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Many young believers have no concept of the hundreds of years of history that Christianity had gone through since the time of Jesus Christ over 2,000 years ago. The purpose of this broadcast is to dispel this notion by sharing with listeners the history of Christianity from the ministry of Jesus Christ all the way up until the present day in an easy-to-understand format. You don’t have to worry: this is not a lecture. This is a look at the basic facts and figures of Christian history that every believer and every person needs to be aware of.

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Augustine of Hippo, Part 10 (History of Christianity #169)

This is Daniel Whyte III, president of Gospel Light Society International, with the History of Christianity Podcast #169, titled, “Augustine of Hippo (Part 10): Minister and Theologian of the Western Church (Part 5).”

When I became a believer in Jesus Christ, I somehow had the false idea that Christianity began when I got saved. I had no concept of the hundreds of years of history that Christianity had gone through since the time of Jesus Christ over 2,000 years ago. I have found that many believers, young and old, have the same false idea. The purpose of this broadcast is to dispel this notion by sharing with listeners the history of Christianity from the ministry of Jesus Christ all the way up until the present day in an easy-to-understand format. You don’t have to worry: this is not a lecture. This is a look at the basic facts and figures of Christian history that every believer and every person needs to be aware of.

Our Scripture for today is Hebrews 10:23 which reads: “Let us hold fast the profession of our faith without wavering; (for he is faithful that promised;)”

Our History of Christianity quote today is from Augustine. He said: “You have made us for yourself, O Lord, and our hearts are restless until they rest in you.”

Today, in the History of Christianity, we are looking at “Augustine of Hippo (Part 10): Minister and Theologian of the Western Church (Part 5)” from Dr. Justo L. Gonzalez’s fine book, The Story of Christianity (Volume 1).

Augustine was the last of the great leaders of the Imperial church in the West. When he died, the Vandals were at the gates of Hippo, announcing a new age. Therefore, Augustine’s work was, in a way, the last glimmer of a dying age.

And yet, his work was not forgotten among the ruins of a crumbling civilization. On the contrary, through his writings he became the teacher of the new age. Throughout the Middle Ages, no theologian was quoted more often than he was, and he thus became one of the great doctors of the Roman Catholic Church. But he was also the favorite theologian of the great Protestant Reformers of the sixteenth century. Thus, Augustine, variously interpreted, has become the most influential theologian in the entire Western church, both Protestant and Catholic.

Next time, we will begin looking at “Beyond the Borders of the Empire.”

Let’s pray.

—PRAYER—

Dear friend, simply knowing the facts about Christian history without knowing the One on Whom this faith is based will do you no good. If you do not believe on the Lord Jesus Christ as your Savior, may I encourage you to get to know Him today. John 3:16 says, “For God so loved the world, that he gave his only begotten Son, that whosoever believeth in him should not perish, but have everlasting life.” Just believe in your heart that Jesus Christ died for your sins, was buried, and rose from the dead by the power of God for you so that you can be a part of the church in this life and in the life to come. Pray and ask Him to come into your heart today, and He will. Romans 10:13 says, “For whosoever shall call upon the name of the Lord shall be saved.”

Until next time, remember that history is truly His story.

Augustine of Hippo, Part 9 (History of Christianity #168)

This is Daniel Whyte III, president of Gospel Light Society International, with the History of Christianity Podcast #168, titled, “Augustine of Hippo (Part 9): Minister and Theologian of the Western Church (Part 4).”

When I became a believer in Jesus Christ, I somehow had the false idea that Christianity began when I got saved. I had no concept of the hundreds of years of history that Christianity had gone through since the time of Jesus Christ over 2,000 years ago. I have found that many believers, young and old, have the same false idea. The purpose of this broadcast is to dispel this notion by sharing with listeners the history of Christianity from the ministry of Jesus Christ all the way up until the present day in an easy-to-understand format. You don’t have to worry: this is not a lecture. This is a look at the basic facts and figures of Christian history that every believer and every person needs to be aware of.

Our Scripture for today is Matthew 5:14-16 which reads: “Ye are the light of the world. A city that is set on an hill cannot be hid. Neither do men light a candle, and put it under a bushel, but on a candlestick; and it giveth light unto all that are in the house. Let your light so shine before men, that they may see your good works, and glorify your Father which is in heaven.”

Our History of Christianity quote today is from Augustine. He said: “Since God is the highest good, he would not allow any evil to exist in his works unless his omnipotence and goodness were such as to bring good even out of evil.”

