Augustine deserves…

Ben Witherington III, in a story on John Calvin, remarks,

I also discovered that Calvinism is actually in the main a redoing of Augustine’s theology. Calvin’s is not at all a distinctively Protestant form of theologizing. But he deserves full marks for working out the logical implications of Augustinianism to the nth degree, as well as for adding some new wrinkles.

Jonathan Wright comments,

I’ll be brutally honest. I’m not a fan of many of Augustine’s conclusions but, as much as I’d sometimes like to punch the Bishop of Hippo on the nose, I’d reserve my most splenetic criticism for those who have abused his legacy.

Augustine helped to invent the notion of coercion in matters of faith but, when you look at the facts, he was much keener on civilised debate (albeit backed up by the threat of force) than extreme punishment. In this arena, as Chadwick opines, Augustine’s ideas have been “disastrously exploited” by those who came after him.

As for predestination, sex, or ecclesial authority: don’t get me started. Augustine was often self-satisfied and intolerant but, then, who wasn’t in the fifth century? At least Augustine thought hard and deeply, and the sins of the children oughtn’t to obscure the achievements of the father.

As a commentator noted this week, the East (Orthodox) has great disdain both for Augustine and Calvin. While I find great strength of wisdom in Augustine, and lately, in Calvin, I cannot agree with the conclusions concerning predestination which both men shared – to some extent – but they do not deserve the disdain of the East, do they?

The bishop who knew the glory and misery of man – Catholic Herald Online.

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38 Replies to “Augustine deserves…”

  1. I thought everyone knew that Calvin drew from Augustine, so did Luther. Augustine’s legacy can always be debated, but his impact on Christianity cannot. Most of the people who whine about Augustine don’t even realize that he pioneered the language used to describe their most cherished doctrines. Original Sin is an example that comes to mind. If I am remembering my history correctly, Augustine was the person who made solid arguments linking Paul’s statements about human nature to Genesis and formulating our present understanding of Original Sin.

  2. Amen to that! This is also one of those weak places in Orthodoxy, i.e. sin and its imputation! Without a sound doctrine of sin, we simply cannot have a sound and solid doctrine of grace, or as we who stand with Tertullian, Augustine, and Calvin, and finally St. Paul…the “doctrines of grace!
    Fr. R.

  3. I think it is noteworthy, that the East feels keenly the sharp strength of Augustine and his Western counterpart in especially Calvin (as too Luther). Calvinism has become anathema to the E. Orthodox! Again, this is a hermeneutical and theological difference, but also most certainly cultural. Calvin at 500 is still going strong!
    Fr. R.

  4. Could it be that the East’s disdain for Augustine is centered on his rather unfair treatment of Cassian?

    And yes, everyone should know that Calvin more than makes up for the East’s disdain for Augustine.

  5. This area might be my bag somewhat? Remember I was a Benedictine in my early 20’s. (I even spent a year in Rome, at the Pontifical Institute -English sec, there is one my secrets out into blogdom, lol.) I too have read my share of Cassian. But sure, much more of Augustine. And I am much more Augustinian, and even Reformed…gee I wonder if anyone knew, or picked up on that? lol
    Fr. R.

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