Saint Augustine of Hippo’s Confessions Essay

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Saint Augustine of Hippo’s Confessions (398 C.E.) is a theological autobiography, what we would call today a conversion story. The book is an apologia, which means it is both a confession of faith as well as an account of a life. It is meant to be a testimony of faith and a defense of Christian doctrine. The book is not a biography in our modern sense of the term. The book is about the birth of faith. This is the heart of the book. Through the telling of his own life story -- the indiscretions of his youth, his experiment with Manichaeism, the birth of a child out of wedlock, his father Patrick who converted to Christianity only at his death bed, the persistent hope of his Christian mother Monica to convert, and so forth -- Augustine maps …show more content…
He sees a child with a seashell carrying salt water to a hole he had dug in the sand. He watches the child as he goes back and forth, filling the hole with water. Augustine asks the child what he is doing and the child says he is trying to fill the entire sea into the hole. Augustine says that is impossible, and the child replies, “and you will never be able to fit the infinity of God into the confines of your mind” (cited in Kelley, p. xiii). This story is an apt description of Augustine’s theology. Augustine’s investigation into the nature of God begins as a series of thoughtful philosophical questions. Augustine’s theology is childlike, a theme that runs through the book and is important to understand his conception of God. For Augustine, God is like the beneficent parent who shares with his children the leftovers. Augustine imagines God as so immensely infinite that God must have a tremendous amount of “leftover” after filling creation with himself. Where does God put the part of him that is leftover from filling creation? Or does God, “who contains all things” have no need “to be contained by anything because what you will you fill by containing it” (ibid.). Augustine wonders about how God can fill the entirety of creation? Does creation contain God because God has filled it or does God fill creation and overflow it because it does contain God? (p. 66). Reading these questions, they sound

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