More than one hundred years age, B. B. Warfield wrote the introduction to volume five of The Nicene and Post-Nicene Fathers, First Series: Saint Augustine: Anti-Pelagian Writings ("Introductory Essay on Augustin and the Pelagian Controversy," pp. xiii-lxxi). In that essay, Warfield traced the concept of the sovereignty of grace in Augustine's intellectual and spiritual odyssey. Warfield followed up with studies of Calvin and Augustine (essays gathered in his Calvin and Augustine , but originally penned between the years 1905 and 1909). Warfield was persuaded of the magisterial Geneva reformer's dependence on the magisterial Bishop of Hippo; and both "masters" dependent on the magisterial apostle Paul.
The publication of the massive Augustine Encyclopedia1 affords the opportunity to examine the assessment of the Bishop of Hippo by scholars of the late 20th century. Is it the case that Augustine is still regarded as the theologian of sovereign grace by the scholarly community? And what of the so-called semi-Augustinian tradition? Dismissing those such as Elaine Pagels, who regard Augustine as responsible for all modern ills (defined by her as all opinions not culturally or politically correct), what do students of Augustine have to say about the North African church father nearly sixteen centuries after his death in 430 A.D.?
First, let me describe the features of this volume. Augustine is covered from A to Z (actually A to W, "Abortion" to "Worship"). Each article is authored by a recognized Augustine scholar. We have, for example, Gerald Bonner (author of one of the standard biographies of Augustine, St. Augustine of Hippo, 3rd edition 2002) on several of Augustine's works penned during the semi-Pelagian controversy (426-529 A.D.). J. Patout Burns contributes the article on "Grace" (Burns himself the author of a major book on the subjectThe Development of Augustine's Doctrine of Operative Grace ). Eugene TeSelle (author of Augustine the Theologian ) is a contributor, as is Roland Teske (Paradoxes of Time in Saint Augustine ). Rebecca Weaver's important Divine Grace and Human Agency: A Study of the Semi-Pelagian Controversy (1996) has earned her a spot in our encyclopedia. Other noteworthy contributors include: Brian Daley, Angelo Di Berardino, G. R. Evans, Boniface Ramsey, Tarsicius van Bavel and Maureen Tilley. From the Reformed perspective, Richard Muller of Calvin Theological Seminary offers "Reformation, Augustinians in the" (pp. 705-7) and Ronald Nash of Reformed Theological Seminary, Orlando writes "Illumination, Divine" (pp. 438-40) and "Wisdom" (pp. 885-87). But we miss Peter Brown. Strange!
The encyclopedia contains a complete list of Augustine's works: by Latin abbreviation (pp. xxxv-xlii) and by full Latin title (pp. xliii-il). The full list includes the date in which the work was written and a short explanation of each treatise's contents. The abbreviated list includes a table identifying standard sources (Migne, CSEL=Corpus Scriptorum Ecclesiasticorum Latinorum) and English translations where available (Nicene and Post-Nicene Fathers, Series 1 [NPNF1]; Fathers of the Church [FC]; Ancient Christian Writers [ACW]; Library of Christian Classics [LCC]; and the New City project (Works of St. Augustine) which aims to publish English translations of the entire Augustine corpusto date 26 volumes.2 The 396 sermons of Augustine are listed in full on pp. 774-89 of the encyclopedia, complete with source, place and time of delivery. In short, the encyclopedia provides complete access to the bibliography of Augustine's Opera.
There is an entry for every major work written by Augustine in this volume. They are listed alphabetically by the Latin title with a discussion of date, context and content. This provides a superb summary of the thought of Augustine book by book (scholarly bibliographies are also attached to each article). The personalities in Augustine's life are also covered from Adeodatus (son of his concubine) to Monnica (his devout mother) to Ambrose (his father in the faith) to Pelagius (his nemesis) and more. There is even coverage of post-Augustinian personalities (and movements): Calvin, Carolingian Era, Erasmus, Kierkegaard, Scholasticism, Thomas Aquinas. The editor has attempted to provide broad and thorough coverage of Augustine in his own time and context, as well as Augustine down through church history. That goal has been remarkably achieved making this volume the place to start when orienting the student to Augustine's life, his work and his thought.
