Another Take on Romans 13

Posted July 19, 2020 by Glenn
Categories: General Interest

Here in the United States there has been a lot of political unrest and violence over the last two months. I have seen several instances where pastors have told their congregations to do what authorities tell them no matter what. If we were living in a time where government authorities upheld their oaths of office, and we aren’t, that may be okay advice. However there have been instances where city officials have told the police they aren’t allowed to interfere with the rioters but are instructed to arrest law abiding citizens who resist the “mostly peaceful protests.” What do we do then? Unfortunately this isn’t just a rhetorical question any more.

When pastors tell their flocks to comply with authorities under all circumstances it is almost always justified using Romans 13. My interpretation of Romans 13 is a bit different than most and I don’t believe it gives governing authorities carte blanche. I know many Christians will object to my analysis but I think it is at least as solid as what comes from most pulpits.

My analysis pivots on the idea that Romans 13 is not disconnected from Romans 12. Keep in mind that old chestnut that “text without context is pretext.” I believe that the end of Chapter 12 provides context for Chapter 13. Here is an extended quote of Romans 12:9-13:6:

12:9 Love must be sincere. Hate what is evil; cling to what is good. 10 Be devoted to one another in love. Honor one another above yourselves. 11 Never be lacking in zeal, but keep your spiritual fervor, serving the Lord. 12 Be joyful in hope, patient in affliction, faithful in prayer. 13 Share with the Lord’s people who are in need. Practice hospitality.

14 Bless those who persecute you; bless and do not curse. 15 Rejoice with those who rejoice; mourn with those who mourn. 16 Live in harmony with one another. Do not be proud, but be willing to associate with people of low position. Do not be conceited.

17 Do not repay anyone evil for evil. Be careful to do what is right in the eyes of everyone. 18 If it is possible, as far as it depends on you, live at peace with everyone. 19 Do not take revenge, my dear friends, but leave room for God’s wrath, for it is written: “It is mine to avenge; I will repay,” says the Lord. 20 On the contrary:

If your enemy is hungry, feed him;
if he is thirsty, give him something to drink.
In doing this, you will heap burning coals on his head

21 Do not be overcome by evil, but overcome evil with good.

13:1 Let everyone be subject to the governing authorities, for there is no authority except that which God has established. The authorities that exist have been established by God. 2 Consequently, whoever rebels against the authority is rebelling against what God has instituted, and those who do so will bring judgment on themselves. 3 For rulers hold no terror for those who do right, but for those who do wrong. Do you want to be free from fear of the one in authority? Then do what is right and you will be commended. 4 For the one in authority is God’s servant for your good. But if you do wrong, be afraid, for rulers do not bear the sword for no reason. They are God’s servants, agents of wrath to bring punishment on the wrongdoer. 5 Therefore, it is necessary to submit to the authorities, not only because of possible punishment but also as a matter of conscience.

6 This is also why you pay taxes, for the authorities are God’s servants, who give their full time to governing.

Romans 12:9-16 makes it clear that the Roman Church is being mistreated. Many of the New Testament epistles touch on persecution of the church. Sometimes that persecution is petty and sometimes it is a threat to the very lives of the Christians the Apostles are writing to. In Chapter 12, Paul urges the Roman Christians to do everything in their power to keep their situation peaceful. Treat everyone (including unbelievers) well even though Paul admits that may not be possible. Then in Chapter 13 he changes gears and tells the Roman Christians that if they take revenge or act in a criminal manner the Roman authorities will come after them and rightly so. Chapter 12 is telling the Roman Christians to do what is right and Chapter 13 tells them what will happen if they fail to do so. I do not believe that this passage demands passivity in the face of government sponsored evil.

Let’s assume you are in a situation where the mayor in your city has told the police that rioters are not to be touched no matter what they do (this has happened). If the rioters decide to invade your neighborhood and torch your house do you have a right to resist? If the local government supports the rioters and threatens me with prison is that authority “God’s servant for my good?” If local police tell me that if I resist my property being wrongfully destroyed or my person being wrongfully injured are the police “agents of wrath to bring punishment on the wrongdoer?”

Those questions are meant to be rhetorical and I hope you can guess how I answer them. If you interpret this passage as most pastors do, that the government is always right by virtue of its authority, it becomes a self-contradictory jumble. Local authorities have been violating every single point Paul makes in Romans 13:6-9. Many pastors say this does not matter. That means Paul was just blowing smoke and didn’t really mean any of what he wrote.

One of the things that studying scripture is supposed to is allow us to tell good from evil. Then you should do what is good and avoid evil (Romans 12:9). If a pastor can’t help with that are they really doing their job?

I want to wrap up with this thought from Isaiah 5: 20:

20 Woe to those who call evil good
and good evil,
who put darkness for light
and light for darkness,
who put bitter for sweet
and sweet for bitter.

Unfortunately those who tell Christians to go along with evil because it’s the government doing the evil have, I believe, a great woe placed on them!

The Boomers Made Me Do It!

Posted July 12, 2020 by Glenn
Categories: General Interest

When I was in my teens and early twenties I was not considered a baby boomer. Slowly, over time, they kept expanding the range of birth years for the boomer generation until I became a member. I never really cared about that. In fact it seemed a lazy gloss used by reporters to lump a bunch of people together for some kind of generational point they wanted to make.

The biggest reason why being lumped into that group never bothered me was that I never really considered myself to be a true member of the baby boom generation. Whenever I saw the term used I recognized it to be a code-word for hippies and ex-hippies. I was never even tempted to be a hippie so I blew it off.

Fast forward a few decades and here we are. The United States is becoming more unstable by the week, or so it seems, and “Boomers” are getting a lot of the blame. It’s not that we don’t have a lot to be blamed for but there is plenty of blame to go around.

When I see the finger pointing I think back to high school to one of my Boomer teachers. The teacher I have in mind taught my Western History class and was a consummate leftist. She told us one day that when in college she felt so strongly about peace that she advocated bombing R.O.T.C. buildings. Of course we all knew what she really meant was that she felt so strongly about Viet Cong victory that she advocated bombing R.O.T.C. buildings. Sigh, what was a fifteen year old kid supposed to do?

