2014 Book Corner

Confessions by St. Augustine of Hippo

Chosen By: Rev. Daniel Hutchinson, Associate Pastor

In this work Confessions (397-398 CE), St. Augustine gives an autobiographical reflection on his life in light of scripture and the work of God. It is a confession in the truest sense. Augustine somberly records his early life of sin and disobedience to God, his forays into pagan religions, and his intense intellectual struggle to accept the Scriptures. If you have ever struggled with sin or doubt, if you have ever dismissed the Bible as unreasonable or struggled to understand its teachings, if you have felt that the laws of God are not worth following, or if you have struggled with guilt and shame over past sins, you will find a companion in Augustine. Yet the greatest confession of this book is Augustine’s witness to the relentless, loving pursuit of God. While Augustine laments his sin and the years he spent apart from God, the overarching theme is the grace of God that reaches down into the midst of his brokenness, grabs hold of him, and transforms him into an instrument for the Kingdom of God.

Confessions is broken into thirteen books, each of which is divided into ‘chapters’ (which may be as short as a paragraph). In the first nine books, Augustine lays out his life through his conversion to Christianity. He ends book nine with a very tender passage about his mother, Monica. The final four books are less autobiographical and focused more on theology and philosophy. Augustine asks questions concerning such subjects as happiness, the nature of God and creation, and the Trinity.

Confessions is not a ‘quick’ read, yet it is not meant to be. As Augustine wrestles with questions of sin and redemption, the goodness and grace of God, and his own conversion, the reader is also invited to wrestle, to examine their own life and see the presence of God that is at work. Ultimately, Augustine’s reminder to the reader is that “Our hearts are restless until they find their rest in God…” This is the point of Confessions; that the reader might come to rest in the one true God, the one worthy of all praise and adoration.