Is "New Calvinism" Just a Theological Rip-Off?

Michael Allen, professor of systematic theology at Reformed Theological Seminary, is a very brilliant and emerging scholar within the world of conservative, Reformed evangelicalism. Allen has made a point that has become popular recently in academic Reformed circles to say that John Calvin’s theology wasn’t all that original—that he was simply reappropriating Augustine for his time, and that to call certain doctrines “Calvinist” is really a misnomer, because we should rather be calling them “Augustinian.” Allen raises the question about whether Calvinism ought to be abandoned as a theological term since, with regard to the distinctives of so-called Calvinism, “Calvin is both unoriginal and not all that definitive.” In Allen’s view, Calvin neither initiated “some belief or instituted some practice,” nor definitively “shaped the development of some movement, belief, or practice.” Allen argues that even with “regard to the doctrine of predestination, John Calvin … affirms the doctrine in the same fashion as Augustine of Hippo, a millennium earlier.”[1]

This one question remains outstanding against the synonymy of Reformed and Calvinist: Would it be more accurate to call New Calvinism New Augustinianism? As noted earlier, Michael Allen suggests that the term Calvinism ought to be dispensed with entirely because of his utter dependence upon Augustine. Does New Calvinism truly express the spirit of Calvin—or Reformed theology in any way—or, does it merely channel the spirit of Augustine through Calvin’s recapitulation of Augustine’s teachings on the divine will and the human will? To frame the question in a way that is more intuitively relevant to the task of defining the term Reformed: Did Calvin say anything original at all—and, if he did, was it that original thing he said by which New Calvinism identifies as Reformed? We must decide whether it is sufficient to say of Calvin’s ideas what Thomas Davis says of the doctrine of predestination in the Christian tradition: “Predestination had a long history as a doctrine within the Christian tradition long before the early Protestants came along. They found Augustine persuasive on this point.”[2]

Since the definition on the table for Reformed is a belief in the meticulous providence of God expressed as divine sovereignty, and the exhaustive moral corruption of human nature expressed as total depravity, we will examine what both Augustine and Calvin taught on the relationship between the divine will and the human will in order to elucidate whether Calvin had anything original to say about the matter. If he did, then New Calvinism’s use of the term Reformed (and Calvinism) is justified not only because it has clear precedent in popular culture, but also because of its correct identification with its historical figurehead.

Augustine’s Views on Divine Providence and Human Freedom.  

Augustine’s doctrines of divine providence and human freedom have created a maelstrom in modern scholarship. It is far from obvious what was Augustine’s position on these doctrines. The primary difficulty in determining Augustine’s view on divine providence and the human will must take into account three realities: Augustin’s writings on human freedom, his writings on divine providence, and his ambiguity in Retractationes.

First, Augustine wrote so strongly in favor of the view that humans have libertarian free will in the beginning of his career as a theologian in his work De libero arbitrio (henceforth, DLA) that this work was later used by Pelagians to justify their own theology. His purpose in arguing so strongly for libertarian freedom was to critique the Manichaean theodicy which purports that evil in the world emanates from a principle in the divine. In order to defend the holiness of God, Augustine relocates the blame for evil in the world upon human will rather than the divine will. In DLA, the strongest claim Augustine makes about the divine will is that God foreknows what humans will freely choose, but that this does not determine freedom’s libertarian nature: “Unless I am mistaken, you do not force someone to sin just because you foreknow that he is going to sin.”[3] Nevertheless, scholars who specialize in Augustine’s view of free will, such as Simon Harrison, have insisted that “Pelagianism is, to an important extent, Augustine’s creation.”[4] More than that, Peter Brown, emeritus professor of history at Princeton University, comments that Early Augustine is, “on paper, more Pelagian than Pelagius.”[5] 

In the anti-Manichaean time [Augustine] went too far in maintaining the absolute freedom of the will ... while in the anti-Pelagian time he had ventured too near to the fatalism that he so earnestly combated in the Manichaeans.
— Albert Newman

Second, Augustine in his later career develops such a strong doctrine of divine providence that many question whether he recants—or, at the very least, contradicts—his earlier writings. In order to combat the Pelagianism which Augustine in some sense aided by his earlier writings, Augustine begins writing polemically against the notion that one can, by the freedom of one’s will, choose to believe in God with no aid from divine grace, and sanctify themselves morally in order to be approved by God. In order to do this, he develops a theology that, to use a relevant anachronism, sounds more like Calvin than early Augustine—that is, a heavier emphasis on the sinfulness of human nature and the providence of God.