I tell that story so anyone reading this will understand that I am not letting the Boomers off the hook when it comes to our current troubles. However, the Boomers have passed the torch on to the following generations where many have been more than happy to follow in their footsteps.

How does this relate to Scripture? When Israel was facing destruction by the Babylonians they also pointed fingers at their forebears and blamed them for the impending doom. Both Jeremiah 31 and Ezekiel 18 discuss this. Here is some of what Ezekiel 18:1-2 has to say:

1 The word of the Lord came to me: 2 “What do you people mean by quoting this proverb about the land of Israel:

“‘The parents eat sour grapes,
and the children’s teeth are set on edge’?

Does this seem familiar? Isn’t this the same as saying the Boomers messed up and now we are paying for it? Not so fast. The Lord has a lot to say about this in both Jeremiah and Ezekiel and it comes down to we only pay for our own sins. If Generations X, Y, and Z (and any other age based collective they dream up) thinks they are paying for my generation’s sins they might need to rethink that. Later in the same chapter Ezekiel tells us:

25 “Yet you say, ‘The way of the Lord is not just.’ Hear, you Israelites: Is my way unjust? Is it not your ways that are unjust? 26 If a righteous person turns from their righteousness and commits sin, they will die for it; because of the sin they have committed they will die. 27 But if a wicked person turns away from the wickedness they have committed and does what is just and right, they will save their life. 28 Because they consider all the offenses they have committed and turn away from them, that person will surely live; they will not die. 29 Yet the Israelites say, ‘The way of the Lord is not just.’ Are my ways unjust, people of Israel? Is it not your ways that are unjust?

30 “Therefore, you Israelites, I will judge each of you according to your own ways, declares the Sovereign Lord. Repent! Turn away from all your offenses; then sin will not be your downfall. 31 Rid yourselves of all the offenses you have committed, and get a new heart and a new spirit. Why will you die, people of Israel? 32 For I take no pleasure in the death of anyone, declares the Sovereign Lord. Repent and live!

I do want to make a couple of points about this passage. When Ezekiel speaks of being righteous he means living in a righteous manner. Righteousness in the Old Testament meant living a life in alignment with God’s laws (in this case the Mosaic Law). This wasn’t a reference to imputed righteousness but a way of life that was righteous in terms of action. If you don’t believe me just read both the chapters I referenced and you will pick up on it quickly.

The other point is that you need to keep in mind that when the Lord told the people to live righteously and “they will save their life” He meant it quite literally. When the Babylonians finally conquered Israel there was a tremendous loss of life. Sure some of the unrighteous survived but all of the righteous did.

The United States isn’t Israel and I have considered that maybe these passages don’t apply to us. However if we understand that Jesus, who is God, is the same yesterday, today, and forever I don’t see why he wouldn’t extend me the same grace he did to Israel.

Do you want peace of mind and confidence in these uncertain times? If your answer is “yes” then get your act together, act righteously, and let the Lord provide for you.

Youths Oppress My People, Women Rule Over Them

Posted July 4, 2020 by Glenn
Categories: Divine Institutions

Today, being the 244th anniversary of the signing of the Declaration of Independence, I have been reflecting on where the United States started and where we are now. Many of the institutions in this country have kept the same names over time but they really have very little in common with the originals. This is a very sad thing which promises nothing but turmoil in the future.

I do not plan on taking this blog in a political direction but, as Christians, the bible does have a lot to say to us about how we interact with the government, our neighbors, and our families. A lot of what I have seen coming from Christians in this perilous time is awful. Maybe I’m looking in the wrong places but I don’t think so.

Just to be upfront about where I see trends taking the United States is that the intent of the current unrest is to muzzle and suppress Christianity in all but the most neutered forms. A lot of the sloganeering about white people being inherently bad is silly on its face (FYI these fools aren’t talking about total depravity). However the United States was founded by Christians and many Christian principles were incorporated into our laws. To use a pop psychology phrase the “white patriarchy” is a “code word” for Christians. Times are about to get very interesting in this country.

In that spirit I give you Isaiah 3:8-12:

8 Jerusalem staggers,
Judah is falling;
their words and deeds are against the Lord,
defying his glorious presence.
The look on their faces testifies against them;
they parade their sin like Sodom;
they do not hide it.
Woe to them!
They have brought disaster upon themselves.

10 Tell the righteous it will be well with them,
for they will enjoy the fruit of their deeds.
11 Woe to the wicked!
Disaster is upon them!
They will be paid back
for what their hands have done.

12 Youths oppress my people,
women rule over them.
My people, your guides lead you astray;
they turn you from the path.

The title for this post comes from verse 12 which summarizes everything I see when the television cameras zoom in on the crowds of young people disrupting our cities. Have any of you looked at those faces? These are young people, kids really, being completely lawless. Not only are they children but it’s often the young women who are the most vocal. A particular clip comes to mind of several young women screaming at police officers telling them the how horrible they are. They were emoting so much that it almost seemed like they were having a nervous breakdown.

So do I think this passage is applicable to us today? You bet I do. Verse 12 isn’t talking about women ruling over Israel, no woman was ever crowned king in either the Northern or Southern Kingdom. A person or group can rule (control) a people without having an official title. What does it mean to you when they chide us about the “patriarchy?” To me they are saying women should rule.

We are seeing the curse unfold before our very eyes today. However if you are one of the Righteous you shouldn’t worry because God has your back (see verse 10). Does this mean we won’t see hard times? Of course it doesn’t but God will get us through tough times if we are righteous.

I should have more to say in the days and weeks to come.

The Church Lie by Paul Dohse and Andrew Young

Posted December 24, 2018 by Glenn
Categories: General Interest

I would like to recommend a new book just published by Paul Dohse titled “The Church Lie” (please follow this link to order your copy or read it for free). I plan to provide extended quotes from the book over the next few weeks because I believe the material that Dohse and Young cover is very important.

At the end of this post I list all of the chapters in The Church Lie along with the theses (central ideas) in each one. Why am I doing this? Because their indictment of Christianity as practiced for the last seventeen centuries is spot on. In fact the “Church Fathers” (they are not my “fathers” spiritually or in any other sense) are even worse than Dohse and Young paint them. These men were interested in gaining power over people (the laity) and not so interested in following the Messiah. If you want to follow them then go ahead but they will lead you back to Rome.

