Augustine is the man everyone wants on his team. He is the quintessential pastor-scholar whose works have been studied for over a millennia and a half. He is one of the few figures that both Catholics and Protestants study with equal fervor—an intensity rivaled only by the passionate debates concerning which side he fits best.
But, as Bray says in the preface to this introductory work, "For whatever reason, scholars have concentrated on his philosophy, his theology, and increasingly his biblical interpretation, but have had relatively little to say about his spiritual development and devotional teaching.” Most of this debate and study is focused on areas of Augustine’s thought other than his personal and pastoral piety. So, in Augustine on the Christian Life, Bray focuses on exploring the thought and practice of Augustine as a believer.
Following a brief biography in chapter one, Bray explores Augustine’s life as a believer. Beginning with his conversion, the reader is walked through Augustine’s devotional life, his family life, and his choice of lifestyle. Bray is able to provide a fair and honorable representation of the bishop, while still recognizing there are parts of his life that puzzle modern readers. For example, though he had a life-long mistress, with whom he fathered a son, Augustine embraced a life of celibacy. From here Bray devotes a chapter each to Augustine as a Pastor and a Teacher, with a final chapter on his enduring legacy.
Many introductions to Augustine’s life and thought have already been published. But Bray has created a resource that humanizes this rightly-honored church father. Augustine was brilliant and his writing voluminous. He possessed a depth of thought that is intimidating to most, even those highly educated in philosophy, history, theology, and the Greco-Roman world. Despite his depth, he was also a pastor who stepped into a pulpit every Sunday to preach — to form both the mind and the will — the faith to his North African congregation. Bray captures this personal and pastoral side through his introduction that proves to be accessible and edifying.