Saint Augustine Essay

1501 words - 6 pages

Many consider Saint Augustine of Hippo a main figure in the development of orthodox Christian doctrine during the early Christian Church. Augustine was born in Northern Africa in AD 354. His father was a pagan and his mother a Christian. Though his parents were not extremely well to do, they had enough money to allow Augustine to obtain an education in the liberal arts. This education will eventually affect how he sees Christianity, especially concerning the use of neo-Platonic ideas in Christian theology.

Augustine converted to orthodox Christianity late in life. He struggled with the many earthly things he needed to give up for a complete conversion of body, mind, and soul. It is in Confessions that Augustine shows the world this struggle with and eventual conversion to orthodox Christianity. Though the conversion did not come easily, Christianity held a variety of appealing ideas for Augustine that influenced how he viewed the world in which he lived. In turn, the late conversion of Augustine allowed for his non-Christian experiences and study to have a strong effect on how he viewed orthodox Christianity and the number of heresy-sects of Christianity that continued to thrive during his lifetime. His education also created a unique view for Augustine concerning the use of pagan philosophies in Christian doctrine. Finally, all of the experiences and views of Saint Augustine eventually had a profound influence on orthodox Christian doctrine and philosophy.

Augustine was actually born a Christian and taught Christian doctrine by his mother Monica while still young. However, born Christian and not interested in pagan religions, Augustine was also not particularly interested in orthodox Christianity either. He spent most of his young life with little to do with any particular religion. Eventually, as Augustine continued his education, he started questioning his spirituality and the idea that he was living a selfish life void of something important inside himself. It was during this time that Augustine discovered the appealing ideas that Christianity had to offer.

The most appealing idea of Christianity to Augustine was that it allowed for a logical view of God, as well having a certain amount of mystery. In Confessions, Augustine continually discusses the importance of his education in the liberal art as an important aspect of his understanding of Christianity. Using logic, Augustine understood the Christian ideas of sin, evil, and God's relationship to humanity and all creation. He believes it is a man's natural state to want to be near God spiritually, yet in their weak state of flesh, they often move away from the one thing they yearn for most, which is God. Augustine says of this, "…to praise you [God] is the desire of man, a little piece of your creation. You stir man to take pleasure in praising you, because you have made us for yourself, and our heart is restless until it rests in you".

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