The other thing I really want readers to notice is Chapter  11 of The Church Lie where Dohse and Young strongly advocate for a return to the home church model shown in the New Testament. The authors correctly point out that the New Testament model of small, independent churches meeting in homes is very resistant to being coopted by outside groups (like the government). It is my belief that within my lifetime the Bible will be officially declared hate literature here in the United States. Once that happens there will become officially sanctioned (read neutered) translations (an American Vulgate) that Christians will be expected to use. Some denominations will resist but all will be brought under the caring wing of the government in due time. It happened in Rome just like it did in Nazi Germany and, unless God intervenes, it will happen here. Of course God doesn’t need to intervene if we, the family of Christ, would just do what we are supposed to be doing in the way we are supposed to be doing it.

Remember what Jesus said in the Sermon on the Mount: “Do not be surprised when the world hates you for it hated me first.”

Chapter 1: The Church is Not the Body of Christ
Thesis: Church redefines the true Christian identity.

Chapter 2: The Church is Not the Gospel
Thesis: Church, like all false religions, propagates a progressive salvation as opposed to a one-time finished transformation.

Chapter 3: The Church is Not the Assembly of Christ
Thesis: The church has no real history or doctrine that connects it to the Gospels or the Book of Acts. It changed the work “ekklesia” to “church” in order to erase 300 years of history between Christ’s assembly and the institutionalization of the Christian faith.

Chapter 4: The Church is Not God’s People
Thesis: The church is temple worship and salvation by church, not a family operating as a living body. It restricts worship to a time and place, and redefines worship as the obtaining of progressive salvation rather than the practice of love.

Chapter 5: The Church is Not the Elect of God
Thesis: Church redefines biblical election, and makes salvation a matter of choosing a preferable authority for submission. It replaces the only head, Christ, with many mediators who claim to have authority over salvation.

Chapter 6: The Church is Not the Kingdom of God
Thesis: God’s kingdom is not presently on earth as the church claims. God’s kingdom is future. The church is not an overseer of God’s kingdom.

Chapter 7: The Church is Not a Light for God in This World
Thesis: The church presents itself as society’s moral compass as a deliberate ploy to draw people into the church where they will be indoctrinated into a strictly “confessional” religion.

Chapter 8: The Church is Not the Bride of Christ
Thesis: The bride of Christ doctrine connects the church to its Gnostic origins.

Chapter 9: The Church is Not Founded on the Word of God
Thesis: The foundation of church is built upon world philosophy, not Scripture. “Sola Scriptura” is a lie.

Chapter 10: The Church is Not the Love of God
Thesis: Church orthodoxy necessarily excludes the ability of the individual believer to love.

Chapter 11: The Biblical Alternative
Thesis: The ekklesia family functioning as the true body of Christ is the only way to revival. It is a focus on individual gifts cooperating together for a common cause, not a top down salvific hierarchy.


Thoughts on Augustine by Alexander V.G. Allen

Posted April 15, 2017 by Glenn
Categories: Augustine of Hippo

I’ve decided to take a short break in my series of posts quoting Pastor Thomas Allin on Augustine to quote Alexander V.G. Allen on the same topic. Professor Allen’s book “The Continuity of Christian Thought: A study of Modern Theology In Light of Its History” was published in 1887 so some might think it has nothing to say to those of us living in the 21st century. I actually believe that the contrary is true; what Augustine actually taught is being ignored and with the resurgence of Calvinism (an offshoot of Augustinianism) needs to be studied carefully. If you don’t think that’s true I invite you to look for books critical of Augustine. The only ones I have found were originally published no later than 1914.

Professor Allen has some thoughts on Augustine that I never heard before and I want to share them with you. Anyone who has read my articles on Augustine will know I do not consider him to be a great theologian, I do believe he was a great philosopher but that is a different thing altogether. Professor Allen believes that Augustine had motives beyond love of the Word of God for the theological positions he took. This makes sense to me since it is consistent with human nature but you need to make up your own minds.

At that I will let Professor Allen share his thoughts with you:

To this church it was that Augustine had been converted, although the full significance of his conversion was not at once apparent, and for years his thought was in confusion in consequence of the lingering influence of a higher theology. But from the time when he became Bishop of Hippo, the ecclesiastical leaven began to work most powerfully, and truth, as such, was no longer the object of his life. Before the Pelagian controversy began, he was seeking for some dogmatic basis by which to justify the claims of the church as a mediator between God and man, without whose intervention salvation was impossible. In so doing he was laying the cornerstone of Latin theology. When the Pelagian controversy was over, the Latin church was for the first time in possession of a theology of its own, differing at every point from the earlier Greek theology, starting from different premises and actuated throughout by another motive.[i]

The foundation of that theology was the Augustinian dogma of original sin. That doctrine was alone adequate to explain the existence and mediatorship of the church, or to justify its claim to teach and to rule with supreme authority. The dogma of original sin was unknown to Greek theology as well as an innovation also in Latin thought, though it had vaguely broached by Tertullian and Cyprian, and intimations looking toward it are to be found in the writings of Ambrose. According to this dogma, humanity is absolutely separated from God in consequence of Adam’s sin. In the guilt of that sin the whole human race is implicated, and has therefore fallen under the wrath and condemnation of God, — a condemnation which dooms the race, as a whole and as individuals, to everlasting woe. So deeply is Augustine interested in establishing this position, that the redemption of the world by Christ inevitably assumes a subordinate place, and is practically denied. Adam and not Christ becomes the normal man, the type and representative, the federal head of the race. There is a solidarity of mankind in sin and guilt, but not in redemption, — a solidarity in Adam, not in Christ. There stands, as it were, at the opening of the drama of human history a quasi-supernatural being, whose rebellion involves the whole human family in destruction. Endowed with a supernatural gift, — the image of God in his constitution which united him closely with his maker, — he lost it for himself and his descendants by one sinful act, and thus cut off humanity from any relationship with God. In this catastrophe, the reason, the conscience, the will of man suffered alike; the traces of the divine image in human nature were destroyed.

