Augustine's Rejection of Posthumous Salvation for Non‐Christians

Jeffrey A. Trumbower

in Rescue for the Dead

Published in print October 2001 | ISBN: 9780195140996
Published online November 2003 | e-ISBN: 9780199834747 | DOI:

Series: Oxford Studies in Historical Theology

 Augustine's Rejection of Posthumous Salvation for Non‐Christians

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The seventh chapter documents how and why Augustine of Hippo came to reject all the forms of posthumous salvation outlined in the earlier chapters of this study. His influence over theology in the west on this issue cannot be understated. First, some of the antecedents to Augustine's thought are examined, including Cyprian and Ambrose. Next, the chapter traces the gradual development of Augustine's thought up to the year 419. In that year Augustine encountered an opponent named Vincentius Victor, who argued that unbaptized infants could be saved and prayers for the non‐Christian dead could be efficacious. Victor's interpretation of Perpetua's prayer for Dinocrates was crucial to his argument. Augustine insisted on the absolute necessity of infant baptism (as he had earlier in the Pelagianism debate), and he began to outline a notion of what would become purgatory by stating that prayers are only effective for baptized Christians who died with light sins. Central to Augustine's reasoning was a defense of the power and authority of the church on earth as the sole vehicle for salvation.

Keywords: Ambrose; Augustine; Cyprian; Dinocrates; infant baptism; Pelagianism; Perpetua; purgatory; unbaptized; Vincentius Victor

Chapter.  7672 words. 

Subjects: Christian Theology

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