to say we already have this third thing? And will there be any of us bold enough to say, ‘I am just’? I assume, after all that to say that, John confronts you: If we say that we have no sin, we deceive ourselves, and the truth is not in us ( Jn 1:8).

So what then? Have we no justice at all? Or do we have some, but not the whole of it? So this is what we have got to find out. So if there’s something we have, and something we haven’t got, we must let what we have grow, and what we haven’t got will be completed. I mean, here we are with people who have been baptized, all their sins have been forgiven, they have been justified from their sins. We can’t deny it.

 There remains, however, the struggle with the flesh, there remains the struggle with the devil. When you are struggling, you sometimes hit, sometimes you get hit; sometimes you win, sometimes, you’re done for; it remains to be seen how you will leave the stadium. Because if we say that we have no sin, we deceive ourselves, and the truth is not in us.

Again, if we say we have no justice at all, we are telling a lie about God’s gifts. You see, if we have no justice at all, we haven’t got faith either and if we haven’t got faith, we aren’t Christians. But if we do have faith, we already have at least some justice. Do you want to know how much that some of it is? The just live by faith (Hab 2:4; Rom 1:17; Heb 10:38); The just I repeat, live by faith, because they believe what they cannot see.” Sermon 158, sec. 4.

Sola Fide as a historical doctrine then finds no home in Augustine since his stated views above preclude it. This means that barring any other historical anchor, that while Augustine may be a historical witness for some of the Reformers’ views on predestination, Sola Gratia, etc. they aren’t for Sola Fide and Sola Fide is the Gospel. Sola Fide then must rest as far as historical witnesses are concerned on other grounds than Augustine’s teaching on Sola Gratia and predestination. Augustine’s Sola Gratia and predestination are easily found among plenty of pre-Reformation Latin writers such as Anselm, Albert the Great and Aquinas. Aquinas and Scotus have just as robust and hard view of predestination as one could want.  And those thinkers are every bit as sophisticated and capable exegetes as the Reformers were, probably more so. One does oneself a disservice by not taking them seriously and ignoring them. As for Sola Gratia, this is clearly explicated in not only Augustine, but Aquinas as well. Part of the problem with the Reformers was the majority of the first generation of them were ignorant in the main of Aquinas’ teaching on grace. When they got exposure to Aquinas, it was through citations in manuals and given an Okhamistic or Scotistic gloss. There are exceptions in part such as Bucer who was more influenced by Thomism, but in the main, a good number, though not all perhaps, of  the Reformers worries about grace working prior to or after an act performed by natural power could have been assuaged by Aquinas’ theology of grace.

 The upshot is, if your motivation for being protestant is grounded on Sola Gratia and Augustinian predestinarianism, this will just as easily serve as a basis for being Catholic since at least historically, and I’d argue conceptually, one can adhere to Sola Gratia and Augustinian predestinarianism without adhering to Sola Fide. Sola Gratia and Sola Fide can be pried apart. Something more is required to justify Protestant separation.

It could be argued that Sola Fide is or could be implied by Augustine’s views on grace and predestination. That is possible but I don’t think this is very tenable. First, Augustine didn’t take them to be so. It is not impossible for the source of ideas to be ignorant as to the implications of their thought, but we would need some reason for thinking this was the case with Augustine’s other than the fact that he didn’t see waht the Reformers claimed to see. The statements cited above, along with others represent his mature teaching.  Augustine’s followers for numerous centuries didn’t take Sola Fide to be an implication of his teaching either. While it is likewise not impossible for them to miss the implications of Augustine’s teaching, it renders the claim more implausible. 

What is more is that we would need a demonstration that the former implies the latter. What is often presented is an argument going something like the following. Augustine’s teaching on Sola Gratia is incompatible with the view that we merit justification of our own internally unaided natural ability (Pelagianism). The preclusion of Pelagianism implies Sola Fide. It is true that Augustine’s teaching on Sola Gratia precludes meriting justification by our own internally unaided natural ability, but it does so without seemingly needing Sola Fide. If the condign operation of internally aiding grace is necessary for the beginnings of faith and serves as the foundation of works that please God, why exactly do we need to view justice as taxonomically applied to me via the instrument of an intrinsically worthless virtue such as faith? The goal is secured already. All works that do please God after that point are done under the influence and internal aid of grace anyway. Augustine and plenty of later Augustinians preclude Pelagianism without Sola Fide. The same will be true with respect to semi-pelagianism or even neo-semi-pelagianism. The Synod of Orange did just fine without Sola Fide.

If the argument is that the Augustine’s doctrine of grace is incompatible with any participation by us in justification and the only way to do that is via Sola Fide, then the matter is different. But this runs up against a number of obstacles. If so, then Augustine ceases to be a historical witness for Sola Fide since he affirms that works done under grace contribute to our justification and that justification is being made righteous rather than being classed as righteous and that this classification is uncoupled and not based on our inward state.  Second, it convicts Augustine of a serious inconsistency so that the maintenance of Sola Fide is built on the back of denying Augustine as a historical witness for Sola Fide. To the overall argument it isn’t clear to me why we would need to preclude all human activity and participation in justification. It certainly didn’t preclude Christ’s humanity from participating in it so it can’t be a problem relative to human nature per se.

But perhaps the idea is that fallen human nature can’t participate in justification. Putting aside the fact that this too is not only not Augustine’s teaching, but contrary to it, the idea seems to be that divine justice is complete and any justice that included our participation would not be so. I don’t think that helps. Remember that the justice that is imputed to us on Sola Fide is not divine justice, but a created justice and certainly divinity doesn’t have the property of being created. If the idea is that nothing created can justify or contribute to or participate in justification, this will not only preclude a merited righteousness but it will undercut the entire Reformation gloss on the incarnate meriting work of Christ in terms of passive and active obedience. Secondly, Augustine indicates that divine aid or grace perfects even fallen works grounded in grace so that I am wondering why grace can’t perfect and complete actions done in part by the power of a corrupted nature? Can’t grace perfect human nature or is human nature impenetrable to divine activity?

But the move to argue for implication misses the point. The question is who is a historical witness to the idea and not what logically may be derivable from someone’s earlier teaching. If the idea is not expressly manifested or there is not sufficient evidence to warrant the claim that it is in fact present in Augustine but derived by later minds, this concedes the point. Further, it is an implicit appeal to the notion of doctrinal development. That claim would be in sum that nascent within Augustine’s teaching is Sola Fide and that it was drawn out and made explicit through a process which involved a mix of historical and conceptual forces, either in terms of logical implication or some mysterious appeal to something like the Platonic élan vital guiding the explication and amplification of doctrine.

