St. Augustine, bishop of Hippo in north Africa (354-430 A.D.), was one of the great minds of the early Christian church, a theologian whose ideas forever influenced both Roman Catholics and Protestants.
But Augustine did not come to Christianity by a straightforward path. At an early age he began searching for the truth in the popular pagan philosophies and cults of his day. His young life was also scarred by immorality. The story of his conversion, told in his book Confessions, is one of the greatest Christian testimonies of all time.
Augustine taught that in the Old Testament (Old Covenant), the law was outside us, written on tablets of stone, the Ten Commandments. That law could not result in justification, only transgression.
In the New Testament, or New Covenant, the law is written inside us, on our hearts, he said, and we are made righteous through an infusion of God’s grace and agape love.
Augustine’s two best-known works are Confessions, and The City of God. In Confessions, he tells the story of his sexual immorality and his mother’s unrelenting concern for his soul. He sums up his love for Christ, saying, “So I may cease to be wretched in myself and may find happiness in you.”
Image: St. Augustine by Fra Angelico (c. 1430-1435)