Saint Augustine was one of the philosophers who tried to explain the role of religion in society by observing that any decision has to be based on the teaching of God in the scripture. For instance, he noted that virtue is a rightly ordered love in the sense that individuals should focus on helping others whenever they are in tricky situations. In one of his writings, he suggested that living a just, as well as holy life entails a careful and objective evaluation of issues whereby loving something is one-step towards being virtues.
In this case, an individual is expected to love what is right and avoid falling in love with something that does not deserve the love. Many people tend to follow the ways that tend to harm others because they deprive the majority of the opportunity to realize their potentials. In his view, the pompous, jealous, and enraged individuals are often guilty of misdirected love whereas the indolent are guilty of incomplete love.
On the other hand, the rapacious, voracious, and licentious are likely to be guilty of unwarranted love. Believing in purgatory might be misplaced, but his characterization of sin in relation to love is valid. In this case, he suggests that love is rightly ordered in people’s hearts while sin is the direct opposite.
His comprehension of virtue and vice is compatible with the teachings of the bible because the scripture insists on love in the sense that it fulfils the law of the God. He suggested, “of the signs, then, by which men communicate their thoughts to one another, some relate to the sense of sight, some to that of hearing, a very few to the other senses” (Augustine 26). Romans chapter thirteen verse eight, James chapter two verses eight, and Galatians chapter five verses fourteen talk about love.
He termed virtue the various movements of love and went a notch higher to give the four principles that constitute love. First, he underscored the fact that virtue is the perfect love of God. The four principles include temperance, which is preserved entirely for the sake of God and any leader cannot engage in corruption to achieve it. The second is courage and cannot be avoided for those seeking to follow the teachings of God.
The third rule of love is justice meaning an individual should aspire to serve only God if he or she is to prove the love for God. The last principle is prudence meaning an individual has to be aware of what is right and wrong. In his further analysis of love, he talked about the nature of reality whereby he believed that the highest good is God while other goods are inferior meaning they are only granted by the Almighty. He suggested that God’s intention is to lead human beings back to his teachings.
In this case, there is a special type of joy that cannot be given to those who are not loved. Human beings sin because of neglecting God and his teachings, which are supreme and seek to fulfil their own lesser wishes. In Augustine’s view, those who do not love God would probably ignore the order and nature of reality.
In fact, this would be considered the heart of evil because an individual prefers a lesser good to the supreme one that comes from God. In Romans chapter one verses twenty-five, people should not focus on worshipping the creature instead they have to serve the creator.
Augustine’s analysis of proper order of love is important in four major ways as far as understanding and interpretation of the scripture is concerned. First, his view on love tethers the views of individuals on ethics, as he claimed that behaviour is the most important aspect of human life, but it has to be understood differently because it originates from the heart. An individual tends to develop interest in something that he or she loves and chances are high that people would rarely settle on outward compliances of rules.
If somebody were to approach spiritual transformation strongly, taking an inside-out approach would be the most important step since the decision would be originating from the heart. Ordering love is the first process towards changing the ways of life effectively. Second, his approach of love permits people to embrace all the goods in their proper order. He suggested that an individual should not reject any form of good instead it should be submitted or reformulated to put it in order meaning placing it in the proper place.
His analysis teaches people to love and enjoy God through the existing things, as this would strengthen the life of a Christian. He observed, “first of all, then, it is necessary that we should be led by the fear of God to seek the knowledge of his will, what he commands us to desire and what to avoid” (Augustine 28). The love for God prevents a human being from worshiping idols and engaging in all forms of idolatry. Loving the lesser good is dangerous in the sense that it would serve as an end in itself instead of taking it a means.
He suggested that God does not want an individual who loves earthly things to an extent of forgetting him, as this would only serve one purpose, which is to destruction. Many Christians have been wondering how they could love something without necessarily worshipping it, but St. Augustine provided a solution. He provided a procedure that could be relied in pursuing what would be considered heavenly.
He observed that the first step entails relating specific features of things that bring enjoyment to the teachings of God because all created goods are simply secular and limited streams that reach human beings through God’s will. In book of James chapter one verses seventeen, each good gift comes from God who is the father of lights.
In fact, there cannot be variations or changes, irrespective of the conditions. In case an individual enjoys the good taste of food, one thing that should be remembered is that Christ, who is the bread of life, created it. If the any musical sound mesmerizes an individual, it should be memorized that it only represents a small bit of the echo of the original voice.
Lastly, the views of St. Augustine on love shed more light on the responsibility of human beings towards God since it is the work of grace given the fact hearts cannot be ordered. In his previous works on confessions, each sentence is believed to be a prayer, as he knew that depending on God was the most important thing in human life.
He was of the view that some things, which are mostly temporal, prevent people from reading and understanding the scripture. He noted, “now there are two causes that prevent what is written from being understood: being veiled under unknown, or under ambiguous signs” (Augustine 30)
St. Augustine contributed enormously on the relationship between reason and faith. His teachings were based on the first chapter of Romans verses eighteen to thirty-two, which state that human beings knew God from the start, but they failed to honour him and his teachings. Unfortunately, they did not even thank him for what he had done for them choosing instead to be futile in their reasoning leading to the darkening of their foolish hearts.
Without reason, people cannot acquire knowledge and Augustine, as well as other philosophers, such as Plato and Aristotle, stressed on this reality. Acquisition of knowledge takes through the five senses meaning empirical data is the most important. He focused on the teachings of God in Proverbs chapter one verses seventeen, which state that the fear of God is always the beginning of wisdom or knowledge.
In his analysis, empirical facts are the most important in understanding how God works, but this cannot happen without engaging the mind in the thought process, drawing conclusions, and moving on to make inferences. Those who do not believe in God do not fear him and as such, what they know is very limited.
Once an individual submits him or herself to God, his mind would probably start seeing the fullness of truth. Converting to Christ is the first step towards gaining knowledge since the world is very complex and comprehending what it entails calls for God’s guidance.
Saint Augustine. On Christian Teaching (on Christian Doctrine). New York: Digireads Publishers, 2010. Print.