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1 Question What do you think? Is obedience to God’s commands a matter of you trying harder?, OR Is grace required to enable your obedience?

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Presentation on theme: "1 Question What do you think? Is obedience to God’s commands a matter of you trying harder?, OR Is grace required to enable your obedience?"— Presentation transcript:

1 1 Question What do you think? Is obedience to God’s commands a matter of you trying harder?, OR Is grace required to enable your obedience?

2 2 This Week i. Explore the nature of the soul as conceptualized by Augustine and Aquinas. ii. Reveal how the Pelagian heresy actually helped Augustine refine his ideas of the soul. Lesson Plan

3 3 This Week III. Explore the Anthropology developed by Augustine which guides our thinking on the healing of the conscience. IV. Examine our own understanding and personal application of Augustine's thought about being “sustained alone by the love of Christ.” Lesson Plan

4 4 I. Nature of the Soul a. In order to understand the idea of conscience, one must understand the concept of the soul. It is not a question as to whether or not man is a soul, or has a soul, as that is made amply clear in Scripture. 1 Corinthians 15:45 "the first man Adam became a living soul.” b. Adam was inspired by God and was thus constituted a nephesh chayyah ("living soul"), because the "breath of lives" had been imparted to him. Gen 2:7 And the Lord God formed man of the dust of the ground, and breathed into his nostrils the breath of life; and man became a living soul. KJV

5 5 I. Nature of the Soul c. Augustine argued that being made in the image of God had to do with the existence and capacity of the rational soul and this is what distinguished man from beast. He asserted that the body was a mere shell housing the soul. d. God creates the immortal soul, the soul is that aspect of man that is either eternally saved or lost. But, it remained the task of the theologians and philosophers after the first generation of the church to begin to formulate the precise nature of the soul. Ps 16:10 For thou wilt not leave my soul in hell; neither wilt thou suffer thine Holy One to see corruption. KJV

6 6 I. Nature of the Soul e. As to the origin of the soul, whether it is passed on through biological reproduction or whether God creates the new soul at the moment of conception the Bible is silent. However, the philosophers were not.

7 7 I. Nature of the Soul f. With the spread of Christianity among Gentiles and the conversion of philosophers of the various Greek philosophical schools, there began efforts to incorporate Greek philosophy with Christianity. g. By the time of Augustine ( A.D.) and certainly well before Aquinas ( A.D.), though controversial, the tradition of adopting philosophical arguments into theology was well- established.

8 8 I. Nature of the Soul h. The two greatest theologians of the early church Augustine and Aquinas are best noted for creating our modern understanding of the nature and functioning of the soul. i. While they agreed on several points, they disagreed on many because each of them came at the question from a different philosophical point of view. Augustine-based his understanding on the philosophy of Plato while Aquinas was rooted in Aristotle.

9 9 I. Nature of the Soul j. They agreed that the soul is created by God ex nihilo, created as an independent substance not taken from God himself, or from other pre- existing material. k. They agreed that the soul is immortal and cannot die and they agreed that the soul is not a body or corporeal substance, and that the soul has a free will as long as it remains unconstrained.

10 10 I. Nature of the Soul l. For Augustine, consistent with Plato, the soul existed independently of the body. The soul is the source of thought; the soul or ideal form, gives life to the body the formed; the soul is a source of beauty, bestowing beauty upon the body.

11 11 I. Nature of the Soul m. He also saw the soul as the mover of the body as a separate substance inhabiting the body; the body exists in change, or becoming, while the soul is outside change, or becoming. n. The soul is the moral, independent mover of the mortal, dependent, moved body. The soul uses the body, gives life to the body and is its motivating force in which the body maintains itself. At death the soul of the Christian is delivered from the body awaiting resurrection.

12 12 I. Nature of the Soul o. Aquinas on the other hand, had very different view that is much more Aristotelian in which the soul is the form of the body and must be joined to the body as its natural completion. p. The human soul actualizes, expresses itself through, and even requires a body; that is, its fulfillment. It is expressly the soul and body together that form a species or the various expressions of life.

13 13 IV. Nature of the Soul q. The soul is the source of the intellect as well; since intellect operates through sense, it requires a body, the soul's happiness, or fulfillment, is dependent on the body for its full expression of life. r. Aquinas, consistent with Christian thinking and at odds with Aristotle, argued that at death the soul could leave the body and be rejoined with its perfected body at the resurrection.

14 14 II. Pelagian Controversy a. Ironically, it was the Pelagian controversy which forced Augustine to examine his views on the soul and work out a fuller statement of principle and present and defend the logical consequences of his ideas. b. Pelagius, a British monk opposed the famous prayer by Augustine: "Grant what Thou commandest, and command what Thou dost desire." He was appalled by the notion that divine gift (grace) is necessary to perform what God commands.

15 15 II. Pelagian Controversy c. For Pelagius and his followers responsibility always implies ability. If a person has the moral responsibility to obey the law of God, he must also have the moral ability to do it.

