Which has more truth, Irenaean Theodicy or Augustinian Theodicy?


#1

Alright so I need some help. Of course we are aware of the Augustinian theodicy-(Theodicy meaning- a defence of the goodness of God in face of the evil of the world) Augustines view of course assigns blame for human suffering to sin and holds such blame to be an adequate justification of God’s allowing human suffering to persist. Augustine comes to this conclusion because of the following ideas/events.(summarized)
1.God creates
2.Angels rebel
3. God makes humanity good
4.Satan tempts humanity in eden
5. God sends Jesus as blood sacrifice
6. Humanity(specifically believers) are restored via grace.

And the Irenaean theodicy comes in two parts.
"The first stems from St Irenaeus (130-202 AD), a Father of the early Christian Church, who thought that humanity was not created perfect, but that they required growth in order to approach spiritual perfection. However, God does not necessarily intend evil to provide a means for this growth (i.e. by providing challenging situations), for a person could grow to spiritual perfection simply by obeying God’s laws. Also, from Irenaeus’s point of view, God does not intervene in human affairs to prevent evil because that would be to interfere with free will.“
Now enter person three and this is where I need help in refutation. Philospher John Hick believes Augustine is flawed on three accounts
1.Scientifically: Because modern science tells us evil predats the first humans.
2.Morally: because how does a perfectly evil human act.
3. Logically: why do wholly good things rebel.
So he likens more to the Ireanus account only he takes it a couple steps further… he says
” the process of ‘soul making’ (as he calls it) to be a response to the evil in the world. So, if cancer did not exist, or the evil actions of others, then we would not have the means whereby we could develop spiritually. Also, Hick argues, there exists what he terms an ‘epistemic distance’ between human beings and God, so that we are not born knowing of his existence, and it is not something which it is easy to gain certain knowledge of. Therefore, the process of soul making also involves a battle to attain religious faith."
quotes from website
philosophyonline.co.uk/pages/irenaean.htm

Now I know there is alot that could be said from the catholic view, however I want to defend Augustine, but I do not want to bring in Aquinas terminaology etc. Is it possible, Does Hick have a point, Where are the flaws and are they justifiable???
Maybe Im wholly stupid.


#2

anybody??. lol I hope this doesn’t get as heated as my evolution as a worldview thread.


#3

Im not a theologian, but here is how I understand it.
This is perfectly in line with St Augustine’s thought. Man was not created “perfect” because that leaves no room for becoming perfect in Heaven. Picture a child, that child is fully a human (perfect), yet that child can grow to an adult (perfected), that is the “not perfect” sense in which both St Irenaeus and Augustine seem to be saying.

However, God does not necessarily intend evil to provide a means for this growth (i.e. by providing challenging situations), for a person could grow to spiritual perfection simply by obeying God’s laws.

I dont see how this conflicts with Augustine at all, Im pretty sure I read one of his writings where he said if Adam would have obeyed in the Garden, God would have taken him to Heaven.

Also, from Irenaeus’s point of view, God does not intervene in human affairs to prevent evil because that would be to interfere with free will."

I dont think Augustine would disagree. Obviously God allows different people to suffer different temptations so in one sense He does interfere, in another sense He does not.

Now enter person three and this is where I need help in refutation. Philospher John Hick believes Augustine is flawed on three accounts
1.Scientifically: Because modern science tells us evil predats the first humans.

This doesnt make sense because “sin” and “evil” are not scientific terms. More importantly, sin was around before Adam, the devil in heaven sinned before Adam.

2.Morally: because how does a perfectly evil human act.

Im not sure what this means, but it sounds like a Protestant understanding of original sin.
Even fallen men are capable of morally good acts, they just arnt capable of raising those good acts to supernaturally good without grace.

