Free To Say No?: Free Will and Augustine’s Evolving Doctrines of Grace and Election

By Eric L. Jenkins

An analysis of how St Augustine’s account of free will developed through his writings, showing the conceptual changes in his understanding of predestination.

ISBN: 9780227174234


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.

Additional information

Dimensions229 × 153 mm


Trade InformationJPOD

About the Author

Eric L. Jenkins (MPhil, London School of Theology) has been a missionary for twenty years, as well as serving as the Director of a Bible School in Algeria – the land of Augustine.



1. Defending Free Will in the Early Works
     Before Free Will
     Free Will
     After Free Will

2. Defining Free Will in the Middle Works
     Before To Simplician
     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
     Final Thoughts



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