Augustine and Conversion
Conversion can best be defined as surrendering a particular way of life in order to accept another. The very nature of this process indicates the presence of sacrifice. The convert acts almost entirely on faith, giving up the life that seemed right, a life in which they were comfortable, relying only on the assumption that letting Jesus into their hearts will give their life more meaning and direction then what they had known before. Augustine says that conversion requires cooperation of intellect and emotion, which may have a crippling effect of habit on will, and a need for God’s grace to have an unhampered will. He also says that conversion requires a public confession. Augustine himself struggled with conversion, due in large part to his fascination with women that led to his addiction to sex. Augustine’s struggles in converting make his psychology on conversion a plausible one.
Augustine’s long road to becoming a Christian started when he first became interested in philosophy. This happened in Carthage in the year 372 AD. It was at this time that he read Cicero’s Hortensius.This writing, which explained the search for true wisdom, the pursuit of truth for life, and how people should live that led Augustine to search for a religion or way of life that he could be at comfort with.
For nine years from 373 until 382, Augustine followed the ways of Manichaeism, a Persian dualistic philosophy which at the time was widespread throughout the Western Roman Empire. With its fundamental principle of conflict between good and evil and its claim of a rational interpretation of Scripture, Manichaeism at first seemed to Augustine to correspond to experience and set up the best...