Monday, June 11, 2007

Augustine of Hippo - Sin

As I have said, therefore, sin is not a desire for naturally evil things, but an abandonment of better things. And this itself is evil, not that nature which the sinner uses evilly. For evil is to use a good evilly.
Augustine of Hippo


Daniel Hill said...

I'm afraid that Augustine has too rosy a view of human nature. Since the Fall our nature is indeed evil, and, in consequence, we do sometimes desire naturally evil things. The Devil has, of course, an even worse nature, and very often desires naturally evil things.

Since Jesus didn't have our fallen nature, however, he never desired naturally evil things, nor was he tempted thereto.

John said...

I disagree with you on what Augustine means.

As far as I can tell, he is arguing that any abandonment of better things is evil, whether of God for his good creation or of something intrinsically good for something intrinsically evil.

(That's what I want him to have meant anyway.)

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Daniel Hill said...

Augustine was influenced by Plato. Plato held that it was impossible deliberately and knowingly to choose something evil. How then may one explain sin? Augustine answers: Plato was right that sin is not a desire for naturally evil things, but sin is when we choose the less good in preference to the best. Augustine also thinks that the reason why we cannot deliberately and knowingly choose evil is that our natures (being made by God) are still fundamentally good, though spoiled. I think our natures are so spoiled that they are evil (until rebirth) and incline us to choose the naturally evil sometimes.

John said...

thanks for that useful insight Daniel.

I'd still want to claim that substitution of the good for the best is sinful though.

Daniel Hill said...

Agreed. Augustine's assertion is that substitution of the good for the best is the only form of sin; that's where I disagree.