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Augustine : Confessions

By Outler, Albert C., Ph. D.

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Book Id: WPLBN0000690283
Format Type: PDF eBook
File Size: 580.38 KB.
Reproduction Date: 2005

Title: Augustine : Confessions  
Author: Outler, Albert C., Ph. D.
Language: English
Subject: Religion, Christianity, Literature
Publication Date:


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Outler, A. C. (n.d.). Augustine : Confessions. Retrieved from

Religion and Christian Theology Collection

Excerpt: Like a colossus bestriding two worlds, Augustine stands as the last patristic and the first medieval father of Western Christianity. He gathered together and conserved all the main motifs of Latin Christianity from Tertullian to Ambrose; he appropriated the heritage of Nicene orthodoxy; he was a Chalcedonian before Chalcedon-and he drew all this into an unsystematic synthesis which is still our best mirror of the heart and mind of the Christian community in the Roman Empire. More than this, he freely received and deliberately reconsecrated the religious philosophy of the Greco-Roman world to a new apologetic use in maintaining the intelligibility of the Christian proclamation. Yet, even in his role as summator of tradition, he was no mere eclectic. The center of his ?system? is in the Holy Scriptures, as they ordered and moved his heart and mind. It was in Scripture that, first and last, Augustine found the focus of his religious authority. At the same time, it was this essentially conservative genius who recast the patristic tradition into the new pattern by which European Christianity would be largely shaped and who, with relatively little interest in historical detail, wrought out the first comprehensive ?philosophy of history.? Augustine regarded himself as much less an innovator than a summator. He was less a reformer of the Church than the defender of the Church?s faith. His own self-chosen project was to save Christianity from the disruption of heresy and the calumnies of the pagans, and, above everything else, to renew and exalt the faithful hearing of the gospel of man?s utter need and God?s abundant grace. But the unforeseen result of this enterprise was to furnish the motifs of the Church?s piety and doctrine for the next thousand years and more. Wherever one touches the Middle Ages, he finds the marks of Augustine?s influence, powerful and pervasive-even Aquinas is more of an Augustinian at heart than a ?proper? Aristotelian. In the Protestant Reformation, the evangelical elements in Augustine?s thought were appealed to in condemnation of the corruptions of popular Catholicism-yet even those corruptions had a certain right of appeal to some of the non-evangelical aspects of Augustine?s thought and life. And, still today, in the important theological revival of our own time, the influence of Augustine is obviously one of the most potent and productive impulses at work.


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