Confessions Essay, Research Paper

Justin W.

Truth and piety are two terms Augustine illustrates throughout his book Confessions. There are two types of truth: the truth found in God, but also the truth found in oneself. The truth found in and through God is quite obvious throughout the whole book. The other requires the reader to search deeply in the text. Augustine feels that if you develop self knowledge, then you can find truth. You have to be true to yourself and God. With self knowledge, you can reveal your true beliefs and pursuit in a religion that is fit for you. Augustine relates truth, God, and self knowledge to each other and finds they are the path to life of contentment.

Confessions is the story of how Augustine finds God and since loving Him remarkably betters his life. Finding self knowledge is connected with finding God and truth. Augustine feels that if a person can live with god in his life, he will be content because God is “Lord God of Truth ( V, iv, 7). In the course of the book, ‘God’ and ‘truth’ quite frequently along with ‘good,’ ‘wise,’ and ‘right.’ Obviously, these words are strongly related according to Augustine. Augustine suggests he knows the relationship between God and truth. For example, he says ” I don not with you in a court of law, for you are the truth. I do not deceive myself ‘lest my iniquity lie to itself” ( I, v, 6). He is being true his self. He knows that even though God is not able to be seen or touched, He is still all knowing and nothing can be hidden from Him.

Throughout the book, Augustine develops his knowledge and by the later books, he is happy. The early books of Confessions show Augustines confusions. Each of his sins are being explained as well as being confessed. It is written in the form of a prayer or biblical excerpt. Augustine clearly shows this when he states “My sin consisted in this, that I sought pleasure, sublimity, and truth not in God , but in his creatures, in myself, and other created beings” ( I, xx, 31). He is clearly “plunged into miseries, confusion, and error” ( I, xx, 31). He admits he enjoyed sinful acts such as sealing and sexual pleasures in Book II and VI, besides the numerous others. Here we can see Augustine developing self-knowledge. He knows he followed the wrong source of truth, that of which was in God.

Augustine feels that sin is what keeps people from faith. Faith comes from God and His guidlines. To know oneself is to know God and faith.Augustine states “that in you all things are finite, not in the sense that the space they occupy is bounded, but in the same sense that you hold all things in your hand by your truth ( VII, xv, 21)/ Augustine also uses the word ‘false’ to define something created by ones own mind, and imaginary. In order for Augustine to be true to hisself and God, he cannot believe in the falshoods of imagined existence.

Augustine makes a progression from one system of belief to another. At first, he believed in the Manichee way but because of central conflicts that were not present in that religion, he changes. He develops certain beliefs based on his knowledge, and in believing in them so strongly, he finds a new religion. This is the importance of Augustine converting religions. Augustine could not return to the Catholic faith because his mind demanded that he “think in parts limited to the shape of the human body” (V, x, 20). He finds he is wrong to see God as a human form. Within him, Augustine held the ability to know that the teachings of Mani were not true. Obviously, he is on the right track to finding truth, knowledge, and faith.

As Augustine moves away from the Manichees, his search for self-knowledge becomes a bit difficult and confusing again. He finds it hard to deal with he concept of God’s being and the being of evil. After conflicting with hisself, he finds his foundation of life is that of truth coming from God. He is growing is with the ability to accept God. Again, his change in desire shows that he is coming closer to finding truth and self. Augustine says “I no longer wished individual things to be better, because I considered the totality” (VII, xiii, 19). In this statement we recognize that Augustine has the ability of understanding God, truth, and knowledge, and in turn, have faith. He discovers another large stepping stone to his effort in finding self, truth, and faith: Augustine says he “was astonished to find that he already loved God” (VII, xviii, 23). The fact that he could discover he loves God before he even knew who or if accepts Christianity helps him understand more about faith.

Augustine finally figures out what it takes to be a person of truth. The more you understood about faith , the closer you are to truth and contentment. Contentment is the main theme of the section where Augustine realizes his true belifs. The only thing that separated him from others was that he was not yet a child of ‘Lady Continence’ from Book VIII. This means his understandings and faith did not coincide and neither did divinity and contentment.

The final step, as suggested by Augustine, is to “cast yourself upon him, do not be afraid” (Vii, xi, 27). He is saying to trust in God and he will carry you to truth. Before, Augustine was living the life of thievery and sexual pleasures, but then stops living the life and is happy without those carnal pleasures. This is the point at which truth is split. The truth in onself can can only take a person so far as being able to be a good person by not committing sin, or trying hard not to. The truth in God is a universal fact: God is good, therefore God is truth, because a lie is evil, and God cannot be evil. The step from simply being a good person to understanding and having faith in God makes the truth in God different from the truth in oneself. In other words, a person can be good without believing in God, except that in order to be forgiven and saved, a person must have God in his or her life. To do so requires that step of crossing over to the path of God and accepting Him and His truth.

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