Was St. Augustine the First to Introduce “Calvinism” to the Church?

This episode was particularly fascinating to me. I found myself reading articles about Stoicism on the internet to get a better grasp of the material discussed by Dr. Ken Wilson. It seems like I have a new area of study in the the soteriological controversies.

64 thoughts on “Was St. Augustine the First to Introduce “Calvinism” to the Church?

  1. It is amazing to me that the Augustine you so easily disclosed and discredited is so enormously lauded by Piper!

    Piper holds him up as one of humanity’s greatest people in this article.


    This is no doubt due to Piper’s commitment to a philosophical positions (determinism) and man. This obviously clouds Piper’s understanding of Scripture.

    How Mary-worshiping Augustine gets hoisted to such a pinnacle by men today is beyond me.

  2. It was a good interview until Wilson said God was “atemporal” and there is “no foreknowledge” for Him, and that such an expression is an “anthropomorphism”. He thus uses the same reasoning in support of his theology as the Calvinist for describing God’s nature in these matters. And it is a clear denial that God’s Word reflects exactly what His mind thinks is truth.

    1. Not sure I understand your claim above. 38:00 and following Wilson makes the point that because God exists outside the bounds of time for what is foreknowledge to humans is just knowledge to God. Since if he was ever in a state where he was outside of time, God would still know all true facts and no false ones, but there is no before or after related to knowledge in a timeless existence.

      Wilson goes on to say there is no determinism of human action on his view so how can it be “The same reasoning as Calvinist,” as you suggest?

      1. Hi Karl and welcome.

        You make an insightful point!
        It is interesting semantics to talk about things which exist “prior” to the creation of the world.
        Where we assume time is one of the things created with the world.
        So if there is no time – then using the terms “before” and “after” become a curiosity.

        However, I think its also well established – as an example with the Kalam cosmological argument – which holds as a premise that the universe had a beginning. And what terms do we use to describe what existed “prior” to the “beginning” of the universe? Its difficult not to use terms like “prior” or “before” in that context.

        Consequently you will find those terms used within academia and scholarship.

        On your question about Wilson’s rejection of exhaustive determinism – I don’t know who would suggest that could be the same reasoning as Calvinism. Because Calvinism’s underlying core proposition is Exhaustive Determinism. If you take Exhaustive Determinism out of Calvinism – you pretty much have main-line Christianity, and Calvinism loses its uniqueness.


      2. brdmod writes, “Because Calvinism’s underlying core proposition is Exhaustive Determinism. ”

        Calvinism’s underlying core proposition is that stated in Ephesians 1, “God works all things according to the counsel of His will.” You take that to mean, “Exhaustive Determinism,” whatever “Exhaustive Determinism” means within the context of that verse.

      3. rhutchin
        whatever “Exhaustive Determinism” means within the context of that verse.

        More precisely – Exhaustive Determinism is lens through which the Calvinist mind reads scripture.
        The human mind interprets any data according to what it believes is unquestionable truth.

        As to the “meaning” that is well established:
        Determinism is the philosophical view that all events are determined completely by previously existing causes.

        Exhaustive = Without exception, without exclusion, 100% of whatsoever comes to pass, every nano-second in time

      4. brdmod writes, “As to the “meaning” that is well established:
        whatever “Exhaustive Determinism” means within the context of that verse.

        Exhaustive = Withing exception, without exclusion, 100% of whatsoever comes to pass, every nano-second in time
        Determinism = Determining what is permitted to exist”

        So, when Ephesians tells us that “God works all things according to the counsel of His will,” we can define God’s action as Exhaustive (Withing exception, without exclusion, 100% of whatsoever comes to pass, every nano-second in time) Determinism (Determining what is permitted to exist). Anyone who opposes Exhaustive Determinism then also opposes that which Paul wrote in Ephesians.

      5. rhutchin
        So, when Ephesians tells US

        When XYZ scripture verse tells THE CALVINIST BRAIN…..etc…etc…

        that “God works all things according to the counsel of His will,” WE can define God’s action as Exhaustive (Withing exception, without exclusion, 100% of whatsoever comes to pass, every nano-second in time) Determinism (Determining what is permitted to exist).

        That “God works all things according to the counsel of His will,” A CALVINIST can define……

        Because the Calvinist mind holds Universal Divine Casual Determinism as unquestionable truth – his brain quite naturally sees scripture through that lens

        In this case – his brain AUTO-MAGICALLY changes the word “Works” to the word “Determines” :-]

        Anyone who opposes Exhaustive Determinism then also opposes that which Paul wrote in Ephesians.

