Thinking and Believing, Believing and Thinking

In 428 or 429 AD, Augustine wrote a tract called “On the Predestination of the Saints.” In this tract, Augustine refutes the Pelagians on the points of knowledge, faith, the will, God’s gifts/grace, etc. It’s a classic Christian treatise that is still extremely applicable and helpful for followers of Jesus today. Remember, the Protestant Reformers were not the first Christians to emphasize the sovereignty of God’s grace and the depravity of man. Anyway, here’s a section from Augustine about thinking and believing. It is very rich and you may have to read it a few times. But it’s for sure worth your time. I hope it’s a blessing for your Christian mind today:

For who cannot see that thinking is prior to believing? For no one believes anything unless he has first thought that it is to be believed. …Everything that is believed should be believed after being preceded by thought. …For it is not everyone who thinks that believes, since many think in order that they may not believe; but everybody who believes, thinks – both thinks in believing, and believes in thinking.

Therefore in what pertains to religion and piety (of which the apostle was speaking in 2 Cor. 3:5), if we are not capable of thinking anything as of ourselves, but our sufficiency is of God, we are certainly not capable of believing anything as of ourselves, since we cannot do this without thinking; but our sufficiency, by which we begin to believe, is of God….

Augustine of Hippo, “A Treatise on the Predestination of the Saints,” in Saint Augustin: Anti-Pelagian Writings, ed. Philip Schaff, trans. Robert Ernest Wallis, vol. 5, A Select Library of the Nicene and Post-Nicene Fathers of the Christian Church, First Series (New York: Christian Literature Company, 1887), 499–500. (NOTE: I’ve slightly edited the above quote for readability.)

Shane Lems
Covenant Presbyterian Church (OPC)
Hammond, WI, 54105