Monday, February 12, 2007

Old Paths: Augustine


Really enjoyed preaching on St Augustine yesterday. I am struck that one of the really important aspects of this series is that we see great figures of the past as they really are, and avoid the natural inclination to put people on a pedestal. Augustine is one of the greats, but he is also very human. And perhaps it is his awareness of his own failings, along with his ability to wonder that makes him so important.
For further reading there is a short biography here, and here is a modern translation of City of God, and here is Confessions. They are quite long though and you might want to pick them up in a 2nd hand book shop or from Amazon. The wikipedia article on him is not so good - I think people are fighting over him (the down side of wikipedia) and it is a bit scrappy.
Oh and check out this free download of Malcom Muggeridges 'a third testament'. The first chapter is on Augustine.

5 comments:

jayne welburn said...

Here's yet another 'Old Path' that really sits with us today. This quote, that Cicero and Plato don't offer rest for those who are heavy laden, really struck home with me on Sunday. Augustine was looking around at the best that was on offer and it totally didn't hold up to what we are being offered in Christ. Rest. I think I'd like to start explaining it to people a bit like that. Wherever we're looking, nothing/nobody is offering us rest.

Garmon said...

Really enjoyed learning about Augustine too, and had some good conversations after the sermon. I was struck how much history we unconsiously take on (for better and for worse) when we take on the term 'Christian' - and I'm enjoying this series and learning more about where some of our theology and ideas come from. Esp good to hear how such an influencial person was also so flawed! Mark - any recommended links to more sources on Augustine?

vicky said...

What Jayne says ties in well with the 'Finding Sanctuary' book that we're looking at in homegroups at the moment. I think it would be a great book to offer people who are looking for 'rest'. The writer very gently points the reader to Christ.

I particularly like the Augustine quote "It was pride that changed angels into devils; it is humility that makes men as angels". Made me thank God for all the 'angels' I know at Church on the Corner. I was going to say 'you know who you are!' but I guess by definition, you probably don't!

Mark said...

I will update the post with some references for further reading, although I have not yet found any concise pieces of work. I think it is really hard to sum Augustine up succinctly.
Jayne & Vicky - I agree. I was talking with people in the pub after church and saying that I was really excited about 'Finding Sanctuary' not just as in terms of Christian teaching, but also as a gently evangelistic book. It is the most careful, and sophisticated articulation of the good news of Jesus that I know, and I feel like I could give it to anyone.

Vicky said...

Our homegroup had a good chat about 'Finding Sanctuary'.

General feeling, as we read on, was lots of positives about the book and we're certainly getting a lot out of it, BUT agreed that it should be read/recommended with an awareness that whilst it does point people gently to GOD, we didn't think it actually points people to CHRIST (as I mistakenly said in my last blog post!)

The author talks about God and God's mercy, and even talks about a need for a recognition of our own failings, but doesn't really say anything else about God's nature or about Christ or, in fact, about the Holy Spirit. So, I guess, we concluded, good just to be aware that it might leave people with a vague understanding of God and His mercy - but without any sense of what that really cost Him, or what it fundamentally requires of us in terms of handing over our lives to God in repentance.

It doesn't set out to do all these things I know, but unless people take up the author's recomemndation to read and reflect on the bible, then they could be left, at worst, falsely reassured, but certainly with a need for further explanation of the heart of Christianity.

On the one hand, the author's decision is very sensitive to our modern culture. On the other hand, the church generally now seems to be very scared to talk about Jesus, so if you're giving this book to a friend, don't rely on this book to do this for you!