A Foundations Approach to Augustine of Hippo on Grace, Free Will, and Predestination: Understanding the Theological Constraints of Prosper of Aquitaine and John Scotus Eriugena




Erickson, Jordan

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The Christian Tradition has long struggled to reconcile grace, free will, and predestination. As one of the earliest Christian theologians to explore these topics, Augustine of Hippo laid much of the groundwork for centuries of theological development in this arena. Unfortunately, due to Augustine’s unacknowledged change in his position, the Augustinian viewpoint is inherently ambiguous. In light of a lingering difficulty in synthesizing the Augustinian position, this thesis argues for a foundations approach in which the strain and apparent contradictions in Augustine’s writings are left unresolved. First, three foundations representing each thread of grace, free will, and predestination will be constructed from Augustine’s work. Then, to demonstrate the hermeneutic and its merits, the relevant writings of Prosper of Aquitaine and John Scotus Eriugena—two writers in the Augustinian tradition—will be surveyed through a foundations lens. Through this, the advantage of the foundations approach’s understanding of the constraints on patristic and medieval Augustinian writers will be revealed.