published on December 5, 2014
Han-luen Kantzer Komline
Grace, Free Will, and the Lord’s Prayer
Cyprian’s Importance for the “Augustinian” Doctrine of Grace
Beginning in the second phase of the Pelagian controversy, Augustine repeatedly refers to Cyprian’s little work on the Lord’s Prayer to defend his perspective on grace. In this text, Augustine claims, one finds an unambiguous precedent for his controversial teaching. The following article assesses the validity and significance of Augustine’s appeal to Cyprian. First, I show that this appeal offered obvious strategic advantages, which may help to explain why Augustine cited Cyprian by name more than he did any other author from the early church, excepting only the apostle Paul. I next turn to evaluate the material basis for Augustine’s appeal to Cyprian, showing that Cyprian does indeed support Augustine’s case against a more “Pelagian” view of grace in three major areas. Finally, I argue for the possibility that Cyprian’s work influenced Augustine’s mature thinking on grace. In sum, this article shows the crucial importance of Cyprian’s On the Lord’s Prayer for Augustine’s view of grace, which courses through the heart of his theology. Augustine is no David who takes on the “Pelagian” opposition alone. Like David, however, he does pluck a lethal set of stones from a stream that has worn them smooth. Augustine’s stream flows from Cyprian.