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Augustine as Mentor: A Model for Preparing Spiritual Leaders Paperback – January 1, 2009

4.2 out of 5 stars 16 customer reviews

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Editorial Reviews

About the Author

Edward L. Smither is assistant professor of Church History and Intercultural Studies at Liberty Baptist Theological Seminary in Lynchburg, Virginia. He previously taught in North Africa and France and holds a Ph.D. in Historical Theology from the University of Wales-Lampeter. Smither and his wife have three children.
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Product Details

  • Paperback: 272 pages
  • Publisher: B&H Academic (January 1, 2009)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0805447075
  • ISBN-13: 978-0805447071
  • Product Dimensions: 6 x 0.7 x 9 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 13.6 ounces (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 4.2 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (16 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #905,406 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Customer Reviews

Top Customer Reviews

Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
Overall, I enjoyed the book. This is the sort of book that one must be patient with. It really picks up steam as it goes along even as the author continues to hammer some of the same points throughout the text regarding the mentoring techniques of different predecessors of Augustine and, finally, Augustine. I must say that toward the end of the book I was not at all surprised to learn that Augustine mentored his acolyte clerics and monks through church councils, letter writing, and published books or treatises.

Also, the author spends 124 pages laying a framework, or in his words, a "matrix" for the mentoring of Augustine. Then, in the last 136 pages, he shows how Augustine's process was similar in many respects to those that came before him. So, the title is a little misleading. I expected more about Augustine. I really view the first part of the book more as filler and did not find it very engaging either.

As for the remaining portion, which is roughly half, the book more than makes up for the rather dry first part. I was able to learn much about the different communities which Augustine founded and how he molded others' thinking and lives. The book shows him to be very concerned about good Christian doctrine and it reveals his care for those who have wandered from the faith. It also shows how Augustine worked to resolve differences in the church when the Donatists wanted to be judgmental toward other Christians. In fact, the book relates several accounts that were insightful and even amusing.

This is a good book to read and it stands out because it brings Augustine to life. It does deal with theology and philosophy and church politics; after all, those realities were the context of his life. But the book is remarkable in that it focuses on his character and what we can learn from such a man.
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I purchased this book for a Graduate writing assignment. However, it is now a treasured part of my personal library. The author presents Augustine in a way that makes you want to know more about him, as a leader, as a Christian, as a friend, and as a perpetual knowledge-seeker.
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Great book for leaders or anyone interested in Christian maturity.

The man known to many as Saint Augustine represents one of the great puzzles of history. Why did this one-time man of the world forsake everything to become a monk? Even the casual student of history knows that he had a spiritual conversion and that he was a great scholar whose writings endure. But these things do little to explain his humble return to Africa, his decision to start a monastery, or the longevity and effectiveness of his ministry. Dr. Smither points--as an explanation of this enigma--to Augustine's desire to impact the lives of others while garnering for himself a sort of incubator of Christian maturity. His church leadership, cultural and historical impact, and his great contribution to theology can be better understood when we view Augustine as Mentor.
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Format: Paperback
I purchased this book as a part of a graduate course, and found it to be very well documented, and worthwhile. Often remembered for his thoughts and writings, Augustine of Hippo has influenced virtually every theologian and philosopher of the last fifteen hundred years. But his ministry methods stand out in a time when many were seeking solitude, Augustine was always in the company of people, his friends, other clergy, he was often visiting disciples and writing mentoring letters to those he knew. This book brings that out for us to use today.
Dr. Smither does put in quite a bit of useful detail, that will be useful if you are putting together a mentoring group, or just looking for some examples. But there are a lot of examples, so its not a quick read.
If there is a downside, the epilogue is very short. In my opinion this could have been a chapter unto itself. Genuine mentoring in the church is greatly needed today, so this is a great resource.
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Format: Paperback
Contemporary Evangelicalism possesses a large vocabulary to describe discipleship. Besides the already meantioned, "discipleship", words like mentoring and phrases like "coming along-side" and "pouring into" have found their way into day-to-day usage. They have become so common that they meaning and intent is no longer questioned. I fear that, soon, these words - which point to a crucial aspect of Christianity - will have lost meaning.

Whether the words which we use to describe the process of making disciples become cliche, the reality to which they point is still very much alive and well. Models and ideas abound. Sometimes the best practice is to look into the past to the wisdom and practice of early Christians. Edward Smither has done that for us. As Assistant Professor of Church History and Intercultural Studies at Liberty Baptist Theological Seminary he has written Augustine as Mentor in order to display an ancient model of mentoring practiced by one of the church's foremost pastors and theologians: Augustine of Hippo.

This book examines Augustine's pastoral theology. He demonstrates the importance Augustine placed on mentoring and discipleship for church leaders. However, as Smither's demonstrates, his practice of mentoring was not unique to him. Augustine learned from those who mentored him.

Smither's begins with Christ and his disciples. Surveying the Scriptures he finds patterns and practices of Jesus and the apostles. Moving into the early church Smithers shows that the bishops and pastors followed these same patterns of Jesus in their context. Augustine's practice of mentoring was a heritage of faith passed down from Jesus and the apostles.
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