Rereading Saint Augustine’s “The City of God”: On the Stoics and Divine Foreknowledge and the Freedom of the Will (Day 1)

Rereading Saint Augustine’s “The City of God”: On the Stoics and Divine Foreknowledge and the Freedom of the Will (Day 1)

Aurelius Augustinus (a.k.a. Saint Augustine), the Bishop of Hippo, wrote “The City of God” between ca.413–ca.426. During the month of September, I will reread “The City of God” (for some of you, it will be a new read; for me, it is the process of rereading the text with a new lens or fresh perspective) and write a daily reflection on a selected passage from “The City of God.”

Each daily commentary will have a title associated with the passage to be analyzed. In our first post (September 1), I would like to share a few statements with you from this epoch-making text in which Augustine argues energetically and brilliantly for God’s comprehensive foreknowledge and the freedom of the will, concurrently. In the passage below, he  is also contending  against Cicero and the Stoic philosophers who denied divine foreknowledge, but championed the possibility of fate to explain the nature of things in the world and how we as volitional agents relate to the future (that is through the events that yet to take place in the time to come).

In his analysis, Augustine establishes an intimacy between divine omnipresence, divine foreknowledge, and the prayers of God’s people, as well as the choices and actions they voluntarily make, although known by God, without any divine necessity. Augustine refuses to disconnect God’s foreknowledge and the freedom of volitional agents, such as human beings. Augustine argues that the eternality of God is intrinsic to his own Being as God and the foreknowledge of God is ontologically a divine attribute. God’s power over death best explains the reality of God as Life itself and God as the Giver of life is a gift to human beings. Finally, God’s ability to foresee future sins committed by human beings does not necessitate that individuals will actually sin; rather, people will sin in the future lies in their freedom of the will to choose to sin or not to sin. Yet because of God’s comprehensive foreknowledge of the future, he can predict who will sin at a certain point in the future; nonetheless, this divine prediction does not condition future sins of volitional events. In other words, God freely foresees future events and that God and human beings freely choose the outcome of the future, concurrently.

“It follows that we need to not be afraid of that necessity which frightened the Stoics into distinguishing various kinds of causes. They sought to free certain causes from necessity while others were subject to it. Among the causes which they wanted free from necessity they reckoned our wills. Obviously, wills could not be free if subject to necessity…

We do not put the life of God and the foreknowledge of God under any necessity when we say that God must live an eternal life and must know all things. Neither do we lessen His power when we say He cannot die or be deceived. This is the kind of inability which, if removed, would make God less powerful than He is. God is rightly called omnipotent, even though He is unable to die and be deceived. We call Him omnipotent because he does whatever He wills to do and suffers nothing that He does not will to suffer. He would not, of course, be omnipotent, if He had to suffer anything against His will. It is precisely because He is omnipotent that for Him some things are impossible.

The conclusion is that we are by no means under compulsion to abandon free choice in favor of divine knowledge, nor need we deny—God forbid!—that God knows the future, as a condition for holding free choice. We accept both. As Christians and philosophers, we profess both—foreknowledge, as a pat of our faith; free choice, as a condition of responsible living. It is hard to live right if one’s faith in God is wrong.

Far be it from us, then, to deny, in the interest of four freedom, the foreknowledge of God by whose power we are—or are to be—free. It follows, too, that laws are not in vain, nor scoldings and encouragements, nor praise and blame. He foresaw that such things should be. Such things have as much value as He foresaw they would have. So, too, prayers are useful in obtaining these favors which He foresaw He would bestow on those who should pray for them. There was justice in instituting rewards and punishments for good and wicked deeds. For, no one sins because God foreknew that he would sin. In fact, the very reason why a man is undoubtedly responsible for his own sin, when he sins, is because He whose foreknowledge cannot be deceived foresaw, not the man’s fate or fortune or whatnot, but that the man himself would be responsible for his own sin. No man sins unless it is his choice; and his choice not to sin, too, God foresaw.”

“Doing Justice as Intentional Actions”

“Doing Justice as Intentional Actions”

“Doing justice means not showing partiality, not stealing, not swindling, not taking advantage of the weak because they are too uninformed or unconnected to stop you.”—Kevin DeYoung and Greg Gilbert

Doing justice also means to stop the rich, the bourgeois, and the wealthy as well as (big or small) corporations from exploiting the poor and abuse the economically-disadvantaged workers and individuals.

Doing justice also means for the government to create public policies and laws that would protect and preserve the life of the poor and to develop social programs to improve their living conditions in society as well as welfare projects that would restore their dignity and value and reinstate them as full members in society. This kind of justice would contribute to the economically-independence and freedom of the poor and help them to be equipped for the workforce and be responsible and transformed citizens in society.

The Crisis of the Virtual School in the Times of Coronavirus

The transition to the virtual school in the times of the coronavirus crisis reveals much about the brokenness and inadequacy of public education and system (K-12 Public Schools) in the United States. By any means am I advocating for private school education in the k-12 level; more than 95% of Americans are educated in public schools. Yet I believe as one of the richest and most resourceful countries in the world, it is time for the American government to take this matter seriously by fixing this crisis and investing in public education.

Now is the time to stop politicizing public education in this country.

Now is the time to invest adequately and constructively in the next generation through good schools, sound technology, and effective pedagogical programs and systems.

Now is the time to think critically and responsibly about the value of public education for the majority of this country’s population.

Now is the time to fully commit to human flourishing and a more promising future of this country through a radical transformation of its public education.

