What does Saint Augustine say about free will?

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St. Augustine believed that God gave human beings the gift of free will. But all too often, that gift was abused, with people making the wrong choices in life. Augustine was particularly scathing of those who attached too much importance to the things of this world—to money, fine clothes, social...

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St. Augustine believed that God gave human beings the gift of free will. But all too often, that gift was abused, with people making the wrong choices in life. Augustine was particularly scathing of those who attached too much importance to the things of this world—to money, fine clothes, social status, and expensive jewelry. He thought that by concentrating on worldly goods, people were abusing their free will and turning away from the God who'd graciously bestowed that gift upon them in the first place. Augustine argues that in order for the will to attain the good, it must align itself with God's will, from which all good things come. If it turns towards the self, however, the will chooses badly.

Augustine speaks from personal experience, as he lived in sin with a concubine for many years, fathering an illegitimate child with her. According to Augustine's theology he was abusing his free will, not so much in the deliberate pursuit of evil, but in the pursuit of a lesser good that took him further away from God. Preoccupied with his own selfish needs, he separated himself from the will of the Almighty.

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