November 13, 354AD - August 28, 430AD
Bishop of Hippo, City of Godby Rit Nosotro First Published:: 2003
Augustine's life is divided into two portions: the physical and the spiritual. Both impact people today. Augmented by his training in rhetoric, his writings are still considered vitally important by some.
Aurelius Augustinus', also known as Augustine, physical life began in Thagaste on November 13, 354. His father, Patricius, desired Augustine to attend school and learn the art of rhetoric, and his mother, Monnica, also desired for him to be great. He went to school in Thagaste and learned how to read and write and the basics of Greek and Latin literature. From age eleven to age fifteen, he studied the art of rhetoric in Madaura. He then continued his study of rhetoric in Carthage from age seventeen to age twenty. Both Augustine's parents were exceptionally proud of him as a boy. His father, a member of the council, worked hard to gain his son's education. Although his father did not become a Christian until on his deathbed in 370, his mother was a Christian, and she tried to raise Augustine to be a Christian.
Before Augustine went to Carthage to study rhetoric, his mother encouraged him to remain pure. Despite her warnings, Augustine took a mistress for fourteen years, and she bore him a son, Adeodatus, in the summer of 372. Augustine not only studied rhetoric during his stay at Carthage, but taught it also. At age nineteen, after reading the Hortensius of Cicero, he followed Manicheanism from age nineteen to age twenty-eight. Unsatisfied with his career, he moved to Rome in 383, and in 384 he moved to and took a position of professorship at the State University in Milan. Augustine was considered one of the great professors of his time. After moving to Milan, he came across the writings of Plotinus, and he converted to neo-Platonism. Still in Milan, he met Bishop Ambrose. Ambrose converted Augustine to Christianity in 386, and on Easter of 387 Ambrose baptized him. After his conversion, he moved back to Thagaste, and in this time his mother and son died.
After moving to Thagaste, Augustine relocated to Hippo. Against his will, but by popular demand, he was ordained a priest and assistant bishop at Hippo. A year later, upon the death of the bishop, he was named bishop of Hippo. After only three years of Christianity, Augustine was the bishop in Hippo because of his education, which was not necessarily in the scriptures. Augustine lived in Hippo for thirty-three more years and died on August 28, 430.
In the early years of his spiritual journey, Augustine learned rhetoric and other skills to become a famous man based upon his own works. After reading Cicero's documents, he fell in love with Manicheanism. This belief that man is divided into two parts, good and evil, denounced Christ's life and sufferings and stated that Christ was a spiritual entity for good and that he never lived as a man or died. Christ, in their terms, worked to aid man's good spiritual side. Throughout the scriptures, Manicheanists removed passages pertaining to Christ's sufferings, and they discarded the entire Old Testament. A passionate man, Augustine accepted this view that gave him some explanation of his struggle between his sinful acts and desire for good works. After nine years, Manicheanism brought no relief in his struggle against his worldly desires, and he lost his enchantment with this religion.
Augustine finally became a Christian, and he believed the scriptures to be the inerrant word of God. The key verse that lead to his conversion was Romans 13:13-14, "Not in riots and drunken parties, not in eroticism and indecencies, not in strife and rivalry, but put on the Lord Jesus Christ and make no provision for the flesh in its lusts." After his appointment to bishop of Hippo, he developed the idea that only priests can do the things of God for the people. This gave way to the idea that priests can do no wrong, which stemmed partially from his disagreement with the Donatists. Donatists believed the Catholic Church erred when they accepted priests who gave over scriptures for destruction. Augustine sided with the Catholic Church and its priests regardless of their actions. In his conflict with the Donatists, Augustine condoned the use of violence against those who disagreed with the Catholic Church. In view of the Crusades and how some nations received their "christianization," Augustine's writings greatly impacted the Middle Ages up to today.
Through the remainder of his life, Augustine focused on salvation by grace. Considering the depth of his own sin, he believed that only a gracious God saved him. In one of his greatest works, The City of God, Augustine divided the world into the kingdom of man and the kingdom of God. He pointed out the fallacies of the kingdom of man and the truths of the kingdom of God. Augustine's thirty-three years as a bishop left the world with numerous heritages, some good, some not as good. Overall, he was a man of God who understood the love of the Master for people.
Shelley, Bruce L., Church History in Plain Language, pgs. 124 - 131
Piper, John, The Legacy of Sovereign Joy, pgs. 41 - 53
justus.anglican.org/resources/bio/50.html, Augustine of Hippo, Bishop and Theologian