How then is the sundered relationship to be restored? What is redemption, and how is it to be applied? The place of Christ in Augustine’s scheme is not a prominent one, for humanity has not been redeemed. Augustine continues to speak of Christ, it is true, in the conventional way, but he no longer finds in His work any bond which unites God with humanity. The incarnation has become a mystery, — God chose to accomplish human salvation in this way, but as far as we can see He might have adopted some other method. It almost seems as though, if Christ were left out altogether, the scheme of Augustine would still maintain its consistency as a whole and retain its value as a working system. The reasons which led Augustine to deny the universality of redemption were the same as had influenced Gnostics and Manicheans, — he was oppressed by the sense of sin in himself, the knowledge of it in others, the appalling extent and depth of human wickedness; these things to the mind of a practical Roman made it meaningless to think or act as if humanity were redeemed to God. But when the Christian principle of redemption had been abandoned, there was only one other alternative, and that was to follow still further in Gnostic and Manichean footsteps, — to adopt the principle of an individual election by which some souls were saved out of the great mass doomed to destruction. The bond of union between this world and God is the divine will, — a will not grounded in righteousness or love, into whose mysterious ways it is vain for man to inquire, the justice of which it is presumptuous for him to discuss. That will whose arbitrary determinations constitute right, chooses some to salvation and leaves the rest to follow out the way to endless misery. In one respect the Augustinian idea of predestination diverged from the Gnostic and approximated the later Mohammedan conception, — it is a predestination which acts here and there in an arbitrary way without reference to human efforts or attainments. The clearest manifestation of the divine will in the world, which is open to the gaze of all, is the Catholic church, the one divinely appointed channel through which God has decreed that the elect are to be saved. Predestination is to a process within the church. For although Augustine believed that outside of the church none could be saved, he by no means held that all within the church would escape damnation. Although all are to be compelled to enter the church, this is only in order that the elect among them who are known only to God may obtain the grace to be found alone in the church, by which they make their election sure.

The Continuity of Christian Thought: A study of Modern Theology In Light of Its History
by Alexander V.G. Allen
pp. 156-159

For a list of all posts in this series please see: Posts Quoting From Thomas Allin’s “Augustinian Revolution in Theology”

[i] It is in his famous treatise De Civitate Dei, and in his anti-Pelagian writings passim, that Augustine’s matured theological convictions are to be found in their complete form.

“The Augustinian Revolution in Theology” Part VII

Posted April 2, 2017 by Glenn
Categories: Augustine of Hippo

In this week’s excerpt from Pastor Thomas Allin’s “The Augustinian Revolution in Theology” we finish with Augustine’s teaching on double predestination and move into his teaching on persecution.

As we go through these quotes and I reread them I still can’t believe the coldness shown in Augustine’s writing and it bothers me deeply that these writings have had such a long term effect on the Church. I do not believe that what Augustine teaches accurately reflects God’s character as revealed in scripture. However as I’ve said many times I will let any readers decide for themselves.

Here is Pastor Allin:

The next stage is the question, Does God then directly predestinate the lost? An authority so friendly to Augustine as Professor Mozley can see no distinction, in essence, between Augustine’s doctrine of Predestination and that of Calvin. This is, I believe, true. In numerous passages Augustine asserts God’s direct agency in the reprobation of sinners. He says that God predestinated some to the extremest pain; (a) that God predestinated some to eternal death; (b) that He justly predestinated some to punishment. (c) Or take such phrases as these: “Damnandi predestinati [predestined to damnation?],” “Tanquam in furore quo iniquos damnare statuisti.” (d) There is certainly a distinction between Augustine and Calvin on this point. Calvin is technically “supra-lapsarian” and Augustine “sub-lapsarian.” That is to say, Calvin teaches that God reprobates prior to any human act; Augustine that God reprobates having given all men a free power of choosing in Adam! Thus Augustine can say that the evil will of the lost, and not God’s decree, is the cause of their ruin. (e) Substantially the case stands thus: If mankind enjoyed free choice in Adam, then God condemns to all eternity those who have freely chosen evil. This Ausgustine’s meaning. That it differs from Calvin’s teaching is verbally true.

We must here remark once more, on this point, Augustine succeeds in adding to the painful impression he has already made. There are those among the baptized who fear God, with whom he plays as a cat with a mouse. I can find no apter language to express my meaning. To some, it may be to very many, there is given, he tells us, a sort of quasi-grace, real but not permanent. He describes this class variously. They are regenerate and adopted, (f) devout, (g) God’s righteous ones. (h) They live well and piously; they live according to God, who gives them that love by which they lead a Christian life – they have faith, hope and love; they obey God. (i) Yet their tears are unavailing, their prayers are in vain, their love fruitless. God withdraws His gifts, and they sink into the pit of hell, and there for ever lie. For they are – these are Augustine’s very words – “children of perdition.” (j) When even Augustine shudders at his own doctrine, the case must be desperate indeed. Even from him this strange doctrine draws the cry that it is “most true,” yet “most evil,” most awkward, most unseemly, most outrageous. (k) It only remains if we would make our picture complete, for us to point to Augustine as a persecutor, or more accurately an apologist for, and an earnest inciter to persecution. (l) He cannot indeed claim to be the first who approved persecution. Lucifer of Cagliari and Julius Firmicus Maternus anticipated him in this in the West, and his own words show that his North African contemporaries were of the same mind. But there is one thing the credit – or discredit – of which must be confessed to be truly his – he first drew up in form and order the arguments for persecution. When he had written his “Contra Gaudeutium” and his 93rd, 185th and 204th Epistles, the Church was virtually in possession of a Manual of Persecution, and the most horrible chapter in [the] Western ecclesiastical story has received the virtual sanction of the greatest of Western doctors. In earlier life he had opposed persecution. (m) And we are bound to admit that he opposed the infliction of the death penalty on the Donatists. (n) Yet on this we can only lay slight stress, for these plain reasons: – First, his arguments justify the death penalty; next, consistently with this he elsewhere does advocate it. (o) And thirdly, exile and confiscation in such a state of things as he himself described as existing in the North African Church would often mean death.

