Building on our legacy

Over the course of the next several days, I’d like to take a look at a few individuals  who have made a significant impact on our Christian History.  These individuals have lived exemplary lives and are worth talking about.  The issue is that very often we get hung up on the latest and greatest names.  Believe me I love these people too, the Francis Chan’s of the world.  But what about the St. Francis’ of yesteryear?  There is so much that we can learn from them and the contributions that they have made to the Christian faith.

No matter who you are, where you come from, or what language you speak, you have probably heard of a guy by the name of Saint Augustine.  Saint Augustine, before he was known as such was known as the son of Monica.  Monica’s little boy, Augustine, was really smart and he showed a ton of potential.  So much potential that his parents decided to invest everything they had into his education.  They gave up all of their savings in order to send him to the finest schools that money could buy.  Eventually his parents money ran out and he had to return home.  This wasn’t the end of his education.  There were others who saw incredible talent in Augustine.  He was able to go to Carthage to continue his studies and while in Carthage he became a student of rhetoric.  This means that he learned how to speak and write convincingly.  You could say that Augustine became a rock star communicator.

St. Augustine, Author of ConfessionsInterestingly enough, Augustine wasn’t at first concerned with what he was communicating.  His only concern was that he was communicating.  It was only after  reading Cicero, (a master speaker, and philosopher) that Augustine felt like the content of what he was communicating mattered just as much as the fact that he was communicating.  He became convinced that he also needed to seek the truth.

Soon, Augustine in his quest for truth decided that he would abandon his professorship in order to attain that which was most important, truth.  Augustine had two main issues with the truth that Christianity taught.  One issue was that the Bible seemed to present the truth in such a lowly way.  It didn’t fit into his neat little molds and forms that his background in rhetoric allowed for.  The second thing was that he couldn’t understand how if God was so good, that He could allow/create evil.  These were the issues that Augustine spent many years wrestling through.

Augustine decided that he would devote his entire life to Christ.  He would not be lukewarm about anything.  He would be completely sold out to the Christian faith.  One of the things that Augustine wrestled with in this decision was the fact that he knew this meant his life had to change.  See, Augustine liked the things of this world.  Augustine liked the women, the life, and every other thing that he desired.  This would have to change.  He struggled through an intense time where he had to figure out who was going to rule in his life.  Would it be Sin, or would it righteousness?  He eventually chose righteousness.

Free Will, Funny PictureAs Augustine’s fame grew, so did his platform.  He was eventually ordained to serve as Bishop of Hippo.  As Bishop of Hippo, Augustine began to make a huge impact on the Christian world.  He wrestled with thoughts and questions that have set up future generations of believers.  It is because of his time here that he has become one of the most influential theologians.  Two things that Augustine determined that have forever shaped our lives.  The first is that Augustine was a champion for Free Will.  He believed that man had a free will and was not a slave to whatever God wanted him to do.  This was huge.  The other major contribution that Augustine made was his Just War Theory.  This theory stated that there was a right time and also a wrong time to go to war.  For a war to be just it must never be fought over territorial ambitions, or to exercise power.  It must be fought and led by proper authorities and lastly it also must be motivated by love.     On top of these things, Augustine also made significant contribution to the literary world.  He wrote  many works, with one of his most famous works being “Confessions”.

Augustine has been one of the most influential theologians throughout the centuries.  But one of the most interesting things about Augustine is that he was a normal guy like you and me.  He wasn’t born with a halo around his head.  In fact, quite the contrary, this dude lived a wild life.  He grew tired of that, and found that he needed to change.  It was at the point of change that God grabbed a hold of him and rocked the world.

What would it look like if God got a hold of your life?  I bet He could rock the world through you too!

~Peter

A great resource to read up on Christian History is a book by Justo L. Gonzalez called, “The Story of Christianity”.  You can purchase it at Amazon.com here.