Handbook on Faith, Hope, Love: Introduction

Although there are no formal questions for the first week which is an introduction, feel free to post thoughts about the introduction below or thoughts you have about this upcoming guided forum.

Following 1 Corinthians 13, Augustine’s Handbook of Faith, Hope, and Love is a short, informative, and challenging treatise on key Christian concepts. By studying it, we will gain new insight into how a great church father though about God, creation, Christ, forgiveness, sin, and the theological virtues of faith, hope, and love. More importantly, in the next seven weeks, we’ll be challenged about what it means to be a Christian and what it means to “properly worship” God.

Augustine wrote this short book to a man named Laurence, as a book he could have “at hand” to answer his questions about Christianity. Our reading will follow key concepts in this “Handbook.” In the first week we’ll study Augustine’s first two chapters and learn the purpose of the book: to teach the “proper worship” of God. These chapters will teach us about the connections between faith, hope, and love. In the second week we’ll study God’s creation of the world, the nature of evil, and humankind’s state after the fall. In the third week we’ll study the source of our redemption—Christ, the mediator between God and humankind. In the fourth week we’ll examine our forgiveness and the relationship between faith and works. In the fifth week we’ll look at an example of the way that faith and works intertwine—the example of almsgiving (and spiritual almsgiving) and the role it can play in a Christian’s life. In the sixth week we’ll return to the subject that with which the “Handbook” began—faith, hope, and love. Finally, in our last week, we’ll take time to reflect on what we’ve learned through our study and to think about how we might incorporate these reflections into our lives.

nick's picture

Augustine's definition of faith

On Chapter 2 part 8:
It seems to me that in this section, when Augustine speaks of faith, he means, lets call it "perfect faith." Perfect faith is that faith that is driven by this love that Paul is referring to in 1 Cor 13. Augustine begins the handbook by saying that it is dealing with the service and worship of God. Also in paragraph 5 of chapter 1 Augustine is apparently referring to Gal 5:6-7 where Paul states that in Christ the only thing that matters is faith working through love.

Indeed, many apologists have pointed out that atheists must exercise faith in their suppression of the truth. But hasn't Augustine qualified his use of the term "faith" as that of "perfect faith?"

Nick Olivas