Date of Award


Document Type

Dissertation - Restricted

Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy (PhD)



First Advisor

Joseph T. Lienhard

Second Advisor

Wanda Cizewski

Third Advisor

Kenneth Hagen

Fourth Advisor

Donald Keefe

Fifth Advisor

William S. Kurz


The thesis of this dissertation is that the letters of Augustine of Hippo contain a pastoral theology that is relevant to contemporary pastoral theology and practice. This pastoral theology is founded upon Augustine's theology of baptism, if that baptismal theology is understood as encompassing Augustine's theology of love, grace, and humility. In fact, it is a theology of conversion. The method of procedure employed in this study is: an investigation of Augustine's letters for their pastoral content, a brief study of three contemporary pastoral theologians, and an attempt to show how Augustine's pastoral theology relates to contemporary pastoral theology. Much contemporary pastoral theology may well be over-psychologized. Thomas Oden's study, Care of Souls in the Classic Tradition, indicates that, while the pastoral writers of the nineteenth century cited writers representative of the classic tradition, many twentieth century writers do not use Freud, Jung, and others instead. Such information leads one to wonder whether contemporary pastoral writers are not missing essentials of the pastoral tradition when they ignore the classical tradition. Augustine was a pastor whose pastoral theology developed as he faced the controversies of his day. Examining the historical background of the two major issues of Augustine's day: Donatism and Pelagianism, it is shown that Augustine's pastoral theology developed in conflict with and in reaction to these groups. The theology of baptism in relation to ecclesiology is discussed. It also includes a discussion of Augustine's understanding of the powerlessness of Law and the primacy of love. Moral behavior is, for Augustine, always a matter of grace. It is a response to the love of God present in one's life. Letter 140 most adequately expresses Augustine's pastoral theology. Other letters presented illustrate how Augustine uses the principles of letter 140 and applies them to concrete pastoral situations. Without doubt, Augustine expected more of those who lived the monastic life and those who served the community as ordained ministers. He expected them to be people of integrity; he expected a harmony between their persons and their actions. Yet, he was not patronizing to others. He simply took his role as leader of the community seriously and expected those in a similar position to do likewise. Conversion is an underlying theme of the entire study. Augustine the pastor is also the Augustine of the Confessions. Augustine's own experience of grace and conversion gave him a sense of personal powerlessness and an insight into the grace of God. Sin, grace, and conversion gave him self-knowledge. The love and humility which he found in the crucified Christ were the major themes of his ministry because they came from his own experience of conversion. These were the very virtues which he incorporated into his own personality and made him successful in his ministry.



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