Augustine’s book of Confessions begins with an account where he praises the Almighty Father. He says that by calling the name of God and recognizing His presence, he indicates that human should have faith that God that exist since; they cannot rely on the Supreme Being they do not know. He mentions the characteristics of God as being powerful, good, perfect, and unalterable. The main for his confession is to call God to intervene in his life. The notion of this paper is to discuss the pre and post-confession life of Augustine and the entire process of his conversion
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Augustine designates his conversion as a process of redemption from the manacles of lust. His main pursuit was the carnal pleasure, which had the main features of joy. His hunt directed him to sexual promiscuity, leaving him unmarried but with a woman in the place. Augustine spent his life with one woman whom he never married. He ended up with an experience of the difference between sexual desire and the covenant of marriage (Augustine & Outler, 2002). The Saint argues that worldly preference is non-interminable and goes against the will of God. The disagreement came after the conversion from Manichean, which questioned the power of God, to Christianity.
God intervened into Augustine’s life through the story of confessions of Ponticianus and Simplicianus. He got the knowledge the deformations situation in his heart. The confessions showed him the mighty work of God his the life of his people. The Saint received the Holy Spirit, which moved him the carnal of the pleasure of the spiritual birth canal. In his writing, “You changed me to your object so that I can never place my hope women and earthly things,” he shows how God converted him to desire for holiness but not pleasure (Augustine & Outler, 2002). He encompassed the anointment, became attached to Christ, to enjoy the magnificent and everlasting joy.
The Life of Augustine before and after Conversion
Augustine’s desire to know God and His actions began in his infancy when he fell sick and wanted to go through spiritual baptism. According to stories from his parents about him, he hated attending school forcefully since he never liked Greek and the mechanics of Latin. Wills (2011), explains that informal education focuses on immoral fictions, which leads an individual to various forms of temptations. The knowledge obtained from this style of education, made Augustine move away from God. Even though he had commendable talents, skills, and abilities, he always found himself in troubles. He was vulnerable to mistakes at home and in school. His attachment and attraction to the beauty of the world lured him to believe in the truth provided by earthly desires.
Augustine dirges over the unfilled education at his childhood, which focused on imaginations but not the moral behaviors. His training involved the influence of verses to yield sensitive rejoinders in spectators though the results are immoral to them. Augustine & Outler (2002) discloses that without the involvement of moral content in education, the outcome separation from God and human entrapment. He gives a description of himself as a liar, thieve, and a little boy who snitches from his friends for personal gain. These faults are major evidence of the foundation of his sinful life from childhood, making him lack the description of an innocent child. However, during his infancy, he was intelligent, had good memories, and always seek for the truth about life.
Augustine’s school life clogs him into carnal pleasure and assumes the agonies associated with love. The experience of reading the book of Cicero: Hortensius changed him to direct his love towards philosophy and real wisdom. His main objective career was becoming a lawyer. After first, he resisted peer pressure and focused on his studies. He tried to be rigid to his sexual desire and the impulse to love, which lacked a meaningful direction. Wills (2011), adds that lust is an excessive admiration and selfish desire towards anything, not necessarily flesh. Theses lustrous feelings are the major factors that kept Augustine away from doing the will of God.
The account of sexual sins in the life of Augustine is the created part of confession. He had a huge difficulty in differentiating between physical and spiritual love. Physical love works to satisfy human lust towards flesh while spiritual love comprises companionship, healthy friendship, and heart fulfillment (Wills, 2011). He uses his psychological uprightness to identify his major problem as showing off to his friends about sexual exploitation. Augustine’s parents reacted in a dissimilar way: his mother became worried about his new sexual actions while the father had much pride in him.
The Saint continued his education, where he excelled at school. At his adolescence, he meandered from the will of God by following immoral teachings in the education curriculum. Augustine and his friends broke into a store and stole pears in large quantity. He was never angry for pears but was under the influence of the teaching in Manichaeism that triggered to do mistakes and joy provoking other people (Augustine & Outler, 2002). He relished the act of doing group mistakes and claimed that it added fun to his life. He often used his intelligence to manipulate a group of fellow young men to participate ill in-group motive. However, he writes this was a trap into misdirection to the beauty of the world, which separates the body from the laws of God.
During the adolescent stage, he committed other sins such as lust and love of doing mistakes. Lust refers to love that point in the wrong direction. It is a disordered effort to pursue consummation in passing objects that can never earn real gratification. Augustine had last for women since he never committed into a relationship with the aim of getting into marriage. Besides, the love for doing a wrong thing without any reasons was also part of his youthful sins. These actions showed his lack of reasonable inspiration for his actions. According to Wills (2011), every crime has a motive including greed or other self-interest. The ill actions of the Saint lacked the motivation of crime as he did them mainly for enjoyment.
At early adulthood, he completed his education process and obtained a job. He earned untruthful careers including a rhetorical teaching and Manichaeism (Wills, 2011). He later got into a sex oriented relationship with a woman, whom he lived by her better never mention her in public. During that time, he taught his students how to deceive others with the words from Manichaeism. Contrary, he sometimes teaches virtues as a moral practice among humans. He hated certain rituals such animal scarification to spiritual beings to for his success.
