Archive for November, 2007

30
Nov
07

We begin in faith, we are perfected in sight

”But, as this faith, which works by love, begins to penetrate the soul, it tends, through the vital power of goodness, to change into sight, so that the holy and perfect in heart catch glimpses of that ineffable beauty whose full vision is our highest happiness. Here, then, surely, is the answer to your question about the beginning and the end of our endeavor. We begin in faith, we are perfected in sight.”

Augustine of Hippo (A.D. 354-430) Enchridion Chapter 1, Paragraph5

Reformed Christian Muse

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28
Nov
07

Abstinence « Famous Quotes Quote of the Day

Quote of the Day – Abstinence « Famous Quotes Quote of the Day

“Complete abstinence is easier than perfect moderation.”
– St. Augustine 354-430, Numidian-born Bishop of Hippo, Theologian

28
Nov
07

Biography of Augustine

Ten Great Christian Biographies! « En Gedi: A God Given Stronghold for Dads!
 Peter Brown, Augustine of Hippo: A Biography (Berkeley: University of California Press), 1967, revised edition 2000.

augustine-brown.jpg

“Brown’s rendering of Augustine is essential reading for the Christian serious about the history of the church. His revised edition makes use of valuable materials discovered since the book’s first edition was published in 1967. Rollins Professor of History at Princeton University, Brown reveals the genius of Augustine and takes us into his inner life and historical context. One cannot understand the Reformers without understanding the influence of Augustine on their theology and, specifically, their understandings of sin and grace.”

Excerpt:

Not every man lives to see the fundamentals of his life’s work challenged in his old age. Yet this is what happened to Augustine during the Pelagian controversy. At the time that the controversy opened, he had reached a plateau. He was already enmeshed in a reputation that he attempted to disown with characteristic charm: “Cicero, the prince of Roman orators,” he wrote to Marcellinus in 412, “says of someone that ‘He never uttered a word which he would wish to recall.’ High praise indeed! — but more applicable to a complete ass than to a genuinely wise man . . . . If God permit me, I shall gather and point out, in a work specially devoted to this purpose, all the things which justly displease me in my books: then men will see that I am far from being a biased judge in my own case. . . . For I am the sort of man who writes because he has made progress, and who makes progress — by writing.”

Scott Bailey

Amazon Biography link

27
Nov
07

Trinitarian Analogies « A Thinker’s Progress

Trinitarian Analogies « A Thinker’s Progress

“This analogy, originally conceived of by Augustine and later refined by Anselm and Aquinas, has dominated the western church mindset. This analogy flows from reflecting on the nature of the human mind. For Augstine, the human mind exists in knowing and loving. It is important to note, as Placher does, that for Augstine and Aquinas, knowing and loving aren’t merely activities the mind engages in, but rather the existence of the human mind is in the doing of these activities. Furthermore, these activities are mutally interconnected. One cannot love something without knowing it, and visa-versa. According to Augustine, this interdependence between the mind itself, and its fully integrated activities of knowing and loving mirror the relationships of the Triune God.”

William C. Placher

27
Nov
07

Augustine on Scripture

“I would not believe the holy Gospels if it were not for the authority of the Holy Catholic Church.” Augustine.

“Roman Catholic apologists often use this statement of Augustine’s (can’t find the citation) to try to show the protestant doctrine of sola scriptura mistaken. While writing my previous post, I came across the following quote by Augustine, which I liked very much because it shows that Augustine cannot be unambiguously claimed for the Pope’s cause.”Shane

5. As regards our writings, which are not a rule of faith or practice, but only a help to edification, we may suppose that they contain some things falling short of the truth in obscure and recondite matters, and that these mistakes may or may not be corrected in subsequent treatises. For we are of those of whom the apostle says: “And if you be otherwise minded, God shall reveal even this unto you.” Such writings are read with the right of judgment, and without any obligation to believe. In order to leave room for such profitable discussions of difficult questions, there is a distinct boundary line separating all productions subsequent to apostolic times from the authoritative canonical books of the Old and New Testaments. The authority of these books has come down to us from the apostles through the successions of bishops and the extension of the Church, and, from a position of lofty supremacy, claims the submission of every faithful and pious mind. If we are perplexed by an apparent contradiction in Scripture, it is not allowable to say, The author of this book is mistaken; but either the manuscript is faulty, or the translation is wrong, or you have not understood. In the innumerable books that have been written latterly we may sometimes find the same truth as in Scripture, but there is not the same authority. Scripture has a sacredness peculiar to itself. In other books the reader may form his own opinion, and perhaps, from not understanding the writer, may differ from him, and may pronounce in favor of what pleases him, or against what he dislikes. In such cases, a man is at liberty to withhold his belief, unless there is some clear demonstration or some canonical authority to show that the doctrine or statement either must or may be true. But in consequence of the distinctive peculiarity of the sacred writings, we are bound to receive as true whatever the canon shows to have been said by even one prophet, or apostle, or evangelist. Otherwise, not a single page will be left for the guidance of human fallibility, if contempt for the wholesome authority of the canonical books either puts an end to that authority altogether, or involves it in hopeless confusion. Augustine.

English translation. Or read the Latin.

There is also a nice Augustine quote in Thomas Aquinas which has a decidedly protestant ring to it. Shane.

