Why does the reformed community like Augustine when he was a Catholic monk?

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carlosstjohn

Puritan Board Freshman
What I mean is how does the reformed community reconcile the fact that he was a catholic monk and yet still love him?

I understand that what he wrote shaped western religion with doctrines of the Trinity, sovereign grace, and even christian hedonism. I can obviously understand why we would like him. That is NOT what I am asking.

What am I asking is how can we advocate and promote someone who belonged to the catholic church? Is it because it was so early one that it wasn't as bad as it became later on/now?

I hope I am making sense.

PS - I like Augustine. Im not trying to see if I should like him. I am trying to see how I can fit the two pieces together harmoniously without conflict.
 

kodos

Puritan Board Junior
Augustine was active in the 4th and 5th Centuries. The Protestant Reformation was a millenia after that. The East/West split wouldn't even happen until the 11th Century. What church did you want Augustine to be a part of?
 

Justified

Puritan Board Sophomore
What I mean is how does the reformed community reconcile the fact that he was a catholic monk and yet still love him?

I understand that what he wrote shaped western religion with doctrines of the Trinity, sovereign grace, and even christian hedonism. I can obviously understand why we would like him. That is NOT what I am asking.

What am I asking is how can we advocate and promote someone who belonged to the catholic church? Is it because it was so early one that it wasn't as bad as it became later on/now?

I hope I am making sense.

PS - I like Augustine. Im not trying to see if I should like him. I am trying to see how I can fit the two pieces together harmoniously without conflict.
The problem you have with that statement is that there is a hidden premise about the continuity of the church: you're assuming that the Roman Catholic Church is in fact catholic, and you're assuming a discontinuity of the Reformed church with the church pre-reformation. This just isn't true; we have just as much a claim to Augustine as they do. Sure, there are ways in which Augustine's theology resembles the RCC, but there are also ways in which the reformer's theology reassemble Augustine's.

Lastly, the Roman Catholic Church isn't catholic, because they anathematized the gospel of our Lord Jesus Christ; because of which thing Paul's anathema falls upon them.
 

Reformed Fox

Puritan Board Freshman
This is actually one of my favorite points of discussion. It shows how the Roman Catholic Church very slowly veered away from orthodoxy. When I was attending the Catholic University of America for my MA you could divide the Roman Catholic students into Augustine fans and Aquinas fans. Those who read and appreciated Augustine were actually rather "reformed" much like Augustine himself (anachronistic as that term may be). A number of my friends came very close to a reformed worldview but their cultural predispositions wedded them to the Roman Catholic Church.

For an amazing piece representing the choice between Augustine and Aquinas see: http://www.theimaginativeconservative.org/2013/09/the-political-relevance-of-st-augustine.html

The Roman Catholic church was clearly more right than wrong when Augustine was writing. By the high medieval period things had degraded severely. I personally blame the insane degree to which the Roman Catholic church then and now nearly venerates Aristotle.

P.S. I also think it is helpful to think in terms of traditions rather than denominations. I see a clear link between Paul, Augustine, Calvin, Packer, and the like. Such figures, if taken in terms of denomination, really have nothing to do with each other. The reformed tradition, if crudely reduced to something like TULIP, can probably be projected backwards, even if the figures in question could not identify themselves as such.
 

jwithnell

Moderator
Staff member
So, what do you do with the creeds and the early church fathers? 0r Luther? Or Calvin's clear indebtedness to Augustine?
 

Grafted In

Puritan Board Freshman
Did such a thing as the RCC exist as you are thinking of it in the late 4th and early 5th century? Was Augustine submitted to the Bishop of Rome as the apostolic successor of the See of Peter and the Vicar of Christ? I don't think so.

I think it would be an anachronistic error to label Augustine Roman Catholic, though several of his theological concepts laid the foundation for distinctly Roman Catholic doctrines.
 

Jack K

Puritan Board Professor
What I mean is how does the reformed community reconcile the fact that he was a catholic monk and yet still love him?

To give you an example... this is a bit like asking how a Democrat can admire Abraham Lincoln, who was a Republican. Things have changed since Lincoln's day and those labels don't mean exactly the same thing now as they did then. Likewise, although you could say Augustine was technically a Catholic, he did not teach many of the errors that crept into Catholic thinking centuries later and led to the Reformation.

I don't think promoting Augustine leads many people to say, "Oh, he was a Catholic so I suppose that means Catholics are right about everything." He was more of an early church theologian, and in several ways he fits better within the heretage that became Reformed than within the current Catholic Church.
 

Reformed Fox

Puritan Board Freshman
Exactly. One of the questions I often pose is when did Roman Catholics come into existence? Some would claim when Peter was handed the keys and became the first pope, Fair enough, but if this is the case many of the church fathers have doctrine which deviates significantly from the medieval church.

