The Evangelical Calvinist

"The world was made so that Christ might be born."-David Fergusson

The Relationship Of Nature And Grace In The Theology Of Thomas Aquinas Juxtaposed With Augustine

If you would like to read this paper in a Word.doc format via Dropbox, click this: link


Presented to Dr. Ron Frost*

Patristic Theology


Robert A. Grow

December 10, 2002






aquinasThomas Aquinas’ methodology for doing Christian theology was to integrate Aristotelian philosophy (and categories) with Christian doctrine. It is through the scholastic methodology of dialecticism (i.e. quaestio-questions, videtur quod-thesis, sed contra-antithesis, and responsio-synthesis)[1] that Aquinas endeavors to integrate Aristotle with the teachings of the church. And in fact Aristotle affected Aquinas so much, Aquinas ends up offering an epistemology that is more philosophically inclined, than biblical and theological. A window for viewing this is to look at how Thomas saw the ‘metaphysical’ reality of grace, interfacing with the ‘physical’ reality of nature.

This study will examine Thomas’ view of grace and nature, and their relationship one with another. Saint Augustine will be used, briefly, functioning as a “foil.” He will offer the counter view of Aquinas, thus magnifying the context in which Thomas is working.

The methodology of this paper will be to follow the scholastic methodology of dialectic (cf. outlined above). The quaestio is: What is Thomas’ view of nature and grace? The videtur quod is the above stated assertion: That Aristotle greatly impacted Thomas’ view of nature and grace. The sed contra will be offered via looking at Augustine’s position relative to this issue. And the responsio will be the concluding comments (i.e. by the author of this paper on the above videtur quod and sed contra positions.)


Videtur Quod

Thomas’ Definition of Nature

In order to understand Thomas’ view of nature, one must start with the Creator (i.e. cause) of nature–God. Thomas believed that God is the first cause of all that has existence–namely nature. He states about God:

The most widespread of all effects is existence itself; so it must be the effect proper to the first and most wide-ranging of causes, namely God. In other words, creation is an action peculiar to God himself.[2]

God is the unmoved mover, the first cause of all that exists in Thomas’ mind. In other words, all that exists must find its origin in God. This is of logical necessity, not Thomas’ comment here, “But God’s proper effect in creating is what every other effect presupposes, namely existence itself.”[3]

Accordingly, Thomas believed that as God is the creator of all existence, that existence is fully derivative (i.e. not an emanation–Platonism) of God as the first of the effect. And therefore all of creation is interconnected with its ultimate goal of its createdness–that being God. Thomas writes,

All things deriving from God are ordered to one another and to him. And that is what makes the unity of the world. Material plurality cannot be a goal, for it has no determinate limit and what is without end cannot be an end.[4]

Therefore it follows from Aquinas’ as well as Aristotle’s thought that “the first principles of things are within things themselves.”[5] In other words, the derivative interconnectedness of nature is a result of God being who He is; and that is creator.

In step with what has been stated above, Thomas believed that whatever a thing is (i.e. being), it must “act” in line with what the thing is. In fact the one (i.e. being) presupposes the other–i.e. acting. Therefore, Thomas states, “Since what things do reflect what they are, God creates inasmuch as he exists; and his existence is his substance….[6] This statement is reflective of all of nature as derived from God (in Thomas’ thought). In other words, each effect is created as a cause. And whatever the “thing” is, it will act in the sphere which it was affected to act in. Steven Ozment remarks,

…the reader is struck by Aquinas’s sense of the connectedness of reality. In place of gross dualism comes detailed integration: being is in act; form is in matter; the soul is in the body; universals are in particulars. The emphasis shifts from spiritual transcendence to spiritual immanence. No longer are the world of things and the processes of sensation short-circuited. Knowledge begins with sensory experience of the visible, physical world.[7]

            Thus given the interconnectedness of all of reality (i.e. starting with God), and likewise the functioning of each created thing in its “createdness” within a hierarchical order, Thomas assumed that there are “real” relations between God, man, and the world. Ozment makes this point clear:

The assumption that real relations existed between God, man, and the world made possible Aquinas’s confidence in a posteriori proofs of God’s existence; finite effects led necessarily to their origin, because they were really connected with it. The same assumption underlay Aquinas’s distinctive views on the “analogical” character of human knowledge and discourse about God. According to Aquinas, one could speak meaningfully of one’s relationship to God by analogy with one’s relationship with one’s fellow man because a real relationship existed between the values of people shared and those God had prescribed.[8]

In other words, man via experience and sensory intake of data could come to the conclusion, analogically, what God is like. In fact this is a way that man can proved that God exists. Not through a priori abstractions (i.e. Augustine) that posit God’s existence, but through rational analogical reasoning; starting with man’s being (i.e. universal man is in the particular man), and working one’s way up the hierarchical chain back to the first cause: God.