While I suppose this is possible, I don’t find it helpful. First it is a concession that the doctrine is not expressly present in Augustine. In order to argue for development, one has to attenuate and weaken the manifestation of the idea in its origin or source to support the later amplification of it. Second, it depends on an Idealistic model, where past actions contribute one way or another to some future reality. Idealistic systems have great explanatory power, but they also have serious defects. Since they can explain all antecedent states in light of some future or present goal, they are capable of rendering any supposed counter evidence to them compatible.  They are totalizing. The problem here is not that such models are not falsifiable in the sense that Popper had in mind. I reject falsificationism. It was rightly short lived.  The problem is that developmental models can be made consistent with any fact, even if the model is false (since consistency alone is insufficient to imply truth) This pushes appeals to development back on to the question of what is the basis by which we judge a model to be true? Appeals to Scipture I don’t think will help, since scriptural passages are not brute or non-theory laden facts. Second, the point was to show a historical witness to an idea and not to answer the question of what the content of Scripture is at this juncture. Relative to the question on the table, what Scripture may indicate is a separate question. To move from the question on the table to what Scripture may indicate is to concede the point that development is an inadequate basis to claim Augustine as a historical witness for Sola Fide. Furthermore, given the nature of idealistic systems of development it is possible that Augustine’s teaching may in fact be developed in other legitimate or consistent ways so that we now need not only a basis on which to judge between them, but we need to know who is to do the judging in theology between rivial and incommensurable developed models of theology? The difference here is how many referees one is going to empower, one man in Rome or the Legion? The irony being that both sides think that doctrine develops in order to justify the distinctives of their theology. As with all things dialectically related, the things most unlike are also the things that are the most alike.

And an appeal to development will also compromise the perspicuity of Augustine’s writing or at least his mind. This is necessary in order to construct the development over history. If Augustine and his writings were clear on the matter, the appeal to development would be unnecessary. And so an appeal to development I think betrays an admission that Sola Fide just isn’t there, at least not expressly, in the first place.

Sometimes the argument is made that Augustine didn’t know Greek but only Latin. And this ignorance led him to misunderstand the Pauline corpus. Supposing this is true, it will also imply that Augustine didn’t understand the teaching of Christ on the matter of justification in the Gospels too as well as the rest of the Bible. One should keep in mind that that is a heavier argumentative burden to bear-Augustine didn’t understand the gospel throughout the Bible. It is true that early on Augustine lacked proficiency in Greek, but he seemed to have gained a good amount of proficiency later in life. It seems plausible to me that he would have spotted the doctrine at that stage. Secondly, Latin translations aren’t completely distorting with respect to the Greek text so that it is likely that Augustine would have at least seen the doctrine in other passages. He wasn’t stupid. After all, English readers seem to do just fine, or no? But even if he lacked Greek proficiency all through his life, this doesn’t help the claim that Augustine taught Sola Fide, but in fact counts against it. If his Latin translations were sufficiently distorting, then while this will explain his taking justification to be a making righteous, just like Trent, it shows that he didn’t teach Sola Fide, but something else instead. Besides, in Greek speakers such as Chrysostom or Cyril we don’t find the doctrine either so the objection regarding linguistic competence is implausible.

Another subsidiary argument is that even if it isn’t found in Augustine, it is found in other Fathers. Space does not permit a full blown treatment obviously, but suffice it to say that I don’t judge that to be the case. Surely there are cases where the term “faith alone” can be found, but one would fall into the word-concept fallacy by simply posting texts that contained the term. That would show that the Arians were Trinitarians since they also used the words triados or trinitas. It has to be shown that the idea expressed is the idea as I sketched above. (This is why books like this and this are irrelevant now.) The same goes for texts that speak of an exchange between the righteous and unrighteous, covering for sins and such. Plenty of expressly non-advocates of Sola Fide use such terms and phrases freely in Late Antiquity and the Medieval period. Further, I take studies by people like McGrath to show that the doctrine isn’t in fact found in those sources to be sufficient to make the point. (And this is why McGrath seems to me to feel the need to appeal to some kind of development through history.)

 Another argument is that Augustine was saved by Sola Fide even if he didn’t teach it. Assuming the doctrine is true for the sake of argument, even if that’s true, it is irrelevant since the question is whether Augustine’s teaching is a witness in history to the doctrine. And since the plausibility of the truth of the claim in part depends on whether it was historically taught prior to the Reformation, this argument is at best question begging since if it wasn’t taught by Augustine, this renders it less plausible that the Bible does in fact teach it. If competent readers repeatedly miss something nearly obvious for over a thousand years, then it probably isn’t obvious or it isn’t present in the text.

 Other times Warfield’s statement is tossed up that Augustine’s soteriology won out at the Reformation against his ecclesiology so that his formal principle lost to his material principle. Not only does this convict Augustine of a serious inconsistency, but it seems factually mistaken. It is Augustine’s material principle qua justification that is in fact opposed to the Reformation material principle qua justification. Since the Reformation rejects Augustine’s view of justification it can’t represent a triumph of his soteriology, unless of course we mean by that Sola Gratia. But if that is what is meant then Trent is also a representative of Augustine’s soteriology since it too advocates Augustine’s teaching on that point.

 None of the above is an argument to the effect that Protestants should become Catholic. What I think it does show is that if the Gospel is Sola Fide, then Augustine is not a historical witness to it. Furthermore, Augustine taught something else other than Sola Fide, in which case by Protestant lights he probably taught a false gospel, deserving no less an anathema from the Reformers than Trent or the Scholastics. I think Protestants should own this implication. If Aquinas and other Scholastics are heretics on justification, then why not Anselm and Augustine for teaching the same thing? It seems rather specious to claim they weren’t confronted with the doctrine clearly set forth. That’s a howler since it implies that Scripture doesn’t set forth the doctrine clearly and certainly if they had the Scriptures, why would they need a doctrine raised from the dead centuries later? Isn’t saint Paul sufficient? Or maybe it was due to their not believing in Sola Scriptura? Oops. That doesn’t seem like a viable Protestant out. If Sola Fide is the sum of the Gospel, then Augustine taught a false Gospel which makes him at least materially a false teacher. If Sola Fide is true, there is no gospel for Augustine. Is that what you wish to say?

82 Responses to No “Gospel” For Augustine

  1. There is one living and true God. This one God consists of three eternal Persons — the Father, Son, and Holy Spirit, each of whom is fully God, and each of whom is not to be confused or confounded with the other two Persons.

    Since we’re on the topic of Augustine: Pr. Wilson posted this as a summary of Trinitarian theology. Is this, as I suspect, something that pretty much every Orthodox would object to, or is it just Zizioulas and his ilk that would find it objectionable.

  2. photios says:

    Apparently somebody didn’t tell rey that pissing me off on my own blog is akin to pissing off the police when you get pulled over.

  3. rey says:

    “Where Rey fails is in his understanding between holding to heretical ideas and being a personal heretic.”

    If you think that trying to force the entire church to accept fate and erroneously call it grace is merely holding some slight heretical notion and not being a personal heretic, you have a major problem in your thinking. Nobody fits the definition of heretic more than Augustine. Pelagius’ certainly doesn’t! He wasn’t even trying to force everyone to agree with him like Augustine! He was just stating his opinion. Augustine is certainly a heretic, as in attitude he is a dictator and what he dictates is impious, blasphemous, Gnostic doctrine.

  4. rey says:

    “But the Eastern Church would– above all– have had problems with his view of death and whether or not Adam was destined to die in the garden.” (photios)

    The style of De Natura is childish, like a five year old kid wrote it. And Pelagius’ explanation of the fall in his commentary on Romans 5 is totally not in line with the view that Adam would have died anyway. My conclusion, therefore, is that De Natura is just a forgery put in Pelagius’ mouth by Augustinian thugs to make him look like an imbecile. It is sad that so many people are so naive that they buy into it! Even so-called “scholars” who otherwise have at least some level of common sense.

  5. photios says:

    Right. The attack on the filioque is because in the Mystagogy (right or wrong) St. Photios reduces the doctrine to every single heresy up to that point in time as a kind of SUMMATION of heresy.

