Christian Focus has ventured into the area of the Early Church Fathers, and this is to be welcomed. One who did so much earlier was B. B. Warfield who famously saw two children struggling in the womb of Augustine’s mind – his ‘Catholic’ view of the church battled with his ‘Reformed’ view of salvation. Augustine makes for a complex figure, often divided against himself, even after his conversion in the garden in Milan. 

            Sometimes the great man lacks consistency as when he comments that not all who are regenerate receive the gift of perseverance. As he battled through the implications of electing grace, it is fair to say, with David Wright whom Bradley Green cites, that for the most part the bishop of Hippo was close to the Reformed view of justification. His hard views on baptismal regeneration, however, led him into a theology which did not cohere totally. 

            There could be no such book as a simple primer on Augustine, but this is a fine introduction to his life and thought, with a suggestive last chapter on ‘Augustine and the Protestant’. In my view, nothing on Augustine could be too long, but there are limits to what is meant to be an introductory work. Nevertheless, take it up: Tolle lege, tolle lege.  

  • Peter Barnes