Albert Newman, one of the founders of Southern Baptist Theological Seminary, explains Augustine’s development as a turning of the polemical turret from one extreme to the other:

The fact that in the anti-Manichaean time he went too far in maintaining the absolute freedom of the will and the impossibility of sin apart from the personal will in the sinner; while in the anti-Pelagian time he had ventured too near to the fatalism that he so earnestly combated in the Manichaeans.[6]

In reading the relevant Augustinian texts, there is a “definite polemical   purpose” motivating his argumentation.[7] Some scholars take a softer read of later Augustine. For example, Gerald Bonner reads Augustine as a compatibilist rather than a fatalist, [8] while John Rist takes Augustine to retain a notion of libertarian freedom, but only with reference to humans in a prelapsarian state.[9] Ian McFarland and Christopher Kirwan read Augustine as a compatibalist in his later writings, but note his clear affiliation for his former articulations to the extent that they suspect that consistency never came to fruition in his later writings.[10] Determining what exactly later Augustine believed requires taking into account this third point.

Third, Augustine, in Retractationes, where he has the opportunity to recant his earlier writings, does not recant them, but only says he wish he had articulated it better.[11] Augustine clarifies in Retractationes that what he wrote in DLA was about human nature—that man by nature makes decisions by his libertarian freedom, which God foreknows—and yet, in his fallen state, man is unable to do the good except by divine grace. Augustine originally wrote DLA against the Manichaean belief that evil in the world proceeded from the principle of divinity—arguing instead that evil proceeds from man’s libertarian choice. Yet, in arguing so strongly for libertarian freedom, Augustine had to qualify his writings with a critique of Pelagianism: “Unless this [human] will, then, is freed by the grace of God from the servitude by which it has made him ‘a servant of sin,’ and unless it is aided to overcome its vices, mortal men cannot live rightly and devoutly.”[12] In this statement, we have a clear refutation of the notion of a pure libertarian will.

Augustine then strongly introduces deterministic elements into his philosophy. He writes, for instance, of the relationship between moral culpability and natural causality: “There is no blame involved when nature and necessity determine an action.”[13] However, most who espouse libertarian free will would not disagree with the notion that libertarian freedom is delimited by nature and necessity to some degree.

Augustine then says of God: “We have obtained our lot, predestined according to the plan of him who accomplishes all things (qui uniuersa operator). He, then, who accomplishes all things brings it about that we begin to believe (credere incipiamus operatur).”[14] This may be the statement in Augustine closest to what one might read in John Calvin. The term incipiamus is very key—it marks that God does not directly accomplish faith in an unqualified way, but that he accomplishes its inception. Also, the term operator—from operor, “to work”—is important. One could easily translate qui uniuersa operator as “who is concerned with all things.” Or, the whole phrase could be translated, “he who brings about all things brings about the beginning of our salvation.”

Either way, one sees in Augustine here a clear emphasis on God as the efficient cause of salvation, which comes into tension with his writings in DLA.[15] Nevertheless, when he takes the opportunity in Retractationes to explain the doctrine of divine providence to common Christians, he resorts to the weaker language of foreknowledge that he used originally in DLA: “Whether you run or whether you sleep, you will be what he who cannot be deceived has foreknown that you will be.”[16] Peter King argues that “Augustine’s substantive thesis” across both DLA and Retractationes is “that good works always involve God’s gracious assistance in a way that fully preserves human responsibility.”[17] Whether or not this is in fact true requires more rigorous analysis.

There are three questions on the table which will help to sift through modern scholarship to determine what Augustine’s beliefs were about divine providence and human freedom:

(1)  Is there a unitary reading that can encompass all of Augustine’s writing that makes sense of Augustine (or makes sense at all)?