But what of the assessment of the great African bishop? The evaluation of Augustine's thought began even in his own lifetime. Pelagius was insulted by Augustine's doctrine of grace and 5th century monks of southern France branded him an extremist. Since the Pelagian and semi-Pelagian controversies treat the heart of the gospel of salvation by grace, we will assess the content of our encyclopedia by tracing the details of the semi-Pelagian debate in particular through its pages.
Augustine testifies that the conflict with Pelagius originated when the latter objected to Augustine's statement, "Give what Thou commandest [O God] and command what Thou willest" (cf. On the Gift of Perseverance[=De Dono Perseverantie], 20.53; NPNF1, 5:547). The North African was acknowledging his inability to comply with the demands of God and his complete dependence upon God to supply the ability which he demanded. For Augustine, "ought" does not imply "can"; ought is demand, compliance is graciously supplied to sinful man. Pelagius was angered by this total dependence. For Pelagius, God's demand is based on man's ability ("ought" requires "can"). If God requires it, the sinner is able to perform it. Obviously this threw into question the whole matter of divine grace. Was grace a divine sufficiency (as over against sinful human insufficiency)? or was grace a reward for human sufficiency and ability? In short, was grace deserved/merited or was grace undeserved/unmerited?3 Augustine vigorously argued the former; Pelagius the latter.4
Following the inception of his conflict with the British moralist in 411, Augustine's triumph over Pelagius was complete by 416 (Pelagius was condemned at the Councils of Carthage and Milevis [cf. "Milevis, Council of," p. 562, of our encyclopedia]). Pelagius, having fled to Palestine, disappears from history in 419 when the weight of Zosimus (Bishop of Rome, 417-18) and Honorius (Roman Emperor in the West, 395-423) is arrayed against him.
The fading of the Pelagian controversy was reversed in 426 when the monks at Hadrumetum (also spelled Adrumetum, now Sousse in Tunisia, North Africa) disagreed about Augustine's anti-Pelagian teaching on grace. The specific spark of the controversy was the discovery by a monk named Florus of a letter Augustine had written in 418 at the close of the Pelagian controversy (Letter 194 to Sixtus). To Sixtus, Augustine affirmed that grace is wholly gratuitous excluding all human merit.5 When Florus forwarded a copy of this letter to the monks at Hadrumetum, the "revolt of the monasteries" began.
The monks believed that Augustine's doctrine threatened (if it did not actually annul) human agency and freedom. Monkish striving for perfection through prayer, work, self-denial was seemingly made void. Valentinus, Abbot of Hadrumetum, dispatched two brothers, Cresconius and Felix, to visit Augustine in Hippo and ask for clarification. Augustine's reply was addressed in two letters to Valentinus (Letters 214 and 215; cf. NPNF1, 5:437-40). In addition, Augustine included a book which he wrote for the monks at HadrumetumOn Grace and Free Will(=De gratia et libero arbitrio)(cf. NPNF1, 5:443-65). In the book, Augustine attempted to steer between two errors: (1) those who think grace annuls free choice (or free will); (2) those who think free choice/free will makes grace unnecessary or that grace is given on account of human merit. Bonner's encyclopedia article on this work (pp. 400-401) leaves the impression that for Augustine grace is a helper or an assistant to free will after the Fall into sin. In fact, Augustine emphasizes the impotence of the fallen will and the absolute necessity of transformation by divine grace: "Thus it is necessary for a man that he should be not only . . . changed . . . but that even after he has become justified by faith, grace should accompany him on his way, and he should lean upon it"On Grace and Free Will, 6.13 (NPNF1, 5:449). Bonner seems to lean towards the so-called semi-Pelagian interpretation of Augustine in which grace is necessary, but the fallen will is able to choose it; or, put another way, the modern dialectical paradox maintains the ability of (fallen) free will and the gratuity of conversion. Augustine does not deal in such paradoxes: the impotent, fallen will freely chooses enmity with God until transforming grace potently converts it. Our encyclopedia leans towards the semi-Augustinian pole.
