A GIANT and a child’s song: The Conversion of Augustine

A GIANT and a child’s song

The Conversion of Augustine

            I know the conversion of a theologian from the Middle Ages doesn’t seem… interesting, but stick with me here and see how elegant God can be. What I learned about Augustine’s conversion is that God relentlessly pursues His children. Augustine had a ferocious intellectual appetite. He was obviously searching for answers to life’s big questions. However, every group or “-ism” he explored could not fully satisfy his need to know. He bounced around from intellectualism to skepticism to spiritualism.[1] His extreme range went from magic to monastic.[2] In today’s speech, I believe we would say that Augustine was “in his head too much.” What I mean by that is, he seemed to lead with his mind more than his heart. He had the tendency to side with his intellect over his faith. It is a tricky juggling act and an all too common snare for many intelligent people.

However, no matter where Augustine found himself, there was someone to guide him back to God. Whether it be Ambrose or Simplicianus, God had an agent ready to point Augustine to the truth of His Word.[3] When you step back and see the whole picture, it is obvious that God had a hand at every turn.

Ultimately, it was the sing-song turn of phrase from a child that wooed him over to faith in Christ.[4] Interesting that of all the giants of intelligentsia and academia that tried to influence Augustine, it was a child and her simple rhyme that finally pierced Augustine’s heart. After all, pride and vanity are man’s greatest obstacle. As he heard the child’s refrain of “pick up and read,” he just happened to have the Bible next to him open to the letters of Paul (Romans 13:13-14).[5] What this a coincidence? Of course, as anyone who has had any experience with the Lord can attest, there are no coincidences. This was a divine appointment. One wonders if this was a person at all, or actually an angel? Regardless, Ferguson states, “It was as if the Lord had spoken directly to him.”[6] This whole scenario reminds me of another letter from Paul, the one to his church in Corinth. Paul states, “But God chose the foolish things of the world to shame the wise; God chose the weak things of the world to shame the strong” (1 Cor. 1:27). The year was 386, and Augustine would never be the same. This simple moment would have profound implications and send ripples of change through Augustine’s life leading to his being known as the “Architect of the Middle Ages.”[7]


[1] Everett Ferguson, Church History Volume 1: From Christ to the Pre-Reformation, 2nd ed. (Grand Rapids: Zondervan, 2013), 269.

[2] Ibid., 271.

[3] Ibid., 270.

[4] Ibid.

[5] Ibid.

[6] Ibid.

[7] Ibid., 268.


Ferguson, Everett. Church History Volume 1: From Christ to the Pre-Reformation. 2 ed. Grand Rapids: Zondervan, 2013.

Submitted to Liberty University Baptist Theological Seminary in partial fulfillment of the requirements for the completion of the course CCHI 520: History of Christianity.


1 Comment

  1. Denise says:

    Yes! Love this one!

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