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Conversion and Apostasy, 373-388 C.E.
Augustine of Hippo is history's best-known Christian convert. The very concept of conversio owes its dissemination to Augustine's Confessions, and yet, as Jason BeDuhn notes, conversion in Augustine is not the sudden, dramatic, and complete transformation of self we likely remember it to be. Rather, in the Confessions Augustine depicts conversion as a lifelong process, a series of self-discoveries and self-departures. The tale of Augustine is one of conversion, apostasy, and conversion again.
In this first volume of Augustine's Manichaean Dilemma, BeDuhn reconstructs Augustine's decade-long adherence to Manichaeism, apostasy from it, and subsequent conversion to Nicene Christianity. Based on his own testimony and contemporaneous sources from and about Manichaeism, the book situates many features of Augustine's young adulthood within his commitment to the sect, while pointing out ways he failed to understand or put into practice key parts of the Manichaean system. It explores Augustine's dissatisfaction with the practice-oriented faith promoted by the Manichaean leader Faustus and the circumstances of heightened intolerance, anti-Manichaean legislation, and pressures for social conformity surrounding his apostasy.
Seeking a historically circumscribed account of Augustine's subsequent conversion to Nicene Christianity, BeDuhn challenges entrenched conceptions of conversion derived in part from Augustine's later idealized account of his own spiritual development. He closely examines Augustine's evolving self-presentation in the year before and following his baptism and argues that the new identity to which he committed himself bore few of the hallmarks of the orthodoxy with which he is historically identified. Both a historical study of the specific case of Augustine and a theoretical reconsideration of the conditions under which conversion occurs, this book explores the role religion has in providing the materials and tools through which self-formation and reformation occurs.
Making a "Catholic" Self, 388-401 C.E.
By 388 C.E., Augustine had broken with the Manichaeism of his early adulthood and wholeheartedly embraced Nicene Christianity as the tradition with which he would identify and within which he would find meaning. Yet conversion rarely, if ever, represents a clean and total break from the past. As Augustine defined and became a "Catholic" self, he also intently engaged with Manichaeism as a rival religious system. This second volume of Jason David BeDuhn's detailed reconsideration of Augustine's life and letters explores the significance of the fact that these two processes unfolded together.
BeDuhn identifies the Manichaean subtext to be found in nearly every work written by Augustine between 388 and 401, and demonstrates Augustine's concern with refuting his former beliefs without alienating the Manichaeans he wished to win over. To achieve these ends, Augustine modified and developed his received Nicene Christian faith, strengthening it where it was vulnerable to Manichaean critique and taking it in new directions where he found room within an orthodox frame of reference to accommodate Manichaean perspectives and concerns. Against this background, BeDuhn is able to shed new light on the complex circumstances and purposes of Augustine's most famous work, The Confessions, as well as his distinctive reading of Paul and his revolutionary concept of grace. Augustine's Manichaean Dilemma, Volume 2 demonstrates the close interplay between Augustine's efforts to work out his own "Catholic" persona and the theological positions associated with his name, between the sometimes dramatic twists and turns of his own personal life and his theoretical thinking.
Through careful analysis of Augustine's writings, Burnell concludes that Augustine conceives of human nature as a unity at every level--socially, morally, and in basic constitution--despite very common objections that he fails to achieve such a conception
The Doctrine of Theosis in Nicholas of Cusa
The doctrine of theosis means a salvation that is the deification of the saved. The saved actually become God. This unusual doctrine lies at the heart of Nicholas of Cusa's (1401-1464) mystical metaphysics. It is here examined for the first time as a theme in its own right, along with its implications for Cusanus's doctrine of God, his theological anthropology, and his epistemology.
From Philosophy of God to Philosophy of Religious Studies
Jim Kanaris provides a comprehensive understanding of esteemed theologian Bernard Lonergan’s philosophy of religion and a crucial means of identifying precisely the points of contact between Lonergan’s thoughts on God and religion and the issues presently discussed by philosophers of religion. Defining Lonergan’s philosophy of religion presents a challenge because he does not use the term as it is generally understood. Rather, Lonergan addresses these issues under the guise of philosophy of God or natural theology, understands the role of religious experience idiosyncratically, and allows this concept to play various roles in his thought. The dynamics of these various components, their interrelationships, and their function from early to late development are fleshed out in this work. Kanaris finds Lonergan’s philosophy of religion developing at that period when he attributes a new importance to the influence of religious experience. What this means for Lonergan’s controversial proof of God’s existence, the role of Lonergan’s concept of consciousness, and the specifically religious dimension of the notion of experience are explored, along with the emergence of what is technically philosophy of religion.
The Sins that Sabotage Divine Love
Love was at one time a powerfully unifying force among Christians. In his letters, Paul consistently evokes charity as the avenue to both human and divine communion. If the magnitude of charity was of the upmost importance to early Christians, so were those sins that aimed to distract Christians from acting based on love. Taking seriously the efforts of Paul, and later Thomas Aquinas, to expose and root out the sins against charity, Matthew Levering reclaims the centrality of love for moral, and in fact all, theology.
As Levering argues, the practice of charity leads to inner joy and peace as well as outward mercy, good will, and unity with God and neighbor. The sins against charity—hatred, sloth, envy, discord and contention, schism, war and strife, and sedition and scandal—threaten love’s concrete effects by rebelling against dependence on God and undermining interdependence on others. The Betrayal of Charity seriously considers the consequences of each of the sins against love, compelling individuals and communities to recognize their own loss of charity. In doing so, Levering fosters a spirit of restoration and reminds readers that love—not the sins against it—will have the last word.
Jewish and Christian Continental Thinkers Respond to the Holocaust
Explores the work of post-Holocaust Jewish and Christian thinkers who reject theodicy—arguments explaining why a loving God can permit evil and suffering in the world. Beyond Theodicy analyzes the rising tide of objections to explanations and justifications for why God permits evil and suffering in the world. In response to the Holocaust, striking parallels have emerged between major Jewish and Christian thinkers centering on practical faith approaches that offer meaning within suffering. Author Sarah K. Pinnock focuses on Jewish thinkers Martin Buber and Ernst Bloch and Christian thinkers Gabriel Marcel and Johann Baptist Metz to present two diverse rejections of theodicy, one existential, represented by Buber and Marcel, and one political, represented by Bloch and Metz. Pinnock interweaves the disciplines of philosophy of religion, post-Holocaust thought, and liberation theology to formulate a dynamic vision of religious hope and resistance.
Mapping Transactional Inroads
How can African theology survive the self-repetition of mere cultural apologia or contextualization-stereotypes, and mature into a critical theoretical discipline responding to the challenges of the postmodern world-order? Dr. Humphrey M. Wawe contributes here a sound theological reflection using the hitherto unused methodological paradigm of mapping the inroads in the ìtransactionî between the Bible and African culture.