8 Reasons Why Augustine & The Confessions still Matter

20140826_152853I believe that plenty of people who call themselves atheists, agnostics, or renounced their Catholic faith are not irreedemably damned. I believe that not so much because God doesn’t damn people, but more, because many of them just think that they are atheists, agnostics or not-Catholic anymore. Augustine, as he describes in his Confessions, makes it clear that God drew close to him, in spite of Augustine’s sinful life, and drew him back.
Augustine was taught about Jesus as a child, by his Mother, Saint Monica. He was not necessarily raised pagan, he was just never baptized. He even would search for the name of Jesus in pagan literature. He drifted, joined a cult, became a skeptic, and eventually found his home in communion with the Church.

  1. God is not some bearded man in the sky who created the world in six 24 hour days, so many people leave the Church, and declare that they are agnostic or atheist. Augustine was deeply troubled by a literal interpretation of Genesis, probably just as troubled as many intelligent adults are by Modern Evangelical Fundamentalists. Augustine describes this in his Confessions.
  2. Young People swear that they had religion “crammed down their throat.” Augustine took a Sea Voyage at Night, from Africa to Rome, to get away from his Mom who wanted him to be Catholic.
  3. Temptations are tempting because they seem to feel good. Augustine makes no qualms about covering up the internal conflicts we face, about the gruesome delight of sin. He also does not justify himself by evading the fact that these same sins leave you incredibly bereft. Augustine’s candid discussion of Sin, Grace & Redemption would resonate with many young people.
  4. We both know what it is to have a Broken Heart. Many young people are putting off marriage, many of them are just as cynical about finding someone worth marrying as they are about finding a religion worth committing too. Augustine describes the heartbreak he experienced when it didn’t work out with a woman he loved.
  5. As Augustine matures, so does his perspective on God, Faith & the Church. I believe that many young people claim agnosticism without realizing this is part of maturation. I think they are turned away by Catholics who have had an easier time at their faith, not realizing that this Negative Way is part of Spiritual Maturation.
  6. People wonder if religions is useless. Augustine became disillusioned with a narrow perspective of Catholicism before returning. He also became disillusioned with many other Religious cults of his time, including Philosophy & Manicheanism. Conversely he also credits non-Christian pagans with being stepping stones on his way to the fullness of Truth in the Church. I think many people who leave the Church because they think that we teach that being non-Catholic instantly damns one to hell.
  7. Augustine does not always have easy answers, in fact his Confessions often presents unanswered questions. Some Catholics find genuine comfort in Church Teachings which are stated clearly. Many people, including myself, find quick, easy, and clear answers constricting. Augustine’s Confessions reminds us of the importance of Mystery.
  8. Ultimately, Augustine’s Confessions are not so much about himself, but about God’s work in his life. You can always read plenty about Augustine if you want to know him, including a biography from his long time friend Saint Possidius. Since his Confessions are about giving Glory to God, they will provoke readers to see God working in their own life.

UPDATE (8.30.14) Be sure to look up Reading & Studying Augustine to find the preferred translation of the Confessions, and some other easier to read works by Augustine.

Advertisements

4 thoughts on “8 Reasons Why Augustine & The Confessions still Matter

  1. Just to clarify: do you mean that you believe that plenty of people who call themselves athiest, etc, are NOT irredeemably damned? The way you worded the first sentance, it sounds like you DO think they are damned, but then you explain how they are not if they are open to God’s call. Augustine would have been damned if he didn’t reply to God’s call. Even the very next sentance “Not so much because God doesn’t damn people…” expressed that you do think God will damn people who “deserve” in His just wisdom to be damned, but that these people might not be. They are not past the point of redemption. I think you just need to add the “not” in order to make it clear (or expand on why you think they actually WILL be damned though Augustine wasn’t. (Their refusal to answer God’s call?)), otherwise you are contriciting yourself. 🙂
    P.S. I know it seems like I always have something negative about your blog posts, but I really do appreciate them! I am sorry that it always comes across this way! I am only trying to help you and other readers who might also be confused. 🙂

  2. Augustine’s view of sexual feelings as sinful affected his view of women. For example he considered a man’s erection to be sinful, though involuntary,[131] because it did not take place under his conscious control. His solution was to place controls on women to limit their ability to influence men.[132]

    He believed that the serpent approached Eve because she was less rational and lacked self-control, while Adam’s choice to eat was viewed as an act of kindness so that Eve would not be left alone.[132] Augustine believed sin entered the world because man (the spirit) did not exercise control over woman.

  3. Augustine was the earliest of the Western “Fathers of the Church” who was unable to read and correspond in Greek. For this reason, his thinking was NOT transmitted in real time to the theologians and philosophers in the eastern Mediterreanean. The gap between them over time contributed to the schism that the two branches experienced in the eleventh century.
    Sad!
    TeaPot562

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s