Augustine: Non-Biblical Influencer


6th century portrait of Augustine (Wikipedia)

By COGwriter

The pro-Vatican news organization Zenit reported the following:

‘Be Inspired By His Holiness,’ Pope Francis Recalls Memorial of St. Augustine

August 28, 2019

Pope Francis has recalled today, August 28, marks the memorial of Saint Augustine of Hippo. He did so toward the conclusion of his weekly Wednesday General Audience in St. Peter’s Square in his remarks to Italian-speaking pilgrims. …“I invite everyone to let themselves be inspired by his holiness and his doctrine,” the Pope urged.

“Together with him,” the Holy Father encouraged, “let’s rediscover the interior way that leads to God and to your neediest neighbor.” https://zenit.org/articles/be-inspired-by-his-holiness-pope-francis-recalls-memorial-of-st-augustine/

Here is some of what The Catholic Encyclopedia reported about his life:

Augustine was born at Tagaste on 13 November, 354. Tagaste, now Souk-Ahras, …

Augustine received a Christian education. His mother had him signed with the cross and enrolled among the catechumens. Once, when very ill, he asked for baptism, but, all danger being soon passed, he deferred receiving the sacrament, thus yielding to a deplorable custom of the times. … when he reached Carthage, towards the end of the year 370, every circumstance tended to draw him from his true course: the many seductions of the great city that was still half pagan, the licentiousness of other students, the theatres, the intoxication of his literary success, and a proud desire always to be first, even in evil. Before long he was obliged to confess to Monica that he had formed a sinful liaison with the person who bore him a son (372), “the son of his sin” — an entanglement from which he only delivered himself at Milan after fifteen years of its thralldom.  …

Augustine looked upon rhetoric merely as a profession; his heart was in philosophy.

Unfortunately, his faith, as well as his morals, was to pass though a terrible crisis. In this same year, 373, Augustine and his friend Honoratus fell into the snares of the Manichæans. It seems strange that so great a mind should have been victimized by Oriental vapourings, synthesized by the Persian Mani (215-276) into coarse, material dualism, and introduced into Africa scarcely fifty years previously. Augustine himself tells us that he was enticed by the promises of a free philosophy unbridled by faith; …

The illusion had lasted nine years.

But the religious crisis of this great soul was only to be resolved in Italy, under the influence of Ambrose. … Augustine underwent a three years' struggle during which his mind passed through several distinct phases. At first he turned towards the philosophy of the Academics, with its pessimistic scepticism; then neo-Platonic philosophy inspired him with genuine enthusiasm. At Milan he had scarcely read certain works of Plato and, more especially, of Plotinus, before the hope of finding the truth dawned upon him. Once more he began to dream that he and his friends might lead a life dedicated to the search for it, a life purged of all vulgar aspirations after honours, wealth, or pleasure, and with celibacy for its rule (Confessions VI). But it was only a dream; his passions still enslaved him. Monica, who had joined her son at Milan, prevailed upon him to become betrothed, but his affianced bride was too young, and although Augustine dismissed the mother of Adeodatus, her place was soon filled by another. ...

Augustine gradually became acquainted with Christian doctrine, and in his mind the fusion of Platonic philosophy with revealed dogmas was taking place. ... According to Harnack, in writing the "Confessions" Augustine must have projected upon the recluse of 386 the sentiments of the bishop of 400. Others go farther and maintain that the recluse of the Milanese villa could not have been at heart a Christian, but a Platonist; and that the scene in the garden was a conversion not to Christianity, but to philosophy, the genuinely Christian phase beginning only in 390. ...

It is now easy to appreciate at its true value the influence of neo-Platonism upon the mind of the great African Doctor. It would be impossible for anyone who has read the works of St. Augustine to deny the existence of this influence. ...

the method was a dangerous one; in thus seeking harmony between the two doctrines he thought too easily to find Christianity in Plato, or Platonism in the Gospel. More than once, in his "Retractations" and elsewhere, he acknowledges that he has not always shunned this danger. Thus he had imagined that in Platonism he discovered the entire doctrine of the Word and the whole prologue of St. John. He likewise disavowed a good number of neo-Platonic theories which had at first misled him — the cosmological thesis of the universal soul, which makes the world one immense animal — the Platonic doubts upon that grave question: Is there a single soul for all or a distinct soul for each? (Portalié, E. (1907). Life of St. Augustine of Hippo. In The Catholic Encyclopedia. New York: Robert Appleton Company)

