Saint Augustine's Influence On Western Religion

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Saint Augustine had a profound influence on Western thought and culture. He wrote the City of God, showed that Christianity was not to blame in the downfall of the Roman Empire and promotes Christian teachings over pagan religion. The City of God influenced Christian spiritual devotion through extreme practices such as martyrdom, renunciation of wealth and status and finally the idea that God is transcendent. During the rise of monasticism, Saint Augustine’s City of God was interpreted as needing to take extreme measures in order display spiritual devotion. Saint Anthony and Saint Martin both took the life of trying to become a martyr by destroying their bodies daily in order to show devotion to God, “The Life of St. Martin portrays him as …show more content…
This displays how willing Christians were to become martyrs in order to show their allegiance to the religion and God. They trusted their lives with him and knew that he when he needed them to serve in the heavenly city, instead of the earthly city, they would be ready. The City of God was important in the development of monasticism because it influenced the way people practiced religion and foreshadowed that with such devotion to their religion it would be accepted and pave the way for Christians to practice freely. By being martyrs Christians thought they were living their life with purpose, “We have been placed here for a reason, which is to manifest the glory of God and to work toward our salvation” (Backman 55). They thought that God’s plan was for them to sacrifice themselves anytime there was an opportunity in order to reach salvation and show their loyalty. After writing the City of God, people interpreted the purpose he mentioned as sacrificing their bodies to pursue the path God planned for them. Since the earthly city and the heavenly city are divided, by being martyrs Christians are spreading the word of God …show more content…
Augustine also inspired Christians to renounce their wealth and social status in order to be more similar to the way Christ lived. After the period of martyrdom ended there began a new wave of extreme religious expression of being impoverished by choice. The earliest example of this was St. Anthony he was born into a well-established farming family and once his parents died he received a large inheritance. After hearing a message from God he decided to go into poverty in order to become the perfect man and reach salvation, “Taking the lesson to heart, Anthony immediately stepped out, sold his estate, and gave away all his money except for an endowment that he set aside for his sister”(89). He continued his life of asceticism for the rest of his life and attracted disciples. This new fad of showing devotion to God by living in poverty spread to all Christians who began to give away their privileges and enter monasteries in order to show their piety in a less severe way, “…it became increasingly common for those seeking a new type of Christian commitment to choose the second option— namely, to live together in a permanent spiritual community”(90). By an increasing amount of Christians beginning to live the monastic life, they began following St. Augustine’s City of God message of living their life with purpose in order to reach salvation. After realizing that martyrdom wasn’t the only way to reach salvation, and living in poverty was another way to be a committed

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