Augustine Essay

1581 words - 7 pages

St. Augustine wrote the book Confessions to tell the story of his conversion into Christianity. Throughout this book Augustine addresses three major questions. He defines what is real, what it means to be a self, and how others should respond to his journey. Augustine believes that both the material world and the spiritual world are real from his understanding of the Platonists. The Platonists believed that being a self is being detached from the pleasures of the world that may tempt one from straying from God. Responding to Augustine’s call to be a self is simple. All a person needs to do is find self-control to resist the beauties of the world. In order to understand these three things better Augustine uses his own experiences and the parable of the Prodigal Son to illustrate that if he can find God, anyone can.
Augustine struggles with lust throughout his journey. Through his struggle he finds that the material world is a very real thing. Augustine believes that people fall into the beauty of the material world too easily when in reality the material world is just a reflection of the spiritual world. In order to come to this conclusion that the spiritual world spills over into the material world Augustine uses the Platonist hierarchies to unravel Christianity in a way he can understand it. He writes, “So, step by step, my thoughts moved on from the consideration of material things to the soul, which perceives things through the senses of the body, and then to the soul’s inner power, to which the bodily senses communicated external facts” (Augustine 151). Augustine starts with the self and moves upwards in almost a hierarchy type way. From the self he goes to the soul as a whole which would resemble the Holy Spirit in Christianity. The Holy Spirit is said to “enter” the soul when Christians convert further proving that individual souls stem from the true soul or the Holy Spirit. The hierarchy eventually makes its way up to the creator of everything, God or in the Platonists version the “One” (Augustine 151). Through this Augustine comes to learn that both the material world and the spiritual world are very real. Everything stems from God therefore everything is good. “And when I asked myself what wickedness was, I saw that it was not a substance but perversion of the will when it turns aside from you, O God…” (Augustine 150). He was tempted, however, by astrology toward his beginning walk with Christ. Much like Mill and Wilson he scientifically proved that horoscopes and the stars cannot be correct using the illustration of the two boys born on the same day (Augustine 141). One boy was a wealthy boy that lived a good profitable life and the other boy was born to a slave woman (Augustine 141). According to their horoscopes they should have had the exact same life because they were even born in the same hour of the same day. However, the wealthier boy lived a better life than the slave boy (Augustine 141). Augustine’s eyes were open to the...

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