Saturday, December 08, 2007
I am loving Peter Brown's biography of Augustine of Hippo. I am sure I am not qualified to explain who the Donatists were. But in short they were a group that stressed the law and following it by your own free will. They disliked Augustine as a bishop due in no small part to his sinful past. He was not considered by them worthy to be a Bishop. I love a couple of his retorts. First on his own condition he said of them and himself:
"O there are many things in me which they could fasten on: it would thrill them to know about them! Much still happens in My thoughts - fighting against my evil promptings, a day-long tension; the Enemy almost continuously wishing to make me fall.."
Wow and he did not need Dale Carnegie to tell him to be quick to agree. In a sense he is almost saying, Yep I am to sinful to be a Bishop.
But Augustine was not interested in a "pure" church. If the church was to expand it could never be "pure" in the way the Donatists wanted it to be. Augustine rather saw God drawing a people to Himself to make heirs of a property. Here is my favorite:
"The clouds roll with thunder, that the House of the Lord shall be built throughout the earth: and these frogs sit in their marsh and croak - We are the only Christians!"
Cool! If you think about the vision which is more exciting? A pure and sinless church, or a kingdom on the move? With all the problems of the church how often do we focus simply on purifying it, breaking off into our little, or big, groups and croak "We are the only Christians"? Augustine believed in a sovereign God who was on the move and would pay the frogs no mind as he went about His work of claiming a people to Himself. Praise God!