        That would be the case IF the Calvinist interpretation were CANON
        And we know he goes about his office *AS-IF* it is.. ;-D

      6. rhutchin
        Anyone who opposes Exhaustive Determinism then also opposes that which Paul wrote in Ephesians.

        That is the most hilarious part of the whole thing for the Calvinist!

        His brain is taught to hold Exhaustive Determinism as the most sacred truth in the universe.

        Which forces him to go about his office *AS-IF* the most sacred truth in the universe is FALSE

        Calvinists are so blessed to have it! :-]

      7. Thanks for the question Karl. Perhaps this will help as a start. Ps 90, 2 Sequential Reality

        There are two definitions for “time”. One is connected only to creation… it is the measurement of matter in motion. The other is connected to reality which is from God’s nature.

        Reality consists of sequential events… befores and afters going backwards infinitely and forwards infinitely. His eternality is described clearly – “from everlasting to everlasting” (Ps 90:2)… “who was and is and is to come” (Rev 4:8). There were events of communication, relationship, and decision making in the Godhead before creation of space and matter… right?

        The premise that reality is both sequential and non-sequential for God at the same “time” is a logical contradiction borrowed into Christianity from neo-platonism. The Scripture gives no other “competing” reality for God’s presence, than the sequential one, and a competing reality would be contradictory to the word “reality” anyway.

        His foreknowledge is dynamic therefore, each time He makes a decision His knowing goes from “will happen” to “has happened”. It is not static. His understanding is infinite (Ps 147:5). He knows all the possibilities that still exist to decide upon, to cause one or permit another, and He knows all things that are already determined by Him that limit those possibilities.

        Some like the illustration of God as in a blimp watching the full parade below. But for a sight from a blimp to watch a parade, the full parade has to exist. The future does not exist as a completed entity to watch, either as a place to see or as a finished story in God’s mind.

        Reality is only sequential, and comes from God’s eternal nature. His eternality is described clearly – “from everlasting to everlasting” (Ps 90:2), “who was and is and is to come” (Rev 4:8). Relationship and communication in the Godhead existed before creation and were sequential (with befores and afters).

        The underlying important issue is – Does God’s mind reflect univocally the sequential reality of His Word, or have scholars discovered in their philosophical reasoning that God hid from Scripture His perspective of a non-sequential reality? This philosophical reasoning would be a perspective that also makes man’s normal perspective in Scripture actually faulty, for Scripture reveals the future as not yet existing, but in these scholars’ “reality” it is already existing as completed (forever). But God’s reality as revealed in Scripture is the only true one.

    1. Hi Fitz! I think you should be able to get a copy here -https://l.facebook.com/l.php?u=https%3A%2F%2Fora.ox.ac.uk%2Fobjects%2Fuuid%3A823cd43d-04f5-4c5d-ab0a-43be52ca1077%3Ffbclid%3DIwAR3dEbm57zMdI9Pa7GXp5D2k26hJhwsaPsZBt3jjjUf1pUDHgVO_vE3SjMU&h=AT3sSb-pPuakaYJcB4iLXLxDK343NWl61TWWLK3mFJ9U3eo6AyBVQlmiyPnsTxQqfapM6UZv9-wN3NOV0hrcKSBcEq7qQjXqfp_FEhVrbFyf0XWtlE_jZ2hNnLlwREy9wM4jpOEAaq28mKZjAQ

      1. Is there any way for one to obtain a copy of it? The hyperlinked site doesn’t have that said THESIS01.pdf hyperlink as of this moment. Thank you and God bless!

      2. Hello pr0fLance and welcome!

        I’m sorry to say the host of the material who provided it at that link decided to discontinue doing so. Perhaps for monetary reasons – I’m not sure. But if you keep monitoring non-Calvinist posts here you are bound to get further info.


      3. I see. Thanks br.d! It’s okay. I was able to get a copy of Dr. Wilson’s book on Kindle though. I was hoping to read the full dissertation but all’s good. Thanks again! I’ll surely be monitoring the posts. I also appreciate your comments here. I’m learning so much from them aside from the main topics/videos. Keep it up and God bless!

  3. Wonderful Interview Dr. Flowers – thank you so very much!!

    I would have loved to ask him concerning the Calvinistic enunciation of the divine form.
    R.C. Sproul for example states that God exists in “undifferentiated” form.
    And this is another link which Calvinism has in common with Gnosticism.

