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Augustine of Hippo:
Father of Christian Psychology

Ellen T. Charry

Classical Christianity is thoroughly psychological. Augustine was the first person to write psychologically by sharing his personal struggle to know, love, and enjoy God. He set up the framework wherein this struggle is the basic issue of human life from which all other struggles arise and into which they resolve. Augustine was the first theologian to articulate the ambiguity of love and the instability of desire. He believed that we are all spiritually ill but can be healed. Among four significant differences between Augustine’s Christian psychology and modern secular psychology, the chief is Augustine’s insight that there is no psychological problem that is not also a spiritual and moral problem. There are four texts in particular in which Augustine thinks as a psychotherapeutic teacher: “On Christian Teaching,” “On Catechizing the Uninstructed,” “On the Trinity,” and the “Confessions.”

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