(2)  Should Augustine be read as having developed theologically so as to justify a substantive theological distinction between “earlier Augustine” and “later Augustine”?

(3)  Can Augustine be trusted to interpret his own writings in light of his heavily polemical reasons for writing throughout his entire career?

Answering the first question in the affirmative, Eleanor Stump claims Augustine holds to “modified libertarianism” (while others have classified him as a compatibilist).[18] Stump explains that in Augustine’s theology, “a person can have libertarian freedom even if God determines her will … provided only that it is up to her whether or not God acts on her will, so that her own intellect and will are the first and ultimate determiner of the final state of her will.”[19] She nevertheless concludes:

I don’t see how Augustine can suppose that his view of the will in the Pelagian controversy is already contained in his De libero arbitrio. On the contrary, unless Augustine is willing to accept that God’s giving of grace is responsive to something in human beings, even if that something is not good or worthy of merit, I don’t see how he can be saved from the imputation of theological determinism with all its infectious consequences.[20]

Augustine … is notoriously vague about the nature of the necessity involved in unredeemed bondage to sin.
— James Wetzel

Stump, therefore, proposes a prospective unitary reading of Augustine in which later Augustine is read through the lens of earlier Augustine.[21] In Stump’s view, then, Augustine resorted in the Pelagian controversy to a refutative strategy that contained elements of determinism, the extent to which they undermined his earlier writings against the Manichaeans he did not fully understand. In Stump’s view, should Augustine have compromised libertarianism entirely, then the Manichaean theodicy “is insoluble for Augustine.”[22] In answering the first question in the affirmative, then, Stump answers the third question in the negative—Augustine was correct about libertarianism all along, and he either did not realize it, or was too timid to admit so brash a departure from his critique of Manichaeism.[23]

James Wetzel also answers the first question in the affirmative, but toward a modified compatibilism, rather than libertarianism. Wetzel’s basic argument is this is that, for Augustine, where those who have free will are limited by themselves and the world (natural determinants) to evil, God is passive, whereas the discreet possibility of faith requires an active and discreet supernatural determinant (effectual calling) to open the door to the faith’s possibility.[24] Nevertheless, in Wetzel’s reading, for Augustine, in order for human freedom to remain real, “weakness of will, failures in deliberation, stubbornness, or sheer force of will would remain permanent possibilities for human agents to lay aside the best laid plans of Almighty God.”[25]

In terms of how this plays out in a reading of Augustine, Wetzel concludes that “Augustine … is notoriously vague about the nature of the necessity involved in unredeemed bondage to sin.”[26] This ambiguity works to Augustine’s advantage politically in the sense that he can critique Manichaeans and Pelagians simultaneously while hiding all conflicting elements of those criticisms behind the veils of ambiguity and divine incomprehensibility. For example, according to Wetzel, Augustine’s own soteriology becomes unbalanced in that “sinners are culpable for their moral failings even while saints are not commendable for their moral successes.”[27] Ultimately, in taking aim at both the Manichaeans and Pelagians simultaneously, Augustine’s theology endeavored to prove too much. Tangling his theodicy with his soteriology, Augustine cut off the circulation of coherence to both.[28]

There is at least sufficient ambiguity in Augustine’s writings to debate to what degree he was a libertarian — a debate which simply could not occur about Calvin’s writings.

Therefore, both of the authors who undertake to construct a unitary reading of Augustine on divine providence and human freedom conclude that Augustine cannot be trusted with himself to supply that unitary reading. In order to translate this debate into the task of defining Reformed theology, and to conclude this reading of Augustine, William Rowe and Ann A. Pang provide a helpful dialogue that brings sufficient resolution to the question of what Augustine believed about divine providence and human freedom.