    This means that good and evil also exist in “undifferentiated” form.

    In other words, in Calvinism there is no clear delineation between good and evil – they exist together in what Augustine called “antithesis”. The Gnostics and the NeoPlatonist Christians would say – good and evil are opposites – but both co-equal and co-necessary constituents of the “one”.

    The NeoPlatonists for example called evil “beautiful”.

    This quote from Augustine shows the Gnostic thought.
    And because this orderly arrangement maintains the harmony of the universe by this very contrast, it comes about that evil things MUST NEED BE. In this way, the BEAUTY of all things is in a manner configured, as it were, from antitheses, that is, from opposites: this is pleasing to us even in discourse.

    Jonathon Edwards also on Gnosticism’s doctrine of the co-necessity of good and evil.
    But this could not be unless sin and punishment had been decreed; so that the shining forth of God’s glory would be very imperfect, both because those parts of divine glory would not shine forth as the others do, and also the glory of his goodness, love, and holiness would be faint without them; nay, they could scarcely shine forth at all.

    So I think the dualism found in Gnosticism also carries over into Augustine – and thus to Calvinism.
    And that along with determinism is what contributes to the “author of evil” element within the doctrine.

  4. Dr Flowers, in your recent interview with Braxton Hunter, you made a comment that stood out to me.

    You put your hands side by side and said something like
    “its almost like so many things appear to exist within Calvinism in good-evil, dual, or twin-pairs”.

    You are also very insightful to observe this – and that it is an indicator of Gnostic dualism.

  5. BR.D
    I noticed the dual road analogy too, but didn’t connect it yes your right thank you!! You all articulate yourselves much better than I ever could and I’m ok with it😊 I’m soooooo grateful to have human words to articulate what Scripture clearly reveals. This interview was very well presented and I’ve in some way seen this gnostic connection, but now it appears to have validity in the subtle creeping in from Augustine. I’d like to ask is their identity in man🤔 or is it in Christ? Is it so subtle they don’t see? Is it pride? Does a limited number drawn irresistibly to believe sound like good news??? I’ve cried out to God on more than one occasion to reveal if He was a calvinist God and over and over that is not what He reveals to me❤ I don’t see how I could ever trust or feel secure or anchored in Christ if I was always wondering “hmm am I one of the elect🤔, because though I was blind and now I see this isn’t what He opened my eyes to cling too..

    1. Hi Reggie,
      Thank you for your post!

      I think the points you make are excellent.
      Even R.C. Sproul enunciates a time in which he found himself with doubts – and wondered if those doubts could be indicators that God’s intentions for him were evil. I am reminded of the type of denial a battered wife can have – who blames herself when her husband beats her – instead of acknowledging his condition. How she brings her mind to resolve that – and is able to embrace that mindset as normal.

      I’ve heard Calvinists give testimonies of how they went through stages of not wanting to accept the doctrine – but eventually did. I think their minds are going through similar phases as a battered wife – resolving that they have a heavenly father whose intentions for them may be nothing more than ice cold malevolence – and learning how to live with that mindset and still be normal.

      And I think for some there are aspects of the doctrine that facilitate a form of pure selfishness and pride. John Piper for example wonders if his own children were elected for eternal torment. And he doesn’t have a problem stating that publicly. But he never publicly states that concerning himself.. John Calvin follows the same pattern.

      And I think they don’t dare state publicly that they may not be elect. Because if they did – it would reveal that in their belief system – God would be using totally depraved persons (them) as ministers of the gospel.

      Blessings and thanks for your post!

  6. At about the 37 minute mark of the interview is a discussion on God’s knowledge, in particular God’s knowledge of the future. Dr. Flowers affirms that God does know all future events disagreeing that this means God causes all future events. That’s fine. However, Dr. Flowers agreement that God knows all future events agrees with Calvinism in saying that God knows who would be saved and who would be lost from the moment of conception, so that a person’s destiny is fixed and cannot be changed; either that person is born to go to hell or that person is born to go to heaven. Thus, we can understand Paul in Romans 9 when he writes, “O man, who answers back to God? The thing molded will not say to the molder, “Why did you make me like this,” will it? Or does not the potter have a right over the clay, to make from the same lump one vessel for honorable use, and another for common use? What if God, although willing to demonstrate His wrath and to make His power known, endured with much patience vessels of wrath prepared for destruction?”