My impression is that aside from the nature of the papacy, the Roman Catholic Church did not become too deviant from orthodoxy until the early medieval period. But my medieval history is not that great,

We in the West are familiar with the Roman Catholics claiming Paul, for example. But so do the Orthodox and other Eastern churches. Reading Romans it seems like we can "claim" him. Again, traditions, not denominations. If someone asked me if Paul or Augustine were Roman Catholics I would need to ask for clarification.
 

BayouHuguenot

Puritanboard Amanuensis
Like and dislike at the same time. I pull my hair out reading some parts of City of God, yet other parts are simply beautiful.
 

MW

Puritanboard Amanuensis
The reformation has been described as the triumph of Augustine's soteriology over his ecclesiology. That is obviously a generalisation which can be taken in the wrong direction but it says something about why the reformed like Augustine. We could even say that we like him because he teaches us the things we should not like about him. :)
 

bookslover

Puritan Board Doctor
I agree with much that has been said. Augustine (354-430) was a member of the church when it had not yet become the full-fledged Roman Catholic Church - certainly not the RCC of the High Middle Ages, which was almost a completely different animal than the one Augustine knew.

I read him and enjoy him, and learn from him. Doesn't mean I have to agree with every jot and tittle, too.

It would be a poorer world with his Confessions.
 

Bill The Baptist

Puritan Board Graduate
What church did you want Augustine to be a part of?

Indeed we must judge people within their context. While there may be many aspects of Augustine's theology that we disagree with, within his context he was about as orthodox and biblically faithful as one could hope to be. In a similar manner, we might read Karl Barth and recoil in horror at his liberalism, but within the context of a German theologian in the early twentieth century, he was practically a fundamentalist.
 

C. Matthew McMahon

Christian Preacher
We may not have the full orbed Reformation (humanly speaking) if Augustine (the Dr. Of Grace), was not so extensively quoted in the Institues of the Christian Religion. The dominoes that fall on that redaction would have left Christian thought in a much poorer theological state.

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carlosstjohn

Puritan Board Freshman
What am I asking is how can we advocate and promote someone who belonged to the catholic church?
While Lifepoint Church has one of the most facile creeds of any Church I've ever encountered, I believe in one holy, catholic, and apostolic Church and would not give Augustine a second reading if he didn't belong to the catholic church.

Just so you know, that is not the Lifepoint church that is on my bio.


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reaganmarsh

Puritan Board Senior
That doctrinal statement is actually fairly robust compared to some SBC churches I've seen.

Sorry to sidetrack the thread.

As you were! :)
 

BayouHuguenot

Puritanboard Amanuensis
I can understand a few problems beyond that of "being a Catholic monk." But what do we make of the following statements:

Again, if we say we have no justice at all, we are telling a lie about God’s gifts. You see, if we have no justice at all, we haven’t got faith either and if we haven’t got faith, we aren’t Christians. But if we do have faith, we already have at least some justice. Do you want to know how much that some of it is? The just live by faith (Hab 2:4; Rom 1:17; Heb 10:38); The just I repeat, live by faith, because they believe what they cannot see.” Sermon 158, sec. 4.

It seems like he is saying we have a little bit of iustitia in us before God's action.

For what else does the phrase ‘being justified’ signify than being made righteous,
~The Spirit and the Letter, 45.
 

Peairtach

Puritan Board Doctor
We're all "Catholic". There's a difference between being Catholic and being Roman Catholic.

For the mystery of iniquity doth already work (II Thessalonians 2:7)

The little seeds of what would lead to full-blown Romanism were apparently present in the Apostle's day, but that does not mean that we can dismiss teachers in the Church before Wycliffe, Hus or Luther as being unconverted or of no value (whether or not they were unconverted).

And he gave some, apostles; and some, prophets; and some, evangelists; and some, pastors and teachers; for the perfecting of the saints, for the work of the ministry, for the edifying of the body of Christ: till we all come in the unity of the faith, and of the knowledge of the Son of God, unto a perfect man, unto the measure of the stature of the fulness of Christ: that we henceforth be no more children, tossed to and fro, and carried about with every wind of doctrine, by the sleight of men, and cunning craftiness, whereby they lie in wait to deceive; but speaking the truth in love, may grow up into him in all things, which is the head, even Christ: from whom the whole body fitly joined together and compacted by that which every joint supplieth, according to the effectual working in the measure of every part, maketh increase of the body unto the edifying of itself in love.(Ephesians 4:11-16)
 

MW

Puritanboard Amanuensis
I thought about that, but does it really help things? Presumably the people baptized were infants. But even if they weren't, Augustine's quote would then imply that baptism imparted some iustitia into them.

From his perspective on the efficacy of baptism, wouldn't that be expected?
 

SRoper

Puritan Board Graduate
What am I asking is how can we advocate and promote someone who belonged to the catholic church?
While Lifepoint Church has one of the most facile creeds of any Church I've ever encountered, I believe in one holy, catholic, and apostolic Church and would not give Augustine a second reading if he didn't belong to the catholic church.

Just so you know, that is not the Lifepoint church that is on my bio.


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That was a cheap shot, Rich, and, it turns out, not at all relevant.
 
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