Little Auggy

John Calvin commenting on Augustine and supposed “deep mysteries”:

“Having elsewhere shown more fully, when treating of the corruption of our nature, how little able men are to believe, (Book 2, c. 2, 3,) I will not fatigue the reader by again repeating it. Let it suffice to observe, that the spirit of faith is used by Paul as synonymous with the very faith which we receive from the Spirit, but which we have not naturally, (2 Cor. 4: 13.) Accordingly, he prays for the Thessalonians, “that our God would count you worthy of this calling, and fulfill all the good pleasure of his goodness, and the work of faith with power,” (2 Thess. 1: 2.) Here, by designating faith the work of God, and distinguishing it by way of epithet, appropriately calling it his good pleasure, he declares that it is not of man’s own nature; and not contented with this, he adds, that it is an illustration of divine power. In addressing the Corinthians, when he tells them that faith stands not “in the wisdom of man, but in the power of God,” (1 Cor. 2: 4,) he is no doubt speaking of external miracles; but as the reprobate are blinded when they behold them, he also includes that internal seal of which he elsewhere makes mention. And the better to display his liberality in this most excellent gift, God does not bestow it upon all promiscuously, but, by special privilege, imparts it to whom he will. To this effect we have already quoted passages of Scripture, as to which Augustine, their faithful expositor, exclaims, (De Verbo Apost. Serm. 2)

‘Our Savior, to teach that faith in him is a gift, not a merit, says, ‘No man can come to me, except the Father, which has sent me, draw him,’ (John 6: 44.) It is strange when two persons hear, the one despises, the other ascends. Let him who despises impute it to himself; let him who ascends not arrogate it to himself.’

In another passage he asks,

‘Wherefore is it given to the one, and not to the other? I am not ashamed to say, This is one of the deep things of the cross. From some unknown depth of the judgments of God, which we cannot scrutinize, all our ability proceeds. I see that I am able; but how I am able I see not:—this far only I see, that it is of God. But why the one, and not the other? This is too great for me: it is an abyss a depth of the cross. I can cry out with wonder; not discuss and demonstrate.’

The whole comes to this, that Christ, when he produces faith in us by the agency of his Spirit, at the same time ingrafts us into his body, that we may become partakers of all blessings” (John Calvin, Institutes, 3.2.35).

Why one, and not the other? Could it possibly be it is because God desires to save the one for whom Christ died and to damn the other for whom Christ did not die? No. Couldn’t be that. That would be too simple. And too Biblical:

“For the scripture saith unto Pharaoh, Even for this same purpose have I raised thee up, that I might shew my power in thee, and that my name might be declared throughout all the earth. Therefore hath he mercy on whom he will have mercy, and whom he will he hardeneth. Thou wilt say then unto me, Why doth he yet find fault? For who hath resisted his will? Nay but, O man, who art thou that repliest against God? Shall the thing formed say to him that formed it, Why hast thou made me thus? Hath not the potter power over the clay, of the same lump to make one vessel unto honour, and another unto dishonour? What if God, willing to shew his wrath, and to make his power known, endured with much longsuffering the vessels of wrath fitted to destruction: And that he might make known the riches of his glory on the vessels of mercy, which he had afore prepared unto glory, Even us, whom he hath called, not of the Jews only, but also of the Gentiles? (Romans 9:17-24).

Mama Augustine (“Mama ‘Stine”): Auggy, did I not tell you clearly and lucidly to clean your room several hours ago?

Little Augustine (“Little Auggy”): Oh, Mama. Your ways are higher than my ways, and your ways are very mysterious and beyond finding out. Who could possibly fathom the unknown depth of your mysterious words, Mama? It is too great for me, Mama. Your wisdom is an exceeding deep abyss. I can only cry out with wonder; not discuss and demonstrate.

Mama Augustine (“Mama ‘Stine”): If you don’t go clean your room right this instant Mr. Smarty-pants, you and Mr. Wood-Paddle are going to have a discussion about parental authority and discipline.

Little Augustine (“Little Auggy”): Yes, Mama.

The following quote describes quite accurately the false religion, piety, and humility of Augustine:

“The religion that makes a show of proclaiming the greatness of God by declaring our inability to understand him, even though he tells us about himself and tells us to understand, is a lazy and unfaithful piety. True reverence studies God’s revelation and submits to all that it says, even if it challenges our prejudices and preconceptions, and even if it leaves no room for rebellion disguised as humility. This is a false humility that shouts praises in God’s face as he speaks, to drown out his voice, so as to make a way of escape from his doctrines and his commands” (Vincent Cheung).

This is not a blanket-endorsement of Vincent Cheung, but he describes the Augustino-Calvinistic consensus on God’s relationship to things like sin and evil quite well.