St. Augustine Confessions
The confessions of Saint Augustine take us through the life of transformation for a Christian. The time comes in the life of an individual to make crucial decisions for his or her life, which maybe contrary to their previous believes. As a child grows, they learn a lot from their parents and more especially the mother, who happens to be close most of the times. However, as the child brows, he/she is exposed to a different environment with more compounded influences. For instance, Augustine grew up in a Christian background with his mother imparting Christian values into his life. The time came when he had to leave his mother and spent more time in school and with other people whose teachings were contrary to Christianity. Since the time he spent in school superseded that which he spent with his mother, he was slowly transformed into secularism. Secular teachings appeared real and easy to adopt and furthermore, the majority inclined to them.
Christianity is a path that requires a person to learn more from meditation and observation rather than just physical impartation. The theoretical lessons a person leans especially as a child will only be significant if they are followed by actions and premeditation. It is normal for a child to learn and believe a lot that he/she is told by her mother. Such believes will, however, hold water only if the child finds similar experiences in the environment and can to approve to them (Kligerman 92). When a child realises that what the mother taught him/her is contrary to real life experiences, he/she becomes confused and, therefore, raising the need to learn more and choose their own path. As Augustine grew up, he realised that the world outside was contrary to what the mother had told him. Most of the teachings he encountered were philosophical and antichristian and, therefore, developing keen interests in them.
Reading biblical scriptures, we realise that the plan of God for our salvation and ministry begins way before we are even conceived in the wombs of our mothers. The scripture implies that God predestines everything, which helps a believer to handle the responsibilities that come with ministry. For instance, Jesus is the Son of God, who had to leave the heavenly environment, just to come and suffer for the sins of humanity. God understood that the only way he could have humanity back to himself is by being with them physically, go through the challenges they go through every day and then provide the right measures to evade them. The manifestation of God in the flesh was a clear sign that he cared about the challenges of humanity and the possibility of them drawing them away from grace (Kligerman 46). For the thirty-three years Jesus spent on earth; he was taking up the burden of humanity and the sins, which he nailed on the cross.
Even though the teachings that a child adopts from the parents may seem vain especially when they are encountered with a contrary environment as Augustine, they remain to be a point of contact, reference and comparison, other challenges. Augustine may have deviated from Christian teachings, but he never forgot them. After comparing secularism and philosophical teachings, he realised that they were full of lies and Christianity stood out from all other teachings (Salinas 112). As he writes in his book, Augustine mentions how his life transformed for the better. His eyes were opened to that fact that he had been living a sinful and rebellious life. The Holy Spirit revealed to him that he had a different ministry, which was contrary to what he had adopted. Even though it was not easy for Augustine to complately leave his sinful life, he was determined to get back on track and was later on delivered completely.
The example of Augustine serves right, especially to young people who struggle with the decisions that pertain to their spiritual life. The Holy Spirit is always there to convict people of their sins into repentance. It reaches a point in life where a person realises that that he/she has been leading an empty life. Indulging in seen becomes an escape route for guilt and shame. Most young people never realise the fact that the emptiness they feel can never be satisfied by indulging in more sin. Indulging is simply complicates the issue for the individual who will only feel the satisfaction while in the action of sin, it, however, downs on him that the emptiness is even more when they are more sober to face life. Unless such a person realises the spiritual thirst of his/her heart, the sinful urge persists and even worsens the situation. St Augustine advices people to realise how much they need Christ in their lives and make the decision to change their ways.
The environment in the times of Augustine was different where there was a shift from religious to philosophical teachings. Philosophy had become the order of the day as it was assumed to provide more practical solutions to problems than Christianity. Most philosophers came up with assumptions that Christianity was simply a myth that could not be proved historically. It was claimed that, just like any other traditional myth, people, who sought to manipulate the thoughts of people by attaching it with physical characters, invented Christianity. The fact that most of the biblical characters were not alive at the time to prove that what was written in the bible was real (Bonner 87). Philosophers came up with ideas that defined the human mind and how thoughts could transform a person’s life. Philosophical ideas were bought into faster because they did not encourage evil but focused on positive thinking.
Christianity is all about faith and the belief that there is a God, even though nobody has ever seen him. The walk of Christianity has to be followed by a disciplined life of reading the bible, praying and congregating with other believers. Christianity has strict teachings of do’s and don’ts, which has made it difficult for most people to adopt. Philosophy, on the other hand, encouraged people to live lives they believe are convenient for them even if others are not comfortable with it. Philosophical teachings hence imply that a person does things they feel are okay with them even if they displease those around them. Christianity advocates for a selfless life where a believer has to mind about the needs of others more than his/her own needs. Selflessness is perfectly revealed through the life of Jesus who came all the way just to live and die for the sake of humanity.
As Augustine was contemplating about his empty life that philosophy had exposed him to, he realised that he not only lived a selfish life but also taught others to adapt such a life. Augustine had accepted philosophical teachings and even earned a career to teach the subject. Things were not becoming better for him as he thought and, therefore, realised that Christianity would give him the satisfaction that he needed. He took a step of faith, denounced his wicked ways and teachings, and adopted the walk of Christianity. Just like Paul of the bible, he was transformed from being a rebel to a teacher of the word. He used the knowledge he had acquired and his experiences to transform the people of his generation (Augustine 55). His literature has also been used as a point of contact to teach both young and old that it is never too late for them to make a difference in their surroundings.
Despite the strict teachings that Christianity advocates for, St. Augustine mentions that it will not always be a smooth walk. Christians have to overcome many temptations along their way, at times it may become difficult for a Christian to manage which make them succumb to such the temptations. Falling into temptations does not imply the end of their spirituality; they can always repent and get back on track. Repentance, according to St. Augustine, is a continuous process for the Christian believer. There is no perfection when it comes to a Christian and each day, a person grows in faith and realises what is permissible and not. Christians and new converts should, therefore, not feel condemned when they fall into temptations. Christians only need to admit their sins, repent and work on improving their spiritual walk.
Augustine, Saint. The Confessions of St. Augustine. No. 200. JM Dent & Company, 1920.
Bonner, Gerald. St Augustine of Hippo: life and controversies. Pendle Hill Publications, 1986.
Kligerman, Charles, M. D. “A Psychoanalytic Study of the Confessions of St. Augustine.” Journal of the American Psychoanalytic Association 5.3 (1957): 469-484. Print. doi: 10.1177/000306515700500306.
Kligerman, Charles. "A psychoanalytic study of the confessions of St. Augustine." Journal of the American Psychoanalytic Association (1957).
Salinas, Oscar. “The Psychological Roots of St. Augustine’s Theories of Good and Evil.” Biography 15.4 (1992): 348-370. Print.