If you have every vaguely wondered about Augustine (for some strange reason)… I did. After I heard the Switchfoot song Something More… yes, Emily laughed at me when I said that so I decided to write my Christian History essay on him, just to find out a bit more. A decision I fractionally regret as it was painfully slow. Consequently I found out rather a lot, namely that he’s a highly complicated kind of person with wacked out ideas, some really good ones and that Cert IV (to play down and incoporate Educational standards in to this one sided conversation) students shouldn’t bother researching him as it requires far too much effort.

So instead of reading a biography three books deep you can just read my essay, but only if you are vaguely interested… (qu. should I post this kind of stuff on the web, or am I opening it for plagarism?? Very aware that although this site is not opensourced… could be found via some buried search engine link. So I guess I’ll just go through and remove various bibliographical details, that will at least make it painful (or is that plagarism on my behalf?). Dont copy work, it’s stealing). 1580words



Aurelius Augustine (354-430) known also as Augustine of Hippo has been aptly named as an ‘early church father’, his ideas and writings have had significant impact on the Christian world. Augustine has been influential both historically and theologically. His books have touched a complete range of doctrinal questions and his ability to provoke has encouraged a greater development of the collective Christian mind.

Augustine Bishop of Hippo
Augustine’s Life

Born in North Africa (354) to a pagan father and a Christian mother, Augustine’s life reflected his upbringing, he had a double-sided nature and felt both a deep sense of sin and a profound sense of God’s grace. (Bull, 1967: 227) Augustine had a mistress and a child by the time he was eighteen, became proficient in rhetoric and moved into academic circles in Milan. While walking alone in a garden, Augustine had a conversion experience, where he heard a child’s voice instructing him to read. Augustine found a Bible on a nearby seat and opened it at Romans 13:13-14. From this point on in his life, Augustine has provided answers to the world. His philosophy has played a major role in the foundations of Christendom. (Shelly, 1995: 125)

A chief influence in Augustine’s life was Bishop Ambrose. From Ambrose, Augustine discovered that Christianity could be both eloquent and intelligent (Shelly, 1995: 126) After a reluctant ordination as a priest and his return to North Africa, Augustine was selected by Bishop Valerius as an assistant. Augustine became his successor as the Bishop of Hippo until his death on the 28th August 430.

Two Kingdoms

As the Bishop of Hippo, Augustine had great exposure to both church and state issues. His philosophical formation of ideas about two kingdoms led him to write ‘The City of God’ which has been called a “philosophy of human history” (Bull, 1967: 232) Augustine did not despise Rome or the ‘earthly city’, and declared that both the church and state should serve God. Although never stated explicitly, Augustine implied the identification of the city of God with the church, and the city of the world with the state; this was critiqued by Reinhold Niebur for “assuming that the church as an historical institution can never become a vehicle of evil and never really stands under the judgment of God.” (Bloesch, 1978: 136)

In regards to Augustine’s significance, a theory has been put forward that the practical nature of Augustine’s writings is due to his historical era mirroring our own. Augustine supplied answers for those in his own time, an explanation for the destruction of Rome providing hope to those around him. His response to “the moral and theological concerns of a world racked by pillage and destruction, random and chaotic violence… attempts to answer the question of innocent suffering”. (McPherson, 2000) this question is just as relevant today, and authors and theologians go back to his work to gain perspective and insight.

Sin and Salvation

Just as suffering was a common theme in the lives of those in the 400’s so was sin. Augustine’s struggles with sin were mostly that of relating to sex and women. He had a profound self-awareness that this was his downfall, books such as, Confessions and The City of God carried a negative approach to both sexuality and women, this, “was passed on to generations of Christians, making them uneasy about what Augustine called their ‘lower appetites’.” (Guthridge, 1999: 51) Many copies of Augustine’s books have had their anti-feministic parts edited from them, although examples still exist such as, ““What is the difference – [Augustine] wrote to a friend – whether it is in a wife or a mother, it is still Eve the temptress that we must beware of in any woman” (Guthridge, 1999: 51). This legacy has tainted many of Augustine’s works although they are far outweighed by the many documented scriptually based insights.

