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“Confessions” – Book IX: Chapters 1 – 6

Baptism of St. Augustine of Hippo, from a fresco cycle of the Life of St. Augustine, 1465 by Benozzo De Lesse Gozzoli, c. 1420 – 97, Italian

 

 

For this Sunday we will cover Book IX  Chapters 1 – 6 of Confessions.

 

In this book he ties up his autobiographical story by telling the aftermath of his conversion, in particular, the events leading up to his baptism.

 

He describes his stay in the fall and winter months of 386 at the country estate of his friend Vercundus at Cassiciacum near Milan.  This provided Augustine and his friends a quiet place of withdrawal as they prepared for baptism that coming Easter. While there, Augustine wrote a series of dialogues based on the conversations he was having with his friends there.  These writings (On the Happy Life, Against the Academics, On Order, Soliloquies) show that he was working out some of the solutions to his theological problems.

 

By the end of Chapter 6, he, along with his son Aeodatus and friend Alypius get baptized together.

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“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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Confessions – Book VI: Chapters 1 – 8

 

Detail of the Gladiator Mosaic, 4th century CE. Augustine’s friend Alypius became obsessed with gladiatorial shows.

 

Starting from Book VI and onward through Book VIII, Augustine describes his conversion to the Christian faith. It is good to bear in mind that he depicts conversion (or at least his own personal conversion) as a long process and not as a single event.

 

He devotes a large amount of Book VI to the people in his life in Milan: his mother Monica; Ambrose; and two friends from Africa, Alypius and Nebridius.

 

Please write on one of the following questions:

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UPDATE: “Confessions” – Book V: Chapters 8 – 13

 

We had our first meeting back from over a month this past Sunday.  We were a bit rusty in the beginning but we quickly picked up from right where we were before.

We went over Book V: Chapters 8 – 13 of Augustine’s “Confessions.”  We discussed about whether or not we should read the Bible literally, if Christianity is meaningless without an afterlife, the role of doubt and skepticism in matters of faith, whether or not your sincerity and way of living affects answers to prayer, how we “picture” God when we pray, and whether or not the concept or reality of evil has relevance only in human terms.

You can find our essays here.

 

 

 

 

“Confessions” Book V: Chapters 8 – 13

https://i2.wp.com/www.traditioninaction.org/religious/religiousimages/D007_Bergognone_Ambrose.jpg

Augustine and Monica sit listening to a sermon from Bishop Ambrose in a painting by Ambrogio il Bergognone (1455 – 1535), Turin, Italy

 

Yes, we’re back from a month long hiatus.  We will finish Book V of Augustine’s Confessions.

 

In 383, at the age of 29, Augustine sailed from Carthage with his partner and their son, along with his two close friends Alypius and Nebridius, to Rome for a teaching position where he hoped to engage with better behaved students. By that time, Rome was no longer the center of the western empire; the emperor resided in Milan.

 

The next year, after winning a competition for a post as public teacher of rhetoric, he moved to Milan. It was there that he first encountered the formidable figure of Ambrose the bishop of Milan. He was to have a profound influence on Augustine’s life and thought.

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Questions for ‘Confessions’ Book I: Chapters 1 – 10

 

Infant sinner

Don’t let this baby’s unbearable cuteness deceive you. She’s a helpless, natural born sinner according to Augustine.

 

Hi everyone, we will be covering Book I, chapters 1 – 10.

 

Augustine titled his deeply philosophical and theological autobiography Confessions to implicate two aspects of the form the work would take. To ‘confess’, in Augustine’s time, meant both to give an account of one’s faults to God and to praise God or to speak one’s love for God. These two aims come together in the Confessions in an elegant but complex sense: Augustine narrates his ascent from sinfulness to faithfulness not simply for the practical edification of his readers, but also because he believes that his narrative itself is really a story about God’s greatness and of the fundamental love all things have for Him. Thus, in the Confessions form equals content to a large degree—the natural form for Augustine’s story of redemption to take would be a direct address to God, since it is God who must be thanked for such redemption. (That said, a direct address to God was a highly original form for Augustine to have used at the time).

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UPDATE: Final Thoughts on Diarmaid MacCulloch’s “Christianity: The First Three Thousand Years”

Well, we’ve come to the end after two years of reading “Christianity: The First Three Thousand Years” and we share our final thoughts here.

Howard and Chris share what they have learned and gained from reading this book; Michael writes about the historical development of how Greek pagan philosophy seeped into Western theology and how it has affected our contemporary reading of the Bible; I share my thoughts on divine intervention (or non-intervention more specifically) and history or my attempt to understand God’s role in history after having read this book.

We hope and pray that we will use the knowledge gained from this session wisely.  I believe that this is just the beginning of our journey into learning more about the history of the Church.

UPDATE: Chapter 21: Enlightenment: Ally or Enemy? (1492 – 1815) – Part II – Homosexuality during the Enlightenment, role of women, Descartes, Hobbes, economics, and Kant

 

 Rene Descartes and Immanuel Kant

 

Really stimulating discussion last night on really stimulating topics.

 

Our essays are here.

 

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A Critical Assessment of the Reformed Doctrines of Original Sin and Solus Christus (Salvation in Christ Alone)

 

 

So yesterday, we had an interesting discussion on the doctrines of Solus Christus (Salvation in Christ Alone) and Original Sin.

 

I just want to make this clear that these critical assessments of these core Reformed doctrines are in no way to undermine or question the validity of the Christian faith.  We raise these issues and challenges to strengthen the faith and understand what Christians actually believe in.

 

However, I understand how emotionally involved persons who have adopted these traditions and doctrines to heart are and who take this personally.  And I’m fully aware how nasty debates can become, even between faithful brothers and sisters in Christ.  We do it because we take the truth seriously.  We don’t want to engage in polemics attacking or pushing someone to adopt or reject another point of view.  Its purpose is to raise thoughtful questions and engage and spur others to think things through.

 

We live in a complex and interconnected world today and many worldviews will come into contact with one another.  It is important to take other viewpoints into consideration and call out those that do not make sense, are flatly wrong, or seem antiquated.

 

We raise questions, not to cause people to doubt their faith, but more so to realize that an unexamined faith is not worth believing in (to modify Socrates’ famous quote that “An unexamined life is not worth living”).

 

We welcome thoughtful discussion and disagreements with the ideas and viewpoints we present here, so please do comment if you wish.

 

This is theology in action – faith seeking understanding.