Augustine sounds Reformed and not Catholic

Saint Augustine sounds Reformed and not Catholic on several important doctrines. Let’s start with this:


“Many hear the word of truth; but some believe, while others contradict. Therefore, the former will to believe; the latter do not will.” Who does not know this? Who can deny this? But since in some the will is prepared by the Lord, in others it is not prepared, we must assuredly be able to distinguish what comes from God’s mercy, and what from His judgment. “What Israel sought for,” says the apostle, “he hath not obtained, but the election hath obtained it; and the rest were blinded, as it is written, God gave to them the spirit of compunction,—eyes that they should not see, and ears that they should not hear, even to this day. And David said, Let their table be made a snare, a retribution, and a stumblingblock to them; let their eyes be darkened, that they may not see; and bow down their back always.” [Rom. 11.7.] Here is mercy and judgment,—mercy towards the election which has obtained the righteousness of God, but judgment to the rest which have been blinded. And yet the former, because they willed,12 believed; the latter, because they did not will believed not. Therefore mercy and judgment were manifested in the very wills themselves. Certainly such an election is of grace, not at all of merits. For he had before said, “So, therefore, even at this present time, the remnant has been saved by the election of grace. And if by grace, now it is no more of works; otherwise grace is no more grace.” [Rom. 11.5.] Therefore the election obtained what it obtained gratuitously; there preceded none of those things which they might first give, and it should be given to them again. He saved them for nothing. But to the rest who were blinded, as is there plainly declared, it was done in recompense. “All the paths of the Lord are mercy and truth.” [Psalm 25.10.] But His ways are unsearchable. Therefore the mercy by which He freely delivers, and the truth by which He righteously judges, are equally unsearchable.


But perhaps it may be said: “The apostle distinguishes faith from works; he says, indeed, that grace is not of works, but he does not say that it is not of faith.” This, indeed, is true. But Jesus says that faith itself also is the work of God, and commands us to work it. For the Jews said to Him, “What shall we do that we may work the work of God? Jesus answered, and said unto them, This is the work of God, that ye believe on Him whom He hath sent.” [John 6.28.] The apostle, therefore, distinguishes faith from works, just as Judah is distinguished from Israel in the two kingdoms of the Hebrews, although Judah is Israel itself. And he says that a man is justified by faith and not by works, because faith itself is first given, from which may be obtained other things which are specially characterized as works, in which a man may live righteously. For he himself also says, “By grace ye are saved through faith; and this not of yourselves; but it is the gift of God,” [Eph. 2.8.]—that is to say, “And in saying, ‘through faith,’ even faith itself is not of yourselves, but is God’s gift.” “Not of works,” he says, “lest any man should be lifted up.” For it is often said, “He deserved to believe, because he was a good man even before he believed.” Which may be said of Cornelius, [Acts 10.] since his alms were accepted and his prayers heard before he had believed on Christ; and yet without some faith he neither gave alms nor prayed. For how did he call on Him on whom he had not believed? But if he could have been saved without the faith of Christ, the Apostle Peter would not have been sent as an architect to build him up; although, “Except the Lord build the house, they labour in vain who build it.” [Psalm 127.1.] And we are told, Faith is of ourselves; other things which pertain to works of righteousness are of the Lord; as if faith did not belong to the building,—as if, I say, the foundation did not belong to the building. But if this primarily and especially belongs to it, he labours in vain who seeks to build up the faith by preaching, unless the Lord in His mercy builds it up from within. Whatever, therefore, of good works Cornelius performed, as well before he believed in Christ as when he believed and after he had believed, are all to be ascribed to God, lest, perchance any man be lifted up.

Hello adam2:

Predestination is not a product of the Reformation. It is a doctrine of catholicism as well.



I believe the Catholic Church has a wide range of views in regards to understanding predestination. However, when you speak to most Catholics, they believe more like Pelagius than Augustine… in the area of free will and predestination. Maybe you can share your position on the subject of free will and predestination. Thanks!

Augustine did not believe that all the regenerate will persevere to the end. That’s a huge difference between Augustine and the Reformed. And as the passage you cite shows, Augustine tended to play down the importance of the faith/works distinction because he saw both faith and works as the gifts of God’s sovereign grace.

One can argue that on the question of double predestination Augustine is closer to the Reformed than to Thomist Catholicism, but that’s a tricky issue and a case can also be made the other way, depending on how you define double predestination. Augustine certainly did not teach limited atonement (though not all Calvinists do either).

