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Document Details :
Title: Gratia Dei, Gratia Sacramenti
Subtitle: Grace in Augustine of Hippo's Anti-Donatist Writings
Author(s): DUPONT, Anthony , GAUMER, Matthew Alan
Journal: Ephemerides Theologicae Lovanienses
Volume: 86 Issue: 4 Date: 2010
The present article investigates the relation between the Donatist and Pelagian controversies regarding Augustine’s doctrine of grace: to what extent can we distinguish a doctrine of grace within the anti-Donatist writings, and does it differ from Augustine’s anti-Pelagian vision of grace? The first part of this article studies the word gratia in the anti-Donatist tractates, and the second part studies the way Augustine relates grace to Cyprian of Carthage, both in the Donatist and the Pelagian controversies. The fundamentals of Augustine’s anti-Pelagian doctrine of grace are present in nucleo in his anti-Donatist writings. The anti-Donatist literature describes baptism as the necessary means for salvation, as forgiveness of sins needed by everybody (since nobody is without sin) and stresses the unicity of Christ in this sacrament. He furthermore mentions that grace is freely given, that truth, unity and charity are gifts of divine grace, that grace liberates from sin and carnal desires. Augustine rebukes the Donatists and Pelagians for sharing a similar superbia: placing their trust in man instead of in God and believing it is possible to live without sin. Furthermore, Augustine’s recourse to Cyprian as teacher and example of the right ecclesial and sacramentological grace is a significant link between both controversies. In sum, there is a strong continuity between the Donatist and Pelagian controversy: grace is at the basis of Augustine’s theological reflections, implicitly in the first and very explicitly in the second controversy.