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3. Calvin’s Modification of Augustine’s Doctrine of Original Sin

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Chapter Summary

This chapter discusses Calvin's attempt to modify Augustine's doctrine on original sin. It analyses the Augustine's concept of original sin, Calvin's attempt to modify Augustine's doctrine, and the significance of Calvin's noetic approach to original sin. Augustine's classical doctrine of original sin was the result of his negation of both Manicheanism and Pelagianism. Against the Manicheans he maintained that evil is not identifiable with human finitude nor an ontological necessity, but it erupts freely and contingently. Against the Pelagians he stated that sin is not merely accidental or contingent, but is a corruption of human nature because of the positive propensity of the will towards evil. Augustine formulated his view to counter the Manicheans and Pelagians. Calvin shifted the focus in his doctrine on original sin to knowledge of God and the self. The result was that he emphasized the noetic character of sin as moral and religious blindness.

Keywords:Augustine's doctrine; Calvin; Manicheans; Pelagians; noetic character; original sin



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