This website uses cookies to ensure you have the best experience. Learn more

Augustine And Freedom Essay

5973 words - 24 pages

Augustine and Freedom


Evil-doing is neglect of eternal things and love of temporal things to the extent of
becoming subject to them. This is done by the free choice of the will . . . Free will
makes sin possible but it was given that man might live righteously.1

This is a brief summary of what Augustine believed regarding (1) the origin of sin and (2) the
purpose for which humanity was endowed with free choice of the will. Though insightful as it
may seem, Augustine's statement will not set to rest all the issues raised by the notion of
human freedom and divine activity, since with free choice of the will come perplexing
questions that continue to rage in philosophical circles. Some questions, however, can be set
forth that outline parameters within which to begin understanding Augustine on the issue of
human freedom and its origins/causes.

If evil originates in the human will, from where does the will come? Are there any limitations to
human freedom? Is the human will neutral or does it have a bias toward good? A bias toward
evil? Where does free choice of the will come into play when individuals are saved by God's
grace alone? What is meant by free will? On these questions, and many more related,
Augustine has been an immense help.

In this work an attempt will be made to illustrate Augustine's view of free will. Such categories
as God's sovereignty in election and salvation, the origin of evil and its impact upon humanity,
the justice of God, human responsibility and the providence of God in sanctification of the
believer will be utilized. Augustine's understanding of human freedom should corroborate with
(1) the nature and character of God, (2) the integrity of Scripture and (3) human nature and
experience. Finally, an endeavor will be made toward a definition of free will that is faithful to
Scripture and Augustine.

It is important to say that this work is not meant to resolve the tension that has emerged
over the centuries between God and human freedom. Philosophical and theological variations
on this theme abound. The philosophical nature of the problem alone has resulted in countless
monolithic efforts, notwithstanding innumerable theological implications. If clarification should
result from this work, it would more than likely not be the product of this writer's tentative
reflections on the issue. Rather, it would issue from the depth and breadth of wisdom given to
the Bishop of Hippo who's intellect, for at least 1500 years, has enriched the Church of God.

It is necessary at the outset to expose what was doctrinally significant for Augustine during
the time of his writings on free will. His two most important works on freedom of the will are
De Libero Arbitrio (On Free Will) and De Gratia et Libero Arbitrio (On Grace and Free Will). The
former was written early (ca. 387-395) as a charge against the Manichees who believed the
world to be...

Find Another Essay On Augustine and Freedom

Addressing the Problem of Evil in On Free Choice of the Will by Augustine

2268 words - 10 pages wrong because adultery would still be evil even though one satisfies his physical desires by offering his wife to another to commit adultery in anticipation to enjoy the same freedom with another man’s wife. The issue is quickly dismissed, and Evodius defines evil in terms of the law. “The reason that I think it is evil is that I have often seen people condemned for this crime” (Augustine, 5). This definition of evil does not work because Evodius

Saint Augustine Essay

890 words - 4 pages Saint Augustine Saint Augustine, b. Nov. 13, 354, d. Aug. 28, 430, was one of the foremost philosopher-theologians of early Christianity and, while serving (396-430) as bishop of Hippo Regius, the leading figure in the church of North Africa. He had a profound influence on the subsequent development of Western thought and culture and, more than any other person, shaped the themes and defined the problems that have characterized the Western

The Life of St. Augustine of Hippo

1037 words - 5 pages appealed to him, as it seemed more effective in answering the all encompassing question of evil than his mother’s Christianity. It also had far fewer guidelines, and this offered him more freedom to do as he pleased while still promising eternal delight. (Woodbridge, 86) Perhaps a primary reason for St. Augustine remaining such a primary figure in the study of theological thought, as well as his exceeding popularity in the minds of the “average

An Analysis Of Augustine's Interpertation Of The Concept Of Evil. Was It Through The Hands Of G-D Or From The Hands Of Human

1645 words - 7 pages provided for us a space within which we are given freedom to search, to experiment, and to find out for ourselves how things really are"(Foolishness to the Greeks, 89). Yes, this does mean that some will stray from the path of good and pursue evil, but the Augustinian Christian believes that if there were no choice to be made, their praises to G-d would not be so meaningful. For Augustine, it is free will that makes human lives worth living, and makes a