The Augustinian Revolution in Theology
By Thomas Allin
Pp. 162-166

For a list of all posts in this series please see: Posts Quoting From Thomas Allin’s “Augustinian Revolution in Theology”


(a) Cf. “Epistolae,” 204.
(b) “Qui est et illis prædestinavit ad æternam mortem justissimus supplicii retributor [His is the most just punishment for those destined to eternal death]”: “De Anima,” iv. II.
(c) “Enchiridion de Fide, Spe et Charitate,” 100, I.
(d) “De Peccatorum meritis et remissione et de Baptismo parvulorum ad Marcellinum,” ii. 17.
(e) “De Peccatorum meritis et remissione et de Baptismo parvulorum ad Marcellinum libri tres,” ii. 18; see “De Gratia et Libero Arbitrio,” 21. [The passage is one of some difficulty, and has obviously been altered by transcribers. –Ed.]
(f) “Contra Iulianum opus imperfectum,” i. 130.
(g) “Ex duobus autem piis cur huic donetur perseverantiam usque ad finem, illi non donetur”: “De Dono Perseverantiae,” 9.
(h) “De Peccatorum meritis et remissione et de Baptismo parvulorum ad Marcellinum,” iii. 13.
(i) “De Correptione et Gratia,” 7-9, 13, “Mirandum est quidem multumque miraculum, quod filiis suis quibusdam Deus quos regeneravit in Christo, quibus fidem, spem, dilectionem dedit, non dat perserverantiam;” also “De Dono Perseverantiae,” 22.
(j) “De Correptione et Gratia,” 13. [Augustine says nothing in this particular passage about tears, prayers, or love. –Ed.]
(k) “De Dono Perseverantiae,” 22, “Improbissimum, importunissimum, incongruentissimum.”
(l) “Epistolae,” 97: “Accelerandum suggero, peto, obsecro, flagitor.”
(m) “Epistolae,” 93: “Mea prima sentential non erat nisi neminem ad unitatem Christi esse cogendum.”
(n) “Epistolae,” 100, 139.
(o) “De Utilitate Ieiunii,” 9; “Contra Gaudentium Donatistarum episcopum,” i. 28. Thus he says, “Your ancestors handed Cæcilianus over to kings for punishment by their slanders – let the lions be turned on to crushing the bones of the slanderers”: “Epistolae,” 95, 5.

“The Augustinian Revolution in Theology” Part VI

Posted March 18, 2017 by Glenn
Categories: Augustine of Hippo

In this week’s excerpt from Pastor Thomas Allin’s “The Augustinian Revolution in Theology” we continue with Augustine’s teaching on double predestination. Augustine has had more of an impact on Western Christianity than any other theologian I know of and that is a sad thing. There is a certain callousness in today’s quotes of Augustine that I find disturbing. Maybe this teaching is true to God’s character but I have my doubts. In the end you need to decide for yourself.

Here is Pastor Allin:

The real inference to be drawn from what has been said is that far fewer souls will be saved than those which are lost. Here, too, Augustine had held the opposite doctrine. He had said that “very few remained to the devil.” (a) Yet at almost the same time he took the opposite view, significantly adding that to God a multitude of sinners is nothing, He knows what to do with them. (b) And this remained his final opinion. The number of infants who are adopted by God and given grace (c) is far fewer than those who are not saved. (d) Those called are many – those elected are few. (e) Extremely few are saved (this is Augustine’s latest conclusion.) (f) An epistle of his declining years throws a painful light on the temper of his mind at that period. Incomparably greater than the number of predestinated is the number of the lost, “in order that by the very multitude of the rejected there should be declared how a just God cares nothing whatever about any number, however great, of those most justly damned”. (g) A sentence which is surely among the most awful and most callous in the whole range of thought I must add what goes before: “If no others were born except those adopted by God, the benefit (grace) which is granted to the unworthy would escape notice.” Hell fires, in a word, are kept blazing for ever, in order that the ten saved, who are really no better than the lost, may see by the light of the eternal agony of their brethren “what great things the Lord hath done for them.” All this is too awful for comment. (h)

The Augustinian Revolution in Theology
By Thomas Allin
Pp. 159-162

For a list of all posts in this series please see: Posts Quoting From Thomas Allin’s “Augustinian Revolution in Theology”

* * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * *

(a) “De Trinitate libri quindecim,” iv. 13.
(b) “De Catechizandis rudibus liber unus,” 19. [Speaking of the lost, Augustine here says, “neque hoc nos moveri debet, quia multi diablo consentiunt, et pauci deum sequuntur … sicut Agricola novit quid faciat de ingenti acervo paleæ, sic nihil est Deo multitude peccatorum, qui novit quid de illis agat.” I fell in lately with an edition of this treatise intended chiefly for young students of theology. Yet not one word is said of this remarkable observation of a famous theologian, save that our Lord does not answer the question which the great Church Father is not afraid to answer, and that “the whole chapter is an excellent exposition of the hard and fast Augustinian doctrine of Predestination and Election.” It is, indeed, a very excellent one. But does not the average clergyman need some caution that on these points Augustine is in conflict with the Catholic Church before and after his time, and that, therefore, like Origen – and much more than Origen – he should be read with caution? – Ed.]
(c) “Contra Iulianum haeresis Pelagianae defensorem libri sex,” iv. 8.
(d) “Enchiridion de Fide, Spe et Charitate liber unus,” 99.
(e) “De Correptione et Gratia liber unus,” 9, 10.
(f) “Contra Iulianum opus imperfectum libri sex,” He here does not attempt to deny that the number of such infants is “perexigui [small indeed],” as Julian objects.
(g) “Ep.,” 190. Quam nullis sit apud justum judicem quantilibet numerosits justissime damnatorum.
(h) Cf. “Ep.,” 194, 186. Strangely paradoxical, supremely paradoxical is this spectacle of a heart seemingly aglow with love to God and harder than the nether millstone to the endless agony of his brothers and sisters.

“The Augustinian Revolution in Theology” Part V

Posted February 20, 2017 by Glenn
Categories: Augustine of Hippo

In this week’s excerpt from Pastor Thomas Allin’s “The Augustinian Revolution in Theology” we are introduced to Augustine’s teaching on predestination. This topic is very familiar to me after wasting way too much time arguing with Calvinists over the years. It is clear that John Calvin got his teaching on predestination and God’s “absolute sovereignty” straight from Augustine of Hippo.

