Inner Grace: Augustine in the Traditions of Plato and Paul

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Overview

This book is, along with Outward Signs (OUP 2008), a sequel to Phillip Cary's Augustine and the Invention of the Inner Self (OUP 2000). In this work, Cary traces the development of Augustine's epochal doctrine of grace, arguing that it does not represent a rejection of Platonism in favor of a more purely Christian point of view a turning from Plato to Paul, as it is often portrayed. Instead, Augustine reads Paul and other Biblical texts in light of his Christian Platonist inwardness, producing a new concept of grace as an essentially inward gift. For Augustine, grace is needed first of all to heal the mind so it may see God, but then also to help the will turn away from lower goods to love God as its eternal Good. Eventually, over the course of Augustine's career, the scope of the soul's need for grace expands outward to include not only the inner vision of the intellect and the power of love but even the initial gift of faith.

At every stage, Augustine insists that divine grace does not compromise or coerce the human will but frees, heals, and helps it, precisely because grace is not an external force but an inner gift of delight leading to true happiness. As his polemic against the Pelagians develops, however, he does attribute more to grace and less to the power of free will. In the end, it is God's choice which makes the ultimate difference between the saved and the damned, and we cannot know why he chooses to save one person and not another. From this Augustinian doctrine of divine choice or election stem the characteristic pastoral problems of predestination, especially in Protestantism. A more external, indeed Jewish, doctrine of election would be more Biblical, Cary suggests, and would result in a less anxious experience of grace.

Along with its companion work, Outward Signs, this careful and insightful book breaks new ground in the study of Augustine's theology of grace and sacraments.

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Editorial Reviews

From the Publisher
"Phillip Cary's Inner Grace and Outward Signs together constitute a fascinating account of how Augustine's Platonism shaped his account of grace, of faith, of language, of sacraments indeed, of almost everything he ever wrote about. Cary's discussion was full of surprises for me; the Augustine that emerges is much more strange and much more creative than the Augustine I thought I knew. Many readers won't like this new Augustine; Cary's treatment will be controversial. But it is so remarkably original and so thoroughly documented that no Augustine scholar will be able to ignore it." —Nicholas Wolterstorff, Noah Porter Professor Emeritus of Philosophical Theology, Yale University; Senior Fellow, Institute for Advanced Studies in Culture, University of Virginia

"Philip Cary's new books, Inner Grace and Outward Signs, are major contributions to scholarship on Augustine. They are also controversial ones, since the upshot of one of his central arguments is that Augustine not only doesn't but can't have any genuine sacramental theology because on his assumptions there can be no intimate and transformative causal connection between material objects and inner states. Cary supports this argument with learning, wit, and intellectual passion. It deserves what it will undoubtedly receive, which is much lively discussion." —Paul J. Griffiths, Duke Divinity School

"Cary's study of the Platonic and Pauline roots of the Augustinian theology of grace has expertly clarified Augustine's thinking on grace and has deftly disentangled the rather convoluted movement of its development. Contrary to many Augustine scholars, Cary rightly emphasizes the continued influence of Platonism on Augustine's theology. He offers his readers a thoughtful analysis of where Augustine's doctrine of election went wrong and suggests ways in which various forms of Western and Eastern Christianity have presented corrections to certain factors in Augustine's theology of grace. Cary offers us a fresh, fascinating, and challenging reading of Augustine's later thought." —Roland Teske, Donald J. Schuenke Professor of Philosophy, Marquette University

"These two handsome volumes by Phillip Cary complete a trilogy on Augustine's theology...Altogether the trilogy constitutes an energetic and challenging interpretation of Augustinian theology." —Journal of Religion

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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780195336481
  • Publisher: Oxford University Press
  • Publication date: 3/26/2008
  • Pages: 208
  • Product dimensions: 9.20 (w) x 6.40 (h) x 0.90 (d)

Meet the Author

Phillip Cary is Professor of Philosophy at Eastern University in St. Davids, PA, where he is also Scholar-in-Residence at the Templeton Honors College.

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Table of Contents

1 Platonist Grace: Inner Help to Love 7

Wisdom and Virtue 8

Conversion and Purification 10

Beauty and Love 14

Free Will against Autonomy 16

From Fear to Love 18

Against Augustine on the Jews 21

Dialogue with Plato 23

The Widening Scope of Inner Help 25

Connections of Love 30

2 Pauline Grace: Human Will and Divine Choice 33

Divine Good Will 35

The Inward-Turning Will 38

Willing Becomes Difficult 40

Four Stages 43

The Place of Merit 45

Early Inconsistency 48

Jacob and Esau 50

The Call to Faith 53

Assent or Delight? 57

No External Cause of Grace 60

Reading Paul's Admonition 62

3 Anti-Pelagian Grace: Clarifying Prevenience 69

The Shape of the Controversy 70

The Grace of Participation 72

Uncovering Pelagian Evasions 78

Augustine's Evasiveness 82

The Missing Piece of the Puzzle 87

Taught by God 93

4 Predestined Grace: Conversion and Election 99

The Grace of Beginnings 101

Converting Paul's Will 102

Coercion on the Damascus Road 105

The Experience of Grace in Disarray 110

God Turns Hearts 113

Problems of Perseverance 116

Biblical Election 121

App Phases of Augustine's Anti-Pelagian Writings 131

Abbreviations 137

Notes 141

Bibliography 177

Index 183

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