Warfield on Augustine (3): The Confessions

For Warfield, The Confessions represents the quintessential Augustine. He defends Augustine from criticisms that The Confessions is too morbid and introspective, arguing that Augustine talks about himself only to direct us to the goodness and grace of God. In his words: “Confessions [is] not a biography of himself, but … a book of edification, or, if you will, a theological treatise. His actual subject is not himself, but the goodness of God; and he introduces his own experience only as the most lively of illustrations of the dealings of God with the human soul as He makes it restless until it finds…

Warfield on Augustine (2): Augustine’s Development

In engaging different interpretations of Augustine’s development, Warfield helpfully argues for the legitimacy of his 386 conversion, and essential continuity in his thought from this point through the remainder of his career (pp. 372-383). The different phases of his thought are not rigid “turns,” (as often represented in the revisionist scholarship), but reflect a consistent unfolding of his thought in response to his primary theological opponents – first Manicheism, then Donatism, then Pelagianism. For me, this raises the whole question of how the various other systems with which Augustine struggled – especially Manicheism and neo-Platonism – related to his conversion to,…

Warfield on Augustine (1): Augustine and Protestantism

As part of my Augustine project I am reading some of B.B. Warfield’s essays on Augustine, which are fascinating. Warfield is quite sympathetic to Augustine, seeking to defend him from much revisionist scholarship and show his greatness as both a theologian and Christian. In seeking to sketch the main streams of his thought and his contributions to church history, Warfield interprets Augustine from a decidedly Protestant and Reformed standpoint. He sees grace as the true center of of Augustine’s thought – a sense of radical and complete dependence upon God in salvation and all things. He calls Augustine’s religion at times “evangelical religion,” at other times the…

Humility exalts

I like Augustine’s observation here because it confronts the false notion that when we are humble, we feel low and somber all the time. “There is, therefore, something in humility which, strangely enough, exalts the heart, and something in pride which debases it.  This seems, indeed, to be contradictory, that loftiness should debase and lowliness exalt.  But pious humility enables us to submit to what is above us; and nothing is more exalted above us than God; and therefore humility, by making us subject to God, exalts us” (City of God, 14.13).