    1. Welcome Array! Good observation. Only the view of God actualizing a world with a partially open future, with undecided but known possibilities, allows for God and man to interact in relationship with each other using freewill.

      1. brianwagner writes, “Welcome array! Good observation.”

        That was actually my comment. Don’t know how it came up under the name, “Array.”

      2. Most medical labels are based on the Greek
        Like “Hyper-dermic” is a Greek compound word for “over” and “skin”.

        So I’ll guess Brian is thinking of something in that form :-]

      3. Roger, since you could not recall using that other name – Allay – I was assuming multiple personalities… which is called Disassociative Identity Disorder. 😊 As long as you don’t start claiming to be the reincarnation of Calvin, I’m not worried. 😂

  7. Thank BR.D the picture of this does sadly make sense… the staunch adherence to a particular systematic above clear contradictions in God’s Word would require a justification in one’s mind to refuse to listen. It is so sad and perplexing to me, but knowing they as well as all humanity actually have a choice softens the blow. But as Paul reasoned (no systematic is better than the apostles) Acts 17:2-3 NASB — And according to Paul’s custom, he went to them, and for three Sabbaths reasoned with them from the Scriptures, explaining and giving evidence that the Christ had to suffer and rise again from the dead, and saying, “This Jesus whom I am proclaiming to you is the Christ.”
    (And some of them were persuaded)🤗

    I’m grateful for this blog and ministry, because as Leighton said in his podcast “the 5 points that lead me out of calvinism” here I stand I can do no other! That shows compassion for his fellow man… I often have wondered why my sister won’t answer my questions & when I’m there it’s like it’s an elephant in the room that no one can discuss… at first one could think she doesn’t care about my salvation or is it simply that she doesn’t believe I’m elect🤔 so very sad to me how puffed up this appears & comes across as not really caring ☹ I’m confident that He isn’t going to further enlighten me as if the day I was born again wasn’t enough…. Colossians 2:10 NASB — and in Him you have been made complete, and He is the head over all rule and authority;
    Colossians 1:28 NASB — We proclaim Him, admonishing every man and teaching every man with all wisdom, so that we may present every man complete in Christ.

    I pray this be our heart’s desire;
    Acts 20:26-27 NASB — “Therefore, I testify to you this day that I am innocent of the blood of all men. “For I did not shrink from declaring to you the whole purpose of God.

    Blessings & joy to you😊

    1. Reggie,
      I have noted several times the several places where the Scripture says “he reasoned with them….. and some were persuaded.”

      Now Calvinists can wiggle and dance around that saying “the regenerated were persuaded.” Or “That is the human means that God used to bring this about.”

      But the rest of us just sit and wonder why God would make it look —-in so many places —- like man participates when he in fact does nothing!

      That would just be outright deceptive saying that Paul “reasoned with them” (you dont reason with a “dead” man and an forced-elect takes no reasoning) and to say that many were persuaded (not persuading a “dead” man; no need to persuade a forced-regenerated).

      It just make so much of scripture look deceptive or silly.

    2. Reggie writes, “And according to Paul’s custom, he went to them, and for three Sabbaths reasoned with them from the Scriptures, explaining and giving evidence that the Christ had to suffer and rise again from the dead, and saying, “This Jesus whom I am proclaiming to you is the Christ.”
      (And some of them were persuaded)”

      We know that, according to God’s omniscience, God knew this result when He created the world. The only dispute is whether God was personally involved in persuading the people who believed through the actions of the Holy Spirit as described in John 16, “I tell you the truth, it is to your advantage that I go away; for if I do not go away, the Helper shall not come to you; but if I go, I will send Him to you. And He, when He comes, will convict the world concerning sin, and righteousness, and judgment;”

      1. rhutchin
        We know that, according to God’s omniscience, God knew this result when He created the world.

        But the Calvinist automatically assumes that what that means – is that Calvin’s god RENDERED-CERTAIN the result when he created the world.

        Your statement hides that fact – which is the fallacy of question begging.
        And then proceeds to move forward based on a presupposition deemed necessary – which is false.

    3. Thank you Reggie
      I can see that you are an independent thinker with a keen sense of Biblical ethics!
      Bravo!! :-]

  8. rhutchin
    Dr. Flowers agreement that God knows all future events agrees with Calvinism in saying that God knows who would be saved and who would be lost from the moment of conception – so that a person’s destiny is FIXED and cannot be changed.

