God Crowns His Own Gifts: Augustine, Grace, and the Monks of Hadrumetum

God Crowns His Own Gifts: Augustine, Grace, and the Monks of Hadrumetum


By Ian Hugh Clary

Augustine of Hippo (354-430) was the model pastor-theologian who both defended orthodox theology from heresy and shepherded those under his care as bishop. During the Pelagian controversy we see this clearly illustrated in his defense of predestination against radical affirmations of the freedom of the will. However, during the so-called “semi-Pelagian” controversy Augustine demonstrated his pastoral sensitivity wherein he articulated a view of the will that did not absolve humans of their moral responsibility before God. Late in his ministry he was led to address the concerns of a group of unwitting monks in Hadrumetum who feared that his earlier view of grace and predestination made humans mere automatons. With great care he showed that humans were indeed free moral agents, even if their wills were bound by sin and requiring of saving grace. With this balance we see Augustine, without contradiction, strenuously defend predestination against the Pelagians and affirm the freedom of the will in dialogue with the monks of Hadrumetum. This is well illustrated in a selection of his anti-Pelagian writings, namely his Letter 194 to Pope Sixtus and in the series of writings to the monks of Hadrumetum. In this book Ian Clary relates these works with the aim of elucidating the twofold role of Augustine as pastor-theologian: a fierce defender of orthodoxy and a humble teacher of the faith.

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“Augustine of Hippo remains one of the towering figures in the history of the church. In this learned mini-treatise, Ian Clary takes us on a journey around some of the lesser-known foothills of the African bishop’s theology of grace. I am happy to commend this study in theologically-driven pastoral care that feeds both mind and soul.”

Lee Gatiss, PhD, Cambridge University, Director of Church Society and Adjunct Lecturer in Church History at Union School of Theology, Wales

“In my view, the best theologians God has given to the church are pastor-theologians. John Calvin, John Owen, Jonathan Edwards, and on. But standing above the aforementioned is Augustine, the greatest pastor-theologian to date. This small book by one of Canada’s most promising up-and-coming Christian scholars will prove an accessible but also historically reliable look at Augustine’s pastoral theology and his role in the later Pelagian controversy. Not essential reading, but certainly enjoyable reading!”

Mark Jones, PhD, Leiden University, Pastor of Faith Presbyterian Church in Vancouver, British Columbia, Research Associate at the University of the Free State (Bloemfontein)

“One of the challenges each pastor faces is faithfully to explain the biblical tensions between divine sovereignty and human responsibility. By his analysis of two of the lesser known writings of Augustine on the subject of grace and free will, Ian Clary has provided the modern-day pastor-theologian with a model of using theology in service of the church.”

Stephen Weaver Jr., PhD, Southern Baptist Theological Seminary, Senior Pastor, Farmdale Baptist Church in Frankfort, Kentucky

“The influence of Augustine of Hippo towers above others in the history of the church, and yet our familiarity with him today is comparatively very slight—and this is especially the case with regard to Augustine as a pastor-theologian and his later role in the controversies with the “semi-Pelagians.” It is here that Ian Clary’s introductory work makes a helpful contribution. Good history and good theology carefully stated and clearly presented.”

Fred G. Zaspel, PhD, Free University of Amsterdam, Pastor of Reformed Baptist Church of Franconia, Pennsylvania, Professor of Theology at Calvary Baptist Seminary

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