Part Three: The Pelagian Crisis (411–430)
Edited By Frederick Van Fleteren
Article 227: De fide et operibus; Letter 147 (De uidendo Deo)
De fide et operibus; Letter 147 (De uidendo Deo)
Not long after Augustine wrote De spiritu et littera he was obliged to write De fide et operibus.1 He wrote in response to writings sent him by laity zealous for God’s word.2 The authors of these writings distinguished faith in Jesus Christ so sharply from good works that they would have us saved without good works so long as we had faith alone. They wanted to baptize and give the Eucharist to everyone without requiring a moral change, even to those declaring their intention to persist in criminal irregularities.3 That faith alone did not suffice was to be brought to their attention only after their baptism—any other practice would be an innovation.
Apparently they had fallen into this pernicious position to support men who had been rejected for baptism because they had abandoned their first wives and married a second.4 Augustine was obliged to show in his reply not only how those regenerated by the grace of baptism should live but also what disposition is required of candidates for baptism.5 In the final chapter he summarizes the entire book.6 He returns to this subject again in Enchiridion where he cites the previous work.7 He cites a long passage from it in his reply to Dulcitius.8 The book is clearly mentioned in Letter 205 but not by name. Some scholars think Jerome is his opponent in part of the...