    William Lane Craig and Alvin Platinga reject the notion that divine foreknowledge necessitates events being fixed in the past.

    William Lane Craig:
    Some Christians like Jonathon Edwards for example make foreknowledge equal to foreordination. Simply by God knowing something will happen – that thing is foreordained to happen. On this basis even the fall of man was foreordained by God – it was predestined.

    But to this does not need to be the case. One can say that foreknowledge does not equal foreordination, and that God knows in advance what choices people will FREELY make. And that the FREE decisions of human beings determine what foreknowledge God has of them, rather than the reverse. The foreknowledge doesn’t determine the FREE decisions, rather the FREE decisions determine the foreknowledge.

    And here we can distinguish by what we might call “chronological” priority, from “logical” priority. With “chronological” priority one thing occurs earlier in time than something else. And God’s knowledge is “chronologically” prior to the event that he foreknows. But “logically” the event is prior to God’s foreknowledge.

    This can be liked to a person’s shadow. You can see that shadow – and by that foreknow that person is walking towards you. By seeing the foreshadowing of events God knows what events will happen. But the shadow doesn’t determine that person’s reality – rather that person determines the shadows reality. So think of God’s foreknowledge as his ability to know the foreshadowing of things to come.

    Alvin Plantinga
    God cannot have a false belief about the future. But the fact is, if I were to do something different, other than what I will in fact do, then God would have had a different belief.

  9. Who was the first in history to teach some of Calvin’s theology? Guess!

    “Has God said” – Calvinism also questions God’s Word when it says the Scripture is from man’s perspective, full of anthropomorphisms about God in historical narratives. But Scripture is God’s revelation, breathed as truth about His real involvement with man.

    “You will not surely die” – Calvinism also gives false assurance when it says that belonging in a covenantal group is a safe bet for everlasting life, though there is a chance that you God gave you a temporary faith, “the better to convict” you for His glory. But God says assurance comes from the Spirit’s witness that we are His child, a witness that will never fade.

    “You will be like God” – Calvinism also seems to promote feeling godlike, by thinking one is eternally existing as God’s loved one in His mind, and so many others aren’t. That encourages the condemning/damning all those who reject their theology, since they believe God hates those rebels also. But God says He holds out His arms to the rebellious all day long.

    Doesn’t Calvinism teach that any Scripture that contradicts their definitions about God’s supposed simplicity, static immutability, and impassibility should be viewed as anthropomorphic?

    Doesn’t Calvinism have difficulty with assurance of salvation because of the premise of supposed evanescent grace?

    Don’t many Calvinists justify their condemnation of non-Calvinists because of Calvin’s/reformed theology’s perspective of magisterial justification for the death penalty for those whom they think are heretics, or that the rejection of their “gospel” affirms that the rebel must be one of the eternally reprobate?

    We can blame Augustine… but we wrestle not against flesh and blood alone when it comes to doctrines of demons!

    1. Interesting to find someone willing to use the correct expression to describe the TULIP – ‘doctrines of demons”. Given the gross distortion of the scriptures – and the early church’s correct reading of them – I fail to see how one can be more polite. Recently reading a Piper book it was uncanny how suddenly he switched from Christ honouring, loving and wholesome teaching to strange, cold and frightening assertions about God’s nature and actions – as if he’d become a different person – just as one finds with people under demonic influence. I hope he is saved but it will be in spite of not because of his teachings. Likewise with Augustine although there are human reasons to explain why he changed his views (many not Christ honouring) I wonder if some experience resulting in re-demonisation (old Manichaean spirits revisiting him?) did not occur. There is no reason to be intimidated by the rank of big names, past or present lined up on the Augustinian/Calvinistic side, they’re only human; conforming to their particular circle of peers.

  10. Excellent interview.Thanks for sharing Eric. I’ve read through some of Dr. Wilson’s thesis and it is excellent. I’ve studied this issue quite a bit so nothing so far that I wasn’t expecting but there is much to objectively verify many of what I knew or suspected to be true.

    A quote from Irenaeus on what the Gnostics (and Manicheans) believed anthropologically:
    “They conceive, then, of three kinds of men, spiritual, material, and animal … the material goes, as a matter of course, into corruption. The animal, if it make choice of the better part, finds repose in the intermediate place; but if the worse, it too shall pass into destruction. But they assert that the spiritual principles [pneumatics] … at last attaining to perfection, shall be given as brides to the angels of the Saviour, while their animal souls of necessity rest for ever with the Demiurge in the intermediate place. And again subdividing the animal souls themselves, they say that some are by nature good, and others by nature evil. The good are those who become capable of receiving the [spiritual] seed; the evil by nature are those who are never able to receive that seed.” –Irenaeus, adv. Haer. I. 7, 5.

