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Augustine's teaching on human nature - Introduction

>Human nature has been fatally damaged because of the fall of Adam and Eve
>People are created by God, they are fallen in nature and need to be redeemed
>The only hope for salvation is through the grace of God, made available to people through the sacrifice of Christ on the cross


Augustine's teaching on human nature - Augustine's life and influences

>Fourth century, mother was a Christian
>Influenced by Plato who taught that human appetites were shameful and that study could lead people to the form of the good
>Preaching of St Ambrose and the letters of Paul were instrumental in Augustine's conversion
>Became a priest and then a bishop - struggled with the demands of Christian life and wrote about them


Augustine's teaching on human nature - Manichees

>In early life he followed the Manichees who taught that the universe was a battle between forces of good and evil, human appetites trap the body in the world of darkness, human reason could lead to enlightenment
>Rejected Manichaeism because he came to believe that the grace of God through the sacrifice of Jesus was needed to bring people to wisdom and salvation. Augustine developed the belief that people could not be saved just through their own efforts.


Augustine's teaching on human nature - Human nature as created by God

>Adam and Eve - first people created in the image of God, meaning they share the same characteristics of God: rationality, freedom of choice, and a moral nature
>They have a special place in this universe
>They are made from physical matter, like the rest of the natural world
>They are given the responsibility of stewardship over the earth, told to be fruitful and multiply, and told not to eat the fruit of the tree in the middle of the garden of Eden


Augustine's teaching on human nature - The Fall

>Described in Genesis 2-3
>The serpent tempts Eve to eat the fruit and disobey God, and then Adam chooses to be disobedient too. Called the 'fall' of A+E because they fell away from their perfect nature through free choice and disobedience
>Augusine - the fall was catastrophic for humanity. Banished from the garden, made to work for a living, Eve given pain in childbirth, the serpent has to crawl and is made the enemy of humanity, people no longer have the access to God that they used to.
>Turning point of the whole of creation


Augustine's teaching on human nature - Human relationships before the fall (according to Augustine)

>Depicted as having a close relationship with God.
>People must have lived in a state of loving friendship. called 'Concordia'
>Lived in a state of perfection without sin and in accordance with God's plans. Comfortable with their physical bodies
>Couldn't explain why they chose to disobey God other than that they had the freedom to do so
>Able to live in peaceful society without political authority but still with some sort of leadership


Augustine's teaching on human nature - Human relationships after the fall (according to Augustine)

>Human will could be pulled in different directions, flawed human nature makes it inevitable that people do wrong
>There are different types of love which flawed humans often confuse
>Adam and Eve chose cupiditas after the fall
>The sin corrupted everything and passed on a tendency to sin to future generations
>People are beyond rescue by their own efforts
>People are 'divided'


Augustine's teaching on human nature - Two types of love

>Cupiditas - love of worldly impermanent material things and selfish concerns. It can make people unhappy
>Caritas - generous love of others displayed through the virtues (prudence, fortitude, temperance, and justice) which gives people spiritual happiness


Augustine's teaching on human nature - Augustine's struggles

>Augustine could relate to the spiritual struggles of Paul described in Romans 7. Paul longs to be free from sin but feels chained to it.
>Struggled with ideas about the extent to which people should refrain from sexual activity and lead lives of material simplicity.


Augustine's teaching on human nature - Augustine's teaching on grace

>The only way people can be restored from the effects of the original sin
>People will continue to sin even after they have been given God's grace and accepted it. Even though they continue to sin God will let some of them into Heaven


Augustine's teaching on human nature - Gods grace is important because...

God's grace is:
>love and mercy
>demonstrated in the sacrifice of Christ and the Holy Spirit,
>calms the soul with forgiveness and hope
>transforms the will to want to please God
>encourages the soul to praise God
>helps the soul to understand sin
>gives moral guidance
>reaches the human heart and will


Augustine's teaching on human nature - strengths

>Encourages humanity to take responsibility for its own actions
>Understands and attempts to account for human emotions especially contradictory ones
>makes valuable distinctions between love of material goods and love of others
>Recognises his own weaknesses and is willing to engage with everyday human experience
>Doesn't pretend that anything is possible for humanity as long as they try hard enough
>Some thinker such as Thomas Hobbes agree that people are fundamentally selfish


Augustine's teaching on human nature - weaknesses

>Idea of original sin may be unattractive in an era where we see ourselves as individuals
>Loving God punishing us for sin committed by others seems hard to accept
>Augustine is wrong to say that humans are fundamentally corrupt (Rousseau - people are fundamentally good and Locke - people are born as a blank slate)
>Evolution - hard to accept that humanity has a different nature and purpose to other animals
>Augusine's focus on sin and corruption distorts the hopeful Christian message of love and salvation
>Jean-Paul Satre - we are each free to create our own natures