The deep sense of sin felt by Augustine was contradicted harshly by Pelagius a British monk. Their views differed greatly in that Pelagius saw sin as a bad example set by Adam, and Augustine defined sin being an instinctive nature, human’s being powerless to their will and that “God’s grace must come first in living the good life, as well as in assisting it.” (Bull, 1967: 234) Augustine rejected the idea that, “God created evil as a full-fledged malignant principle. The human person, from free will, commits a sin and partakes of that death we name evil.” (Elshtain, 1998) Augustine’s view of human imperfections in dictating our motivations opposed the monastic structures of the time and Anti-Pelagian literature was penned to condemn the current perspective of sin and the implications for predestination. Today’s doctrine of sin has found its origin within Augustine’s principles, although many Christians have had difficulty accepting his position of complete human helplessness.

Augustine’s emphasis is on salvation through grace however he also places extreme significance on the sacraments. Baptism is a regeneration of grace (Shelly, 1995: 130) and both faith and baptism are necessary for salvation (Bloesch, 1978: 214). From this stems Augustine’s concern for unbaptised infants. This disquiet is expressed in many of today’s denominations and their conviction of infantile baptism.

Historical Influence

Augustine believed in eternal torment for any who chose to reject Christ. Well-known Reformers with similar views have solidified his perception of Heaven and Hell. E.g. Martin Luther held a similar position on “heaven and hell as the outcome of divine foreordination.” (Bloesch, 1978: 215)

Throughout history, renowned individuals have used and recommended Augustine’s work. Names such as Alcuin from the court of Charlemagne advised the use his book, De Catechizandis Rudibus ‘On Catching the Uninstructed’ in aid of evangelism. Others such as Martin of Braga and Primin drew on Augustine’s work for insight into the Christian life. (Fletcher, 1998: 222, 235)


Augustine’s book Confessions has been described as; ‘the greatest work of spiritual autobiography ever written’ (Fletcher, 1998: 28) from this, and other works, a theology of mission can be constructed. His firm conviction that the end of the world was near drove him to formulate his ideas of citizenship in heaven, Augustine recites, ‘so long as he is in this mortal body, he is a peregrinus (stranger/exile/pilgrim) in a foreign land’ (Fletcher, 1998: 30) and led him to write eschatological books such as, De Fine Saeculi (On the End of the World).

Despite confirming the urgency of preaching the gospel to the world, Augustine misconstrue or rather did not follow through the logical nature of Romans 10:14-15. This misunderstanding can be defined by Augustine’s younger contemporary – Prosper of Aquitaine as, divine grace alone can bring about conversion and if humans set about on mission we are interfering with its workings. (Fletcher, 1998: 32) Augustine stressed that we must believe before we can understand.

Divine grace is irresistible and the issue between free will and determinism will continually in Christian circles be a point of dissent. (Bull, 1967: 235) Augustine’s emphasis upon divine grace may have clouded his view upon mission. However, this ‘clouded view’ in light of the modern church’s implications on mission across the world served a purpose in elaborating Augustine’s position as not only the Father of the church in the west, but also as a significant influence on the East. The interest of the eastern Church was the nature of God, the divinity of Jesus and the escape of the soul to God, where in the west it was the nature of man and God’s work in man through grace. (Bull, 1967: 233).

War and Peace

As a bishop in a time of many church divisions, Augustine was confronted with the Donatist controversy. His rejection of Donatist theologies of a ‘pure church’ and his support for the Catholic Church presented him with the concern of the use of force in a religious situation. (Shelly, 1995: 128) Augustine’s views on war have shaped and led to the justification of many leadership concerns in the Christian world. Augustine established that although war is neither desirable nor advised, if it is the means by which to ensure peace it is permissible, however, “War is and must remain a cautionary tale, not an incautious and reckless call to arms. For peace is a great good…nothing better can be found.” (Elshtain, 1998)


The hundreds of theories and theological ideas that Augustine has offered to the world have presented him as one of the greatest theologians of all time. His books are both doctrinal and devotional; they explore the nature of God, morals, human ethics, sin, grace and history. (McPherson, 2000) His arguments are Biblically based and formed; the volume and variety of works is enormous. Augustine has left a profound legacy to the world.