    Sound familiar? Just substitute “the elect” (Augustine’s/Calvin’s idea of the elect) for “the spiritual [pneumatics]” and “the good” and substitute “the reprobate” for “the material” and “the evil” and you now have the essentials of Augustinism/Calvinism.

  11. Page 77:

    Clement understood that God calls all (πάντων τοίνυν ἀνθρώπων)—every human, not a few of every kind of human—whereas, “the
    called” are those who respond.

    If God exercised DUPIED (as the Marcionites and Gnostics believed), then he would not be the just and good Christian God but the
    heretical God of Marcion (Strom.5.1).

    Indeed, Basilides’s followers espoused faith itself as God’s gift ( τῆς πίστεως τὴν δωρεάν ), robbing humans of free choice

    1. br.d writes, “Clement understood that God calls all (πάντων τοίνυν ἀνθρώπων)—every human, not a few of every kind of human—whereas, “the called” are those who respond. ”

      Thus, the distinction between the external call to all through the preaching of the gospel and the internal to those God is giving to Christ per John 6 – “All that the Father gives Me shall come to Me,…Everyone who has heard and learned from the Father, comes to Me.” Hard to deny the Scriptures.

      1. rhutchin
        Hard to deny the Scriptures.

        That presupposition imposed upon scripture was not stated.
        A mature scholar knows the difference between denying scripture and denying a human interpretation of the scripture. :-]

      2. rhutchin
        Thus, the distinction between the external call to all through the preaching of the gospel and the internal to those God is giving to Christ

        Let the reader notice how many conceptions within Calvinism manifest in the form of GOOD-EVIL pairs.

        There is a GOOD-EVIL *DUALISM* consistent within the root-conceptions of Calvinist doctrine.
        And a recognizable characteristic is the framing of [concept pairs] reflecting a *DUALISTIC* cosmos.

        Dr. Paul Rigby – The Theology of Augustine’s Confessions
        “Augustine answers Manichean *DUALISM* with Platonic *DUALISM*. Augustine claims that Platonism taught him the precious concept of the immaterial. Manichean *DUALISM* is body-soul *DUALISM*. Augustine replaces it with spiritual *DUALISM*….” -end quote

  12. Wow well stated BR.D this is an Amazing Creator without time constraints anything less makes Him unworthy of trust..
    But to this does not need to be the case. One can say that foreknowledge does not equal foreordination, and that God knows in advance what choices people will FREELY make. And that the FREE decisions of human beings determine what foreknowledge God has of them, rather than the reverse. The foreknowledge doesn’t determine the FREE decisions, rather the FREE decisions determine the foreknowledge.

    Brian I agree we don’t wrestle against flesh and blood and fear of man will prove to be a snare!
    Proverbs 29:25 NASB — The fear of man brings a snare, But he who trusts in the LORD will be exalted.

    I’ve never been drawn to this systematic maybe I’m not smart enough🤔 or maybe it’s by the grace of God❤ I was first introduced to calvinism in 2013 when my mentor at the time asked me to read; The Pelagian Captivity of the Church, by R.C. Sproul
    I was instructed to read this not once, but three times and pray about it and ask God what He was telling me🤔hmm odd since a (man) wrote this not a divinely inspired article I might add.. there was no magical pull after reading this article rather more of a question quest as to why would this superceded God’s Word for me to embrace a man’s written word and pray about it! No thanks!!! God is faithful I happened to be studying Colossians at the time and to me the more I learned gnosticism seemed to be in calvinism some how, but again not being trained I just sounded like an anti calvinist… What a horrible implication this systematic places on an Amazingly Infinite God who wants to be in relationship with His Creation!

    Thank you all for your scholarly input it’s much appreciated!

  13. Page 276:

    Taken from James Joseph O’Donnell – Classical Scholar – “The Demise of Paganism,”

    “The monks of Marseilles supported Augustine in his attack on the Pelagians and appreciated Contra Iulianum.

    However, they rejected his novel interpretation of Romans, noting that no (Christian) person had previously interpreted it that way (c.f., prior Gnostics/Manichaeans) – plus, it created new problems.