The Platonist Augustine essentially, after using her for years, depised the mother of his son Adeodatus. The Bible teaches:

13 And this again have you done, you have covered the altar of the Lord with tears, with weeping, and bellowing, so that I have no more a regard to sacrifice, neither do I accept any atonement at your hands. 14 And you have said: For what cause? Because the Lord hath been witness between thee, and the wife of thy youth, whom thou hast despised: yet she was thy partner, and the wife of thy covenant. 15 Did not one make her, and she is the residue of his spirit? And what doth one seek, but the seed of God? Keep then your spirit, and despise not the wife of thy youth. 16 When thou shalt hate her put her away, saith the Lord, the God of Israel: but iniquity shalt cover his garment, saith the Lord of hosts, keep your spirit, and despise not. (Malachy 2:13-16, DRB–a Catholic translation of scripture)

13 And this is the second thing you do: You cover the altar of the Lord with tears, With weeping and crying; So He does not regard the offering anymore, Nor receive it with goodwill from your hands. 14 Yet you say, “For what reason?” Because the Lord has been witness Between you and the wife of your youth, With whom you have dealt treacherously; Yet she is your companion And your wife by covenant. 15 But did He not make them one, Having a remnant of the Spirit? And why one? He seeks godly offspring. Therefore take heed to your spirit, And let none deal treacherously with the wife of his youth. 16 “For the Lord God of Israel says That He hates divorce, For it covers one’s garment with violence,” Says the Lord of hosts. “Therefore take heed to your spirit, That you do not deal treacherously.” (Malachy 2:13-16, NKJV)

Augustine dealt treacherously with the common-law wife of his youth. As well as biblical doctrines.

He was not biblically qualified to become a bishop:

1 A faithful saying: If a man desire the office of a bishop, he desireth good work. 2 It behoveth therefore a bishop to be blameless, the husband of one wife, sober, prudent, of good behaviour, chaste, given to hospitality, a teacher, 3 Not given to wine, no striker, but modest, not quarrelsome, not covetous, but 4 One that ruleth well his own house, having his children in subjection with all chastity. 5 But if a man know not how to rule his own house, how shall he take care of the church of God? (1 Timothy 3:1-5, DRB)

Well, Augustine had more than one wife, and certainly did not treat the first one well.

Now, while the Church of Rome believes that Augustine repented of his sins, there is no indication that he went back to provide proper support for his first common law wife–and if he believed the Bible, he should have (cf. Matthew 7:12; Exodus 21:10) as society did not have the social support programs that many nations now have.

The National Catholic Register reported this about Augustine:

Augustine has stolen pears just to be naughty, had a long-term affair, fathered a child outside of wedlock, and abandoned the Christian Faith. Things aren’t going so well for him on the becoming-a-saint front. How did he turn it around?

He took a position teaching rhetoric in Milan, Italy and, with the encouragement of his mother, began to have more contact with Christians and Christian literature. …

Together with Gregory the Great, Ambrose, and Jerome, Augustine was one of the original four doctors of the Church. He was proclaimed a doctor by Pope Boniface VII in 1298.

He was named a doctor because of the extraordinarily high value of his writings, which include major theological, philosophical, and spiritual works. 08/27/14 http://www.ncregister.com/blog/jimmy-akin/st.-augustine-10-things-to-know-and-share

As far as doctrine goes, he opposed the Kingdom of God T, the millennium, and God’s plan of salvation.

Jesus took a fairly literal view of the account in Genesis as His teachings demonstrate:

6 But from the beginning of the creation, God ‘made them male and female. (Mark 10:6)

4 And He answered and said to them, “Have you not read that He who made them at the beginning ‘made them male and female,’ 5 and said, ‘For this reason a man shall leave his father and mother and be joined to his wife, and the two shall become one flesh’? (Matthew 19:4-5)

But Augustine did not believe Christians should literally believe the account in Genesis.

