Augustinism the theological system of St. Augustine, as developed in opposition to Pelagianism and Semi-Pelagianism. "Augustine considered the human race as a compact mass, a collective body, responsible in its unity and solidarity. Carrying out his system in all its logical consequences, he laid down the following rigid proposition as his doctrine: 'As all men have sinned in Adam; they are subject to the condemnation of God on account of this hereditary sin and the guilt thereof'" (Smith's Hagenbach, History of Doctrines, 1, 299). Wiggers (Augustinisnm and Pelagianism, p. 268) gives the following summary view of the theological system of Augustine:
I. Infant Baptism. — The baptism of infants as well as adults is for the forgiveness of sin. Children have, indeed, committed no actual sins, yet by original sin they are under the power of the devil, from which they are freed by baptism. Hence Christian children who die before baptism no more escape positive punishment in the future life than do all who are not Christians.
II. Original Sin. — By Adam's sin, in whom all men jointly sinned together, sin, and the other positive punishments of Adam's sin, came into the world. By it human nature has been both physically and morally corrupted. Every man brings into the world with him a nature already so corrupt that he can do nothing but sin. The propagation of this quality of his nature is by concupiscence.
III. Free Will. — By Adam's transgression, the freedom of the human will has been entirely lost. In his present corrupt state, man can will and do only evil.
IV. Grace. — If nevertheless man, in his present state, wills and does good, it is merely the work of grace. It is an inward, secret, and wonderful operation of God upon man. It is a preceding as well as an accompanying work. By preceding grace, man attains faith, by which he comes into an insight of good, and by which power is given him to will the good. He needs co-operating grace for the performance of every individual good act. As man can do nothing without grace, so he can do nothing against it. It is irresistible. And as man by nature has no merit at all, no respect at all can be had to man's moral disposition in imparting grace, but God acts according to his own free will. V. Predestination and Redemption. — From eternity God made a free and unconditional decree to save a few from the mass that was corrupted and subjected to damnation. To those whom he predestinated to this salvation, he gives the requisite means for the purpose. But on the rest, who do not belong to this small number of the elect, the merited ruin falls. Christ came into the world and died for the elect only.
These are the principles of Augustinism. Its anthropological principle, of the native corruption of man, and of his utter incapacity to do good apart from divine grace, has remained fixed in the church to this day. Pelagius maintained, on the contrary, that "every man, in respect to his moral nature, is born in precisely the same condition in which Adam was created, and has the capacity of willing and doing good without God's special aid. It was Augustine's mission to enunciate clearly and to fix forever the Christian doctrine as to the condition of human nature in its fallen state. But the anxiety of Augustine to save the divine glory in the work of man's salvation led him to the doctrine of unconditional election and predestination — a doctrine to which the mind and heart of the church, as a whole, has never acceded. It has been a stumbling-block from Augustine's day until now. But Augustine, in his combat against Pelagius, was entirely successful. The church of his times sided with him, and Pelagius and his adherents were condemned by a number of synods, and by Zosimus, the bishop of Rome. After the death of Augustine, the controversy about the chief points of his system continued for a long time to agitate the entire church. The General Synod of Ephesus (431) condemned the Pelagians, together with the Nestorians; yet, on the whole, the Greek Church did not take any real interest in the controversy, and never adopted the doctrines of absolute predestination and irresistible grace. In Africa and Rome a tendency to Augustinism prevailed; and at the synods of Arausio (Orange) and Valentia (529) a decision was obtained in favor of the exclusive operation of divine grace, although predestination was evidently evaded. In Gaul Augustinism did not exercise the same influence; and although the authority of Augustine was too great to permit an open opposition to his system, Semi-Pelagian tendencies seemed to be for a long time in the ascendency.