Thus man falls within the sphere of nature, and man’s place in nature, like all of other nature is to find its end in God. According to Thomas man is capable of accomplishing this, as seen above, via analogical reasoning. Therefore, there must be a high premium placed on man’s intellectual capacity. Without such a capacity Thomism is in trouble. Because man then would not be functioning within the framework of his “createdness” and the interconnected hierarchy of Thomism would crumble–the weak link being man.[9] In light of this view of man’s reasoning ability, note Thomas’ comment:

We even needed reveled instruction in things reason can learn about God. If such truths had been left to us to discover they would have been learnt by few over long periods and mingled with much error; yet our whole well-being is centered on God and depends on knowing them. So, in order that more of us might more safely attain him, we needed teaching in which God revealed himself.[10]

Here Aquinas makes it clear that reason is indeed a powerful mode from which man can ascertain certain things about God. Yet there is also admission that reason must be aided by revelation if it is going to have a fuller-orbed understanding of who God is (this point will be covered more thoroughly in the “grace” section of this study). Nevertheless, reason is unfettered and free to function at the full capacity for which it was intended via the mind of God affected at creation.

Thomas continues on with his discussion relative to man’s reason, and the capacity it has to know; to know not only physical things, but when presented with the right material (i.e. Divine revelation), metaphysical spiritual things. Thomas has great confidence in man’s reasoning abilities. Note how he jumps from the “physical sciences” to the “metaphysical” sciences:

Theology as God taught it differs in kind from the theology of philosophers. Sciences are differentiated by different ways of knowing things: astronomers prove the earth round with abstract geometrical argument [from the shape of its shadow], physicists prove it from earth’s concrete physical properties [:gravity attracts matter into a ball]. So something that is the subject of a naturally learned discipline when known by the light of reason becomes the subject of another science when known by the light of God’s revelation.[11] (emphasis mine)

Again, it is observed that Thomas is using his analogical reasoning to come to the conclusion he comes to here. And that is that man’s science is like God’s science, but man merely needs to have his reason aided by the light of revelation.

Aquinas further substantiates the similiary between these “two sciences,” he is discussing how God is defined in this “metaphysical science,”

However, we cannot argue from a definition of God in this science, because we do not know how to define him. Instead we argue from his effects, be they nature or grace. In certain natural sciences we do the same, proving things about causes not from their definitions but from their effects.[12]

He clearly draws a parallel between physical and metaphysical ways of knowing, via analogical thought. It is also telling to note the language of “nature and grace.” These correspond to the two ways of knowing God. Both are valid, it is just that where nature leaves off, grace (i.e. revelation in Scripture) picks up and carries the mind into the sphere of the heavenlies. The important thing to note here is that there is no disconnect being made between the natural mind, and the spiritual mind. It appears that Aquinas believed that the natural mind has all of the capabilities necessary to apprehend spiritual verities only aided by the revelation of Scripture; but not necessarily illuminated by the Holy Spirit.

Therefore, as we have noted previously in this paper, Thomas believed that God is the first cause (i.e. unmoved mover) who has affected all creation. And that God has done this, merely because He is God. Thus His creative activity is consistent with who He is. Likewise, all things that God has effected into existence are themselves causes who within their “createdness” effect movement within the interconnected hierarchy of being (i.e. God, angels, humanity, animals, vegetation, etc.). Ultimately, each movement within the “collective” sphere of being finds its end of movement in the “Unmoved mover”–God.

It has also been observed that Thomas places great trust in man’s reason, and that this, for Thomas, is necessary and justified via man’s functionality within his createdness. It has also been seen that given the derivation of each effect from the ultimate cause–God. Universals are found in the particulars that ultimately lead back to God’s mind from whence the universals were particularized in effect. Given man’s ability to reason within his sphere of createdness, man via experiential sensory knowledge is able to reason from the universals they experience in the particulars of nature. Consequently man can analogically reason their way back to God, the cause of the particulars. But this can only be done insofar as their natural reason will take them.

