12 Books Every Christian Should Read. Book 1
St. Augustine – The Confessions.
Perhaps the greatest theologian in the history of the Christian church. Augustine lived from 354-430, and spent the majority of his life as a bishop of a small North African town. Even though we now refer to him as a saint, Augustine was anything but a sainted one in his early years. In fact, he was quite the wild, partying man. This makes him strong kindred spirit to myself! Consequently, after his conversion to Christianity (Augustine was a heretical Manichean prior to converting), many in the church were skeptical of his newfound faith and raised reasonable objections to his ordination as a pastor, and then a bishop, because of his previous partying lifestyle. Augustine’s retort to these objections was to write his Confessions- to bear his soul, so to speak. However, the entire book is written in prayer form as an address to God. In that sense it is a true confession.
Augustine’s Confessions became an instant classic in the history of the church, and even in secular literature. The reader will find themes so relevant to the modern age that it is a shock to realize how ancient is the man who actually constructed these words. Early church scholar Henry Chadwick wrote this about The Confessions, “Augustine’s Confessions will always rank among the greatest masterpieces of western literature…it is a work of rare sophistication and intricacy, in which even the apparently simple autobiographical narrative often carries harmonics of deeper meaning.”
The Confessions is truly a work that every Christian should read and explore. Here are some samples from the first couple of pages:
-“You stir man to take pleasure in praising you, because you have made us from yourself, and our hearts are restless until they rest in you.”
-“Lord make me chaste, but not yet!”
-“Too late have I loved you, O Beauty so ancient, O Beauty so new. Too late have I loved you! You were within me but I was outside myself, and there I sought you! In my weakness I ran after the beauty of the things you have made. You were with me, and I was not with you. The things you have made kept me from you – the things which would have no being unless they existed in you! You have called, you have cried, and you have pierced my deafness. You have radiated forth, you have shined out brightly, and you have dispelled my blindness. You have sent forth your fragrance, and I have breathed it in, and I long for you. I have tasted you, and I hunger and thirst for you. You have touched me, and I am set on fire to attain that peace which is yours.”
If you are up to it, enjoy St. Augustine’s Confessions!!!
Pastor Daniel Shaw