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Outward SignsThe Powerlessness of External Things in Augustine's Thought$
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Phillip Cary

Print publication date: 2008

Print ISBN-13: 9780195336498

Published to Oxford Scholarship Online: May 2008

DOI: 10.1093/acprof:oso/9780195336498.001.0001

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 Sacred Signs of Inner Unity

 Sacred Signs of Inner Unity

Augustine and Medieval Sacramental Theology

(p.155) 6 Sacred Signs of Inner Unity
Outward Signs

Phillip Cary (Contributor Webpage)

Oxford University Press

Medieval theologians like Lombard and Aquinas depart from Augustine when they conceive of sacraments as external signs that not only signify inner grace but also confer it. For Augustine sacraments are not efficacious means of grace but sacred signs outwardly marking the church's inner unity, which is the true means of grace. The power of this inner community of souls brought together by love can be seen in the role the prospect of baptism and its humility play during the conversion narrative of Confessions 8, in the union of Augustine and his mother in the vision at Ostia in Confessions 9, and in Augustine's own practice as a preacher of sermons.

Keywords:   Augustine, baptism, conversion, humility, sermons, sacraments, signs, vision, grace, unity

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