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Today, we concluded the autobiographical portion of Augustine’s Confessions. Most colleges courses covering this book would normally stop here, but we will continue with the rest of the books.
It is interesting, as one person put it, that when he went seminary in his late 30’s, he was surrounded by young 20-year olds straight out of college. When it came to reading Augustine’s Confessions, many of the young people found it a bit boring and less applicable; however, the handful of older people in the class felt a deeper connection while reading the book because they went through the same struggles, experiences, and questions as Augustine had but afraid to share them with others. So I guess when you re-read Confessions later on in your life, the deeper the connection you feel with Augustine.
We discussed whether or not traditional “biblical” gender roles still apply till this day, as well as how Protestants uphold the doctrine of Sola Scriptura and some problems it has in today’s context; the use and abuse of relics in the Church in history; Augustine’s Neoplatonic view of the afterlife after his vision or epiphany with his mother Monica; and Mike (not written here) talked about whether or not salvation was conditional or unconditional – the Bible seems ambivalent in some respects with the issue.
Our essays can be found here.
“Do Infants Go to Hell if They Die Before Baptism?: The Doctrine of Original Sin Re-examined” – an Orthodox Perspective
We will be covering the Orthodox Church very soon in MacCulloch’s book, so it’s good to get a glimpse of a bit of its theology and how it differs from the West, especially when it comes to the definition of “sin”.
“It is not clear by what justice humanity can share in Adam’s guilt when it existed only in potentiality in his loins at the time of the Fall. It is also difficult to see why the children of the baptized should inherit a guilt from which their parents have been cleansed.” – Prof. Gerald Bonner, Roman Catholic theologian
It’s good to bear in mind that Augustine never intended his theology of “Original Sin” to be a world-wide, eternal church doctrine – it was the Church many years later that adopted this idea and made it into a doctrine. Later on, Protestantism adopted this as doctrine as well and has shaped Western theology ever since.
It’s amazing how a mis-reading of the Bible that led to a mis-interpretation that led to this doctrine. This is why it’s always critical to have good exegesis precede hermeneutics.