What did Augustine Actually Teach About Predestination?

I’ve heard all sorts of different things about Augustine, quotes of his, etc. I don’t have time to read his writings at length, so can anyone please give a brief outline of what Augustine believed about predestination, and, if possible, how his views jived with baptismal regeneration?

If Augustine believed people were predestinated to salvation or to damnation (according to God’s secret will), how could he also believe all those who receive baptism are regenerated?

Any help on this would be great!

Here is an article by Fr. Most titled “St. Augustine on Grace and Predestination”. It should answer some of your questions.

Thanks for this. I read through a good amount of it, but the author is pretty biased against Augustine’s view, so it’s tainted throughout with criticisms of it. I’d really like to find just a plain description of it. If someone here knows his views well enough, it would be more than fine for another CAF member to explain it!

St Augustine believed that we have freewill.


BOOK I – On the Predestination of the Saints
BOOK II – On the Gift of Perseverance

Thanks, but even John Calvin believed in free will. The issue is not whether man has free will, the issue is WHY man makes the choice he does. Calvin reasoned man chooses God because God has transformed his heart. If man chooses not to have faith, it’s because God did not transform that man’s heart. In both cases, free will exists.

The better question is what does the Magisterium teach on predestination:

600 To God, all moments of time are present in their immediacy. When therefore he establishes his eternal plan of “predestination”, he includes in it each person’s free response to his grace:

1037 God predestines no one to go to hell; for this, a willful turning away from God (a mortal sin) is necessary, and persistence in it until the end.

Council of Orange: “We not only do not believe that some have been truly predestined to evil by divine power, but also with every execration we pronounce anathema upon those, if there are [any such], who wish to believe so great an evil.”

Council of Quiersy: “Chap. 1. Omnipotent God created man noble without sin with a free will, and he whom He wished to remain in the sanctity of justice, He placed in Paradise. Man using his free will badly sinned and fell, and became the “mass of perdition” of the entire human race. The just and good God, however, chose from this same mass of perdition according to His foreknowledge those whom through grace He predestined to life Rom. 8:29 ff.; Eph. 1:11], and He predestined for these eternal life; the others, whom by the judgment of justice he left in the mass of perdition, however,** He knew would perish, but He did not predestine that they would perish**, because He is just; however, He predestined eternal punishment for them. And on account of this we speak of only one predestination of God, which pertains either to the gift of grace or to the retribution of justice.” [Denzinger 316]

Thanks for posting that Nita. I am learning from it some things about how Augustine was partly in error.

Yet Augustine would always obey the Catholic Church’s authority over his own opinion.

This shows the mindset of Augustine

For in the Catholic Church, not to speak of the purest wisdom, to the knowledge of which a few spiritual men attain in this life, so as to know it, in the scantiest measure, indeed, because they are but men, still without any uncertainty…The consent of peoples and nations keep me in Church, so does her authority, inaugurated by miracles, nourished by hope, enlarged by love, established by age. The succession of priests keeps me, beginning from the very seat of the Apostle Peter, to whom the Lord, after his resurrection, gave it in charge to feed his sheep, down to the present episcopate… For my part, I should not believe the gospel except moved by the authority of the Catholic Church. So when those on whose authority I have consented to believe in the gospel tell me not to believe in Manicheus, how can I but consent?" Augustine[/FONT] ch 4 para 5, & ch 5 para 6 (A.D. 397).


"No sober person will decide against reason, no Christian against the Scriptures no peaceable person against the Church. "
“On the Trinity” , Book 4 ch 6 para 10

That’s not the topic of the thread, but thanks.

This is also not on the topic of the thread, although the quotes are interesting.

Hi Jinc!

The short answer is that Augustine held that a person could lose his salvation. Have a blessed day!

In Christ,

It applies to this thread, in that it shows Augustine’s mindset when he is teaching on a subject. Augustine can have his view but he won’t go against Church teaching.

Again, that’s not relevant, but thanks!

Hi Pete, any idea where I can find this? I can’t find a specific answer to this question (still).

Hi Jinc!

You can check out , 13.40On Rebuke and Grace and , 9.21On the Gift of Perseverance. You might also be interested in this related material.

Happy Lord’s Day!

Thanks! I’m still a little confused how Augustine could believe in baptismal regeneration AND perseverance. Can anyone explain that to me? If a person is regenerated in baptism then how can they fall away?

God doesn’t force ANYONE against their will. He forces no one to be saved. He DOES require specific beliefs and actions. But it’s up to the individual to willfully obey.

Do you pretend to know anyone who has never sinned, after being baptized? Do you even dare pretend to be such a person?

