Augustine takes on Cicero and his rejection of God’s foreknowledge. Cicero argues that if God knows in advance what will happen, then humans don’t have free will. If we are left with foreknowledge or free will, then Cicero will choose free will. Augustine says that Cicero has some major logical gaps – why couldn’t God foreknow events and their causes, and human free will be one of those causes of events? In other words, why can’t God know in advance the things that humans will freely choose to do? Augustine is not yet deep into the questions, but this seems like a logical position to me, from the position of a 21st Century Christian who has been influenced by the in-house debates on these topics. He’s also very quotable, especially in chapter 9:

“And the Breath of life Which quickens all things and is the Creator of every body and of every created spirit is God Himself, the wholly uncreated Spirit. In His supreme will lies the power which assists the good wills of created spirits, judges the wicked, and ordains all. To some He grants powers, and to others He does not. For just as He is the Creator of all natures, so He is the giver of all powers.”

“The cause of all things, therefore, which makes and is not made, is God.”

“For one who does not know all future things surely is not God. Hence, our wills also have just so much power as God willed and foreknew that they should have. Therefore, whatever power they have they have most certainly: for He Whose foreknowledge cannot fail foreknew that they would have the power to do it and would do it.”

I see in this an argument for both foreknowledge and stronger predestination. God is the cause of all causes, and so all causes of future events are not only known to Him, but also caused by Him. I’m not sure how to argue out of the logic of that position, by the way. He does suggest here, though, that He gave humans free will and that, if He gave us that power, then we really and truly have freedom of the will. I want to see where he goes with this, because I know Augustine to be a strong monergist. What reality does human free will have, when it is known and caused by God? Are we really free? And what difference does that make?

Blessings,

Josh

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