Sunday, August 15, 2010

St Augustine was not Calvinist

Often among Protestants when I hear them discussing Calvinism they will bring up how Calvin simply adopted his theology from Augustine who they believe was pretty much a Calvinist himself. Both Calvinists and Arminians perpetuate this mythological understanding on St Augustine. St Augustine was nothing more than a Catholic, since Calvinism did not even exist in his era. This article will show that St Augustine of Hippo explicitly denied many Calvinist doctrines and held to some exclusively Catholic doctrines, doctrine which Calvinists typically deny.

The Perseverance of the Saints: Here is what Calvinists say about this doctrine “can neither totally nor finally fall away from the state of grace; but shall certainly persevere therein to the end, and be eternally saved.”(Westminster Confession, Chapter 17, 1)

Now notice St Augustine absolutely rejected this doctrine by saying lying causes you to LOSE eternal life:
“suppose a man should seek shelter with you who by your lie may be saved from death? For that death which men are foolishly afraid of who are not afraid to sin, kills not the soul but the body, as the Lord teaches in the Gospel; whence He charges us not to fear that death: but the mouth which lies kills not the body but the soul. For in these words it is most plainly written, "The mouth that lies slays the soul." How then can it be said without the greatest perverseness, that to the end one man may have life of the body, it is another man's duty to incur death of the soul? The love of our neighbor has its bounds in each man's love of himself. "You shall love," says He, "your neighbor as yourself." How can a man be said to love as himself that man, for whom that he may secure a temporal life, himself loses life eternal? Since if for his temporal life he lose but his own temporal life, that is not to love as himself, but more than himself: which exceeds the rule of sound doctrine. Much less then is he by telling a lie to lose his own eternal for another's temporal life. His own temporal life, of course, for his neighbor's eternal life a Christian man will not hesitate to lose: for this example has gone before, that the Lord died for us.”—Retractations: On lying
Some Calvinists falsely claim St Augustine changed his view of salvation near his death, however, even near his death around 431 he still denied Perseverance of the Saints according to Calvinism. Notice here St Augustine even more clearly says a person can be regenerate and still wind up in Hell:
"It is, indeed, to be wondered at, and greatly to be wondered at, that to some of His own children--whom He has regenerated in Christ--to whom He has given faith, hope, and love, God does not give perseverance also."—On Rebuke and Grace, Chapter 18, c AD 427
Another issue Calvinists deny is baptismal regeneration. Baptism is necessary to become born again in Christ and it necessary to be saved and for the remission of sins. Did St Augustine believe likewise that baptism did not regenerate and was not necessary? No:
"It is this one Spirit who makes it possible for an infant to be regenerated through the agency of another's will when that infant is brought to Baptism; and it is through this one Spirit that the infant so presented is reborn...'Unless a man be born again of water and the Holy Spirit.' The water, therefore, manifesting exteriorly the sacrament of grace, and the Spirit effecting interiorly the benefit of grace, both regenerate in one Christ that man who was in one Adam."--To Boniface, Epistle 98:2(A.D. 408)

St Augustine, unlike Calvinists accepted the books of Maccabees as Holy Scripture, prayed for the dead, and relied on Catholic Tradition, even should a particular thing not be found in the Scriptures:

"In the books of the Maccabees we read of sacrifice offered for the dead. Howbeit even if it were no where at all read in the Old Scriptures, not small is the authority, which in this usage is clear, of the whole Church, namely, that in the prayers of the priest which are offered to the Lord God at His altar, the Commendation of the dead has also its place."-St Augustine, From the Retractations, Book ii. Chap. 64, On the Care of the Dead

Notice, the above statement was said in his Retractations, which were written near the END of his life!

Furthermore, St Augustine was a loyal subject to the Papacy, unlike ALL the reformers and all Calvinists, believing it was derived from the Holy Scriptures:

"Number the bishops from the See of Peter itself. And in that order of Fathers see who has succeeded whom. That is the rock against which the gates of hell do not prevail"---St Augustine, Psalm against the Party of Donatus,18 (A.D. 393),in GCC,51

"I am held in the communion of the Catholic Church by...and by the succession of bishops from the very seat of Peter, to whom the Lord, after His resurrection commended His sheep to be fed up to the present episcopate."—St Augustine, Against the Letter of Mani,5 (A.D. 395),in GCC,78

"Carthage was also near the countries over the sea, and distinguished by illustrious renown, so that it had a bishop of more than ordinary influence, who could afford to disregard a number of conspiring enemies because he saw himself joined by letters of communion to the Roman Church, in which the supremacy of an apostolic chair has always flourished"—St Augustine, To Glorius, Epistle 43:7(A.D. 397),in NPNF1,I:278

"If the lineal succession of bishops is to be considered with how much more benefit to the Church do we reckon from Peter himself, to whom, as bearing in a figure the whole Church, the Lord said: Upon this rock I will build my church, and the gates of hell shall not conquer it!' For to Peter succeeded Linus, Clement...Damsus, Sircius, Anastasius. In this order of succession no Donatist bishop is too be found."—St Augustine, To Generosus, Epistle 53:2(A.D. 400),in GILES,180-181

"The chair of the Roman Church, in which Peter sat, and in which Anastasius sits today."—St Augustine of Hippo, Against the Letters of Petillian, 2:51(A.D. 402),in GCC,78

Also St Augustine wrote on purgatory, praying for the dead, the real presence.

In fact on the issue of purgatory, St Augustine states Pelagius (a favorite villain of Calvinists) was charged with heresy by the Bishops in Palestine for seeming to deny it! Notice 1 Corinthians 3:15 was used even then!

Another statement was read which Pelagius had placed in his book, to this effect: "In the day of judgment no forbearance will be shown to the ungodly and the sinners, but they will be consumed in eternal fires." This induced the brethren to regard the statement as open to the objection, that it seemed so worded as to imply that all sinners whatever were to be punished with an eternal punishment, without excepting even those who hold Christ as their foundation, although "they build thereupon wood, hay, stubble," [1 Corinthians 3:12] concerning whom the apostle writes: "If any man's work shall be burned, he shall suffer loss; but he shall himself be saved, yet so as by fire." [1 Corinthians 3:15] When, however, Pelagius responded that "he had made his assertion in accordance with the Gospel, in which it is written concerning sinners, 'These shall go away into eternal punishment, but the righteous into life eternal,'" [Matthew 25:46] it was impossible for Christian judges to be dissatisfied with a sentence which is written in the Gospel, and was spoken by the Lord; especially as they knew not what there was in the words taken from Pelagius' book which could so disturb the brethren, who were accustomed to hear his discussions and those of his followers. Since also they were absent who presented the indictment against Pelagius to the holy bishop Eulogius, there was no one to urge him that he ought to distinguish, by some exception, between those sinners who are to be saved by fire, and those who are to be punished with everlasting perdition. If, indeed, the judges had come to understand by these means the reason why the objection had been made to his statement, had he then refused to allow the distinction, he would have been justly open to blame.

To be continued...

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