In his general position, Augustin agrees with the Nicene creed; but laying more emphasis upon the consubstantiality of the persons, and definitely asserting the procession of the Spirit from the Father and Son. Some dogmatic historians seem to imply that he differed materially from the Nicene doctrine on the point of subordination. Hagenbach (Smith's Ed. Ð'§ 95) asserts that "Augustin completely purified the dogma of the Trinity from the older vestiges of subordination;" and adds that "such vestiges are unquestionably to be found in the most orthodox Fathers, not only in the East but also in the West." He cites Hilary and Athanasius as examples, and quotes the remark of Gieseler, that "the idea of a subordination lies at the basis of such declarations." Neander (II. 470, Note 2) says that Augustin "kept at a distance everything that bordered on subordinationism." These statements are certainly too sweeping and unqualified. There are three kinds of subordination: the filial or trinitarian; the theanthropic; and the Arian. The first is taught, and the second implied, in the Nicene creed. The last is denied and excluded. Accordingly, dogmatic historians like Petavius, Bull, Waterland, and Pearson, contend that the Nicene creed, in affirming the filial, but denying the Arian subordination; in teaching subordination as to person and real
St. Augustine wrote about many different aspects of his life he considered sinful. The first part of the book is mainly autobiographical and it’s only later when he talks about his conversation to Neo-Platonism and then Christianity that he classifies his previous behavior as sinful and bemoans many of his previous actions. By the time his conversion was complete he viewed every act in which he put himself ahead of God as sinful. A sin he faults himself greatly for committing is allowing himself sexual freedom and having numerous partners. Although this is one of the sins he most condemns he also writes that it was the sin hardest to give up when he was trying to decide if he wanted to formally convert to Christianity. Augustine also attempts to provide another reason for his previous actions by speculating that these actions where a result of his love for God being somehow misdirected.
In the beginning of Confessions Augustine writes about an incidence when he was a young boy and stole some pears with a group of boys from someone else’s tree. Theft is a fairly clear-cut sin. The issue of sexual relationships is a little more complicated. If both parties are willing participants then there is no victim from a legal standpoint. In Neo-Platonism all actions are considered good or evil. Under that definition it’s impossible to classify a voluntary sexual act as evil. Christianity goes deeper and asked the question of why the people are committing the sexual act. The answer to that would be to satisfy their selfish desires instead of acting on God’s will. Augstine also felt that the pursuit of sexual pleasure acted as a distraction from concentrating on religious matters. The victim under Augustine’s view of sin would be the souls of each participant.
Some historians would argue that sex out of wedlock was only forbidden in Christianity because the founders of the religion wanted to set up families in such a way that would facilitate large numbers of children. Augustine’s arguments about how such sexual actions should be considered sins effectively defeats this argument. In fact using Augustine’s definitions of sin it seems to me that some sex inside wedlock could also be considered sinful depending on the motivations of the people involved in it. If the actions are purely for sexual gratification they can still fall into the sinful category.
As much as Confessions can...
A number of philosophers before Augustine had argued that certainty is impossible and that the best the human mind can hope to achieve is the conviction that its conclusions are highly probable. Augustine disagreed with this premise and sought to demonstrate philosophically that certitude is in fact possible. His first argument is that if we accept the possibility of our conclusions being probable, we’ve already implicitly assumed that certainty exists, because things can only be “probably” true if truth (in other words, certainty) does in fact exist. If there is no truth, there is no probability. Second, happiness is the result of acquired wisdom, which all human beings desire. Thus, to say wisdom cannot be attained is to say that happiness is impossible—an unacceptable conclusion. Third, Augustine takes issue with the idea that the senses cannot be trusted, and he does not agree with his opponents that the mind is entirely dependent on the senses. On the contrary, our senses do seem reliable to a certain extent, and the mind can understand things independently of the senses, so therefore it must be even more reliable than the senses. Finally, Augustine points out that our mental states are beyond doubt. Whatever we may say or not say, we cannot doubt that at this moment we are thinking. We may say that we are being deceived, but this very fact of being deceived proves that we exist. These four reasons support the thesis that certitude is possible.