Theology Corner

Addressing commonly asked questions about Christianity from the perspective of a non-theologian

Theology Corner

1.)  CAN GOD'S WILL BE THWARTED?

2.)  DID GOD ELECT ONLY A FEW FOR SALVATION WHILE CONDEMNING THE GREATER PART OF MANKIND TO HELL?

3.)  FAITH OR SALVATION: WHICH COMES FIRST?

4.)  DID GOD THE FATHER BEGET JESUS CHRIST?

5.)  WHAT ARE THE TWO NATURES OF CHRIST?

6.)  WHAT IS ANTINOMIANISM?

7.)  WHAT IS SABELLIANISM?

8.)  WHAT IS PELAGIANISM?

9.)  DOES LOVE REALLY WIN?

10.)  IS YOUR WILL REALLY YOUR WILL?

11.)  CAN TWO THEOLOGIES BE TESTED FOR COMPATIBILITY?

12.)  WHAT IS THE FRAUD OF FIDEISM?

13.)  IS CHRISTIAN THEOLOGY COMPATIBLE WITH JEHOVAH'S WITNESSES THEOLOGY?

14.)  IS CHRISTIAN THEOLOGY COMPATIBLE WITH CHRISTIAN SCIENCE THEOLOGY?

15.)  IS CHRISTIAN THEOLOGY COMPATIBLE WITH MORMON THEOLOGY?

16.)  IS CHRISTIAN THEOLOGY COMPATIBLE WITH UNITARIAN UNIVERSALISTS THEOLOGY?

17.)  IS CHRISTIAN THEOLOGY COMPATIBLE WITH SCIENTOLOGY THEOLOGY?

18.)  IS CHRISTIAN THEOLOGY COMPATIBLE WITH UNIFICATION CHURCH THEOLOGY?

19.)  IS CHRISTIAN THEOLOGY COMPATIBLE WITH THE WAY INTERNATIONAL THEOLOGY?

20.)  IS CHRISTIAN THEOLOGY COMPATIBLE WITH THE WORLDWIDE CHURCH OF GOD THEOLOGY?

21.)  IS REPENTANCE REALLY NECESSARY?

22.)  WHAT ARE SOME MUSINGS OF A METHODIST THEOLOGIAN ON LIMITED ATONEMENT?

23.)  WHAT ARE SOME QUESTIONS FOR THOSE WHO TEACH A LIMITED ATONEMENT PROVIDED ONLY FOR THE ELECT OF GOD?

24.)  WHAT WERE CALVIN'S ACTUAL WORDS?

25.)  WHAT IS GNOSTICISM?

26.)  WHAT IS THE UNPARDONABLE SIN?

27.)  IS CLASSICAL CHRISTIAN THEOLOGY COMPATIBLE WITH PROGRESSIVE CHRISTIAN THEOLOGY?

1.)  IS CHRISTIANITY COMPATIBLE WITH POSITIVE TOLERANCE?

2.)  CAN WE HAVE A FORM OF GODLINESS, BUT DENY THE POWER THEREOF?

3.)  WHAT IS THE GREAT WAR?

4.)  SHOULD PRESIDENT TRUMP HAVE BEEN IMPEACHED FOR IMMORALITY?

5.)  WHO SAID MOSES WAS HUMBLE?

6.)  COULD CHRISTIAN DOCTRINE BENEFIT FROM WOKE REVISION?

7.)  DID EINSTEIN BELIEVE ALL CHRISTIANS WERE CALVINISTS?

8.)  WHY IS MARXISM A MAGNET?

9.)  WHAT IS TRUE SCIENCE?

10.)  CAN YOU LOSE YOUR SALVATION?

11.)  WHAT ARE THE SYNOPTIC GOSPELS?

12.)  WHAT HAPPENED BETWEEN OLD AND NEW TESTAMENTS?

13.)  WAS PAUL ENTIRELY SANCTIFIED?

14.)  ARE YOU LIVING IN A WORLD AT WAR?

15.)  WHAT IS THE DIRECT METHOD FOR PROVING A CONDITIONAL PROPOSITION IS TRUE?

16.)  WHAT IS THE CONTRAPOSITIVE METHOD FOR PROVING A CONDITIONAL PROPOSITION IS TRUE?

