Wednesday, December 21, 2005

Book VIII, Chapter 10

Augustine continues his rejection and condemnation of the Manichaean idea that people are of two minds, one good and one evil. He again vigorously affirms that there is only one “I”.

Augustine makes reference to Original Sin as being the cause of inner conflict:

“So I fought with myself and was torn apart by myself. It was against my will that this tearing took place, but this was not an indication that I had another mind of a different nature; it was simply the punishment which I was suffering I my own mind. It was not I, therefore, who caused it, but the sin dwells in me, and being a son of Adam, I was suffering for his sin which was more freely committed.”

But doesn’t this statement sound awfully Manichaean? Overly dualistc? Augustine is basically saying he is not to blame, the sin is to blame, as if the sin is something apart from him? This doesn’t seem all that different to me than a Manichaean saying he didn’t sin, that it was the bad substance in him that is to blame.

I have become of the opinion that although Augustine vigorously rejected and renounced the Manichaean doctrines, he still retained Manichaean thought patterns and a latent Manichaean worldview. This is consistent with what Augustine’s peers in the Orthodox Church thought at the time and with what Orthodox thinkers opine today.

At some point in the future, I will have to address the dualism of Augustine. I recently watched the History channel show titled, “Sex and the Bible.” It was stated that the dualism of Augustine is not Biblical, and I believe that to be correct. In the Bible, the spirit/soul and body are not entirely separate spheres. Augustine took his dualism from both Neo-Platonism and Manichaeanism. According to one of my Orthodox correspondents, although the Orthodox Church has a massive Greek influence, even more than in the Latin Church, they rejected much of the dualism of Neo-Platonism inherited from the Greeks. And interestingly, I’ve noticed that in the theology coming from Communion and Liberation Movement (which I’ve been involved in for the past year), there is much condemnation of dualism. Among other things, they say that nihilism is the logical conclusion of dualism.

I really need to learn a lot more.

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