Thursday, October 28, 2010

The Early Church Fathers On Foreknowledge


From Scripture:

Romans 8:29 For those God foreknew he also predestined to be conformed to the likeness of his Son, that he might be the firstborn among many brothers.

1 Peter 1:2 Who have been chosen according to the foreknowledge of God the Father, through the sanctifying work of the Spirit, for obedience to Jesus Christ and sprinkling by his blood: Grace and peace be yours in abundance.



What was the interpretation passed on to the next generation of Christians?
And what did that group pass on?



To this end, therefore, brethren, He is long-suffering, foreseeing how the people whom He has prepared shall with guilelessness believe in His Beloved. For He revealed all these things to us beforehand, that we should not rush forward as rash acceptors of their laws.
Saint Barnabas, Epistle of Barnabas, Chapter III.


Behold, therefore, we have been refashioned, as again He says in another prophet, "Behold, saith the Lord, I will take away from these, that is, from those whom the Spirit of the Lord foresaw, their stony hearts, and I will put hearts of flesh within them," because He was to be manifested in flesh, and to sojourn among us. For, my brethren, the habitation of our heart is a holy temple to the Lord.
Saint Barnabas, Epistle of Barnabas, Chapter VI.


We, -who were but lately created by the only best and good Being, by Him also who has the gift of immortality, having been formed after His likeness (predestinated, according to the prescience of the Father, that we, who had as yet no existence, might come into being), and made the first-fruits of creation-, have received, in the times known beforehand, [the blessings of salvation] according to the ministration of the Word, who is perfect in all things, as the mighty Word, and very man, who, redeeming us by His own blood in a manner consonant to reason, gave Himself as a redemption for those who had been led into captivity.
Saint Irenaeus of Lyon, Against Heresies,
Book V, Chapter I.


"And in short, sirs," said I, "by enumerating all the other appointments of Moses I can demonstrate that they were types, and symbols, and declarations of those things which would happen to Christ, of those who it was foreknown were to believe in Him, and of those things which would also be done by Christ Himself. But since what I have now enumerated appears to me to be sufficient, I revert again to the order of the discourse."
Saint Justin, the Martyr and Philosopher,
Dialogue with Trypho, Chapter XLII.


And this prophecy proves that we shall behold this very King with glory; and the very terms of the prophecy declare loudly, that the people foreknown to believe in Him were fore-known to pursue diligently the fear of the Lord. Moreover, these Scriptures are equally explicit in saying, that those who are reputed to know the writings of the Scriptures, and who hear the prophecies, have no understanding.
Saint Justin, the Martyr and Philosopher,
Dialogue with Trypho, Chapter LXX.


And we have not in vain believed in Him, and have not been led astray by those who taught us such doctrines; but this has come to pass through the wonderful foreknowledge of God, in order that we, through the calling of the new and eternal covenant, that is, of Christ, might be found more intelligent and God-fearing than yourselves, who are considered to be lovers of God and men of understanding, but are not.
Saint Justin, the Martyr and Philosopher,
Dialogue with Trypho, Chapter CXVIII.


Furthermore, I have proved in what has preceded, that those who were foreknown to be unrighteous, whether men or angels, are not made wicked by God's fault, but each man by his own fault is what he will appear to be.
Saint Justin, the Martyr and Philosopher,
Dialogue with Trypho, Chapter CXL.


But if the word of God foretells that some angels and men shall be certainly punished, it did so because it foreknew that they would be unchangeably [wicked], but not because God had created them so. So that if they repent, all who wish for it can obtain mercy from God: and the Scripture foretells that they shall be blessed, saying, "Blessed is the man to whom the Lord imputeth not sin "; that is, having repented of his sins, that he may receive remission of them from God; and not as you deceive yourselves, and some others who resemble you in this, who say, that even though they be sinners, but know God, the Lord will not impute sin to them. We have as proof of this the one fall of David, which happened through his boasting, which was forgiven then when he so mourned and wept, as it is written.
Saint Justin, the Martyr and Philosopher,
Dialogue with Trypho, Chapter CXLI.


