Augustine On Spirit and Letter

 Augustine On Spirit and Letter

“How are the “doers of the law justified” (Rom 2)? Augustine explains that “they are not otherwise doers of the law, unless they be justified, so that justification does not subsequently accrue to them as doers of the law, but justification precedes them as doers of the law” (26.45). The phrase “being justified” simply means “being made righteous” by Him, of course, who justifies the ungodly man, that he may become a godly one instead (26.45). He does, however, recognize the possibility that “justified” here is used in a declarative sense: “They shall be deemed, or reckoned as just, as it is predicated of a certain man in the Gospel,” “But he, willing to justify himself,” “meaning that he wished to be thought and accounted just” (26.45).”

Peter Leithart



5 Responses to “Augustine On Spirit and Letter”

  1. 1 chosenreject
    December 20, 2007 at 6:32 pm

    With the Bible as sole basis, may you please explain to me what the holy kiss in Romans 16:16 is, and how Christ has instructed His servants to exercise it?

  2. 2 aureliusaugustinus
    December 26, 2007 at 9:45 pm

    Without the Bible as the sole basis, how would you know that The Apostle Paul ever said such a thing at all?

    The only source that we have telling us that Christ even instructed such is within the contents of Holy Scripture, or some lesser authority quoting Holy Scripture. Thus all traditions and even traditional interpretations, because they vary, though they may be necessary to the reasonable application of the Scriptures in matters of faith and practice, are not to be taken as authoritative unless subject to the Scriptures themselves as the sole infallible rule.

    The witness of the Church is necessary to recognizing the Scriptures.

    But we could not know there was a Church unless Scripture taught such.

    Thus as the Church in history testifies to the historical legitimacy of Holy Scripture, her own authority can be ascertained, and her own identity authenticated, only by her submission to the absolute authority of the Scriptures themselves. Without this, everything is lost in arguments about non-rational appeals to authority and assertions of power without the need for Prophetic substantiation. We have become disjointed from God’s words and subjected to mere human judgements, both fallible and prone to error.

    There have always been many claiming the Prophetic authority. It is common enough to cause migraines. The institutional churches have always been the main home of the beligerent and bellowing, in the Old Testament, in the New Testament, and today. There is nothing more common than an Apostle that cannot raise the dead, or produce fire from Heaven, or heal the sick, or walk on the water, and yet has a word from the Lord on their lips at all times justifying their claims to both carnal and spiritual authority.

    But the Word of the Lord is certain. So we judge them by Scripture and sound reason.


  3. 3 chosenreject
    December 27, 2007 at 9:27 am

    I’m sorry, but were you trying to answer the VERY direct question. Because if you were, then your answer is not clear. More so, out of the scores of words you typed, no biblical verse was cited. Nevertheless, thanks for the reply.

    However, let me repeat:

    With the Bible as sole basis, may you please explain to me what the holy kiss in Romans 16:16 is, and how Christ has instructed His servants to exercise it?

  4. 4 chosenreject
    December 27, 2007 at 9:29 am

    Punctuation Correction:

    I’m sorry, but were you trying to answer the VERY direct question?

  5. 5 aureliusaugustinus
    January 2, 2008 at 9:12 pm

    Nevertheless, sacred doctrine makes use of these authorities as extrinsic and probable arguments; but properly uses the authority of the canonical Scriptures as an incontrovertible proof, and the authority of the doctors of the Church as one that may properly be used, yet merely as probable. For our faith rests upon the revelation made to the apostles and prophets who wrote the canonical books, and not on the revelations (if any such there are) made to other doctors. Hence Augustine says (Epis. ad Hieron. xix, 1): “Only those books of Scripture which are called canonical have I learned to hold in such honor as to believe their authors have not erred in any way in writing them. But other authors I so read as not to deem everything in their works to be true, merely on account of their having so thought and written, whatever may have been their holiness and learning.” St. Thomas Aquinas.

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