You’re certainly right that on many points Augustine is closer to the Reformed than to many strands of Catholic theology (or to Eastern Christianity generally). But historically most Roman Catholic (i.e., Latin, Western Catholic) theology has been dominated by Augustine in a way that is not reflected by what the average Catholic in the street will tell you today. And Augustine’s belief in baptismal regeneration and his unwillingness to break entirely with the previous Catholic tradition (including his own earlier writings!) which strongly affirmed free will put him in important ways on the same side of the fence as *all *Catholics and the opposite side from the Reformed.


Thanks for the education. Augustine might be a theological bridge in a way between the Catholic Faith and historic Protestantism. I see that you are Anglican. Isn’t the 39 Articles of Faith also kind of a bridge between Catholicism and Protestantism in a mix bag of theological positions?

This is one issue that I wish had been brought up during my RCIA classes. But it seems to be something that is not widely talked about. Probably because of the complexity of the doctrine.

As far as I can tell from my limited experience, the only clear line drawn by the Church is in the area of *double-*predestination. The Church is against the teaching of double predestination.



The Articles seem pretty solidly Protestant to me. But they certainly represented a very moderate version of Reformed theology which was relatively close to Catholicism, particularly Catholicism of the Augustinian variety.

The Articles do not have binding authority today in much of the Anglican world. I have never been asked to subscribe to them as an Episcopalian layperson. I would have some qualms about some of the more Reformed elements in them, although I respect them and consider them one of the more sensible doctrinal statements to come out of that crazy century!


And that’s one of the huge differences between the Reformed and Catholics (or Lutherans). The Reformed made predestination a central part of their soteriology (note that I’m not making the discredited claim that it is *the *center of Reformed theology as a whole). Both Lutherans and Catholics have historically treated it as an abstruse matter to be debated by theologians.

Arguably this is a point where the Reformed are more faithful to Augustine. But I think the Catholic approach was better–putting Augustine in the broader context of Sacred Tradition rather than enshrining certain parts of his theology as being *the *Gospel! And I think that as a general question of theological procedure that’s how Augustine would have wanted it.


If you have time to read, I would like your input where the Anglican Church was like minded in theology with the Catholic Faith. I have to leave my office for the day.

I’m a little confused by what you are asking. I’d start with the Trinity and the doctrine of God’s nature if I were to answer your question exactly as you ask it, but I am not sure that’s what you are looking for!

I said that I thought the 39 Articles were pretty solidly Protestant, so I don’t think there is a place where they could be described as “Catholic” in a sense opposed to Protestantism.


Gabriel of 12;

Can some one help me here about this quote, if it was from St. Augustine?

“I would not believe in the Gospels, if the Catholic Church would not have told me so”

Cant get any more Catholic than this Saint.

:slight_smile: I’m very familar with that quote. However, Augustine was pre-Reformation. And we know Luther loved the Catholic Church too.

Not double predestination - double double predestination :slight_smile: AKA: double geminate predestination.

Thomist - The elect are predestined unto salvation (but see nuances)
Calvinist - The elect are predestined unto salvation (but see nuances)

Thomist - The damned are not reprobated, but lost through their own fault
Calvinist - The damned are reprobated by a positive Divine decree, & are lost through their own fault, which is not necessitated, but is imputable to them as the responsible agents that they are.

I think that is all correct.

One if the big differences between RCs & Calvinists is that the teachings of the theological schools on election & predestination - of Augustinians, Thomists, Molinists, etc., - are confined to them, and are not the common doctrine of the Church. Whereas in Calvinism, positions on election & predestination have a place in the various confessional documents: the First Belgic Confession, the Heidelberg Confession, The Westminster Confession, the conclusions of the Synod of Dort, etc.

The RCC denies assurance of salvation, and that more or less puts paid to a predestination unto salvation that allows of no doubt. So it teaches that election can be forfeited and that the elect can cease to be elect. Which certainly leaves no place for presumption, but allows plenty for despair. :frowning: Maybe there is a connection between Catholic scrupulosity and the Church’s doctrine. STM that what each set of Christians denies about the beliefs of the other is based on misunderstandings - the Catholic indices of likelihood of salvation are never mentioned, and the Calvinist stress on the responsibility of the damned for their damnation is equally ignored. So what is denied, is not what is believed by the other group.

I think it’s important for the readers to seperate historic Protestantism with easy believism found in contemporary Protestant churches with ideas like “once saved always saved”, decisional regeneration and altar calls. Sometimes your will find that there is too much self-examination to see if someone is truly in the faith with Reformed circles. The Christian life is one of repentance and faith, looking to Christ always in this pattern of the Christian walk. Our assurance rest upon the promises of God, including the grace of discipline of His predestined children.

