Augustine of Hippo

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Augustine of Hippo, Hero or heretic?

Augustine of Hippo born 13 November 354 – died 28 August 430 while his city was under siege by Vandals, Moors, and persecuted Donatists.[1]His works are the Confessions, City of God, and The Trinity. He was an early North African Christian theologian and philosopher who influenced the development of modern Christianity and philosophy.

Audio Broadcasts
Recording #1 This episode of the portals of faith starts talking about purposes of feasts and the distraction of a doctrinal checklists, good and evil, light and dark and other Mysteries of the Universe and first mentions predestination. Were the Augustines opening the door or closing it with false religion and idolatry.
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Recording #2 An examination of Augustine of Hippo, his life, his words and his allegiance. Mention links to the Moneychangers, Pure Religion, Tens, Corban, kingdom of God, Welfare and covetous practices.
Download Recording #2 or press play

Christopher Dawson wrote that Augustine was “"He was to a far greater degree than any emperor or barbarian warlord, a maker of history and a builder of the bridge which was to lead from the old world to the new."”[2] But was he a builder of "A bridge too far"[3] Did his lack of understanding of the whole gospel of the kingdom cause him to reach beyond the role of the Church and even some times take his followers in the wrong direction?

He was certainly influenced by the teaching of his mother who has been seen as a devout Christian. He neglected her hopes and disappointed her prayers with an indulgent life of immorality claiming "I polluted the brook of friendship with the sewage of lust". He once prayed, “Make me chaste, but not yet.”[4] His own obsession with sexuality and its temptations caused him to connect the original sin with sexual act as the instrument of the transgression. Pelagianism[5] proposed the original sin did not taint human nature and was formally condemned at the Council of Ephesus. Augustine’s opinions were not condemned at that time because they were not widely known.

Augustine argued against Pelagius’ views, but his writings were opposed in many [[| Monasticism|monastic circles]]. Objections included his doctrines of the total depravity of fallen man which seems to be total black and white of what people would call Manichaeism[6]

He also seemed to take away individual freewill with the effects of "irresistible grace" which brings in ideas of an absolute predestination which undoes Christ references to the importance of works and merit.

What we see with Augustine and his writings is creeping doctrines that draw people from faith in The Way.

Hate Speech

  • "Let us never assume that if we live good lives we will be without sin; our lives should be praised only when we continue to beg for pardon, But men are hopeless creatures, and the less they concentrate on their own sins, the more interested they become in the sins of others. They seek to criticize, not to correct. Unable to excuse themselves, they are ready to accuse others."

This quote from one of Augustine's homilies even-though it is from Jesus Christ's command in Matthew 7:3 was band from Facebook as hate speech.

Much of what he said may have been good but the truth may be missed when we interpret.

He was the bishop of Hippo Regius in north Africa and is viewed as one of the most important Church Fathers in Western Christianity in the Patristic Era. But was he of the Church established by Christ or the one established by Constantine?

  • “Right is right even if no one is doing it; wrong is wrong even if everyone is doing it.”  Augustine of Hippo
  • “If you believe what you like in the Gospel, and reject what you don't like, it is not the Gospel you believe, but yourself.”  Augustine of Hippo
  • “God has promised forgiveness to your repentance, but He has not promised tomorrow to your procrastination.” Augustine of Hippo
  • “Miracles are not contrary to nature but only contrary to what we know about nature.”  Augustine of Hippo

The following seem more inline with Constantine's Church:

  • "Punishment is justice for the unjust." Saint Augustine
  • "If two friends ask you to judge a dispute, don't accept, because you will lose one friend; on the other hand, if two strangers come with the same request, accept because you will gain one friend. Saint Augustine
  • "The greatest evil is physical pain". Saint Augustine

According to his contemporary, Jerome, Augustine "established anew the ancient Faith"

Other disputed teachings include his views on original sin, the doctrine of grace, and predestination. His "Paul of Tarsus", has caused many Westerners to see Paul through his eyes. Augustine was legally Roman but his mother was Berber. He abandoned Christianity in his youth, studying rhetoric, philosophy, and Manichaeism[6]. He eventually abandoned his relationship, moving to Rome to start a school and finally to Milan to serve the court as a professor of rhetoric.

He sought to join an order of the Manichaean[6] religion which was briefly the main rival to Christianity in the competition to replace classical paganism.