Augustine and Rousseau and the State of Human Nature

2422 words - 10 pages Both Jean Jacques Rousseau and Saint Augustine present two distinct, yet co-related accounts of the human being and the consequences of unrestrained human desire. All were great philosophers of their time, who offered various standpoints concerning the state of human nature. These great thinkers differed and shared certain similarities regarding their thoughts on the nature of the human being. Thus the purpose of this paper is to put forward a

Causes of The Stono Revolt

846 words - 4 pages owes to the reality that freedom had been promised by Spanish at St. Augustine. More slaves joined the rebellion and killed almost twenty-five whites before a British militia quashed the rebellion. Historians like Hofer (2010) and Rodriguez (2007) have different explanations for the causes of this revolt. This paper analyzes two reasons for the Stono revolt by explaining how they are different, evaluating, describing, and interpreting the reasons

The Forbidden Trees

1011 words - 5 pages she had to face the consequences, which was being impregnated with twins. In the story, “Confessions” by Augustine, during his childhood, he stole from a pear tree. It was forbidden to steal from the pear tree, but he didn’t care. “Nor had I any desire to enjoy the things I stole, but only the stealing of them and the sin” (Augustine 728). Augustine didn’t have a motive for stealing the pears from the pear tree. He just did it, because he felt

Augustine With Respect To Evil

1798 words - 7 pages not truly exist or that She is not as knowing and powerful and many believe Her to be.St. Augustine tries to clarify how evil and God can reasonably coexist. It is his beliefs that if God did not intend for evil to exist then She would, and could, prevent its subsistence. In view of free will however, it would seem that even an all powerful God would have the ability to stop all the evil in the world while still allowing freedom. Human beings do

Sin and Salvation

1509 words - 7 pages addition, he did not believe sin resulted from the fall in the Garden of Eden. In his debate with Augustine, Pelagius argued that, “Evil is not born with us, and we are procreated without fault. ” Pelagius believed that Adam’s sin is Adam’s alone. Subsequently the choice to sin results in chaotic lives filled with guilt, which ultimately end in death. Sin - Augustine of Hippo View In contrast, Augustine believed humans lost the freedom to

Theology and Christianity: The Works of Augustine and Pelagius

2037 words - 9 pages of forgiveness is determined based on your commitment. We have to remember that Pelagius did not believe in original sin. He believed that people chose to sin on their own. Augustine wanted to know why we are so broken. He felt like Pelagius under estimated the power of sin. According to Augustine, Adam and Eve had free will. The lost their freedom of the will when they ate the fruit in the garden. They no longer had the ability to chose good

Freely Choosing Between the Divided House

2230 words - 9 pages One of the many questions that are raised in the discussion of the freedom of the will is the reason why we as humans do not love and have turned away from the highest good. According to Augustine’s philosophy, the chains or bonds of bad habits are self-forged by our divided will, also referred to as the divided house. In Book XII of “City of God” Augustine declares it pointless to look for the cause of the evil will. For the cause, he argues

Similar Essays

Augustine Essay

1581 words - 7 pages St. Augustine wrote the book Confessions to tell the story of his conversion into Christianity. Throughout this book Augustine addresses three major questions. He defines what is real, what it means to be a self, and how others should respond to his journey. Augustine believes that both the material world and the spiritual world are real from his understanding of the Platonists. The Platonists believed that being a self is being detached from

Comparing St. Augustine's And Jonathan Edwards' Views On The Origin Of Sin

1313 words - 6 pages . He reiterated that God gave man real freedom, but it was lost when man deliberately fell into sin. Nevertheless, God had a way to restore his grace upon humanity even after falling (Augustine, The City of God, 1972). Saint Augustine believed that Adam had a high propensity of doing the will of God and, therefore; there was no likelihood of falling into sin easily (Augustine, Confessions, 1961). He, however, argued that the possibilities of falling

Philosophy Essay

558 words - 2 pages #2 Explain how Augustine’s conception of freedom relates to compatibilism and to freedom in the sense of autonomy.      According to Augustine, “Human beings are endowed with a power that he calls the will.” He emphasizes the will to being the center of freedom. Unlike other philosophers, who are determinists, Augustine, who has a libertarian view, sees our will as free choice. So for whatever we may choose to do, we

God's Grace Essay

726 words - 3 pages free will because of his unconditional love for us. “So I used to argue that your unchangeable substance, my God, was forced to err, rather than admit that my own changeable and erred of its own free will, and that its errors were my punishment” (Augustine 87). The Lord gives us this unlimited freedom in order for us to closer to him. By engaging in activities that distract people from him, they have the opportunity to make their own decisions. In