St. Augustine & Original Sin


Can you comment on this: “Blessed Augustine is respected in the Orthodox Church as a teacher, because of his wonderful defense of the Church’s teachings against the various heresies of his time, but because of his errors in his teachings about predestination in the salvation of man, he was never considered a saint.&quot


Concerning whether or not the Orthodox Church regards Augustine as a saint, I offer three points for your consideration:

In “Historical Dictionary of the Orthodox Church” by the most eminent Orthodox theologians Father Michael Prokurat and Priestmonk Alexander Golitzin, it clearly states that Augustine of Hippo is a “bishop, theologian, Saint.” [See page 48.]

It is quite well known that his feast day is celebrated on June 15 [New Calendar]/ June 28 [Old Calendar], albeit he is listed as the final saint for the day, following several others. To be sure of this I checked several Orthodox calendars and listings of saints, including the “Pravoslavnyj Tserkovnyj Kalendar’ 1998” [“Orthodox Church Calendar”] published by the Patriarchate of Moscow [which indeed is very Orthodox!], in which he is not only clearly listed as “the Blessed Augustine” on the calendar for June 15/28 but also in the “Alfabitnyj spisok imen svjatykh” [“Alphabetical list of saints’ names”], from which baptismal names are derived. You will note that he bears the title “the Blessed.” Perhaps the person who categorically stated that Augustine is not venerated as a saint is based on the fact that within the Roman Catholic Church a person who has been “beatified” but not yet “canonized” is always referred to as “the Blessed.” In Orthodoxy there is no such preliminary state of “beatification” as a step on the way to canonization. In fact, one of the most recently glorified saints of the Orthodox Church, Xenia of St. Petersburg, is always referred to as “the Blessed Xenia.” As I said, this should not be confused with the term “Blessed” as defined in Roman Catholicism. I might also add that Augustine of Hippo is the only individual with this name which appears on the Church calendar. Further, it is not uncommon to find monastics which bear the name Augustine, such as the present Archbishop Augustine of Lviv, Ukraine, in whose office there is an icon of the Blessed Augustine.

It should be noted that, in terms of a formal “canonization” or “glorification” of Augustine by the Orthodox Church there is of course no record; on the other hand, the glorification of saints in Orthodoxy involves a radically different “process” than it does within Roman Catholicism.

In the old chapel of the Three Hierarchs at Saint Vladimir’s Seminary, Crestwood, New York, there was an icon of Saint Augustine.

Concerning predestination in Augustine’s teachings, I quote once again from the aforementioned book by Fathers Prokurat and Golitzin [pages 48 and 49]:

“...Augustine maintained that everyone descended from Adam inherited the personal judgment decreed for that forefather. Everyone is born guilty of the original sin. Second, so corrupted is the ‘damned mass’ of the human race that its members no longer have the power to avoid sin. ...Thus, without true freedom to act, third, all are utterly dependent on the free gift of divine mercy. Fourth,that mercy, completely gratuitous as it consequently must be, is not obliged to save all or any. Those whom God does choose to save are completely his to choose, and that choice has been established in the divine counsel before the world. Thus, fifth, those whom he has chosen and those whom he has not are so designated from before their birth, predestined. The doctrine of predestination has been a kind of leitmotiv, or at least a counterpoint, throughout the following centuries of Western Christian theology. (Thomas Aquinas has it, so does Luther,and so, of course, does its best-known exponent, John Calvin.)”