Augustine’s Use of Infusion for Justification

Jul 28th, 2009 | By | Category: Blog Posts
Augustine uses the term “infusion” (like the Council of Trent) and not “imputation” (like Luther and Calvin) when discussing God’s act of justification:

“For by this grace He engrafts into His body even baptized infants, who certainly have not yet become able to imitate any one. As therefore He, in whom all are made alive, besides offering Himself as an example of righteousness to those who imitate Him, gives also to those who believe on Him the hidden grace of His Spirit, which He secretly infuses even into infants.”

Saint Augustine, On Merit, the Forgiveness of Sins, and the Baptism of Infants 1:10 (A.D. 412)

Augustine uses of “infusion” not “imputation” with regard to Justification

Not only is this a great quote for showing that Augustine thought of justification in terms of infusion (pouring in), it also shows that Augustine believed that baptism justifies infants ex opere operato. Augustine was not a proto-Lutheran or a proto-Calvinist. He was a Catholic Christian–just like Saint Paul.

This post originally appreared at The Catholic Perspective on Paul.
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  1. I don’t suppose Augustine gave any Scriptural basis for making this claim? If he did I’d be interested in reading that too.

  2. J.P.

    Great question. In the sentence before the one quoted above, Saint Augustine does cite Scripturet. He cites 1 Corinthians 3:7 for the basis of his reasoning: “Neither is he that plants anything, nor he that waters, but God that gives the increase.”

    Augustine is using the Pauline metaphor of water and vegetation. Water infuses the seed before it gives increase.

    The water metaphor works nicely with baptism and regeneration.

  3. works nicely when applied using the parable of the sower too ;)

  4. Sh’muel,

    That’s a good insight. I hadn’t thought of that.


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