AUGUSTINE’S SPIRIT-SOUL ANALOGY:AND ITS IMPLICATIONS FOR COMMUNION ECCLESIOLOGY

Augustine of Hippo
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Analogies are generally open to interpretations and their relevance also varies according to the context. This study is, therefore, designed to offer a faithful interpretation of Augustine's analogy based on his understanding of the Spirit in his trinitarian theology. And is, at the same time, an attempt to specify the analogy's relevance for the Church's unity in diversity, the universal and local Churches' communion, and the African church's particularity.

"Augustine's Analogy between the Spirit in the Church and the Soul in t" by Gabriel Mendy

On account of the divine persons' consubstantiality and relationship, Augustine was able to defend their unity, equality, and distinction while affirming their inseparable operations. The Spirit is not, therefore, subordinate to the Father and the Son as their common gift, bond of love, and communion.

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Augustine's originality consisted in his assertion that the Jews continue to exist as witnesses to the truth of Christianity, by witnessing the Old Testament prophesies about Jesus' death and resurrection and their own dispersion, which were never forged by the Christians:. What the church today requires is a more adequate theological account of the assistance of the Spirit in church teaching. In this communion we know the salvation which is grounded in the man Jesus of Nazareth, in his life, his teaching, his deeds, his death and resurrection and ascension, and which dwells in us, who are the temple of the Holy Spirit. The church, the indivisible body of Christ, is not the sum of single individuals or members or any other parts. Within the Church there is a distinctive ministry of the word and sacraments which exists to serve the Church, and through it the whole human community in worship, in mission, in teaching, in pastoral care and promotion of fellowship and unity. Thou didst gleam, and glow, and dispel my blindness. Although the Jews was not a major theme in Augustine's voluminous writings, his view of the status of the Jews was quite original and influential throughout the Middle Ages.

In the immanent Trinity, the Spirit is the principle of love and communion signifying its function in the Church where the whole Triad dwells through the Spirit. As the gift of the Father and the Son to the Church, the Spirit is common to all and not simply reserved for a select few. On that note, I will argue that all members should discover their gifts and participate in the life and mission of the Church. The Church will in turn be a vibrant unity in diversity because the Spirit will animate and coordinate the gifts and languages of the members. Related Information.

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Author - Fr Gabriel Mendy

Previous Figure Next Figure. Email or Customer ID. Forgot your password? Forgot password? Old Password. New Password. Password Changed Successfully Your password has been changed. Returning user. Request Username Can't sign in? Forgot your username? Enter your email address below and we will send you your username. Many Protestants , especially Calvinists , consider him to be one of the theological fathers of the Reformation teaching on divine grace. In the Eastern Orthodox Church he is a saint, although a minority are of the opinion that he is a heretic, primarily because of his position on the filioque clause regarding the procession of the Holy Spirit.

Among the Orthodox he is called "Blessed Augustine" or "St. Augustine the Blessed," not so much for his theological teachings as for his writings on spirituality.

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Augustine's theology has received criticism especially for his teachings on predestination , which appears to exclude the reprobate from salvation, and on the use of force, through which to bring back heretics such as the Donatists, although that criticism may be based on a misconstruction of the real intent of Augustine.

Nevertheless, his reputation as the preeminent Christian theologian is universally recognized. His revered mother, Monica, was a Berber and a devout Catholic , and his father, Patricius, a pagan. At the age of 11 he was sent to school at Madaurus, a small Numidian city about 19 miles south of Tagaste. At the age of 17 he went to Carthage to continue his education in rhetoric. Although raised as a Catholic , Augustine left the Church to follow the controversial Manichaean religion, much to the despair of his mother.

As a youth, Augustine lived a hedonistic lifestyle for a time and, in Carthage, he developed a relationship with a young woman who would be his concubine for over 15 years. During this period he had a son, Adeodatus, with the young woman. In he moved to Rome , where he believed the best and brightest rhetoricians practiced.

However, he was disappointed with the Roman schools, which he found apathetic. Manichaean friends introduced him to the prefect of the city of Rome, Symmachus, who had been asked to provide a professor of rhetoric for the imperial court at Milan.

The young provincial won the job and headed north to take up his position in late At age 30, Augustine had won the most visible academic chair in the Latin world, at a time when such posts gave ready access to political careers. However, he felt the tensions of life at an imperial court, lamenting one day as he rode in his carriage to deliver a grand speech before the emperor, that a drunken beggar he passed on the street had a less careworn existence than he did.

