Augustine City of God Research Proposal

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City of God Augustine

Though the context of the "church father" Augustus is historically associated with his life and times, 354-430, his influence was not significant until later. This observation is true of all his works, as one by one they were adopted as secondary doctrine to scripture but mores specifically the City of God, where Augustine, among other things, demonstrates further proofs of his many discourses on sin and having a personal relationship with God. The ideas that are developed through the City of God are continuations of ideas that had challenged Augustine as a very human member of the world, having taken many false paths and lived a life altogether unholy. The work applies his own experiences and those of others as sinners and members of "wrong" faiths in a corpulent world of available free will to build a city of god in opposition to a city of earth, which offered free men the opportunity only for sin.

Augustine's contemplative ideal and his devotion to Christ help to explain both the influence which he subsequently exercised over Western medieval spirituality, and the character of De Trinitate, universally admitted to be among his supreme achievements; for the De Trinitate is not simply, or even primarily, a work of dogmatic, or even of contemplative, theology. It is, in the last resort, a work of devotion, which expounds and seeks to understand the faith for practical, not academic, reasons. It is a product of Augustine's personal religious life, just as his writings on baptism and the need for grace are products of his pastoral encounters with Donatism and Pelagianism.

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Research Proposal on Augustine City of God Assignment

Augustine was above all sincerely interested in the personal aspects of faith, and in how such aspects influenced man to do either good or bad within the eyes of God. This is clearly his draw as a foundational member of the recognized group of men known as the "church fathers" who so significantly influenced the middle ages that the period cannot be discussed without them and vice versa. It is for this reason that the manifest idea of the City of God be the most essential guiding principle of the reformation period, we call the middle ages. In an earlier work, Augustine discusses a transgression as a young man, that will likely remain that which he is most famous for as long as his memory exists, within a work that predates the City of God, called simply Confessions. The work is a highly personal account of Augustine's resistance to personal acceptance of faith and many years of strayed standards and options. The transgression, considered by many to be his pinnacle analogy is that of the pear tree, where he and a group of young hooligans decimate a pear tree and then feed its fruit to the pigs, having sought or gained nothing to commit such sin Augustine, above all his much more heinous sins of youth considers this to be his worst, which he plainly attests to simply because his sin had no self-motivation.

Augustine was not hungry and, had he been so, he had better fruit of his own at home. 4 the motive then was not material; it was malice pure and simple -- a pleasure in doing evil. 5 in this schoolboy escapade, we find proof of the spiritual nature of sin, and hence its importance in the mind of Augustine. 6 the motive of the apparently motiveless action is a perverse desire to emulate the divine omnipotence, 7 which springs from what Augustine was afterwards to regard in the City of God as the architect of the Earthly City -- love of self to the contempt of God. 8 in this sense the theft of the pears, even more than unchastity, is the great sin of Augustine's adolescence, and for this reason it forms a fitting climax to the sins of his childhood.

Bonner 54)

As Bonner points out in the above passage one can look at this historical and now infamous story of childhood, espoused as pinnacle by Augustine as the motivation for Augustine's attempt within the City of God to bring the idea full circle, making the concept global and earthly bound. Augustine attempts through City of God to apply the individual lessons of the dichotomous relationship between sin and good works to a whole city, which lies in conflict with the opposing city, of God, where such indiscretions and personal and global sin do not touch the population. Augustine's City of God had a significant draw in the middle ages, more so than at any previous time, not simply because the people were willing to listen to it content but because its context applied to a period of transformation and reformation that applied not only to the individual but to the very institutions of life, the Church and the City.

So, says Augustine, 'if these men could live their lives again today, they would see by whose authority measures are best taken for man's salvation and, with the change of a few words and sentiments, they would become Christians, as many Platonists of recent times have done'. 3 and they would become Christians, not as members of any heretical sect, but in the Catholic Church, strongly and widely spread throughout the world. 4 Augustine here proceeds to give an exposition of the Catholic faith, 5 indicating the lines upon which he was to build his later theology, and even speaking of two races of men -- the impious, who bear the image of the earthly man from the beginning to the end of the world, and the righteous who, from Adam to John the Baptist, lead the life of the earthly man under a certain form of righteousness until the coming of Christ, by whose grace the Old Man is changed into the New, a change which will be finally completed at the Day of Judgement 6 --a division of humanity which would be finally elaborated in one of the most famous of his writings, the City of God.

Bonner 110)

Theology in the Middle Ages was the only valid form of education. For that reason the church had a monopolizing control on the ideas that were furthered, and many were dedicated almost exclusively to higher order thought, regarding the role god played in the world and the role the world played with god. All professors where obligated to the church, taught in theological universities, and if they were to keep their jobs long they did not step outside the boundaries of faith teachings, in their life or their verbalized thoughts. Though the greatest teachers of the faith were reformers, the contentions they made were ripe from the perspective of the church. Their actions may have been challenging to the lesser order of the church but they were in due time. Anselm, created a personal connection to faith, as did Augustine and another famous teacher actually living in the period Abelard, for example built his fame, and some would say infamy on the personal relationship with God, which he believed must be strengthened. While Bernard of Clairvaux (the famous monastic reformer) built his teachings on realistic dedication to faith, especially on the part of the clergy and the monastic calling, the common denominator of faith then being the personal relationship with God and the ability of that relationship to guide or deter from appropriate early deeds and demands. While in Augustine's time such questions were of state building, in later Medieval times they were of rebuilding, and affixing the church and man to a doctrine that included only those aspects of historical works that built upon that which the church deemed appropriate for reformation.

A the foundation of the Christian religion and its acknowledgement by the authorities of the Roman Empire as the religion of the State, the overthrow of the Roman Empire in the West by the barbarian invaders and the gradual education of these invaders by the Roman Church in the intellectual tradition of the Christianized Empire. In this tradition, of which the Roman Church was in the West the main surviving depository, were found in a somewhat unstable synthesis the heterogeneous traditions of the classical culture and of the Christian religion.

The movement known by some as Natural Theology, built from the works of early Roman and Greek philosophers and the church fathers as they became known and of which Augustine was, transmitted it into the practice and ideas of the Roman Catholic Church. Some of the most influential theologians and therefore teachers of the church and laity were reformers who strove to meet the standards set for them by the Church fathers, such as Augustine in particular and Anselm as well.

The method of exploring a text of the Scriptures or an incident in the lives of the saints and using this as a basis for personal prayer was not invented by Anselm, but he began the pattern of writing down such meditations, with all the exclamations and sighs… [END OF PREVIEW] . . . READ MORE

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