Today, in the History of Christianity, we are looking at “Augustine of Hippo (Part 9): Minister and Theologian of the Western Church (Part 4)” from Dr. Justo L. Gonzalez’s fine book, The Story of Christianity (Volume 1).

The controversy lasted several years, and eventually Pelagianism [PELL-AY-JEE-UHN-ISM] was rejected. It simply did not take into account the terrible hold of sin on human will, nor the corporate nature of sin, which is manifest even in infants before they have opportunity to sin for themselves. Augustine’s views, however, did not gain wide acceptance. He was accused of being an innovator. In southern France, where opposition to Augustine was strongest, Vincent of Lerins [LE-RAA] argued that one should believe only what has been held “always, everywhere, and by all”–criteria that Augustine’s critics claimed his doctrines did not meet. Many contested Augustine’s view that the beginning of faith is in God’s action rather than in a human decision. These opponents of Augustine’s doctrine of predestination have been called, somewhat inexactly, “Semi-Pelagians [PELL-AY-JEE-UHNS].” (They could also be called “Semi-Augustinians.”) Through a process that took almost a century, Augustine was reinterpreted, so that theologians came to call themselves “Augustinian” while rejecting his views on irresistible grace and predestination. In 529, the Synod of Orange upheld Augustine’s doctrine of the primacy of grace in the process of salvation, but left aside the more radical consequences of that doctrine. It was thus that subsequent generations–with notable exceptions–interpreted the teachings of the great bishop of Hippo.

Two of Augustine’s writings are particularly significant. The first is his Confessions, a spiritual autobiography, addressed in prayer to God, which tells how God led him to faith through a long and painful pilgrimage. It is unique in its genre in all of ancient literature, and even to this day it witnesses to Augustine’s profound psychological and intellectual insight.

The other work worthy of special mention is The City of God. The immediate motive impelling Augustine to write it was the Fall of Rome in 410 CE. Since there were many who still clung to ancient paganism at that time, some charged that Rome had fallen because it had abandoned its ancient gods and turned to Christianity. It was to respond to such allegations that Augustine wrote The City of God, a vast encyclopedic history in which he claims that there are two cities–that is, two social orders–each built on a foundation of love. The city of God is built on the love of God. The earthly city is built on the love of self. In human history, these two cities always appear mingled with each other. But in spite of this there is between the two of them an irreconcilable opposition, a fight to the death. In the end, only the city of God will remain. Meanwhile, human history is filled with kingdoms and nations, all built on love of self, which are no more than passing expressions of the earthly city. All of these kingdoms and nations, no matter how powerful, will wither and pass away, until the end of time, when only the city of God will remain standing. In the case of Rome in particular, God allowed it and its empire to flourish so that they served as a means for spreading the gospel. Now that this purpose has been fulfilled, God has let Rome follow the destiny of all human kingdoms, which is simply punishment for their sins. But even so, Christians do well to learn even the history of the human city, for–as Augustine says in another treatise–“all we may learn about the past helps us understand the Scriptures.”

Next time, we will continue looking at “Augustine of Hippo.”

Let’s pray.

—PRAYER—

Dear friend, simply knowing the facts about Christian history without knowing the One on Whom this faith is based will do you no good. If you do not believe on the Lord Jesus Christ as your Savior, may I encourage you to get to know Him today. John 3:16 says, “For God so loved the world, that he gave his only begotten Son, that whosoever believeth in him should not perish, but have everlasting life.” Just believe in your heart that Jesus Christ died for your sins, was buried, and rose from the dead by the power of God for you so that you can be a part of the church in this life and in the life to come. Pray and ask Him to come into your heart today, and He will. Romans 10:13 says, “For whosoever shall call upon the name of the Lord shall be saved.”

Until next time, remember that history is truly His story.

Augustine of Hippo, Part 8 (History of Christianity #167)

This is Daniel Whyte III, president of Gospel Light Society International, with the History of Christianity Podcast #167, titled, “Augustine of Hippo (Part 8): Minister and Theologian of the Western Church (Part 3).”

When I became a believer in Jesus Christ, I somehow had the false idea that Christianity began when I got saved. I had no concept of the hundreds of years of history that Christianity had gone through since the time of Jesus Christ over 2,000 years ago. I have found that many believers, young and old, have the same false idea. The purpose of this broadcast is to dispel this notion by sharing with listeners the history of Christianity from the ministry of Jesus Christ all the way up until the present day in an easy-to-understand format. You don’t have to worry: this is not a lecture. This is a look at the basic facts and figures of Christian history that every believer and every person needs to be aware of.