And He is without beginning, because He is unbegotten; and He is unchangeable, because He is immortal. And he is called God [qeon] on account of His having placed [teqeikenai] all things on security afforded by Himself; and on account of qeein, for qeein means running, and moving, and being active, and nourishing, and foreseeing, and governing, and making all things alive.
Saint Theophilus of Antioch, To Autolycus,
Book I, Chapter IV.


For the divine wisdom foreknew that some would trifle and name a multitude of gods that do not exist. In order, therefore, that the living God might be known by His works, and that [it might be known that] by His Word God created the heavens and the earth, and all that is therein, he said, "In the beginning God created the heavens and the earth."
Saint Theophilus of Antioch, To Autolycus,
Book II, Chapter X.


For the heavenly Logos, a spirit emanating from the Father and a Logos from the Logos-power, in imitation of the Father who begat Him made man an image of immortality, so that, as incorruption is with God, in like manner, man, sharing in a part of God, might have the immortal principle also. The Logos, too, before the creation of men, was the Framer of angels. And each of these two orders of creatures was made free to act as it pleased, not having the nature of good, which again is with God alone, but is brought to perfection in men through their freedom of choice, in order that the bad man may be justly punished, having become depraved through his own fault, but the just man be deservedly praised for his virtuous deeds, since in the exercise of his free choice he refrained from transgressing the will of God. Such is the constitution of things in reference to angels and men. And the power of the Logos, having in itself a faculty to foresee future events, not as fated, but as taking place by the choice of free agents, foretold from time to time the issues of things to come; it also became a forbidder of wickedness by means of prohibitions, and the encomiast of those who remained good.
Tatian, Address to the Greeks, Chapter VII.


He was asked respecting those things on account of which He descended, which He inculcates, which He teaches, which He offers, in order to show the essence of the Gospel, that it is the gift of eternal life. For He foresaw as God, both what He would be asked, and what each one would answer Him. For who should do this more than the Prophet of prophets, and the Lord of every prophetic spirit?


Now then, ye dogs, whom the apostle puts outside, and who yelp at the God of truth, let us come to your various questions. These are the bones of contention, which you are perpetually gnawing! If God is good, and prescient of the future, and able to avert evil, why did He permit man, the very image and likeness of Himself, and, by the origin of his soul, His own substance too, to be deceived by the devil, and fall from obedience of the law into death? For if He had been good, and so unwilling that such a catastrophe should happen, and prescient, so as not to be ignorant of what was to come to pass, and powerful enough to hinder its occurrence, that issue would never have come about, which should be impossible under these three conditions of the divine greatness. Since, however, it has occurred, the contrary proposition is most certainly true, that God must be deemed neither good, nor prescient, nor powerful. For as no such issue could have happened had God been such as He is reputed-good, and prescient, and mighty-so has this issue actually happened, because He is not such a God. In reply, we must first vindicate those attributes in the Creator which are called in question-namely, His goodness and foreknowledge, and power. But I shall not linger long over this point for Christ's own definition comes to our aid at once. From works must proofs be obtained. The Creator's works testify at once to His goodness, since they are good, as we have shown, and to His power, since they are mighty, and spring indeed out of nothing. And even if they were made out of some (previous) matter, as some will have it, they are even thus out of nothing, because they were not what they are. In short, both they are great because they are good; and God is likewise mighty, because all things are His own, whence He is almighty. But what shall I say of His prescience, which has for its witnesses as many prophets as it inspired? After all, what title to prescience do we look for in the Author of the universe, since it was by this very attribute that He foreknew all things when He appointed them their places, and appointed them their places when He fore knew them? There is sin itself. If He had not foreknown this, He would not have proclaimed a caution against it under the penalty of death. Now if there were in God such attributes as must have rendered it both impossible and improper for any evil to have happened to man, and yet evil did occur, let us consider man's condition also-whether it were not, in fact, rather the cause why that came to pass which could not have happened through God. I find, then, that man was by God constituted free, master of his own will and power; indicating the presence of God's image and likeness in him by nothing so well as by this constitution of his nature. For it was not by his face, and by the lineaments of his body, though they were so varied in his human nature, that he expressed his likeness to the form of God; but he showed his stamp in that essence which he derived from God Himself (that is, the spiritual, which answered to the form of God), and in the freedom and power of his will. This his state was confirmed even by the very law which God then imposed upon him. For a law would not be imposed upon one who had it not in his power to render that obedience which is due to law; nor again, would the penalty of death be threatened against sin, if a contempt of the law were impossible to man in the liberty of his will. So in the Creator's subsequent laws also you will find, when He sets before man good and evil, life and death, that the entire course of discipline is arranged in precepts by God's calling men from sin, and threatening and exhorting them; and this on no other ground than that man is free, with a will either for obedience or resistance.
Tertullian, Against Marcion,
Book II, Chapter V.