The authority of Augustine's name remained unimpaired, although his peculiar doctrines were but little understood by the church of the Middle Ages. The first important controversy concerning Augustinism was that called forth by the monk Gottschalk (q.v.), who in the most decided forms of expression announced the doctrine of a double predestination, founded upon the absolute foreknowledge of God, according to which some were devoted to life, and others were consigned to destruction. Gottschalk, who pretended to be a strict follower of Augustine, was condemned by the Synod of Mayence (848), and died in prison (868). His doctrine was a development, not of the good side of Augustinism, viz. its anthropology, but of the false side, viz. its view of the relations between God and man in the work of salvation. Augustine maintained unconditional election, but not reprobation; he held that God chose from the massa perditionis such and such persons to be saved, because he pleased to choose them, and for no other reason whatever; while the rest were lost, not because God chose to damn them, but because they were sinners. Gottschalk was the first to announce in clear terms the doctrine of the divine reprobation of sinners, i.e. that they are damned, not simply because of their sins, but because of God's decree to damn them, for no other reason than because it pleased him so to do. In the subsequent centuries, the rise of scholasticism and mysticism, and the controversy between these two systems, diverted the attention of the church from Augustinism. Anselm, Peter Lombard, and Thomas Aquinas endeavored to retain Augustine's doctrine of an unconditional election, though with many limitations. The current of theological opinion in the church in general was in a direction toward Pelagianism, and the learned Thomist, Thomas de Bradwardina (q.v.), a professor at Oxford, and subsequently archbishop at Canterbury (d. 1349), charged the whole age with having adopted Pelagianism. On the whole, the Thomists claimed to stand on the same ground as Augustine; yet, while they regarded original sin as a culpable offense, and divine grace as predestination, they nevertheless believed that man has some remnants of power by which he may make himself worthy of divine favor (meritum e congruo), and regarded divine grace as dependent upon divine foreknowledge. The Scotists (adherents of Duns Scotus), on the other hand, described both original sin and grace as rather the invariable condition of all men, and as developments of the spiritual world in the course of Providence. As Thomas was a Dominican and Duns Scotus a Franciscan, the controversy between Thomists and Scotists on the subject of original sin and divine grace gradually became a controversy between the two orders of mendicant friars. After the Reformation, the Jesuits, in accordance with the moral system of their school, adopted the views of the Scotists. Augustinism found very zealous champions in the professors of the University of Louvain. One of them, Baius (q.v.), was denounced by the Franciscans to Pope Pius V, who in 1567 condemned 79 propositions extracted from the writings of Baius, a sentence which was confirmed by Gregory XIII (1579). In return, the theological faculty of Louvain censured 34 propositions in the works of the Jesuits Less and Hamel, as opposed to the teachings of St. Augustine, and to the absolute authority of the Scriptures. As the controversy waxed very warm, Sixtus V forbade its continuance; but when this proved fruitless, a committee (the celebrated congregatio de auxiliis) was appointed by Clement VIII for the full decision of the question, "In what way is the assistance of divine grace concerned in the conversion of the sinner?" The congregation was, however, dismissed in 1607, without having accomplished its object, and the antagonism between the Augustinian school and its opponents continued as before. An elaborate representation of the Augustinian and Pelagian systems was given by Bishop Jansenius, of Ypres, in his work Augustinus s. doctrina Augustini de humanae naturae sanitate, cegritudine, et medicina adversus Pelagium et Massilienses, which was published after the death of the author, and gave rise to the celebrated Jansenist controversy, and to the exclusion of the Jansenists from the church. SEE JANSENIUS and SEE JANSENISTS. The condemnation of Jansenius and the Jansenists did, however, not terminate the controversy in the Roman Catholic Church concerning the Augustinian theology, though the subsequent history of the controversy is not marked by any prominent event. But the Roman Catholic Church, as a whole, rejects that part of Augustinism which teaches absolute predestination (see Mohler, Symbolism, ch. 3, § 10).
Some of the forerunners of the Reformation during the Middle Ages, as Wickliffe and Savonarola, were strict Augustinians; but others, e.g. Wessel, urged the necessity of a free appropriation of divine grace on the part of man as a conditio sine qua non. Luther was an Augustinian monk; and, as a reformer, he was at first confirmed in his Augustinian views by the contests which he had to maintain against the doctrine of the meritoriousness of works. But there is reason to believe that, in common with Melancthon, he modified his views as to absolute predestination; and, under the guidance of Melancthon, the Lutheran Church has avoided the strict consequences of the Augustinian system by asserting that the decrees of God are conditional. Calvin was a strict Augustinian, and even went beyond Augustine, by maintaining reprobation. He, and the early reformed theologians generally, in their religious controversies, not only admitted all the consequences of the Augustinian system, but, having once determined the idea of predestination, went beyond the premises so far as to maintain that the fall of man was itself predestinated by God (supralapsarianism). This view, however, did not meet with much approbation, and was at last almost entirely abandoned. In opposition to the ultra Augustinian views, Arminius, admitting Augustine's anthropology, defined the true doctrine of the relations between God and man in the work of salvation. In Germany, the Rationalists and the school of Speculative Philosophy discarded Augustinism, while the Pietists, and other theologians who returned to the old faith of the church, and (though with various modifications) the followers of Schleiermacher, revived it in its essential points. At present, hardly one of the great theologians of Germany holds the extreme Augustinian doctrine of absolute predestination.
The first good work on the Augustinian system was written by Wiggers, Versuch einer pragmatischen Darstellung des Avgustinismus und Pelagianismus (Berlin, 1821; Hamlurg, 1833, vol. 1 translated by Prof. Emerson, Andover, 1840, 8vo). See also Gangauf, Psychologie des heil. Augustinus (Augsb. 1852). More philo, sophical than theological, yet of great value for the history of the theological system of Augustine, is the work of Nourrisson on "The Philosophy of St. Augustine" (La Philosophie de Saint Augustin," Par. 1865, 2 vols.). 'This work received a prize from the French A cadmie des Sciences Morales et Politiques. The first volume contains a memoir of the bishop, and a detailed exposition of his philosophical views; the second gives an account of the sources from which Augustine borrowed his ideas, an estimate of the influence which the Augustinian theories exercised, especially during the seventh century, and a critical discussion of the Augustinian theories. SEE ARMINIANISM; SEE AUGUSTINE.