Our Scripture for today is Romans 5:12 which reads: “Sin first is pleasing, then frequent, then habitual, then confirmed; then the man is impenitent, then he is obstinate, then he is resolved never to repent, and then he is ruined.”

Our History of Christianity quote today is from Robert Leighton. He said: “Sin first is pleasing, then frequent, then habitual, then confirmed; then the man is impenitent, then he is obstinate, then he is resolved never to repent, and then he is ruined.”

Today, in the History of Christianity, we are looking at “Augustine of Hippo (Part 8): Minister and Theologian of the Western Church (Part 3)” from Dr. Justo L. Gonzalez’s fine book, The Story of Christianity (Volume 1).

But Augustine remembered when he both willed and did not will to become a Christian. This meant that human will was not as simple as Pelagius [PELL-AY-JEE-US] characterized it. There are times when the will is powerless against the hold sin has on it. The will is not always its own master, for it is clear that the will to will does not always have its way, nor can the will do that which its fallen condition does not permit it even to imagine.

According to Augustine, the power of sin is such that it takes hold of our will, and as long as we are under its sway we cannot move our will to be rid of it. The most we can accomplish is to struggle between willing and not willing, which does little more than show the powerlessness of our will against itself. The sinner can will nothing but sin. Within that condition, there certainly are good and bad choices; but even the best choices still fall within the category of sin.

This does not mean, however, that freedom has disappeared. The sinner is still free to choose among various alternatives. But all of these are sin, and the one alternative that is not open is to cease sinning. In Augustine’s words, before the fall we were free both to sin and not to sin. But between the fall and redemption the only freedom left to us is the freedom to sin. When we are redeemed, the grace of God works in us, leading our will from the miserable state in which it found itself to a new state in which freedom is restored, so that we are now free both to sin and not to sin. Finally, in the heavenly home we shall still be free, but only free not to sin. Again, this does not mean that all freedom is destroyed. On the contrary, in heaven we shall continue to have free choices. But none of them will be sin. At that point, our minds will be so overwhelmed by the goodness of God that sin will be as unimaginable as not sinning is now.

Back to the moment of conversion, how can we make the decision to accept grace? According to Augustine, only by the power of grace itself, for before that moment we are not free not to sin, and therefore we are not free to decide to accept grace. The initiative in conversion is not human, but divine. Furthermore, grace is irresistible, and God gives it to those who have been predestined to it.

In contrast, Pelagius [PELL-AY-JEE-US] claimed that each of us comes to the world with complete freedom to sin, or not to sin. There is no such thing as original sin, nor a corruption of human nature that forces us to sin. Children have no sin until they, out of their own free will, decide to sin.

Next time, we will continue looking at “Augustine of Hippo.”

Let’s pray.

—PRAYER—

Dear friend, simply knowing the facts about Christian history without knowing the One on Whom this faith is based will do you no good. If you do not believe on the Lord Jesus Christ as your Savior, may I encourage you to get to know Him today. John 3:16 says, “For God so loved the world, that he gave his only begotten Son, that whosoever believeth in him should not perish, but have everlasting life.” Just believe in your heart that Jesus Christ died for your sins, was buried, and rose from the dead by the power of God for you so that you can be a part of the church in this life and in the life to come. Pray and ask Him to come into your heart today, and He will. Romans 10:13 says, “For whosoever shall call upon the name of the Lord shall be saved.”

Until next time, remember that history is truly His story.

Augustine of Hippo, Part 7 (History of Christianity #166)

This is Daniel Whyte III, president of Gospel Light Society International, with the History of Christianity Podcast #166, titled, “Augustine of Hippo (Part 7): Minister and Theologian of the Western Church (Part 2).”

When I became a believer in Jesus Christ, I somehow had the false idea that Christianity began when I got saved. I had no concept of the hundreds of years of history that Christianity had gone through since the time of Jesus Christ over 2,000 years ago. I have found that many believers, young and old, have the same false idea. The purpose of this broadcast is to dispel this notion by sharing with listeners the history of Christianity from the ministry of Jesus Christ all the way up until the present day in an easy-to-understand format. You don’t have to worry: this is not a lecture. This is a look at the basic facts and figures of Christian history that every believer and every person needs to be aware of.

