Criticism Of Augustine's Free Will Vs. Grace

Augustine makes argments both for humankind's free will and for the necessity of God to achieve grace. This is a short discussion and criticism of why these concepts are mutually exclusive and cannot coexist.

Augustine's discussion of Grace versus free will is especially interesting. There are several points in Augustine's arguments which rely on some sort of ambiguous, undefined concept to support a "we can't understand god" type of mentality. One prime example of this is Augustine's explication of the trinity. The trinity represents unity yet three distinct avatars of god. This understanding of the trinity is an amorphous understanding of omission. It runs something like this: we can't understand the trinity by human rationale, but through an intense and encompassing belief-investigation, we can come to terms with this seeming paradox.

It seems that Augustine's view of grace versus free will reacts in a similar fashion. Grace is that act of god by which our souls can turn from a carnal and sinful existence to look toward the world above, toward god. This implies that the only way to achieve glory is through god, a view in keeping with biblical text. However, the same argument states explicitly that we cannot achieve glory through ourselves without the blessings of god. This would seem to mean that free will is not enough in and of itself to achieve virtue.

Augustine, however, emphasizes that free will does exist. Is this not a contrary position? Or does the concept of free will versus grace constitute another ambiguous, inexplicable belief-understanding? The idea that we, as human beings alone, have the capacity to determine our own life (whether we turn toward sin or virtue) is the idea of free will. It is our choice and, thus, our responsibility to choose the path of righteousness or the path of sin. This concepts serves to distance god from the tragedy of a human taking the wrong path and suffering the consequences. Because of free will, we cannot blame god for this travesty. The concept of grace, however, distances the ethical human being from the respect of having chosen a positive path.



So we cannot sin except of our own fault, yet we cannot be righteous without the intervention of god. This seems to be a far too convenient of a policy to be another "we can't understand god" ambiguity. Why can god take no blame in sin (because of free will) while he takes all credit for virtue (because of grace)?

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