Rowe argues that Augustine merely claims to believe in the freedom of the will for the sake of claiming that humans bear moral responsibility—and yet, when speaking of problems in theodicy raised by this theological determinism, he is not sufficiently loyal to his original doctrine of freedom to justify his recruitment of the free will theodicy.[29] Pang contends that Augustine is sufficiently loyal to his doctrine of freedom, since he distinguishes between “the power to will simpliciter,” “the power to will x,” and “the power to achieve what one wills”—arguing that the necessity of God’s action in salvation does not compromise the power to will simpliciter.[30]

Pang’s contention seems to work. Regardless, their particular disagreement furnishes the present task with three options for the present thesis regarding Calvin’s originality: (1) If Rowe is correct, then Augustine holds that humans have libertarian freedom sufficient to contradict his determinism (a theological anthropology Calvin presumably rejects), (2) if Pang is correct, then Augustine’s determinism is soft enough to preserve the libertarian power to will simpliciter (a doctrine of God Calvin presumably rejects), and (3) if both Rowe and Pang are incorrect, then there is at least sufficient ambiguity in Augustine’s writings to debate to what degree he was a libertarian — a debate which simply could not occur about Calvin’s writings, thus substantiating to some degree (at least provisionally) novelty in Calvin’s articulation of divine providence and human freedom.

Calvin’s Views on Divine Providence and Human Freedom

This question still remains, however: Did John Calvin really teach such a doctrine of divine providence and human depravity so as to conflict with Augustine, and therefore be deigned sufficiently original to use the moniker Calvinism in the modern day?

Regarding God’s providence, Calvin puts it this way: “God exercises such care over the world, of which he is the Creator, that nothing happens except through his certain and unchangeable decree.”[31] Although Calvin insists that “God is not the author of evils,” he insists that “when, therefore, adulteries, and murders, and plunders are committed, God applies, as it were, a bridle to all those things, and how much soever the most wicked may indulge themselves in their vices, he still rules them.”[32] John Leith comments on this passage in Calvin:

[For] Calvin ... Even the devil can do nothing apart from the will of God. The wicked fulfill the purposes of God as well as the godly. Thus all moral beings are enclosed in the net of divine providence.
— John Leith

“Calvin was not satisfied to state that providence comprehends the whole of creation. He was specifically concerned with the many ways in which it covers the whole of human existence. On the natural level … what we call the order of nature is really the activity of God. Likewise, all spiritual beings are embraced in the activity of God. Even the devil can do nothing apart from the will of God. The wicked fulfill the purposes of God as well as the godly. Thus all moral beings are enclosed in the net of divine providence.”[33]

Yet, is it possible for humans to have free will in any sense if all things are “enclosed in the net of divine providence?” For Calvin, there is, but in a sense which one does not find in Augustine. By “free will,” Calvin means merely, in his own words, “both in doing and abstaining we seem to act from free choice; and therefore if we do good when we please, we can also refrain from doing it; if we commit evil, we can also shun the commission of it.”[34]  He also admits a threefold distinction—the freedom from necessity, the freedom from sin, and the freedom from misery—and that of the first kind, man “cannot possibly be deprived.” Calvin nearly sounds as if he is conceding libertarian will here, yet he immediately qualifies his statement: “I willingly admit this distinction, except insofar as it confounds necessity with compulsion.”[35] He summarily explains: “In this way, then, man is said to have free will, not because he has a free choice of good and evil, but because he acts voluntarily, and not by compulsion.”[36] Here, Calvin departs from Augustine insofar as even later Augustine would say that man has free will because he has free choice. Here, Calvin essentially offers a tautology—that “man is said to have free will … because he acts voluntarily.” Calvin writes:

Liberi ergo arbitrii hoc modo dicetur homo,

non quia liberam habeat boni æquaè ae mali electionem:

sed quia male voluntate agit, non coactione.

In other words, human does not have free will (liberi … arbitrii) on the basis of freedom (liberam — by which one can elect to choose), but because he has a will (voluntate). To say that free will is free, not because it is free in any sense but because it is a will, is a tautological way of precluding a libertarian quality to the will. These two doctrines—a divine sovereignty that extends to every particulate in the universe (including human choice) and the rejection of libertarian qualities in the human will—compose two kinds of the same coin of meticulous providence for Calvin. To either of these doctrines, which is to reject the other, Calvin says: “Nothing is more diabolical than this delirious piety.”[37]

Comparing and Contrasting Calvin and Augustine 

In comparing Augustine and Calvin for the sake of establishing Calvin’s originality, it will be helpful to note a distinction that Neo-Calvinist Abraham Kuyper makes between “election in the realm of grace” and election “in the realm of nature.”[38] We might retool this distinction to be the distinction between metaphysics and soteriology. This distinction allows a general path along which one may understand the continuities and discontinuities between Augustine and Calvin. While Augustine certainly spoke quite a bit about metaphysics, and Calvin quite a bit about soteriology, the baseline rationale that each used to format their doctrines of divine providence were fundamentally reducible to these two principles: Calvin to nature, and Augustine to grace.