Our Scripture for today is John 1:12-13 which reads: “But as many as received him, to them gave he power to become the sons of God, even to them that believe on his name: Which were born, not of blood, nor of the will of the flesh, nor of the will of man, but of God.”

Our History of Christianity quote today is from Augustine. He said: “Free will without grace has the power to do nothing but sin.”

Today, in the History of Christianity, we are looking at “Augustine of Hippo (Part 7): Minister and Theologian of the Western Church (Part 2)” from Dr. Justo L. Gonzalez’s fine book, The Story of Christianity (Volume 1).

This was important in order to be able to solve the difficulties having to do with the origin of evil. Augustine insisted that there is only one God, whose goodness is infinite. How, then, can one explain the existence of evil? By simply affirming that the will is created by God, and is therefore good, but that the will is capable of making its own decisions. It is good for the will to be free, even though this means that such a free will can produce evil. The origin of evil, then, is to be found in the bad decisions made by both human and angelic wills–those of the demons, who are fallen angels. Thus, Augustine was able to affirm both the reality of evil and the creation of all things by a good God.

This, however, does not mean that evil is ever a thing. Evil is not a substance, as the Manichaeans [MAH-NEE-KEE-AHNS] implied when speaking of it as the principle of darkness. It is a decision, a direction, a negation of good.

Another movement that Augustine had to refute was Donatism [DOH-NAYT-ISM]. The reader will remember that this movement centered in North Africa, where Augustine was now a pastor. Therefore, throughout his career Augustine had to deal with the various issues raised by the Donatists [DOH-NAYT-ISTS]. One of these was the question of whether ordinations conferred by unworthy bishops were valid. To this, Augustine responded that the validity of any rite of the church does not depend on the moral virtue of the person administering it. If it were so, Christians would live in constant doubt as to the validity of their baptism. No matter how unworthy the celebrant, the rite is still valid, although obviously the celebrant is at fault. On this point, most of the Western church through the centuries has agreed with Augustine, whose views on the church and on the validity of sacraments became normative in the West.

It was also in trying to deal with the Donatist [DOH-NAYT-IST] issue that Augustine developed his Just War Theory. As has already been said, some Donatists [DOH-NAYT-ISTS]–the circumcellions–had turned to violence. The entire movement had social and economic roots of which Augustine was probably not aware. But he was certain that the depredations of the circumcellions must cease. He thus came to the conclusion that a way may be just, but that in order for it to be so certain conditions must be fulfilled. The first is that the purpose of the war must be just–a war is never just when its purpose is to satisfy territorial ambition, or the mere exercise of power. The second condition is that a just war must be waged by properly instituted authority. This seemed necessary in order to prevent personal vendettas. In later centuries, however, this principle would be applied by the powerful in order to claim that they had the right to make war on the powerless, but that the powerless could not make war on them. Actually, this could already be seen in the case of the circumcellions, who according to Augustine did not have the right to wage war on the state, whereas the state had the right to wage war on them. Finally, the third rule–and the most important one to Augustine–is that, even in the midst of the violence that is a necessary part of war, the motive of love must be central.

It was, however, against the Pelagians [PELL-AY-JEE-UNS] that Augustine wrote his most important theological works. Pelagius [PELL-AY-JEE-US] was a monk from Britain who had become famous for his piety and austerity. He saw the Christian life as a constant effort through which one’s sins could be overcome and salvation attained. Pelagius [PELL-AY-JEE-US] agreed with Augustine that God has made us free, and that the source of evil is in the will. As he saw matters, this meant that human beings always have the ability to overcome their sin. Otherwise, sin would be excusable.

Next time, we will continue looking at “Augustine of Hippo.”

Let’s pray.

—PRAYER—

Dear friend, simply knowing the facts about Christian history without knowing the One on Whom this faith is based will do you no good. If you do not believe on the Lord Jesus Christ as your Savior, may I encourage you to get to know Him today. John 3:16 says, “For God so loved the world, that he gave his only begotten Son, that whosoever believeth in him should not perish, but have everlasting life.” Just believe in your heart that Jesus Christ died for your sins, was buried, and rose from the dead by the power of God for you so that you can be a part of the church in this life and in the life to come. Pray and ask Him to come into your heart today, and He will. Romans 10:13 says, “For whosoever shall call upon the name of the Lord shall be saved.”

Until next time, remember that history is truly His story.

