Augustine of Hippo
Saint Augustine was born in 354 in Tagaste to a Christian mother and a Pagan father, raised in Roman north Africa, educated in Carthage, and employed as a professor of rhetoric in Milan by 383. He followed the Manichaean religion in his student days, and was converted to Christianity by the preaching and example of Ambrose of Milan. He was baptized at Easter in 387, and returned to north Africa and created a monastic foundation at Tagaste for himself and a group of friends. In 391 he was ordained a priest in Hippo Regius, (now Annaba, in Algeria). He became a famous preacher (more than 350 preserved sermons are believed to be authentic), and was noted for combating the Manichaean heresy.
In 396 he was made coadjutor bishop of Hippo (assistant with the right of succession on the death of the current bishop), and remained as bishop in Hippo until his death in 430. He left his monastery, but continued to lead a monastic life in the episcopal residence. He left a Rule (Latin, Regula) for his monastery that has led him to be designated the "patron saint of Regular Clergy," that is, parish clergy who live by a monastic rule.
Augustine died on August 28, 430, during the siege of Hippo by the Vandals. He is said to have encouraged its citizens to resist the attacks, primarily on the grounds that the Vandals adhered to Arian Christianity, which Augustine regarded as heretical.
Influence as a theologian and thinker
Augustine remains a central figure, both within Christianity and in the history of Western thought. Himself much influenced by Platonism and neo-Platonism, particularly by Plotinus, Augustine was important to the "baptism" of Greek thought and its entrance into the Christian, and subsequently the European intellectual tradition. Also important was his early and influential writing on the human will, a central topic in ethics, and one which became a focus for later philosophers such as Schopenhauer and Nietzsche.
Augustine's writings helped formulate the theory of just war. He also advocated the use of force against the Donatists, asking "Why . . . should not the Church use force in compelling her lost sons to return, if the lost sons compelled others to their destruction?" (The Correction of the Donatists, 22-24)
The Reception of Augustine in the Orthodox Church
The Fifth Ecumenical Council listed Augustine among other Fathers of the Church, though there is no unqualified acceptance of his theology mentioned (just as there is none for most saints of the Church).
A long story. He wasn't well known in the East until. Some say he should be called "blessed" while others insist on calling him saint (is there a difference?). Some blame him for many of the theological errors of the West, others view him as a strong theological authority.
From The City of God
St. Augustine evidently originated the phrase "love the sinner, hate the sin", which he tied in with a private notion of evil:
- "For this reason, the man who lives by God's standards and not be man's, must needs be a lover of the good, and it follows that he must hate what is evil. Further, since no one is evil by nature, but anyone who is evil is evil because of a perversion of nature, the man who lives by God's standards has a duty of 'perfect hatred' (Psalm 139:22) towards those who are evil; that is to say, he should not hate the person because of the fault, nor should he love the fault because of the person. He should hate the fault, but love the man. And when the fault has been cured there will remain only what he ought to love, nothing that he should hate". (14:6, Penguin ed., transl. Bettenson)
At the end of his life (426-428?) Augustine revisited his previous works in chronological order and suggested what he would have said differently in a work titled the Retractions, which gives us a remarkable picture of the development of a writer and his final thoughts.
- On Christian Doctrine, 397-426
- Confessions, 397-398
- City of God, begun c. 413, finished 426.
- On the Trinity, 400-416.
- On the Catechising of the Uninstructed
- On Faith and the Creed
- Concerning Faith of Things Not Seen
- On the Profit of Believing
- On the Creed: A Sermon to Catechumens
- On Continence
- On the Good of Marriage
- On Holy Virginity
- On the Good of Widowhood
- On Lying
- To Consentius: Against Lying
- On the Work of Monks
- On Patience
- On Care to be Had For the Dead
- On the Morals of the Catholic Church
- On the Morals of the Manichaeans
- On Two Souls, Against the Manichaeans
- Acts or Disputation Against Fortunatus the Manichaean
- Against the Epistle of Manichaeus Called Fundamental
- Reply to Faustus the Manichaean
- Concerning the Nature of Good, Against the Manichaeans
- On Baptism, Against the Donatists
- Answer to Letters of Petilian, Bishop of Cirta
- The Correction of the Donatists
- Merits and Remission of Sin, and Infant Baptism
- On the Spirit and the Letter
- On Nature and Grace
- On Man's Perfection in Righteousness
- On the Proceedings of Pelagius
- On the Grace of Christ, and on Original Sin
- On Marriage and Concupiscence
- On the Soul and its Origin
- Against Two Letters of the Pelagians
- On Grace and Free Will
- On Rebuke and Grace
- The Predestination of the Saints/Gift of Perseverance
- Our Lord's Sermon on the Mount
- The Harmony of the Gospels
- Sermons on Selected Lessons of the New Testament
- Tractates on the Gospel of John
- Homilies on the First Epistle of John
- The Enarrations, or Expositions, on the Psalms
- Peter Brown, Augustine of Hippo (Berkeley: University of California Press, 1967) ISBN 0-520-00186-9
- Adolphe Tanquerey, The Spiritual Life: A Treatise on Ascetical and Mystical Theology, 1930, reprint edition 2000, ISBN 0895556596, p. 37.
- On Christian Doctrine, Confessions, and City of God are available freely at http://www.ccel.org/a/augustine/
- Other writings are available freely at http://www.newadvent.org/fathers/
- St. Augustine: Between Two Worlds
- Augustine and 'other catholics'
- The Enchiridion by Augustine
- eTexts of Augustine's works, at Project Gutenberg