“I am an Immigrant: 25 Great Tips for Young Immigrants”

“I am an Immigrant: 25 Great Tips for Young Immigrants”

Young people from immigrant families or young immigrants in general need to know that they too can make tremendous contributions to the American society and their native land. Here are a few (21 tips) suggestions from me:

  1. Acknowledge God in all you do and allow him to guide your path.
  2. Be humble.
  3. Be ambitious and goal-oriented.
  4. Work had.
  5. Commit yourself to achieving your dream or the career you want to pursue.
  6. Avoid bad company.
  7. Don’t do drugs.
  8. Respect your parents.
  9. Respect authority and elderly people.
  10. Don’t mind people who make fun of you because you speak English with an accent. Speaking English without an accent or like a native-born American does not guarantee that you are/will be intelligent, have wisdom, and will be successful.
  11. Be and trust yourself.
  12. Have a few good role models in your life.
  13. Read widely and interdisciplinarily.
  14. Read good books and good authors.
  15. Learn how to read and write well.
  16. Don’t give up (on your dream) until you reach the highest star.
  17. Remember who you are and where you come from.
  18. Use your talents, skills, and assets to make a difference in your community.
  19. Don’t forget those you have left behind, especially those in the country of your birth or your parents’ native land.
  20. “Don’t change your name to make it sound Anglo.”
  21. “Don’t give up your ethnic foods in your lunch box.”
  22. “Celebrate your own holidays.”
  23. “Be reminded that there is power, strength and insight at the margins of the dominant society. That is why you will make a significant contribution.”
  24. Be a good steward of your time and resources.
  25. Never cease to give thanks to God.

What is Biblical Christianity?

What is Biblical Christianity?

Biblical Christianity is a lifestyle. Christianity is how you treat people with love, compassion, care, understanding, and empathy. Christianity is the Jesus’ way to be in solidarity with the poor and the oppressed. It is also to hate all falsehood, human oppression and exploitation, and all forms of injustice that dehumanize people and reduce them to non-beings. Being a Christian means more than reciting a prayer to accept Jesus as your Lord and Savior. It is how you respond to and treat people who are different from you, even those who reject your Jesus, your Christianity, and your God. Christianity is more than words or head knowledge.

It is forgiveness.
It is repentance.
It t is action.
It is reconciliation.
It is peace.
It is unity.
It is hope.
It is love.
Christianity is love for people because God is love and God loves all people.

“What if God were one of us?”

“What if God were one of us?”

God does not care if you’re a Republican or Democrat just like he does not care if you’re Black, Asian, Brown, White, Hispanic, or Native American. This statement does not say however God is non-political and color-blind. Also, this assertion does not say that God does not care about political actions and public policies and how they make impact a nation and affect its citizens, such as the poor and the economically-disadvantahed population in society. God is a political Sovereign and acts politically every day. God’s politics is a mighty force for the promotion of justice and equity, human freedom and agency, harmony and balance, and mutual reciprocity and interdependence in society and in among individuals.

All rulers in the world make political choices. God is a ruler in the world. Therefore, God makes political choices. Yet God’s political interventions are not separared from his theological ideas and activism. The political is theological in the same way the theological is embedded in the political. Divine actions in human societies engage both the sphere of politics and the realm of theology. In other words, all God’s actions in the world are politico-theological.

Second, God is very conscious about the ethnic and racial diversity of his creation because he (God) created all people in his image. When people of various ethnic and racial groups fail to live in harmony and unity with one another, they lessen the image of God in themselves and diminish the glory of God which they bear in their humanity and essential nature. The belittling of God’s image in individuals may include ethical interventions and judicial forces that are unjust, inequitable, and anti-human flourishing.

Correspondingly, political actions that marginalize individuals and families and public policies that do not improve their living conditions do not affirm a positive anthropology associating with the divine stamp on people.

It is the image of God in individuals that makes the life of a particular racial and ethnic group meaningful in this world. It is also the designation and identiy of individuals as bearers of the divine imprint that makes life in this world worth living and sacred. The sacredness and dignity of an ethnic group or race is vital simply because of the intimate rapport with the divine validation of all lives. In the same line of thought, the image of God in the poor and oppressed man, the image of God in the single mother and the rape victim, and the image of God in the undocumented immigrant and refugee makes their individual and collective lives and experience the target of human attention and compassion, care and empathy, and humanization and valorization.

“Why I’m Politically and Morally Bias in the Presidential Election”

“Why I’m Politically and Morally Bias in the Presidential Election”

Arguably, I am politically bias and incorrect when it comes to voting in the presidential election in America. I must admit that my allegiance is not single or one. I’m politically and morally bias for five main reasons:

  1. I’m a citizen of two countries: Haiti (birthright citizenship) and the United States (naturalized citizenship). Human lives and human flourishing in both countries matter to me.
  2. In selecting a candidate in the presidential election, I pay close attention to that individual’s foreign policies, especially his or her regard toward the nations in the Global South or the developing nations like the “shithole” country of Haiti 🇭🇹.
  3. How you (as the future president of the United States) will politically treat the people in my native land is indicative on how your administration will treat me, and other immigrants like me and refugees in your own country.
  4. The moral, economic, judicial, and ethical decisions you will make as a president in the most powerful country in the world (the U.S.A.) will also have moral, economic, judicial, and ethical consequences on the lives of the people in the country of my birth and in the Global South.
  5. If your political actions and national policies do not promote the equality and rights, and the human dignity for the people who look like me in your country, you will have no respect for the individuals who look like me in my native land or the individuals and families in the darker (and poor) nations. The lives and the future of the people back home and in the Global South matter and are sacred as much as the lives and the future of the people in these United States are.

Happy Saturday and enjoy the weekend, friends!

“Colloque national et International de Penser la Théologie”

I will be speaking at noon on this topic: “Vodou and Christianity: A Necessary Dialogue in the Twenty-First Century”

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Quand : 21 août 2020 03:00 PM Paris

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