Essay Example on Prominent Religion Personalities

Date:  2021-06-23 20:42:19
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Anthony the Anchorite

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Anthony the Anchorite is regarded as one of the pioneering individuals in the practice of monasticism which involves seclusion and total devotion to God. He is also known as Anthony the Great and Saint Anthony of Egypt in different religious circles. As his last name suggests, Anthony was born in Egypt in the year 251. Anthony lived for over 105 years and died in the year 356 in Dayr Mari Antonios (Saint Anthony of Egypt, n.d).

Anthony was born to a well-off family. However, after the death of his parents when he was 18, he decided to devote his life to God. Anthony gave off his wealth to the poor and began life as a hermit. Since he was the only male child, he was the one who had inherited his parents property. However, he ensured that his sister had completed her education before sending her to live in a Coventry (Saint Anthony of Egypt, n.d).

Anthonys ascetic life began with his decision to go the Wadi El Natrun desert. His trip and the subsequent stay was characterized by multiple temptations. At one point he isolated himself in a tomb where the temptations turned to torture from the devil. Despite his ordeals, Anthony emerged unscathed to the surprise of many (Gregg, 1980).

Subsequently, Anthony made the foray to Dayr al-Maymum where his battle against the devil influence continued. Anthonys life is a proper description of how those who have a total desire to serve God through and God alone (through monasticism) should live. His life was characterized by abstinence from worldly and material things as well as bodily desires (Gregg, 1980; Saint Anthony of Egypt, n.d).

Anthonys life is not a shrouded in total isolation for he realized that once he had reached his desired level of spirituality, it was his Christian duty to spread the word of God and to seek out followers of monasticism actively. For instance, in 305, he left his isolation to give instructions to his fellow monks who wished to pursue a true relationship with God. While in Dayr Mari Antonios, he welcomed individuals who had an interest in Christianity to listen to his teachings (Gregg, 1980).

One of the key moments in the life of Anthony was his desire for martyrdom. In the year 311, Christians were being persecuted in Alexandria. Anthony went there and began preaching the word of God in open defiance of the rules of the authorities. However, despite his efforts, Anthony was not murdered for his faith (Saint Anthony of Egypt, n.d).

Anthony made many contributions to the Christian religion. For instance, he preached against Arianism which was a type of Christianity that made separated God from Jesus. Furthermore, Anthony inspired many individuals to try and attain the same level of spiritual connection and devotion that he had through the practice of asceticism. Anthony underwent horrible treatment, but through Gods guidance, he led a spiritually fruitful life. Also, he redefined the practice of asceticism.

Augustine the Great

Augustine the Great was born in the year 354 in modern day Algeria. He lived for 76 years before dying in the year 430. Augustine is considered to be one of the greatest thinkers in the history of Christian scholars. Furthermore, Augustine was very skilled in prose and literary works. Some of his famous writings include City of God and Confessions (ODonnell, 2017).

Augustine was born in a Roman community in Tagaste. His parents were prominent individuals in their society, and this allowed them to give him education from reputable institutions in Madauros and Carthage. Even though Augustine had envisioned himself in a career of teaching or politics, he found himself becoming a clergyman.

The life of Augustine was characterized by continued conflicts between him and other forms of Christianity. For instance, he grew weary of his initial religion of, Manichaeism and began to oppose it. Subsequently, he teamed up with Bishop Aurelius to counter the spread of Donatism in Carthage. The conflict ended with a three-day debate which saw Augustine gain the upper hand (Pollmann, 2014; ODonnell, 2017).

The works and teachings of Augustine the Great are greatly influenced by Platonic teachings which formed the basis of his understanding of Christianity. Also, his teachings started off as a combination of orthodox Christianity and intellectualism. This allowed Augustine to offer his audience with tasteful and exciting sermons. His transformation from the then contemporary teachings of Christianity to his brand of Christianity is perhaps the most redefining moment in Augustines life (Pollmann, 2014; ODonnell, 2017).

Even though Augustine displayed a distaste for Manichaeism, it played a significant role in shaping his belief system. Augustine spent a significant part of his youth isolated from the rest of society as he lived with believers of Manichaeism. Augustines views were altered when he encountered Saint Ambrose who was advocating for Orthodox Christianity. While in Milan, Augustine also adopted a life of celibacy and subsequent isolation. It was during this period that he decided to become a clergyman and to return to Africa (ODonnell, 2017).

Aside from his oral sessions, Augustines contribution to Christianity is also seen in his literal works. Confession is a narrative of his rise and fall and subsequent redemption from sin. It acts as a personal testimony and a guiding principle for all those who flounder in their pursuit of God. In both City of God and Confession, Augustine provides a holistic description of love that provides a distinction between love for enjoyment and love for use. He also guides Christians on the types of love that they should pursue (ODonnell, 2017). Other contributions include the development of Christian philosophy through subjects such as eternal truths, Creation Ex Nihilo, divine illumination, ontological arguments and addressing the existence of evil among many others (ODonnell, 2017). Augustine explained through eternal truths that Gods existence is beyond human understanding. Creation ex nihilo argues that God created the world out of nothing. Ontological arguments by Augustine portray God as a priori and existing without mistake or question. Under divine illumination, Augustine showed how human understanding is largely reliant on God (ODonnell, 2017).

