Date of Award


Document Type


Degree Name

Master of Theology (Th.M)


Historical Theology

First Advisor

Erik Herrmann

Scripture References in this Resource

1 Corinthians 2:3; 1 Corinthians 2:9–10; 1 Corinthians 4:7; 2 Corinthians 12:9; Colossians 1:16; Galatians 2:21; Psalm 102:5; Psalm 119:133; Psalm 30:7; Psalm 30:8; Romans 1:24–27; Romans 2:14–15; Romans 3:10–11; Romans 7:23; Romans 7:25


Pietsch, Thomas, D. “Extra Nos but not Extraneous: Augustine’s De Natura et Gratia and Contemporary Receptions of Augustine.” STM thesis, Concordia Seminary, 2017. 116 pp.

The relationship of nature to grace has become one of significant importance for contemporary theology. Following the turbulent debates surrounding Henri de Lubac in the twentieth century, theologians associated with Radical Orthodoxy have revived the importance of the relationship in more recent years. Whether acknowledged or not, all discussions of nature and grace owe much to Augustine, who was the first person to present a systematic discussion of the matter in his 415 anti-Pelagian treatise, De Natura et Gratia. But readings of Augustine have differed vastly, and have fueled debates not just around nature and grace, but also around what it means to be Augustinian. In this thesis, I review the relationship of nature to grace in the thought of Henri de Lubac, John Milbank, Michael Hanby, and others, as well as their readings of Augustine. Following this, I undertake an historical, exegetical, and theological survey of De Natura et Gratia and its context in the Pelagian debate. Rather than pit the exegetical against the ontological, or the historical against the systematic, I show how a faithful reading of Augustine has to pay close attention to the text while also engaging with his broader theological vision. This enables a richer appropriation of Augustine’s theology of nature and grace for today. I find that for Augustine the distinction between nature and grace must always be held strongly, and yet the two must never be ultimately played off against each other in a competitive, zero-sum game, for our corrupted nature only finds its fulfilment in the reception of external grace.

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Creative Commons Attribution-Noncommercial-No Derivative Works 4.0 License
This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-Noncommercial-No Derivative Works 4.0 License.