Nevertheless, sacred doctrine makes use of these authorities [the pagan greek philosophers] as extrinsic and probable arguments; but properly uses the authority of the canonical Scriptures as an incontrovertible proof, and the authority of the doctors of the Church as one that may properly be used, yet merely as probable. For our faith rests upon the revelation made to the apostles and prophets who wrote the canonical books, and not on the revelations (if any such there are) made to other doctors. Hence Augustine says (Epis. ad Hieron. xix, 1): “Only those books of Scripture which are called canonical have I learned to hold in such honor as to believe their authors have not erred in any way in writing them. But other authors I so read as not to deem everything in their works to be true, merely on account of their having so thought and written, whatever may have been their holiness and learning.” Aquinas.

“To summarize, Augustine holds:

  1. that Christians have a right to judge non-canonical writings including his own.
  2. that there is a boundary between the canonical scriptures and everything else.
  3. that Scripture enjoys a peculiar sacredness.

Now it is certainly too much to say that Augustine holds something like sola scriptura. However, if there is a boundary between the scriptures and everything else, then shouldn’t we say there is also a boundary between the apostles and the bishops as their successors such that the former were authoritative but the latter are not?” Shane.

Shane  http://scholasticus.wordpress.com/2007/09/13/augustine-on-scripture/

26
Nov
07

Ask Augustine. On Philosopher’s and morality?

Dear Augustine,

The worldly philosophers seem to have thought deeply about morality, its measurement and justifications. What should we think about these things? Do they have anything good to tell us?

Affectionately yours,

A Penitent

Dear Penitent,

We should not think that those that know not the truth know no truth at all.

The part of philosophy we call morals, or what is called by the Greeks ἠθική, in which is discussed the question concerning the chief good,—that which will leave us nothing further to seek in order to be blessed, if only we make all our actions refer to it, and seek it not for the sake of something else, but for its own sake. Therefore it is called the end, because we wish other things on account of it, but itself only for its own sake.

This beatific good, therefore, according to some, comes to a man from the body, according to others, from the mind, and, according to others, from both together. For they saw that man himself consists of soul and body; and therefore they believed that from either of these two, or from both together, their well-being must proceed, consisting in a certain final good, which could render them blessed, and to which they might refer all their actions, not requiring anything ulterior to which to refer that good itself.

This is why those who have added a third kind of good things, which they call extrinsic,—as honor, glory, wealth, and the like,—have not regarded them as part of the final good, that is, to be sought after for their own sake, but as things which are to be sought for the sake of something else, affirming that this kind of good is good to the good, and evil to the evil. Wherefore, whether they have sought the good of man from the mind or from the body, or from both together, it is still only from man they have supposed that it must be sought. But they who have sought it from the body have sought it from the inferior part of man; they who have sought it from the mind, from the superior part; and they who have sought it from both, from the whole man.

Whether therefore, they have sought it from any part, or from the whole man, still they have only sought it from man; nor have these differences, being three, given rise only to three dissentient sects of philosophers, but to many. For diverse philosophers have held diverse opinions, both concerning the good of the body, and the good of the mind, and the good of both together. Let, therefore, all these give place to those philosophers who have not affirmed that a man is blessed by the enjoyment of the body, or by the enjoyment of the mind, but by the enjoyment of God,—enjoying Him, however, not as the mind does the body or itself, or as one friend enjoys another, but as the eye enjoys light, if, indeed, we may draw any comparison between these things.

But what the nature of this comparison is, will, if God help me, be shown in another place, to the best of my ability. At present, it is sufficient to mention that Plato determined the final good to be to live according to virtue, and affirmed that he only can attain to virtue who knows and imitates God,—which knowledge and imitation are the only cause of blessedness. Therefore he did not doubt that to philosophize is to love God, whose nature is incorporeal. Whence it certainly follows that the student of wisdom, that is, the philosopher, will then become blessed when he shall have begun to enjoy God. For though he is not necessarily blessed who enjoys that which he loves (for many are miserable by loving that which ought not to be loved, and still more miserable when they enjoy it), nevertheless no one is blessed who does not enjoy that which he loves. For even they who love things which ought not to be loved do not count themselves blessed by loving merely, but by enjoying them.

Who, then, but the most miserable will deny that he is blessed, who enjoys that which he loves, and loves the true and highest good? But the true and highest good, according to Plato, is God, and therefore he would call him a philosopher who loves God; for philosophy is directed to the obtaining of the blessed life, and he who loves God is blessed in the enjoyment of God.

I hope this is fruitful to your greater understanding of these things,

Aurelius Augustinus

(The City Of God, Book 8, Chapter 8.—That the Platonists Hold the First Rank in Moral Philosophy Also.)

26
Nov
07

So You Say You’re an Atheist?

So You Say You’re an Atheist? « Questions and Challenges

“Isaiah, in the last portion of that book (55:8-9) quotes God as saying, “For my thoughts are not your thoughts, Nor are your ways My ways,” says the LORD. For as the heavens are higher than the earth, So are my ways higher than your ways, and My thoughts than your thoughts.” The writer of Psalm 139 states (in v. 6) “Such knowledge is too wonderful for me; It is high, I cannot attain it.” And Paul, in Romans 11:33, concludes an in-depth discussion of God’s character with the doxology, “Oh, the depth of the riches both of the wisdom and knowledge of God! How unsearchable are His judgments and His ways past finding out!” Evidently these Bible writers believed that for man to search out God on his own was not to be expected, and that God to be known must choose to reveal Himself.

Thus the agnostic is correct in stating that he has not found God, but the real question may be, are we willing to be found by Him? As Augustine once said, as if it were God speaking: “Fear not, for thou would not seek Me if I had not found thee.”

R. Charles Blair
http://melcartera.wordpress.com/2007/11/24/so-you-say-youre-an-atheist/