Universidad Católica de Valencia “San Vicente Mártir"
Edetania vol:48 pages:61-79
For young people Augustine can have something of a mysterium fascinosum et tremendum. His sincere honesty, his attempt to understand the heteronomy of human life, his passionate search for truth and justice in a religiously pluralistic era, that is very similar to ours, can have a strong appealing force. On the other hand some of his ideas to their extreme consequences - original sin, predestination, sinful sexuality – can cause resistance to young people. This double appreciation students can have towards Augustine, teaches them the important lesson that authors and theological writings should be read as objective as possible - avoiding any prejudice - and in full awareness of their original intent and historical context. Only in this way their rich content - such as Augustine’s intuition about grace – can be discovered in a way that is meaningful even today. Here precisely lies the significance of Augustine as a subject of study for religious education today.
What is the significance of Augustine as inspiration and subject for religious education today? To answer this question, I suggest a double movement: (1) deconstruction and (2) construction. (1) There exist many images and even many prejudices of Augustine. Precisely the exercise that the case study of Augustine offers us in evaluating existing prejudices of theologians and religious texts is actually the first source for contemporary relevance of Augustine for religious education. (2) Once Augustine is stripped of prejudices and we have a more objective view of his time, life and writings, we will see the constructive interaction in the theologian Augustine between context and content. Herein lies a second possible relevance of Augustine. Next, we will constructively examine how Augustine’s most fundamental intuitions - his thinking about grace - can be relevant for theological thinking in general and the current religious education in particular.