Augustine and Classical Theism

  • John Peter Kenney


This paper is an abbreviated reflection on the notion of ‘classical theism’ in reference to Augustine. The importance of contemplation and interior ascension to Augustine’s theism is emphasized with particular reference to texts from the Confessions. For Augustine knowledge of the transcendent God of classical monotheism was available only through the soul’s moral transformation and its renewed ontological participation in the being of God. Thus God could only be known to be ‘one’ or ‘simple’ or ‘unchanging’ or ‘self same’ by souls who have come to share deeply in those characteristics through unmediated association with God. These well-known attributes of ‘classical theism’ are not, therefore, abstract terms – the products of speculative metaphysics – but characteristics that emerge from the soul’s exercise of contemplation. Hence ‘classical theism,’ as it is conventionally understood in post-Enlightenment philosophy of religion, captures only the manifest image of a much larger and deeper understanding of our approach to the divine, one that supersedes more limited, abstract representations.


Human Soul Eternal Life Epistemic Foundation Unitive Knowledge Cognitive Success 
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Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media Dordrecht 2013

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Department of Religious StudiesSt. Michael’s CollegeColchesterUSA

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