Leave your thoughts on De Servo Arbitrio “On the Enslaved Will” or The Bondage of Will here
Tom - I have thought about this all weekend and am going to try to address your question more directly, the best I can and as objectively as I can. In the last part of this passage against Pelagius, Augustine says this,
In respect to the topic of the free will of man to choose God, I view this passage from Augustine (above) as entirely "congruent" with what Luther has said in his view of scripture. Augustine appears from this passage (alone) to reject the concept a person can contribute to her/his salvation. Our will isnt free enough to do anything impacting salvation, but say yes or no when God draws us. In fact he interprets the passages that speak to a matter of human will (come to me Mt 11) to be preceeded by the gift of God's grace (the Father MUST draw first Jn 6). That is, people can only turn to or reject God when God so frees the will. Turning to Christ is preceeded by God drawing one to Christ but that is internal in the form of accepting or rejecting grace through faith. I am not an expert in Augustine but he appears to reject the notion our efforts or baptism contribute anything to salvation in the form ot necessary or fitting merit. At least that is how I see it. Now, Luther will go on to discuss both types of merit as relate to the concept of free will. But unless Augustine does so elsewhere, this passage does not apepar to me to support the concept believers cooperate in their salvation with the assistance of the grace that flows from Christ through the church’s sacramental system. In fact it is passages like the one above the Reformers believed supported salvation by God's grace through faith : the depravity of humanity required it.
In Psalm 51 David writes:
1 Have mercy upon me, O God, according to thy lovingkindness:
According unto the multitude of thy tender mercies blot out my transgressions.
2 Wash me throughly from mine iniquity,
And cleanse me from my sin.
3 For I acknowledge my transgressions:
And my sin is ever before me.
5 Behold, I was shapen in iniquity;
And in sin did my mother conceive me.
Luther points out that all humans are born rotten to the core, in terms of the ability to live God's righteous demands of us. David didnt have to commit adultery and murder (free moral agent) but that freedom did not extend to being absent of sin because he was born into Adam's race. He was not free or able to perform the requirements of the Law to the level God required.
Next Luther points out that neither required nor fitting merit have anything to do with the rotten sinner caught red handed who begs for sheer mercy at the throne of grace.
Dan Fugett, Sr Moderator