"Ignorance of Scripture is ignorance of Christ." - Jerome

Tuesday, March 11, 2008

Augustine vs. Pelagius

Augustine vs. Pelagius

Well I have had one of those great weeks where I have failed to get along with those around me. Actually swallowed my pride today and put things right with a coworker where things had gone sour. So I was thinking of that wonderful Augustine quote “As flattering friends corrupt so quarrelsome enemies bring much needed correction”. Has ended up being an awesome week to remember how much I need God and how easily I am crushed by little things that should not matter. How prideful I am and how I constantly need God to humble me and push me on my way of sanctification. I judge not how that is going but it feels good to remember that I am so very little and God... well he is so very, Ineffable. Yep that from a fairly insignificant argument.

So anyway, Augustine. I continue to meander through Peter Brown’s bio if him. I love it! I read the chapter “causa gratiae”, “the case for grace” where he sets up the debate well between Augustine and Pelagius. Augustine makes causa gratiae. The next chapter begins with these two paragraphs which I love. The second paragraph is the only one I just took my pen ands circled in the whole book so far.

“…The basic conviction of Pelagius and his followers was that man’s nature was certain and fundamentally unchanging. Originally created good by God, the powers of human nature had, admittedly, been constricted by the weight of past habits and by the corruption of society. But such constriction was purely superficial. The ‘remission of sins’ in Baptism, could mean for the Christian, the immediate recovery of a full freedom of action, that had merely been kept in abeyance by ignorance and convention.”

Ok so there is one way of looking at it. Yawn! So as for Augustine’s take? Well again I put a big old circle around this part:

“Augustine’s audience by contrast, would be told repeatedly that even the baptized Christian must remain an invalid: like the wounded man found near death by the wayside in the Parable of the Good Samaritan, his life had been saved by the rite of Baptism; but he must be content to endure, for the rest of his life, a prolonged and precarious convalescence in the ‘Inn’ of the Church. For to Augustine, man’s nature was at a nadir of uncertainty: and it would be cured, in an equally distant future, only by transformation so total and so glorious that, in its light, the least symptom of man’s present collapse must always be regarded as a cause of profound sadness.”

Yeah that is the tonic I am talking about! If you don’t get why that is a point of rejoicing then brother I can not explain it. God is ineffable! As for us, we suck.


Fire Scribe said...

I must decrease, so that Christ may increase! Yea, we still war in the flesh with sin yet by the righteousness of Christ we have hope of glory. Consider the wisdom of God revealed in Romans 7, concluding with,"when I would do good, evil is present with me....O wretched man that I am! who shall deliver me from the body of this death? I thank God through Jesus Christ our Lord..."
Interesting that we can profit greatly by the words of the ancients and their contemporaries, aye?

Jared Nelson said...

reminds me of the Chesterton quote on Luther's doctrine. He meant it as an isult, but I thought it was humbling and true:

"Man could say nothing to God, nothing from God, nothing about God except an almost inarticulate cry for mercy and for the supernatural help of Christ, in a world where all natural things are useless. Reason was useless. Will was useless. Man could not move himself an inch any more than a stone. Man could not trust what was in his head any more than a turnip. Nothing remained in earth or heaven, but the name of Christ lifted in that lonely imprecation; awful as the cry of a beast in pain."

Bingo, guilt as charged.

White Badger said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
White Badger said...

Augustine said that the three things essential to Christianity were (First) HUMILITY, (second) HUMILITY, & (third) HUMILITY.
Thomas a Kempis once wrote, "I believe that all men are evil. I must first, however, believe that I - above all others - am most evil."

Aaron said...

Great Chesterton quote. Indeed what he says to insult I say with conviction!!
Geek time. I was trying to remember what Picard said to Q when he quoted Shakespeare to say man was like a god. Only the opposite in what I would say to Chesterton. It was really cool comparison in my head.

White Badger said...

"Q proposes to quote some Hamlet for the Captain. Picard refuses, and quotes him instead: "What a piece of work is man? How noble in reason? How infinite in faculty, in form, in moving, how express and admirable. In action, how like an angel; in apprehension, how like a god..."
Q then stands up from his chair, and responds that surely Picard doesn't see Humanity like that. Picard answers that he sees Humanity as one day becoming like that, and perhaps that is what the Q fear. That's when Q vanishes, obvously irritated with the Captain.

Aaron said...

Yep that is it! But Picard before that said something about saying it with conviction too. You rock! So instead I would qoute Chesterton summing up Luther. Then I guess Q and I would be in agreement. Then God would smite Q anyway just for fun.

White Badger said...

Aha! That's right. Just before that, Q holds up the "Hamlet" book, asking if he can quote from it; Picard says that he already knows what is in it, and then says that what Hamlet said with irony, he prefers to say with conviction.
Its from "Hide & Q," episode 11.

James Schneider said...

I too am currently getting through Peter Brown's excellent biography and am pleased to find somebody writing about it.
We need more serious historians, like Brown, writing on church history and doctrine, which is too often left to those with a serious dogmatic or religious axe to grind.