Augustine’s voice was prominent in the development of the church’s theology concerning the validity of the sacraments and the nature of the church itself. The Donatist controversy had raised questions concerning the efficacy of the Lord’s Supper when administered by clergymen who had lapsed in their faith. The Donatists insisted that those who received the right of baptism or the sacrament of communion from a faulted priest were not truly baptized or cleansed through communion. But Augustine argued insistently that the efficacy of the sacraments does not depend upon the human agent who administers them, but rather upon Jesus Christ who instituted them in the first place. Likewise, the holiness of the church is not maintained by the level of virtue among its members, but by the holiness of the one they claim to follow. Quoting the apostle Paul, “It is because of him that you are in Christ Jesus, who has become for us wisdom from God—that is, our righteousness, holiness, and redemption” (1 Corinthians 1:30).
There may seem at first a great gap between Augustine’s world and our own. Perhaps in the end we are not that far apart. Regardless, there is thankfully one who effectively bridges the far greater gap between creation and its Creator."
Need more Augustine?
Check out some quotes from his Confessions of a Sinner.