Friday, August 28, 2015

Dead Theologians Society: St. Augustine of Hippo

This is the first of an occasional series of posts with no connection to pop culture. Not every one of these will be tied to the church calendar, but this one is. Which reminds me, I should write about the concept of the church calendar some time.

August 28 is the feast day of Saint Augustine of Hippo, one of the most influential theologians of the Patristic Era, meaning the church fathers that came after the close of the Apostolic Age. Augustine led a life of sin and drunkenness until his conversion at the age of 31. His mother Monica is a saintly example of the faithful praying parent. He spent the remainder of his long life writing, preaching, and serving the church.

His Confessions is considered one of the West's earliest examples of a memoir, and represents the most complete record of any person from the 4th or 5th century. In terms of theology, his City of God continues to resonate as an example of how to respond to earthly disasters, such as (in his case) the sack of Rome by Visigoths. His On Christian Doctrine and On the Trinity are also valuable resources. There is a free St. Augustine app that contains that contains some of his major works, and many of his works are available elsewhere electronically free of charge.

His influence on theology is still widely felt. Important doctrines that he developed include original sin, just war theory, free will and predestination, and Maryology. For his contributions to theology, he is considered one the few "Doctors of the Church."

Although the majority of his works were theological, Confessions contains some of his most passionate and personal writings: "“Too late have I loved you, O Beauty of ancient days, yet ever new! Too late I loved you! And behold, you were within, and I abroad, and there I searched for you; I was deformed, plunging amid those fair forms, which you had made. You were with me, but I was not with you."

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