Thursdays with Theologians – St. Augustine of Hippo

Published January 4, 2018 by

Every Thursday, I’ll be highlighting an influential Christian from Church history – theologians, missionaries, pastors, and musicians.

The oldest known image of Augustine, on the wall of the Lateran Palace (Rome), likely taken from his signet ring.

St. Augustine (354-430 A.D.) was born in Tagaste, North Africa (in modern day Algeria), to a pagan father and a devout Christian mother. Pursuing fame as a teacher in rhetoric, he explored different philosophies and is said to have worked for a time as a speech writer to one of the Roman emperors. In Milan, Italy, Augustine heard the famous bishop Ambrose preaching and converted to Christianity, later becoming a priest and then bishop in Hippo, North Africa.

Augustine became one of the most prolific and ardent defenders of Christianity after that, arguing its truth against the philosophies of the day, and according to his ancient biographer wrote more than 1000 works, including 242 books. His writings have been extremely influential in the development of many areas of Christian doctrine, including the Trinity, free will and divine providence, sin, the Church universal, and grace. While he was still alive, a group of people in France even began a 100-year movement to have his writings canonized – that is, put on par with Scripture itself!

His most famous work, “Confessions,” is the first known biography (in the modern sense of the word), and contains the famous quote “You [God] have made us for Yourself, and our hearts are restless until they rest in You” (book 1 chapter 1). Augustine’s other most notable surviving work is “The City of God,” which along with Confessions is still in mass print and readily available to this day (his other works being reprinted mainly with scholarly focus).

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