An Ancient Theologian tackles John 6 and Romans 9

st-john-chrysostom-71John Chrysostom, a 4th century theologian, served as Bishop of Constantinople and was known for his preaching and ascetic lifestyle. What made him a noteworthy teacher was his ability and desire to be understood by the lay person and his rejection of allegorical interpretation.

Chrysostom predated the Pelagian and Semi-Pelagian debates that dominated the 5th century but was around during the disputes with the Manicheans.

The Manicheans were a heretical group that held to dualism. The founder claimed to be an apostle.

Augustine was a Manichean for nearly a decade before coming to Christ. He spent much of his early Christian experience refuting them in numerous works. At this time Augustine refuted the Manichean deterministic idea that “evils and sins are thereby connected, as by a sort of chain, to God” by arguing that actions that were determined and not performed through a willing agent did not deserve condemnation.

While ministering in Antioch, Chrysostom wrote Homilies (or sermons), which consist of verse by verse expositions of the Scriptures. Chrysostom, did not author major works against the Manicheans as Augustine did, but noted in his sermons those passages which these (and other heretical groups) wrongly interpreted. Continue reading

Augustine Evolving Views on God’s Sovereignty (Part 2)

We have been examining Augustine’s changing views on faith, free will, and God’s sovereignty. His original views on these topics evolved from a synergistic model (where God and man cooperate in coming to faith) to a monergistic model (God alone causes man to come to faith) that became the foundation of Reformed theology.

In the last post we delved into Augustine’s interpretation of 1 Timothy 2:3-4 based on what he wrote in from The Spirit and the Letter, written in 412 AD.Saint_Augustine_Portrait

In summary:

  • free will was given to us by God when He created us. Our free will was able to choose between faith and unbelief.
  • God desires all the people He created to be saved, but this desire is constrained so that people maintain their ability to freely choose to be saved. Our consent is required in order for God to save us.
  • The reality that all people are not saved does not thwart God’s will since it is also His will that those who remain in unbelief will perish. Only those who remain in unbelief and escape the penalty would truly thwart God’s will.

Before we consider his revised interpretation using quotes and observations from the Enchiridion of Faith, Hope, and Love written 10 years later, I want to address the idea that Augustine did in fact change his mind. Continue reading

Augustine Evolving Views on God’s Sovereignty (Part 1)

In a previous post we examined Augustine’s changing views on free will. His original view regarding free will and faith mirrored that of the other early church writers and theologians. But later, Augustine articulated views that we now kSaint_Augustine_Portraitnow as unconditional election and irresistible grace.

These changes coincided with Augustine’s shift in how he understood God’s sovereignty. We will continue to examine Augustine’s changing views by looking at how he interpreted the passage 1 Timothy 2:3-4 over time.

This is good, and it is pleasing in the sight of God our Savior, who desires all people to be saved and to come to the knowledge of the truth.

This first post will examine quotes and observations from The Spirit and the Letter, written in 412 AD. The second post will examine quotes and observations from the Enchiridion of Faith, Hope, and Love written 10 years later. Continue reading