Augustine of Hippo, Part 6: Minister and Theologian of the Western Church, Part 1 (History of Christianity #165)

This is Daniel Whyte III, president of Gospel Light Society International, with the History of Christianity Podcast #165, titled, “Augustine of Hippo (Part 6): Minister and Theologian of the Western Church (Part 1).”

When I became a believer in Jesus Christ, I somehow had the false idea that Christianity began when I got saved. I had no concept of the hundreds of years of history that Christianity had gone through since the time of Jesus Christ over 2,000 years ago. I have found that many believers, young and old, have the same false idea. The purpose of this broadcast is to dispel this notion by sharing with listeners the history of Christianity from the ministry of Jesus Christ all the way up until the present day in an easy-to-understand format. You don’t have to worry: this is not a lecture. This is a look at the basic facts and figures of Christian history that every believer and every person needs to be aware of.

Our Scripture for today is Galatians 5:13 which reads: “For, brethren, ye have been called unto liberty; only use not liberty for an occasion to the flesh, but by love serve one another.”

Our History of Christianity quote today is from Ignatius [IG-NAY-SHUS]. He said: “There is set before us life upon our observance [of God’s precepts], but death as the result of disobedience, and every one, according to the choice he makes, shall go to his own place, let us flee from death, and make choice of life.”

Today, in the History of Christianity, we are looking at “Augustine of Hippo (Part 6): Minister and Theologian of the Western Church (Part 1)” from Dr. Justo L. Gonzalez’s fine book, The Story of Christianity (Volume 1).

But this was not to be, for his fame was spreading, and there were some who had other plans for his life. In 391, he visited the town of Hippo in order to talk to a friend whom he wished to invite to join the small community at Cassiciacum [CAS-SEH-SEE-AY-KUM]. While at Hippo he attended church, and Bishop Valerius [VAH-LER-EE-US], who saw him in the congregation, preached about how God always sends shepherds for the flock, and then asked the congregation to pray for God’s guidance in case there was among them someone sent to be their minister. The congregation responded exactly as the bishop had expected, and Augustine, much against his will, was ordained to serve with Valerius in Hippo. Four years later, he was made bishop jointly with Valerius [VAH-LER-EE-US], who feared that another church would steal his catch. Since at that time it was forbidden for a bishop to leave his church for another, Augustine’s consecration to serve as a bishop jointly with Valerius guaranteed that he would spend the rest of his days at Hippo. (Although apparently neither Augustine nor Valerius [VAH-LER-EE-US] was aware of it, there was also a rule against having more than one bishop in a single church.) Valerius [VAH-LER-EE-US] died a short time later, and left Augustine bishop of Hippo.

As a minister and as a bishop, Augustine sought to retain as much as possible of the lifestyle of Cassiciacum [CAS-SEH-SEE-AY-KUM]. But now his energies had to be directed less toward contemplation, and more toward his pastoral responsibilities. It was with those responsibilities in view that he wrote most of the works that made him the most influential theologian in the entire Latin-speaking church since New Testament times.

Many of Augustine’s first writings were attempts to refute the Manichaeans [MAH-NEE-KEE-AHNS]. Since he had helped lead some of his friends to that religion, he now felt a particular responsibility to refute the teachings that he had supported earlier. Because those were the main points at issue, most of these early works dealth with the authority of scripture, the origin of evil, and free will.

The question of the freedom of the will was of particular importance in the polemics against the Manichaeans [MAH-NEE-KEE-AHNS]. They held that everything was predetermined, and that human beings had no freedom. Aganst such views, Augustine became the champion of the freedom of the will. According to him, human freedom is such that it is its own cause. When we act freely, we are not moved by something either outside or inside of us, as by a necessity, but rather by our own will. A decision is free inasmuch as it is not the product of nature, but of the will itself. Naturally, this does not mean that circumstances do not influence our decisions. What it does mean is that only that which we decide out of our own will, and not out of circumstances or out of an inner necessity, is properly called “free.”

Next time, we will continue looking at “Augustine of Hippo.”

Let’s pray.

—PRAYER—

Dear friend, simply knowing the facts about Christian history without knowing the One on Whom this faith is based will do you no good. If you do not believe on the Lord Jesus Christ as your Savior, may I encourage you to get to know Him today. John 3:16 says, “For God so loved the world, that he gave his only begotten Son, that whosoever believeth in him should not perish, but have everlasting life.” Just believe in your heart that Jesus Christ died for your sins, was buried, and rose from the dead by the power of God for you so that you can be a part of the church in this life and in the life to come. Pray and ask Him to come into your heart today, and He will. Romans 10:13 says, “For whosoever shall call upon the name of the Lord shall be saved.”

