Augustine said that in crowning the merit of human works, he is simply crowning his own gifts: "si ergo Dei dona sunt bona merita tua, non Deus coronat merita tua tanquam merita tua, sed tanquam dona sua." McGrath points out that this axiom concerning merit is set by Augustine in an eschatological context, not in the context of initial justification: "when God 'crowns merits,' God does so, not by justifying humans, but by bestowing upon them eternal life." Only in the 11th and 12th centuries did the issue of merit get pushed back from eschatology to soteriology, and only then was the question asked whether one could merit gratia prima, the grace of justification.
posted by Peter J. Leithart on Tuesday, April 25, 2006 at 07:35 PM
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