In his work The Literal Interpretation of Genesis, Augustine basically wrote that Christians who took the creation account in Genesis literally  essentially were idiots because they denied science:

It not infrequently happens that something about the earth, the sky, about other elements of the world … may be known with the greatest certainty by reasoning or by experience, even by one who is not a Christian. It is too disgraceful and ruinous, though, and greatly to be avoided, that he should hear a Christian speaking so idiotically on these matters, and as if in accord with Christian writings, that he might say that he could scarcely keep from laughing when he saw how totally in error they are. In view of this and in keeping it in mind constantly while dealing with the book of Genesis, I have, insofar as I was able, explained in detail and set forth for consideration the meanings of obscure passages, taking care not to affirm rashly some one meaning to the prejudice of another and perhaps better explanation. (As cited in Volume 3 of Faith of the Early Fathers Series. Translated by W.A. Jurgens, Liturgical Press, 1970, p. 82)

Augustine once understood the truth of the millennium, but then changed his mind. Notice what he wrote:

The evangelist John has spoken of these two resurrections in the book which is called the Apocalypse…the Apostle John says in the foresaid book, “And I saw an angel come down from heaven. . . . Blessed and holy is he that has part in the first resurrection: on such the second death has no power; but they shall be priests of God and of Christ, and shall reign with Him a thousand years.” Those who, on the strength of this passage, have suspected that the first resurrection is future and bodily, have been moved, among other things, specially by the number of a thousand years, as if it were a fit thing that the saints should thus enjoy a kind of Sabbath-rest during that period, a holy leisure after the labors of the six thousand years since man was created, and was on account of his great sin dismissed from the blessedness of paradise into the woes of this mortal life, so that thus, as it is written, “One day is with the Lord as a thousand years, and a thousand years as one day,” there should follow on the completion of six thousand years, as of six days, a kind of seventh-day Sabbath in the succeeding thousand years; and that it is for this purpose the saints rise, viz., to celebrate this Sabbath. And this opinion would not be objectionable, if it were believed that the joys of the saints in that Sabbath shall be spiritual, and consequent on the presence of God; for I myself, too, once held this opinion (Augustine. The City of God, Book XX, Chapter 7).

Since Augustine held this view into the fourth and fifth centuries he also demonstrates that it was an early or original view that the Roman Church changed (see also Did The Early Church Teach Millenarianism?). He was opposed to, and did not teach, The Gospel of the Kingdom of God.

Purgatory was essentially adopted after certain teachings associated with Origen were condemned in the 6th century, with Augustine opposing aspects earlier:

From the moment, however, that anti-Origenism prevailed, the doctrine of the apokatastasis was definitely abandoned. St. Augustine protests more strongly than any other writer against an error so contrary to the doctrine of the necessity of grace…(Batiffel, Apocatastassis. The Catholic Encyclopedia).

St. Augustine also argues “that some sinners are not forgiven either in this world or in the next would not be truly said unless there were other [sinners] who, though not forgiven in this world, are forgiven in the world to come” (Hanna E. City of God XXI.24). The same interpretation is given by Gregory the Great (Dial., IV, xxxix);(Purgatory. The Catholic Encyclopedia).

History suggests that after apocatastasis was condemned in the mid-6th century, something that resembles modern concepts of purgatory were being pronounced by the Roman Bishop Pope Gregory I around 600 A.D. (see also Did the Early Church Teach Purgatory?). And partially based on Augustine’s writings, purgatory became a Roman doctrine.

The Church of God originally taught apocatastasis, not purgatory (see Universal OFFER of Salvation, Apokatastasis: Can God save the lost in an age to come? Hundreds of scriptures reveal God’s plan of salvation).

Augustine also condemned babies who die to torment. Here is a report from an Eastern Orthodox bishop:

Orthodox have never held (as Augustine and many others in the west have done) that unbaptized babies, because tainted with original guilt, are consigned by a just God to the everlasting flames” (Ware T. The Orthodox Church. Penguin Books, London, 1997, pp.222-224).

Augustine of Hippo condemned those who relied on the Bible for teaching what the Bible teaches related to mercy. Here is something from his famous early 5th century book City of God:

There are others, again, with whose opinions I have become acquainted in conversation, who, though they seem to reverence the holy Scriptures, are yet of reprehensible life, and who accordingly, in their own interest, attribute to God a still greater compassion towards men. For they acknowledge that it is truly predicted in the divine word that the wicked and unbelieving are worthy of punishment, but they assert that, when the judgment comes, mercy will prevail. (Augustine. City of God. Book XXI, Chapter 18)

But the Bible does teach that mercy can prevail (see also Universal OFFER of Salvation, Apokatastasis: Can God save the lost in an age to come? Hundreds of scriptures reveal God’s plan of salvation).