Here is Pastor Allin:

We now approach what is really the most important point in Augustine’s theology, its rigid absolutism. Over the rotting mass of fallen humanity there presides, not Love, but a will which is altogether arbitrary – predestinating whom it pleases, and that irresistibly. For God cannot show mercy in vain. (a) Man can neither help himself nor resist effectually what God gives. (b) Here, then, we stand at the meeting of the ways – two paths open out. Starting from the axiom that God’s Will may not in any case be deflected, we are brought face to face with this dilemma. We must give up our starting point or give up universal redemption. Here is, indeed, one of the greatest difficulties with which Augustine had to contend. Catholic antiquity never hesitated in its proclamation of universal redemption, i.e., God’s Will to save all men. Yet the great Western doctor does not really flinch for a moment. He boldly, though guardedly, asserts a redemption limited to the predestinated. God’s Will, in fact, is not to save more than a fraction of humanity. This is, in fact, a theological revolution of the most emphatic description. The sternest Latinism had never before ventured to deny God’s Will to save all men. On man it had always laid the burden of his eternal ruin, because, as free, he can reject God’s gift. More logically, as I venture to think, Augustine swept aside all such subterfuges. But he did so at no less cost than surrendering the very idea of a Gospel. He did so also at the certain risk of a collision with the whole body of primitive teaching. We may thus see why it is that while he expatriates on sin and grace he says little directly on limited redemption. But abundant evidence exists to show his meaning.

We will deal with this point in detail.

  1. His entire system requires the doctrine of limited redemption on logical grounds.
  2. He denies that God feels mercy or pity for all men. (c) He was forced either to deny God’s will to save all men or to become a Universalist, for in his view God’s will to save covers exactly the area of those who will be saved. A redemption of the world which in fact did not save the world was to him a contradiction in terms. Hence the dilemma. Either universal redemption must be false or universal salvation must be true.
  3. His evident embarrassment – frequently shown – in dealing with such a text as that which asserts God’s will to save all men, (d) shows clearly his disbelief in any such will. His struggles to evade the obvious meaning of the Apostle become wellnigh ludicrous. He asserts that all means many, or it means that all who are saved are so by God’s will, (e) or all means all who are predestinated, (f) or some of all kinds, (g) in fact it may mean anything except that which it does evidently mean.
  4. Next come those passages in which Augustine indirectly implies a limited redemption. This he speaks of Christ as redeeming those sinners who were to be justified. (h) The Mediator makes those whom He has redeemed by His blood good for eternity. (i) The intention of the writer in these last passages is clearly to identify the redeemed and the finally saved. The two next quotations I borrow from Wiggers, i. 313(j) : “The words, St. John x. 26, are explained by Augustine in his forty-eighth homily on this Gospel as meaning: Ye believe not because ye are not ransomed by my blood to eternal life.” Again, he asserts: “Not one of those perishes for whom Christ died.” (k) These last words exactly express Augustine’s doctrine. They do more, they explain how our author became practically a guide to Universalism to many holding firmly to a modified Calvinism (e.g. in America and in England in the seventeenth century).
  5. But he does not shrink from an explicit assertion of limited redemption, e.g., every one who is redeemed by Christ’s blood is a man, yet not every one who is a man is redeemed by Christ’s blood. (l) I have said so much because I am well aware that Augustine does not scruple to use language which may at least seem to teach universal redemption. (m) He even says that “multi” in Rom V. 12, 18, 19, means “all” (omnes). But he explains this to mean that all who attain life attain it through Christ. (n)
  6. That his disciples Prosper and Hilary so understood Augustine is clear from their letters. (o) The statement that Christ died for all men is one of the doctrines expressly mentioned by Prosper for rejection, and that twice in one letter, and Augustine, who wrote in reply tohis treatises “De Predestinatione” and “De Perseverantia,” says not a syllable to correct them. I will not trust myself to comment on the extraordinary spectacle of the greatest Western doctor’s denial of a central doctrine in the Christian scheme – denial, in fact, of the very words of the truth itself, namely, that “God so loved the world that He gave His only begotten son that all who believed in Him should not perish, but have eternal life.” Thus Christ’s work is dwarfed, it sinks in importance, it sinks in range, it bears no relation to the whole race of man; it becomes, on this assumption, a secondary not a primary fact. Specially noteworthy is the failure of Augustine, who is so often called Pauline, to apprehend one of the fundamental ideas of the great Apostle, namely, the extension of the whole universe of that work of Christ which Augustine restricts to a comparatively small portion of the human race. Nor is this all. The predestinated may not untruly be said to owe their safety to an absolute acts of will on God’s part, antecedently to all Atonement. By this principle Christ’s salvation is still further dwarfed.


The Augustinian Revolution in Theology
By Thomas Allin

Pp. 154-159

For a list of all posts in this series please see: Posts Quoting From Thomas Allin’s “Augustinian Revolution in Theology”


(a) “De diversis Quaestionibus ad Simplicianum libri duo,” I. i. II. [I have been unable to find this passage. – Ed.]
(b) “De Correptione et Gratia liber unus,” 12; “De Praedestinatione Sanctorum ad Prosperum et Hilarium liber unus,” 8.
(c) “Contra Iulianum opus imperfectum libri sex,” iv. 134.
(d) I Timothy ii. 4.
(e) “Contra Julian,” vi. 8; De Praedestinatione Sanctorum ad Prosperum et Hilarium liber unus,” 8.
(f) “De Correptione et Gratia liber unus” (Migne x. A. 943)
(g) “Enchiridion de Fide, Spe et Charitate liber unus,” 10, 3.
(h) “De Jr.,” iv. 13.
(i) “De Correptione et Gratia liber unus,” II.
(j) Op Cit.
(k) “Ep.,” 169.
(l) “De Coniugiis Adulterinis libri duo,” i. 15.
(m) “Contra Iulianum opus imperfectum libri sex,” vi. 4, 5, 9, 26.
(n) See “De Peccatorum meritis et remissione et de Baptismo parvulorum ad Marcellinum libri tres” i. 28; “De Natura et Gratia contra Pelagium, ad Timasium et Iacobum liber unus,” 41, for most sophistical explanations to prove that we may speak of “all” while some only are meant.
(o) “Ep.,” 225, 226.

