Friday, January 06, 2006

Children's Bio of Augustine

Augustine: The Farmer’s Boy of Tagaste, by P. De Zeeuw, J. Gzn
(Inheritance Publications, 1988; translation of Dutch original), 93 pages.

This book, though from the same series as the Athanasius book, was better written. The author does a good job in showing how Augustine chased sin and its consequences. I think the story is told in such a way that is useful to young boys who themselves are tempted to pursue their own pleasure without regard for what is right. Augustine’s need for a new heart is clear and his inability to change himself is conveyed well. This is very helpful in setting up conversations with your children about their own situation, how they parallel Augustine, demonstrated by their own inability to overcome their sin, and how they need God to change their hearts. Augustine’s conversion is told well also. Often times conversions are poorly told, so it was good to see this one handled well.

In the ministry of Augustine the author takes the opportunity to stress the importance of right doctrine, the need to counteract error and the place of courage in pastoral leadership.
“Masses of inhabitants fled before the threatening enemy. What made Augustine very angry indeed was that many bishops and other spiritual leaders fled even sooner and faster than the members of their congregations. He believed that the church would not remain in Africa if her leaders deserted her. His advice was to remain in the place of calling. If need be, he would die for his faith rather than leave his congregation.” (p 90)

There are some weaknesses in the book. The author states that Augustine was in no way connected to what became Roman Catholicism. In fact most scholars refer to places where Augustine lays the basis for Roman Catholic teachings and other places where he lays the basis for Protestantism. I don’t favor Augustine’s more Roman leanings, but we must not revise history. There are also a couple of places where I was skeptical about the historicity of the account.

In the end the strengths outweigh the weaknesses, and I recommend this book. It is a good way to introduce children to this important man of the faith. I read it to my boys when they were 9, 7 and 5 years old.


Post a Comment

<< Home