According to Augustine’s book of confession, the mythological aspect of Manichaeism that believes in astrology such as the sun and the moon for intervention. He believed in rationality, which does not appeal to spiritual beings. In his argument that believing in astrology repudiates people from making their choices freely, was to indicate that the practice is contradicting that of Christians (Augustine & Outler, 002). The result of this hinders the intervention of the Supreme God’s greatness and undervalues the upright accountability of human. Augustine emphasized on human reliance on the Almighty God and His elegance for salvation.
Augustine loved the power of truth and good will. During his teachings, he tells his students that he values virtuousness. Augustine & Outler, (2002) supports the point that it is proper to free a guilty criminal than pronouncing an innocent man to the death sentence. He was against the sacrifices made to the spiritual gods: and condemn it as an evil practice. He added that the practice was mythological. For instance, Manichaeism’s astrology that the sun and moon have their spiritual role were some of the myths accomplished. Augustine treasured rationality, where he argues that natural order is a reflection of the divine order of God. He described astrology as violating the belief of Christians since it denies people choice of freedom. “If stars control human behavior, the people are not responsible for their sins,” (Wills, 2011).
For Augustine, he would rather acknowledge scientific findings of philosophers than the myth observed by the Manichean. His doubt directed him to a Bishop from Manichaeism for further explanations on the astronomy. He began losing hope in his religion since he was never certain the astrological myths followed. He says that, even though the scientific findings are non-religious, they hold better meaning compared to the Manichean myths (Wills 2011). Simple faith is much important that great knowledge without spiritual acceptance. He later points out that all those scientific knowledge are useless without the Christ interventions.
The failure to understand that reality about spirits is more powerful than physical authenticity made the Saint shift from reading Christin scriptures. The mythology of Manichaeism was multifaceted enough to convince his inappropriate laboriousness (Augustine & Outler, 2002).The determinant of righteousness and evil depends on the unalterable commandment of God but not the customs of dissimilar places or duration. In his mission to seek for the truth, Augustine considers the nature and origin of sin. He argues that sin originates from curiosity, lust, and pride, and take diverse perspectives. Some sins upset the law of God while some affront human being by inducing pain and suffering to them.
During his teaching in Rome, he listened to Bishop Ambrose’ sermon, which gave him the better interpretation of his doubts. He realized that his actions were a great influence to some of his friends, even though they never adapted the confused world of Augustine. The worldly pleasure such as leaving with a concubine hindered him from dedication himself to God. His church members encouraged him to marry so as avoid sexual lust for women. The suggestion forced him to send away the women he had. The arrangement for his wedding came to cancelation after they realized that he was still young (Augustine & Outler, 2002).
In his mission for seeking for the truth about the nature of God and the origin of sin, he began to see the work of Christ in people live. According to Wills (2011), sin began from the corrupted nature of human towards others. Having read the Platonist, he gained the ability to read and understand the truth in the Bible. He finally became a Christian in his heart but was still unable to give up the pleasure of the world. That is when he visited Simplicianus: who shared with him the confessional stories of two people. The stories moved him to accept baptism and leave the worldly life. He noted that the recovery of lost faith was possible through God’s intervention.
The letters of St. Paul assisted Augustine to surrender his old life and join the work of God. The “take and read” voice helped him to make his final decision to change his life (Wills, 2011). The shame of the inability to follow the new way of Christ become so complex to Augustine since he had a divided argument about God. Together with his great friends, they received the Spirit of God after their long desire. He had to quit his profession as a teacher so that he could find it easy to avoid the carnal pleasure that he made part of his joy. Augustine concluded that faith could give one back what went out of their control.
The Hedonism in Augustine’s life
According to Wills (2011), Augustine’s life what dominated by carnal pleasure from his childhood. Hedonism refers to the feeling that pleasure is the most important objective in life and the act of perusing the joy accompanied by its outcome. He began by doing mistakes at school and home, not because he was stubborn. He enjoyed seeing people’s reactions towards his actions. At adolescence, he started feeling in love without recognizing whom he loved. He later ended up falling in love with a concubine, whose was physical satisfactions and joy. The unique characteristics about him were that he enjoyed the hedonistic behavior of causing troubles to others and watching them suffer. After accepting Christ in his life, he still could not seize the life of leaving without a woman nor sex, thus pushed him to get married.
The confessions about the entire sinful life of Augustine indicates the long process passed by the people of God to turn to him. During confession, the sincerity allows for repentance and forgiveness of sins. Augustine’s story gives a clear picture of the contemporary practices of our churches today. Human being finds the pleasure of the world more enjoyable than leaving life the spirits of God, thus making them seize to change. If someone noticed that self-dedication to God has all the benefits, they would never waste time in lustful life controlled by the devil. God give human the opportunity to gain the experience in their sinful life so that they can voluntarily turn Him in times when he is the only one who can intervene
Augustine, S. & Outler, A. C. (2002). The confessions of St. Augustine. Mineola, N.Y.: Dover Publications.
Wills, G. (2011). Augustine’s Confessions: A biography. Princeton, N.J: Princeton University Press. P.p. 146