The Dogmatic and Mystical Theology of John Donne

By Itrat Husain | Go to book overview

CHAPTER V JOHN DONNE AND SOTERIOLOGY
DONNE's treatment of the three elements of soteriology:
1. The Atonement
2. Justification and
3. Predestination

has an important bearing on his position as a theologian, for the doctrines of Predestination and Justification by faith were the two most controversial and difficult problems of Protestant theology in the sevententh century.

The doctrines of Salvation, Justification, Free-will and Predestination assume a significant importance in western theology with the famous controversy of the British monk Pelagius with S. Augustine. Three great Schools within the Catholic Church interpreted these doctrines in their own different ways. To the Nominalists the human will was the determining factor, the Augustinians mainly relied on grace, while S. Thomas tried to strike a balance between these two.

Luther by his nature and personal experience was inclined to the Augustinian doctrines; the belief that grace is the sole means of salvation, and that we are the passive agents of the Divine Will, and that the taint of original sin is so strong in us that we are powerless to do good, strongly appealed to the pessimistic temperament of Luther. Though Luther acquired the terminology of the Augustinian theologians, he differed consciously from S. Augustine in essential and important points.1

It was during the years 1513-1516, when he was lecturing on the Psalms and the Epistle to the Romans, that Luther

____________________
1
Luther wrote to John Brenz ( May, 1531) that "Personally I quote Augustine as completely on our side on account of public opinion with regard to him although he gives an inadequate account of Justification by faith. Believe me, my dear Brenz, the controversy concerning the justice of faith is complicated and obscure. You will realize it, if you turn your eyes away completely from the law, and fix your mind firmly on the 'gratuitous promise.' So as to grasp that it is by the promise and through Christ that we are justified and pleasing in the sight of God and so find peace. . . ."

-94-

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