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Who Was Augustine of Hippo?

August 22, 2017 8 Comments

Who Was Augustine of Hippo?

St. Augustine of Hippo is one of the most important theologians of the Christian church. His works, especially The City of God and Confessions, still influence Christian thinkers today. The church celebrates his contribution to Christianity on August 28th.

Augustine lived from 354 AD to 430 AD . He was born in Roman Africa to a Christian mother and a pagan father, who later converted to Christianity on his deathbed. While Augustine was taught Christianity as a child, he did not actively pursue his faith. Instead, he devoted himself to sex and fun.

When he turned 17, he went to the best schools in Carthage, where he was a brilliant student. He studied rhetoric, reading the classic latin authors like Cicero. While in Carthage, Augustine became interested in Manichaeism , a heretical offshoot of Christianity. After graduating, Augustine returned to his hometown to teach rhetoric and promote his newfound religion.

Augustine soon moved to Rome and then to Milan to teach rhetoric. In Milan, he attended the cathedral to hear another famous Christian speak, Ambrose of Milan . He didn’t attend to hear about Jesus, though. He came because Ambrose was famous as a rhetorician. Shortly thereafter, Augustine converted to Christianity and left his life of hedonism behind.

After his conversion, Augustine resigned his teaching position and retreated to a country villa. After six months, he was baptized by Ambrose before returning to his hometown of Thagaste. During his journey home, Augustine suffered many personal losses, his son, his mother, and a close friend. His grief drove him to commit himself more fully to Christ. He and some friends established a lay religious community outside of his hometown, where he studied the scriptures and prayed.

In 391, Augustine travelled to Hippo to see about establishing another religious community. When he attended worship, Bishop Valerius saw this famous Christian theologian in the congregation, and he preached on the urgent need for priests in the city. The congregation turned to look at Augustine, and the propelled him to the front to be ordained against his will. After Valerius died a few years later, he became Bishop of Hippo in his place.

Augustine spent much of his time as a bishop pulling up the weeds of heresy wherever they sprouted. He debated Manicheans, and exposed the failings of the theological system. He also tackled the Donatists, who believed that the church had been corrupted during the persecutions of the previous century.

Augustine also face a theological challenge through the British monk, Pelagius. He denied that human beings had original sin, and he claimed that we could make a free choice to follow God. We did not, therefore, need God’s grace to be saved. We simply had to decide to follow him. With Augustine in the lead, the church declared Pelagianism a heresy.

One of the worst theological challenges was not heresy but history. Alaric and his troops sacked the city of Rome. For many years, the pagan citizens of the Roman empire claimed that Christian teaching would cause Rome to fall, because they did not support Rome’s gods. When Rome finally did fall, Augustine set out to defend his church against pagan claims. He interpreted the fall of Rome as part of God’s plan for human history to move toward eternal salvation.

Augustine died, due to a fever, in 430 AD, at the age of 76, during the siege of Hippo by the Vandals. His writings survived their invasion, and his thought became foundational for the Christian church. In addition to his writings, his influence was felt through the Augustinian order of monks that still exists today. Augustine is an example of the promises of God . He was brought, by God’s word, from a sinful life to becoming one of the greatest Christian theologians of all time.

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8 Responses

Pastor Benjamin Gonzalez
Pastor Benjamin Gonzalez

August 31, 2017

I heard about St. Augustine, and his conversio. To Jesus Christ, is what Holy Spirit is wooing all to do Ephesians 2:8-10. Apart from Christ and His Cross, we are utterly hopeless and lost. Like Augustine, I too suffered the loss of many famiky members, friends, and my wife to cancer. I am alone, but throwing myself completely at the Mercy and Grace of Jesus Christ, was for the better, because I was converted to Hom 100%, and all I desire in life is to seek Father’s Face thru gasting & prayer, Depend and trust Him no matter what may come my way, and Stand on His Holy Words (KJV) and upon His Promises. I also seek to win thr lost at any cost. Living for Christ Jesus is my happiness and joy. “Come to that fountain so rich and free,
Cast thy poor soul at the Savior’s feet;
Be whole today and be made complete,
Glory to His Name!”

Lee Gonzalez
Lee Gonzalez

August 30, 2017

Awesome information. I love it.

Richard Lacey
Richard Lacey

August 29, 2017

I am not a Catholic Christian , but found this of interest – the name “Hippo” caught me. I had never heard of St. Augustine of Hippo . Thanx

Beth
Beth

August 26, 2017

Yes, Nancee, Augustine of Hippo was a Christian Catholic. We read saints lives to learn from their lives of outstanding virtues and love for God. Through them we have examples of how to better live life the way God’s Word tells us to live, just as St. Augustine had St. Ambrose to guide him.

Pamela Berkley
Pamela Berkley

August 26, 2017

Being a child of God and Jesus Christ, this was a very interesting article to me. This was the first time I was introduced to Augustine of Hippo and it just shows you the Glory of God and His Grace and willingness to have a relationship with His people that He created. It’s a reminder to everyone that it doesn’t matter where you come from, He just wants us to call on the name of His son Jesus and Believe and change our way of living towards a Christian life even though we will sin and ask for forgiveness. That is the human condition! But we all have the chance to follow Him and go home to our eternal life in Heaven one day!!

nancee
nancee

August 26, 2017

Praise Be To GOD ALMIGHTY that through all the trials and tribulations he saw the light and became a Christian. By faith and grace he shared his knowledge of Christ in his life Amen

Claire
Claire

August 26, 2017

This was a very interesting article. Never heard of the name Augustine. This sounds very much like the Catholic Church. Is it? Just curious.

Connie Schrier
Connie Schrier

August 26, 2017

This was a very interesting article and very informative. I did not know anything about Augustine but now I do, thanks to the article.

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