When his book was received at Hadrumetum, one monk refused moral and spiritual rebuke on the grounds that he could not be blamed for (sinful) failure if perseverance in good is due to grace. Augustine then wrote a second book, On Rebuke/Correction and Grace(=De correptione et gratia; NPNF1, 5:471-91). Here Augustine uses the famous phrase aguntur enim ut agant ("for they [men] are acted upon that they may act," 2.4; NPNF1, 5:473) to indicate the sufficiency of grace in human action. Whereas the monks viewed the will as undergoing a gradual process of conversion through their monastic regimen, Augustine emphasized the sovereign transformation of the will by the grace of regeneration and conversion. Correction or rebuke is an instrument of the divine agency; and it is an instrument subordinated to God's decree of election. In other words, as B. B. Warfield points out, election, transforming grace, free choice, correction run concurrently (Latin concursus). The choice of God (election) fixes on changing the sinner's nature (regenerating grace) liberating his enslaved will (free choice) to receive rebuke (correction): and all concurrently. Our encyclopedia once again diminishes Augustine's emphasis on sovereign, electing (monergistic) grace by alluding to the perseverance of the saints, i.e., some men persevere and others do not. That is, the encyclopedia (p. 245) implies that the "mystery" of persevering grace (i.e., citing Augustine's inability to explain why one perseveres rather than another) jeopardizes Augustine's emphasis on sovereign grace (dialectics again!). The "mystery" in Augustine's doctrine of perseverance tips the balance (per our encyclopedists) from divine monergism to human synergism (or worse).
The second book written for the monks at Hadrumetum apparently resolved the tensions, pacified the consciences and laid the antinomies to rest. As Peter Brown notes in his magnificent biography of Augustine, the monks were content with "all-or-nothing grace" (Augustine of Hippo: A Biography  403). The further silence of the monks at Hadrumentum represents the conclusion of the first stage (post Pelagius) in the reaction to Augustine's doctrine of grace.
But when De correptione et gratia made its way across the Mediterranean to southern France (ancient Gaul), a very different response erupted. Stage two of the contention over Augustine's teaching on grace and predestination is, in fact, the inauguration of the semi-Pelagian controversy. I must pause here to acquaint the reader with the currently accepted scholarly protocols. The label "semi-Pelagian" is no longer acceptable in scholarly discourse. It is a misnomer, too pejorative and smacking of a benighted half-way paganism or anti-Christian heresy. Our encyclopedia labels the term an "anachronism", coined in the heated debates of the 16th century between Molinists (followers of Luis de Molina, Spanish Jesuit) and his Dominican opponents (p. 761). Further, according to our encyclopedia, John Cassian (ca. 360-ca. 435; cf. pp. 133-35, of our encyclopedia) and Faustus of Riez (ca. 405-ca. 490; cf. pp. 356-58, of our encyclopedia), the main protagonists in stage two of the controversy, were not disciples of Pelagius and thus do not deserve the negative association with the heretic suggested in the label "semi-Pelagian". It is clear that our modern revisionists do not want even the half-way association with a confirmed heretic. So they banish the term "semi-Pelagian" and replace it with the designation "semi-Augustinian" or "centrist" or something less inflammatory. I will point out below that these modern scholars hold on to key elements of Pelagius's case for (sinful) human ability, while claiming the Augustinian emphasis on grace (though it must be admitted that J. Patout Burns's article on "Grace" is a refreshing exception, pp. 391-98, albeit even he flinches when he writes, "Still, he [Augustine] allowed that humans must respond by cooperating with God's gift"p. 394). As Augustine himself understood, such a half-way house is a rejection of grace and an affirmation of the moral ability of the fallen man. Augustine would be as hostile to this revisionism as he was to Pelagius himself. But back to our story.
The leader of the debate in France was John Cassian. Maintaining a centrist position, he argued that he did not endorse Pelagius nor was he anti-Augustine. Cassian's opponent in France was Prosper of Aquitaine (ca. 390-after 455; cf. pp. 685-86, of our encyclopedia), a layman who devoured the writings of the Bishop of Hippo. In 426/427, Prosper wrote a letter to Rufinus (otherwise unknown) in which he focused on predestinationthe issue of sovereign grace. In 428, Prosper sent a letter to Augustine informing him of resistance to his book On Correction and Grace. In 429, Augustine responded with the last two works to issue from his pen: On the Predestination of the Saints(=De praedestinatione sanctorum; NPNF1, 5:497-519); and On the Gift of Perseverance(=De dono perseverantiae; NPNF1, 5:525-52).6 With the Vandal invasion of Africa imminent,7 the latter became an exhortation even to its aged author.
