The Confessions | Study Guide

Saint Augustine

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The Confessions | Key Catholic Concepts

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The Trinity

The Trinity refers to the three Persons of God: the Father, the Son, and the Holy Spirit. The three Persons of God are equally God; one is not above the other. The Son (Second Person) was sent by the Father to earth through the Incarnation as Jesus of Nazareth. Jesus was equally God and man, which was a requirement for him to be a fitting sacrifice to God to atone for the sins of human beings, particularly original sin. The Holy Spirit is a manifestation of God's love; he proceeds from both the Father and the Son, as a manifestation of their love for each other. Sometimes the Holy Spirit is equated with the Wisdom of the Second Person. Augustine speaks about the Trinity in Book 13.

Original Sin

Original sin is the reason that Jesus has to come into the world, so that he can atone for this sin committed by humanity's first parents by dying on the cross (suffering the enormously painful Roman execution of crucifixion) and then being resurrected on the third day after his death and ascending to heaven. According to the Book of Genesis, Adam and Eve disobeyed God's command and ate the fruit of the Tree of the Knowledge of Good and Evil. The substance of their sin is a perversion of free will, in which they want to make themselves equal to God by disobeying him. The result is that they bring sin and death into the world.

Jesus Christ the Redeemer

Jesus Christ redeems the human race and opens the gates of heaven to them by incarnating (being born as a man while remaining God), suffering, dying on the cross, coming to life again after three days, and ascending into heaven. Through the sacrifice and suffering of Jesus, human beings are able to obtain salvation. Jesus is the mediator between God and man.

Grace

Grace is the spiritual assistance that is bestowed by God, as well as God's consolations, in which humans have a spiritual vision that allows them to feel the presence of the divine. God bestows grace freely, and it is always available, but only if people turn toward God voluntarily.

Free Will

Free will is the idea that human beings are not compelled by a deity to act in a certain way and have the freedom to either choose God and the good or turn away from God. God created human beings, according to Christian theology, but he wishes them to love him of their own free will. Therefore, he allows them the opportunity to sin if they choose, as did humanity's first parents in the Garden of Eden. Nonetheless, there are consequences to sinning against God.

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