"...if anyone makes the assistance of grace depend on the humility or obedience of man and does not agree that it is a gift of grace itself that we are obedient and humble, he contradicts the Apostle who says, "What have you that you did not receive?" (1 Cor. 4:7), and, "But by the grace of God I am what I am" (1 Cor. 15:10). (Council of Orange: Canon 6)


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  • « Exile to New Creation in John's Gospel (Part 1) | Main | My Top 5 Books for 2012 »

    Chrysostom Vs. Augustine on Man's WIll

    John Chrysostom (347-407), held to this opinion,

    “All is in God’s power, but so that our free-will is not lost, . . It depends therefore on us and on Him. We must first choose the good, and then He adds what belongs to Him. He does not precede our willing, that our free-will may not suffer. But when we have chosen, then He affords us much help . . . It is ours to choose beforehand and to will, but God’s to perfect and bring to the end.” … Salvation is of God and of man!"

    Now contrast this view with Augustine (354 – 430):

    "God's mercy ... goes before the unwilling to make him willing; it follows the willing to make his will effectual."
    - Augustine, Handbook on Faith, Hope, and Love.

    "The nature of the Divine goodness is not only to open to those who knock. but also to cause them to knock and ask."
    - Augustine

    "In some places God requires newness of heart [Ezek 18:31]. But elsewhere he testifies that it is given by him [Ezek. 11:19; 36:26]. But what God promises we ourselves do not do through choice or nature; but he himself does through grace."
    - Augustine

    'Can we possibly, without utter absurdity, maintain that there first existed in anyone the good virtue of a good will, to entitle him to the removal of his heart of stone? How can we say this, when all the time this heart of stone itself signifies precisely a will of the hardest kind, a will that is absolutely inflexible against God? For if a good will comes first, there is obviously no longer a heart of stone.'
    - Augustine

    Posted by John on December 30, 2012 06:11 PM


    Thanks for posting.

    Thomas Aquinas brings all the free will and grace understanding to a synthesis. It isn't an easy read, but he does a wonderful job of organizing and harmonizing the Church Fathers.

    I haven't read the works of Aquinas, but I doubt he effectively harmonized them. If Aquinas actually did this, then the Reformers, who were heirs of the medieval church, were mistaken in their monergism. And not just that, it seems apologists for Rome are unable to effectively use the work of Aquinas to refute Protestants.

    If that last sentence from Chrysostom is accurate, then he did not have a golden mouth at that moment. Even ignorant evangelicals that are semi-Pelagian would not say that.

    Here I thought I like Chrysostom for his boldness on separation from the world but, after seeing his statements that we willfully sought God before he us, Chrysostom surely didn't understand the doctrines of grace

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