He foresaw that Paul would arise out of the tribe of Benjamin, a voracious wolf, devouring his prey in the morning: in order words, in the early period of his life he would devastate the Lord's sheep, as a persecutor of the churches; but in the evening he would give them nourishment, which means that in his declining years he would educate the fold of Christ, as the teacher of the Gentiles.
Tertullian, Against Marcion,
Book V, Chapter I.


For who will grant to you, a man of so faithless repentance, one single sprinkling of any water whatever? To approach it by stealth, indeed, and to get the minister appointed over this business misled by your asseverations, is easy; but God takes foresight for His own treasure, and suffers not the unworthy to steal a march upon it. What, in fact, does He say? "Nothing hid which shall not be revealed." Draw whatever (veil of) darkness you please over your deeds, "God is light." But some think as if God were under a necessity of bestowing even on the unworthy, what He has engaged (to give); and they turn His liberality into slavery. But if it is of necessity that God grants us the symbol of death, then He does so unwilling. But who permits a gift to be permanently retained which he has granted unwillingly? For do not many afterward fall out of (grace)? is not this gift taken away from many? These, no doubt, are they who do steal a march upon (the treasure), who, after approaching to the faith of repentance, set up on the sands a house doomed to ruin. Let no one, then, flatter himself on the ground of being assigned to the "recruit-classes" of learners, as if on that account he have a licence even now to sin. As soon as you know the Lord, you should fear Him; as soon as you have gazed on Him, you should reverence Him. But what difference does your "knowing" Him make, while you rest in the same practises as in days bygone, when you knew Him not?
Tertullian, On Repentance, Chapter VI.


7. For though He is called Good, and Just, and Almighty and Sabaoth, He is not on that account diverse and various; but being one and the same, He sends forth countless operations of His Godhead, not exceeding here and deficient there, but being in all things like unto Himself. Not great in loving-kindness only, and little in wisdom, but with wisdom and loving-kindness in equal power: not seeing in part, and in part devoid of sight; but being all eye, and all ear, and all mind: not like us perceiving in part and in part not knowing; for such a statement were blasphemous, and unworthy of the Divine substance. He foreknoweth the things that be; He is Holy, and Almighty, and excelleth all in goodness, and majesty, and wisdom: of Whom we can declare neither beginning, nor form, nor shape. For ye have neither heard His voice at any time, nor seen His shape, saith Holy Scripture. Wherefore Moses saith also to the Israelites: And take ye good heed to your own souls, for ye saw no similitude. For if it is wholly impossible to imagine His likeness, how shall thought come near His substance?

8. There have been many imaginations by many persons, and all have failed. Some have thought that God is fire; others that He is, as it were, a man with wings, because of a true text ill understood, Thou shalt hide me under the shadow of Thy wings. They forgot that our Lord Jesus Christ, the Only-begotten, speaks in like manner concerning Himself to Jerusalem, How often would I have gathered thy children together even as a hen doth gather her chickens under her wings, and ye would not. For whereas God's protecting power was conceived as wings, they failing to understand this sank down to the level of things human, and supposed that the Unsearchable exists in the likeness of man. Some again dared to say that He has seven eyes, because it is written, seven eyes of the Lord looking upon the whole earth. For if He has but seven eyes surrounding Him in part, His seeing is therefore partial and not perfect: but to say this of God is blasphemous; for we must believe that God is in all things perfect, according to our Saviour's word, which saith, Your Father in heaven is perfect: perfect in sight, perfect in power, perfect in greatness, perfect in foreknowledge, perfect in goodness, perfect in justice, perfect in loving-kindness: not circumscribed in any space, but the Creator of all space, existing in all, and circumscribed by none. Heaven is His throne, but higher is He that sitteth thereon: and earth is His footstool, but His power reacheth unto things under the earth.

