St. Augustine Confession Essay

Pages: 3 (1078 words)  ·  Style: Chicago  ·  Bibliography Sources: 3  ·  File: .docx  ·  Level: College Senior  ·  Topic: Mythology - Religion

St. Augustine Confession

Two wills and inner conflicts in the life of Augustine

Augustine, who eventually became the Bishop of Hippo, is considered one of the early founding fathers of the modern Catholic Church. He is a revered patriarch, and his Confessions are read as inspirational tale of a man who was once a great sinner, who became a great saint. Given his reputation, it might be assumed that Augustine had an uncomplicated view of the innate freedom of the human will. The belief that human beings possess free will to sin or to choose salvation is one of the tenants of orthodox Christian belief, as opposed to Gnostic Manichaeism. Manichaeism was the heretical credo that Augustine embraced early in his theological career, and then eventually rejected. Manichaeism embraced predestination as well as a dualistic view of the universe as divided into good and evil. However, while Augustine did not accept the Manichean understanding of the world, he did believe that God's grace was necessary to achieve salvation. Salvation could not be achieved through sheer force of the human will alone. Only through divine intervention could the mastery of both physical desires and spiritual urges be undertaken, even while he stressed that human beings did have free will and Manichaeism was heresy.

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When he was a young man, Augustine prayed to God to make him good -- but not yet. This famous statement of Augustine is often seen as a dramatic depiction of how someone with a spiritual orientation can be lead awry by the physical cravings and of the body. But this prayer shows that Augustine did not simply act poorly, but that his sincere wish to be good and his internal moral compass was lacking. He was incapable of moral behavior and good, self-restrained actions because his will was half-hearted and weak.

TOPIC: Essay on St. Augustine Confession Assignment

Furthermore, Augustine's great claim to fame as great sinner who became a great saint lies not just in his sexual crimes but also his intellectual and moral crimes. Augustine's sins were internal as well as physically manifest. He stole apples as a child and had a mistress as a young man but just as importantly Augustine was extremely ambitious and ruthless in his professional career. He studied pagan philosophers, preferring their prose to Christian teachings. He also showed a lack of respect to his gentle Christian mother, Monica. He embraced Manichaeism and neo-Platonism as superior systems of thought out of intellectual arrogance before he embraced Christianity. In other words, his sins were spiritual and incorporeal as well as of the body. It took grace from God for him to become a convert, not simply a change in his exterior actions or even his physical urges. In terms of his letting go of his desire for sexual excess, Augustine says explicitly that God took it away, not that he was able to resist these desires more willfully: "And now I will tell and confess unto thy name, O Lord, my helper and my redeemer, how thou didst deliver me from the chain of sexual desire by which I was so tightly held, and from the slavery of worldly business" (10.VI.13).

Only after his conversion and his acceptance of divine grace, were Augustine's body mastered by his… [END OF PREVIEW] . . . READ MORE

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APA Style

St. Augustine Confession.  (2008, November 11).  Retrieved January 16, 2022, from https://www.essaytown.com/subjects/paper/st-augustine-confession/85089

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"St. Augustine Confession."  11 November 2008.  Web.  16 January 2022. <https://www.essaytown.com/subjects/paper/st-augustine-confession/85089>.

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"St. Augustine Confession."  Essaytown.com.  November 11, 2008.  Accessed January 16, 2022.
https://www.essaytown.com/subjects/paper/st-augustine-confession/85089.