Again, of course Calvin made much of soteriology and Augustine of metaphysics. But Augustine never pushes his doctrine of divine providence with such philosophical rigor so as to reach a doctrine of providence so expansive and meticulous as Calvin’s. For Augustine, God’s sovereignty was always a matter of his sovereign grace, and the weakness of the human will a matter of his unchangeable moral position with God left to himself. Calvin affirmed both the sovereign grace of God and the moral incapacitation of the human will, but bracketed them merismically between an inescapable determinism from the divine will and in the human will that served as the metaphysical substratum for these concepts. The continuities and discontinuities between Augustine and Calvin are represented in the chart below: 


These observations allow us now to conclude with some evidentiary justification (and credibility) with several observations that translate directly into this question of whether or not the term Calvinism should be dispensed with because of Calvin’s purported unoriginality.

First, the question of whether Calvin added anything to Augustine with regard to theological determinism and human depravity can be solved with a simple observation: There is no debate about whether Calvin believed in libertarian free will on either the moral or metaphysical level, whereas for Augustine both are a matter of fierce debate. Even if Augustine would have articulated with the same strength and consistency meticulous providence and total depravity as Calvin, then for Augustine this strength and consistency is so indiscernible that Augustine’s lack of clarity serves to showcase Calvin’s novel clarity.[39]

There is no debate about whether Calvin believed in libertarian free will on either the moral or metaphysical level, whereas for Augustine both are a matter of fierce debate.

Second, mainstream scholars such as Eleanor Stump and William Rowe—even those dissertating on Augustine[40]—are torn in different directions about how to read Augustine, not only by the conflicting entailments of Augustine’s indisputable ambiguity, but also by the very paradox itself of theological determinism and human responsibility. Both of these factors obfuscate Augustine scholarship to the point that, to claim that Calvin’s theology is unoriginal because he is Augustinian, while a generosity to Augustine, (1) perpetuates a falsehood about the precision that can be found in Augustine’s own corpus and (2) delimits Calvin to a softer determinism than he strove to articulate.


[1] R. Michael Allen, Reformed Theology (New York: Continuum, 2010), 3.

[2] Thomas J. Davis, “Introduction,” Thomas J. Davis (ed.), John Calvin’s American Legacy (New York: Oxford University Press, 2010), 6 [3-15].

[3] Augustine, On Free Choice of The Will, trans. Thomas Williams (Indianapolis, IN: Hackett Publishing, 1993), 78.

[4] Simon Harrison, Augustine’s Way Into The Will: The Theological and Philosophical Significance of De Libero Arbitrio (New York: Oxford University Press, 2006), 12.

[5] Peter Brown, Augustine of Hippo: A Biography, (Berkeley: University of California Press, 1967), 141. Jeff Nicol lends his voice to this claim as well: “The difference between Pelagius and Augustine was not their assessment of humanity’s present but its future. Augustine emphasized the status of humans as irretrievably damned—Pelagius, their correctable immortality.” Jeff Nicol, Augustine’s Problem: Impotence and Grace (Eugene, OR: Resource Publications, 2016), 99.

[6] Albert H. Newman, The Nicene and Post-Nicene Fathers, Volume 4, ed. Philip Schaff (Buffalo: The Christian Literature Company, 1887), 102 n. 1.

[7] Meredith F. Eller, “The Retractions of Saint Augustine,” Church History 18, no. 3 (1949): 175 [172-183].

[8] Gerald Bonner, Freedom and Necessity: St. Augustine’s Teaching on Divine Power and Human Freedom (Washington, D.C.: The Catholic University of America Press, 2007).