9. One He is, everywhere present, beholding all things, perceiving all things, creating all things through Christ: For all things were made by Him, and without Him was not anything made.
Cyril of Jerusalem, Catechetical Lectures, Lecture VI.


Man was first made "in the image of God ": and this conception excludes the idea of distinction of sex. In the first creation of man all humanity is included, according to the Divine foreknowledge: "our whole nature extending from the first to the last " is "one image of Him Who is." But for the Fall, the increase of the human race would have taken place as the increase of the angelic race takes place, in some way unknown to us. The declension of man from his first estate made succession by generation necessary: and it was because this declension and its consequences were present to the Divine mind that God "created them male and female." In this respect, and in respect of the need of nourishment by food, man is not "in the image of God," but shows his kindred with the lower creation. But these necessities are not permanent: they will end with the restoration of man to his former excellence
Gregory of Nyssa, Note on the Treatise
On the Making of Man.


God did not, on account of His foreknowledge of the evil that would result from man's creation, leave man uncreated; for it was better to bring back sinners to original grace by the way of repentance and physical suffering than not to create man at all. The raising up of the fallen was a work befitting the Giver of life, Who is the wisdom and power of God; and for this purpose He became man.
Gregory of Nyssa, The Great Catechism,
Summary of Chapters VII and VIII.


Do you not see that your dilemma has landed you in a deep abyss of blasphemy? Whichever way you take it, God is either weak or malevolent, and He is not so much praised because He is the author of good and gives His help, as abused for not restraining evil. Blame Him, then, because He allows the existence of the devil, and has suffered, and still suffers, evil to be done in the world. This is what Marcion asks, and the whole pack of heretics who mutilate the Old Testament, and have mostly spun an argument something like this: Either God knew that man, placed in Paradise, would transgress His command, or He did not know. If He knew, man is not to blame, who could not avoid God's foreknowledge, but He Who created him such that he could not escape the knowledge of God. If He did not know, in stripping Him of foreknowledge you also take away His divinity. Upon the same showing God will be deserving of blame for choosing Saul, who was to prove one of the worst of kings. And the Saviour must be convicted either of ignorance, or of unrighteousness, inasmuch as He said in the Gospel, "Did I not choose you the twelve, and one of you is a devil ?" Ask Him why He chose Judas, a traitor? Why He entrusted to him the bag when He knew that he was a thief? Shall I tell you the reason? God judges the present, not the future. He does not make use of His foreknowledge to condemn a man though He knows that he will hereafter displease Him; but such is His goodness and unspeakable mercy that He chooses a man who, He perceives, will meanwhile be good, and who, He knows, will turn out badly, thus giving him the opportunity of being converted and of repenting. This is the Apostle's meaning when he says, "Dost thou not know that the goodness of God leadeth thee to repentance? but after thy hardness and impenitent heart treasurest up for thyself wrath in the day of wrath and revelation of the righteous judgment of God, Who will render to every man according to his works." For Adam did not sin because God knew that he would do so; but God inasmuch as He is God, foreknew what Adam would do of his own free choice. You may as well accuse God of falsehood because He said by the mouth of Jonah: "Yet three days, and Nineveh shall be overthrown." But God will reply by the mouth of Jeremiah, "At what instant I shall speak concerning a nation, and concerning a kingdom, to pluck up, and to break down, and to destroy it; if that nation, concerning which I have spoken, turn from their evil, I will repent of the evil that I thought to do unto them. And at what instant I shall speak concerning a nation, and concerning a kingdom, to build and to plant it; if it do evil in my sight, that it obey not my voice, then I will repent of the good, wherewith I said I would benefit them." Jonah, on a certain occasion, was indignant because, at God's command, he had spoken falsely; but his sorrow was proved to be ill founded, since he would rather speak truth and have a countless multitude perish, than speak falsely and have them saved. His position was thus illustrated: "Thou grievest over the ivy (or gourd), for the which thou hast not laboured, neither madest it grow, which came up in a night, and perished in a night; and should not I have pity on Nineveh, that great city, wherein are more than six score thousand persons that cannot discern between their right hand and their left hand ?" If there was so vast a number of children and simple folk, whom you will never be able to prove sinners, what shall we say of those inhabitants of both sexes who were at different periods of life? According to Philo, and the wisest of philosophers, Plato (so the Timaeus tells us), in passing from infancy to decrepit old age, we go through seven stages, which so gradually and so gently follow one another that we are quite insensible of the change.
Jerome, Against the Pelagians, Book III.


