Augustine Dualism

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Considered to be one the most influential western patristic writers of the later 4th century, Augustine’s Confessions, sets up not only his own autobiography, but a document of philosophical and psychological investigation. It provides an examination of his heart and ultimately his confessions as presented to God; his prayer to the Almighty.
One of the major questions pursued by Augustine was how can an omnipotent God allow evil to flourish? By the final pages of Confessions, he has figured out in depth what he believes is the answer to that question. However, one of Augustine’s earlier thought experimentations evolved around the Manicheans.
Manicheans believed that evil abounded in the darkness, and goodness in the light; a dualistic approach.
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Platonist (not dualists) ascribe and believe it is the absence of essence and meaning. People turn away from the good to prefer lower “goods”; things of the flesh and their own ambitions and greed. By no means does this mean that Platonists and Christians think alike. Platonists believe that evil is ignorance whereas Christians believe evil is sin. Sin is seen as being deliberate. As an example, we see Augustine reference his “deliberate” sin in the pear stealing incident from book II of Confessions.
“There was a pear tree near our vineyard, loaded with fruit that was attractive neither to look at nor to taste. Late one night a band of ruffians, myself included, went off to shake down the fruit and carry it away, for we had continued our games out of doors until well after dark…..we took away an enormous quantity of pears, not to eat them ourselves, but simply to throw them to the pigs….our real pleasure consisted in doing something that was forbidden”
In his terms, he did it because he could or in modern terms, they were bored teens. It was/is that constant human struggle Paul wrote of, I do not understand what I do. For what I want to do I do not do, but what I hate I do. – Romans 7:15
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Pelagius, a contemporary of Augustine (an acetic moralist) opposed this idea. For Pelagius grace consisted of the gift of free will, the Law of Moses and Jesus teachings. With these a person would be able to see the moral course of action and follow it. Augustine accused Pelagius of thinking of God 's grace as consisting only of external helps. “Well, now, how is that grace which is not gratuitously conferred? How can it be grace, if it is given in payment of a debt? 4
How can that be true which the apostle says, “It is not of yourselves, but it is the gift of God; not of works, lest any man should boast (Eph.2:8, 9)…. What greater gift, or even what similar gift could grace itself bestow on any man, if he has already without grace been able to make himself one spirit with the Lord by no other power than that of his own free will ”.
Ultimately, what is so powerful around Augustine’s take on evil is that he continuously sought God’s will in the process and looked for reason in the midst. The both/and incorporating head and heart. He shows us that even if we strive for perfection, it is an impossibility. God loves us even in “our” wickedness and it is by nothing we do. He is able to show us that God is transformative if we are
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