Until next time, remember that history is truly His story.

Augustine of Hippo: A Tortuous Path to Faith, Part 5 (History of Christianity #164)

This is Daniel Whyte III, president of Gospel Light Society International, with the History of Christianity Podcast #164, titled, “Augustine of Hippo: A Tortuous Path to Faith (Part 5).”

When I became a believer in Jesus Christ, I somehow had the false idea that Christianity began when I got saved. I had no concept of the hundreds of years of history that Christianity had gone through since the time of Jesus Christ over 2,000 years ago. I have found that many believers, young and old, have the same false idea. The purpose of this broadcast is to dispel this notion by sharing with listeners the history of Christianity from the ministry of Jesus Christ all the way up until the present day in an easy-to-understand format. You don’t have to worry: this is not a lecture. This is a look at the basic facts and figures of Christian history that every believer and every person needs to be aware of.

Our Scripture for today is John 3:3 which reads: “Jesus answered and said unto him, Verily, verily, I say unto thee, Except a man be born again, he cannot see the kingdom of God.”

Our History of Christianity quote today is from St. Isaac the Syrian. He said: “As a handful of sand thrown into the ocean, so are the sins of all flesh as compared with the mind of God.”

Today, in the History of Christianity, we are looking at “Augustine of Hippo: A Tortuous Path to Faith (Part 5)” from Dr. Justo L. Gonzalez’s fine book, The Story of Christianity (Volume 1).

After his conversion, Augustine took the necessary steps to embark on a new life. He requested baptism, which he and his son Adeodatus [AH-DEE-OH-DAH-TUS] received from Ambrose [AM-BROZE]. He resigned from his teaching post. And then, with Monica—who had dogged him most of his life, hoping both that he would become a Christian and that he would marry well and advance in his career, Adeodatus [AH-DEE-OH-DAH-TUS] and a group of friends, he set out for North Africa, where he planned to spend the rest of his days in monastic retreat. Monica had persuaded Augustine to dismiss his concubine of many years—whose name he does not even mention. The return to Africa was interrupted at the seaport of Ostia [AA-STEE-UH], where Monica became ill and died. Augustine was so overcome with grief that it was necessary for him and his companions to remain in Rome for several months.

When they finally reached Tagaste [TAH-GHAST], Augustine sold most of the property that he had inherited, gave some of the money to the poor, and with the rest he settled at Cassiciacum [CAS-SEH-SEE-AY-KUM] with Adeodatus [AH-DEE-OH-DAH-TUS]—who died shortly thereafter—and a few friends whose goal was mystical contemplation and philosophical inquiry. Their objective was not the extreme rigorism of the monks of the desert, but rather an orderly life, with no unnecessary comforts, and devoted entirely to prayer, study, and meditation.

It was at Cassiciacum [CAS-SEH-SEE-AY-KUM] that Augustine wrote his first Christian works. They still bore a Neoplatonic [NEE-OH-PLAY-TON-IK] stamp, although he was slowly coming to appreciate the difference between Christian teaching and some elements in Neoplatonism [NEE-OH-PLAY-TON-ISM]. He hoped that the few dialogues he wrote at Cassiciacum [CAS-SEH-SEE-AY-KUM] would be only the beginning of many years devoted to the philosophical life.

Next time, we will continue looking at “Augustine of Hippo.”

Let’s pray.

—PRAYER—

Dear friend, simply knowing the facts about Christian history without knowing the One on Whom this faith is based will do you no good. If you do not believe on the Lord Jesus Christ as your Savior, may I encourage you to get to know Him today. John 3:16 says, “For God so loved the world, that he gave his only begotten Son, that whosoever believeth in him should not perish, but have everlasting life.” Just believe in your heart that Jesus Christ died for your sins, was buried, and rose from the dead by the power of God for you so that you can be a part of the church in this life and in the life to come. Pray and ask Him to come into your heart today, and He will. Romans 10:13 says, “For whosoever shall call upon the name of the Lord shall be saved.”

Until next time, remember that history is truly His story.

PODCAST: Augustine of Hippo: A Tortuous Path to Faith, Part 4 (The History of Christianity #163 with Daniel Whyte III)

This is Daniel Whyte III, president of Gospel Light Society International, with the History of Christianity Podcast #163, titled, “Augustine of Hippo: A Tortuous Path to Faith (Part 4).”

