The Confessions of St. Augustine, Martin Luther, and Other Giants

Last Christmas (2006) I received St. Augustine’s magnum opus “The City of God”. From it I have gained a wealth of insight into how he views the world and it has shaped my outlook. Furthermore it is interesting to see someone from several centuries ago analyze current events of his day (in this case the fall of the Roman Empire) in light of his spiritual and theological convictions. This is something that I will often engage in with current events. Of course I am not talking about the kind of current event analysis that Hal Lindsey and his ilk engage in whereby they see every car bombing or war as some kind of fulfillment of prophecy or end times event. Augustine’s great work found the theologian defending the Christian faith which was being blamed, in a sense, for the fall of Rome. The Roman sentiment, as he describes it, is one in which the citizenry of the eternal city were under the conviction that their way of life was coming to an end because they had turned from the gods to Christianity. “The City of God” is a work that every Christian should read and study. It is indeed very long and it will be a while before I read it all but the topics are broken up in a way that makes it possible to skip around and read different points that are of interest to you.

Now this past Christmas I received another St. Augustine work, “Confessions”. This book could also be entitled “The Memoirs of St. Augustine”. “Confessions” is biographical in nature but it focuses more specifically on his spiritual journey. He begins with a lengthy discussion on how in his youth he was not only a sinner but he reveled in sin and it brought pleasure to him to do that which was evil. Whether it was neglecting his studies in defiance of his schoolmasters or lusting in his heart, St. Augustine goes to great lengths to confess how his sin nature left no room in his heart or mind for the things of God. But it was by the prayers of his faithful mother that God in His mercy brought salvation to Augustine. It has been so encouraging to read of the weaknesses and struggles of this great man.

Then I thought how wonderful it would be to have a similar confession or diary, if you will, of the other great men of God who have impacted my life. Martin Luther’s life story has been written numerous times and his personal demons have been discussed in those writings. I would like to study those as well and really get inside the head of someone like Luther the way “Confessions” has allowed me to do with St. Augustine. Then it would be great to seek out similar works by or about John Calvin, Thomas Aquinas, Jonathan Edwards,

I do not know about you but it blesses me, being intimately familiar with my faults, failures, and shortcomings, to see that the lives of the men I most respect were not all unblemished portraits of refined piety. To know that they not only struggled in their faith but to know the kind of wicked men they were prior to conversion and to see how far God took them would encourage me greatly.

Maybe I can get together some writers to put together a collection. Imagine a multi-volume book set, each volume covering the pre-conversion lifestyle, conversion and struggles of a great man (or woman) in the history of the faith, preferably ones who had a great impact or who were a part of milestone events in Christendom. And it should span history. I would submit that the set could be of about 6 or 7 volumes and should cover the apostle Paul, St. Augustine, Thomas Aquinas, Martin Luther, Jonathan Edwards, and C.S. Lewis. I think that would just about cover the entire gamut.

Who would you propose to be covered in a set like this? Is there anyone I have mentioned that you think should not be included?

Josh H.

It has been brought to my attention that while I mentioned that women could and should be a part of this multi-volume book set idea, I did not mention any. And now that I think of it, it is very difficult to name some. Women have no doubt had their role but there seem to be no female counterparts to the likes of Augustine and Luther. But some women that probably deserved to make the cut are Corrie ten Boom, Joan of Arc, and Mother Teresa. Who else?

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