16 16 II. Pelagian Controversy d. To the Pelagian, an individual was totally responsible for his sin. Pelagius rejected the use of human frailty as an absolving excuse for imperfect living of the Christian life. His response was: "That is nonsense. God has given you free will. You can choose to follow the example of Adam, or you can choose to follow the example of Christ. God has given everyone the grace he needs to be good. If you are not good, you simply need to try harder.“

17 17 II. Pelagian Controversy e. In refuting the Pelagian heresy Augustine focused on three things: Sin (the condition of mankind left to itself); grace (the act of redemption in Christ), and predestination (the condition of the liberated soul, arising from the effect of grace on the will). f. While the debate was formally ended when the Pelagian point of view was condemned as heresy, in reality the ideas fostered by Pelagius involving: Original sin, Infant Baptism, Predestination, Free Will continue in the modern Church of today.

18 18 III. Anthropology of Augustine a. Human nature in accordance with what God intended can only be understood in light of Biblical revelation. Any other attempt to define or classify it would invariably lead one to error because man is a spiritual being. b. Anthropology for Augustine was based on the truth that humanity was created in the image of God. He affirmed the absolute unity and the spiritual, immortal nature of the human soul.

19 19 III. Anthropology of Augustine c. He believed that it is the nature of mankind to need consciously to tap into the presence of God within the human soul in order to understand as fully as possible what it most truly means to be human. d. The fundamental problem for the individual person, the soul, is his selfish preoccupation with self at the expense of a caring involvement in human relationships, but to Augustine such concentration is always self-defeating.

20 20 III. Anthropology of Augustine e. Augustine taught that if we make ourselves the center point of our own identity, the result will be an impoverished view of self, and one that is exaggerated and irresponsible. f. According to Augustine the soul has three functions: being, understanding, and loving, corresponding to three faculties: intellectual memory, intelligence, and will.

21 21 III. Anthropology of Augustine g. The primary emphasis is given to the will, which relates to the function of love. The will of a human person is free, but unless and until the will is humbled in acquiescence to Christ it is restless. John 14:15 If ye love me, keep my commandments. KJV h. This restlessness in life prompts the soul to search for meaning, and ultimately for God. "You have made us for Yourself, O Lord, and our hearts are restless until they rest in You."

22 22 III. Anthropology of Augustine i. One of the best-known consequences of the anthropology of Augustine is his notion of interiority. This means a search of the heart, of the interior of self, of the life and consciousness of a person. Prov 4:23 Keep thy heart with all diligence; for out of it are the issues of life. KJV j.Augustine saw that the task of the believer lies in his progressive self-abnegation as he grows in the love of God and of neighbor. In a sense, to save one's soul means abandoning all morbid preoccupation with self by immersion in self-effacing love. Matthew "He who would save his soul must lose it."

23 23 III. Anthropology of Augustine k. Augustine accepted a fallen and flawed human nature that was without hope if it did not have the grace of God. True freedom is achieved only through a long process by which the knowledge/conscience and will of an individual are healed by the grace of God. 2 Cor 7:1 Having therefore these promises, dearly beloved, let us cleanse ourselves from all filthiness of the flesh and spirit, perfecting holiness in the fear of God. KJV

24 24 III. Anthropology of Augustine l. Though the natural man is flawed, nonetheless, we can make progress. The heart can be transformed through love, and the mind can open to the workings of grace and the conscience can be healed. Rom 12:2 And be not conformed to this world: but be ye transformed by the renewing of your mind, that ye may prove what is that good, and acceptable, and perfect, will of God. KJV m. In summary, to paraphrase Augustine, man without Christ will never know love and can never have peace because by design of our Creator he is incomplete. The sinful soul and its painful conscience requires forgiveness and redemption for healing.

25 25 III. Anthropology of Augustine n. As long as the believer is relying upon defense mechanisms to protect the self and to avoid dealing with issues of the conscience, he is veering away from the only true hope he has for ultimate healing. o. That hope for ultimate healing, as Augustine taught, is availed through appropriating by grace given, the love of Christ that we have to enjoy in this life and to allow it alone to sustain us. Rom 8:35-39

26 26 III. Anthropology of Augustine Who shall separate us from the love of Christ? Shall tribulation, or distress, or persecution, or famine, or nakedness, or peril, or sword? As it is written, For thy sake we are killed all the day long; we are accounted as sheep for the slaughter. Nay, in all these things we are more than conquerors through him that loved us. For I am persuaded, that neither death, nor life, nor angels, nor principalities, nor powers, nor things present, nor things to come, Nor height, nor depth, nor any other creature, shall be able to separate us from the love of God, which is in Christ Jesus our Lord. KJV

27 a. The most urgent need of the soul is redemption; the second most important need is to abide in the love of Christ. Are you abiding in His great love? b. What does it mean to you to be “sustained alone by love?” c. If you were truly abiding in the love of Christ and sustained alone by that love what, if anything would be different in your experience of this life? 27 V. Application


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