“The Augustinian Revolution in Theology” Part IV

Posted February 4, 2017 by Glenn
Categories: Augustine of Hippo

In this week’s extended quote from Pastor Allin he asks some questions about the relationship between Baptism and how sin is transmitted to children of the baptized. If parents have been baptized, thereby having their sin remitted, how can they pass sin along to their children? Pastor Allin believes Augustine’s teaching on this point to be self-contradictory. I’m not sure if it is (I’m sure Augustine would have denied a contradiction) but it’s a good question.

Here is Pastor Allin:

Inevitably at this point there arises this question. How can baptized parents transmit this mass of evil to their children? It is worth noting that baptism, being “for the remission of sin,” had so far helped Augustine’s argument in proof of original sin. Now it is seen as a double-edged weapon, capable of recoiling on its author. For if baptism, as Augustine held, eradicates all sin whatever, in thought, word, and deed, then how can those parents, in whose case the contagion has been wholly removed, continue to spread it in undiminished intensity? How can moral and spiritual death result from an agent who has passed from death to life? That baptism is not a disinfectant merely, but that, in Augustine’s view, it uproots all sin whatsoever appears plain. (a) All sin in thought, word, and deed is destroyed in baptism. (b) And yet perdition, damnation, necessity to sin, total loss of moral freedom, eternal death, etc., are communicated to all infants whatsoever, by those very parents in whom all sin has been destroyed! Evidently we are here in a region where ordinary modes of reasoning are dispensed with, else, in addition to other difficulties, it might be pointed out how very perplexing is the transfer of all the evils (with their infinite attendant horrors), born of sexual desire from the parents, who feel it, to the infant, who feels nothing. To be sure, we are told that libido in the baptized parent is called sin, but it is not sin, yet it has a “reatus [liability]” which “valet in generato [is generated in it].” (c) This is, I think, substantially the explanation offered of the serious difficulty. On such subtleties as these, we are asked to believe, do the eternal destinies of the human race depend.

The embarrassment of the impartial critic is not lessened by the fact that Augustine himself scents a difficulty here. Even he finds it not easy to make “both ends meet.” He intimates, in several passages, that Providence has arranged an illustration or explanation of the difficulty by ordering that from the seed of an olive a wild olive springs. (d) Whether this digression into natural history is very successful the reader can decide for himself. Those who are dissatisfied are offered an excursus into the domain of physiology, and are bidden to take note that circumcised parents produce uncircumcised offspring. (e) Out of the cloud of words in which Augustine wraps this unsavory question it transpires clearly that there is in marriage an “inevitable malum [inevitable evil (?)],” for the plain reason that there is libido, or concupiscentia [lust], or membrorum inobedienta [members of disobedience]. On this point he speaks often and with emphasis. Characteristically he bids the married malo bene uti – to make good use of the evil. He calls offspring one of the goods of marriage, an odd statement, seeing that every child qua de concubito nascitur carnem esse peccati [which is born of the flesh of a sin of intercourse], (f) and is the devil’s captive (g) till baptized. There is an evil without which even honorable marital intercourse cannot exist. (h) There is in marriage mala libido [evil libido] which may well be used. (i) There is a “vitium [vice]” which propagates vice. (j)

The Augustinian Revolution in Theology
By Thomas Allin

Pp. 150-153

For a list of all posts in this series please see: Posts Quoting From Thomas Allin’s “Augustinian Revolution in Theology”

(a) “Contra Duas Epistolas Pelagianorum libri ad Bonifacium quatuor,” i. 13. [St. Augustine’s language in this passage is by no means clear. – ED.]
(b) “Ep.,”187, c. 8; see “Contra Duas Epistolas Pelagianorum libri ad Bonifacium quatuor,“ iii. 3; “De Nuptiis et Concupiscentia ad Valerium libri duo,” i. 33; “De Peccatorum meritis et remissione et de Baptismo parvulorum ad Marcellinum libri tres,” i. 39.
(c) “De Nuptiis et Concupiscentia ad Valerium libri duo,” i. 23; “Contra Duas Epistolas Pelagianorum libri ad Bonifacium quatuor,“ i. 13.
(d) “Contra Duas Epistolas Pelagianorum libri ad Bonifacium quatuor,“ i. 6; “De Nuptiis et Concupiscentia ad Valerium libri duo,” i. 19; “Quod dimissum est in parente trahatur in prole, miris quidem modis fit, sed tamen fit [Which had been drawn in the offspring in its first parent, in wonderful ways, but through this, however, is],” ii. 34.
(e) “Contra Julian,” vi. 7; “Ecce circumcises tradit nascenti de se quo caruit in se [Look, they are cut from the diseases in itself gives birth].”
(f) “De Nuptiis et Concupiscentia ad Valerium libri duo,” i. 12.
(g) Ibid, i. 20.
(h) “Ep.,” 184; “Conjuges, etiam bene utentes vitio, non possunt ita generari, ut possit sine vitio [The couple, also to the use of a fault, they can not be generated, so that it can be through no fault of].”
(i) “Contra Julian,” iii. 7.
(j) “Contra Iulianum opus imperfectum libri sex” ii. 57; cf. “De Gratia Christi et de Peccato Originali contra Pelagium, ad Albinam, Pinianum, et Melaniam libri duo,” 34-38.

“The Augustinian Revolution in Theology” Part III

Posted January 29, 2017 by Glenn
Categories: Augustine of Hippo

In this week’s extended quote from Pastor Allin we get an introduction to Augustine’s teaching on free will and sin. For years it has been my belief that Calvinism makes God the author of sin (I have read many Calvinists who strongly deny that). After reading these few pages I understand where John Calvin got his teaching from and it reinforces my belief that any theology with Augustinian roots makes God the author of sin.

However you shouldn’t take my word for any of this; read this extended quote below and make up your own mind:

There results also from the Fall a total loss of free will. (a) And here we have to notice the mode in which Augustine plays with words. Sometimes he says that freedom is not destroyed by grace, because grace makes men truly free. This is, in fact, an adroit substitution of one proposition for another. (b) Sometimes he claims freedom for fallen man, while what he means is freedom only to sin. (c) Another characteristic sophism is his assent to the proposition that without free will there can be no sin, but he adds, “Without free will there is that sin which is the penalty of sin,” (d) and which in his theory, now about to be explained, constitutes the great mass of actual transgression.

