Adolf Von Harnack called him the greatest man “between Paul the Apostle and Luther the Reformer which the Christian Church has possessed.” Benjamin B. Warfield wrote that “he took up and then transfigured the Christian faith for those who would follow.” He has been described, with equal fervor, as both “the architect of the Christian Middle Ages” and as “the first truly modern man.”

Augustine’s significance in the history of the church is difficult to overestimate. His mission was to be a bridge, for, as Warfield again noted, “he stood on the watershed of two worlds. The old world was passing away, the new world was entering upon its heritage.… [I]t fell to him to mediate the transference of the culture of the one to the other.”

Augustine, the doctor of grace, became the living way by which Western Christianity passed from antiquity into the Middle Ages. Thus, Kenneth Scott Latourette wrote that “he moulded the whole of the Middle Ages” and “without St. Augustine’s massive intellect Western theology would never have taken the shape in which it is familiar to us.” In fact, said Daniel D. Williams, if “Western philosophy is a series of footnotes to Plato, we can say with equal justice that theology in Western Christianity has been a series of footnotes to Augustine.”

For Augustine, however, his theology was only an expression of his life in the City of God, and that city, of which the church was the living incarnation, was built upon the foundation of God’s grace revealed in Christ.

Consequently, Augustine would admit that he labored in theology “with all the fibres of [his] soul.” E. Portalie wrote ...

Subscriber access only You have reached the end of this Article Preview

To continue reading, subscribe now. Subscribers have full digital access.

Have something to add about this? See something we missed? Share your feedback here.

Our digital archives are a work in progress. Let us know if corrections need to be made.

Tags:
Issue: