Saint Augustine wasn't always a saint. He led a turbulent and licentious youth, and belonged to the fourth century equivalent of a street gang. At the age of 29, he met a young man, Ambrose, whose intelligence, kindness and strong faith fascinated and puzzled Augustine. Then at the age of thirty-two, under Ambrose's tutelage, Augustine converted to Christianity and went on to be one of the most influential Christians throughout history.
Written in 400 AD, less than a decade after his ordination to the priesthood, a mere four years after becoming bishop of Hippo, he wrote Confessions in his forties. He was a man looking back and looking forward, an apt simile perhaps for the role Augustine played in the history of the Church, that of a bridge between two distinct eras.
Confessions traces a pilgrimage of unbounded grace, passionately wrestling with the spiritual questions that have engaged thoughtful minds since time began. It is Augustine's utter candor about his own sin and his struggle to reconcile his mind and soul to God's holy character that made Confessions the classic that it has been for fifteen centuries and compelling to readers still today.
The Reformation was a long struggle of ideas between the established Catholic Church and the questioning of faith brought about by the Renaissance in Western Europe. Started by Martin Luther in 1517, religious dissidence spread across Europe throughout the sixteenth century, causing wars, migration and disunity. By 1648 Henry VIII’s desire for divorce led him to break with the Catholic Church in Rome and form the Church of England.
The Reformation: History in an Hour is a clear and comprehensive look at this long and complex period of religious change. It explains the major causes of the Reformation and the differences between Protestants and Catholics. It will help you understand the significance of the Reformation in European history in just one hour.
Know your stuff: Read a concise history of the Protestant Reformation in just one hour.