The total loss of free will must next be added, as a result of the Fall, a necessity to sin in man, which is penal. Sin in Augustine’s theory now changes to a possibli in necessarium [a possible need for]. (e) Nay, God himself steps in judicially and vindictively as ordinator peccatorum [ordinator/establisher of sins]. (f) He is justissimus ordinator malarum voluntarum [just establisher of volutary evil (?)]. (g) God orders even that which he does not create (sin). (h) For wicked men to commit this or that sin is not in their own power, but in God’s hand, who divides the darkness (sin) and orders it. (i) To understand this, a very awful part of Augustine’s theory must be kept in view. He holds that God punishes sin by ordering fresh sin, and makes a clear distinction between sin per se and sin as the pœna peccati [punishment for sin]. To the latter, being judicially inflicted, man’s consent is not necessary. He must sin. (j) Augustine hence concludes that after the Fall an obligation to sin was (penally) transmitted in posteros [in posterity]. (k) Liberty has gone, and there has come peccatum habendi dura necessitas [a harsh necessity of having sin]. (l) There is a necessarium peccatum [necessity to sin] from which we cannot abstain. (m) When we explore Augustine’s theology a fresh terror is in store for us at each step. We have here, for instance, a representation of God as One who ordains an ever-fresh and ever-growing crop of sins, whose deadly vengeance takes the form of compelling the multiplication of sins; who thus, I am forced to say, seems to do the devil’s work.

Nor does even this exhaust the list of Augustine’s assumptions. “The appetite grows with what it feeds on,” and the next step is a declaration that God actually forces sin on man. We must ever bear in mind the advance in severity, the gradual crystallization by Augustine of theory into dogma, if we would understand his ultimate position. At one time he sanctioned the Catholic view that God permits but does not force sin on man. (n) About twenty-five years after he is found stating (o) that by God’s occult justice perversity of the heart takes place ut … inde peccatum, et sit ipsum peccatum prœcedentis atiam pœna peccati [that … then the sin, and the punishment of sin is the sin of the preceding (?) spite]. (p) This is “quite clear,” he thinks (liquido apparet). His meaning here is placed beyond doubt by what follows immediately. He expressly mentions Julian’s view that God abandons the sinner and does not compel him to sin (relicti non compulsi impeccata [left, not driven, to sin]), only to reject it. As if, retorts Augustine, the Apostle (q) did not assert both! Once launched, he calls it madness to doubt that God hands men over to such passion of disgrace, ut ende peccetur, in order that sin may be committed. God does not, indeed, create the evil will, but he employs it. So far as direct Divine agency is asserted, God bends the wills of men to good or to evil. (r) That in this sense God forces sin on men seems clearly taught, though, as a rule, Augustine contents himself with the phrase that God punishes sin and deserts the sinner. (s) To all these terrors it is a mere anti-climax – though necessary to complete the theory of the results of the Fall – to add that to it are to be ascribed bodily death and generally all pains and infirmities whatsoever. (t)

The Augustinian Revolution in Theology
By Thomas Allin

Pp. 146-150

For a list of all posts in this series please see: Posts Quoting From Thomas Allin’s “Augustinian Revolution in Theology”

(a) Augustine’s own free will theories show three stages. He is not far from the Pelagian standpoint in his early anti-Manichæn books; he has reached a semi-Pelagian standpoint in such treatises as “De pecc. Mort.,” ii. 5; “De spiritu et litterâ,” 34. This was probably a very brief stage. His latest books assert man’s total incapacity for good – the only freedom being freedom to sin – and claim that grace is irresistible (Wiggers, i. 265).
(b) “De spiritu et litterâ,” 30; “De nuptiis et concupiscentiâ,” ii. 3.
(c) Wiggers, i. 136; “Contra Duas Epistolas Pelagianorum libri ad Bonifacium quatuor,” i. 2, 3.
(d) “Contra Iulianum opus imperfectum libri sex,” vi. 17, 21.
(e) “Contra Iulianum opus imperfectum libri sex,” v. 64.
(f) “Confessions” i. 10. See “De Natura et Gratia contra Pelagium, ad Timasium et Iacobum liber unus,” 22.
(g) “The City of God,” ii. 17.
(h) “Enarrationes in Psalmos” in Psalm vii.
(i) “De Praedestinatione Sanctorum ad Prosperum et Hilarium liber unus,” 16.
(j) “Contra Iulianum opus imperfectum libri sex,” i. 104, 5; iv. 90, 100; v. 28, 47, 51; “De Natura et Gratia contra Pelagium, ad Timasium et Iacobum liber unus,” 23.
(k) “The City of God,” xiv.
(l) “De Pecc. Just.,” iv.
(m) “Contra Iulianum opus imperfectum libri sex,” v. 59; cf. 64 and “Contra Julian de Eclanum,” v. 3.
(n) “De spiritu et litterâ,” 31.
(o) “De diversis Quaestionibus ad Simplicianum libri duo,” ii.
(p) “Contra Julian de Eclanum,” v. 3.
(q) Romans ix. 22.
(r) “De Gratia et Libero Arbitrio liber unus,” Arts. 20, 21.
(s) E.g. “De Natura et Gratia contra Pelagium, ad Timasium et Iacobum liber unus,” 23.
(t) It has already been stated that a change for the worse in our whole nature has ensued (“C. Gal.,” iii. 26). Elsewhere this is called a “penalis vitiositas” [“painful viciousness”], Adam’s sin is so enormous as to vitiate all his posterity, to change human nature for the worse (“Contra Iulianum opus imperfectum libri sex,” i. 105; iv. 133; v. 29). Yet by one of the inconsistencies that grate painfully on our ears and hearts, Adam, of whose sin the enormity receives special recognition (“Contra Iulianum opus imperfectum libri sex,” vi. 22), is yet unhesitatingly pronounced an heir of salvation, while countless myriads of innocent infants go to hell for that very sin. One would hardly envy the feelings of Adam in Paradise as he thinks of these helpless ones in the endless flame.

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