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St. Augustine on Original Sin

Perhaps we should view Original Sin from the perspective of that great theologian, Augustine of Hippo, who has given us a minefield of theological truths that theologians are still unpacking today,including the doctrine of Original Sin (Since no one systematized any doctrine on Original Sin before him). Augustine writes his biography in the form of a prayer to God that others were invited to read in his autobiography The Confessions. My urge to anyone reading this who hasn’t picked up that ancient writing of Augustine’s is to find a comfy chair and read. The Confessions is the greates book i have ever read save that of the Bible. Augustines poetic passion for rhetoric is second to none and has the power to wield men’s hearts towards a deep relationship with God We find these quotes in the confessions regarding Augustine’s own personal view on Original Sin and his Bondage to Sin:

“The reins that held me were loosened; instead of being restrained by parental discipline, i was let loose to follow every random inclination. But, my God, wherever my inclinations took me, a dark cloud came between me and the clear skies of your truth; and out of my abundance came forth my wickedness” (Confessions 2.3.8)

“I did not know that evil is deficiency of good to the point where there is no good at all” (Confessions 3.7.12)

“The good that you love is from him, but it is god and pleasing only so far as it is conisdered in relation to him. But if you abandon him, the love you direct towards anything that is from him will be unrighteous, and the object of your love will righteously be bitter to the taste.” (Confessions 4.12.18)

“For it still seemed to me that it is not we ourselves who sin, but some other nature within us…I loved to exculpate myself and lay the blame on that something that was with me but not me. But it was all me. In my impiety i was divided against myself, and my sin was all the more incurable in that i did not consider myself a sinner.” (Confessions 5.10.18)

“What then is the origin of my willing bad deeds and not willing good ones–why i should justly pay the penalty for my deeds” (Confessions 7.3.5)

“I sought to know what wickedness was, and found it was no substance, but a perverse distortion of the will away from the highest substance and towards the lowest things; the will casts forth its innermost part and swells outwards” (Confessions 7.16.22)

“The enemy kept his hold on my powers of willing, and had made of it a chain for me, and bound me with it. My will was perverted, and became a lust; i obeyed my lust as a slave, and it became a habit; i failed to resist my habit, and it became a need…my two wills, the old, carnal will, and the new, spiritual will, were at war with one another, and in their discord rent my soul in pieces.” (Confessions 8.5.10)

“Therefore it was no longer i that did this, but the sin that dwelt in me-that sin itself being part of the punishment for a sin more willingly commited, since i was a son of Adam.” (Confessions 8.10.22)

(ORIGINALLY POSTED: July 21st, 2008)

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