Given the fact that there is “real connectedness” between the physical and metaphysical spheres, all that man needs to be able to understand and apprehend God, is given by the aide of “grace” (i.e. deposited in Scripture). After all, the physical sciences and the metaphysical science are only different in kind; Thomas argues. Thus, man’s intellectual capacity is adequate to discern the spiritual sphere, because all reality is interconnected. Then what is the function of “grace,” and how does it interface with “nature?” To this discussion this study now turns.


Thomas’ Definition of Grace


Before the issue of grace is discussed, there is a more fundamental issue to explore. That issue is to understand how Thomas defines sin, and how he sees his definition of sin affecting man and creation.

When looking at his definition of sin, notice that again, Aquinas makes human rationality and reason the fulcrum and standard by which to judge sin. In other words, by defining sin via violation of such a standard (i.e. human reason), Thomas makes intellect (i.e. mind) immune from the consequences of sin. For anything outside of the lines of human reason is sin, and ultimately being driven by an immature sense-nature out of touch with the mind. Thomas communicates that there are three things that oppose the virtue of goodness in a person:

So three things oppose virtue: sin (or misdeeds), evil (the opposite of goodness), and vice (disposition unbefitting to one’s nature). Whatever accords with reason is humanly good, whatever goes against reason is humanly bad. Human virtue that makes men and their deeds good befits human nature by befitting reason, whilst vice goes against man’s nature by going against reason. Man’s nature is twofold: he lives by his reason and he lives by his senses. It is through sensing that he learns to reason, but many men never mature beyond the level of sense. Vice and sin result from our following of sense-nature against our rational nature. And going against human rational nature is going against eternal law.[13]

Therefore, sin ultimately is a movement that goes against the rational.

The effects of this sin, at the fall, have in fact affected the rational for Thomas, but it has not been destroyed nor functionally hindered. In all reality, the mind (i.e. rationality) continues to stand in opposition to the faculties of the will and passion (i.e. the heart/affections). Yes, the mind is wounded or weakened by the other damaged faculties, but it is still fully intact in its createdness:

In the original integrated state of man reason controlled our lower powers perfectly and God perfected the reason subordinated to him. This state was lost to us by Adam’s sin, and the resulting lack of order among the powers of our soul that incline us to virtue we call a wounding of nature. Ignorance is a wound in reason’s response to truth, wickedness in will’s response to good; weakness wounds the response of our aggressive emotions to challenge and difficulty, and disordered desire our affections’ reasonable and balanced response to pleasure. All sins inflict these four wounds blunting reason’s practical sense, hardening the will against good, increasing the difficulty of acting well and inflaming desire.[14]

The key language to hone in on in the Summa, is the wounding of nature. This is the core of the core of Thomas’ definition of sin. It is only a wounding of nature, not the death and incapacitation of man’s nature (cf. Rom. 3:10-18). Each of the faculties (i.e. mind, will, and affections) have been weakened, thus there is a need to restore them back to their complete form; which is in God. And the “wound” requires only medicine for restorative purposes:

Sometimes however men willingly suffer minor impoverishments so as to gain a major enrichment, and then the sufferings are medicinal rather than punitive. As such no particular sin is their cause, unless one say that the very need for medicine is due to our damaged nature and so is a penalty for inherited sin.[15]

Therefore ‘grace’ will be defined by its necessity determined by the character of sin, and its necessity according to Thomas is medicinal (i.e metaphysical first-aid kit approach), and not a need for a radical and brand-new life giving balm approach (i.e. like recreation).


Grace for Thomas is an external entity that God implants in the disordered person; in order that man might be enabled to perform at his fully integrated (i.e. before the Fall) level. Thomas states that man is in a disordered state since the fall occurred, and needs to be enabled by grace to live as unto God.

Now this nature is disordered, however, man falls short even of the goodness natural to him, and cannot wholly achieve it by his own natural abilities. Particular good actions he can still perform in virtue of his nature (building houses, planting vineyards and the like); but he falls short of the total goodness suited to his nature. He is like a sick man able to make certain movements by himself, but unable to move like a man in perfect health until he has had medicine to heal him.[16]

Interesting that Aquinas’ view of sin does correspond to his definition of grace. Man needs to be healed, note that he is only sick. In other words man’s reasoning abilities are still in place and moving; they are just not moving at a hundred percent capacity.

