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Research on St Augustine Theodicy.

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Introduction

Research on St Augustine Theodicy For Augustine, God is source of everything, which he believed had been created out of nothing (ex nihilo) according to the Divine will. As a result everything in the world is created good (perfect). Although there is an abundance of variety in the world this is ordered in degrees according to the fullness of a creature's nature. This is in direct contrast to Plotinus who taught that the further one descends from goodness (the Divine source) the further into evil one falls, and Mani who taught that all matter is evil. As far as Augustine was concerned all creation is good (despite the appearance that things are otherwise) and expresses the perfection of God's creativity and goodness ('God saw all that he had made, and it was very good' (Genesis 1:31)). There is no independent substance called 'evil' which resists the Divine Will (as with Plato's Demiurge in his Timaeus).Yet despite being created good, because the world was created ex nihilo (not out of anything), it is also capable of becoming corrupt, or being corrupted (as it is a secondary and contingent realm - i.e. matter is not eternal). ...read more.

Middle

Now within the Divine order of things the angels in heaven partake of the highest degrees of goodness yet Augustine believed that some of these also revolted against God before the creation of humanity. Thus there exists two rival camps in the heavens and the earth. One seeking to follow the ways of God (the City of God) and one seeking to follow their own desires (the City of the World) and here we have the foundation of Augustine's theodicy. God, although omnipotent, omniscient and all-good, and despite creating the world and everything in it good, is innocent when it comes to the presence of sin and evil in the heavens and the earth as this occurred as the result of God-given freedom of choice for both humanity and the angels. Furthermore, God's love is shown in that although all of humanity stands guilty before God (Romans 5) God will bring some to salvation (despite the fact that no-one deserves this 'act of grace'). Augustine believed that although the world looks imperfect to us this is because we look at things from a limited (or distorted) perspective. From the standpoint of God things are still good and even the apparent evil in the world contributes to bring about the perfection of the whole. ...read more.

Conclusion

As far as Augustine is concerned God created us in the full knowledge that humanity would fall (sin) even though it was not God's desire for us to do so. So although God is our Maker (and the Maker of the heavens and the earth), and God knew we would fall, God is absolved from blame. As far as the angels are concerned Augustine is clear that God simply predestined some of them to fall ('... their blessedness was designed to come to an end' (Hick p.64)). Thus it was never God's intention that all the angels remain in a state of perfection. Yet if this is so then, as we discussed earlier, God is therefore responsible for the presence of evil in the world for on the one hand God created beings God knew would sin and on the other chose only some of the angels to remain good. Even more problematic for Augustine is that if God desired to keep some of the angels good (and did so), why didn't God desire all of them to remain good; and if God decided to save some of humanity (and has done), why doesn't God save all of humanity? The fact that God can do this for some invites us to ask why it has not been the case for all By Amir Chowdhury 11A1 ...read more.

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