What was Augustine's soteriology?

Status
Not open for further replies.

MFranchetti

Puritan Board Freshman
Every time I research this subject I become more and more confused. Did Augustine believe in sola fide? Most quotes reveal otherwise and that he blurred the line between justification and sanctification and that post-salvation works attribute to salvation. And if he did that, how is his soteriology much different than the Roman Catholic view of salvation which does the same? If someone could help clarify this issue it would be a great blessing to me, thanks
 

Charles Johnson

Puritan Board Sophomore
Every time I research this subject I become more and more confused. Did Augustine believe in sola fide? Most quotes reveal otherwise and that he blurred the line between justification and sanctification and that post-salvation works attribute to salvation. And if he did that, how is his soteriology much different than the Roman Catholic view of salvation which does the same? If someone could help clarify this issue it would be a great blessing to me, thanks
Augustine's soteriology has a lot in common with Roman Catholic soteriology. The main difference is that they recognize seven sacraments but he numbers fewer. He identifies baptism, penitence, and alms (for him, good works broadly considered) as the means for remission of moral sin, and private prayer as sufficient for the forgiveness of venial sins. The Roman Church would add to that Auricular Confession, which is a practice that arose later in church history after the Hibernian model of penitence, and the Mass. Augustine of course believe in the Lord's Supper as a means of grace but his theology of it differed and he didn't see it as atoning. What he has in common with the Roman Church is the general outline of baptism forgiving sins prior to it, and other sacraments being necessary for following sins. This of course does not reflect our understanding of justification, and he shares the same flawed exegesis of passages from Romans, Galatians, and Ephesians on the matter of justification by faith as the Roman Church has. For Augustine, justification is "from faith alone" because saving virtues (hope, love) come from a root of faith. But it's those works that actually save one as they are reckoned good in the judgment and one's deficiencies are removed by baptism and penitence, and compensated for with alms. On this matter there is a subtle difference between him and the Roman Church in that they use the language of "condign merit" for how man will be rewarded, and he attributes the reward to God's mercy, but the distinction is not enough to save him from charges of salvation by works. I prove quotes and citations for all of this here.
 

Charles Johnson

Puritan Board Sophomore
I think it's important that we understand that Protestantism stands on the scriptures and cannot take the church fathers as a foundation without falling into grave errors. Some Protestants like to act like the church fathers are on our side and if people just read the fathers they'd become protestants, and it's just not true. Certainly the church fathers were not modern day Roman Catholics and knew nothing of many of the abuses of that church, but not being Roman Catholic is far from the same thing as being a Protestant. When one reads what Calvin has to say about the fathers one comes away with the impression that the fathers agreed with us on most everything and it's simply not the case. Lutheran and Melanchthon were under no such impression, and they wrote that Augustine had worked to restore the corruptions that entered into the church with Origen, but was only partially successful. Thankfully God has made the Scriptures much clearer and of much greater use for godliness than any production of the Fathers.
 

MFranchetti

Puritan Board Freshman
Augustine's soteriology has a lot in common with Roman Catholic soteriology. The main difference is that they recognize seven sacraments but he numbers fewer. He identifies baptism, penitence, and alms (for him, good works broadly considered) as the means for remission of moral sin, and private prayer as sufficient for the forgiveness of venial sins. The Roman Church would add to that Auricular Confession, which is a practice that arose later in church history after the Hibernian model of penitence, and the Mass. Augustine of course believe in the Lord's Supper as a means of grace but his theology of it differed and he didn't see it as atoning. What he has in common with the Roman Church is the general outline of baptism forgiving sins prior to it, and other sacraments being necessary for following sins. This of course does not reflect our understanding of justification, and he shares the same flawed exegesis of passages from Romans, Galatians, and Ephesians on the matter of justification by faith as the Roman Church has. For Augustine, justification is "from faith alone" because saving virtues (hope, love) come from a root of faith. But it's those works that actually save one as they are reckoned good in the judgment and one's deficiencies are removed by baptism and penitence, and compensated for with alms. On this matter there is a subtle difference between him and the Roman Church in that they use the language of "condign merit" for how man will be rewarded, and he attributes the reward to God's mercy, but the distinction is not enough to save him from charges of salvation by works. I prove quotes and citations for all of this here.
That clears a lot up thanks. Since Augustine was quoted so frequently by Calvin, I just assumed he was reformed on this issue. Guess i'm just a little disappointed
 

BayouHuguenot

Puritanboard Clerk
That clears a lot up thanks. Since Augustine was quoted so frequently by Calvin, I just assumed he was reformed on this issue. Guess i'm just a little disappointed

He's not Reformed. He believed in predestination and that God's grace is prior, but so did Thomas Aquinas and Anselm. But let's give credit where credit is due: that was a huge breakthrough in early church theology.
 

jwithnell

Moderator
Staff member
In history, you cannot infuse the past with the modern. For church history, picture a river. The main stem flows through the redemptive history of the Bible. As it continues, additional rainfall clarifies the stream. (Think of the early Christological debates, the development of the trinity doctrine etc.) But branches form of greater or lesser purity and we see the pollution of the Roman church developing in western Europe. It makes no sense to try to make water flow back upstream from the reformation to Augustine. The river may have carried a small flow of a soteriology from Augustine to Calvin but not the other way around. Augustine still swam in the developing Roman error, so his views would reflect that.
 

Hamalas

whippersnapper
If I had to pick a word, I would describe his soteriology as Augustinian. *ducks as rotten fruit is thrown*
 

B.L.

Puritan Board Sophomore
In history, you cannot infuse the past with the modern. For church history, picture a river. The main stem flows through the redemptive history of the Bible. As it continues, additional rainfall clarifies the stream. (Think of the early Christological debates, the development of the trinity doctrine etc.) But branches form of greater or lesser purity and we see the pollution of the Roman church developing in western Europe. It makes no sense to try to make water flow back upstream from the reformation to Augustine. The river may have carried a small flow of a soteriology from Augustine to Calvin but not the other way around. Augustine still swam in the developing Roman error, so his views would reflect that.

I really like this picture and find it a helpful illustration.

Oddly enough, I've had dispensationalists use a similar analogy when confronted with the novelty of their views and the reality that there is scant evidence anyone prior to the 19th Century held similar beliefs. You can see this argument fleshed out in the writings of people like Dr. Andy Woods in his book "Ever Reforming: Dispensational Theology and the Completion of the Protestant Reformation".

History can make a fickle friend. I want her to take my side in things, but she is complicated. I want her to be a loyal companion, but there are days when we just can't seem to see eye to eye on things. I often want to walk hand in hand with her, but find she can be stand-offish...or is it me. I find the more of her I explore the more overwhelmed by her I can become. She can be quite photogenic depending on the angle and at other times is rather ugly if I am being honest. However, I can always count on her to be around. She's my most dependable friend. Oh, the ironies.
 
Last edited:

arapahoepark

Puritan Board Post-Graduate
I know I am late to the party but it has been distilled for me that he believed in justification as both an initial and continuing event by faith.
 
Last edited:

MFranchetti

Puritan Board Freshman
Thanks, all this is very edifying. A good reminder than even the greatest theologians are at times against scripture, which only stirs up a greater love for sola scriptura.
 

BayouHuguenot

Puritanboard Clerk
We Reformed today sometimes do a disservice when we scour church history for "proof these guys were 5 Point Calvinists." We usually latch onto their using the word "grace" or even "predestination" and think that means they believe what we believe. The opposite is the case. It's called the word = concept fallacy.
 
Status
Not open for further replies.
Top