  1. Logically: why do wholly good things rebel.

Because they are not fully enlightened. The way I understand it there are two components when it comes to choosing something, the intellect which determines the “options” available and the will which choses one of those options. When we chose to do something we think that action will make us happy, even when we chose to sin. Adam was created good and innocent, but not fully enlightened, he had to trust God and obey rather than the devil who promised quick and easy rewards. Because Adam was not fully enlightened there was room to doubt, that is where faith comes in.
The difference though in Heaven is that your intellect is fully enlightened such that there is no doubt as to what is good and you freely chose that good.

So he likens more to the Ireanus account only he takes it a couple steps further… he says
" the process of ‘soul making’ (as he calls it) to be a response to the evil in the world. So, if cancer did not exist, or the evil actions of others, then we would not have the means whereby we could develop spiritually.

Im not sure if this is true, after all evil, cancer, etc did not exist in the Garden, and Adam could have obeyed.

Also, Hick argues, there exists what he terms an ‘epistemic distance’ between human beings and God, so that we are not born knowing of his existence, and it is not something which it is easy to gain certain knowledge of. Therefore, the process of soul making also involves a battle to attain religious faith."
quotes from website
philosophyonline.co.uk/pages/irenaean.htm

There is truth to this. You can look around you and conclude that God in some way shape or form created the world, but apart from Divine Revelation (eg Bible) our knowledge would be limited.

Now I know there is alot that could be said from the catholic view, however I want to defend Augustine, but I do not want to bring in Aquinas terminaology etc. Is it possible, Does Hick have a point, Where are the flaws and are they justifiable???
Maybe Im wholly stupid.

You are not stupid, most of us are not theologians, and even then just because you are a theologian doesnt mean you are representing the Church properly.

I welcome any criticism of my comments if they are any way out of line with Church teaching, but I have heard no complaints yet.


#4

There is possible flaw to one of your arguments, Catholic Dude, namely, that sin is not possible when one is fully enlightened.

Not true, on two counts: One, the demons. The demons were NOT forgiven, NOT redeemed. Why? The CCC, combined with ST. Faustina, provide the key: the nature of the sin of the angels is UNFORGIVABLE (CCC) because the demons KNEW TOO MUCH (Faustina, as Christ accordingly answered her.) On the basis of this, it is conjectured by theologians that the demons are not forgiven, because, in effect, they knew everything that can be known about God apart from the Beatific Vision, that is, the entire Plan of Salvation, the Incarnation, and everything that the Catholic Church will know once her doctrinal development is complete. On that basis, the rebellion of the angels is done with such complete knowledge and experience of the love of the Divine, that, since they reject everything about God short only of the Beatific Vision, there is nothing more that God can give to them, hence, their sin is both unforgivable, and irrevocable.

Consequently, the demons made a choice with such full knowledge, that they are unforgivable.

SECONDLY, the Gentiles, as a near whole, will also be in this irrevocable condition at the end of the world, for in the great apostasy, the doctrinal development of the Catholic Church will have been complete, and the full number of the Gentiles will have entered the Church by then, hence, humanity having the knowledge of the level of the demonic when they rebelled, similarly, the Gentiles’ subsequent apostasy is unforgivable and irredeemable, like the angels.

this is hinted at in Hebrews 6, a text that literally discusses the case of Jewish apostates, that is, Jews who become Christian, but then apostatize and go back to Judaism. Using hyperbole, the text suggests that the general collection of such persons will probably not come back, as having fully tasted of the power and truth of the age to come, if they renig, they are really recrucifying Christ unto themselves.

In the bigger picture, you can look at this way, when you apply Catholic tradition:

The Fall of the Angels, is a simple model: the angel receives total illumination of the Revelation of God. Being unimpeded by the constraints of a physical brain and experience, which necessarily unfolds in stages (kindergarten to college), the angelic intellect is able to perceive, if not so, at least nearly, instantaneously, the totality of truth, fully comprehending and analyzing all angles. Hence, it’s first fully free choice is its last. Once it decides, it’s choice is eternal.

