Friday, April 27, 2012

Early church teaching: Free Will (5 )

 The early Fathers declare that God exists, man has a soul. He is free to choose. Not even  the Grace of God is compulsory.

       So that none may infer what we have said about the events we have described. ..the
       penalties and punishments, and the good rewards are given according to each man's
       action. If this not so, but all things happened in accordance with fate, nothing would be
       left us. For if it is destined that one man should be good and another wicked, then
       neither is the one to be praised, nor the other blamed. 
                                      St. Justin Martyr writes in his first Apology, 43,

       This expression of our Lord, "How often would I have gathered thy children together,
       and thou wouldest not, (Matthew 23:37) II , set forth the ancient law of human liberty,
       because God made man a free agent from the beginning, possessing his own power,
       even as he does his own soul, to obey the behests of God voluntarily, and not by
       compulsion of God. For there is no coercion with God, but a good will towards us is
       present with Him continually. And therefore does He give good counsel to all. In man,
       as well as the angels, He has placed the power of that those who had yielded
       obedience might rightly possess the good, given indeed by God, but preserved by
       themselves. On, the other hand, they who have not obeyed, shall, with justice, be not
       found in possession of the good, and shall receive condign punishment : for God did
       kindly bestow on them what was good;...
                                                     St. Irenaeus  (Against the Heresies, IV, 37, I).

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