The perseverance of the saints means that all those who are truly born again will be kept by God’s power and will persevere as Christians until the end of their lives, and that only those who persevere until the end have been truly born again.
Wayne Grudem from Systematic Theology (pg. 788)

If our religion be of our own getting or making, it will perish; and the sooner it goes, the better; but if our religion is a matter of God’s giving, we know that He shall never take back what He gives, and that, if He has commenced to work in us by His grace, He will never leave it unfinished.
C.H. Spurgeon

For non-reformed theologies…"at the end of the day, the security of the believer finally rests with the believer. For those in the opposite camp [Reformed], the security of the believer finally rests with God – and that, I suggest, rightly taught, draws the believer back to God himself, to trust in God, to a renewed faith that is of a piece with trusting him in the first place."
D.A. Carson

When we speak of “once saved, always saved,” we are not taking into account the full scope of salvation. We have been saved (justification), was are being saved (sanctified), and we will one day be saved (glorified). You cannot claim to have been “saved” (justified) unless you are being sanctified. Jesus Christ is Savior and Lord.
Michael Horton from Putting the Amazing Back into Grace (pg. 171)

Predestination was NOT and is NOT part of the catholic religion. Augustine also preached that the Blessed Trinity was three separate beings, which is also wrong. We don’t honor him as a saint for preaching two wrong things. But because he stopped a heresy from spreading, hence saving thousands of souls. He also converted thousands more, saving even more souls.

What religion ARE you? Are you just a devils advocate? or do you actually believe in something?

Augustine does get quoted often by those that adhere to Reformed theology as many of his theological perspectives fit well. As someone pointed out there is some room within Catholic theological perspectives (eg Molinism - excuse the spelling if it is incorrect).

From the point of view of those with Reformed theological leanings it is nothing more than biblical Christianity. The whole “double predestination” thing is not necessarily a Calvinist doctrine as much as hyper Calvinist. If I recall correctly Sproul does NOT adhere to it.

Augustine is certainly among the most brilliant minds the Roman Catholic Church has produced.

Hyper Calvinism is heretical. Double predestination when properly understood is Biblical. Here is a paper by RC Sproul called Double Predestination:

You are wrong, and shouting does not make you right. The Catholic Encyclopedia (which is not official Catholic teaching but a compendium of orthodox Catholic scholarship from a century ago) does talk about a heresy called “Predestinarianism.” I think this is a bit of a straw man, but it is a useful way of saying that certain opinions *about *predestination are considered heretical by the Catholic Church.

Augustine also preached that the Blessed Trinity was three separate beings,

No, he didn’t.


If somebody is predestined to eternal life, they must necessarily persevere, otherwise the implication is that God’s will ca be frustrated. On the other hand, for somebody to label themselves as predestined, that doesn’t necessarily mean that they are predestined, and, if they are not, then they won’t persevere.

I think there is obvious room in Catholic doctrine to disagree about the the specifics here. After all, who here can claim to know the will and mind of God? Although we may meditate on it in order to bring ourselves to Him, we must be careful when dealing with what is strictly His: judgment.

I would say that, in faith, I have come to these conclusions. God offers his grace to all men, just as he died for all men. God then acts in all goodness toward men and allows evil for the sake of goodness. This can be seen in two ways: First, it can be seen generally. God allows evil to exist so that we may love him without coercion. Secondly, God allows evil to exist so that a man may be led to his grace. The grace God offers is in superabudance and is in an infinite well; sometimes he makes us thirsty to desperately search for it.

He acts this way toward the reprobate as well as the elect. The elect are those who cooperate with this grace and can afford to gain more. For one cannot pour more water in their glass without first drinking from it, although Christ has offered us the superabundant water. Likewise, if one pours out his glass he must seek out the well merely to fill the glass from what he has not yet benefited from.

The thirsty can seek water and be quenched just as those who have drank may choose to thirst. For who could say that Judas did not drink of the grace of God? He ate, communed, and witnessed the Lord’s deeds. He even ate our Lord’s flesh! He chose to pass the water that had been given to him and was not quenched. Let us not be deceived. The grace we receive is real but if we choose to forgo that grace, we will justly suffer hell for it.

I tell you that Christ offers us his superabundant water through the Church which is his well. Let us seek this life giving water. Let us offer this water to others, because Christ has chosen to offer it to us in community, His Church which is His mystical body through which He works.

If the Church considers any of these as heresy, I retract them.

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