Responding to the charge that his doctrine of predestination was fatalistic, Augustine admitted that early in his career he had believed that faith was the product of human effort and that that effort was itself prior to saving grace. But he was dumbstruck by 1 Corinthians 4:7: "for what do you have that you did not receive?" And having been stopped by the inspired apostle, Augustine repudiated his earlier opinion and taught that faith is the result of grace, not the cause of grace. The sinner first received the gift of grace and thus had faith (grace "goes before" [Latin prevenio] or precedes faith). Divine election could not therefore be based on foresight or foreknowledge of faith, i.e., God looks forward and sees who will have faith and requites their work of faith with election. The (former) Augustine thus taught election on the basis of the merit of faith; the (later) Augustine saw that election was on the basis of undeserved grace. Augustine's Gallic opponents however were maintaining that the sinner's will has power to act prior to and apart from grace. Grace is gained by a prior act of the will. Citing the passage "believe and thou shalt be saved," Augustine's opponents argued that a sinner was able to believe, else the command was meaningless. Augustine's response to these semi-Pelagians was his response to the Pelagians: God gives what he commands. Supernatural grace moves the sinful will in such a way that it believes"our sufficiency, by which we begin to believe, is of God" (On the Predestination of the Saints, 2.5; NPNF1, 5:500). If faith preceded grace, it would merit God's life"which assuredly is not grace if any merits precede it" (ibid., 3.7; NPNF1, 5:501).
That which Augustine rejected in his treatise On the Predestination of the Saints was embraced by John Cassian. Prosper suspected Cassian of being neither a Pelagian (since he agreed with Augustine on the necessity of grace for salvation) nor an Augustianian (since he agreed with Pelagius that the sinful will has the ability to perform spiritual good). Suggested Prosper, Cassian was a tertium quid (a "third thing" altogether). Standard historians of doctrine have labeled this semi-Pelagianism (Robert A. Markus has recently labeled it the "Gallic orthodoxy"). If contemporary revisionists prefer semi-Augustinianism, they must still admit that Cassian endorses positions Augustine rejects and rejects positions Augustine embraces. Gerald Bonner writes that Augustine himself "had also asserted the power of free choice, by which an individual may believe and receive grace, and had even spoken of grace being given as a reward for the faith which God foresees that an individual will haveprecisely the view of the monastic theologian John Cassian (c. 365-c. 453) and his fellow divines of Marseilles, which Augustine would reject" (Expository Times 109:295). Bonner's article on De praedestinatione sanctorum in our encyclopedia (p. 669) is not quite as blunt, but it is a competent description of the book in its context. Cassian contrives the 5th century via media. He rejects absolute sovereign grace (Augustine) and he rejects the absolute primacy of free will (Pelagius). He straddles the antipodesnot the transformation of a dead will (Augustine), but the assistance (through grace) of a crippled will. For Cassian, the sinful will is not in as bad a state as Augustine imagines; nor is it in as good a state as Pelagius imagines. For Cassian, salvation begins in the proper use a sinner makes of the natural ability of his free will. Having inclined himself to good by his (naturally able) free will, the sinner is assisted by divine grace to complete the journey. Cassian calls the fallen will "weak". It is the role of grace to "cooperate" with man's weak will thus "assisting" it to salvation (cf. his Conferences 13; NPNF2, 11:427-30).8 Is grace irresistible because omnipotently efficacious (Augustine)9; or is grace resistible because man must begin the process of salvation by the potency of his (fallen) free will (Cassian)?10
Cassian also suggested that 1 Timothy 2:4 ("[God] desires all men to be saved and to come to the knowledge of the truth") teaches universal salvation. "How can we imagine without grievous blasphemy that He does not generally will all men, but only some instead of all to be saved?" (Conferences 13.7; NPNF2, 11:425). The argument over grace is now shaping the intention of Christ's death on the cross.11 With the departure from the bondage of the sinner's will comes a view of grace which is ameliorative, assistive, responsive. And that requires a redefinition of the cross of Christ from particular-elective to universal-meliorative.
