Christian Thinkers 101: A Crash Course on St. Augustine

by Kenneth Samples

I’ve heard it said that evangelical Christians don’t study our church history very deeply. As a fellow evangelical, I think there is, unfortunately, a lot of truth in this statement. Contemporary Christians can learn a great deal from the history of their faith. But where to start? This series, “Christian Thinkers 101,” provides a snapshot of some of the faith’s key theologians and apologists and their important books and ideas.

Let’s begin with the man who is the most popular church father.

Though he lived 1,600 years ago, St. Augustine remains revered. But what exactly did he believe and what did he contribute to Christianity? Here’s your crash course on the life and accomplishments of St. Augustine—and why he still matters today.

Who Was Augustine?

St. Augustine (AD 354–430) was born in North Africa to a pagan father and a Christian mother. Following a youth and an early career steeped in debauchery and ambition, Augustine experienced a dramatic conversion to Christianity when he turned from his pagan beliefs. His classic book Confessions details his conversion story and, to this day, remains widely acknowledged as the first Western autobiography.

Augustine was a prolific author, a robust theologian, an insightful philosopher, and a tenacious apologist for the truth of historic Christianity. He is a universal Christian voice within Western Christendom and remains today as important to Protestants as he is to Catholics. He is also the only Christian thinker to be mentioned in songs by Bob Dylan and the Rolling Stones…

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Christian Thinkers 101: A Crash Course on St. Augustine – Reflections