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Augustine Midterm Exam
The presence of evil is one major problem affecting the Christian faith. For this reason, St. Augustine spent much of his time contemplating the origin of evil. He defines theology as a rational discussion that leads to the understanding of God. On the other hand, belief is based on faith. He explains that for a person to understand God, one must know the universe (Augustine 55). This statement means that a person has to know mathematics, science, arts, and music among other subjects. This paper explains what theology is in the view of St. Augustine.
The theology aims at understanding God through His attributes. The people who wrote What is theology? sought to explain the existence of God. The Confessions of St. Augustine provide an attempt to understand God's nature. He sees God as air or water that fills spaces of the universe. Augustine starts with a statement to praise God in his first book (1). In calling God, he shows his belief in God's existence and that He is all-powerful, perfect, and unchangeable. In Book VII of his Confessions, Augustine describes his understanding of God, Christ, and evil. The story of the children of the rich and the slave convinces him that God exists (Augustine 78). Additionally, Augustine is seen to quote the Bible to support God's existence. He quotes the Gospel of John in Chapter VII stating that in the beginning was the Word. Through this, he proves the existence of God. Additionally, The Confessions of St. Augustine is a matter of theology but not just belief. For instance, in the episode of stealing the pear, he convinces that God is a supreme being, and nothing is outside of His control. In conclusion, Augustine showcases the study of God's acts through his experiences throughout the books. He reveals an understanding of human problems with their solutions as part of God's reality.
In the second book, Augustine talks about two types of sin, the one of lust and that of doing wrong for the sake of doing (6). In his Confessions, these two sins connect desire and moral evil. Augustine gives an account of his adolescent life and speaks of his sins of lust. His sexual desires are overwhelming, and it becomes problematic for him to give up on them. He justifies his sexual behavior as that of wanting to be loved, but along the way, it guides him towards wrong intentions. It becomes hard for him to differentiate between physical love guided by lust and spiritual love through friendship and companionship.
Christians believe that desire is only good if it accomplishes the purpose of God. The church's attitude towards sexuality is that it is sinful, and Augustine understands this as he quotes the letters of Apostle Paul on sex. According to them, celibacy was highly valued, and those who lacked self-control were advised to marry. Even when married, couples could only engage in sexual activities only for conception. In his further attempt to connect desire and moral evil, Augustine speaks of love to do wrong for the sake of doing it. He gave an account of stealing a pear that he did not even want (9). Through this desire to steal, Augustine is convinced that sin is a rebellious action against God. He also learns that people sin to fulfill a certain desire. According to him, by stealing, sinners prove that God has control over everything.
The teachings of Saint Augustine are based on reason, tradition, experience, and scriptures. He used reason when he talked about the use of contraceptives. According to him, they turn a marriage bed into a brothel (Augustine 77). He also used reason when he went to see astrologers. Augustine realizes that people born at the exact time do not have the same life. In the end, he is convinced that the study of astrology is false. He further uses reason when he asserts that people are driven by desires to sin to get something. Augustine uses his experiences to shape his teachings. For instance, the adolescent experience describes his sins of lust and desires. Augustine also uses it to show readers that astrologers are phony. Based on experience with the pear tree, he makes the reader understand that sinners at times sin for the sake of doing so.
Saint Augustine also uses a lot of scriptures in his confessions, for example, St. Pauls letters, especially in Book VIII, help to explain the nature of Christ. He also quotes Romans (13: 13-14) as scripture that has made him embrace his spiritual life (Augustine 205). Moreover, Augustine uses tradition to explain and understand evil. The example of him stealing the pear, which he did not even want, helps to explain to the reader why human beings feel good when they sin. Additionally, Augustine uses the source of tradition to explain why evil is based on privation or lack. According to him, having good things distract people from God. He gives an example of how people commit crimes, such as murder and stealing to gain something. He also teaches on the need to practice the Holy Communion just as required in the Jews tradition.
The teachings of St. Augustine are rather theological than simple beliefs because they are based on reason, tradition, experience, and scriptures. Through his confessions, readers understand the nature of God. According to the scriptures, God is all-powerful, unchanging, perfect, and just. It explains the valuable contributions of St. Augustine to the study of theology.