Thinking About Augustine: Duane W.H. Arnold, PhD

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30 Responses

  1. sarahmorgan says:

    I love this article, so inspiring for the current times — thanks so much for writing it.

  2. Duane Arnold says:


    Many thanks. The current situation just seems overwhelming… at least it does for me.

  3. prodinov says:

    Duane, you saved my daughters life, well kinda. The teachers in our county did a call in sick protest late last night shutting down the schools for the entire week (that had in person school). First assignment for a 7th grader, if you could pick one person to have dinner with who would it be, etc. I quickly gave her your article and that quickly narrowed down to Dr. Arnold or Augustine. She was delighted that she could image having a sit down based on your article. Well done…your writings are always a treasure. (Along w/ Michael’s)

  4. Duane Arnold says:


    What a wonderful story! It brought some real sunshine to my day. Many thanks!

  5. Em says:

    Yes, i see such a different dynamic today – such a contrast to post WW2.
    One of my daughters sent me an Email asking for prayer for one of her son’s family. It seems a Seattle policeman has moved in next door (at least 30 miles from Seattle) as the Seattle police have been informed that antifa is following them home from their precincts with the intent of harming their families. Since this man is staying in a 5th wheel parked very close to their home, her son worries that antifa will mistake his home for the policeman’s.
    Up here there are some people who will no longer speak to my daughter because she’s known to be both conservative and Christian.
    In the second half of the 20th century the looting and arson we are seeing would have gotten the perps shot on the spot.

    Dr. Duane’s post here echoes what i was reading last night. The kingdom we Christians serve is NOT, at present, an earthly kingdom. Our lives should bless this evil age, but notonform or reform it.

    2 times in less than 12 hours, same message? Dear God, it isn’t easy. Praying for focus and strength.

  6. Duane Arnold says:


    I found this in my reading. It seems to suit the times…

    “We can be Christians today in only two ways, through prayer and in doing justice among human beings”
    – Dietrich Bonhoeffer, ‘Letters and Papers from Prison’

  7. Em says:

    “Doing justice…” There is a whole lot to think on packed in those two words… .

  8. Duane Arnold says:



  9. Jean says:

    Hi Duane,

    I am under the impression, but would like your appraisal of the following two historical assertions that I understand to be true during the later years of Augustine:

    First, would it be fair to say that due to the pressure on Rome from the invading barbarians, Western Christianity was more or less preserved in North Africa?

    Second, had the Greek language so died out in the West that the Greek speaking church in the East and the Western Latin church were developing independent streams of Christianity even as far back as Augustine. For example, I understand that due to language barriers, Augustine and John Chrysostom did not have a professional relationship, even though I assume each was well known to the other. But I understand that Augustine did not read Greek.

    Can you shed any light on these topics?

  10. Duane Arnold says:


    Yes, North Africa was a Christian stronghold, but in the fifth and sixth century you also had large Christian communities in Gaul, Britain and Ireland.

    The northern reaches of Italy, around Ravenna, was actually more attached to Constantinople than to Rome… and remained such for some centuries.

    Augustine was never fluent in Greek (he said that he started too late!) but he could read Greek with the assistance of a dictionary. I’m not sure that Augustine ever mentioned Chrysostom by name, but I could be wrong. They certainly would have disagreed on Free Will and Original Sin! It’s really the beginning of the theological divide…

  11. keith says:

    so good! so rich! love the thought that we must understand our limitations

  12. Duane Arnold says:


    Many thanks…

  13. I’m not sure I understand Augustine’s rejection of astronomy, even though society placed importance on it. He retained the cultural focus on public oratory. It seemed as though all references to astronomy where conflated with divination.

  14. Duane Arnold says:


    You’re pretty close to it. A large part of the Manichees system of belief was involved with astronomy. When he rejected the Manichees for Neoplatonism and then for Christianity, he seems to have abandoned interest in astronomy…

  15. Duane Arnold says:


    You just have to send me down rabbit holes!😁 I found this as a result:

  16. Thanks Duane.
    Im excited to check that out. Manichean concepts are something like Persian fire worshipping. It’s something forgotten and does not pertain to my life. Maybe I was very wrong if Augustine was in the midst of a personal rejection of a religion that previously influenced him.

    On this I am confident: An initial glance at Manichean cosmology shows a very different understanding of the Mazzoroth handed down to the Greeks, Romans or Temple era Jews..

  17. Duane Arnold says:


    I think you’ll find it of interest. I did! Thanks for pointing me in that direction…

  18. Duane. More than interesting. I need to rethink Augustine because my memory of his primary book is clearly faulty. Specifically, I want to understand how his view on celestial Signs evolved.

    I believe the Signs are real and the passing of Solstice/Equainox is a matter of personal reflection. I’ve never encountered another Christian to whom both applied. An exception is the somewhat recent online fringe element, that attempts to predict the Tribulation using the Mazzoroth.

  19. Duane Arnold says:


    Glad you liked it, I enjoyed it as well.

  20. WenatcheeTheHatchet says:

    Augustine dropping astronomy would line up with specialist scholarship that pointed out that Augustine abandoned finishing De Musica after his conversion. I finished the incomplete treatise, which was confined to rhythm, earlier this year.

    For a dedicated monograph on divination as political speech in ancient near eastern empires … which I admit is completely a tangent

    astronomy clearly was a practice that was connected to divination in a variety of contexts.

  21. WenatcheeTheHatchet says:

    there’s also a free PDF version at the, btw.

  22. Duane Arnold says:


    Good stuff, many thanks!

  23. Em says:

    Saw the “WTH” Dr. Duane… Gave me a start until i saw who you were answering….
    This has been a strange couple of days – too quiet around the PHXP – praying all are okay

  24. Duane Arnold says:


    No need to worry… it’s all good.

  25. Em says:

    Thanks, Dr. Duane… Michael probably needs some down time… But all the posters have gone sikent, too
    Maybe we all need down time. 😏

  26. Duane Arnold says:


    “Booksellers” on Prime… you will not be disappointed…

  27. Mike E. says:

    Duane..wasn’t Augustine the primary proponent of “Just War Theory?” Interesting looking at the conditions of his time you described. You can see how perhaps his present circumstances informed his thoughts on this.

  28. Duane Arnold says:

    Mike E.

    Augustine used the phrase, “just war”, but did not really delineate the theory. Thomas Aquinas began to outline what constituted a just war and the school of Salamanca systematized the theory. Nevertheless, I think Augustine was informed by what he saw happening around him in the secular realm. At one point, he was willing to engage the secular arm in his conflict with the Donatists (a schismatic group), but he later regretted doing this…

  29. Dread says:

    I revisited this article over the weekend. It was really well done and under appreciated. It beckoned a comment but our recent repartee prevented me. That was wrong. This is real fine work. You are an able teacher and writer. This provoked further reading in my study.

    I wish you every blessing.

  30. Duane Arnold says:


    Many thanks and much appreciated….

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