Heliodorus the Presbyter wrote a book entitled An introductory treatise on the nature of things, in which he showed that the beginning of things was one, that nothing was coaeval with God, that God was not the creator of evil, but in such wise the creator of all good, that matter, which is used for evil, was created by God after evil was discovered, and that nothing material whatever can be regarded as established in any other way than by God, and that there was no other creator than God, who, when by His foreknowledge He knew that nature was to be changed, warned of punishment.
Gennadius, Lives of Illustrious Men, Chapter VI.


II. The Divine Foreknowledge Does Not Account for the Jews'wickedness So as to Excuse Them.

Since then all things which Jewish ungodliness committed against the Lord of Majesty were foretold so long before, and the language of the prophets is concerned not so much with things to come as with things last, what else is thereby revealed to us but the unchangeable order of God's eternal decrees, with Whom the things which are to be decided are already determined, and what will be is already accomplished? For since both the character of our actions and the fulfilment of all our wishes are fore-known to God,. how much better known to Him are His own works? And He was rightly pleased that things should be recorded as if done which nothing could hinder from being done. And hence when the Apostles also, being full of the Holy Ghost, suffered the threats and cruelty of Christ's enemies, they said to God with one consent, "For truly in this city against Thy holy Servant Jesus, Whom Thou hast anointed, Herod and Pontius Pilate, with the Gentiles and the peoples of Israel were gathered together to do what Thy hand and Thy counsel ordained to come to pass." Did then the wickedness of Christ's persecutors spring from God's plan, and was that unsurpassable crime prefaced and set in motion by the hand of God? Clearly we must not think this of the highest Justice: that which was fore-known in respect of the Jews' malice is far different, indeed quite contrary to what was ordained in respect of Christ's Passion. Their desire to slay Him did not proceed from the same source as His to die: nor were their atrocious crime and the Redeemer's endurance the offspring of One Spirit. The Lord did not incite but permit those madmen's naughty hands: nor in His foreknowledge of what must be accomplished did He compel its accomplishment, even though it was in order to its accomplishment that He had taken flesh.

III. Christ Was in No Sense the Author of His Murderer's Guilt.

In fact, the case of the Crucified is so different from that of His crucifiers that what Christ undertook could not be reversed, while what they did could be wiped out. For He Who came to save sinners did not refuse mercy even to His murderers, but changed the evil of the wicked into the goodness of the believing, that God's grace might be the more wonderful, being mercifully put in force, not according to men's merits, but according to the multitude of the riches of God's wisdom anti knowledge, seeing that they also who had shed the Saviour's blood were received into the baptismal flood. For, as says the Scripture, which contains the Apostles' acts when the preaching of the blessed Apostle Peter pierced the hearts of the Jews, and they acknowledged the iniquity of their crime, saying, "what shall we do, brethren ?" the same Apostle said, "Repent and be baptized, each one of you, in the name of Jesus Christ for the remission of your sins, and ye shall receive the gift of the Holy Ghost. For to you is the promise, and to your sons, and to all that are afar off, whomsoever our Lord God has called," and soon after the Scripture goes on to say: "they therefore that received his word were baptized, and there were added on that day about 3,000 souls." And so, in being willing to suffer their furious rage, the Lord Jesus Christ was in no way the Author of their crimes; nor did He force them to desire this, but permitted them to be able, and used the madness of the blinded people just as He did also the treachery of His betrayer, whom by kindly acts and words He vouchsafed to recall from the awful crime he had conceived, by taking him for a disciple, by promoting him to be an apostle, by warning him with signs, by admitting him to the revelation of holy mysteries, that one who had lacked no degree of kindness to correct him, might have no pretext for his crime at all.
Leo the Great, Sermons, Sermon LXVII.