    There is some truth to what Rey says about Pelagius and Augustine. I mean Pelagius was after all vindicated in the East initially. But the Eastern Church would– above all– have had problems with his view of death and whether or not Adam was destined to die in the garden. I think that’s why they condemned him at Ephesus. This is why the Eastern Church is “semi-Pelagian” from St. John Cassian, St. Victor of Lerins, etc. For those two guys, you do not need a preventing grace that comes before faith that the Incarnation didn’t already take care of for you. It’s back to that relationship of how soteriology flows from christology, etc.

    Where Rey fails is in his understanding between holding to heretical ideas and being a personal heretic.

    Photios

  6. I figured as much. It just made me laugh. Though I have heard Orthodox object to Augustine’s attack on Pelagius, it really is only a Protestant who would make that attack. The Orthodox objection to the West isn’t to Calvin, but to the whole Western Church, particularly the filioque, and it’s really Calvin that Ray is objecting to.

  7. photios says:

    Matthew,
    rey is an Anabaptist.

  8. Jay Dyer says:

    rey,

    Ephesus does condemn Pelagius, as well as the Indiculus.

  9. Well…

    It’s kinda refreshing seeing Augustine called an arch-heretic on an Orthodox blog for something other than the filioque.

  10. rey says:

    Augustine is THE arch heretic. All these moron Satan worshipers called Calvinists are running around saying Pelagius is Satan, but if they ever read Pelagius’ commentary on Romans they would know that Augustine lied on Pelagius and that Pelagius never taught what Augustine claimed, and they would condemn Augustine for teaching sadistic fate and calling it grace and would praise Pelagius for teaching real grace. But that’s a dream world. We all know they will march right into hell following their demented Manichean teacher from Hippo.

  11. Jay Dyer says:

    Jason,

    If he held your view of the “bondage” he could not have held to Mary being preserved from all sin. But in On Nature and Grace, he does.

  12. Jason,

    The one Jay linked to was at the very end of his life, and in the Retractations, Augustine doesn’t seek to clarify anything in it, but only says that it exists. The quote at the top of the link is the whole mention of that book. Here’s the Latin:

    LXVI (XCIII) – AD VALENTINUM ET CUM ILLO MONACHOS,
    DE GRATIA ET LIBERO ARBITRIO, LIBER UNUS

    66. Propter eos qui, cum defenditur Dei gratia 185, putantes negari liberum arbitrium, sic ipsi defendunt liberum arbitrium, ut negent Dei gratiam 186, asserentes eam secundum merita nostra dari, scripsi librum cuius est titulus: De gratia et libero arbitrio. Ad eos autem scripsi monachos Adrumetinos, in quorum monasterio de hac re coeperat esse contentio, ita ut me consulere eorum aliqui cogerentur.

    Hic liber sic incipit: Propter eos qui hominis liberum arbitrium.

  13. Jason Loh says:

    Jay,

    Yes, Augustine upheld free-will in the earlier controversy against Pelagius, but hardened his position subsequently in his conflict with Julian of Eclanum. The later Augustine was a double-predestinarian and a bondage of the will theologian.

  14. Jason Loh says:

    Daniel,

    The Reformed have no qualms affirming the propositions of Jansenius (as attributed to him). Infusion of grace is not alien to Reformed thinknig, where justification and sanctification are to separate divine acts. It is only problematic in Lutheran theology aua Luther’s theology.

    Sola fide is therefore not the point so much as whether justification is ‘forensic’ only or ‘forensic’ and ‘factitive.’ This is the crucial point of divergence between Augustine and the Reformers. Augustine’s predestination is not ‘inter-locked’ into his justification and vice-versa. Predestination is the ’cause’ of justification as the ‘effect.’ It is a metaphysical distinction.

    For the Reformers, however, justification is simply the temporal execution of an eternal decree of predestination. The distinction is purely conceptual. Justification as God’s electing in time and space as the counterpart of predestination as God’s election from eternity. This comes out clearly in the christocentric approach to predestination as formulated by Calvin, as expressed in his exegesis of Ephesians 1.

  15. Jay Dyer says:

    And, for reference, the Bull of condemnation of Quesnelism/Jansenism, “Unigenitus”:

    http://www.papalencyclicals.net/Clem11/c11unige.htm

  16. Jay Dyer says:

    Jason,

    You don’t have to go very far in St. Augustine to see that he did not deny free will–you claimed Augustinianism is teh bondage of the will. Yet, in his later-in-life anti-Pelagian works he affirms the freedom of the will:

    http://newadvent.org/fathers/1510.htm

    -Jay

  17. photios says:

    Jason,
    I don’t think you’re quite correct. The ultimate counter-example is Cornelius Jansen and his Augustinus. To me his doctrine is the only one that is just repeating Augustine in the most consistent manner.

    Though your anthropology would be just about the same, how would you go about arguing your case against the Jansenist?

    The Jansenist agrees with Rome that righteousness is the infusion of grace in the soul. The Jansenist agrees with the Reformed that there is not a seperation between nature and grace.

    If you want to make the argument that sola fide is a consequence of this anthropology, I’ll be happy to argue for the Jansenist position for the sake of argument to show that your position does not follow.

    Now I do believe there is a distinction between justification and sanctification based on the text, but I do not believe that that reading is coming from a more consistent Augustinism, otherwise the Orthodox who are not Augustinians would not be making that distinction too.

    Photios

  18. Jason Loh says:

    Perry and Daniel,

    Augustinianism is not just predestination, but specifically the bondage of the will (servo arbitrio). The bondage of the will is the ‘discrimen’ of theological reflection and proclamation. This is why the Reformers claimed *formal* continuity with Augustine. The basic framework is there alright, but the details have been fine-tuned or altered. So e.g. Luther followed Augustine is *not* distinguishing between justification and sanctification. But Luther went ahead to ‘conflate’ justification-sanctification as an event, not process, unlike Augustine. So, in contrast to Augustine who taught *both* imputation and infusion of grace, Luther maintained on the former. The consequence being that Luther adjusted Augustine’s soteriology to fit into the latter’s anthropology. Grace is no longer conceived of as a ‘substance,’ grounded in ‘What’ God *is*, but in ‘What’ God *does*. Imputation therefore is not an ‘imperfection’ needing completion, but the reality itself.

  19. Jay Dyer says:

    Even the reformed view admits faith is a gift of God’s grace. How could God’s own gift be worthless before Him if He gave it?

  20. photios says:

    “To be clear, the doctrine is quite specific. Sola Fide is the idea that faith as a virtue is worthless in and of itself before God. It cannot please God, but what it can do is function as a conduit for the transfer of moral credit.”

    How does this idea square biblically that Abraham believed God and his faith was pleasing to God. Reading Paul, the text does not come across to me as saying that faith is an empty virtue.

  21. Matt says:

    This article speaks to the issue of Augustine and sola fide, to how the Reformers dealt with Augustine, to how the Reformers viewed the Gospel and its relation to “sola fide”.

    http://findarticles.com/p/articles/mi_qa3817/is_200403/ai_n9401133/

  22. Jay Dyer says:

    “This merit it should be noted is earned by Christ. It is not the righteousness Christ has by virtue of being the divine person he is. The relation qua righteousness or rather the material relation between Christ and the sinner is therefore contingent. It may be an eternally planned for righteousness or justice, but it is not an eternal righteousness. In this sense this merited righteousness is a created grace and as such it is appropriate to human nature that was created intrinsically righteous or with natural grace. The righteousness on the schema of Sola Fide then that is applied forensically or taxonomically to me is a created intermediary between me and God. That in sum is the doctrine. And that doctrine is taken by Protestantism to be the Gospel so that if one rejects that idea, one is rejecting the Gospel.”

