For centuries Augustine’s theory of free will has been used to explain why God is not the author of evil and humans are morally responsible for sin. Yet, when he embraced the doctrines of unconditional election and operative grace, Augustine began modifying his theory of free will. His final works claim his evolved notion of free will remained consistent with his early view, but this claim has provoked significant debate. Some scholars take him at his word, interpreting his teachings on free will in light of his later predestination teachings. Others reject his claim of continuity and warn of great inconsistencies between his early and later works. Few have undertaken a thorough study of Augustine’s works to compare his early notion of free will with his later theory of predestination until now.
Free to Say No? is a detailed study of Augustine’s work that presents clear evidence in Augustine’s own words for a significant discontinuity between his early and later theories — especially the disappearance of the will’s freedom to say “No” – and offers some fascinating insights as to why Augustine proposed such drastic changes.
1. Defending Free Will in the Early Works
Before Free Will
After Free Will
2. Defining Free Will in the Middle Works
Before To Simplician
Confessions to Punishment and Forgiveness of Sins
Spirit and the Letter
3. Denying Free Will in the Later Works
Nature and Grace
Perfection of Human Righteousness and Deeds of Pelagius
Grace of Christ and Original Sin
Letter 194 and Answer to the Two Letters of the Pelagians
Answer to Julian, Enchiridion, and City of God
Grace and Free Choice, Letter 217, and Rebuke and Grace
Predestination of the Saints and The Gift of Perseverance
Unfinished Work in Answer to Julian
4. Evaluation of the Doctrines of Grace, Election, and the Will
Identifying the Changes in Augustine’s View of the Will
Affirming God’s Just, Merciful, and Loving Nature
Endorsements and Reviews
Eric Jenkins has served the church well with this new and detailed study of Augustine’s theology … The work is well written and attractively presented, and for further research a comprehensive bibliography and extensive footnotes are provided.
Dr. S. Westcott, in British Church Newspaper, No 270, 29 November 2013
Overall, a useful work.
Rev E.T. Kirkland, in English Churchman, April 2014
This is a fascinating study of a very important set of issues and, whether we agree with Augustine at every point or not, we have to take his arguments with great seriousness and listen to them as he actually formulated them.
David McKay, in Reformed Theological Journal, 2014
The strength of Jenkin’s well documented study is the fact that he is dealing with Augustine’s work in a chronological perspective so that it is possible to see the development in the theology of the great African.
Bernhard Kaiser, Journal of Reformed Theology, Vol 10, Issue 1