Friday, February 23, 2007

Augustine of Hippo (354-430)

Augustine was born in Tagaste, North Africa. His mother, Monica was a devout Christian, while his father, Patricius was a pagan. He was educated in Carthage, where he adopted unorthox Manichaean views.
Augustine was a scholar of some repute and was appointed Professor of Rhetoric in Milan in 384AD. Here he came under the influence of Bishop Ambrose who effectively exposed the errors of Manichaeism. In 386, Augustine had a deep conversion experience when he was remarkably prompted to read Romans 13:14 "Put on the Lord Jesus Christ, and make no provision for the flesh..."
Around ten years later, Augustine returned to his native North Africa, where he became Bishop of Hippo. He championed the doctrine of the Trinity and taught that Adam's "original" sin has been transmitted down the generations, so that all are born sinners. Augustine combatted Pelagianism, insisting that we are saved by grace alone. He taught that God has elected his people to salvation and that the elect will persevere to the end.
Augustine had a very high view of the Church as an institution with her Bishops and traditions. Roman Catholics claim him as their own for his doctrine of the Church, while Calvin and the Reformers identified with his doctrine of free grace. He is one one of the most influential Theologians in Church history. According to B. B. Warfield,
"It is Augustine who gave us the Reformation. For the Reformation, inwardly considered, was just the ultimate triumph of Augustine's doctrine of grace over Augustine's doctrine of the Church. The doctrine of grace came from Augustine's hands in its positive outline completely formulated: sinful man depends for his recovery to good and to God entirely on the free grace of God...Therefore, when the great revival of religion that we call the Reformation came, seeing that it was, on the theological side, a revival of "Augustinianism"... there was nothing for it but the rending of the Church". Calvin and Augustine p. 322 & 323 P&R.

Augustine's autobiograpy, The Confessions is widely redarded as a spiritual classic, as is The City of God and On the Trinity.

1 Comment:

  1. John said...
    I attribute Augustine's greatness to his willingness to work out of his Wesleyan heritage.

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