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Augustine and the vast interior: A discussion on Christian Asceticism

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Dordt College

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  1. The origins of accusation.
  2. The creatureliness of man.
  3. Augustine - 'happiness is indeed the chief end of man'.
  4. The intention of sinful actions.
  5. The life of accusation.
  6. Augustine's seriousness about seeking righteousness.
  7. Conclusion.

Augustine's Confessions are built upon the twin poles of a search for God and a search for self. These twin poles are also twining poles because Augustine proclaims that one can only understand self in light of God and that one can only find God through self-knowledge. In one of his sermons, Augustine described the act of confession as, ?accusation of oneself; praise of God.? This act of confession results from the search. The search itself, as I have described elsewhere , is descent to an interiority of unfathomable depth and discovery of a God of incomprehensible immutability. In this essay, I will examine the part of confession involving ?accusation of oneself? by analyzing the origins, development, nature, and implications of Augustine's self-accusation.

[...] It is a terrifying thought to our self-indulgent culture to imagine dealing with temptation not by attempting again and again to do the activity or seek the object that we sin in doing or seeking but to actually remove ourselves from that activity or object. Augustine's seriousness about seeking righteousness as part of his search to know and experience God necessitated realism concerning his own susceptibilities. In other words (in regard to his sexuality at least) he saw his commission as a redeemed, new creation of God to be in some ways superseding the commission of mankind originally in Eden. [...]

[...] All of these things, by necessity, Augustine must consider from the perspective of a creature. Augustine's appreciation, and praise for, his own creatureliness must be carefully noted?later on, when I come to examine the accusation that his ethics are little more than a Neoplatonic journey out of the creaturely bondage of body to the divine vision of intellect, his true attitude toward creatureliness must be kept in mind. Augustine approaches the chief end of man, in the Confessions, from the interesting direction of happiness. [...]

[...] Berkely: University of California Press This essay is the second in a three part series, involving first Apophatic in Augustine's Confessions? and third ?Augustine and the Praiseworthy God.? The first essay is a careful reading of Augustine in terms of his twin search, which I attempt to demonstrate to be apophatic in nature, and the second and third essays are an examination of the practical results of the search in relation to God and in relation to self. [iii] Augustine, Aurelius. [...]

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