Reality, sir. That is why why we have a thing called the Sacrament of Confession; that is how a thing like ‘perseverance’ can be maintained, after falling [back] into sin, after baptismal regeneration.

Reality straight up informed the early church, that people tend to (almost always, if not always), revert to sin…after baptism.

Pretending that doesn’t happen, when it most assuredly does, pretty much always, doesn’t make it so.

That’s compounding post baptismal sin with deceit–i.e.–more p/b sin.

But of course, you don’t want the opinion of some anonymous on line poster–you want St. Augustine’s actual words.

Here is a salient excerpt:

*CHAPTER XIII. Baptism and Original Sin

  1. For whether it be a newborn infant or a decrepit old man–since no one should be barred from baptism–just so, there is no one who does not die to sin in baptism. Infants die to original sin only; adults, to all those sins which they have added, through their evil living, to the burden they brought with them at birth.

  1. Still, even in that one sin–which "entered into the world by one man and so spread to all men,"88 and on account of which infants are baptized–one can recognize a plurality of sins, if that single sin is divided, so to say, into its separate elements. For there is pride in it, since man preferred to be under his own rule rather than the rule of God; and sacrilege too, for man did not acknowledge God; and murder, since he cast himself down to death; and spiritual fornication, for the integrity of the human mind was corrupted by the seduction of the serpent; and theft, since the forbidden fruit was snatched; and avarice, since he hungered for more than should have sufficed for him–and whatever other sins that could be discovered in the diligent analysis of that one sin.

  2. It is also said–and not without support–that infants are involved in the sins of their parents, not only of the first pair, but even of their own, of whom they were born. Indeed, that divine judgment, "I shall visit the sins of the fathers on their children,"89 definitely applies to them before they come into the New Covenant by regeneration. This Covenant was foretold by Ezekiel when he said that the sons should not bear their fathers’ sins, nor the proverb any longer apply in Israel, "Our fathers have eaten sour grapes and the children’s teeth are set on edge."90

This is why each one of them must be born again, so that he may thereby be absolved of whatever sin was in him at the time of birth. For the sins committed by evil-doing after birth can be healed by repentance–as, indeed, we see it happen even after baptism. For the new birth regeneratio would not have been instituted except for the fact that the first birth generatio was tainted–and to such a degree that one born of even a lawful wedlock said, "I was conceived in iniquities; and in sins did my mother nourish me in her womb."91 Nor did he say “in iniquity” or “in sin,” as he might have quite correctly; rather, he preferred to say “iniquities” and “sins,” because, as I explained above, there are so many sins in that one sin–which has passed into all men, and which was so great that human nature was changed and by it brought under the necessity of death–and also because there are other sins, such as those of parents, which, even if they cannot change our nature in the same way, still involve the children in guilt, unless the gracious grace and mercy of God interpose.

…and further:

*CHAPTER XVII. Forgiveness of Sins in the Church

  1. The angels are in concord with us even now, when our sins are forgiven. Therefore, in the order of the Creed, after the reference to “holy Church” is placed the reference to "forgiveness of sins." For **it is by this that the part of the Church on earth stands; **it is by this that "what was lost and is found again"132 is not lost again. Of course, the gift of baptism is an exception. It is an antidote given us against original sin, so that what is contracted by birth is removed by the new birth–though it also takes away actual sins as well, whether of heart, word, or deed. But except for this great remission–the beginning point of a man’s renewal, in which all guilt, inherited and acquired, is washed away–the rest of life, from the age of accountability (and no matter how vigorously we progress in righteousness), is not without the need for the forgiveness of sins. This is the case because the sons of God, as long as they live this mortal life, are in a conflict with death. And although it is truly said of them, "As many as are led by the Spirit of God, they are the sons of God,"133 yet even as they are being led by the Spirit of God and, as sons of God, advance toward God, they are also being led by their own spirits so that, weighed down by the corruptible body and influenced by certain human feelings, they thus fall away from themselves and commit sin. But it matters how much. Although every crime is a sin, not every sin is a crime. Thus we can say of the life of holy men even while they live in this mortality, that they are found without crime. "But if we say that we have no sin," as the great apostle says, "we deceive even ourselves, and the truth is not in us."134

  2. Nevertheless, no matter how great our crimes, their forgiveness should never be despaired of in holy Church for those who truly repent, each according to the measure of his sin. And, in the act of repentance,135 where a crime has been committed of such gravity as also to cut off the sinner from the body of Christ, we should not consider the measure of time as much as the measure of sorrow. For, "a contrite and humbled heart God will not despise."136

from: tertullian.org/fathers/augustine_enchiridion_02_trans.htm

or here:



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