***** (of 5)
The bottom line: One of the greatest books ever written by (arguably) the most influential theologian of all-time.
Augustine Confessions essentially is a story of one man’s spiritual journey from a life of sin (self-centered) to a life of faith (God-centered). It is simultaneously a personal narrative where Augustine of Hippo describes his quest from humble beginnings in North Africa to a position of authority in first century Milan, Italy. The reader is invited to join Augustine as he battles with his own war with sin and the different ideologies of the time, starting from youth and proceeding well into adulthood. Augustine begins as a true skeptic, raises a multitude of doubts about the Christian faith, and then systematically uses scientific, philosophical (he even draws up the ancient Greek philosophers), religious, and logical arguments to debunk alternative theories and finally reach the overriding conclusion—that there is only one truth and that truth is found in God. Confessions ends up being love letter written by one man to his Creator.
One of the biggest highlights in Confessions is Augustine’s formulation of original sin, or an act of free will rooted in a misdirection toward serving the self and not God—and subsequently that act is what degraded and corrupted the will for all of humankind. Adam and Eve had fallen away from God, and sin was thus birthed into humanity, inescapably tainting each and every one of us with a corrupted will, a sinful nature, and an evil disposition. Augustine postulates that without God, we are free only to sin, and only with God are we free not to sin. Prior to the fall of man, Adam remained wholly good, and he had the power to do either good or evil. He unfortunately chose the latter. Augustine emphasized that the original sin was grounded in conceit and that human pride is the root of all sin.
Arguably, Augustine is the most influential theologian of all-time and his ideology can be seen in the works of other great titans of Christian thought such as Luther, Calvin, and Niebuhr. Everyone should read this book, and if you are involved in any form of Christian ministry, you absolutely must read this book—it will change how you view and interact with the world.
Dr. C. H. E. Sadaphal