St. Augustine’s Confessions, part 2

Book 1 of Confessions narrates Augustine’s early years and his primary education, while Book 2 covers his adolescent years.  It can be difficult to read sometimes, because his sexual struggles and sins sound so — well, modern.  However, as Christians, we know from the holy scriptures that there is nothing new under the sun, and that sexual depravity and sin dates back to some of our earliest ancestors in the book of Genesis.

Why does Augustine spend such an inordinate amount of time recalling his struggles with the flesh as a young unbeliever?  He gives us a clue here:

I intend to remind myself of my past foulnesses and carnal corruptions, not because I love them but so that I may love you, my God. It is from love of your love that I make the act of recollection.  The recalling of my wicked ways is bitter in my memory, but I do it so that you may be sweet to me, a sweetness touched by no deception, a sweetness serene and content.  (pg. 21)


In other words, the memory of his past sins causes him to love God more. Augustine here, as is often the case, is focused on our affections.

(Side note: the theological issue of affections is one of my favorite.  I wrote more here about my desire in 2018 to read, study, and understand more about the connection of thinking and loving, from key theologians such as Augustine, Jonathan Edwards, and C.S. Lewis, tethering both of them to Romans 12:2.)

More quotes and reflections on Book 2 are to come.


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