When I became a believer in Jesus Christ, I somehow had the false idea that Christianity began when I got saved. I had no concept of the hundreds of years of history that Christianity had gone through since the time of Jesus Christ over 2,000 years ago. I have found that many believers, young and old, have the same false idea. The purpose of this broadcast is to dispel this notion by sharing with listeners the history of Christianity from the ministry of Jesus Christ all the way up until the present day in an easy-to-understand format. You don’t have to worry: this is not a lecture. This is a look at the basic facts and figures of Christian history that every believer and every person needs to be aware of.

Our Scripture for today is John 5:24 which reads: “Verily, verily, I say unto you, He that heareth my word, and believeth on him that sent me, hath everlasting life, and shall not come into condemnation; but is passed from death unto life.”

Our History of Christianity quote today is from St. Ignatius of Antioch. He said: “My dear Jesus, My Savior, is so deeply written in my heart, that I feel confident, that if my heart were to be cut open and chopped into pieces, the name of Jesus would be found written on every piece.”

Today, in the History of Christianity, we are looking at “Augustine of Hippo: A Tortuous Path to Faith (Part 4)” from Dr. Justo L. Gonzalez’s fine book, The Story of Christianity (Volume 1).

There remained another doubt: How can one claim that the Bible, with its crude language and its stories of violence and falsehood, is the Word of God? Providing an answer to this question was the role of Ambrose [AM-BROZE] in Augustine’s life. Monica, who was with the latter in Milan [MEE-LAHN], insisted that he should hear Ambrose’s [AM-BROZE’s] sermons. As a professor of rhetoric, Augustine agreed to attend the services led by the famous speaker in Milan [MEE-LAHN]. His initial purpose was not to hear what Ambrose [AM-BROZE] had to say, but to see how he said it. However, as time went by he found that he was listening to the bishop less as a professional, and more as a seeker. Ambrose [AM-BROZE] interpreted many of the passages that had created difficulties for Augustine allegorically. Since allegorical interpretation was perfectly acceptable according to the canons of rhetoric, Augustine could find no fault in this. And it certainly made scripture appear less crude, and therefore more acceptable.

By then, Augustine’s major intellectual difficulties with Christianity had been solved. But there were other difficulties of a different sort. He could not be a lukewarm Christian. Were he to accept his mother’s faith, he would do it wholeheartedly, and he would devote his entire life to it. Furthermore, due to the prevalence of the monastic ideal, and to his own Neoplatonic [NEE-OH-PLAY-TON-IK] perspective, Augustine was convinced that, were he to become a Christian, he must give up his career in rhetoric, as well as all his ambitions and every physical pleasure. It was precisely this last requirement that seemed most difficult. As he later wrote, at that time he used to pray, “Give me chastity and continence; but not too soon.”

At this point a battle raged within himself. It was the struggle between willing and not willing. He had already decided to become a Christian. But not too soon. He could no longer hide behind intellectual difficulties. Furthermore, from all quarters came news that put him to shame. In Rome the famous philosopher Marius Victorinus [MAR-EE-UHS VIC-TOR-IH-NUS], who had translated the works of the Neoplatonists [NEE-OH-PLAY-TON-ISTS] into Latin, had presented himself at church and made a public profession of his faith. Then came news of two high civil servants who, upon reading Athanasius’s [ATH-A-NAY-SEE-US] Life of Saint Anthony, had abandoned career and honor in order to follow the hermit’s example. It was then, unable to tolerate the company of his friends—or himself—that Augustine fled to the garden, where his conversion took place.

Next time, we will continue looking at “Augustine of Hippo.”

Let’s pray.

—PRAYER—

Dear friend, simply knowing the facts about Christian history without knowing the One on Whom this faith is based will do you no good. If you do not believe on the Lord Jesus Christ as your Savior, may I encourage you to get to know Him today. John 3:16 says, “For God so loved the world, that he gave his only begotten Son, that whosoever believeth in him should not perish, but have everlasting life.” Just believe in your heart that Jesus Christ died for your sins, was buried, and rose from the dead by the power of God for you so that you can be a part of the church in this life and in the life to come. Pray and ask Him to come into your heart today, and He will. Romans 10:13 says, “For whosoever shall call upon the name of the Lord shall be saved.”

Until next time, remember that history is truly His story.