…Incase you were wondering, this research did not help me one bit in relating Augustine’s life to the Switchfoot song – I should probably go back and listen to it again, however I did get a fairly good mark. 🙂

Christianity General YITS

The first of June. The first day of winter.
Would I say things are normal, are satisfactory?
That the word peace applies to my live. No not in it’s entirity. Yet the fragments are begining to settle. I am in a more secure place than where I was. Complacency I don’t want. I don’t mind temporary satisfaction with limited thought. But no, I don’t think I’ve stopped exploring areas of growth, just perhaps God’s bringing a slow down capacity to it. It’s all very good to have your world flipped on end for a while, to be shaken and stretched. I guess as humans we have our limits as to what we can take (maybe even the good/growth). I’m sure God understands what we can take in and learn before the stretching reaches the uncomfortable (beyond the learning uncomfortable). I have torture instrument images in my head, ha, but I think that’s a bit violent.

Can I equate ‘peace’ with busy? Yes. I have way too much to do before the end of semester, there are so many other things I can, or would rather be doing. Peace in the fact that, I am beginning to be vastly more comfortable in being myself around YITS people. There is a certain level of trust there now. That they’ll accept you for who you are.
It’s not to say I am impressed with everyone. __ in particular. Help me to love her. To see past her attitudes, conversation topics….

The ‘slow down’. The temporary, or different perspective on self evaluation. To drop that and let it lie where it falls. To relearn the concept of knowing God and not being intentional in moulding self (to some extent). The Bible study thing came up. Reading again. Thank you God for the ways you’ve reminded me. Started back last night. Realised how much I miss it.
Be my motivation.
Be first.

Christianity General Life

While I have it on hand….

interesting excerpt from book: More Ready than you Realize (Brian McLaren) p.75-76

Why I should put more effort into reading, remind myself that I like being challenged, keep up that habit I let slide. Started reading intentionally last night, realised how much I’d missed it. Prayer for keeping it up would be good.


We are used to people writing for us. Newspapers and popular magazines pitch at an eighth grade reading level, easy for all of us. Textbooks are generally written not only by knowledgeable people, but by skilled educators who pay attention to our learning styes, attention spans, and format prefrerences. Popular novels (the ones most of us read, if we read them at all) are written to be popular, and that means easy for us, accesible to us. We assume, if the Bible is in any way inspired, that the Holy Spirit would be so kind and considerate as to similarily gear it exclusively to us. Reasonable enough… at first glance. But think again. If the Bible were written for twenty-first century readers, how would it have come across to its original hearers in the sixth century BC or eight century AD?… And assuming the world is still spinning, how would a style and form targeted on a twenty-first centruy demographic cohort feel for advanced readers in the twenty-ninth century?

It is hard for us, spoiled as we are by being marketing targest, but the Bible askes us to rise above our narrow parochial tastes. It asks us to learn, to understand, to imaginatively enter an alien geography… alien cultures… and social structures. It asks us to stop absolutizing our perspective and, instead, to see our modern or postmodern view points simply as views from a point – limited, contingent, changing, not privileged. In so doing, the very form of the Bible begins teaching us something about humility and perspective.

Christianity General Life

Good day today. Interesting and weird stuff about angels and demons in Doctrine. Of which led to a conversation at lunch with Sam, Warrick (CL lecturer), Tom, Kym and a few others that were just there. I said how I’d been thinking – strangely about angels yesterday (before I knew this mornings topic) for no apparent reason. Warrick asked if it happened a lot or before or soemthing, and my ‘Oh all the time’… led me, very surprisingly to proceed to tell him of some of the bizzare stuff. The ideas I get in my head (or verses) to tell others. Let off quite a speil, strange because there were a few others there. Even mentioned how I thought God has told me how long until I get married or something (but am holding that pretty loosely).

Anyway, Warrick asked me about prophesy and did I think it was that… not sure, maybe. Was reminded of a conversation or two I had with various people about stuff like this and how _ was saying it might be prophesy. Not to say the idea does not sit right or anything, it’s just a little hmm… thought provoking, strange (I like that word too much tonight).

