Historian Diarmaid MacCulloch has written: “Augustine’s impact on Western Christian thought can hardly be overstated; only his beloved example Paul of Tarsus, has been more influential, and Westerners have generally seen Paul through Augustine’s eyes.“
Augustine was born in 354 AD of Berber parents in the Roman province of Numidia – now Algeria. His family regarded themselves as Roman citizens of African origin. At the age of 17 he was sent to Carthage to finish his education and fell into bad company – he took a lover and they were together for 14 years and had a son together. He adopted a gnostic faith to excuse his hedonistic life style; much to the grief of his Christian mother. He became a brilliant orator of rhetoric and by 30 years of age was selected to teach rhetoric in Milan, which was the location of the Imperial Roman Court. It was there that he came in touch with the kindly Bishop Ambrose whose life and teaching confronted Augustine with his own failings, and it was there that that he was converted back to Christianity.
He proceeded to write his “Confessions”, which was the most detailed autobiography of his times. After his mother and son died he returned to Africa and became the Bishop of Hippo in modern Algeria. Rome was sacked by the Visigoths in 410 AD and Augustine wrote “The City of God” to counter those who blamed Christian influence for the fall of Rome. He died in 430 AD as the Germanic Vandals besieged Hippo – and when they sacked Hippo the Vandals left his Cathedral and Library untouched out of reverence for him.
Everyone has morals. Christians have morals, Muslims have morals, Hindus have morals and atheists have morals, but where do those morals come from? What is the underlying basis provided by those belief systems for the morality their adherents lay claim to? Also, what would a totally non-moral human look like, if it were even possible for such a person to exist?
In the case of atheism, is there any source for morality? Is there an atheist morality? If there is, then what is it? If there isn’t, then what explanation do we have for the fact that atheists are moral beings?
Brian Schroeder attempts to look at all this and more by drawing from both atheist and theist sources.
Have we been misreading the gospels for centuries? New Testament scholar N.T. Wright has considered this issue in his book “How God Became King: The Forgotten Story of the Gospels”. Have evangelical Christians read Paul’s atonement theology back into the gospels to such an extent that they do not see what the gospel writers are really saying? Jesus is the culmination of the story of Israel, the Jewish messiah promised in the Old Testament as God returning to dwell with his people, thereby transforming his people in a way that includes non-Jews and inaugurating the ‘kingdom of God’. The main emphasis of the gospels is not that individuals can be saved to go to heaven but changed so that they can participate in the kingdom of God on earth.
Dr Denise Gamble presents a summary and assessment of NT Wright’s argument.
Are the early chapters of Genesis credible? Are they meant to be history or are they mythical stories to convey lessons? One of the credibility challenges is the large ages of Noah’s ancestors. For example, Genesis 5 states that Methuselah died at the age of 969. Geoffrey Russell believes that there are some intriguing aspects to these stories that should cause us to think more carefully before jumping to hasty conclusions.
On Thursday 11th April, Reasonable Faith Adelaide held an informal debate between Kevin Rogers (director RFA) and Scott Sharrad, the president of the Atheists Federation of Australia on the topic “Is Christianity a force for good?”
The debate and discussion have now been published on You Tube.