    Jay: This is utterly devastating. I hadn’t even thought about the fact that the merits of Christ’s humanity are obviously a “created grace.” Totally Nestorian.

  23. Jay Dyer says:

    Does that wrath cut off his humanity from the divinity? If so, it’s a kind of Nestorianism. Is it some “man” being cut off?

  24. But it’s still wrath which is, because of His humanity, directed from the Father to the Son. The wrath is directed against Him as Son (and hence is effective), but because He is a man.

  25. Kevin Davis says:

    Perry,

    The wrath is personally appropriated by the Son because he is man, not because he is Son. That’s the distinction I was making. I’m just trying to emphasize that the wrath (from the Father) and sacrifice (by the Son) is due to the guilt of man, appropriated by the Son in the Incarnation.

  26. RiverC says:

    Jim,

    A side note: How does ‘creation’ mean instant? It in itself implies no method or duration; but only the action of God. So whether it be conception (as close to instant as I can think) or the forming of the planet Earth out of the dust of Sol, both indicate creation by God, especially the latter being that there was no human will to do such a thing present at the time. (Who did it, then, angels? But that would still be God if they were obedient angels.)

    So if we are made righteous by God, that statement itself is not enough to indicate that it is instantly complete. It could be, but that is an interpretation of ‘create’ or ‘made’ that is not explicit.

    I can only imagine how this understanding effects the a priori assumptions about what it means that ‘God created the Earth’.

  27. Kevin,

    If you view the wrath is personally appropriated by the Son because he is man, how is that compatible with your previous statement,

    “As such, the Son receives a wrath not directed against himself as the Son, but directed against fallen man whom he identifies with and unites with (as “true man”).”

    Is Jesus a fallen man? How can it be directed to his humanity and NOT to the person of that humanity, namely the eternal and divine Son? Is the divine Son not incarnate? Some clarification would be helpful to me here.

    Wrath and holiness are true powers of God, but so is love.

  28. Kevin Davis says:

    It’s interesting to get your perspective. I think you are as fundamentally off as you think I am! Oh well.

    I don’t see any problem with the Son being “accounted” as a sinner and thus treated as a sinner, precisely because he took on human flesh…became fully man. The wrath is personally appropriated by the Son because he is man, and the whole reason he became man was because there is this wrath against man. Wrath and Holiness are essential categories for understanding God and his Economy.

    Indeed we do simply disagree, with mutual understanding.

  29. Kevin,

    Orthodox theology doesn’t need an extrinsic notion of pact to motivate the Son’s mission, as I noted in my earlier post on Cur Deus Homo? Second, following Athanasius, I take it to be rather blasphemous that the wrath of the Father is poured out on the Son. Its not only an innovation, but wrong, creating all kinds of problems in the Trinity.

    2 Cor 5:21 is read by us differently, Christ take on our liability to sin, our corrupted nature, even though he as a divine person performed no sinful acts. What you take to be extrinsic I take to be intrinsic.

    If we have wrath directed not to the person of the Son, this seems problematic and contradictory to me. The wrath is rather impersal relative to its object, which is not properly speaking the person it is applied to, but rather to human nature which must therefore be the bearer of the guilt derserving of the wrath. But natures don’t sin and so can’t be guilty.

    On the other hand, if the wrath isn’t directed to the divine person of the Son, how can his suffering be meritorious and praiseworthy since qua person he isn’t its object? How can this inappropriate object of the wrath satisfy justice when for justice blame is appropriately placed and it is not so here?

    I think I have a decent grasp of the Reformed view. I was Reformed, I studied it and continue to read from that and other traditions. I may make mistakes or misunderstand it in places but in the main I think I get the idea. My problem then is not that I don’t understand or know what the view is, its that I think its wrong.

    As such, the Son receives a wrath not directed against himself as the Son, but directed against fallen man whom he identifies with and unites with (as “true man”).

  30. Jim says:

    Thanks for the thoughtful response. It’s what I was looking for. I’ve read it quickly and will read it over a few times.

  31. Jim,

    Let me go through the citation line by line and give what I think he is saying. Then perhaps you can get a better idea of what I think he says.

    “Now he could not mean to contradict himself in saying, ‘The doers of the law shall be justified,’ must be so understood, as that we may know that they are not otherwise doers of the law, unless they be justified, so that justification does not subsequently accrue to them as doers of the law, but justification precedes them as doers of the law.”

    The contradiction he thinks that will take place is based on a reading of the “doers of the law shall be justified” in terms of doers of the law apart from grace. So justice does not accrue to them prior to grace because they have to be made just first. Rather justice is initially given to them in initial or condign grace. That though does not imply that justice cannot later accrue to them as doers of the law with grace. So the order is condign then congruous. I think the problem is that you are interpreting him to say that if justice is given at the beginning, then no justice can accrue to them afterwards. Perhaps you can find that in the text or some other text of Augustine, but I don’t see it.

    “For what else does the phrase ‘being justified’ signify than being made righteous,-by Him, of course, who justifies the ungodly man, that he may become a godly one instead?”

    Here Augustine is sufficiently clear that justification is being made just and not classed as such apart from and underived from an inward state caused by grace.

    “For if we were to express a certain fact by saying, “The men will be liberated,” the phrase would of course be understood as asserting that the liberation would accrue to those who were men already; but if we were to say, The men will be created, we should certainly not be understood as asserting that the creation would happen to those who were already in existence, but that they became men by the creation itself. If in like manner it were said, The doers of the law shall be honoured, we should only interpret the statement correctly if we supposed that the honour was to accrue to those who were already doers of the law: but when the allegation is, “The doers of the law shall be justified,” what else does it mean than that the just shall be justified? for of course the doers of the law are just persons.”

    Here the point seems to me to be that the doers of the law shall be justified since they have already been made just.

    “And thus it amounts to the same thing as if it were said, The doers of the law shall be created,-not those who were so already, but that they may become such; in order that the Jews who were hearers of the law might hereby understand that they wanted the grace of the Justifier, in order to be able to become its doers also.”

    Here Augustine takes the statement to mean that those called doers of the law are so called when and in respect to their creation or making, their being made just persons first. The Jews lacked grace and hence could not be considered doers of the law in the full sense. One only becomes initially and subsequently doers of the law by grace. That reading is incompatible with sola fide.

    “Or else the term “They shall be justified” is used in the sense of, They shall be deemed, or reckoned as just, as it is predicated of a certain man in the Gospel, “But he, willing to justify himself,”-meaning that he wished to be thought and accounted just. In like manner, we attach one meaning to the statement, “God sanctifies His saints,” and another to the words, “Sanctified be Thy name;” for in the former case we suppose the words to mean that He makes those to be saints who were not saints before, and in the latter, that the prayer would have that which is always holy in itself be also regarded as holy by men,-in a word, be feared with a hallowed awe.”

    The only other way to take it is in a forensic way, where the label does not in fact match the state of the soul. And this Augustine thinks is in reference to cases of hypocrisy. Therefore, cases where the label is not grounded in a state of justice in the soul is a false justice, something that appears to be just, but inwardly is not. It is a deception and essentially what emerged as a complaint at the reformation of a legal fiction.

