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Update: “Cofessions” – Book VIII: Chapters 7 – 12

“The Conversion of St. Augustine”, Fra Angelico (c. 1395  – 1455) and workshop

 

In the latter half of Book VIII, Augustine wrote a lot about free will, however, everyone in the group decided not to write about it (I was betting someone was bound to) surprisingly.  We did come around to discussing free will in the beginning and was equally surprised to learn that a majority of our group thought that free will was more or less an illusion and that everything was deterministic, even from a theological standpoint.

Interesting.

Anyway, here are our essays about whether or not conversion to Christianity limits your options and freedoms; thoughts about original sin; the role of shame and repentance prior to conversion (whether it’s necessary or not); and bibliolatry and the Barthian or “encounter” view of Scripture.

 

 

 

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“Confessions” – Book VIII: Chapters 7 – 12

A clip from the movie “Restless Heart: The Confessions of Augustine.” Bishop Ambrose is depicted here embracing Augustine and later baptizing him.

 

This week, we will finish the rest of Book VIII – chapters 7 – 12 of Augustine’s Confessions.

In these final chapters, we encounter the monumental moment when Augustine finally devotes himself to the Christian faith as he recounts in great detail in these writings.

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UPDATE: Essays on Jesus’ Conception and Virgin Birth

 

Image of the “spark” of conception, a physical reaction recently observed when sperm meets an egg.  The flash you see in the upper right is actually made of zinc, and its brightness could indicate the strength of fertilization.  Research done at Northwestern University.

 

This past Sunday we discussed the virginity (including the perpetual virginity) of Mary, mother of Jesus, and how Aristotelian philosophy shaped Greco-Roman, Jewish, and the Gospel writers and the New Testament writers in general on how they understood human conception, and how this thought contributed to the understanding of Jesus’ conception and identity.

These essays were based on an article written by Andrew Lincoln titled “How Babies Were Made in Jesus’ Time” that appeared in the Nov/Dec 2014 issue of Biblical Archeology Review.

 

 

A Look Into Jesus’ Conception

https://i0.wp.com/cdn.biblicalarchaeology.org/wp-content/uploads/lorenzo-lotto-nga.jpg

“The Nativity”, Lorenzo Lotto (1480 – 1556/57), 1523, oil on panel, National Gallery of Art, Washington D.C.

 

This week, we will take a mini-break from Confessions and discuss the topic of the Virgin birth and Christology.

 

We will be going over an article from the November/December 2014 issue of Biblical Archeology Review titled “How Babies Were Made in Jesus’ Time” by Andrew Lincoln.  A brief synopsis of the article can be found here; for the complete article you have to order from the website.

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UPDATE: “Confessions” Book VIII – Chapters 1 – 6

 

How pagan are modern-day church services today?  Have church services been pagan all along?

 

Here are our essays on Book VIII – Chapters 1 – 6 of Augustine’s Confessions.

We discussed the implications of delayed gratification, the pagan elements and origins of the Catholic Mass and Protestant services, the life of Anthony the Great and whether or not Christ calls us to a life of asceticism.

 

 

“Confessions” – Book VIII: Chapters 1 – 6

 

“Born Again” by Dean Kermit Allison

 

After bit of a break we’re back once again.  We will cover Book VIII: Chapters 1 – 6.

 

At the start of this book, Augustine has achieved an understanding of God and the humility to accept Christ, but still has reservations about being fully committed to the Church.

 

This is the beginning of his conversion experience.

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Was God Pro-Choice?

 

 

Every election year, many Christians (Evangelical and Catholic) gather together to make the issue of abortion a major topic in politics.  They cite the sanctity of life all together and tell how abortion is murder of the unborn.  Many also claim that abortion is impermissible on any grounds because of the Bible, even in cases of rape, incest, or even if a woman’s life is in jeopardy due to complications in a pregnancy.

 

OK, maybe God being “pro-choice”as the title states might be a bit of an anachronism, but it seems rather clear that in some instances he does sanction abortion or at the very least, permit ways to allow for a woman to have a miscarriage if she’s pregnant due to adultery.

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UPDATE: “Confessions”: Book VII – Chapters 11 – 21

 

article_images/10.9.JesusReallyOnlyWay_150299367.jpg

 

This past week we concluded Book VII of “Confessions” by covering chapters 11 – 21.

We had good conversations about human reason and the (Neoplatonic) discipline of focusing on spiritual things to draw closer to God; is Jesus the only way? and religious pluralism; the nature of Jesus; the nature of evil; the distinction between Creator and creation; the influence of Platonic thought on Christian education throughout the centuries and its problems.

We also had a stimulating discussion centering around the questions, “Who is Jesus?”  One can easily spurt out, “Oh, he’s my Lord and Savior.”  But if you trip away the “churchy” language everyone uses and really, really ask yourself who he is to you and what he really means to you (if anything), it might be harder than you think it is.  One reason I believe that it is so hard is because that question is also a very personal question as well.

You can read our essays here.

 

 

“Confessions” Book VII – Chapters 11 – 21

Plotinus with his disciples. Looks like an early Christian relief doesn't it?

Plotinus with his disciples.

 

We will finish Book VIIChapters: 11 – 21 for this week.

Please read an outline of Neoplatonic philosophy here and some of the videos here on the impact of neoplatonic thought on Augustine.

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UPDATE: “Confessions” – Book VII: Chatpers 1 -10

 

St. Augustine Sacrificing to a Manichean Idol, 15th century, unknown Flemish master

 

Here are our submissions from last week on Confessions: Book VII – Chapters 1 – 10.  We wrote on the topics of the philosophy and theology of evil, God’s relation to his creation, questions on whether or not God still speaks to us today, an overview of Manichean theology and how its views are still present in some way in today’s church.

Here is a late submission from the last book by Doris that you will find at the very end of the page.

We will finish up Book VII next week.