Early church fathers and free will

Discussion in 'Baptist Theology & Bible Study' started by Winman, Feb 25, 2010.

  1. Winman

    Winman
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    Why is it that the vast majority of early church fathers before Augustine came along believed that unregenerate man possessed a free will?

    More on 2nd post
     
  2. Winman

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    Continued from first post

     
  3. Cypress

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    Pretty good company to be in! They were probably a bit less challenged with the intent of the original languages than we are today as well.
     
  4. Skandelon

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    Thanks for posting this Winman. Very interesting. I think it is also worth noting that not only is the "Calvinistic" view of scripture not introduced until Augustine, but also the Eastern Orthodox Church sided with Cassian rejecting Augustine's views. The Western Church sided with Augustine who was obviously a huge influence on Luther and Calvin and the reason this controversy still rages on; whereas its virtually non-existant in Eastern Orthodoxy. (though they have their own issues)

    These men are in no way infallible and these quotes prove nothing definitive about this debate, but they are interesting and revealing. The one measure of support they do provide is that those who were discipled by the disciples of the original apostles, didn't seem to support a Calvinistic interpretation of the text. That says something whether modern day Calvinists will admit it or not.
     
  5. Andy T.

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    What was the predominat view among the Early Church Fathers on baptism? And will that shed light on what the correct view of baptism is?
     
  6. Skandelon

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    What was Augustine's, Luther's and Calvin's view of Baptism? Will that help?
     
  7. pinoybaptist

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    AndyT asked a plain and simple question.
    Why can't he be given a fair and simple answer.

    As for the quotes ?
    winman has proven himself in the past to pick statements and paragraphs that represents his view and misrepresents the entire document, so why should one jump at it ?
     
  8. Andy T.

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    I'm not the one making the genetic argument, like you all are doing. Since all these Church Fathers were right about free will, they all must be right about baptism, too - since they were not that far removed from the Apostles. So what was their view on baptism?
     
  9. Allan

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    So which era of the early church fathers are you refering to?

    And with that in mind, what type of baptism are you refering to.
    Salvation baptism? They were all of the same mind

    Infant baptism? None prior to Augustine believed it saved an infant or child, nor was it something the church generally practiced prior to the joining of the Church and state (again back to Augustine). This from Philip Schaff, History of the Christian Church; chapter IX under Baptism:
    Augstine was 4th almost 5th Century early church father.

    The typical or mainline view of Baptism was as follows from the same source:
     
    #9 Allan, Feb 26, 2010
    Last edited by a moderator: Feb 26, 2010
  10. Andy T.

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    Huh, so the Early Church Fathers (the ones Winman quoted) held to Believer's Baptism like we Baptists do? Learn something new every day. Thanks, Allan.
     
  11. Andy T.

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    Actually, I think most Calvinists could essentially agree with these quotes from Jerome posted above:

    JEROME c.347-420. Letters CXXXIII

    "It is in vain that you misrepresent me and try to convince the ignorant that I condemn free-will. Let him who condemns it be himself condemned. We have been created endowed with free-will; still it is not this which distinguishes us from the brutes. For human free-will, as I said, depends upon the help of God and needs His aid moment by moment, a thing which you and yours do not choose to admit. Your position is that once a man has free-will he no longer needs the help of God. It is true that freedom of the will brings with it freedom of decision. Still man does not act immediately on his free-will but requires God's aid who Himself needs no aid."

    Against the Pelagians Book III, 10

    "But when we are concerned with grace and mercy, free-will is in part void; in part, I say, for so much depends upon it, that we wish and desire, and give assent to the course we choose. But it depends on God whether we have the power in His strength and with His help to perform what we desire, and to bring to effect our toil and effort."


    Yay! We have a Church Father who agrees with us!
     
  12. Andy T.

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    On the flip side, this quote by Chrysostom sounds like works righteouness and is almost insulting to God that He gets to "add" His part. In fact, the bolded parts are essentially Pelagian views.

    "All is in God's power, but so that our free-will is not lost . . . It depends therefore on us and on Him. We must first choose the good, and then He adds what belongs to Him. He does not precede our willing, that our free-will may not suffer. But when we have chosen, then He affords us much help . . . It is ours to choose beforehand and to will, but God's to perfect and bring to the end."
     
  13. Allan

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    LOL.. That is not and has nothing to do with Pelagianism but then again making a judgment call on anything that is chopped up isn't very smart. THough I do understand what you mean
    Pelagiansim states very plainly that we come to God apart from any influence or act of God, this is not what he has in mind. However Faith preceding regeneration isn't Pelagainism anymore than Determinism is the same as Fatalism. In any case here is the whole of the work for context:

    Continued...
     
    #13 Allan, Feb 26, 2010
    Last edited by a moderator: Feb 26, 2010
  14. Allan

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    Here is the rest
     
  15. Andy T.

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    Agreed. I'm just commenting on the quotes as they appear in the OP, which have been used as a defense of libertarian free will.

    If it is a faith that requires no assistance or grace from God whatsoever, then I think it is essentially Pelagianism.
     
  16. J.D.

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    A quote from THE Church Father:

    "no man can come unto me, except it were given unto him of my Father. "
     
  17. Allan

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    I realize that but it must be examined from the source material and 'then' come to a conclusion. While it does state these things, most times for the sake of brevity it is 'chopped up' to show the 'gist' of the point.


    I agree, but that is not what was being spoken of here (no assistance from God 'whatsoever'). It is merely speaking of man being allowed to choose because God is acting upon.toward him.
     
  18. pinoybaptist

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    All due respects, AndyT, if we are to reject something or the other such as a soteriology because the one holding to that soteriology has a different view on baptism, shouldn't we also reject the Calvinist position since Calvin and other Calvinists of the past, held to something which we perceive to be unscriptural baptism ?

    Forgive me if I did not represent what you were saying correctly.
     
  19. Winman

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    This is several times you and others have falsely accused me of "chopping up" or editing material so that it misrepresents the entire document, and once again I am going to show you wrong. Here is where I got those quotes. Now, if the author of this page (who I disagree with on several points of doctrine) cut them up, I have nothing to do with that. I was simply looking for these quotes which I had seen online before.

    http://www.inplainsite.org/html/church_fathers_and_free_will.html

    I actually found this page by googling "early church fathers believed in free will" because I already knew that the vast majority of early church fathers did not believe as Calvin or Augustine and believed the unregenerate man had the ability to believe and express faith in God which is absolutely true. You cannot change history just to make it support Calvinism.

    Augustine introduced much error to the church and Calvin picked up from him. There is an interesting article on Augustine worth reading there, for one thing he did not even know the original languages that so many here put so much stock in and rely upon his translations.
     
    #19 Winman, Feb 26, 2010
    Last edited by a moderator: Feb 26, 2010
  20. Andy T.

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    I don't know - when I read that larger portion you posted from John C., I still see the principle being taught that we must take the first step. Granted, he says once we take that first step, God does the heavy lifting, so to speak, but it seems that he thinks that first step is completely our own, which I think is Pelagian (albeit, maybe a soft form of it).
     

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