    Now again, it seems clear to me that I have not misrepresented Augustine, that this passage is in context and it contradicts sola fide. And what is more it is in line with representative scholars on both sides of the theological fence.

  32. Kevin Davis says:

    Perry,

    I think the pactum salutis of the immanent Trinity is a helpful way to think about God’s wrath. The Son bears God’s wrath against sinful humanity (“He who knew no sin became sin for us” – Paul) in a context of love and mercy for sinful humanity. It is a “joint mission” of the Trinitarian persons to atone for sins and reconcile humanity. As such, the Son receives a wrath not directed against himself as the Son, but directed against fallen man whom he identifies with and unites with (as “true man”).

  33. Matt says:

    Jay,

    There is always the Melkites. You can maintain your positions on byzantine theology without breaking communion. No pressure – just saying.

  34. Jim says:

    On the Gospel, I suppose “that God who is in no wise dependent on creation came into creation and renewed it” is closer than that vast majority of Protestants (that I know anyway) would say is the gospel, that Jesus died for our sins and was raised on the third day according to the scriptures?

    Of course division is sin and you know as well as I do that the splintering of Protestantism is a result of issues other than the gospel. BTW, how are the Copts these days?

  35. Jim says:

    As I’ve said several times already, it is all together possible (and perhaps likely) that Augustine believes as you say. But your quotes don’t show it – AND you’re hung up on the word ‘become’ and you’ve ignored the context of the quote. They BECOME doers of the law by fiat – that is they are CREATED as such by God’s grace – he explicitly says this justice DOES NOT ACCRUE.

    By example he asks which of the two following phrases is the statement “The doers of the law shall be justified” to be likened to:

    1) “The men will be liberated,”
    2) The men will be created”

    for by (1) we certainly mean that pre-existing men will have liberty ACCRUED to them while (2) certainly DOESN’T mean that existence will be ACCRUED.

    Which does he say the statement “The doers of the law shall be justified” is similar to?

    If in like manner it were said, The doers of the law shall be honoured, we should only interpret the statement correctly if we supposed that the honour was to accrue to those who were already doers of the law: but when the allegation is, “The doers of the law shall be justified,” what else does it mean than that the just shall be justified? for of course the doers of the law are just persons. And thus it amounts to the same thing as if it were said, The doers of the law shall be created,

    then he goes RIGHT INTO the quote you bolded and still insist shows that JUSTICE ACCRUES?

  36. Kevin,

    I don’t doubt that Christ took on flesh for a reason, we disagree what the reason at least in part was. I do believe though that mercy triumphs over justice and that this is best manifested in the working of Christ into the depths and trenches of human nature such that only the creator could find out and descend to undo and heal our nature which is his eternal image. This the law could never do.

    I do not deny the OT or the types of Christ in it. I believe I place it on a more firm foundation and understanding. Scapegoats are not imputed demerits but take on corruption, going alone to that place where demons once driven out seek to destroy men, where there is want of water, provision of practically every kind and where the worst sort of end awaits a man, a death by himself alone.

    I do not view the Father as pouring out wrath on the Son. I view plenty of Scripture indicating the Father as pleased with the Son, pleased with his work and pleased with his sacrifice. The Father justifies him in fact contrary to the judgment of all courts and that such justification is no forensic proclmation, but the sound and trembling of death’s power cracked open by the ascent of Christ from the depths to the land of the living to roll awa the stone of feeble men. But the only wrath i see poured out on Christ is that of evil men and the parading powers of evil behind them. None of this I think denies anything Hebrew, unless Hebrews be advocates of 15th century theories of law and covenant.

  37. Don,

    There is no shortage of representative sources including but not limited those you cite who state as much regarding sola fide being the gospel. I shouldn’t think that I should have to go through all of those sources again to mine citations for what is well known.

    And if Protestants do not provoke and maintain schism and even push it so far as to take pride in it not for the gospel, than their sin comes as close as I think one could say to the pride of Satan. I can respect them for thinking they are maintaining the gospel even when I think them to be so utterly wrong, confused and innovators of errors that deny what they seek to protect. But to make schism for something else lesser than the economy of Christ’s and his salvation robs me of all understanding and rationality.

  38. Jim,

    I think you aren’t clear on Augustine’s views, which is why you think that what you have pointed out is incompatible with what I have argued.

    I do not deny that Augustine thinks that we are justified or made just apart from works and not without grace. And that is in no way incompatible with what I have claimed.

    Just because Augustine thinks that initial grace justifies apart form our efforts it in no way follows that he cannot think that we cooperate with subsequent grace and increase that justice. In fact, Augustine is sufficiently clear that that is his opinion. So I have ignored nothing.

    When Augustine speaks of works preceding justification that do not contribute to them, he excludes works done apart form grace. So I bolded nothing to reverse Augustine’s meaning, but only to draw attention to the fact that this justice is increased by our cooperation, which is the salient point.

    Furthermore, the fact that you concede that Augustine takes justifiation to be a making righteous is sufficient by itself to show that he is no advocate for sola fide.

    What I have represented is not a controversial point between contemporary Protestant and Catholic scholars, and that for quite some time now which is firmly established by historians of theology on both sides. If I had misread Augustine here, then so have both Protestants and Catholic scholars to near unanimity. I find that improbable based on my own reading as well as the arguments presented by scholars on both sides of the dispute.

  39. Don Bradley says:

    The original premise still hasn’t been demonstarted; that Protestants view Sola Fide as THE gospel. I have heard contemporary Reformed dudes like Michael Horton say that Sola Fide is the gospel, but he hardly represents the Reformation “Fathers” for all Protestantdom. Is there anything in Luther, Calvin, Beza, Zwingli, Chemnitz, Knox that says Sola Fide is the gospel? I would LOVE to shove the quotes down Jim’s throat, I just have never found any. I think it is there implicitly, just not explicitly.

  40. Jim says:

    closing my accidentally left open blockquote.

  41. Jim says:

    Lots of Protestants deny the Gospel–that God who is in no wise dependent on creation came into creation and renewed it–through their presentation of the gospel.

    That’s the gospel! And to think all this time I believed Paul in 1 Co 15 when he wrote:

    I want to remind you of the gospel I preached to you, […] For what I received I passed on to you as of first importance[a]: that Christ died for our sins according to the Scriptures, that he was buried, that he was raised on the third day according to the Scriptures …

    Thanks for clearing that up.

  42. Perry,

    Yeah, I know it’s kinda a side point. Mostly I just want to save the language.

    I think your response is important. Lots of Protestants deny the Gospel–that God who is in no wise dependent on creation came into creation and renewed it–through their presentation of the gospel. (Lord have Mercy.) When we say that the Father is wrathful over sin, we entail that sin has ontological existence, and therefore that Sin is created by God, that Sin is Good. Similarly, there can be no new relations in God based on creation. The Father poured out his wrath over on Christ. Therefore either Christ is not indeed God, or Sin has real ontological existence, and indeed, exists in God.

  43. Kevin Davis says:

    And, sorry for the ad hom in my first comment.

  44. Kevin Davis says:

    I would further suggest that any departure from this Hebraic cultic context — the need for the Son’s role as Lamb and High Priest — is sub-Christian or, frankly, pagan.

