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Augustine's Re-conversion to Christianity
Augustine was the son of Monica, a devoted Christian and Patricius, a Pagan. Augustine was a smart child and hence his parents got him the best education possible. They sent him to Carthage to study rhetoric. By reading Roman philosophies by authors such as Cicero, he was inclined towards believing that life’s ultimate goal is seeking truth. Due to this, he was searching for truth in everything he does. According to him, Christianity was not true because it was a religion based on simple values. But, due to his mother’s strong belief in Christianity, he was brought up in a Christian environment.
As a child, Augustine indulged in several acts that were considered as sins in Christianity. His sexual relationship with a mistress and his pear theft were some of them. Later, Augustine's intellectual curiosity led him to Manichaeism, which was a religion based on a dual view of the world as an ongoing fight between dark and light, spirit and flesh (Augustine Converts to Christianity). Manichaens were a Christian sect, which thrilled Augustine as it was a way for him to be connected to his childhood religion. After a few years, he could no longer find truth in Manichaeism and he inclines towards Neoplatonism.
Due to his inability to find truth in Neoplatonism after a while, he leaves it and goes on a soul searching journey. Disgusted by his sexual temptations, he was on the search for something that could spiritually levitate him and suppress his sexual desires. Meanwhile, he shifts from Carthage to Milan, to teach Rhetoric. It was in Milan where he finally meets Ambrose, a Christian bishop. Ambrose patiently answered all of Augustine’s questions about Christianity. Augustine discovers about saints who surrendered to God to suppress sexual temptations. This seemed like a perfect mix of the truth and the suppression of sexual temptations.
He soon realizes that God is the supreme power that drives humanity. He also understands that his intellectual curiosity is not the problem but his moral stability is. He understands that in order to attain moral stability, he needs to accept God. But, he is not ready to part with his moral autonomy and he says, “The way - the Savior himself - pleased me; but I was reluctant to enter its narrowness” (Pusey). Hence, it was so hard for Augustine to change.
His mother’s constant pleas about taking up Christianity and the truth Ambrose showed him in Christianity, were the main reasons for his conversion to Christianity. In 386 AD, Augustine sat in a garden and heard a voice saying “Take up and read; take up and read” (Tolle Lege). He picked up what was close to him and read it. It was his spiritual calling. Soon Augustine converted into Christianity and went on to become one of the major figures of Christianity.
I feel that Augustine’s mother was a huge influence in his life. Her constant pleas about living the Christian way really stuck in Augustine’s mind. But, due to his intellectual restlessness, he kept searching for truth which was right beside him. Upon his mother’s death, he realizes her pleas and embraces Christianity. Therefore, I feel his mother was the main reason behind his conversion to Christianity. His mischievous acts of childhood and his reluctance only helped him accept Christianity fully. They helped him realize what his mother always needed..
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