Chistyakova O.V. The Issue of Free Will and Divine Predestination in the Western and Eastern Patristics in the Context of Orthodox (Soteriological) and Philosophical Differences


Olga V. Chistyakova
Doctor of Sciences (Philosophy), Professor of Department of History of Philosophy, Peoples' Friendship University of Russia

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Abstract. The article is devoted to the consideration of the most important problem of the correlation of freedom, free will and Divine predestination having arisen in both Western and Eastern patristics since the birth of the Christian faith. These problems pervaded all the centuries of Christianity, starting with the period of apologetics and then in the era triadological theological and Christological disputes (IV-VII centuries.). The paper presents a comparative analysis of the patristic Graeco-Byzantine tradition and Western patrology (mainly of Augustine Aurelius). The reflexive analysis of patristics is presented in the context of consideration of the most important philosophical and religious doctrine of Christianity about soteriology, i.e. spiritual salvation of man. Soteriological ideas of Christianity were closely connected with Christian anthropology and outlined the path of self-knowledge, self-improvement and moral elevation of each person. This justified the prospect of restoring the individual's lost likeness to God, which in turn meant achieving a state of spiritual unity with the Creator. In this regard, a significant place in the article is given to the ideas of deification, spiritual ascent to the absolute in correlation with the reflection of the concepts of freedom and free will of an individual. The theoretical discussion between the representatives of the Eastern and Western patristics of the problem of correlation of the gift (mercy) of God and the active efforts of a man to achieve salvation caused in the early Christian discourse centuries-old controversy about the predestination, foresight, the grace of God and human free will. The article presents the difference between the positions of the Eastern and Western fathers of the Church on this issue. From the point of view of Eastern Christian thinkers, predestination is both absolute meaning the supernatural destiny of all personal and social events, and relative recognizing the important role of man in achieving unity with God, and hence spiritual immortality. According to Augustine, on the contrary, a person can get true freedom only as a result of the perception of the gift of God, i.e. God's grace, which meant that salvation is possible only with the decisive participation of God, because human efforts without the help of the Creator are not enough to achieve this cherished goal.

Key words: Western Christianity, Eastern Christianity, Patristics, freedom and free will, Divine predestination, deification, soteriology.

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