Essay on Augustine and Freedom

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Augustine and Freedom

Evil-doing is neglect of eternal things and love of temporal things to the extent of becoming subject to them. This is done by the free choice of the will . . . Free will makes sin possible but it was given that man might live righteously.1

This is a brief summary of what Augustine believed regarding (1) the origin of sin and (2) the purpose for which humanity was endowed with free choice of the will. Though insightful as it may seem, Augustine's statement will not set to rest all the issues raised by the notion of human freedom and divine activity, since with free choice of the will come perplexing questions that continue to rage in philosophical circles. Some questions,
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It is important to say that this work is not meant to resolve the tension that has emerged over the centuries between God and human freedom. Philosophical and theological variations on this theme abound. The philosophical nature of the problem alone has resulted in countless monolithic efforts, notwithstanding innumerable theological implications. If clarification should result from this work, it would more than likely not be the product of this writer's tentative reflections on the issue. Rather, it would issue from the depth and breadth of wisdom given to the Bishop of Hippo who's intellect, for at least 1500 years, has enriched the Church of God.

It is necessary at the outset to expose what was doctrinally significant for Augustine during the time of his writings on free will. His two most important works on freedom of the will are De Libero Arbitrio (On Free Will) and De Gratia et Libero Arbitrio (On Grace and Free Will). The former was written early (ca. 387-395) as a charge against the Manichees who believed the world to be the arena within which two opposing forces were at war (good and evil). Human activity, according to the Manichees, was determined by these two powers, which were beyond any person's control.

Augustine believed the Manichean error absolved individuals of moral responsibility. In De Libero Arbitrio he was combating the Manichean heresy that evil's

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