[9] John M. Rist, “Augustine on Free Will and Predestination,” The Journal of Theological Studies 20, no. 2 (October 1969): 440 [420-447]. Rist later argues that Augustine did not believe that all evil deeds were determined by inward desires, even in his writing of the confessions, since “Augustine, the pear-tree robber of the Confession, clearly thinks” that “a choice of evil in full knowledge that it is evil is possible for a rational being.” In other words, at some level, even later Augustine still had a lingering sense that he was the “master source of his own morality.” John M. Rist, Augustine Deformed: Love, Sin, and Freedom in the Western Moral Tradition (New York: Cambridge University Press, 2014), 391. Augustine substantiates Rist’s notion about prelapsarian libertarianism when he states in Retractationes 1.9: “When we speak of free will to act rightly, obviously we are speaking of it as human beings were originally made.” Augustine, On the Free Choice of the Will, On Grace and Free Choice, and Other Writings, ed. Peter King (New York: Cambridge University Press, 2010), 132.

[10] Ian McFarland, In Adam’s Fall: A Meditation on the Christian Doctrine of Original Sin (Malden: Wiley-Blackwell, 2010); Christopher Kirwan, Augustine: The Arguments of the Philosophers (New York: Routledge, 1989), 86.

[11] For a recent summary of competing perspectives on the relationship between Augustine’s earlier and later writings on freedom and predestination, see Jesse Couenhoven, “Augustine of Hippo,” in Kevin Timpe, Meghan Griffith, and Neil Levy (eds.), The Routledge Companion to Free Will (New York: Routledge, 2017), [247-257]. 

[12] Augustine, Retractiones 1.8. English Translation: Augustine, The Retractions, trans. Sister M. Inez Mogan, R.S.M., The Fathers of The Church, Volume 60 (Washington, D.C.: The Catholic University of America Press, 1968), 35.

[13] Augustine, On Free Choice of The Will, trans. Thomas Williams (Indianapolis, IN: Hackett Publishing, 1993), 70.

[14] Augustine, De Praedestinatione Sanctorum, 38. English translation: Selected Writings on Grace and Pelagianism, ed. Boniface Ramsey, trans. Roland Teske, S.J. (Hyde Park, NY: New City Press, 2011), 460 (38).

[15] J. R. V. Marchant and Joseph F. Charles (rev.), Cassell’s Latin Dictionary (London: Cassell & Company, 1892),  382.

[16] Augustine, Selected Writings on Grace and Pelagianism, ed. Boniface Ramsey, trans. Roland Teske, S.J. (Hyde Park, NY: New City Press, 2011), 515. (22, 57).

[17] Peter King, “Introduction,” in Augustine, On the Free Choice of the Will, On Grace and Free Choice, and Other Writings, trans. And ed. Peter King, Cambridge Texts in the History of Philosophy (New York: Cambridge University Press, 2010), xxviii.

[18] Eleanor Stump, “Augustine on Free Will,” in The Cambridge Companion to Augustine, in Eleonore Stump and Norman Kretzmann (eds.) (New York: Cambridge University Press, 2001), 125 [124-147]. Katherine O’Keefe explains: “Stump modifies the usual position that there are simply comptibalism and libertarianism by arguing that there is a middle position, which she calls ‘modified libertarianism,’ that judges an agent to be morally responsible for an act even if he could not have done otherwise. Given this middle position, she argues Augustine’s view of free will was a ‘modified’ libertarianism.” Katherine O’Brien O’Keefe, Stealing Obedience: Narratives of Agency and Identity in Later Anglo-Saxon England (Toronto: University of Toronto Press, 2012), 10 n. 16. For an author who argues that Augustine was a compatibilist, see Gerard O’Daly, “Predestination and Freedom in Augustine’s Ethics,” in Godfrey Vesey (ed.), The Philosophy in Christianity, Royal Institute of Philosophy Lecture Series 25 (New York: Cambridge University Press, 1989), 92-93, 96 [85-97]. See also James Wetzel, “The Recovery of Free Agency in the Theology of St Augustine,” HTR 80 (1987): 111 [101-125].

