Call To Die

Then [Jesus] said to them all, "If anyone wants to come with Me, he must deny himself, take up his cross daily, and follow Me. For whoever wants to save his life will lose it, but whoever loses his life because of Me will save it. (Luke 9:23-24, HCSB)

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Follower of Christ, husband of Abby, member of Kosmosdale Baptist Church, and tutor/staff member at Sayers Classical Academy.

Monday, August 02, 2010

Augustine, Confessions, teaching outline

[Yesterday my friend Tim Scott began teaching Augustine’s Confessions in our Sunday school class. In order to prepare for studying this work, I drew up the following outline based on R.S. Pine-Coffin’s introduction and material in Peter Brown’s biography of Augustine.]

Introduction to the Confessions

I. Influences on Augustine in writing Confessions:
A. Christian biographies; examples:
1. Life of Anthony
2. Martyrdom of Perpetua
B. Pagan religious autobiography

II. Augustine wrote the Confessions because:
A. He needed to explain his complicated conversion
B. He needed to re-evaluate his life at middle-age
C. He needed to grapple with death and disillusionment in his life

III. Outline of the Confessions:
A. Coming to faith and baptism; the death of Monica (Books I-IX)
B. Examination of current ability to deal with temptation (Book X)
C. Exposition of Genesis 1 (Books XI-XIII)

IV. Augustine believed the following were at the root of all sins he confessed:
A. Spiritual pride (self-reliance)
B. Lack of simple faith

V. Manichaeism
A. Augustine was primarily attracted to Manichaeism because it was seemingly able to solve the problem of evil.
B. Mani [Manes] combined Christianity with other religions and his own philosophy.
C. Manichaeism was founded on the idea that in the beginning were two independent principles: Good and Evil [Light and Darkness]

VI. Doubts concerning Manichaeism led Augustine to:
A. Neo-Platonism, which gave Augustine a theory of the dynamics of the soul by which eventually to interpret his experiences in the Confessions
B. The idea “that evil results from man’s misuse of free will” [Pine-Coffin]
C. The sermons of Ambrose
D. The Pauline Epistles
1. The idea of God’s mercy and grace
2. The idea of Christ as Redeemer, not just a gifted teacher

VII. The Confessions and the Scriptures:
A. “[Augustine] had come to believe that the understanding and exposition of the Scriptures was the heart of a bishop’s life.” [Brown]
B. “[Augustine’s] relations with the Scriptures… come to form a constant theme throughout the Confessions.” [Brown]
C. In the Confessions, Augustine diagnoses his conversion to the Manichees as a failure to accept the Bible.
D. In Augustine’s meditations on Genesis, he wants to carry his readers with him in his thoughts concerning the Scriptures.

VIII. The Confessions as prayer:
A. The Confessions are similar, in some respects, to the practices of Neo-Platonic philosophers, who felt they must commit themselves fully to the unknown God
B. Augustine began his first philosophical work, Soliloquia, with a prayer
C. Augustine ended his theological masterpiece, De Trinitate, with a prayer
D. Prayer had never been used in literature to “strike up a lively conversation” with God, continuing for a whole work [Brown]

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