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The Theodicies Of Augustine And Boethius

915 words - 4 pages

A foundational belief in Christianity is the idea that God is perfectly good. God is unable to do anything evil and all his actions are motives are completely pure. This principle, however, leads to many questions concerning the apparent suffering and wrong-doing that is prevalent in the world that this perfect being created. Where did evil come from? Also, how can evil exist when the only eternal entity is the perfect, sinless, ultimately good God? This question with the principle of God's sovereignty leads to even more difficult problems, including human responsibility and free will. These problems are not limited to our setting, as church fathers and Christian philosophers are the ones who proposed some of the solutions people believe today. As Christianity begins to spread and establish itself across Europe in the centuries after Jesus' resurrection, Augustine and Boethius provide answers, although wordy and complex, to this problem of evil and exactly how humans are responsible in the midst of God's sovereignty and Providence.
In Augustine's Confessions, the early church father puts forth a complex theodicy in which he declares evil to be nonexistent. Such a leap may seem to be illogical, but this idea stems from the understanding of what is substance and what is not. According to Augustine, the duality of good and evil is false, because anything that is good is substance and what humans think of as evil is simply the absence of the good (Confessions, 126). Vices for example, are just the display of the absence of the good. Pride is the absence of humility, unrighteous anger the absence of temperance, and so on. This idea is evident as he writes that the ability to be corrupted is what makes something good, not including God, the supreme, incorruptible good (Confessions, 124). God created the world to be corruptible, and although good in a sense, it is not as perfect as the supreme good, God himself (Confessions, 115). If God had created the world completely perfect, He would have merely created more of himself and not allowing the free will of corruptibility. Evil, since it is not a substance, is not created by or from God. Ultimately, evil is a human convention that does not exist, since nothing could go against the order God placed on the world (Confessions, 125). Augustine's solution to the problem of evil, or theodicy, bases itself off of the idea that good has a substance and that this perceived evil is simply a lack of the good displayed in corruptible entities.
While Augustine's answer to the problem of evil is not completely ignored, Boethius develops a different idea based on a majorly different starting point. As...

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