Hence, the fall of the angels is very simple: those that pass the test, are admitted to the Beatific Vision, forever with God. THose that fail, depart into eternal damnation and separation. Hence, the good angels go into the light, the bad, into darkness. One step, two eternal destinies.

But as hinted at, humanity, in the beginning, while having PARTIAL revelation from God, are neverthless largely ignorant of the full implications, hence, whereas there is a certain culpablility in the sin of our first parents, humanity is nevertheless, as a whole, not fully culpable for a permanent condemnation, hence, they are capable of being redeemed. But this Redemption, on account of an initial fall, is obviously something that unfolds in stages, not instantaneous, as with the angels. Hence, as God progressively reveals and moves and intervenes through history, humanity is growing ever closer to God, gradually being brought into greater light and knowledge of him, and subsequently also of love.

But again, the Redemption can only go so far before a subsequent manifestation of the fallen nature will have reached the degree that the demons had. And, again, this condition is reached in the Great Apostasy that follows the fullness of the Gentiles.

As a side note, the Traditional model for the process of the Redemption of humanity has been the days of Creation, that is, just as the Creation is portrayed in stages, so also many ECFs draw the parallel that it points to a larger fulfillment, the RE-creation of the world, that is, the Redemption of man, so that God’s progressive healing of the fall of man also occurs in stages. The “days” also provide this perfect model, consisting of first darkness then light “evening came, morning followed”], that is, the apparent progress of the human history is a constant alternation between first a stage of sinful resistance “evening”], followed by a major Redemptive action of God “morning”].

The beast of Revelation echoes this imagery: a head of the beast is “slain”, but it comes back to life, or is healed, symbolizing that no sooner does God draw a greater redemptive good from a stage of sinful resistance, than another stage arises in response to the light.

I know this is a lot, but just some food for thought.

Blessings,
Scott
[FONT=Wingdings]J[/FONT]


#5

Good comments Scott. :thumbsup:


#6

Thanks, Catholic Dude, and again, sorry about the misunderstanding and harshness, as i indicated in steve ray’s forum.
Blessings to you!

scott
:slight_smile:


#7

There NEVER was harshness at any level!


#8

OK, if you say so!

:slight_smile:


#9

You are very far from stupid. You recognize, as some professional philosophers I’ve read do not, that there’s a significant difference between Irenaeus and Hick.

So there are two questions here:

  1. Who is right, Augustine or Irenaeus?

  2. Is Hicks further development (I would say radical distortion) of Irenaeus’s view defensible?

My own position is that both Augustine and Irenaeus are orthodox thinkers with reasonable interpretations of the Faith, but I prefer Irenaeus on this point (and most other points where the two differ–there are a lot of things that Irenaeus never touched on, of course, since Augustine wrote several centuries later and has left us many more writings!). Hick is, to put it bluntly, a heretic, and his twist on Irenaeus’s view is indefensible and should never be dignified with the name “Irenaean theodicy.”

I’m happy to flesh out my views if you’ll tell me which of the above two questions you’re interested in. (I’m not sure I want to tackle both, since they’re both deep and complex!)

Edwin


#10

Without debating your apocalyptic speculations, it does also appear to be true that humans can sometimes sin in such a manner as well (the “blasphemy against the Holy Spirit,” which presumably is the same thing referred to in Hebrews, and will indeed presumably be the condition of those who reject Christ at the end of the world). But Adam and Eve could not have sinned in this way, because as Irenaeus says they were like children, newly created and innocent but not confirmed in wisdom and virtue.

One other point where I differ from you: I don’t think that an explanation of Christian doctrine (even Christian doctrine in the relatively developed form it will have right before Christ’s return) can in this world ever convey (simply of itself, and hence necessarily) that full apprehension of divine truth that would make rejection of it unforgivable. St. Paul said that we see through a glass darkly, and the face-to-face knowledge of which he speaks is surely that of the Beatific Vision. Until then all our knowledge comes in dim glimmers.

In Christ,

Edwin


closed #11

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