Friday, June 12, 2009

Augustine Distinguishing All in Adam from All in Christ

I came across the following quotation and thought I'd share it:
Since you do not wish to understand the “many” he said later as meaning the “all” he said first, you declare he said “many” to keep us from thinking he meant “all”. You could do likewise about the seed of Abraham to whom all nations were promised, and say not all nations were promised him, because we read in another passage: “I have made thee a father of many nations.” Sound thinking shows that Scripture speaks in this way because there can be an “all” which are not “many,” as we speak of all the Gospels, yet they are only four in number. There can also be “many” which are not “all,” as we say many believe in Christ, yet not all believe; the Apostle says: “All men have not faith.” In the words, “In your seed all nations will be blessed” and “I have made thee a father of many nations,” it is clear that the same nations that are all are also many, and the same that are many are all. Similarly, when it is said that through one, sin passed unto all, and later, that through the disobedience of one, many were constituted sinners, those who are many are also all. In like manner, when it is said: “By the justice of the one the result is unto justification of life to all men,” and again: “By the obedience of the one many will be constituted just,” none is excepted; we must understand that those who are many are all not because all men are justified in Christ, but because all who are justified can be justified in no other way than in Christ. We can also say that all enter a certain house through one door, not because all men enter that house, but because no one enters except through that door. All, then, are unto death through Adam; all unto life through Christ. “As in Adam all die, so in Christ all will be made to live.” That is to say, from the first origin of the human race, none is unto death except through Adam, and through Adam none is unto anything but death; and none is unto life except through Christ, and through Christ none is unto anything but life.
- Augustine, Against Julian, Book VI, Chapter 24, Section 80 (see Ancient Voices for more)

I think this quotation is interesting for a number of reasons:

1) We see Augustine making a similar (though not precisely the same) distinction between "all in Adam" and "all in Christ" that typical Calvinist exegesis concludes;

2) We see that Augustine held to exactly four gospels;

3) We see that Augustine concluded that all who died received this curse via Adam (which would, in Augustine's theology, include Mary the mother of our Lord).


1 comment:

natamllc said...


I would develop one aspect of this all encompassing teaching by our dearly departed Augustine.

I was struck this morning when reading this:

Mat 25:41 "Then he will say to those on his left, 'Depart from me, you cursed, into the eternal fire prepared for the devil and his angels.

Primarily the word "cursed" here in the verse, to me, is placing into context what God said by way of promise to Abram and has been a source of confusion to many:::>

Gen 12:3 I will bless those who bless you, and him who dishonors you I will curse, and in you all the families of the earth shall be blessed."

We see Augustine pick up and handle those words, his way, at his time, with what little knowledge given to him as he was taught:

"....There can also be “many” which are not “all,” as we say many believe in Christ, yet not all believe; the Apostle says: “All men have not faith.” ...."

Only those with His Faith are able to come to this knowledge that those cursed by God are the ones who are of the "All men have not faith" crowd. There are only two groups of mankind alive, those of His Faith and those not of His Faith.

God knows the cursed already. He says clearly those that dishonor "Abram" who then became "Abraham", are the ones cursed.

What does this mean?

Well, it means to me that there are some among the many/all, of all mankind, who, for reasons only God understands and knows and makes clear at the Judgment, and have His Faith anyway, His Sovereignty accepted, who understand why they were among the cursed.

Why then?

They did not "live" by His Faith but their own thus dishonoring Abram.

Why that then?

Because they did not "live" by the "same" Faith Abram lived by in this same world devils full. They dishonored him, the Blessed One of God so God cursed them. You cannot have a better specimen of a man of the devil's way in this world than Abram. He is the example of the least of mankind. He was a man of idolatry and sin, commiting some of the worse moral sins imaginable among all mankind. He was faithless in himself but strong in His Faith before God Almighty.

In the book I am just now finishing up, 'The Law is not of Faith', a point is well made and taken that it is only with the covenant established with Abraham where God does not require anything from him to receive His Righteousness by His Faith.

The covenant to Adam, Noah, Moses and all others save "one", Abraham, required something "we are to do" to fulfill the covenant. It's the Law! The covenant God made with Abram required nothing of Abram. All that God promised to do for Abram left Abram living by that promise, His Faith, to receive the rewards of that particular Promise made. Seeing God cannot lie and He made the promise Abram lived by it and not by his own abilities or shortcomings to keep the covenant made. God reckoned it to him as Righteousness.

The dividing line is simple when once you have received the abundance of Grace and the "gift" of Righteousness, not by any merit of the receiver. It is God and His Salvation alone that is accepted before both God and men. It is God and those who have received this abundance of Grace and the "gift" of Righteousness on that day of Judgment, that great and noteable day of God's final Word upon all mankind, that will have Peace together. All others will have wrath just as Jesus said:::>

Mat 25:46 And these will go away into eternal punishment, but the righteous into eternal life."

It comes around to this. Who are you living for? God or the devil? Are you living to proclaim to others the Glory of God?

When Christ returns, He will return in the Glory of Our Heavenly Father!

Only those already living by His Faith in the Glory of our Father will remain in His Righteousness into Eternal Life!

All others will perish in eternal damnation.