Gonzalez, Justo L. The Story of Christianity: The Early Church to the Reformation. Revised and Updated ed. Vol. 1. New York: HarperCollins, 2010. Kindle Electronic Edition.
Ch. 24, “Augustine of Hippo” Loc. 4303-4510.
Augustine was one of the most influential Christian leaders of all time. He was born in 354 in Tagaste, in North Africa. His mother, Monica, was a fervent Christian (Gonzalez 2010, Loc. 4310). At age 17, he had the opportunity to pursue education in Carthage, where he also took a concubine and fathered a son (Gonzalez 2010, Loc. 4321) Augustine took up Manichaeism, a form of dualism in which one would prepare the soul to dwell in light. The Manichaeans openly mocked Christianity (Gonzalez 2010, Lc. 4342). The Bible was rejected as primitive literature and God rejected because of the presence of evil (Gonzalez 2010, Loc. 4349). After being unable to find Manichaean teachers who could answer his questions, Augustine had opportunity to go to Rome, pursuing his career and seeking answers. He was not paid well in Rome so then moved to Milan (Gonzalez 2010, Loc. 4359). In Milan, Augustine first pursued the Neoplatonists, who viewed evil as the focus away from God rather than toward him (Gonzalez 2010, Loc. 4368). He then went to hear Ambrose as a rhetorician. Ambrose’s preaching was eloquent and he resolved Augustine’s doubts. However, Augustine did not wish to become a monk or give up all pleasure (Gonzalez 2010, Loc. 4378). At last he did resolve to trust Jesus, was baptized along with his son, and returned home to Tagaste after the death of his mother. He sought an orderly but not rigorous life of contemplation (Gonzalez 2010, Loc. 4398).
In 391 Augustine visited Hippo to invite a friend to his community. While there he was urged to serve in ministry to the church at Hippo, where he was appointed bishop four years later (Gonzalez 2010, Loc. 4408). As a bishop he was busy with pastoral care and spent a good deal of time writing most of his works (Gonzalez 2010, Loc. 4417). Against Manichaean determinism he urged free choice, which allows our freedom to do evil (Gonzalez 2010, Loc. 4427). Augustine also refuted Docetism, alleging the power of the sacrament itself (Gonzalez 2010, Loc. 4437). His just war theory has been used by Christians ever since (Gonzalez 2010, Loc. 4447). Augustine was also the champion of biblical orthodoxy against Pelagius, who alleged that our freedom allowed us to overcome sin (Gonzalez 2010, Loc. 4447). Augustine held that apart from Christ fallen man is unable not to sin. Saving faith therefore is a gift of grace which enables us then to avoid sin (Gonzalez 2010, Loc. 4467). This view was eventually adopted in 529 by the Synod of Orange (Gonzalez 2010, Loc. 4477).
Gonzalez briefly summarizes Augustine’s most important works, Confessions and The City of God.