Augustine and the Early Church
Augustine of Hippo by Peter Brown
Live Oak Public Library, STACKS 270.2 BROW
Q5. In Augustine’s unfailing attempt to fight the heresies that plagued the early church, he realized that much of his colleagues and congregation lived by unquestioned faith in the Catholic Church. He also realized that this left them without a strong foundation for which they believed. (Brown, 354) His contributions to the written theological doctrines of Catholicism helped to strengthen the Church’s authority on controversial topics. Due to the lack of clearly written doctrines, ideas such as Pelagianism had filtered into the church through philosophies taught by seemingly earnest men. Augustine however, was able see that these ideas diminished the very foundations of the Catholic Church. (Brown, 354) Therefore, Augustine’s wrote to establish a formal affirmation of what the church really believed. Augustine could see that people within the church, even many bishops, did not have a sturdy doctrinal foundation, for they were unable to determine if Pelagius’s ideas really contradicted their theology. They wanted to treat Pelagius by his merits even though they were not sure if his teaching were consistent with traditional orthodoxy. (Brown, 355) Augustine wrote letters and books to help clarify the church’s stand on many subjects, for instance, he wrote letters correcting the false teachings of the Donatists, which also weaved their way into the teachings of the Catholic Church. (Brown, 360) Augustine strove to ensure his writings were correct, as he would ask God to help him to understand the writings of the Bible. (Brown, 165) Augustine, in his later years, was able to clarify ecclesiastical authority through what he drew from the scriptures and the Apostle Paul’s active life. This would prove to help others as he set about to change the habitual activities that plagued the church. (Brown, 206-207) In Augustine’s desire to establish true church doctrine, he was compelled to set his works into a mass volume, which gave the Catholic Church absolute certainty of what they believed and created an ecclesiastical norm for their orthodoxy. (Brown, 430)
Q6. Through Augustine’s contribution, the church was able to establish many new clear cut doctrines that were widely accepted throughout the church. (Brown, 430) Augustine realized that the Catholic Church, as a whole, was unsure of what they believed on certain matters. For example, many in the western church believed that there was some type of ancient sin that bound us all, while others in the Catholic Church did not agree. To clarify this matter Augustine developed the doctrine of original sin, through which he showed the precise incident in which Adam fell from grace and condemned all humanity. Augustine’s doctrine also shows how this sin came to be and how it passed from Adam to all generations. (Brown, 388) On other subjects, he used the things around him to help confused men...