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Augustine’s Spiritual Journey

Updated: Oct 16, 2023

Augustine's Congessions e-book

Explore Augustine's spiritual journey and discover his profound insights on the power of faith, truth, and love, in this timeless classic.

Saint Augustine, Bishop of Hippo in North Africa was born Aurelius Augustinus in 354 AD in Numidia, known today as Algeria. He died at the age of 76 years in 430 AD. Augustine was a formidable Church Father and is celebrated as a Doctor of the Church in the Roman Catholic Church. He was a towering theologian and prolific writer whose writings have enjoyed lasting influence and are still relevant today. In addition to his written works, of which it is said that we still have about five million written words, he was skilled in rhetoric and was an accomplished preacher.

Many scholars have suggested that the foremost Christian thinkers in the church were the Apostle Paul, Augustine, Thomas Aquinas, and depending on who you engage with, Karl Barth. Although there were many phenomenal theologians and Church Fathers between Paul and Augustine, the African Bishop is considered the next Christian luminary after Paul. His sharp mind afforded him the ability to shape the discipline of biblical exegesis and develop influential theological systems; I think of his theology of divine predestination, human freewill, his theology on the Holy Trinity, the Kingdom of God, and not without criticism (rightly so in my opinion) his views on sexuality. He was a master of synthesizing Christian, Roman, and Neoplatonic thought in his theological work. It is not surprising that Augustine’s theological contributions shaped much of Western Christianity, and both Roman Catholicism and Protestantism are indebted to him. His most significant works include his Confessions, On the Trinity, and The City of God, all of which are well worth a read.

Allow me to introduce you to the first of these books, Augustine’s Confessions. This deeply personal work is what one might call a spiritual autobiography where Augustine examines his life from his wayward youth, his successful career in Italy, his spiritual journey towards Christianity and his conversion, and then his Christian life. Augustine was profoundly influenced by Ambrose, the Bishop of Milan. His powerful sermons were both articulate and intellectual which paved the way for Augustine’s eventual conversion to Christianity. Think of the Confessions as a retelling of his spiritual and philosophical development—it’s a very human account. In it, you will discover that this workhas five important qualities, spiritual, psychological, spiritual, philosophical, and literary.

The autobiography literary genre was unknown until Augustine penned his Confessions and since then it’s become a common literary writing style. I always thought his confessions were a reference to his confession of sin and repentance and of his conversion to Christianity. Although that is true in part, it’s in fact Augustine’s confession of faith. He gives us insight into his life before he comes to the Christian faith which is then juxtaposed against his mature life as the Bishop of Hippo. It’s not surprising then that the last few chapters of his Confessions focus on philosophical-theological themes like the beginning of humanity and human society, the creation account in the book of Genesis, sin, and redemption.

For Augustine, Christianity and theology are never simply an intellectual exercise, rather it’s a spiritual one, and this is made beautifully clear in his book Confessions which finds its apex when he hears a child next door singing “take up and read.” He does so, opening a copy of the Holy Scriptures nearby, reading a passage from Paul’s letter to the Romans, and the rest is history, his life was forever changed! From there on Augustine continued to study Scripture and we can see his love for the Bible throughout the Confessions. May his love and affection for God, and his love for the Holy Scriptures be an example for all of us.

Check out Augustine's Confessions here:

Augustine's Confessions book


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