Thursday, December 01, 2005

Revelation & Redemption

For those of you who were clamoring for more about Augustine (all one of you), I'll finish out with a couple more posts about the greatest thinker of his time. I'll also try to talk more about Jonah in the morning.


Augustine was truly converted. He was a changed man. He believed that the truth he had searched so hard for -- and failed to find by reason alone -- was revealed to him by the grace of God. He realized that he could not be saved by his own power. He could not reason his way out of his dilemma. He was lost and, without external assistance, would remain lost. It was only by admitting his lostness that he would be found.

After his conversion, Augustine gave up his career, refused to marry and renounced the world. He needn't have done any of those, but he did. Thankfully, this did allow him a great deal of time to think, study and write.

He believed that God is supremely good and loving. God created a world which is basically good instead of basically bad (as the Manicheans believed). He wrote, "We move towards God not by walking but by loving." Great sentiment there.

He also believed the humanity has fallen short of God's original intent and desperately needs to be restored. He really could be credited with the formalization of the doctrine of "original sin" -- arguably the most empirically verifiable doctrine of the Bible.

Further, he believed that God has acted in human history in various ways -- ultimately in the "Incarnation" -- God made flesh. Belief in Jesus is the only way to eternal life. Actually, I think Augustine tacked on submission to the church as the means of maintaining salvation. I wish he hadn't said that. I still think he's in heaven.

Philosophy, for Augustine, became "the study of God and the human soul." The way forward, according to Augustine, was by exercising our faith: "Vision will be granted to him who lives well, prays well, studies well."

He continued to believe that death was not the end for the human soul, but now his belief was rooted in his personal faith in the risen Jesus -- not in Platonic philosophical speculation.