Augustine died at Hippo in 430 with the Vandals besieging the gates. Cassian succumbed in 435 at Marseilles. Prosper survived to 455 (or beyond) dying probably in Rome. By mid-5th century, the issues were: if salvation is predestined, grace is absolutely unmerited; but if salvation is universal (or the will to salvation is universal), grace is, in some sense, merited. Augustine and the strict Augustinians argued that grace is the effect of election. The semi-Pelagians argued that grace is a foreseen reward or gift for those using their free will well. The Pelagians had argued that grace is a mere adjutorium ("helper"/ "assister") and man is fully capable of saving himself without it.
The next phase of the controversy over predestination, grace and free will occurs with the rise of Faustus of Riez (ca. 405-ca. 490; pp. 356-58, of our encyclopedia) and his nemesis, Fulgentius of Ruspe (462/68-527/33; cf. pp. 373-74, of our encyclopedia). Riez (Reii) is a town in Gaul where Faustus rose to become the most famous preacher of the day. In his major work, De gratia ("On Grace"), written about 422/23, Faustus declared that he was taking the via media between Pelagius (man's efforts are adequate for salvation) and the Augustinians (divine grace is the sole effective power in man's salvation). Our encyclopedia article on Faustus informs us that the great history of dogma writersAdolf von Harnack and Reinhold Seebergregarded him as the quintessential representative of the semi-Pelagian position.
Rebecca Weaver says that Faustus, with John Cassian, affirmed that "all is to be ascribed to grace and all is to be ascribed to free will" (Weaver, op. cit., 165). Since Christ died for all mankind (a la 1 Tim. 2:4), salvation is a combination of grace and works. Christ's mission is to "empower human self-reformation" (Weaver, ibid., 169).
For Faustus, divine predestination proceeds on the foreknowledge of human desert/merit (i.e., election succeeds human volition). He rejects total inability or total depravity arguing that the Fall rendered man merely weak. Faith unto salvation then is not a new creation or regeneration gift; it is a natural human capacity and ability merely requiring the proper assistance, direction and example. Because human freedom is absolute and indelible, man's free willeven in the fallen stateis fully able to choose God's will. He even declares that if faith is a gift, it loses its value. Our encyclopedist vainly seeks to sanitize this heresy by suggesting (with the great orthodox scholar of the 16th century, Erasmus!) that Faustus is more Augustinian than Pelagian (or semi-Pelagian). Surely Augustine would shudder at such a conclusion!
Faustus received the reaction he deserved from Fulgentius of Ruspe. Ruspe (Byzacena) is a village in North Africa where Fulgentius became bishop ca. 502. His call to the monastery and episcopacy stemmed from Augustine's Ennarationes on Psalm 36. Our encyclopedia article recounts his double exiles to Sardinia at the hands of the Arian Vandals and his stirring public defense of Nicene Trinitarianism. But he was equally vigorous in his defense of Augustine on whom he "depends faithfully, almost slavishly." Fulgentius penned two works against Faustus: Contra Faustum Gallum ("Against Faustus, the Gaul")a work now lost; and De veritate predestinationis et gratia Dei ("On the Truth of Predestination and the Grace of God"). Fulgentius attacks Cassian and Faustus asserting the Augustinian tenets of divine sovereignty (grace) and human impotence (free will). The fallen will is not free to choose good because it is impotent. Apart from supernatural grace, the will is free only for evil. It is liberated and inclined to good only when transformed by grace. He explains the controverted 1 Timothy 2:4 by suggesting that "all" means all varieties or all kinds of persons (persons from all kinds of nations, all kinds of conditions, all kinds of age brackets, etc.). And the fruits of election and the gracious regeneration of the will? good works, perseverance and assurance. The latter are the fruits of the former, absolutely dependent on their primacy and never making the former dependent on the latter.
