St. Augustine was someone whom looking at a great deal of his life it is ironic that he is revered so highly in the Christian community. He was educated in pagan teachings and philosophy, and followed a form of Gnosticism for a great deal of his life. He was not a follower of the Christian teachings on sex and was a womanizer during his early life he fathered a child with one of his concubines. He had a mistress while being engaged to a girl who was not of marrying age.
This is generally differently from family life of today. There are no longer concubines, and marriage is more about love than it was for him. A man would not get engaged to a minor because it is illegal, nor would he get engaged to further his wealth as that is normally not socially acceptable. However his mother??™s behavior is not so different from that of a devoted catholic today. She did not approve of her sons debauchery and spent most of her life trying to persuade him to convert and praying for his conversion. Augustine??™s original faith was a form of Gnosticism called Manichaeism which saw that there was a good eternal soul and a corrupt temporal body does not in fact differ from some teachings of Buddhism. In fact the founder of this faith is called in some eastern traditions the Buddha Mani. His career as a professor of rhetoric or decision making is still a common one today looking back at the work of Greek philosophers.
His teachings about Christianity are in many churches what are taught today. This includes the ideas by infusing philosophy that the material world is less important than the spiritual world even though God created it. The church should be focused on Gods kingdom rather than earthly ones is another of his teachings. He also taught the idea of original sin; that due to Adam and Eve we are all born with sin and that with the perfect life of Christ we have salvation. Humans cannot achieve salvation except through divine grace which is still the teaching of many protestant churches. His teachings made it alright for Christians to serve in the military when the war is just and not for one??™s own gain. It must also be waged by an institution, and love has to have a central motivation. Augustine??™s defense of marriage as being from God is still the view of marriage by most churches today. Some of his teachings were not accepted by his peers; including that Mary was not free of sin herself and immaculately conceived by her mother Ann. This is a doctrine that the medieval church taught, and some Christians still believe. In his work he writes the about the world being round, helping to disprove the myth that Columbus discovered that the world is round.
The life of Augustine can be traced with many sources. He wrote an autobiography which is actually a series of books called his confessions which are considered the oldest autobiography in the western world. In it he says he often committed his sins because of those he found in his company. We also have his book City of God which portrays the world of the fourth century as chaotic and full of fear. The people were used to suffering and thought they had angered their pagan gods. Augustine writes that throughout the history of Rome it has been the practice to burn and pillage everything during wars even the temples of the pagan gods and raids and it is only under Christianity that there is clemency. In this work a reader could also believe that war was a common thing in the early Middle Ages as well as suicide as a great deal is spent discussing both. He writes that people should not voluntarily die for the faith telling about a group of women who drowned rather than be captured by the barbarians. It makes it seem at the time many Christians looked for ways to die for their faith and Augustine writes there are more important things than this. He even writes that based on the examples of Paul fleeing it is alright for Christian bishops to flee with the members of their parish when an invasion of barbarians occur. Based on his writings a reader could also believe that celibacy was pushed for a lot more in the early medieval church. In these works it could be inferred that many thought the end of the world was coming soon. Augustine??™s writings are more in line with Amillennialism that Christ??™s kingdom is in heaven and he will return to establish his permanent reign. In Augustine??™s it seems that induced abortion was a problem in the early Middle Ages and he condemns it, he also writes that a male gets a soul before a female child does. This time period was one of male domination in most political areas and in most high church offices and certainly many viewed women as inferior to men which may be why Augustine believed this.
Possidius the bishop of Callima a contemporary of Augustine also wrote a biography on him. The church in this era had many varying heresies to deal with. In it he details the work of Augustine in defending the church against the Donatists a more violent group of Christians who believed that the clergy should almost sacred. Augustine argues it is the work, the sacraments that the clergy perform which are sacred. He also fended off another heretical group Pelagianism. This group rejected the idea of original sin and taught that people by their own virtue could save themselves. As the vandals invaded at the end of his life he also stood firm and defended it against the Arian bishop. In that book he also tells how Augustine completely removed himself from the temptation of lust and would not have any woman stay in his house not even his sister or niece. He also only visited the nunnery when it was absolutely necessary.
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