Grace according to Thomas is a quality that comes from God implanted in the heart to enable him to live in a completed state. A state that really is a completion of man’s reason, as grace comes in and takes him into the sphere of the metaphysical–God–thus completing man’s existence. Note Thomas’ definition of this kind of grace:

Strictly speaking, a supervening quality is not so much in existence itself, as a way in which something else exists; and so grace is not created, but men are created in it, established in a new existence out of nothing, without earning it: Created in Christ Jesus in good works.[17]

Remember the interconnectedness that Aquinas sees occurring in reality. Thus what he is really saying here is that analogically grace is not a created quality; because Christ is still the first cause here from whom this grace comes. The new existence is equivalent (i.e. for Thomas) to the accident, while the “out of nothing” is equal to the “exist” (i.e. or essence) of man. Therefore, grace is a created quality and externally implanted in man.

Steven Ozment makes the same point when he notes on Thomas’ understanding of grace:

According to Aquinas, grace is in the soul as a reality connatural to man otherwise, saving acts of charity would be done involuntarily and, as it were, by another. Although its ultimate origin is divine, the love by which people love God and their fellow man in a saving way is a created love, a truly human habit.[18]

Therefore, according to Ozment’s assessment, grace is a “created love” a “truly human habit.”

This is in fact a great example of how Aquinas employed Aristotelian philosophy to explain Christian doctrine. Ozment comments:

Aquinas found a solution in Aristotelian philosophy. Grace, he argued, is in the soul not as a substantial form, but as an accidental form (forma accidentalis). In Aristotelian philosophy a substantial form denotes the essence of a thing, that which makes it what it is or in terms of which it is defined. Man’s substantial form, for example, is his reason; reason makes man a unique creature and defines his nature. An accidental form, by contrast, while very much a part of an individual, remains nonessential to its definition as the particular thing that it is.[19]

Thomas then has the mechanism in Aristotle to talk about the “Christian grace,” but at the same time leave man unchanged in his essence. Thus his “reason” remains intact and his person so defined in its createdness.

Therefore grace is not seen as something that destroys nature, but that which completes nature. Grace is merely “super-added” to man as a habitus[20] which brings man into the fulcrum of his createdness vis-à-vis in relation to God. What Aquinas is able to do is to keep man as man, and nothing of “substance” has changed in man. Thus the interconnectedness of reality is salvaged, and Aristotle’s Unmoved mover (i.e. God) remains unmoved. Ultimately, for Thomas, “… grace does not destroy nature, but perfects it, a subtle formula that both enhanced the secular world and justified ecclesiastical paternalism and self aggrandizement.”[21]

Thomas’ view of grace has been observed to be a “medicine” that comes along as an “accidental” quality, to aid man in living a life that pleases God. This grace does not change man’s essence, but supplements it, thus bringing man in all of his createdness to another level. That level being not the “natural” “physical” levels, but the “supernatural” “metaphysical” levels; which ultimately are concurrent realities, as the universals are in the particulars. And via analogical reasoning and the hierarchy in reality, man’s capacity of understanding goes so far, and then “grace” (i.e. Scripture, sacraments, etc.) comes in and brings him all the way up the hierarchical chain back to God. Thus nature is completed in God, and grace is that “created quality” which allows this to happen.[22]


Sed Contra

augustinejeromeWhile Thomas’ view of God was shaped and informed by Aristotle, St. Augustine’s view of God and thus knowledge was shaped and informed by Platonic realism. When Augustine became a Christian he brought into his Christianity Platonic thought the he tried to integrate into his Christianity. Ozment states:

Augustine shared much of the Platonic cosmological and epistemological scheme, but he transformed it in fundamental ways by integrating his Christian beliefs, into it, particularly in the belief in a Trinitarian God who was incarnate in Jesus Christ. According to Augustine, to have true knowledge, one must not concentrate on the sensory world outside oneself, but retreat into the eternal world within oneself, through which one can rise above oneself to truth.[23]

In contradistinction to Aquinas, Augustine is saying that man’s knowledge of God is not based on the a posteriori reflection of sensory experience, but the opposite; it is based on the a priori internal reflection of the soul, which is then by the indwelling internal Word[24] (i.e. Christ) able to transcend the “senses” and know God through union with Him. This, according to Ozment, is a very Platonically informed epistemology, albeit Christianized.[25]

Nevertheless, Augustine believed that man, in the beginning, was in a beautiful state:

His starting point is a glowing picture of human nature as it comes from the Creator’s hands; he carries to its highest pitch the growing tendency to attribute original righteousness and perfection to the first man. Adam, he holds, was immune from physical ills and had surpassing intellectual gifts; he was in a state of justification, illumination and beatitude…. And his will was good, that is, devoted to carrying out God’s commands, for God endowed it with a settled inclination to virtue. So his body was subject to his soul, his carnal desires to his will, and his will to God. Already he was wrapped around with divine grace….[26]

Therefore, according to Augustine (according to Kelly), man was in great shape, and man in his original creation was in a state of grace. But man fell from this position before God.

