Friday, 8 May 2015

Jeremy Bergstrom: Augustine on the Judgment of Conscience and the Glory of Man

This paper seeks to explore the relationship between the conscience and discernment, or judgment. Augustine's own application of conscience seems to be primarily directed at the discernment of one's own motives, in accordance with the testimony of Christ the interior teacher, and the Holy Ghost shedding abroad within our hearts. This discernment recognizes the truthfulness of one's own life, that is, whether or not it is established and continuing in love, and also learns to discern, in a hesitant way, the truthfulness of the lives of others.
My discussion will analyze Augustine's use of Paul's Corinthian correspondence, especially 1 Corinthians 2.11 (For what person knows a man's thoughts except the spirit of the man which is in him? So also no one comprehends the thoughts of God except the Spirit of God), and 2 Corinthians 1.12 (For our boast (gloria) is this, the testimony of our conscience that we have behaved in the world, and still more toward you, with holiness and godly sincerity, not by earthly wisdom but by the grace of God). I will argue, through extensive use of Augustine's corpus, that he believes the peace of a good conscience enables not only discernment of the truth, according to the will of God, but the confidence and hope to realize the truth for oneself, a sentiment which in turn is based upon his reading of 1 Corinthians 2.15 (The spiritual man judges all things, but is himself to be judged by no one).

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