But it is upon God’s knowledge that he has cast the whole, and this no one would venture to gainsay, though he were ever so frantic. “For the children being not yet born,” he says, “it was said unto her, The elder shall serve the younger.” And he shows that noble birth after the flesh is of no avail, but we must seek for virtue of soul, which even before the works of it God knoweth of. For “the children,” he says, “being not yet born, nor having done any good or evil, that the purpose of God according to election might stand, it was said unto her that the elder shall serve the younger ”: for this was a sign of fore-knowledge, that they were chosen from the very birth. That the election made according to foreknowledge, might be manifestly of God, from the first day He at once saw and proclaimed which was good and which not. Do not then tell me that thou hast read the Law (he means) and the Prophets, and hast been a servant for such a long time. For He that knoweth how to assay the soul, knoweth which is worthy of being saved. Yield then to the incomprehensibleness of the election. For it is He alone Who knoweth how to crown aright.
Saint Chrysostom, Homilies on the Epistle to the Romans,
Homily XVI, on Rom. ix. 1.


After quite some time, three men of high rank, Theodosius, Bishop of Caesarea in Bithynia, and the patricians Paul and Theodosius, were sent by Constans and Patriarch Peter to win over the saint. They were joined by the Bishop of Bizye, and alternately flattered and threatened Maximus, testing his faith and posing various questions. They began by introducing themselves, then requested Maximus to sit down.

Bishop Theodosius asked, "How are you faring, my lord Abba Maximus?"

"Exactly as God knew I would before the ages," replied the saint. "He foreordained the circumstances of my life, which is guarded by providence."

"How can that be?" objected Theodosius. "Did God foreknow and actually foreordain our deeds from eternity?"

The saint said, "He foreknew our thoughts, words, and deeds, which nevertheless remain within our power to control; and He foreordained what befalls us. The latter is not subject to our control, but to the divine will."

"Explain more exactly what is in our power, and what is not," requested Bishop Theodosius.

"My lord, you know all this," answered Saint Maximus. "You only ask to try your servant."

The Bishop admitted, "Truly, I do not know. I wish to understand what we can control and what we cannot, and how God foresaw one and foreordained the other."

The venerable Maximus explained, "We do not directly control whether blessings will be showered upon us or chastisements will befall us, but our good and evil deeds most certainly depend on our will. It is not ours to choose whether we are in health or sickness, but we make determinations likely to lead to one or the other. Similarly, we cannot simply decide that we shall attain the kingdom of heaven or be plunged into the fire of Gehenna, but we can will to keep the commandments or transgress them."
The Life of Our Holy Monastic Father Maximus the Confessor and Martyr
Based on the Life by His Disciple Anastasius the Apocrisarios of Rome


Translated by Father Christopher Birchall
Holy Transfiguration Monastery
Boston, Massachusetts, 1982
pages 17-18

12 comments:

Lvka said...

maximus said:


Excellent, Jnorm!

I'm collecting info on this very subject, so I'm grateful for these. Here is a good one from the life of St. Maximus the Confessor :


After quite some time, three men of high rank, Theodosius, Bishop of Caesarea in Bithynia, and the patricians Paul and Theodosius, were sent by Constans and Patriarch Peter to win over the saint. They were joined by the Bishop of Bizye, and alternately flattered and threatened Maximus, testing his faith and posing various questions. They began by introducing themselves, then requested Maximus to sit down.

Bishop Theodosius asked, "How are you faring, my lord Abba Maximus?"

"Exactly as God knew I would before the ages," replied the saint. "He foreordained the circumstances of my life, which is guarded by providence."

"How can that be?" objected Theodosius. "Did God foreknow and actually foreordain our deeds from eternity?"

The saint said, "He foreknew our thoughts, words, and deeds, which nevertheless remain within our power to control; and He foreordained what befalls us. The latter is not subject to our control, but to the divine will."

