Wednesday, November 28, 2012

Augustine (354-430AD): Enlightenment and Relics.

"Thus one of the most learned men, and certainly the most eloquent, M. Tullius Cicero, says that it is surprising that the divinity of Romulus was believed in, because the times were already so enlightened that they would not accept a fabulous fiction." - City of God, Book 22.

Cicero lived from 106BC to 43BC, while Romulus is supposed to have lived around 750BC.  It is always a fun topic to consider whether or not our ancestors were idiots.

"Eucharius, a Spanish priest, residing at Calama, was for a long time a sufferer from stone.  By the relics of the same martyr, which the bishop Possidius brought him, he was cured.  Afterwards the same priest, sinking under another disease, was lying dead, and already they were binding his hands.  By the succor of the same martyr he was raised to life, the priest's cloak having been brought from the oratory and laid upon the corpse." - City of God, Book 22.

As much as I enjoy Augustine's writings, there are still some things that are awkward.  Modern protestants are taught to have no regard for relics, especially since Martin Luther was a key factor in bringing to an end the abuses of their use during the Renaissance.  So what should we make of all the miracles attributed to God through relics that form a large portion of the writings of Augustine?  He uses these as a key part of his apologetics to argue against with the pagans.  Are we to dismiss all of them, including those he claims to have witnessed personally?  We must also keep in mind that Augustine does not dismiss the miracles claimed by the pagans either, although they are inferior in accomplishment and he suspects that there might be some trickery.  I wish I had some charismatic followers to add some thoughts.


Delirious said...

I think the danger is that some people might start to worship the relic, instead of remembering who it was that really healed the person.

Looney said...

Certainly that is what happened during the Renaissance period. The access to relics was turned into a business and much of the Christian message was lost.