17.)  WHAT IS THE CONTRADICTION METHOD FOR PROVING A CONDITIONAL PROPOSITION IS TRUE?

18.)  WHAT MIGHT A METHODIST THEOLOGIAN SAY ABOUT PURGATORY?

19.)  WHICH BIBLE PASSAGES ELUCIDATE CORE ASPECTS OF CHRISTIANITY?

20.)  DO SELECTED NIV VERSES ELUCIDATE CORE ASPECTS OF CHRISTIANITY?

21.)  DO SELECTED AKJV VERSES ELUCIDATE CORE ASPECTS OF CHRISTIANITY?

22.)  DO SELECTED YLT VERSES ELUCIDATE CORE ASPECTS OF CHRISTIANITY?

23.)  DO SELECTED 'VOICE' VERSES ELUCIDATE CORE ASPECTS OF CHRISTIANITY?

24.)  COULD THE CONCEPT OF 'SALVATION ONLY FOR THE ELECT' HAVE BEEN ROOTED IN THE MIND OF AUGUSTINE BEFORE HE EMBRACED CHRISTIANITY?

25.)  DID AUGUSTINE RECEIVE PUSHBACK FOR HIS TEACHING OF 'SALVATION ONLY FOR THE ELECT' DURING HIS LIFETIME?

DID AUGUSTINE RECEIVE PUSHBACK FOR HIS TEACHING OF 'SALVATION ONLY FOR THE ELECT' DURING HIS LIFETIME?

Near the beginning of the 5th century, Augustine began to give a full exposition of his theology of grace.  Did he receive pushback at the time his views were circulated or did all the pushback occur after Calvin discovered Augustine’s long dormant work and used it to establish Reformed Theology?  Did Arminius and the Remonstrants mount the first serious opposition, or did it happen during the time of Augustine himself?

Consider the words of Henry Chadwick and judge for yourself.

 

“If all humanity were consigned to hell, that would be nothing but strict justice.  Nevertheless, God’s mercy is such that, inscrutably, he has chosen a fairly substantial minority of souls for salvation by a decree of predestination which is antecedent to all differences of merit.  To complain that this election is unjust is to fail to consider the gravity of the guilt attaching to original sin, and yet more to actual sin.

A necessary corollary of this doctrine of predestination is that grace is irresistible.  If man is so corrupt that he no longer has free will to do good, grace must do all; and that this power is irresistible is a plain deduction from the divine decree of predestination which otherwise would be frustrated.  It is the purpose of God to bring his elect, infallibly, to a certain end.  Accordingly, the empirical test of the operation of grace lies in a man’s consistent goodness of character right through to the end of his life, a ‘final perseverance’ which is a foreordained gift of God, independent of merit.

Augustine’s propositions provoked a quick reaction in several quarters.  A frontal attack came from Julian, bishop of Eclanum…The trouble arose, Julian thought, because Augustine had brought his Manichee ways of thinking into the church, was defaming the good handiwork of the Creator under the influence of a hagridden attitude to sex resulting from the adolescent follies described in the Confessions and was denying St. Paul’s clear teaching that God wills all men to be saved…Meanwhile, Augustine’s doctrines, which became harder with each successive reiteration and restatement, drew pained protests from many to whom Pelagianism was abhorrent.  The lazy conclusion was being freely drawn from Augustine’s tracts that salvation was predetermined and that one need make no efforts after goodness…To Vincent of Lerins the Augustinian doctrine was a most disturbing innovation, quite out of line with orthodoxy…John Cassian went so far as to provide an alternative positive doctrine.  Augustine, he agreed, was right in teaching that at every point man needs divine grace.  The human heart is like a flint which God strikes; but when God sees the first sparks of response, he pours in his grace.  The capacity for making the first turn of the will toward God is the gift of grace.  But the actual turning is a cooperation of the natural will with God’s gracious help.  Cassian entirely rejected the idea that grace is a power that can be neither resisted nor lost…

By 450 A.D., Prosper of Aquitaine appeared as an advocate of the doctrine that when St. Paul said, ‘God wills all men to be saved’ he meant what he said.”  (Chadwick, p 232-234)

 

Interestingly, Augustine’s early critics surmised that he may have brought his Manichee ways of thinking into the church (see Section 13.24 of Theology Corner).  Also interesting is John Cassian’s description of Prevenient Grace some 13 centuries before John Wesley.