The final stage in this debate occurred at the Second Council of Orange in 529 (cf. pp. 250-51, of our encyclopedia).12 Presiding over the Council is Caesarius of Arles (ca. 470-543; cf. pp. 115-16, of our encyclopedia), the apparent champion of Fulgentius and Augustine. And so our encyclopedia entry on Caesarius reads: "he takes an extreme Augustinian position on the impotence of nature, without grace, with regard to salvation." And the canons of Orange II have been regarded by many historians of Christian dogma as a vindication of Augustine Augustinianism and a condemnation of semi-Pelagian Augustinianism. Rebecca Weaver has cautioned that there are two sides to Caesarius: the moralistic side evident in his voluminous sermonic corpus; the sola gratia Caesarius evident in his major theological tome, De gratia. The homiletic moralism admonishes the hearer to practical application, i.e., the activism of human agency. The centrality of grace is subdued (even buried) in these hortatory addresses. Yet in De gratia the gratuitous nature of grace is enunciated with attendant Augustinian emphases explicit. This latter work has shaped the interpretation of the canons of Orange (529) and the sympathies of her presiding bishop. But a careful reading of the canons leaves the strict Augustinian wondering.13 The priority of grace is present, but emphasis on predestination and election is absent. (Would Augustine have neglected these had he written the canons?) Free will is conferred in baptism (grace). Grace subsequently assists man's efforts. Is this in essence a reduction of salvation to a reward for the baptized making proper use of their wills? Consistent with Caesarius's homiletic agenda, Orange II may be a subtle affirmation of moral exemplarism and human ability with the pious linguistic trappings of some (but not all) Augustinian vocabulary.
Using the Augustinian/Pelagian/semi-Pelagian controversy as a barometer, we look back on our excursion through the Augustine Encyclopedia with critical appreciation. The articles are thorough, well-written and accurate from the standpoint of names, dates, works, sequence of events, relevant issues and bibliography. Coverage is excellent (though not definitivecould it ever be?) in all areas of Augustiniana. On these scores, the encyclopedia rates exceedingly high.
But what we encounter in the assessment and evaluation of Augustine's thought is reflective of the battles over the great African bishop which have dogged his works since before his death. The polarizations remain: some read Augustine and believe he is paradoxicalaffirming the antinomies of divine (even sovereign) grace and human ability; some read Augustine and believe he is antitheticalaffirming the antithesis of divine grace and human ability; some read Augustine through the eyes of later semi-Augustiniansaffirming a middle way which reduces divine monergism and advances human synergism. In general, the Augustine Encyclopedia favors the way of paradox and the way of synthesis (via media). B. B. Warfield would be disappointed14; orthodox Calvinists in general are disappointed; I am disappointed. Augustine does not in the final analysis speak for himself. Augustine speaks with the voice of the modern scholar whose pride will not permit him to assert absolute divine sovereignty in predestinating/electing grace and absolute human depravity and inability in salvation. Such a portrait of man is as offensive to modern (scholarly) man as it was (in essence) to Pelagius and his semi-Pelagian followers of old. And so it must be massaged to render it more palatable to modern natural man. Alas, it is not only homo scholasticus who is affected with this self-sufficiency; it is also endemic to homo ecclesiasticus as well. A more optimistic, more activistic, more universalistic notion of fallen man's native abilities is popular currently, as it continues to be epexegetical of the natural man generically before and after Augustine. "Miserable sinner Christianity", as Warfield pointed out in another context, is never popular in the church or the academy.
Augustine requires a confession of absolute dependence on the electing grace of God in Christ Jesus. And the natural man from Augustine to the present is too self-sufficient to confess his utter dependence on what lies outside himself. No, the modern man replies, Augustine can't be right; I can't be as bad as all that; surely I am better, more virtuous, more able to commend myself to the deity than he allows. Augustine is too severe, too extreme, too relentless.
But Augustine still speaks; his works still speak. They speak with the voice of another theologian, the apostle Paul: "you were dead in your trespasses and sins . . . but God being rich in mercy . . . even when we were dead in our transgressions, made us aliveby grace have you been saved through faith; and that not of yourselves, it is the gift of God; not as a result of works, that no one should boast" (Eph. 2:1, 5, 8, 9). That is the gospel of Paul, which gospel Augustine believed and taught; which gospel still beckons to sinners unable to save themselvesyet sinners graciously chosen, powerfully regenerated, wonderfully enabled to believe on the Lord Jesus Christ for their salvation. Grace alone has veritably raised them up from the dead!
Northwest Theological Seminary
1 Allan D. Fitzgerald, ed., Augustine Through the Ages: An Encyclopedia. Grand Rapids, MI: William B. Eerdmans Publishing Co., 1999. 902 pp. Hardcover. ISBN:0-8028-3843-X. $75.00
2 A CD-ROM version of the first 20 volumes is available for $300.
3 "This grace . . . is not rendered for any merits, but is given gratis, on account of which it is called grace"Augustine, On Nature and Grace(=De natura et gratia), 4; NPNF1, 5:122.