"Explain more exactly what is in our power, and what is not," requested Bishop Theodosius.

"My lord, you know all this," answered Saint Maximus. "You only ask to try your servant."

The Bishop admitted, "Truly, I do not know. I wish to understand what we can control and what we cannot, and how God foresaw one and foreordained the other."

The venerable Maximus explained, "We do not directly control whether blessings will be showered upon us or chastisements will befall us, but our good and evil deeds most certainly depend on our will. It is not ours to choose whether we are in health or sickness, but we make determinations likely to lead to one or the other. Similarly, we cannot simply decide that we shall attain the kingdom of heaven or be plunged into the fire of Gehenna, but we can will to keep the commandments or transgress them."

(The Life of Our Holy Monastic Father Maximus the Confessor and Martyr )

Lvka said...

maximus said :


Here is Blessed Augustine, still within the tradition of the Church:


...It is not the case, therefore, that because God foreknew what would be in the power of our wills, there is for that reason nothing in the power of our wills. For he who foreknew this did not foreknow nothing. Moreover, if He who foreknew what would be in the power of our wills did not foreknow nothing, but something, assuredly, even though He did foreknow, there is something in the power of our wills. Therefore we are by no means compelled, either, retaining the prescience of God, to take away the freedom of the will, or, retaining the freedom of the will, to deny that He is prescient of future things, which is impious. But we embrace both. We faithfully and sincerely confess both. The former, that we may believe well; the latter, that we may live well. For he lives ill who does not believe well concerning God. Wherefore, be it far from us, in order to maintain our freedom, to deny the prescience of Him by whose help we are or shall be free. Consequently, it is not in vain that laws are enacted, and that reproaches, exhortations, praises, and vituperations are had recourse to; for these also He foreknew, and they are of great avail, even as great as He foreknew that they would be of. Prayers, also, are of avail to procure those things which He foreknew that He would grant to those who offered them; and with justice have rewards been appointed for good deeds, and punishments for sins. For a man does not therefore sin because God foreknew that he would sin. Nay, it cannot be doubted but that it is the man himself who sins when he does sin, because He, whose foreknowledge is infallible, foreknew not that fate, or fortune, or something else would sin, but that the man himself would sin, who, if he wills not, sins not. But if he shall not will to sin, even this did God foreknow.

(City of God, Book V, Chapter X; NPNF 1, Vol. II )

Thanks again!!

Lvka said...

Wesley said :


Augustine completed City of God in his latter years (c. 413-426/427), after (or in the midst of) his alleged departure from the church's tradition (i.e. during the years of the Pelagian controversy [c. 412-430]). At the earliest it was completed approximately contemporaneous with On the Merits and Forgiveness of Sin and On the Baptism of Infants (c. 412), On the Spirit and the Letter (c. 412), and On Nature and Grace (c. 414/415). And at the latest it was completed approximately contemporaneous with On Grace and Free Will (c. 426/427) and On Rebuke and Grace (c. 426/427). So it's kinda odd to find someone pointing at City of God as an example of Augustine "still within the tradition of the Church" when that work was written sometime during or after his so-called great departure from tradition lol

Lvka said...

Jnorm said :


Wesley,

Saint Augustine can be confusing at times. The work I cited was suppose to be an early work in where he first started to change. 396 A.D. When one reads it, it's easy to see why later Calvinists and Jansenists would believe the things they did. However, in his middle years, he seems to not be as hard. He seems to somewhat waterdown his view, but in his later years he gets hardened again, and it just gets worse. What he said in his early years...before being ordained as well as what he said in his middle years...after being ordained is what's closer to the other fathers when it comes to this issue. It not hard to find four out of the five points in Saint Augustine. But it's also not hard to find a more moderate Augustine as well. One that would only support one out of the five points of Calvinism.


Maximus,

Thanks for the Saint Maximus quote! That's a good one!

maximus said...

