Tuesday, January 17, 2006

So How Was It That Augustine Came To Be Born Again?

Augustine’s conversion to Christianity was profoundly emotional but strongly informed by his intellect. He was influenced by numerous experiences and encounters with exemplary Christians, philosophy and the Bible.

As an intelligent, educated young man, Augustine had first sought answers to life’s questions from among the (non-Christian) Manicheans, but they were never able to completely satisfy him. His commitment to their doctrines was always tentative. After much disappointment and disillusionment, he gave up on them.

The earliest, most persistent, and long-lasting influence on Augustine was the lifelong witness of his mother, Monica, including her prayers for his conversion.

Augustine’s thinking and method prior to his conversion was informed by Cicero, Platonism, the Skeptics, and Neo-Platonism. Augustine gradually came to an intellectual assent to Christianity but strongly resisted taking on a life of chastity.

At Milan, Augustine came under the influence of the great Bishop Ambrose, who was instrumental in his conversion. Simplicianus, instructed Augustine in the faith and directed him in the Christian use and understanding of philosophy. Augustine knew of and was influenced by the stories about Antony and the desert monks; the Roman teacher of rhetoric, Victorinus; the members of the Roman Court who resigned to become monks; the members of Ambrose’s church, and by others. Obviously, the Bible, especially the writing of St. Paul, and especially his letter to the Romans, was a significant and decisive factor.

During the time leading up to the moment of his conversion, Augustine endured intense storms of anxiety and conflict, and the moment of conversion was emotionally convulsive. With the Tolle Lege incident, Augustine was "broken" by God. His conversion first was intellectual, then spiritual.

Of course guiding all of the above was the hand of God.


Blogger peteratsal said...

Wow - this is a great summary of how St. Augustine converted. As a 22 year old about to convert and get Baptised for the first time in my life, I can relate to a lot of what this post talks about from Augustine's perspective.

My pastor recommended that I read Augustine's Confession; however I am afraid I do not have the entire piece in the audiobook that I downloaded. I am wondering, do you know what chapter/ book pertains to this section, from where St. Augustine is dismissive, then becomes curious for the reasons you list, and then finally converts?

I would love to check out this section. Thanks!

1:26 AM  

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