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Augustine Our Contemporary

It seems a fair consensus that in Augustine’s journey to Christianity there were three major issues with which he had to deal. Certainly these could be expressed variously but they seem to come down to 1) a problem with the idea of humanity being created in God’s image (since God is absolute transcendent spirit, how could people with bodies bear God’s image?); 2) a major problem with the barbaric and violent depictions of God in the Old Testament; and 3) an intense desire to adequately explain the origin of evil.

In all this Augustine is not facing concerns far different from what most people face in considering the Christian faith today, with the exception of the first concern. The obsession with the immaterial One is certainly not in vogue today as it was in Augustine’s. However, the other two issues seem to be front and center among the questions that most modern people have if they seek to intellectually examine the merits of the Christian faith. In short, Augustine is far more of a theological familiar than a stranger when it comes to questions leading to faith. Does this show Augustine’s massive influence over the nature of Christian reflection, or is it merely a reflection of what questions of faith must normally involve? Perhaps both.

One Comment

  1. Geoff wrote:

    Before I knew about Augustine I had serious problems with what it means to be made in God’s image. I was fourteen. The problem of evil did not bother me, but I did have a severe awareness of evil in my own heart that made the evils of the world. When I first read the bible the stories of the Old Testament seemed barbaric, but it made sense for God to deal with violence by utterly eradicating it, the problem I see now is that violence for violence makes God just the most powerful of violent perpetrators, unless violence is not always evil, but must merely be exercised by the proper Agent…God, for he is love, so he can never misfire. But it still seem to be an all to easy answer.
    But those concerns in Augustine were never apparent to me until I was 19 years old, delivering pizza and reading Augustine and Plato in between deliveries.

    Monday, August 31, 2009 at 2:33 pm | Permalink

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