It was at Milan that Augustine's life changed. While still at Carthage, he had begun to move away from Manichaeism, in part because of a disappointing meeting with a key exponent of Manichaean theology. At Milan, this movement continued. His mother, Monica, pressured him to become a Catholic, but it was the bishop of Milan, Ambrose , who had most influence over Augustine.

Ambrose was a master of rhetoric like Augustine himself, but older and more experienced. Prompted in part by Ambrose's sermons, and partly by his own studies, in which he steadfastly pursued a quest for ultimate truth, Augustine renounced Manichaeism. After a flirtation with skepticism , he then became an enthusiastic student of Neoplatonism , and for a time believed he was making real progress in his quest.

Augustine's mother had followed him to Milan, and he allowed her to arrange a society marriage , for which he abandoned his concubine. So, he promptly took up in the meantime with another woman. It was during this period that he uttered his famous prayer, "Grant me chastity and continency, but not yet" da mihi castitatem et continentiam, sed noli modo. In the summer of , after having read an account of the life of Saint Anthony of the Desert which greatly inspired him, Augustine underwent a profound personal crisis and decided to convert to Christianity, abandon his career in rhetoric, quit his teaching position in Milan, give up any ideas of marriage, and devote himself entirely to serving God and the practices of priesthood, which included celibacy.

Key to this conversion was the voice of an unseen child he heard while in his garden in Milan telling him in a sing-song voice to " tolle lege " "take up and read" the Bible, at which point he opened the Bible at random and fell upon Romans , which reads: "Let us walk honestly, as in the day; not in rioting and drunkenness, not in chambering and wantonness, not in strife and envying" KJV. He would detail his spiritual journey in his famous Confessions , which became a classic of both Christian theology and world literature.

Ambrose baptized Augustine, along with his son, Adeodatus, on Easter Vigil in in Milan, and soon thereafter in he returned to Africa. On his way back to Africa his mother died, as did his son soon after, leaving him alone in the world without family. Upon his return to North Africa Augustine created a monastic foundation at Tagaste for himself and a group of friends.

In he was ordained a priest in Hippo Regius, now Annaba, in Algeria. He became a famous preacher more than preserved sermons are believed to be authentic , and was noted for combating the Manichaean heresy, to which he had formerly adhered.

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In he was made coadjutor bishop of Hippo assistant with the right of succession on the death of the current bishop , and remained as bishop in Hippo until his death in During the period as bishop of Hippo, he combated the Donatist and Pelagian heresies. Although he left his monastery, he continued to lead a monastic life in the episcopal residence. He left a Rule Latin, Regula for his monastery that has led him to be designated the "patron saint of regular clergy," that is, clergy who live by a monastic rule.

Augustine died on August 28, , at the age of 75, during the siege of Hippo by the Vandals. He is said to have encouraged its citizens to resist the attacks, primarily on the grounds that the Vandals adhered to the Arian heresy. It is also said that he died just as the [Vandals were tearing down the city walls of Hippo. Augustine was one of the most prolific Latin authors, and the list of his works consists of more than a hundred separate titles. Apart from those, Augustine is probably best known for his Confessions , which is a personal account of his earlier life, and for "The City of God" De Civitate Dei , consisting of 22 books, which he wrote to restore the confidence of his fellow Christians, which was badly shaken by the sack of Rome by the Visigoths in As the Christian Church was seriously faced with the three heresies of Manichaeism , Donatism , and Pelagianism chronologically around the life time of Augustine, he proved to be a central and influential theological leader that clarified and defended the Christian faith against these heresies.

Augustine wrote many treatises and letters against these heresies, and this was how his theology was developed and formulated. Hence the polemical character of his theology. Nevertheless, his theology turned out to be creative and insightful, influencing later Christian theology.

Manichaeism was founded by Mani , a Persian , in the third century. As a mixture of Zoroastrianism , the old Babylonian religion of the Ophitic type, gnosticism , etc. It became widespread throughout the Roman Empire till the fifth century, even influencing Christians. Augustine himself was drawn to Manichaeism for nine years before his conversion for at least two reasons: firstly, because his question of why evil is so virulent in the world seemed to be plausibly addressed by its dualistic view of the world as a mixture of God and Satan; and secondly, because he felt exempted from any responsibility for his own sin due to the Manichaean fatalism.