  45. Kevin Davis says:

    Perry,

    Yes, I should have been more careful and said “nature” instead of “person.” Anyway, it doesn’t detract from the point that Jesus Christ “took on human flesh” and for a reason. And, yes, we have different understandings of the atonement. I believe that the whole economy of the Son Incarnate was necessary for our salvation, and that a mere declaration or immanent working of God for our redemption, apart from this fulfillment of his Holy Law, is contrary to God’s holiness (thus, God’s very self).

  46. Jim says:

    Slight clarification:

    “That is, he EQUATES being CREATED (MADE) JUST with DOING THE LAW.”

    I mean this in the sense that Augustine is saying that “doing the law” is impossible without previously being justified. If you don’t believe me I suggest you read the entire context which starts two chapters before and ends one chapter after the one that constitutes your first quote.

  47. Jim says:

    As for sholars and judgement, all I can go on is the evidene as presented. You seemed to suggest some other route.

    No other route for knowledge, outside of divine inspiration. Only a better route for making a point – that is, presentation and explanation of direct evidence. For example, you wrote:

    all I am concerned to show here is that Augustine thinks that we can and do participate in our justification

    In the first quote, you skipped a few lines.

    Now he could not mean to contradict himself in saying, “The doers of the law shall be justified,” AS IF THEIR JUSTIFICATION CAME THROUGH THEIR WORKS, AND NOT THROUGH GRACE; SINCE HE DECLARES THAT A MAN IS JUSTIFIED FREELY BY HIS GRACE WITHOUT THE WORKS OF THE LAW, INTENDING BY THE TERM “FREELY” NOTHING ELSE THAN THAT WORKS DO NOT PRECEDE JUSTIFICATION. FOR IN ANOTHER PASSAGE HE EXPRESSLY SAYS, “IF BY GRACE, THEN IS IT NO MORE OF WORKS; OTHERWISE GRACE IS NO LONGER GRACE.” BUT THE STATEMENT THAT “THE DOERS OF THE LAW SHALL BE JUSTIFIED” must be so understood as that we may know that they are not otherwise doers of the law, unless they be justified …

    You bolded “but that they may become such” with the apparent intention of reversing the clear meaning in the rest of the passage. That God “CREATES” ‘just’ men who through this CREATION become “doers of the law,” That is, he EQUATES being CREATED (MADE) JUST with DOING THE LAW.

    Look again. “They are not otherwise doers of the law, unless they be [previously] justified” by an act of God’s grace. How does this show “Augustine thinks that we can and do participate in our justification.”

    Now, as for the second quote, you can set Augustine against himself and make him contradict his teaching in the first quote. Or you can interpret his use of righteous/justified in terms of “righteousness qua progressive sanctification” which is a quality of the soul.

  48. Matthew,

    Earning in terms of expenditure of effort is one thing, a created standing given to me is another.

    In any case, all I am concerned to show here is that Augustine thinks that we can and do participate in our justification and that it is gounded in the state of the soul. Hence Augustine is not a historical witness for sola fide.

  49. Perry,

    I’m not quite sure that, at least with some definitions of the terms, Jesus earning our salvation isn’t inconsistent with Christ meriting based on the divine person He is.

    I know my terminology is probably confused, please work with it.

    As far as I can tell, it is not the extra-temporal Jesus who is reckoned to us, but the in-time Jesus, who is the extra-temporal Second Person of the Trinity. Thus we say “We venerate Thy Passion, O Christ, we venerate Thy Passion, O Christ. We venerate Thy Passion, O Christ.” And “Thou hast redeemed us from the curse of the Law by Thy precious Blood: nailed to the Cross and pierced by the spear, Thou hast poured forth immortality upon mankind. O our Saviour, glory be to Thee.” But (at least rarely) say something like “We venerate thy Generation, O Christ” or “By thy generation from the Father and Repose upon the Spirit, Good Lord deliver us.” (Not of course that it isn’t by these things that Jesus delivers us, but it is by these things placed into time, or by the Jesus who is these things, placed into time, that Jesus delivers us.)

    And if by “Jesus earned our salvation” we mean that the Jesus who acted here, and by whose actions we are saved has, in and through those actions, acted as the Eternally begotten Son of God, here Incarnate amongst us, it isn’t inconsistent with saying that it the righteousness Christ has by virtue of being the Person He is.

    I think Romans is getting at something like this when it says that Jesus was justified by faith: “For the promise was not to Abraham nor to his Seed (singular) according to the works of the law, but according to faith.”

  50. Jim,

    Your comments above seemed to separate righteousness from justification and view the latter in terms of remission of sins.

    For the Reformed righteousness imputed is complete and forensic and ungrounded inthe character or any inherring quality of the soul. For righteousness qua progressive sanctification it is partial, incomplate and relative to the state of the soul. This is a separation that Augustine does not make and is antithetical to his view of justification as a quality of the soul from which the label is derived.

    As for sholars and judgement, all I can go on is the evidene as presented. You seemed to suggest some other route.

  51. Jim says:

    Perry,

    Yes. Justification is concerned with an imputed righteousness (or the imputation of Christ’s righteousness). I didn’t think I denied that.

    To put the original point slightly differently, how is the sense of ‘righteousness’ when imputed (as in Protestant doctrine of Justification) related to the ‘righteousness’ we are enabled to perform in “progressive sanctification” (in the Protestant sense)?

    Once that question’s answered, what in the above quotes prevents the same distinction between Augustine’s uses of the term justification/righteousness.

    Second, you are free to rely on your own judgment as well as those of scholars in the field. I never said that was problematic as an epistemic grounds for (as you say) ‘your own judgment,’ just as I rely on my own judgment as well as expertise in the field. It’s just that it’s not particularly convincing argument.

  52. Jim,

    I think you are reading the Reformation tradition incorrectly since justification is concerned with an imputed righteousness. You are confusing righteousness exclusivly with sanctification in terms of progressive sanctification.

    For the Reformed, righteousness in justification is imputed to us, not on the basis of the state of the soul. That is the whole point of saying it is forensic, an alien righteousness, etc. Consequently, justification isn’t the mere forgiveness of sins but an imputation of justice or righteousness. So the separation you are making just isn’t reformation theology.

    Second, when I say I rest it on my own judgment and others, specifically scholars in the field, if you think that is somehow problematic,please by all means tell me how it is so. Do you propose some other way of finding the truth of the matter.

  53. Jay Dyer says:

    I don’t think it is. It’s hard to find. I have it electronically.

  54. Jim says:

    Actually, I can’t seem to find Sermon 158. Anyone know if it’s online somewhere?

  55. Jim says:

    photius,

    Thanks. That’s a good explanation. Would I find your explanation of Augustine’s perspective if I read the full books where the quotes above are excerpted from?

    Jim

  56. Jim says:

    Protestants separate ‘justification’ in the sense of ‘forgiveness of sin’ from ‘righteousness’ (or sanctification). I suppose, according to Sola Fide, forgiveness of sin isn’t grounded on a quality of the soul. If Augustine thought so, one wonders what he meant when he specifically references forgiveness of sin in the first quote.

    According to that source of all knowledge, wikipedia, the article on ‘Sola Fide’ asks the question:

    What is the relationship of justification to sanctification, the process whereby sinners become righteous and are enabled by the Holy Spirit to live lives pleasing to God?

    From my limited perspective those quotes don’t address Sola Fide and the later quote specifically addresses ‘righteousness’ or, ‘sanctification.’

    I’m glad you’ve rested your case on the authority of “[youself] and others in the field.”

    Along these lines you can be sure I find this as strong an argument as you would if I were to state that there are “Protestants of the Classical Reformation variety [that] think of Augustine as their historical anchor.”