After the fall, according to Augustine, man became enslaved to sin which is a “love of self” displacing the “love of God.” He sees sin affecting man with great magnitude, note Kelly’s comment:

Nevertheless the corruption has gone far enough. The most obvious symptom of it, apart from the general misery of man’s existence, is his enslavement to ignorance , concupiscence stands, in a general way, for every inclination making man turn from God to find satisfaction in material things which are intrinsically evanescent.[27]

Augustine believed that ignorance of God flowing from love of self, is the main hindering block that stands between God and man. He does not mean that man is now in bondage to sin in the sense that he has lost free-will. Rather, given man’s fallen state and his free-will the only choice he will make is that which benefits himself and not relationship to God.[28]

Thus Augustine’s view of humanity is not an optimistic one, but a pessimistic one, left to their own vices. Kelly comments:

Little wonder that on his view the whole of humanity constitutes ‘a kind of mass (massa=”lump”) of sin’, or a ‘universal mass of perdition’, being destined to everlasting damnation were it not for the grace of Christ.[29]

Man, according to Augustine, cannot reach out to God via their “reason.” Rather, God must reach down to man through his grace; which will effectively transform man back to relationship with God. Kelly comments on Augustine, “without God’s help we cannot by free will overcome the temptations of this life.”[30]

Grace from Augustine’s perspective is not something that is given as an “accident” but as a free arbitrary gift from God. No man can merit the gift of grace by his reason, but grace is that which originates from God’s gift to man. Thus good works are performed because of this grace, not by man’s createdness thus meriting the gift of grace to take him into the “metaphysical plane” (i.e. Aquinas). Kelly gives a good summary of Augustine’s view of grace:

But grace of whatever kind is God’s free gift gratia dei gratuita. The divine favour cannot be earned by the good deeds men do for the simple reason that those deeds are themselves the effect of grace: ‘grace bestows merits, and is not bestowed in reward for them’. No worth-while act can be performed without God’s help, and even the initial motions of faith are inspired in our hearts by Him.[31]

Augustine’s conception of grace, like Aquinas, is defined by his definition of sin (i.e. anthropology). For Augustine, grace is not a co-operative venture by which man co-operates with God thus producing  good works meritorious towards salvation. Because in Augustine’s conception man is in a pitiable state, and thus any hope for man is not initiated by man but God. Augustine’s sphere of operation is not in the intellect, but it is in the heart. And when God acts upon the heart with his grace, then man can respond to God and thus men appropriately.



It has been noted that Aquinas’ view of reality is informed heavily by Aristotelian metaphysics. In contrast, we have seen that Augustine’s view is concentrated in a Platonic epistemology. Consequently their anthropologies and theology is shaped differently as well. God in Thomas’ view is the Unmover mover who creates because that is consistent with His being. Augustine’s view of God is that He does move out (i.e. albeit a Platonic notion), and graciously bestows grace and knowledge of Him to man.

Thomas’ anthropology is to view man as having a “wounded soul,” but that in all reality his intellect (i.e. what defines his createdness) has enormous capacity to know God apart from the “grace of God,” given the interconnected analogous nature of the universe. Augustine views man as being enslaved to concupiscence and thus man (i.e. even though he has freewill) will always choose self and not God.

Thomas’ view of grace is that it is a created quality implanted within the soul of man. He believes that grace serves only as an aide and supplement to “human reason” to advance man to the heavenly science of God. Thus man is not inherently evil, he only needs God’s grace to complete man; bringing him to his logical end, and that this the “first cause,” God. Thus grace is part of the created qualities of the universe, which enables man to co-operate with God, and gain merit towards salvation. This view of grace keeps Thomas’ view of the interconnected hierarchy of the universe intact. It does this by leaving man with all of his createdness intact, and bring in a created grace that does not challenge the createdness of man, but super-adds to his nature (i.e. accident). Thus man is un-changed, and the universe functions the way Aristotle (i.e. Aquinas) says it does.

Augustine’s view of grace is that it is a free gift of God, and without it man is helplessly condemned to destruction. Grace changes and transforms the heart (i.e. thus changes nature), so that man might have relationship with God. Grace causes man to look away from self, and back to God. Grace for Augustine works within the sphere of the heart, and changes the heart to long after God not self.

