In this edition of Theology for Life, Ed, Lynn, and Greg Lee discuss why St. Augustine is important to theology today, especially as we celebrate the 500th anniversary of the Protestant Reformation.
What issues did Augustine face as a Bishop in North Africa? Church unity was a major issue, Lee says, especially as it dealt with having love. Augustine believed deeply in grace and individual salvation. So how does his view of grace form his faith journey? What role does your association with other people play in your faith and your salvation?
What was Augustine’s role of original sin, and how does it shape Protestantism and Evangelicalism today? We are born with a corrupt nature, Lee says, instead of what others were saying, that we were born with a blank slate. The more controversial element of Augustine’s belief, however, is that we are born with the guilt of Adam and Eve.
What about his vision in The City of God? We need to differentiate the stories from the heavenly and earthly cities. We also must not confuse God’s purposes for His people with challenges in the world today, Lee says. One of the practical implications means that Christians should avoid confusing the state and the Church, and being Christian and being America. However, we must not disengage with society; we must, in fact, interact with those around us.
Augustine’s view of unity and love is an important message for us as sectarianism and divisions seem to plague a lot of the Church today.
Lynn Cohick is Professor of New Testament at Wheaton College.
Ed Stetzer holds the Billy Graham Distinguished Chair of Church, Mission, and Evangelism at Wheaton College, is Executive Director of the Billy Graham Center for Evangelism, and publishes church leadership resources through Mission Group.