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Essay/Term paper: Saint augustine

Essay, term paper, research paper:  Religion

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Saint Augustine was born on 354 CE in Tagaste, Africa.
His given name was Aurelius Augustinus. His father was
Patricius, a pagan who was baptized Christian before he
died, and his mother was Monica, a baptized Christian with
an influential role in the life of her son. Augustine is
regarded as one of the most intelligent Christian theologians
and bishops of all time. His works and actions have left a
major imprint on the Church and its doctrine.

As a boy, Augustine was not baptized and grew up in the
Roman Empire. He studied under the local schoolmasters
in Tagaste until he turned fifteen and moved to continue his
studies in Madaurus. From Madaurus, he moved to
Carthage for advanced studies in rhetoric and law. It was in
Carthage that he took a concubine and later had a son
named Adeodatus from her. It was in this period of his life
that embraced Manichaeism, which is a belief that one god
is responsible for all good and another responsible for all
evil. Augustine"s belief in Manichaeism prompted Monica,
his mother, not to allow his entrance into the family"s house.
Even with her actions, she continued praying and hoping
that Augustine would find the Lord. After he ended his
studies in Carthage, he became a teacher and was
constantly on the move throughout Northern Africa.

Augustine stopped teaching and moved to Milan where he
gained the position of Public Orator. In Milan, Augustine
met Ambrose, the Bishop of Milan. Augustine grew to love
Ambrose"s allegorical interpretations of the Bible and this
led to his appreciation and new understanding of the
Scripture. He also studied and learned to appreciate
Plato"s works and started linking a lot of his works into the
meaning and messages in the Bible. Augustine"s family,
including his mother, joined him in Milan. Her constant
prayers for his conversion to Christianity and the strict
ethical demands of Ambrose made Augustine"s
appreciation of Plato"s work grew deeper. It made him no
choice, but to convert to Christianity. On Easter Sunday of
387 CE in Milan, Augustine along with his son and his
friend, Alypius, were baptized by Ambrose.

After Augustine"s mother passed away, he traveled
throughout the Roman Empire. He wrote many of his
books on theology along the way. He had no aspirations of
priesthood, but through a mere chance visit at Hippo in
Africa; the bishop Valerius needed a parish priest.
Augustine appeared to be the best candidate, and in 391
CE, he was ordained. Augustine"s model for his ministry
was St. Paul and he found St. Paul as a mentor. In Hippo,
he set up a monastery for the sake of training new priests.
With Augustine"s many contributions to Hippo, Bishop
Valerius requested Augustine to become his Co-adjutire. A
year later, Valerius passed away and Augustine became the
Bishop of Hippo.

While Augustine was bishop, he wrote some of his greatest
works, which still survive today. The first of these is
Confessions, where he thanked God for changing him, and
he also revealed how he struggled with himself, his sexual
nature, self-will and his pride. He presented his positions on
incarnation and the Trinity. Confessions were both his
biography and also his presentation of his ideas. This book
was written with the hope that others will experience
conversion to Christianity and how he, Augustine, felt on
his way towards conversion.

City of God is another great work of Augustine which he
showed that Rome fell because it was a "City of Earth" and
not because of Christianity and he Christians. The City of
God emerged from God"s love while Rome, the "City of
Earth" emerged from the love of self. This was the
dominant theme in the story. Augustine also critiqued
Greco-Roman culture drawing from the greatest historians
and writers of the period. He pointed out the degradation
of Roman standards of conduct, life patterns or style and
sexual behaviors. Contrasting the Roman side, Augustine
depicted Christianity with vigor, health and cleanliness. He
wrote many more books, but these two were some of his
best.

Outside writing books, Augustine also involved himself in
controversies in the Church. As said before, Manichaeism
was the belief that one God made good and another evil.
Augustine, after following this sect a while back,
denounced it because of the polytheistic belief, and also
giving human features to God. He resolved the controversy
by debating the Manichaen Bishop Fortunatus. Augustine
easily defeated him in the debate, and thus, he discredited
Manichaean religion.

Another controversy, that Augustine was involved in, was
Donatism. Donatastics believed that Catholics blemished
priesthood and that there were no true sacraments. This
divided the African church into groups of warring factions.
Augustine fought the Donatists by saying that the
sacraments depended on the Lord, not the giver. He
showed that the Church is the union of all people into
Christ. He defined free will, Christian sacraments, and
original sin. His argument with the Donatists clarified
Christian doctrines for further generations to come.

Pelagianism was the final controversy that Augustine
handled. They believed that God"s grace is not needed for
salvation, but only good works. Augustine fought this
controversy by explaining that grace was necessary for
salvation because without it, people would be even more
sinful. The leader of Pelagianism, Pelagius, never met with
Augustine, but as a result of this controversy, "God"s saving
grace" was clearly understood through Augustine"s
arguments.

On August 28, 430 CE in Hippo, Augustine died. He is
regarded as one of the greatest and intelligent saints of the
Church. He clarified Church doctrines, established
monasteries for new priests, educated many into the
meaning of Christianity and made Christianity humanistic
which is nurtured by God"s love and grace.



Brown, Peter. Augustine of Hippo. Berkeley: University of
California Press, 1967.

Possidius. The Life of Saint Augustine. Villanova:
Augustinian Press, 1988.
 

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