    Because Augustine’s system was novel, these monks placed his (divine unilateral pre-determination of persons’s eternal destinies) into their closest known category—Manichaeism.

    They viewed his redefined predestination as fate baptized.
    And with God recreating different fallen natures, resulting in different inevitable eternal destinies.”

  14. Christian Gnosticism asserted a significant presence in its day and the Gnostic sect of Manichaeism flourished in the ancient world. Manichaeism spread with extraordinary speed through both the east and west, from North Africa to China. Being widely promoted by apostles, it reached Egypt at around 240 A.D., and Rome at around 280 A.D

    It is also an undisputed fact that the lineage of Catholic doctrines evolved in a significantly syncretistic manner. This is a period of time, during which the Roman church was becoming a dominating world power, and in its growth, it consumes and adds to itself, the distinctions of every form of paganism. The syncretistic processes of evolution at this time cannot be understated.

    The Roman church grew in political power, and soon carried forward the Roman tradition of domination, occasionally rioting and killing those who posed opposition. Traces of the assimilation of paganism are visible everywhere at Catholic sites. Catholics adoringly touch statues of Pan, Jupiter and the goddess Isis and child, being told they are David, Peter, and Mary with Jesus.

    English historian, Theodore Maynard, in “The story of American Catholicism”
    “It has often been charged… that Catholicism has been overlaid with many pagan incrustations. Catholicism is ready to accept that charge – and to make it her boast. The great god Pan is not really dead, he is baptized.”

    Some of the dualistic elements within Manichaeism were also shared with NeoPlatonism which was also influential. Thus Gnosticism’s moral dualism and NeoPlatonism’s determinism would merge together.

    These constructs would be imbibed by the Catholic NeoPlatonists, and Augustine would carry them forward, and in his eloquent writing, baptize them as Christian, just like the great god Pan.

  15. Wow this is deeply and intricately rooted in & for so many reasons I appreciate you sharing this information. I’m sure this was hours and hours of reading the historical perspective & the book/page siting are great!! May I share what you have written with a friend who might also be interested in further reading?

    1. Sure.
      Most of this information is available online concerning the spread of Gnosticism in that time period. Also one will find academic sources online that clearly link Augustine to NeoPlatonism. Like this one for example:

      Neoplatonism and Christianity – Wikipedia
      Neoplatonism was a major influence on Christian theology throughout Late Antiquity and the Middle Ages in the West. This was due to St. Augustine of Hippo……..

      I would suggest to anyone to see the link provided here on this SOT101 page to download Dr. Ken Wilson’s essay and look at how extensive the academic sources are he has accumulated.

      Also the Greek Orthodox church has a perspective on Augustine that parallels what you’ll find here. I think you’ll find, their basic position on Augustine will be that his doctrines on grace and predestination were erroneous – but they liked the contriteness of much of his writing. So they don’t want to throw him out altogether. However some of them do consider him semi-heretical.

      I remember listening to a lecture from Dr. Gordon Fee who had very little respect for Augustine’s allegorical interpretation of scripture.
      Augustine at first rejected scripture because it did not conform to the Greek Stoics – especially Cicero. Augustine got around this by refusing to take scripture at face value – and instead accept it as allegorical And one will discover that Augustine was reliant upon a corrupted Latin bible because he couldn’t read Greek.

      Another academic paper is: AUGUSTINE, MANICHAEISM AND THE GOOD by. Kam-lun Edwin LEE.

      Calvinists want to assert that Augustine rejected Gnosticism in his doctrinal evolution.
      But academics who study Augustine’s writings see traces of it throughout all of his writings.

      More interesting is how much favoritism some Calvinists give to NeoPlatonism.
      I have actually seen the writings of Plotinus (the philosopher who converted Plato’s teachings into the religion known as NeoPlatonism) as recommended for reformed bible readers. These advertisements tout Plotinus’s writings will help the reformed bible reader better understand the hidden meanings.

  16. Enjoyed this podcast very much. Discussion afterwards as well. Have been reading Dr. Wilson’s paper on line, but, the weblink is no longer working. Here is what I receive when I try to access now…
    “We’re sorry, there’s been an error with this download. Please contact ora@bodleian.ox.ac.uk for help with this file.”
    Anyone else having issues accessing Dr. Wilson’s paper.

    1. Brian, I downloaded Dr. Wilson’s PDF
      Is there a way we can post it on the SOT101 server for users to download?


      1. I think you could send a private copy to someone… but if the public link is broken at his school, posting it publicly without Wilson’s permission is probably not the way to go.