4 "[God] knew that nature as he had made it was quite adequate as a law for them [men] to practice justice"Pelagius, "Epistle to Demetrias," in J. Patout Burns, Theological Anthropology (1981) 50. "We act like lazy and insolent servants, talking back to our Lord in a contemptuous and slovenly way: 'That is too hard, too difficult! We cannot do that! We are only human; our flesh is weak!' What insane stupidity! What impious arrogance! We accuse the Lord of all knowledge of being doubly ignorant. We assert that he does not understand what he made and does not realize what he commands. We imply that the creator of humanity has forgotten its weakness and imposes precepts which a human being cannot bear . . . The just one did not choose to command the impossible; nor did the loving one plan to condemn a person for what he could not avoid," ibid., p. 53.
5 "And when they affect to believe that God is a respecter of persons, because without any antecedent merits of theirs 'He hath mercy on whom he will,' and calls whom He deigns to call and makes righteous whom He will, they overlook the fact that a deserved penalty is meted out to the damned, an undeserved grace to the saved, so that the former cannot complain that he is undeserving nor the latter boast that he is deserving. Where one and the same clay of damnation and offense is involved, there can be no respect had of persons, so that the saved may learn from the lost that the same punishment would have been his lot, also, if grace had not rescued him; if it is grace, it is obviously not awarded for any merit, but bestowed as a pure act of bounty;" "Letter 194 to Sixtus," Saint Augustine: Letters, vol. 4 (FC) 303.
"What we seek to know is how this hardening is deserved, and we find it to be so because the whole clay of sin was damned. God does not harden by imparting malice to it, but by not imparting mercy. Those to whom He does not impart mercy are not worthy, nor do they deserve it; rather, they are worthy and do deserve that He should not impart it. But when we seek to know how mercy is deserved we find no merit because there is none, lest grace be made void if it is not freely given but awarded to merit;" ibid., p. 310.
6 The book against Julian of Eclanum remained unfinished at his death; cf. Contra Julianum opus imperfectum(=Against Julian, an Unfinished Work), pp. 480-81, of our encyclopedia.
7 Gaiseric (or Genseric), King of the Vandals, crossed into North Africa from Spain in 429. By May/June of 430, his barbarian bands were in Hippo.
8 Boniface Ramsey, who authors our encyclopedia's article on Cassian, is the translator of the most recent edition of his Conferences (ACW=Ancient Christian Writers Series, Volume 57). Ramsey admits that the famous thirteenth conference which I have cited is "an intentional reply to Augustine;" in fact, "a negative response to Augustine's teaching on grace," p. 10.
9 "It is not then to be doubted that men's wills cannot, so as to prevent His doing what he wills, withstand the will of God," On Rebuke and Grace, 45; NPNF1, 5:489.
10 "But who can easily see how it is that the completion of our salvation is assigned to our own will," Conferences 13.9; NPNF2 11:426. " . . . for when God sees us inclined to will what is good, He meets, guides, and strengthens us," 13.11; ibid., 11:428.
11 Augustine had declared, "Christ died for the ungodly (Rom 5:6), and the unworthy, while being worthy himself . . . Because of your pity, Lord, deliver us. Not because of any previous merits of ours, but because of your pity, Lord, deliver us . . . not because of our merit. Obviously, not because of the merit of our sins, but because of your name. I mean, the merit of our sins, of course, is not reward, but punishment;" "Sermon 293," The Works of Saint Augustine: Sermons, vol. III/8 (1994), p. 152.
12 The canons are printed in J. Patout Burns, Theological Anthropology (1981) 112-18.
13 Some have suggested they represent an "intermediate Augustinianism". "The faith of Orange was neither Pelagius' nor Augustine's"; cf. R.A. Markus, "The Legacy of Pelagius: Orthodoxy, Heresy and Conciliation," in Rowan Williams, ed., The Making of Orthodoxy: Essays in Honour of Henry Chadwick (1989) 227.
14 His succinct outline of "The Theology of Grace" in Augustine is superb (ibid., pp. lxvi-lxxi). Note how Warfield highlights a potential ambiguity (even problem) in Augustine's notion of free will as a state of indifference (p. lxvii)a concept with which the even more magisterial Augustinian, Jonathan Edwards, would not agree.