Are Calvinists Augustinian?

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Taylor Sexton

Puritan Board Senior
I think this author's thesis fails because of terminology. His argument contains an unargued and hidden premise—namely, that to say a theology is "Augustinian" is to say that it matches Augustine in every particular. (By the way, Augustine doesn't match himself in every particular in a lot of cases. It is often difficult to say "Augustine believed X" about something, and anyone who tries to do so is hardly engaging in sophisticated historical theology.) That's just not the case, though. Calvinists are most certainly Augustinian in that their theology, in large part, is a revival of Augustinian soteriology. Sure, there are modifications and corrections (think of Calvin's correction of Augustine's conflation of justification and sanctification), but that doesn't mean that Calvinism is not, on the whole, Augustinian.

In the end, though, who cares? I don't mean to sound crass, but these bloggers often write as if disconnecting their opponents from their self-asserted theological heritage will somehow discredit or damage them, as if what matters for orthodoxy is genetic theological descent and not fidelity to Scripture. My convictions do not depend on whether some Lutheran thinks I'm Augustinian or not.
 

Tom Hart

Puritan Board Senior
I think this author's thesis fails because of terminology. His argument contains an unargued and hidden premise—namely, that to say a theology is "Augustinian" is to say that it matches Augustine in every particular. (By the way, Augustine doesn't match himself in every particular in a lot of cases. It is often difficult to say "Augustine believed X" about something, and anyone who tries to do so is hardly engaging in sophisticated historical theology.) That's just not the case, though. Calvinists are most certainly Augustinian in that their theology, in large part, is a revival of Augustinian soteriology. Sure, there are modifications and corrections (think of Calvin's correction of Augustine's conflation of justification and sanctification), but that doesn't mean that Calvinism is not, on the whole, Augustinian.

In the end, though, who cares? I don't mean to sound crass, but these bloggers often write as if disconnecting their opponents from their self-asserted theological heritage will somehow discredit or damage them, as if what matters for orthodoxy is genetic theological descent and not fidelity to Scripture. My convictions do not depend on whether some Lutheran thinks I'm Augustinian or not.
Well said, sir!:applause:
 

Contra_Mundum

Pilgrim, Alien, Stranger
Staff member
I believe B.B. Warfield wrote that the Reformation (as a whole) was the triumph of Augustin's doctrine of soteriology over his doctrine of ecclesiology. (someone can probably fix that for me).

I listened to a Lutheran doctor of theology, a professor somewhere, acknowledge that the Reformed are more strictly Augustinian at least in relation to his doctrine of predestination than are confessional Lutherans, who connect themselves more intimately with the modified Augustinian views of the later Council of Orange, 529 https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Council_of_Orange_(529) which softened hard-edged Augustinian predestinarianism a bit, in order to make consensus.

I'm not sure about Luther himself, though. Although some Lutherans really dislike it when Reformed types avow The Bondage of the Will (and foment charges that we misread it), it seems to us to affirm a strict Augustinian (biblically accurate) view on the topics to which it speaks (recall Luther was an Augustinian monk and professor of theology before his break with Rome). With Beza at the Colloquy of Montbeliard, we do affirm wholeheartedly without reservation the propositions in it.

In any case, we don't confess Augustin (neither do the Lutherans). There is considerable overlap in predestination, and no small agreement with a broad swath of his theology, covering many things. The debt to Augustin detectable in the writings of early-to-late Reformed reformers is beyond question.
 

BayouHuguenot

Puritanboard Amanuensis
Depends on which moment in Augustine's life and what aspect of doctrine. Just avoid the temptation to equate Augustine with the entire Patristic corpus, and then equate Calvin with Augustine. Avoid that historical fallacy and you will do alright.
 
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