The “Outright Disaster” of the Augustinian-Calvinist Formulation of Election

‘Phillip Cary comments on the “outright disaster” of the Augustinian-Calvinist doctrine of election vs the beauty of the Biblical doctrine of election:

Barth’s focus on Jesus Christ uncovers the fundamental structure of the biblical doctrine of election, which differs profoundly from Augustine’s doctrine of election (and therefore from Luther’s and Calvin’s, and for that matter from Aquinas’s). For the point of divine election is not that grace is given to one rather than another, but that grace is given to one for the sake of others…

…The difference between Augustine’s [and by extension Calvin’s] doctrine of election and the Bible’s can be put using the following comparison. One can imagine a foolish father who has only foolish children, and one of them is his favorite, on whom he lavishes all his wealth (far beyond what any of his children deserve) bequeathing his whole estate to his chosen one, knowing that as a result his other children will starve—as is only just, given their improvidence and disobedience. But one can also imagine a gracious father who has many rebellious children, but chooses one for special discipline so that when he grows up his father can say: “Son, I give you my whole inheritance so that you can spend it on your brothers and sisters, who will need it but who would squander it if I gave it to them directly. I want you to put them through school, pay their medical bills, buy them each a house, and throw a grand wedding when they get married. I know you could have done better things for yourself if your time and efforts were devoted to your own ambitions, but I need you to do this for them, even though it will cost you a great deal of trouble and heartache.” The problem with the Augustinian [and by extension Calvinist] doctrine of election, which leads to the outright disaster of the Augustinian doctrine of predestination, is that it has the structure of the first story rather than the second. 

—Phillip Cary
“Inner Grace: Augustine in the Traditions of Plato and Paul” p. 122-124

The overall thrust of this chapter in Cary’s monograph is that Augustine’s idiosyncratic formulation of election and predestination (which would later influence Calvin and Luther’s own idiosyncratic neo-Augustinian versions of the doctrine) was influenced by Platonic and Neo-Platonic thought patterns of grace that differed significantly from the Pauline and Hebraic concept of grace, which is given to one (Israel, Christ, the Church) for the benefit of others rather than merely and arbitrarily given to one instead of another, which as Cary rightly says, leads logically to the “outright disaster” of Augustine’s (and later Calvin’s) doctrine of double-predestination.’

source: tbrown90 (the cruciform view – tumblr).

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