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Thursday, May 1, 2008

Augustine the Libertarian freedom

Ben, over at Arminian Perspectives did a great post about Augustine and Free will.

"Some refer to Calvinism as Augustinianism. John
Calvin took the teachings of the later Augustine and systematized them.
The only major difference between the later Augustine and Calvin’s theology is
the doctrine of perseverance. Augustine believed that one could be truly
regenerated and yet not be granted the gift of perseverance. Calvin denied
that one who was truly regenerated could fail to persevere. But what about
the early Augustine?
The early Augustine had a theology that was little
different than the theology which had dominated the church since apostolic
teachings. Augustine held to a libertarian view of human freedom and only
began to move away from that view when embroiled in debate and controversy with
the Pelagians. In these debates his theology began to shift.
might claim that this shift was due to theological maturity and greater insight
into Biblical truths once overlooked. Another possibility is that when
trying to counter the Pelagian arguments regarding free will Augustine went too
far in the other direction and began to fall back into some of the gnostic
determinism which he had abandoned upon his conversion to Christianity from
the Manichaean sect. Augustine’s later redevelopment of much of
his theology was the direct result this overreaction to the Pelagian
controversy. I prefer the latter explanation.
So what did the early
Augustine believe concerning the will? He agreed with the consensus
of the chruch Fathers before him. He held to a libertarian view of
free will and argued for it along the same lines as many Arminians do
Compatibilists often tell us we are “free” if we are not
coerced by external factors and do what we “want” to do.
The part that they often leave out of the conversation is that they believe that
our “wants” are causally determined by internal factors"

Read the rest at his blog



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