God, Immortality and Freedom of the Will According to the Church Fathers

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The purpose of this study is to offer the “philosophy” of the Greek and Latin Fathers without the parochial biases of Western scholarship. From the Latin Middle Ages, when the Masters or Scholastics ruled the intellectual world of the occident, until the present day, the work of the Fathers has been characterized as a synthesis of Christian and Hellenic thought, not unlike the philosophical theology of Thomas Aquinas, a synthesis anticipated by Augustine of Hippo, who, along with several other famous Christian writers (Tatian, Clement and Origen of Alexandria, Tertullian, etc.) cannot be numbered among the Fathers without negating the consensus patrum. In other words, we must look upon the Greek and Latin Fathers as holy men, sharing a common faith, fellows of the same theological tradition, witnesses to, not creators of, “the Faith once delivered to the saints.” To demonstrate this thesis, this book examines not only the patristic conception of philosophy, but also its treatment of those three grand philosophical problems (if we may believe Immanuel Kant) in terms of their “philosophy”: God, immortality and freedom of the will. This work will appeal to scholars of church history and patrology.


“ ... Many scholars look to the Church, particularly the Western Church and her progression and live through history for answers applicable to our day. But what if many of the historical foundational assumptions of the Western Church, often taken as fact, were proved to be invalid? What is the Great Schism that rocked the Church was caused not because of cultural and historical circumstances, but because of a difference in faith? Can modern scholarship objectively acknowledge that their systems of theology might be based and built upon human reason, speculation, and the synthesis of ancient philosophy, and not the revealed Truth of Jesus Christ? These are some of the questions that presented in this objective look at the Faith of the true Church, and the deviation from this faith found in the west through their systematic and rational approach and rational development of faith and doctrine.” – (from the Preface) Fr. Michael Waples, St. Mary of Egypt

“The Greek East and the Latin West, whatever their cultural differences, shared the same Orthodox faith for hundreds of years. The schism of 1054 was the result of a process of theological, ecclesiastical and political change in Western Europe. Fr. Michael Azkoul demonstrates where, when and how a theology, heavily influenced by Greek philosophical precepts, eventually led Western Europe away from the apophatic theology of the Fathers. He presents compelling evidence that demonstrates how Augustine’s Credo ut intelligam became the basis of Medieval theology and became a significant factor in the schism of 1054 ... This book is indispensable for anyone who wishes to study the development of theology in Western Europe. It also offers a clear perception of modern European philosophical thought as a development of this theology ...” – Fr. Panagiotes Carras, Saint Nektarios Greek Orthodox Church

Table of Contents

Foreword by Father Michael Waples
1. Introduction
2. Philosophia: The Greek Fathers
3. Philosophia: The Latin Fathers
4. Augustine
5. God, Immortality and Freedom of the Will: The Greek Fathers
6. God, Immortality and Freedom of the Will: The Latin Fathers

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