His sexual exploits and mistress of 15 years who he fathered a child outside the bonds of marriage, were set aside so he could marry a child bride who was an heiress. Augustine's mother had followed him to Milan where he came to see Ambrose of Milan. Although Augustine accepted this mother's marriage arrangements he was deeply pained by the loss of his concubine. He wrote, "My mistress being torn from my side as an impediment to my marriage, my heart, which clave to her, was racked, and wounded, and bleeding."

Augustine confessed that he was not a lover of wedlock so much as a slave of lust, so he procured another concubine since he had to wait two years until his fiancée came of age for she was only 10 years old at the time. It was during those 2 years that he decided to become a celibate priest instead like Ambrose.

In 387, Ambrose baptized Augustine. He was ordained as a priest. Within four years, he was ordained to the episcopate off the church established by Constantine and served as Bishop of Hippo until his death in 430.

Augustine lived a life of aristocratic leisure at his family's property until his mother and eventually, his son died. He then gave much of his wealth to the poor and started a monastery for his followers after being ordained in 391 as a priest in Hippo Regius, in Algeria. But understanding the differences between Ambrose the Church of Constantine and the early Church is important in deciphering the validity of the teachings and writings of Augustine of Hippo and even Augustine of Canterbury.

"This terrible doctrine of predestination was taken up again in various forms at various ages by Cathars, Albigenses, Calvinists and Jansenists, and was also to play a curious part in the theological struggles of Kepler and Galileo. Again, there are countless redeeming aspects, ambiguities and contradictions in Augustine’s writings, such as his passionate pleading against the death penalty and judicial torture; his repeated affirmation that Omnis natura, inquantum natura est, bonum est;[7] it may even be said that ”Augustine was not an Augustinian”. " The Sleepwalkers, A history of man’s changing vision of the Universe, by Arthur Koestler

Augustine was one of the most influential church writers of the earlier Middle Ages but his survival as that writer was because he was a major promoter of the Papacy. He promoted not only the divine right of kings in his own way but he also endowed the Papacy with authority and channeled it power to make rules over all monastic life in contradiction to the rule of Christ. In the gospel of the kingdom the idea of exercising authority one over the other was forbidden by Christ when he told them "But ye shall not be so."[8]

Quotes from Augustine of Hippo

  • "Sin is to a nature what blindness is to an eye. The blindness is an evil or defect which is a witness to the fact that the eye was created to see the light and, hence, the very lack of sight is the proof that the eye was be the one particularly capable of seeing the light. Were it not for this capacity, there would be no reason to think of blindness as a misfortune." — Augustine of Hippo (City of God)
  • "How stupid man is to be unable to restrain feelings in suffering the human lot! That was my state at that time. So I boiled with anger, sighed, wept, and was at my wits’ end. I found no calmness, no capacity for deliberation. I carried my lacerated and bloody soul when it was unwilling to be carried by me. I found no place where I could put it down. There was no rest in pleasant groves, nor in games or songs, nor in sweet-scented places, nor in exquisite feasts, nor in the pleasures of the bedroom and bed, nor, finally, in books and poetry." — Augustine of Hippo (Confessions)
  • "So material a difference does it make, not what ills are suffered, but what kind of man suffers them."

— Augustine of Hippo (City of God)

  • "This is pride when the soul abandons Him to Whom it ought to cleave as its end and becomes a kind of end to itself. This happens when it becomes its own satisfaction." — Augustine of Hippo (City of God)
  • "They, then, who are destined to die, need not be careful to inquire what death they are to die, but into what place death will usher them." — Augustine of Hippo (City of God)

  • "The earthly [city] has made for herself, according to her heart's desire, false gods out of any sources at all, even out of human beings, that she might adore them with sacrifices. The heavenly one, on the other hand, living like a wayfarer in this world, makes no false gods for herself. On the contrary, she herself is made by the true God that she may be herself a true sacrifice to Him." — Augustine of Hippo (City of God)
  • "To confess, then, is to praise and glorify God; it is an exercise in self-knowledge and true humility in the atmosphere of grace and reconciliation." — Augustine of Hippo (The Confessions of St. Augustine)
  • "Love the sinner and hate the sin." — Augustine of Hippo
  • "...Though exposed to the same anguish, virtue and vice are not the same thing. For as the same fire causes gold to glow brightly, and chaff to smoke; and under the same flail the straw is beaten small, while the grain is cleansed; and as the lees are not mixed with the oil, though squeezed out of the vat by the same pressure, so the same violence of affliction proves, purges, clarifies the good, but damns, ruins, exterminates the wicked." — Augustine of Hippo (City of God)
  • "The deformity of Christ forms you. If he had not willed to be deformed, you would not have recovered the form which you had lost. Therefore he was deformed when he hung on the cross. But his deformity is our comeliness. In this life, therefore, let us hold fast to the deformed Christ." — Augustine of Hippo
  • "However alarming, however distressing self-knowledge may be, better that than the tremendous evils of self-ignorance."--Caird." — Augustine of Hippo
  • "Narrow is the mansion of my soul;

