Other than Paul, Augustine is probably the most influential theologian of the Christian faith. For such a titan it would be valuable to know what he has to say about the christian life. This is what Gerald Bray has done in this book.
Bray takes a look at the life of Augustine moving from him as a believer, then a teacher and finally as a pastor. Bray first gives a quick overview and introduction to the life of Augustine. For anyone who is new to him, Bray’s introduction will definitely be a helpful of him/her.
After the short introduction, Bray moves on to Augustine as believer. In this section, Bray deals mainly about Augustine as a christian, he focuses the discussion very much on his autobiography, the Confessions. He touches on three big topics on this section, his devotional life, his lifestyle and his life of faith.
In the next section, Bray then talk about Augustine as the teacher. He touches on three main topics here, first, he talks about what Augustine believed about the bible, how Augustine envisioned Christ in all of scripture and what the bible says about the end of man.
The next section will be one that will be of interest to pastors. Bray talks about what Augustine did as a pastor/bishop. He talks about what Augustine believed about preaching and how he served his congregation at his church. He uncovers many thought about Augustine as the pastor of the church how he sympathises with the congregation who has to sit in humid and warm conditions and listen for more than an hour on what he has preached. This was certainly one of the best part of the book, I have not met any who has talked about this area in the life of Augustine.
As I was reading this book, one of the things at was quite jarring for me was how there wasn’t many sub-sections. This certainly took some time to adjust, but as I read on, I adjusted the Bray’s brilliant writing style. This book is one that pastors should certainly read. I have found that too many books have targeted Augustine as the theologian but not many has offered the pastoral side to readers. This book fills this gap.
In closing, I shall leave readers with one closing statement that I felt was a good summary of this book.
“Augustine died in the knowledge that a few days later the barbarians would enter Hippo, which they were besieging at the time, and he must have feared that his life’s work would go up in flames. Things did not turn out quite as badly as that, but there was to be no lasting legacy of his labors in Hippo—no great basilica with his name carved into it, no academic chair dedicated to his memory, not even a park bench with a plaque saying that his estate had paid for it. To the naked eye there was nothing. Yet as we know, what must have appeared then as a fairly insignificant ministry in a provincial town became the most productive life of any theologian in the Western world. Generations of Christians who would never go anywhere near Hippo would read what Augustine wrote in the hot and dusty chambers that were his earthly dwelling place, and would marvel at his gifts and intellect. More than that, they would be moved, as we still are, by his passion for Christ, and would go away from his writings more determined than ever to walk in the way mapped out for them by God.”
Rating: 4.5 / 5
Disclaimer: I was given this book free from the publisher in exchange for an honest review
If you’re interested, you can get it here and here (free international shipping), kindle.