Augustine’s Confession is the masterpiece of self-awareness that man needs God and needs his forgiveness. What prompted Augustine to write thirteen books which 10 are autobiographical and the last three about scripture? This great work was written in Latin between AD 397 and 400. He was in his forty-three years old at the time which is a solid age of maturity, experience, and certainty of self-knowledge. He was a Catholic for ten years, a priest for six years, and a bishop for two years. For nine years, he followed Manichean sect. There was much he accomplished by the time he wrote Confession. Based on the evidence of his writings, one can conclude that his restless heart made the calling to express the most intimate, compelling, and profound confession of all time.
The restless heart of Augustine is the main author of Confession. The writings depict his early years through adulthood and entrance to higher education institution. During this time of young adulthood, his heart is captured by love. Out of this union, a son is born. Augustine experienced the freshness of his youth and the passion of the flesh.
Augustine travelled to North Africa. This journey allowed his heart to venture far away and gain a wider perspective. His adventurous heart took in all there was to see, feel, and live. He enjoyed career success such as professorship of rhetoric in Milan. The heart of Augustine was full of pride for his achievements while grieving the death of his close friend.
Throughout the journey of this autobiography one can sense a deep yearning for God’s mercy. Augustine is transparent in revealing the basic human emotions and desires. He gives an account of the various temptations and sins such as theft, lust, sexual immorality, and giving into the desires of the flesh. The explanations for theft was based on the desire to do something that was prohibited. This temptation of getting the forbidden item gave his heart the satisfaction. Yet, in all of his travels and experiences, his heart quietly called out to God. This on-going desperate call to become a better Christian led him to explore deeper depths of his personhood. As he stated and confessed, “he is not what he thought” shows the inner discovery of his nature. Toward the end of his writings, it is clear that he looks forward to resting in heaven.
Augustine’s Confession takes the reader to the road of self-ignorance to illumination. The story is basically the journey of a man who gave God all the glory, confessed to many different types of sin and glorify God who helped him to the path to redemption. From the beginning to the end, one can see the transformation of his heart. The unfailing heart to seek the Lord who gives grace and mercy.
Barry, John et al., The Lexham Bible Dictionary (Bellingham, WA: Lexham Press, 2016).
ESV: study Bible: English standard version. Wheaton, IL: Crossway Bibles, 2007.