Pope Saint Leo I

Leo the Great was known officially to the Catholic Church as Pope Saint Leo I. He was born in the year 400 in Tuscany. He lived until the age of 61, dying in the year 461. Leo was pope in an era where the Roman Empire was on a decline, and at the same time, Christianity was divided along theological lines. His actions during his papacy were directed towards unifying the church, removing dissent, and ending heresy (Saint Leo, 2016).

In the year 449, Pope Leo received word from Flavian of Constantinople that Eutyches of Constantinople was aiding in the spread of monophysitism. This was a type of Christian teaching that described Jesus as having a human form that had been overcome by a spiritual stature. Leo rebuked Eutyches for his teachings and instead asked him to preach that Jesus is both human and supernatural at the same time. Pope Leo also consolidated his power over the Catholic Church. He achieved that by citing the authority handed down to him by the disciple Peter (Benedict, 2010; Saint Leo, 2016).

At one time, Leo conflicted with Hilary of Arles who sought to challenge the legitimacy of Leos authority over the Gallican Church. Leo then looked for assistance from Valentinian the Third who recognized Leos power based on the duty bestowed upon him by Peter and made sure that bishops who defied Rome would be arrested. Aside from that, Pope Leo also sought to increase the legitimacy and power of the Council of Chalcedon in deciding religious teachings (Benedict, 2010; Saint Leo, 2016).

The teaching of Pope Leo as seen from his books are concerned with the rejection of monophysitism, interpretation of faith and the procedure of liturgy (Saint Leo, 2016). For instance, he condemned bishops in Sicily who failed to adhere to the prescribed procedures during baptism. Leo also instructed Patriarch Dioscorus of Alexandria to follow the teachings of the Apostles Peter and Mark only. Leo was protective of the Roman practices in the Catholic Church.

When Manichaeans began living in Rome and spreading heresy, Leo ordered them to recant their false teachings, burned their books, and sent them away (Saint Leo, 2016). His protective nature is also seen in the hundreds of letters that he sent to churches across Europe and Africa instructing them to adhere to specific teachings that came from Rome. Another significant moment in the life of Pope Leo was when he was selected as part of an envoy sent by Valentinian III to persuade Attila to spare Rome from attack (Saint Leo, 2016).

Pope Leo affirmed the churchs commitment to the teachings of Peter. He also spread the influence of the Roman Catholic Church and asserted its authority. His teachings defined the understanding of Jesus as a supernatural being and as a man.

Saint Dominic De Guzman

Saint Dominic De Guzman was born around the year 1770 in Castille. He was born to a respectable family where his father was the towns warden. Dominic began his education life through teachings from his uncle who was a priest. Later on, he moved to Palencia where he rose ranks to become the superiors assistant (Sebastian, 2016).

During his first mission abroad (which was to Denmark), Dominic came across the Albigenians. These individuals were firm believers of Manichaean teachings. Dominics encounter with the Albigenians is significant in his life because they gave him his first challenge. Furthermore, Dominic would spend most of his life trying to counter that form of Gnosticism that was rapidly spreading. Manichaean teachings disputed the existence of heaven and had no moral code. In 1206, Dominic began his version of evangelism that was characterized by utmost humility and living life in austerity. It was Dominics belief that through austerity, those who followed Manichaean teachings could be saved. However, it was challenging because many times he would be attacked and jeered by those who he was preaching to (Doniger, 1999; Sebastian, 2016).

When the holy war broke out against the Albigenians in 1208, following the murder of Peter of Castelnau, Dominic refused to take up arms and instead continued to preach. Even before the war, Dominic had already begun setting up communities that were devoted to praying, studying, preaching, and teaching about religion. These communities were made of men who would live in complete austerity with utter devotion to God in an almost similar manner to monks albeit mobile. Before 1216, Dominics communities had to follow the teachings and practices of Saint Augustine (Doniger, 1999; Sebastian, 2016).

After the death of Pope Innocent III, the Dominican Order was sanctioned as a branch of the church. Dominic went on to set up housing in main cities such as Paris and Bologna. These houses were to be used to teach people theology. This was a strategic move that would ensure that Dominicans had a significant role in religious education. His recruits went on to spread the Dominican Order across Europe and Asia and eventually the Americas (Sebastian, 2016).

The Dominican Order also popularized the use of the rosary among Catholic Church followers. The fame of the rosary was also fueled through its use by soldiers during the crusade war on the advice of Dominic (Doniger, 1999).

Dominic would spend the rest of his life travelling, preaching and setting up institutions dedicated to the Dominican practice. For instance, in 1218-1219, he traveled over 3,300 miles on foot from Rome to Spain and back. The Dominican Order held its first meeting in 1220 in the town...

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