Warrick encouraged me to pray about it, and about God, you using me to speak into others lives. If you want me to do that so be it. I wouldn’t mind knowing a bit more really, the experience I had with a prophesy someone gave me, well was mixed.

It was nothing huge I guess, just a note she passed to me. Encouragement, that was good. But then something about reminding me that God was with me through this tough time – an unbeknown to her – there wasn’t one, not for months.
Skeptism about it all. I appreciate her doing what she thought God was telling her to do and saying what she though, but yes.

Then again, maybe that was for now, not the actual words, but the experience – thought prompting.

Yes, so interesting day. Good time hanging otu with Katie, Sam, Tom, Mark, Dave… hmm there was someone else there.

Talked about love in CL. Good stuff, wish we had more time though. More about that maybe tomorrow.

Christianity General Life

Essay is done.
Not too bad for a last minute kind of thing.
I think the conclusion is pretty shoddy – sort of tacky, but oh well. It made me think through a fair bit of stuff and explore a lot of the old.



In discovering what my 5 Principles of Living are, I have explored my past experience, the struggles that I’ve had in life and how I have responded. There are areas in my life where I have recognised I have fallen short and have purposefully set out to grow from them. Values that I hold through Christianity and these periods of growth highlight the framework of who I am and point me in a definite direction of finding my Principles of Living.
The resulting list:
-Faithfulness and communication with God
-Respect and compassion

Faithfulness and Communication with God

This principle of living, Faithfulness and communication with God is the principle that I place most priority on. As, “Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your strength.” (Deut. 6:5) Is the first Biblical commandment, I would like to think that this is true for myself.

Evidence of this in my own life has been my continual growth process of recognising that God should be the most important. My journey from a 10 year old not particularly wanting to join in with my sister’s ‘Bible club’ and my fierce independence in ‘finding’ God on my own been has illustrated Proverbs 3:5-6, “Trust in the Lord with all your heart and lean not on your own understanding; in all your ways acknowledge him, and he will make your paths straight.” where God has placed incidents throughout my life where I could do no less than rely on him. An example of this in the past week, where I struggled in needing to talk to someone and God not only provided encouragement in several forms but literally set up the situation where I could talk to this person, a circumstance that would not normally occur.

A large part of seeing God work in my own life has been through prayer. More recently I have had valued times of getting up on a Saturday morning and simply setting out to ‘do breakfast’ with God. This is my personal illustration of Mark 1:35 “Very early in the morning, while it was still dark, Jesus got up, left the house and went off to a solitary place, where he prayed.” And although it is neither very early, nor dark, I have taken myself aside and set apart time for God other than my normal late evening, often rushed effort.

Through weekly, even daily examples of the small (sometimes large) things that God shows me, “[I] know therefore that the Lord [my] God is God; he is the faithful God, keeping his covenant of love to a thousand generations of those who love him and keep his commands.” (Deut. 7:9)


In looking at Patience as a principle of living, it is best to consider the issue of change, which has been significant in my life, as I have lived in multiple cultures. Satisfaction with who I am where I am has been a battle fought on and off. I’ve repeatedly used a change of scenery as leverage for altering myself. The desire to amend who I am, has inhibited me through racing ahead of the moment and forgetting to live in the now. I have grappled with wanting myself, and my responses to differ, becoming increasingly impatient with waiting for the future to happen. James 1:2-4 has become significant in my life,

“Consider it pure joy, my brothers, whenever you face trials of many kinds, because you know that the testing of your faith develops perseverance. Perseverance must finish its work so that you may be mature and complete, not lacking anything.”

I have always been an impatient person an it appears that patience and perseverance are not standards in my life but rather areas that I have difficulty with, however I believe that God has instilled patience as a principle that I am continually called to live up to.

Psalm 130:6 says, “My soul waits for the Lord and in his word I put my hope, more than the watchmen wait for the dawn.” I know that there is hope tied to waiting, where I once thought that change was the story of my life; looking back I would prefer to call it patience.


