St. Augustine: Really Bad Protestant

St. Augustine: Really Bad Protestant August 24, 2015

The Moonie-owned Washington Times measures how good a Christian you by such metrics as knowing the longest chapter in the Bible and similar ephemera. All this demonstrates is that the editors have no idea what a “good Christian” is. Sure, Bible knowledge is important, but it’s not make or break. Here, for example, is St. Augustine, no slouch in the Bible knowledge department, saying “Don’t have a cow if you don’t know the Bible, because what really matters is faith, hope, and love:

If therefore, you do not have the leisure to thoroughly inspect the holy pages, unravel all the mysteries of its words, penetrate all the secrets of the Scriptures, hold on to charity, upon which all things depend. Thus you will hold on to what you have learnt from the Scriptures, as well as what you have not yet learnt there. For you know charity, you know something upon which even what you perhaps do not know depends. In what you understand of the Scriptures, charity is in plain view, and in what you don’t understand, charity lies hidden. He therefore holds both what is in plain view and what is hidden in the divine speech, who holds on to charity in his behaviour. – Sermo 350.2

The man who relies on, and firmly keeps, faith, hope, and charity does not need the Scriptures, except to instruct others, and indeed many live by these three without any books in solitude. – De Doctrina, I.40.44

My personal favorite in the “Biblical authors were not Bible Protestants” department is this passage from Hebrews:

For it was not to angels that God subjected the world to come, of which we are speaking. It has been testified somewhere,

“What is man that you are mindful of him,
or the son of man, that you care for him?
You made him for a little while lower than the angels,
you have crowned him with glory and honor,
putting everything in subjection under his feet.” (Heb 2:5–8).

He is quoting Psalm 8. But like a typical Catholic, he knows the gist of the passage but couldn’t tell you where it comes from to save his soul. He just says “it has been testified somewhere.”

Love that.

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  • Joseph

    Ooooh… so, St. Augustine (a Catholic saint always in the grip of Calvinists who try to pull him to their side) and St. Paul (the only important author in the New Testament for Protestants) are Catholic! Amazing.

    • Pete the Greek

      I hear that even St. Patrick is Catholic! (In spite of the seemingly growing number of Baptists who try to tell me he was, well, a Baptist.)

      I wonder if the Scientologists will try to claim St. Joan of Arc…

  • Pete the Greek

    “Faith, hope and love, but the greatest of these is… being able to quote certain memorized lines of Scripture out of context.”

  • Dan13

    Too often in our society we judge people by intelligence (even though intelligence is largely an immutable trait). That is why it is sometimes helpful to read the stories about the simpler saints. Many of them weren’t exactly the sharpest knives in the drawer but they were much, much better people than us.

    Although, I believe St. Augustine’s logic here was also used as the rationale behind the simpler catacheticisal instruction in the 70s, 80s, and early 90s: that is, as long as we teach the bare basics and emphasize the necessity of love of God and neighbor, things will be fine.

    In fairness though, we don’t know if sticking with the older methods would have worked better.

    • ME

      St. Joseph of Cupertino comes to mind, when you think of the simpler saints. He prayed that only the questions be on the test that he knew the answers to. He only knew one answer, and there was only one question on the test. That was the only way he could become a priest was to pass the test.

      • Marthe Lépine

        I never heard of this saint before, but that is a good story. St. John Marie Vianney (curé d’Ars) was not particularly good at academics either, but was accepted into the priesthood anyway.

  • Rebecca Fuentes

    I’m terrible about chapter and verse. It is really nice to be able to find the part of the Bible I’m actually looking for, but I usually have to get help.

  • jcb

    Back in my evangelical days I worked at a missions camp in which some speaker came in and, in the course of his talk, asked the staff to quote some verse from Romans to him. He berated us for a solid few minutes when nobody could do it. My realization at the time that that was silly of him may have been one of many things that shoved me into the Tiber.