Aquinas’ view of nature and grace is “man-centered” (i.e. elevating human reason), while Augustine’s view is “God-centered” (i.e. elevating God’s initiative and the heart).

Ultimately, both saints have a philosophical construct informing their theology. The problem with Aquinas’s position is that his construct, of necessity, centers on man; for he must protect the unchangeable nature of man, thus protecting the hierarchy of movement back to the Unmoved mover God. Augustine’s construct does not require such a defense; rather his position has the flexibility within it to allow the Scriptures to dominate his thought rather than philosophy (i.e. although he communicates within Platonic categories). Thus his picture of nature and grace is much more fluid with what Scripture communicates about this topic than is Aquinas’ position. Aquinas’ view of nature and grace is seemingly and completely informed by Aristotle; and he squeezes Scripture into Aristotle’s mold much harder than does Augustine with Plato.

Thus it must be concluded that Aquinas has been influenced too much by Aristotle, and his concept of grace and nature (although internally consistent) should be rejected. It should only be rejected insofar that it does damage to the revelation of Scripture. And as this paper has demonstrated he does much damage to understanding who God is, what nature is, and how grace effects nature. In the opinion of the author of this study Augustine is much more in line with Scripture, and his conception of grace and nature should be accepted (i.e. relative to Aquinas).[32]




*Here is how Ron Frost summarily commented on my paper as he gave his concluding constructive criticisms at the end: “I appreciate your work – it’s creative (taking a fresh approach to the topic) and engages Thomas directly. Nevertheless you need a broader base of dialog for a research effort. A major task is to show how your thesis engages the present state-of-things. Keep digging!” Points well taken Dr. Frost, and just know that if I had had more than two days to write this paper I am sure I could have provided more depth of engagement with various scholars in the field :-). I received 188 out of 200 points for my grade on this paper, which I think is a 97%.

[1] Steven Ozment, The Age of Reform 1250-1550 (New Haven: Yale University Press, 1980), 6.

[2] St. Thomas Aquinas, Summa Theologiae A Concise Translation, ed. Timothy McDermott (Westiminster: Christian Classics, 1989), 86.

[3] Ibid., 86.

[4] Ibid., 90.

[5] Steven Ozment, The Age of Reform 1250-1550, 49.

[6] St. Thomas Aquinas, Summa Theologiae A Concise Translation, 86.

[7] Steven Ozment, Age of Reform, 49.

[8] Ibid., 54.

[9] Note Etienne Gilson’s discussion on this point. Etienne Gilson, The Philosophy of St. Thomas Aquinas, trans. Edward Bullough (New York: Dorset Press, 1986), 236.

[10] St. Thomas Aquinas, Summa Theologiae Concise Translation, 1.

[11] Ibid., 1.

[12] Ibid., 3.

[13] Ibid., 249.

[14] Ibid., 270-71.

[15] Ibid., 273.

[16] Ibid., 308.

[17] Ibid., 313.

[18] Steven Ozment, Age of Reform, 32.

[19] Ibid., 32.

[20] See Robert E. Brennan, ed., Essays in Thomism: The Role of Habitus in the Thomistic Metaphysics of Potency and Act, by Vernon J. Bourke (New York: Sheed&Ward, 1942), 103-09.

[21] Steven Ozment, Age of Reform, 12.

[22] In all reality, Thomas talks about the “wounding of the soul,” but this appears only as an attempt to integrate the effects of sin into the human condition. At a functional level it seems that reason potentially can operate at an unfettered level. If it is destroyed or tainted then what defines man’s essence is hindered or obliterated thus making man not man. Likewise, the enablement notion of grace (i.e. Thomas) speaks of man’s ability to “co-operate” with God in gaining merit and ultimately salvation. This whole approach is anthropocentric, and in the end exalts “reason” (i.e. man) to a level that functionally leaves God out of the picture, until the “end.”

[23] Steven Ozment, Age of Reform, 46-7.

[24] Ibid., 47.

[25] Ibid., 47.

[26] J.N.D. Kelly, Early Christian Doctrines (San Francisco: Harper Collins Publishers, 1978), 362.

[27] Ibid., 365.

[28] Ibid., 365-66.

[29] Ibid., 366.

[30] Ibid., 366.

[31] Ibid., 367.

[32] Using the dialectic methodology with this study did not carry through to the end. Instead I became a Christian Humanist and employed their methodology of ‘yes’ and ‘no (i.e. responsio section). Augustine’s view is the most consistent with Scripture.


Written by Bobby Grow

May 18, 2014 at 7:28 pm