Wesley,

All I meant was that St. Augustine was still within confines of the Church's Tradition with those particular comments in the City of God. I never commented about early Augustine vs. Late Augustine. I do believe that "Augustinianism" is novel interpretation. From my reading of the issue, which Jnorm corroborates, Augustine spoke in various ways even during his later years:
Archbishop Philaret of Chernigov 1802-1866
"When the monks of Adumetum presented to Augustine that, according to his teaching, the obligation of asceticism and self-mortification was not required of them, Augustine felt the justice of the remark. He began more often to repeat that grace does not destroy freedom; but such an expression of his teaching changed essentially nothing in Augustine's theory, and his very last works were not in accord with his thought. Relying on his own experience of a difficult rebirth by means of grace, he was carried a long by a feeling of its further consequences....In defending the truth, he himself was not always faithful to the truth. Therefore it is not surprising that in the Eastern Church the teaching of Augustine on grace was not received with such a lively participation as it was in the west. The Ecumenical Synod of Ephesus (451) properly confirmed the condemnation of Pelagius' teaching, but concerning the teaching of Augustine it said not a word." (Historical Teaching of the Fathers of the Church [Saint Petersburg, 1882], v.3, pp. 33, 34)

Wesley said...

Jnorm:

My comment was directed at Maximus, not your post. But I understand what you're saying. Thank you.

Maximus:

Thanks for the clarification. I agree with what I take you (and Jnorm) to be saying, namely, that Augustine's views are complex and sometimes incongruent all the way across his life, not just in terms of early life vs late life. I think Augustine is a little more complicated in his highly nuanced, maturely developed theology than we often realize.

Jnorm said...

Maximus,

Would it be ok if we used your Saint Maximus quote? If so we will need the online link or book reference. Thanks!

Jnorm said...

Wesley,


It's cool!

Lvka said...

There's no such thing as an almost-completely-orthodox or almost-completely-heretical time-frame in Saint Augustine's life: he changed his views on various topics sometimes for the worse and sometimes for the better (like his latter acceptance of prayers addressed to Saints, and the honoring of their relics, which he discarded for various reasons prior in his life).

Wesley said...

I just wonder how many and how various were the theological uncertainties and doctrinal shifts Augustine was in the midst of when he went to his grave in 430. I wonder if he had any measure of depression on his deathbed knowing that he just couldn't get it all "figured out" before he passed away. With an intellect like his, I can imagine he was somewhat saddened at least at some point towards the end.

maximus said...

Jnorm,

My pleasure!

The Life of Our Holy Father Maximus the Confessor
Based on the Life by His Disciples Anastasius the Apocrisarios of Rome

Translated by Father Christopher Birchall
Holy Transfiguration Monastery
Boston, Massachusetts
1982

pp. 17-18

also here:

www.chrysostompress.org/saints-0121-maximus-the-confessor

The Twenty-First Day
of the Month of January
The Life of Our Holy Monastic Father
Maximus the Confessor and Martyr
From The Great Collection of the Lives of the Saints, Volume 5: January
compiled by St. Demetrius of Rostov

Wesley,

Thanks for helping clarify my thought. I also appreciated the chronology.

crosstheology said...

IS IT OK IF I USE THIS PAGE ON MY BLOG?

I PERSONALLY DO NOT AGREE WITH ANY CHURCH ENTIRELY BUT I DO BELIEVE THAT PEOPLE IN EVERY DENOMINATION, WHO TRULY FOLLOW AND CONTINUE FOLLOWING JESUS CHRIST ARE SAVED AND WILL BE SAVED.

YOU CAN CHECK OUT THE BLOG IF YOU LIKE, IT'S A MIX OF DIFFERENT THEOLOGIES, I BELIEVE, IN MY SEARCH FOR MORE AND MORE TRUTH. :)

GOD BLESS YOU, INTERESTING WEBSITE (although I'm not Eastern Orthodox) WILL CHECK IT OUT :)

Search

Loading...

POPULAR POSTS

TOPICS

FOLLOWERS

There was an error in this gadget

THUS SAITH THE LORD

Christian Gifts


LORD JESUS CHRIST,
SON OF GOD,
HAVE MERCY ON US,
THE SINNERS.

MONTHLY ARCHIVE

Related Posts Plugin for WordPress, Blogger...