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Posted: 02.08.20 in Articles category

Augustine of Hippo gets a bad press these days. His feast day is 28 August  and I notice that Celtic Daily Prayer Book One - the prayer book  written by the Northumbria Community  -  chooses to mark the day instead by honouring the memory of Pelagius... Augustine's key opponent. Both men were theologians of the 4th and 5th centuries and their conflict of ideas turned bitter with Augustine persuading the Roman church authorities to excommunicate Pelagius and banish him from Rome. Today Augustine (who was also a bishop in north Africa) is held up for criticism as being the author of various unpopular ideas identified as mainstream Christian doctrines such as 'original sin' and 'predestination'. His negative views about sexual activity certainly don't chime with our times, although his oft quoted prayer "Grant me chastity...but not yet" might suggest he had a more humorous attitude.

The words below about God's relationship to creation are attributed to Augustine and they seem deceptively simple. Actually, I think they are profound and demonstrate deep insight. In the words of the well known hymn, God is good, God is truth, God is beauty, praise Him!   

But what is my God? I put my question to the earth. It answered, "I am not God", and all things on earth declared the same. I asked the sea and the chasm of the deep and the living things that creep in them, but they answered, "We are not your God. Seek what is above us" .... I asked the sky, the sun, the moon and the stars, but they told me, "Neither are we the God whom you seek." I spoke to all the things that are about me, all that can be admitted by the door of the senses, and I said," Since you are not my God, tell me about him. Tell me something of my God." Clear and loud they answered, "God is he who made us." I asked these questions simply by gazing at these things and their beauty was all the answer they gave.


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