Things St. Augustine Never Said Vol 1

Reformed Christians have a deep respect for St. Augustine.  And while Augustine had a notriously high view of Grace and Predestination, he is often misused and abused by Reformed Christians who are likely to claim him as a sort of proto-Calvinist.

Calvinists are likely to say something to the effect of, “Calvin took Augustine’s soeteriology to its logical conclusion.”  More often than not he’s taken wildly out of context, quote-mined, or sadly, even misquoted.

A quote that is often attributed to Augustine that is supposed to buffet his “Calvinistic-Cred” is “Men are not saved by good works, nor by the free determination of their own will, but by the grace of God through faith.”

But Augustine never actually said that.

Here’s a meme posted by “Banner of Truth”facebook page.  Its spread far and wide.

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I’ve even seen a meme in this iteration, where the quote is placed next to a canon of the Council of Trent, insinuating that Augustine and Trent are contrary to each other.

This “quote” is actually the Title of Chapter 30 of Augustine’s Enchiridion as it appears in the Phillip Schaff edition of the Early Church Fathers.  The phrase was not written by Augustine at all!  The Chapter titles were not part of Augustine’s original works, but were added later.  Because of this, it can in no way be attributed to Augustine.  For example, notice how in this translation of the Enchiridion, the subsection is merely titled, “The necessity of Grace.

If per chance, you’re wondering whether or not St. Augustine believed that we are saved by “faith alone” as the Protestants believe, read this juicy quote, actually from the pen of Augustine and in his work The Enchiridion:

Now, if the wicked man were to be saved by fire on account of his faith only, and if this is the way the statement of the blessed Paul should be understood—’But he himself shall be saved, yet so as by fire’—then faith without works would be sufficient to salvation. But then what the apostle James said would be false. And also false would be another statement of the same Paul himself: ‘Do not err,’ he says; ‘neither fornicators, nor idolaters, nor adulterers, nor the unmanly, nor homosexuals, nor thieves, nor the covetous, nor drunkards, nor revilers, nor extortioners, shall inherit the Kingdom of God.’ Now, if those who persist in such crimes as these are nevertheless saved by their faith in Christ, would they not then be in the Kingdom of God? But, since these fully plain and most pertinent apostolic testimonies cannot be false, that one obscure saying about those who build on ‘the foundation, which is Christ, not gold, silver, and precious stones, but wood, hay, and stubble’—for it is about these it is said that they will be saved as by fire, not perishing on account of the saving worth of their foundation—such a statement must be interpreted so that it does not contradict these fully plain testimonies.”Augustine, Enchiridion Ch. XVIII

From the above quote, one can see that contrary to the Reformed Christian faith, St. Augustine professed that we are not saved by faith only, but rather, works are necessary.

 

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