“The central role of Augustine in Western Christianity
Augustine made many important, lasting contributions for Christian theology. He is perhaps “the most influential Christian thinker of all time outside of the New Testament.” The central role of Augustine in Western Christianity is perhaps comparable to that of Moses in Judaism. Like Moses led the Israelites towards the land of Canaan from their 400-year slavery in Egypt by encouraging them to stay away from idol-worshipping, Augustine led the Christians towards the City of God from their 400-year persecution in the Roman Empireby encouraging them to stay away from various heresies. It can be argued, of course, that Emperor Constantine the Great, who publicly recognized Christianity in 313, or Emperor Theodosius I, who declared Christianity as the state religion in 392, was more influential than Augustine. But, Constantine and Theodosius may have used Christianity merely as a means for political unity. By contrast, Augustine’s theological teachings as bishop of Hippo were developed after his spiritual conversion from his Hellenistic upbringing and education, and had a more powerful and lasting influence. Especially his defense of Christianity from those pagan accusations of it which were occasioned by Alaric’s sack of Rome in 410, as seen in The City of God, his major work, has been influential because it, showing a profound view of providential history, has given Augustine an image of true defender and even liberator of the Christians. ….