enlarge Thou it, that Thou mayest enter in." — Augustine of Hippo (Confessions)

  • "Weaned from all passing fancies, let my soul praise You, O God, Creator of all. You did not allow my soul to remain attached to corruptible things with the glue of love, attached to what my senses find pleasing. For things we are attached to go where they will, then they cease, leaving the lover torn with corrupted longings." — Augustine of Hippo (The Confessions of St. Augustine: Modern English Version)
  • "For out of the perverse will came lust, and the service of lust ended in habit, and habit, not resisted, became necessity." — Augustine of Hippo
  • "Omnis natura, inquantum natura est, bonum est." [7]— Augustine of Hippo
  • "O Lord our God, under the shadow of Your wings let us hope in Your custody. Carry us when we are little. Bear us when our hair is white and we cry out in infirmity. When You grasp us, the grip is firm. When we try to sustain ourselves, the grasp is feeble. The only good we can know rests in You. When we turn from the good, You push us aside until we return. Oh, Lord, turn us, lest we be overturned. Be the good in us that is not corrupted. You are our incorruptible good. In You we do not fear that there will be no home to return to if we wander off. While we are away, You preserve our mansion with a patience that stretches into eternity."

— Augustine of Hippo (The Confessions of St. Augustine: Modern English Version)

  • "Those who ask ‘What was God doing before he made heaven and earth?’ are still steeped in error which they should have discarded." — Augustine of Hippo (Confessions)
  • "But every one of these qualities are gifts of my God: I did not give them to myself. They are good qualities, and their totality is my self. Therefore he who made me is good, and he is my good, and I exult to him, for all the good things that I was even as a boy." — Augustine of Hippo (Confessions)
  • "I think I have now, by God's help, discharged my obligation in writing this large work. Let those who think I have said too little, or those who think I have said too much, forgive me; and let those who think I have said just enough join me in giving thanks to God. Amen." — Augustine of Hippo (St. Augustine of Hippo: The City of God)
  • "The weakness then of infant limbs, not its will, is its innocence." — Augustine of Hippo (The Confessions of St. Augustine)
  • "When we transform our old life and give our spirit a new image, we find it hard and tiring to turn back from the darkness of earthly passions to the serene calm of the divine light. We thus ask God to help us that a complete conversion may be brought about in us." — Augustine of Hippo

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  1. Donatism was a heresy leading to schism in the Church of Carthage from the fourth to the sixth centuries AD. Donatists argued that Christian clergy must be faultless for their ministry to be effective and their prayers and sacraments to be valid
  2. Christopher Dawson St. Augustine and His Age
  3. "A bridge too far", an idiom inspired by Operation Market Garden, meaning an act of overreaching.
  4. Confessions VIII.vii.
  5. Pelagianism, also called Pelagian heresy, is the Christian theological position that the original sin did not taint human nature and mortal will is still capable of choosing good or evil without special divine aid or assistance.
  6. 6.0 6.1 6.2 Manichaeism was a major religion founded by the Iranian prophet Mani in the Sasanian Empire. Manichaeism taught an elaborate dualistic cosmology describing the struggle between a good, spiritual world of light, and an evil, material world of darkness.
  7. 7.0 7.1 "All nature, insofar as nature is, it is good." "All nature, in as much as it is nature, is good."
  8. Matthew 20:25 But Jesus called them unto him, and said, Ye know that the princes of the Gentiles exercise dominion over them, and they that are great exercise authority upon them.
    Mark 10:42 But Jesus called them to him, and saith unto them, Ye know that they which are accounted to rule over the Gentiles exercise lordship over them; and their great ones exercise authority upon them.
    Luke 22:25 And he said unto them, The kings of the Gentiles exercise lordship over them; and they that exercise authority upon them are called benefactors.