Instructing Beginners in Faith
Although not usually considered to be on the same level as The Confessions or The City of God, to name just two of Augustine's greatest works, the short treatise entitled Instructing Beginners in Faith has in fact had a powerful...
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Although not usually considered to be on the same level as The Confessions or The City of God, to name just two of Augustine's greatest works, the short treatise entitled Instructing Beginners in Faith has in fact had a powerful influence on the Christian Church. It began as a reflection on the most suitable way of communicating the heart of Christian faith to those applying for membership of the Church. In the course of the past sixteen hundred years, however, it has been frequently and creatively adapted to serve the needs of education in faith in many different contexts, including the education of clergy and religious education more generally. The two model catecheses that Augustine sketches, one quite long and the other considerably shorter, not only continue to have relevance today but also provide an important insight into his understanding of the use of scripture and tradition. And Augustine's awareness of the problems that educators face demonstrates his profound grasp of the human condition.
Saint Augustine was born to a Catholic mother and a pagan father on November 13, 354, at Tagasta, near Algiers. He studied Latin literature and later taught rhetoric in Rome and Milan. He originally joined the Manicheans, a religious sect, but grew unhappy with some of their philosophies. He soon turned to Christianity and was baptized in 386. One of Augustine's major goals was a single, unified church. He was ordained a priest in 391 and appointed Bishop of Hippo, in Roman Africa, in 396, His writings and arguments with other sects include the Donatists and the Pelagians. On the Trinity, The City of God, and On Nature and Grace are some of his important writings. Confessions, which is considered his masterpiece, is an autobiographical work that recounts his restless youth and details the spiritual experiences that led him to Christianity. Many of Augustine's ideas, such as those concerning sin and predestination, became integral to the doctrines of the Church. Augustine died on August 28, 430AD.