I have long understood that, “Whatever you listen to and experience the most will shape what you believe and what you do.” (Lookadoo, 2001: 23) which is why I have identified Mastery as a principle of living.

Romans 12:1-2 defines why mastery or, self-discipline/control is an important factor in my life,
“Therefore, I urge you, brothers, in view of God’s mercy, to offer your bodies as living sacrifices, holy and pleasing to God–this is your spiritual act of worship. Do not conform any longer to the pattern of this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind. Then you will be able to test and approve what God’s will is–his good, pleasing and perfect will.”

Identifying that my stubbornness can be reinterpreted as a quality has been eye opening. A practical example and a small attempt at this was a week that I took without music. It was difficult and I nearly gave up numerous times. Aside from some vague idea as to why, I had no reason to go through with it. Afterwards I discovered that the week was to, “Get some headspace, to stop letting songs do the thinking for me and make an effort to connect with God differently.” (Beimers, 2005)

Mastery is biblical, it is defined as self-control – a fruit of the Spirit in Galatians 5:23. And encouraged in Ephesians 4:22-24,

“You were taught, with regard to your former way of life, to put off your old self, which is being corrupted by its deceitful desires; to be made new in the attitude of your minds; and to put on the new self, created to be like God in true righteousness and holiness.”

For me, this principle of living requires determination through small challenges and results in affecting the way I think, live and act.


I have always placed immense value upon purity. As a principle of living, I want to be able to look back on this area (purity in relationships) as one that I have not drastically marred.

“Chastity [purity] is more than what you don’t do, it’s what how you live your life. You believe in respect and dignity. You give love a chance. You do believe that sex is wonderful and powerful. You want to share that gift with your soul mate for a lifetime.” (Smith, n.d.)

My reasons fall back to Ephesians 5:3, ”But among you there must not be even a hint of sexual immorality, or of any kind of impurity, or of greed, because these are improper for God’s holy people.” And to Song of Solomon 2:7 “…do not arouse or awaken love until it so desires.”

Practicality draws back to my decision to save sex until marriage, and the desire not to be someone who plays with relationships recklessly. I have never admired girls who go through boyfriends frequently and attempt to find their worth this way.

I want God to be completely in control of this area of my life, and be obedient in this, “Above all else, guard your heart, for it is the wellspring of life.” (Prov. 4:23) I trust him completely to bring the right person into my life at the right time because, “It is a safe thing to trust Him to fulfill the desire which He creates” (Carmichael, 1987: 106)

Respect and Compassion

After a fair amount of deliberation in pinpointing a fifth important principle, I came up with Respect and compassion. This is an area in which I fall far short in, but has been very significant in the past few years. My involvement in the leadership of a Christian youth website www.gush.com.au and the resultant need to deal with others fairly, has challenged my bias for being exceptionally strong in voicing my own opinion and my low level tolerance on the other ‘stupid ideas’ that people can present. Dealing with conflict between others and being a third party led me to frequently consider Galatians 5:13-15 (see appendix).

A request (to God) for compassion in the beginning of the year resulted in multiple situations in the following weeks that demanded no less than complete attention in that area. Living out Colossians 3:12-14,

“Therefore, as God’s chosen people, holy and dearly loved, clothe yourselves with compassion, kindness, humility, gentleness and patience. … over all these virtues put on love, which binds them all together in perfect unity.”

In a specific situation, (and generally), compassion has been one of the hardest things I have ever had to do. Continual affirmation of a girl who is going through an exceptionally difficult life affecting circumstance, is a choice I have to make repeatedly as there is the opportunity to let slide that relationship and leave her work through things on her own.

Some might say that compassion is a feeling, for me it is coupled with choice. I do not find it easy, but in living out that choice I hope to make compassion every bit a feeling and a part of who I am.


Although there are many things that I would like to say are personal standards, these five stand out as those that greatly affect the way I live. In choosing principles and looking at the circumstances that have helped shape who I am, faithfulness, mastery, patience, compassion and purity are relevant to who I am now and rather than change the list as I change, I would like it to grow as I grow.

Christianity General Life YITS