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Last week I wrote a brief recap for week two of the Summer Book Study. You can find that story here, along with a link to the audio of Fr. Bryan’s teaching.
Fr. Jonathan Bailes, our new Curate for Adult Discipleship, began week three of our summer book study with an abridged history of the Manichees, the 3rd century religious movement who viewed the world as a struggle between dualities: good and evil, light and darkness. The Manichees were known critics of Christian beliefs. They boasted that their way of interpreting life was new, and more credible.
To Augustine before his conversion, Manichaeism offered a tempting alternative to the Biblical worldview. It seemed to him more intellectual. More than that, explained Fr. Jonathan, “Manichaeism offered Augustine freedom from guilt.” The Manichees did not practice repentance or confessing one’s sins, instead teaching that a person’s wrong-doings were not willful acts.
After concluding his talk, Fr. Jonathan directed the table groups to begin discussing how Augustine’s search for answers is emblematic of today’s culture. One parishioner agreed that times have not changed since the early centuries. She noted, “When I was young, it seemed most non-church goers accused Christians of being hypocrites, which was proof to them that Christianity was not effective in its teachings.” Another person added, “The world is more and more asking me to disown a belief system that forces me to deal with the bad things I’ve done.”
Like Augustine, those attending the summer book study have sometimes struggled to answer life’s most challenging questions—even about their own faith. Indeed, non-believers will offer scores of solutions, but The Confessions points out their emptiness. May we also look at the ways of the world with an attitude of repentance.
For full audio of Fr. Jonathan's teaching on Books IV & V of Augustine's Confessions, please visit out media page »
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