Thursday, May 04, 2006

A Model for Evangelization

How are we to be witnesses to the faith? Listen to Augustine's account of the influence Ambrose had on him. This was the start of his conversion...

"And to Milan I came, to Ambrose the bishop, famed through the whole world as one of the best of men, thy devoted servant. His eloquent discourse in those times abundantly provided thy people with the flour of thy wheat, the gladness of thy oil, and the sober intoxication of thy wine. To him I was led by thee without my knowledge, that by him I might be led to thee in full knowledge. That man of God received me as a father would, and welcomed my coming as a good bishop should. And I began to love him, of course, not at the first as a teacher of the truth, for I had entirely despaired of finding that in thy Church--but as a friendly man. And I studiously listened to him--though not with the right motive--as he preached to the people. I was trying to discover whether his eloquence came up to his reputation, and whether it flowed fuller or thinner than others said it did. And thus I hung on his words intently, but, as to his subject matter, I was only a careless and contemptuous listener. I was delighted with the charm of his speech, which was more erudite, though less cheerful and soothing, than Faustus' style. As for subject matter, however, there could be no comparison, for the latter was wandering around in Manichean deceptions, while the former was teaching salvation most soundly. But "salvation is far from the wicked," such as I was then when I stood before him. Yet I was drawing nearer, gradually and unconsciously."
-- St. Augustine, Confessions, Book 5, Chapter 13


Steve Bogner said...

What an interesting passage from Augustine; Ambrose had the words and manner to meet Augustine where he was at the moment - intrigued with eloquence and presence. That's good evangelization, in my opinion - when we have the words and actions that are meaningful to a person, while God opens their heart and gives the the gift of faith.

Anonymous said...

Have you ever read Faustus' letter disproving biblical inerrancy? It is in Nicene Post Nicene Fathers Series 1, Volume IV, in Ausustine's.Reponse to Faustus or Contra Faustam. Not only is his style more cheerful than Ambrose's, but he also is nearer the truth of modern biblical criticism than Ambrose who was wandering around in the dessert of Catholic superstition. For example, he points out that none of the gospel writers narrates in first person, and that Matthew speaks of Jesus passing by and seeing "a man named Matthew" which clearly shows Matthew is not the author of Matthew. He interprets the parable of the tares as meaning that scripture itself has had tares sown in it by the enemy while we slept, and that the job of a Christian is to accept the good wheat in the scriptures and reject the tares. Indeed, we find false attributions of prophecy in the scriptures such as Isiah 7 the virgin birth being claimed for Jesus when the context shows that it was given as a sign that before the child knew good or evil the 2 kings who opposed Ahaz would be defeated by the Assyrian kin, which clearly means the prophecy was fulfilled in Ahaz day, a thousand years before Jesus birth. Thus, the virgin birth story is a tare. So also Paul says fornication will keep you out of heaven, but in the very next verse "all things are lawful to me," another tare sown among the wheat. Augustine looks like a trifling school-boy against this most erudite foe, as do all modern fundamentalists.