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Augustine and Tillich

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Doubt frequently goes hand in hand with a firm faith. In addition to being a strong accompanying factor to faith, doubt also had a profound impact on the personal and religious development of Augustine. Tillich strongly emphasizes connections between doubt, faith, and the core of every being. Lining up with Tillich's ideas, doubt plays a huge role in Augustine's religious journey.

Faith is a structured act of the whole person; what binds the whole person together (Tillich). It envelops the entire person. A person must give his or her whole self over to faith; it leaves room for nothing else. Faith gives a person their center, and is at the core of his or her personality. Without faith, a person cannot be whole, cannot be oneself. With faith, a person is locked in on one single thing that takes over his or her entire being and becomes absolutely essential to one's person. Unfortunately, when one's faith is challenged, it could be devastating to a person. This is where doubt has its role. Doubt is both an obstacle to one's faith, as well as a sort of self-defense mechanism. It is seen as a courageous act, because if one has doubt, one must question what he or she stands for (Tillich). One must accept that what he or she has centered his or her life around may not be true. It is a terrifying thing to doubt one's own faith because in challenging the things one believes, a person may find fault with his or her faith. However, doubt also has its benefits. By accepting that what one is committed to may not be valid, one may not be quite as surprised to find that what one's being is centered upon is false. If a person is wrong and without doubt, the person will lose his or herself because the person will lose his or her core of being. If a person has doubt, that person will be safe from losing him or herself. Though one will be shaken, he or she will remain whole and intact. Doubt is truly an important and necessary aspect of faith.

In the life of Augustine, doubt was absolutely an essential part of his faith. Doubt was the driving force in nearly every transition in his life. One of the first times that doubt made an impact on Augustine was when he read Cicero's Hortensius. Augustine was searching for satisfaction at that point in his life. He knew that what he had was not enough; he doubted what he centered his life around at that time. When he read Cicero, it "gave [him] a new purpose and ambition" (Augustine, 41). Augustine was excited by the wisdom Cicero presented. Now that his life centered on wisdom, he doubted that as well. His world did not fall apart when he chose to fall in with the Manichees. Again, he doubted his faith. He accepted the Manichees' ideas, but "[he] did not swallow them with much appetite" (Augustine, 43). Doubt in this faith prompted him again to question the Manichee discipline. He sought out Faustus, a bishop of the Manichees.

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