Language and Love: Introducing Augustine's Religious Thought through the Confessions Story

Language and Love: Introducing Augustine's Religious Thought through the Confessions Story

Language and Love: Introducing Augustine's Religious Thought through the Confessions Story

Language and Love: Introducing Augustine's Religious Thought through the Confessions Story

Synopsis

This is the first work to combine an introduction to Augustine's Confessions with a larger outline of his mature theology. Mallard provides guidance for reading the narrative Confessions (Books I-IX) and at the same time, by certain extensions and comments, reveals the three major topical divisions within Augustine's thought: creation, salvation, and the City of God. Mallard is able to do this because Augustine's affirmation of the good of Creation, his view of the human will and God's grace (and the nature of evil), his sense of a religious people's identity and their hope, and his view of faith and reason were all essentially in place at the time of the Confessions.

Excerpt

One of the reasons the religious thought of Augustine wins attention is because it comes out of a story. His Confessions tells that story in the form of a long conversation with God. Why do twentieth-century people fifteen hundred years later continue to find the story compelling? Mostly it is because his struggles with his own life, expressed directly to God, remind us of ourselves.

The gist of what he says still sounds very familiar: God, I've had to search for you; I didn't know how to find you. There's still so much I don't understand. I made so many mistakes in my life, not only in my actions, but in my thinking. When I grew up, many things in my parents' house were not right. When I was a teenager I felt like I wanted to die. Later I was a success at the university, and I attracted women, but I didn't know how to love anyone -- certainly not you, God. And I didn't understand you: I thought the sun, moon, and stars were part of you! Later I decided I was one of the wisest people on earth. Yet somehow, God, through all this wandering and misery, you were working for me in ways I didn't even know. You helped me by keeping me frustrated with my own wrongheadedness. You also helped me by letting me meet some wonderful people in your church. I'm glad beyond anything I can say that you brought me from being my own worst enemy to peace and understanding. Help me to tell my story.

"my story" -- yet he is not telling a private story. He writes in order that everyone else may overhear what he says to God and take heart. His most famous line includes everyone.

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