  57. photios says:

    Jim,
    A quality wrought in the soul is what Augustine meant by justification. The Reformers argued against the idea that justification is something wrought IN you.

    Augustine was definitely a synergist when it came to appropriating justification. He was not however a synergist when it came to one persevering in justification to the end. That was left to God’s eternal decree of predestination.

    Photios

  58. Jim,

    If justice is a quality rooted in the soul and serves as the ground for the declaration of justification, then sola fide is false, since sola fide excludes the declaration as grounded in the state of the soul.

    There are plenty of other citations from Augustine to show that he’s a synergist qua justifiation at certain points, but I and plenty of others in the field think the above are sufficient. Augustine thinks we grow and cooperate in justification, the Reformers don’t.

  59. Jay,

    What Thomas is arguing is that the hypostasis itself is not a created form in the incarnation. And on that point he’s right. What I would see as problematic is where it says “Grace is an accidental perfection of the soul, and therefore it cannot ordain the soul to personal union, which is not accidental. ”

    The worry here is whether the grace if grace is essential, then nature could actuate a graced state all on its own. My worry is though is seeing grace as accidetnal to solve the problem. I don’t think it is necessary to think so to preclude the problem.

    In any case, per Lagrange he is building his argument on the matter form distinction, where matter is bereft of form and so ther can’t be any created medium since, by analogy, the matter/humanity has o actuation per incarnating act/enhypostacizing act of its own.

    The intersting part comes in with the following.
    “So also, between nature and suppositum there can be no medium in the above-mentioned manner, since each conjunction is for substantial union. ” But it is shown that the union, as a real relation of the human nature with the Word, is the consequent or resulting effect; for St. Thomas says: “This relation follows, which is called union; hence union is the medium, not as causing the assumption, but as following it. ”
    St. Thomas also shows elsewhere that the union is declared to be something created since it is a real relation of Christ’s human nature to the Word, but it is only a logical relation of the Word to the human nature. Thus creation in the passive sense is a real relation of the creature to the Creator.”

    So there can’t be a relation of actuation from the naturte TO the suppositum or person. But then he says that the union qua the relaton as a result or an effect of efficient causation. So the union qua relation is a created effect, even if the grace of it is not.

    I’d think about the role of formal causaition here as well as the lack of a role for formal causation relative to the imago dei. You can see this worry ove formal causation and the created gift in Bonaventure where he argues,

    “But others compared the aforesaid effects to grace as to (their) form. For it is necessary, that a vivification and reformation7 be from something as from an efficient (principle), and from something as from an informing (principle). And since it is neither possible nor decent, that God be the perfective form of any creature; for that reason, besides the uncreated Gift, which is compared to these acts as to (their) effective Principle, it is fitting [conveniens] and opportune to posit a created gift, through which the soul is informed.”

    You can also see the longstanding issue of the relation of nature to grace and Pelagianism here when he writes a bit further on,

    “And on this account, since this position, which posits a created grace and an uncreated (Grace), attributes more to God’s grace than the other, and posits more indigence in our nature; hence it is, that it is more consonant to piety and humility, and for this reason is more secure. For let it be, that it were false, yet because it does not swerve [declinare] from piety and humility, it is naught but good and safe to hold it. — Therefore, this opinion is to be preferred to the prior one, in virtue of this, that it is more secure and recedes more from the error of Pelagius.9 For who dares to securely deny, in our being made pleasing, that any created gift is conferred upon us by God? For each one ought to fear, lest, perchance, by denying the gift of created grace he become an adversary of uncreated Grace.”

  60. Jim says:

    Ok. And viewing ‘righteousness’ as a quality does exactly what to Sola Fide?

    In any case, the quotes above don’t show Augustine as a synergist (though I have no idea if there are others out there that do) – which I think was what you were trying to point out.

  61. Jim,

    No, taking justice qualitatively doesn’t do what you think it does since I can increase my share of a quality. If I am tall, can I not become taller? if I am just, can I not become more so?

    In any case, that isn’t compatible with Sola Fide

  62. Jay Dyer says:

    Time to really think and pray…Thanks for your comments..-jay

  63. Jim says:

    Perry,

    That it’s not what the Reformers mean by justification is 1/2 my point. That what Augustine means by ‘justified’ in much of the quote above (more so in the second quote) is ‘made righteous’ is the other half.

    But, that righteousness (‘justification’ as Augustine refers to it) is qualitative wrecks havoc with:

    Have we no justice at all? Or do we have some, but not the whole of it?

    and

    we must let what we have [i.e. righteousness] grow, and what we haven’t got [i.e. what we yet lack of righteousness] will be completed

    and

    Again, if we say we have no justice at all, we are telling a lie about God’s gifts. You see, if we have no justice at all, we haven’t got faith either and if we haven’t got faith, we aren’t Christians. But if we do have faith, we already have at least some justice.

    Jim

  64. photios says:

    Jay,
    Lagrange sounds right when he explains it is the hypostatis that grounds the union. I think it is wrong to say ‘THIS is the grace of union’ i.e. the hypostasis. Hypostasis isn’t grace. Other than that, it seems okay.

    Bonaventure is right that grace can’t be anything other than God and actually bring you to a ‘similitude’ to God or deify you. The implications though of divine simplicity and Bonaventure’s statement that “it seems, that the grace illuminating the soul is nothing other than the Divine Essence,” is going to be frought with difficulties. Can the divine essence be enhypostasized in a human person? Can the infinite and divine be really mine? Or does the divine essence merely effect something in me in a sort of causual way? What ends up being, or so the best I’ve found, is that the ‘effect’ of grace as the divine essence is what is enhypostazied and not something divine. They don’t think the divine can enhypostasize a created person because they believe it will violate the principle of non-contradiction. But the reverse is also the problem: the created can’t be enhypostasized in the uncreate person. And out the window goes the Incarnation… I’ve read plenty to see how they attempt to get around this problem but unfortunately I think they all fail miserably compared to Maximus and Palamas, and that’s because our doctrine is not erected out of assumptions and speculations about the divine essence.

    Your arguments are sound in your e/e distinction post, though I would suggest Scotus gets around SOME of your problems since he thinks attributes are formally distinct from one another :goodness is formally distinct from justice, and so on. Likewise the act of goodness or the act of justice would be formally distinct as well. However, none of them will get around the necessary creation stuff and that’s because the act of will is not OTHER than the divine essence, even if it is formally distinct from the act of knowledge which is also identical to the divine essence.

    They can’t solve that puzzle with pieces that don’t fit.

    Photios

  65. Jim,

    Righteous for Augustine is qualitative. It is a state of the soul, which is not what the Reformers mean when they speak of justification.

  66. Jim says:

    Again, you may be right about Augustine thinking ‘justification’ is ‘regeneration’ but specifically in the above quotes, if we uniformly interpret ‘justified’ as ‘regenerated’ then some strange things happen. For example, it would be a rather strange view of predestination to read Augustine as:

    Obviously, we have already been predestined, even before we existed. We were called, when we became Christians. So we have already got that. What about being [regenerated]? What does it mean, being [regenerated]? Have we got the nerve to say we already have this third thing?

    If we read ‘justice’ as ‘righteous’ there is no problem and the quote of 1Jo makes perfect sense. In fact, in the first quote he defines it:

    For what else does the phrase ‘being justified’ signify than being made righteous

    And what does this mean:

    Have we no [regeneration] at all? Or do we have some, but not the whole of it?

