Wednesday, December 2, 2009

Rome's Condemnation of Augustine

The Roman Church has claimed Augustine as one of the primary teachers of the faith. Protestants, both Reformed and Lutheran, have claimed that their teachings on grace are essentially the same as those of Augustine. How can these two opposing churches both claim Augustine as a primary source of theology?
It seems that Rome, though giving lip service to Augustine, has essentially condemned him through the condemnation of Hus and the excommunication of the Jansenists. Jansenism was a movement within French Roman Catholicism in the 17th century which sought to bring Augustine's teachings of grace back to the church. Several Papal bulls condemned the movement. The most famous of these bulls is titled Unigenitus. The following are statements condemned by the Pope:

1. What else remains for the soul that has lost God and His grace except sin and the consequences of sin, a proud poverty and a slothful indigence, that is, a general impotence for labor, for prayer, and for every good work?

2. The grace of Jesus Christ, which is the efficacious principle of every kind of good, is necessary for every good work; without it, not only is nothing done, but nothing can be done.

3. In vain, O Lord, do You command, if You do not give what you command.

4. Thus, O Lord, all things are possible to him for whom You make all things possible by effecting those same things in him.

5. When God does not soften a heart by the interior unction of His grace, exterior exhortations and graces are of no service except to harden it the more.

6. The difference between the Judaic dispensation and the Christian is this, that in the former God demanded flight from sin and a fulfillment of the Law by the sinner, leaving him in his own weakness; but in the latter. God gives the sinner what He commands, by purifying him with His grace.

26. No graces are granted except through faith.

27. Faith is the first grace and the source of all others.

30. All whom God wishes to save through Christ. are infallibly saved.

38. Without the grace of the Liberator, the sinner is not free except to do evil.

39. The will, which grace does not anticipate, has no light except for straying, no eagerness except to put itself in danger, no strength except to wound itself, and is capable of all evil and incapable of all good.

40. Without grace we can love nothing except to our own condemnation.

41. All knowledge of God, even natural knowledge, even in the pagan
philosophers, cannot come except from God; and without grace knowledge produces nothing but presumption, vanity, and opposition to God Himself, instead of the affections of adoration, gratitude, and love.

42. The grace of Christ alone renders a man fit for the sacrifice of faith; without this there is nothing but impurity, nothing but unworthiness.

48. What else can we be except darkness, except aberration, and except sin, without the light of faith, without Christ, and without charity?

49. As there is no sin without love of ourselves, so there is no good work without love of God.

59. The prayer of the impious is a new sin; and what God grants to them is a new judgment against them.

76. There is nothing more spacious than the Church of God; because all the elect and the just of all ages comprise it.

79. It is useful and necessary at all times, in all places, and for every kind of person, to study and to know the spirit, the piety, and the mysteries of Sacred Scripture.

80. The reading of Sacred Scripture is for all.

84. To snatch away from the hands of Christians the New Testament, or to hold it closed against them by taking away from them the means of understanding it, is to close for them the mouth of Christ.

97. Too often it happens that those members, who are united to the Church more holily and more strictly, are looked down upon, and treated as if they were unworthy of being in the Church, or as if they were separated from Her; but, "the just man liveth by faith" [Rom. 1:17], and not by the opinion of men.

1 comment:

Matt said...

You might enjoy reading Garrigou-Lagrange (for old school Neo-scholasticism) or Henri de Lubac (for a more historical approach). They both discuss Jansenism and modern "Augustinianism." Modern Thomists (like Otto Pesch) want Jansen and Baius rehabilitated. But, even in the 17th century, the distinctions between the Jansenists and the Thomists (as the Jesuits loved to remind their Dominican opponents) was quite narrow. Nevertheless, there were quite a few heated arguments about whether Jansen's condemned statements (which, by the way, were not all condemned as *heretical*) could be found in Augustine. It might be interesting. Who knows?

At any rate, for what it is worth, I would object to the sweeping statement that Rome only pays Augustine lip-service...