  17. I’d really like to finish reading the paper. I didn’t realize I could have downloaded it while on the site. Any help would be appreciated. Thanks.

      1. And here’s their reply…
        Dear Rufus,

        I’m afraid that this thesis is currently under embargo in ORA, and cannot be downloaded

        This work has been published in electronic monograph form:

        Kind regards,

        David Watson

        ORA Research Archive Assistant
        Bodleian Digital Library Systems and Services Bodleian Libraries of the University of Oxford Osney One Building Osney Mead Oxford OX2 0EW

        Email: ora@bodleian.ox.ac.uk

        Not sure what “under embargo” means to them, but, I would guess that a lot of people have accessed this paper!

    On Augustine’s “Traditio Deformis” (i.e. A deformed tradition of exegesis)
    Augustine’s magisterial reading of the Letter to the Romans, as unfolded in reams of his writings, and ever thereafter by his theological heirs: perhaps the most sublime “strong misreading” in the history of Christian thought, and one that comprises specimens of all four classes of misprision.”

    1. br.d,
      I dont agree with Mary-worshiping Augustine either….but I am not sure that a quote from DB Hart is worth a nickle, so it does not seem that relevant here. I do enjoy your research and certainly WL Craig and certainly Plantinga and his defecting from Calvinism.

      1. Thanks FOH.
        I provided Hart’s quote because it represents a school of thinking within the Orthodox church.
        I guess some people don’t think much of him – but that’s not the case universally.

  19. Page 9:
    In AD 412, Augustine becomes the first Christian theologian whose extant writings place damnable REATUS upon all mankind as a result of Adam’s sin. This was partially as a result of his inferior Latin translation. (Ref: Johannes van Oort – Gnostic Studies and Augustine)

    Prior authors limited original sin’s detriments to mortality, ignorance with weakness in resisting sin, and the sin propensity.

    The word REATUS appears in the context of damnable original sin only after AD 411. His theological developments occur in the polemical context of the paedobaptismal tradition in North Africa.

    Utilizing Stoic Providence, he argues logically from infant baptism to unilateral pre-determination in pecc.mer., but only in spir.et litt. does he assert that God gives initial faith as a gift.

    Augustine’s reconstruction of paedobaptism as remittance by grace from the inherited damnable REATUS of original sin demanded a counterbalance in philosophy—replacing free choice with divine unilateral pre-determination of individuals’s eternal destinies.

    Most significantly, no prior Christian bishop/author is known to have imbibed rigid Stoic providence and the deterministic doctrines of Neoplatonism and Manichaeism in such rapid succession.

    The common beliefs held by chronologically successive determinist adherents in Zoroastrianism, the Qumranites, Gnosticism, Neoplatonism, and Manichaeism are intriguing.

    While varying in emphases, they all:
    1. require divine micromanagement of even minutia in the cosmic order
    2. substitute the Judeo-Christian imago Dei for a view of humanity as worthless worms undeserving of God’s attention or care as Creator
    3. teach the “free will” (choices) of humanity as destroyed or dead rendering even a request for divine assistance impossible
    4. teach “God” must resurrect dead “wills” by infusing grace, faith, and love
    5. conclude determinism must be true as a result of the preceding assumptions

  20. From the introduction to F.J. Sheed’s translation of Augustine’s Confessions
    We follow Augustine as he thought himself out of this dilemma, in Rome and Milan, like a man gasping for air.
    At last, in the summer of 386, he broke free.

    A few nameless books, written by nameless “Platonists translated from Greek into Latin,” were lent to him by a nameless intellectual—“a certain man—an incredibly conceited man” (VII.9.13). (Books that really changed Augustine’s mind, like the friends whose departures had really cut into his heart, remain nameless: a source of much fruitful frustration to the modern scholar, but characteristic of the whole tone of Augustine’s narrative of this crucial time.)

    Within a month or so, the system which we now know as the Catholic Platonism of Augustine slipped into place.

  21. Rev. Fr. Troy Pierce – Teacher of The Path of Gnosis

    The ‘problem of evil’ (aka, theodicy, justness of God) is a result of a particular theological definition of God as: all-good, all-powerful and all-knowing.

    Since it is a definitional problem and not a situational one, any situation in which you place that definition will result in that same problem.

    Gnosticism doesn’t have that theology and so doesn’t have that problem.

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