CHURCH HISTORY & Augustine: Written on our hearts – John Wesley’s similar thoughts

Commentary by Prof. B: As a Wesley scholar I find it interesting to see the parallels in Wesley’s theology with Augustine’s. Specifically, Wesley’s change of heart from the “faith of a servant” to the “faith of son/daughter” parallels Augustine’s view that in the Old Testament the law was outside of us but in the New Testament the law was in us. The parallels continue in how Augustine saw in the old covenant that we kept the law through fear (as did Wesley before his conversion). Augustine (as well as Wesley) saw this change in the new covenant where we serve God and others, not because obligation, but because of love. Read this brief introduction to Augustine’s thought do you understand these parallels better.

“Biography of St. Augustine: Bishop of Hippo in No. Africa 354-430.” by Jack Zavada, ThoughtCo., January 16, 2017.


Augustine taught that in the Old Testament (Old Covenant), the law was outside us, written on tablets of stone, the Ten Commandments. That law could not result in justification, only transgression.

In the New Testament, or New Covenant, the law is written inside us, on our hearts, he said, and we are made righteous through an infusion of God’s grace and agape love.

That righteousness comes not from our own works, however, but is won for us through the atoning death of Christ on the cross, whose grace comes to us through the Holy Spirit, through faith and baptism.

Augustine believed Christ’s grace is not credited to our account to settle our sin-debt, but rather that it aids us in keeping the law. We realize that on our own, we cannot keep the law, so we are driven to Christ. Through grace, we do not keep the law out of fear, as in the Old Covenant, but out of love, he said.

Over his lifetime, Augustine wrote about the nature of sin, the Trinity, free will and man’s sinful nature, the sacraments, and God’s providence. His thinking was so profound that many of his ideas provided the foundation for Christian theology for centuries to come.


Augustine’s two best-known works are Confessions, and The City of God. In Confessions, he tells the story of his sexual immorality and his mother’s unrelenting concern for his soul. He sums up his love for Christ, saying, “So I may cease to be wretched in myself and may find happiness in you.”

City of God, written near the end of Augustine’s life, was partly a defense of Christianity in the Roman Empire. The emperor Theodosius had made trinitarian Christianity the official religion of the empire in 390…

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