The confessions of Augustine is an autobiographical work of St. Augustine of Hippo which consists of thirteen books. St. Augustine of Hippo was a bishop and a philosopher whose writings had a lot of influence in the development of modern Christianity. The work describes Augustine’s sinful youth and his conversion to Christianity.
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It is the first autobiography ever written in the modern world and it has had a great influence on the modern Christian writers for the last one thousand years (Chadwick 25). It is not a complete autobiography but it provides the most complete record of the life of any single person from the forth and fifth centuries. It is theological in nature and Augustine writes about how much he regrets being a sinner and being immoral
Augustine gave the autobiography this specific title to show that the work would take two aspects. During the time that Augustine lived, confessions meant both to give an account of one’s mistakes and wrongs to God and also to speak one’s love for God. These two aspects are clearly brought out in the confessions. Augustine believes that by him narrating his change from sinfulness to faithfulness, he does not only give his readers a practical edification but he also believes that the narrative is itself a story of the greatness of God and the love that all things have for God (Chadwick 27).
The confessions was very popular because of its originality. He addressed God directly which is very natural and the natural form was very original because it is only God who can be thanked for such a redemption like the one that Augustine went through where he completely changed from a sinner to a Christian.
In the first paragraph of the confessions, Augustine is saying that the place where God’s mind touches our own is like a light. This means that when we as sinners start to think like God or like then this is the first step of our redemption. According to Augustine, human beings who have led a sinful life should try to go back to God by starting to think like God and to adopt his teachings (Warner 12). At this point they will start to make sense of the greatness of God and they will start to see the greatness of God in them and in other people.
In the confessions, the presence of God is like light. Light in a general context always makes us see things and it drives away fear. God’s presence can be said to be light because when he is present in our lives, we start to see things differently and we lose all the fear that we were having. We start having an essence of courage in us that we did not have before we started knowing God just as Augustine who started seeing a change in his life when he turned back to God.
The light is seen to be the truth because what is seen in the light is very true it cannot hide. In our lives, what usually comes to light is always considered as the truth. When Augustine came back to God and started believing in his word and his teachings, he was more truthful and was more honest and truthful with himself and with others (Warner 17).
The light in this sense is usually unchangeable in many aspects. Augustine was referring to God as the light in the confessions. God does not change whether you die, whether you live Him and become a sinner or whether you come back to Him redeemed.
He will always be the same. This therefore shows that the light does not change. When Augustine was a sinner, God was the same and when he was redeemed, God was still the same, he had not changed. This is because once you have a good relationship with the light, it will never change. You will never experience darkness. According to Augustine, everything usually goes back to God. The whole universe tends back to God in its constant source and ideal form (Chadwick 31). This means that God does not change even though his creations change.
God is an eternal essence to which we owe our existence. His eternity means He cannot change and since he is the light, it means that the light is unchangeable. All things created by God have a relationship with God.
Charity and Love also know the Light because of the relationship that they have. Once you have the light or know the light, then it shines upon you good deeds and values such as love and charity. The light can be inside our minds at the same time it is above us. The light according to Augustine is above us because it shines over us to kip us safe and to guide us.
It is also inside our minds because it penetrates our minds through its rays. In this case God penetrates our minds through His teachings and through the doings of others for example when He does something good through our friends it remains in our minds. Augustine is therefore opening up to God and to his readers and praising God for being his light and salvation in the confessions.
Chadwick, H. Saint Augustine: confessions. Oxford: Oxford University Press. 2008
Warner, R. The confessions of St. Augustine. New York: Penguin Books. 1963