My View St. Augustine

by Lewis Loflin

My introduction to St. Augustine was his Confessions I read in college. While my Christian friends found Confessions uplifting I found it appalling. Written after his conversion I was repulsed by his self-loathing and the entire concepts of grace and election that reduced merely being human somehow evil and "salvation" a mere whim of God. Augustine struggled to reconcile faith with reason. I place reason first.

St. Augustine in my view is the 3rd. most important figure in Western Protestantism behind Paul and Jesus. Following a life of a materialistic philosopher and finding disappointment in Persian-Gnostic Maniceanism his conversion to Christianity elevated him to the top theologian of the Catholic Church. He carried his Platonist and Manichean influences in my view into the Catholic faith. In addition he was a major influence on John Calvin and Martin Luther.

He fought against his former Manichean faith, fought the Donatists, embraced Neoplatonism a speculative almost theology in itself, and his greatest enemy Pelagius. I side myself with Pelagius and the Jews in that there's no support for a gnostic style savior deity somehow a man-god in the Old Testament. Jesus was human and taught Judaism. Christianity is a product of Hellenism a fusion of Greek philosophy and other religions and cultures. Paul founded Christianity.

How many times have I been told, "you can't read the Old Testament literally, but though the words of Paul and the New Testament." Sorry but even Mark says "God is one" (edited out in the Catholic New American Bible) and that is what it means, not three divided pieces. Human sacrifice and God in any material image runs completely counter to the Old Testament and worship of a man is idolatry.

Faith is just fine but in the absence of reason it's simply superstition. If I'm supposed to believe St. Paul got his beliefs from dreams, visions, and an invisible Holy Spirit that completely countered the entire Jewish faith, then why not believe Mohammed got the Koran from Allah via an angel and Christians are liars?

Pelagius was cleared of heresy charges pushed at the insistence of St. Augustine, but was cleared in the Eastern churches. Augustine's views of sin and damnation were also rejected in the Eastern Churches.

Below is a selection of material on these subjects.

Prof. Outer: "Grace is God's unmerited love and favor, prevenient and occurrent."

St. Augustine Confessions

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