But, as soon as he became a Christian, Augustine felt the need for protecting the Church from the Manichaean heresy. Whereas Manichaeism believed that the power of God is limited in front of Satan, Augustine affirmed that God is all-powerful , supreme, infinite, and immutable, and that Satan did not exist from eternity.

Whereas Manichaeism asserted that the world is a mixture of good and evil, Augustine held that all creatures are good. For him, as for Neoplatonism , all being is good. Against the Manichaean view of evil as substantial, Augustine presented his view of evil as non-substantial. For him, as for Neoplatonism, if all being is good, then evil is non-being non esse or non-substance non substantia. To be more precise, evil is the privation of good privatio boni. It is the privation, diminution, or falling away defectus of a good being from what it originally is in terms of measure, form, and order, but it is still non-substantial as mere privation or diminution: "Evil is that which falls away from essence and tends to non-existence.

Evil is only possible because all being, which is originally created to be good, is still finite, changeable, and corruptible as it only participates in God who is infinite, unchangeable, and incorruptible as the supreme good. Whereas Manichaeism blamed God and Satan for evil as its authors and did not blame humans for evil, Augustine attributed the possibility of evil to the " free will " liberum arbitrium of rational creatures such as angels and humans.

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According to Augustine, free will is originally created to be good, but the privation or diminution of the moral rectitude which free will is originally endowed with is possible, and when it happens as in the case of Adam's fall , it constitutes moral evil, which is sin.

When it comes to the question of how this moral evil starts, however, Augustine seems to have had no real answer. For he admitted that there is no efficient cause of an evil will, while God is the efficient cause of a good will: "as to whence it [evil] is, nothing can be said. Augustine's refutation of Manichaeism, although it was quite Neoplatonic, issued in a distinctive definition of God, a non-substantive theme of evil, and a free-will defense, all of which became important elements of the Christian tradition.

The Donatists were a heretical group of rigorist Christians. This heresy started in C. Questioning the efficacy of that consecration, they set up Majorinus against Caecilianus in the same year, and in Majorinus was succeeded by Donatus, after whom this heresy was named. The Donatists claimed to be the only faithful and pure Christians, and asserted that no one outside the Donatist Church is holy enough to be able to administer the sacraments , and that if you want to be admitted to the Donatist Church, you must be rebaptized.

After being persecuted by Emperor Constantine , these schismatics became resentful, furious, and even violent. The unity of the Church was severely threatened. Augustine took pains to address this problem from around His work "On Baptism, Against the Donatists" was definitive. In other words, baptism can be conferred even by heretics and schismatics as long as they give it in the name of the Father, Son, and Holy Spirit, because the real source of baptism is God and not any human being.

But, it will be only after you come back to the Church that your baptism received outside of the Church becomes efficacious.

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You don't have to be rebaptized. The Catholic Church, of course, is far from perfect, containing bad Christians as well as good ones, but if they love one another, baptism conferred will be efficaciously and profitably used. In order to show the importance of the unity of love in the Church for the efficacy of baptism, Augustine referred to St. Cyprian 's praise of Saint Peter who was so humble, patient, and loving as to be corrected even by St.

Paul , his junior. In Augustine's ecclesiology , love is an essential element of the Church. Augustine also showed much love and sympathy for the Donatist heretics, urging them to come back. Originally, therefore, he opposed the use of force for their coming back in favor of gentle discussion and instruction. Later, however, he felt some need for a practical way to cope with the violence of armed Donatist zealots, and referred to Luke "compel them to come in" to support the use of force, [6] which the Church subsequently adopted to justify the Inquisition unfortunately.

Augustine is, therefore, often blamed for having started this notorious tradition. But, many believe that this negative assessment of Augustine is not completely accurate. Pelagianism was named after Pelagius , a monk from Britain , who, as a contemporary of Augustine, stressed the moral ability of Christians to stay sinless if they will even without any supernatural assistance of grace from God. For Pelagius, divine grace merely consists in the fact that we are endowed with free will , law, and gospel.

He also rejected original sin , saying that what we have in front of us is merely Adam's bad example, which we can overcome through our moral efforts. The Pelagian controversy started soon after Coelestius, a young capable lawyer, became the chief disciple of Pelagius and drew much public attention.

Again, the unity of the Church was at stake theologically. Augustine was convinced of the ineffableness of God's grace and the absolute dependence of humans on God. In he was asked by the imperial official of Carthage to address the problem of the Palegian heresy. Augustine affirmed the reality of original sin, by saying that the entire human race partakes of Adam's sin both in terms of "guilt" and "corruption.