    The following, however, is straightforward:

    Have we no [righteousness] at all? Or do we have some, but not the whole of it?

  67. Jay Dyer says:

    I am thinking you may be right….

    What do you guys make of this from LaGrange:

    “Reply. Both parts of the question are denied. St. Thomas says in the present article: “The grace of union is the personal being that is given gratis from above to the human nature in the person of the Word, ” and therefore it cannot be understood in the sense of a created medium, a created actuation that is produced by the uncreated act. The grace of union is not something created, but it is the very Word that terminates the human nature, both possessing and sanctifying it.”

    http://www.catholicprimer.org/garrigou/works/tp0-90.htm

    How can he say this? It appears to posit an uncreated grace or energy in the Incarnation. Is it just confused?

    Also, what do you guys think of St. Bonaventure’s statements on this:

    http://www.franciscan-archive.org/bonaventura/opera/bon02633.html

    -jay

  68. photios says:

    Jim,
    Augustine says all those who are baptized [in Christ] have been justified from their sins. This is because
    Augustine thinks justification and regeneration are synonymous or at best virtually distinct things of really the same thing. Indeed Augustine thinks that justification includes the forgiveness of sins in baptism but he doesn’t think a person is finally justified until the resurrection of the body in glorification. For him regeneration isn’t just of the mind, but of the body.

    Now I disagree with Augustine that justification just is regeneration or different aspects of the same thing, but we need to be clear on what Augustine taught.

    Photios

  69. Jim says:

    photios,

    Augustine may very well believe that (that works [] performed by the influence of operative grace are meritorious before God) but I don’t see it in the above quotes. In short, nothing in the above quote seems to imply any view at all of ‘merit,’ whether Christ’s or ours or the two in conjunction.

    Quite the contrary. To be “justified” in the Protestant sense is equivalent to “forgivness of sins” and Augustine says:

    I mean, here we are with people who have been baptized, all their sins have been forgiven, they have been justified from their sins. We can’t deny it.

    Read the word ‘justified’ in the Augustine quote as ‘righteous.’ No Protestant would deny that:

    1) Having faith in Christ they’re sins are forgiven.
    2) They need God’s continuous grace to live (more and more) righteous lives.

  70. photios says:

    Jim,
    How are Augustine’s remarks compatible with the Reformed view of sola fide? Augustine thinks that faith and works if performed by the influence of operative grace are meritorious before God. Now, I don’t agree with that idea, but that’s not compatible with the Reformed sola fide. Rather, Trent was the one that was just repeating Augustine.

    Photios

  71. photios says:

    Jay,
    You keep arguing like that and you’re not going to want to be in communion with heretics for very much longer. I’ve been there and did that for a while and it’s not very fun.

    All your quotes are dead on. Something happened though, the West took a big wrong turn in theology and manipulated Orthodox Fathers into something that they never were before.

    Take your time. Find your bearings and pray. And see how it goes.

    Photios

  72. Jim says:

    Perry asked:
    > Just by way of asking, what constitutes our union with Christ?

    While this wasn’t directed at me, just by way of asking first, what constitutes the union between yourself and your wife? Also, when the two become “ONE” flesh, how is this to be understood?

    Just curious.
    Jim

  73. Jim says:

    Sola Fide is not THE gospel. That Christ died for our sins and on the third day rose again is ‘the gospel.’ This is explicitly stated in many Protestant circles. E.g. see Sinclair Ferguson’s response to Tom Wright on “The New [now – not so new] Perspectives on Paul” or just about anything Doug Wilson has written or spoken on the topic. Sure, you can find quotes to the contrary but the argument as stated is a strawman.

    I find the quotes of Augustine above perfectly in line with Sola Fide when not construed the way you have. After all, James is still in the Canon (regardless of the interpretation of Luther’s offhand comments on the matter) and is interpreted along the lines of Augustine’s quotes (not just the sections you bolded) by Protestants. Reading ‘justified’ as ‘righteous’ in the above quotes (the terms are synonymous in scripture) I find no incompatibility.

  74. photios says:

    In our view, Christ doesn’t “earn” or “merit” righteousness. He recapitulates our humanity and the history of Israel, bringing back harmony in the created order. Christ’s humanity is deified by such operations. We are deified if we participate in Christ. The divine righteousness that we have ‘in Christ’ is the only thing that can save you. No created intermediary can restore that harmony and bridge that gap.

    Photios

  75. Kevin,

    I don’t know why you think Christ is a human person. When did this human person come into existence? I’d make a friendly submission to you that the Christology you have articualted here is not that of Chalcedon but of some other nefarious character. So I’d encourage you to reflect on your comments.

    I don’t know why and you do not seem to indicate Christ’s eternal righteousness would not be sufficient for our cause. Is divine righteousness somehow deficient relative to human nature and impotent in the face of death and sin?

    I agree that Christ offers himself as a sacrifice for our sins, but of course that turns on what we mean by those terms and I suspect that we don’t share the same understanding of the atonement. As for what is required that too depends, since God seems able in the Gospels to forgive sin without any sacrifice at all. I don’t see why I need a created intermediary rather than the real thing, but perhaps you can explain that more fully.

    I don’t have an obsession with finding created grace around every corner. I am simply drawing the readers attention to commonly overlooked relationships between medeival scholasticism and reformation theology. It is important for reformation folk to see how closely related and not much different they are from the preceding theological models. Ideas have a history.

    Furthermore, your ad hom is really irrelvant, isn’t it? Since supposing I was so obsessionally disposed, it wouldn’t make the conceptual continuity any less real or any less signficant. So I’d kindly ask you to focus on the issues rather than on my supposed character flaws. Unless of course you wish to have a general blog discussion regarding character flaws in general, which I would be so willing to forgo my place in the discussion to empower you to speak first of your own. Capiche?

    Just by way of asking, what constitutes our union with Christ?

  76. Kevin Davis says:

    This merit it should be noted is earned by Christ. It is not the righteousness Christ has by virtue of being the divine person he is.

    Well, it is “earned” by Christ because he is the divine person he is. But, it must be “earned” because he is the human person he is. It is not enough for our justification that Christ simply “be” righteous and then make us righteous by the Spirit; rather, as the Righteous One, he offers himself as the sacrifice for sins, thus enacting what we, as sinners, could never do but is required. Our salvation was “created” by the Cross and Resurrection, which is saying more than reducing everything to your obsession with finding “created grace” around every corner.

    So, the merit we receive is able to come to us because Christ is our Lamb and High Priest. Without this act of Christ, we could not receive the merit. Once again, it is not enough to say that we are saved because Christ is the Holy One; we are saved because the Holy One fulfilled the law in his self-offering for our sins. Without this offering, we could not be justified or sanctified in union with Him.

  77. Robert says:

    Perry,

    Don’t you know, all the fathers believed in the five solas, they just didn’t articulate it very well…..

    Or so I have been told. (Rolls eyes)

    I guess Calvin also believed in infant communion and open theism, he just didn’t articulate it very well.

  78. Don Bradley says:

    Can anyone give some concrete examples where the Protestants define THE gospel as Sola Fide?

  79. Bryan,

    I was hoping you’d drop by and add any constructive or critical two cents.

  80. Bryan Cross says:

    Perry,

    Well argued, and well put.

    Blessed Pascha.

    In the peace of Christ,

    – Bryan

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