Notice a verse, James 2:13, which teaches (in multiple translations):

13 … Mercy triumphs over judgment. (NKJV, NIV, ESV, BSB, BLB, NASB, CSB, GNT, HCSB, ISV, NET, NHEB, NAS, KJ2000, WNT, WEB, RSV, RSV-Catholic, NABRE, OSB, AFV)

Augustine also did not like the fact that some quoted Psalm 77:9, Psalm 31:19, and Romans 11:32:

And the passage of the psalm which is cited by those who admit that wicked men and infidels shall be punished for a long time, though in the end delivered from all sufferings, is claimed also by the persons we are now speaking of as making much more for them. The verse runs: “Shall God forget to be gracious? Shall He in anger shut up His tender mercies?” {Psalm 77:9} … for they ask to what purpose is it said, “How great is Your goodness which You have hidden for them that fear You” {Psalm 31:19} if it be not to teach us that the great and hidden sweetness of God’s mercy is concealed in order that men may fear? To the same purpose they think the apostle said, “For God has concluded all men in unbelief, that He may have mercy upon all,” {Romans 11:32} (Augustine. City of God. Book XXI, Chapter 18)

God’s mercy was beyond what Augustine understood.

Augustine is sometimes pointed to as the one who essentially introduced the doctrine of “original sin.” He also taught “that unbaptized infants share in the common positive misery of the damned” (Limbo. Catholic Encyclopedia).

Depsite this, even some Church of England supporters have Augustine in their apostolic succession lists:

The succession of the English church … is here given. St. Peter … St. Paul … St. John … the English Episcopate has probably twined into one “cord” more of the separate successions of more than any other communion. ...

CANTERBURY

  1. AUGUSTINE ……………………A.D. 587
  2. LAURENTUS …………………………. 604
(Benton, Angelo Ames. The Church Cyclopaedia: A Dictionary of Church Doctrine, History, Organization, and Ritual, and Containing Original Articles on Special Topics, Written Expressly for this Work by Bishops, Presbyters, and Laymen ; Designed Especially for the Use of the Laity of the Protestant Episcopal Church in ...Published by L. R. Hamersly, 1883. Original from Harvard University. Digitized Apr 26, 2006, pp. 51-52)

Since we in the Continuing Church of God are NOT Protestant nor Roman Catholic we do not consider Augustine to have been a saint or in any or our 'succession lists.'

Augustine also endorsed persecuting murderous terrorism, as Michael Brenner is Professor Emeritus of International Affairs at the University of Pittsburgh, related:

Well-documented Church history tells us that Augustine personally incited zealous monks who cut a swath across North Africa and the East. They destroyed pagan temples, terrorized Donatists, crushed the remnants of Gnostic communities and burned synagogues.

Flying squads of black clad mad monks swept through targeted districts – intoxicated by their own incessant loud chanting.

The calculated aim was to win converts by displays of power and militancy that intimidated the populace. Agitation and coercion were the methods.

Augustine, in his institutional capacity, promoted these nasty forays to extend the “Charity of Christ,” i.e. boost the number of converts. That was, in fact, the principal, political basis for his “just war” theory – not defensive response to an inter-state threat. …

Augustine wrote: “I would not have believed the Gospel had not the authority of the Church moved me.” (Contra Epistulam Fundamentic. 410 ch.5) It therefore was crucial that the campaign have the authority of, and strengthen the Church.12/11/15 https://www.theglobalist.com/the-christian-terror-of-saint-augustine/

Augustine strayed greatly from the pacifist beliefs of early Christians (see also Military Service and the Churches of God: Do Real Christians Participate in Carnal Warfare or Encourage Violence?).

Should you rely on what the Bible says or people like Augustine who would not accept it?

Sadly, many rely on Augustine and various ones have raved about how they liked his book City of God.

Augustine was not a saint, was not holy, and did not bring in true doctrines. He was an apostate who pushed heretical doctrines that many in the Greco-Roman churches still accept today.

He should not be celebrated.

Thiel B. Augustine: Non-Biblical Influencer. COGwriter (c) https://www.cogwriter.com/augustine.htm 2019

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