[19] Stump, “Augustine on Free Will,” 142.

[20] Ibid.

[21] Stump’s modified libertarianism is this: “God gives grace to anyone who ceases actively regusing it, but these are not people who already assent to grace. … Once their wills are quiescent, God acts of their wills in such a way as to move them to acceptance of grace, which is the will of faith.” Consequently, “the will of faith is a gift of God, but a human person’s will is still ultimately in the control of that person, because it is up to her either to refuse grace or to fail to refuse grace, and God’s giving of grace depends on what the will of a human person does.” Ibid., 141.

[22] Ibid, 140.

[23] On this reading, Augustine’s “modified libertarianism” would imply a clear disjointing with Calvin’s own theology (more below).

[24] “If there is a theoretical problem lurking about [Augustine’s theology], it has less to do with freedom directly than with responsibility and the extent to which responsibility requires freedom. Augustine is already committed to a distinction between freedom and responsibility by virtue of the link he forges between freedom and the pursuit of the good. … The doctrine of election, however, commits him to a position more radical than a simple distinction. Since those who are damned are denied in advance the possibility of reform and redemption, the condition of damnation lacks not only freedom but escape as well. Responsibility must be compatible with a lack of freedom and with an incorrigible lack of freedom.

When incorrigibility as well as bondage accrues to membership in the nonelect, the condition of damnation takes on its peculiar necessity. … In determination for evil, there is evidently a nastiness to the necessitation involved.” James Wetzel, “The Recovery of Free Agency in the Theology of St. Augustine,” HTR 80, no. 1 (1987): 122-123.

[25] James Wetzel, “The Recovery of Free Agency in the Theology of St. Augustine,” HTR 80, no. 1 (1987): 111 [101-125].

[26] Ibid., 123.

[27] Ibid., 118. See also Susan Wolf, “Asymmetrical Freedom,” Journal of Philosophy 77 (1080): 151-166.

[28] Brown explains that “paradoxically, the great opponent of Augustine’s old age had been inspired by those treatises of the young philosopher, in which Augustine had defended the freedom of the will against a Manichaean determinism.” Peter Brown, Augustine of Hippo: A Biography, (Berkeley: University of California Press, 1967), 142.

[29] William L. Rowe, “Augustine on Foreknowledge and Free Will,” The Review of Metaphysics 18 (1964): 356-363.

[30] Ann A. Pang, “Augustine on Divine Foreknowledge and Human Free Will,” RÉAug 40 (1994): 417-431.

[31] CR 39:589-590.

[32] CR 39:589.

[33] John H. Leith, John Calvin’s Doctrine of the Christian Life (Eugene, OR: Wipf & Stock, 1989), 111.

[34] ICR 158 (2.2.3).

[35] ICR 161 (2.2.5).

[36] ICR 162 (2.2.7). Calvin writes, “Liberi ergo arbitrii hoc modo dicetur homo, non quia liberam habeat boni æquaè ae mali electionem: sed quia male voluntate agit, non coactione.”

[37] CR 39:590-590.

[38] Abraham Kuyper, Lectures on Calvinism (Grand Rapids, MI: Eerdmans, 1931), 197.

[39] If there is any Augustinian teaching that Calvin reduplicates in his own writings, it is closer to the Manichaean Augustine than the Christian Augustine.

[40] Kenneth M. Wilson argues in his D.Phil. dissertation at Oxford that Augustine did not in fact change his theology—he remained a belief in metaphysical libertarianism his entire life, although he later qualified that the particular act of faith required divine co-operation (Kenneth M. Wilson, “Augustine's Conversion from Traditional Free Choice to "Non-Free Free Will": A Comprehensive Methodology,” DPhil. Dissertation, University of Oxford, 2012). Barry Alan David writes in his dissertation that if Augustine did in fact develop his theology, which he argues is unclear, then his qualifications in, for example Retractationes, would not clarify, but rather contradict, his teachings found in DLA (Barry Alan David, “Augustine on Divine Foreknowledge,” Ph.D. Dissertation, University of Toronto, 2000).


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