Wednesday, October 6, 2010

Augustine - the Basics

St. Augustine was an extraordinary philosopher, teacher and bishop born in Northern Africa in 354 AD. His home of Thagaste, a city 200 miles from the coast of the Mediterranean, was firmly within the borders of Rome’s vast empire. This area was rich in ethnic and religious diversity, and for many centuries, it thrived. But by the mid-fourth century, the Roman Empire, including the area around Thagaste, was in decline. There were significant economic and social problems, intensified by a military that no longer could manage all of its borders. W. Wylie Spencer, a historian, said, “Augustine lives his life through, thinks his thoughts, and writes his philosophy in the midst of the most turbulent epoch of change to be found anywhere in the ages between the Greek illumination and the modern rebirth of philosophy.” During this era of constant change, Christianity was gaining momentum. Christianity had become a legal religion in 313 with Constantine’s Edict of Toleration, but it wasn’t until 378 that Christianity was made the official state religion of the Roman Empire.