Foundation for Reformed Theology, 1982-2012 
John Calvin
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Great Are You, O Lord!
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I first read Augustine's Confessions forty years ago while I was a student at Davidson College. I read it again while I was a student at Union Theological Seminary in Virginia. I read it again while I was a student at The University of Chicago. It has made a deep and abiding impression upon me.

This book is only secondarily a confession of sin. Primarily, it is a confession praise. Indeed, the entire work is one, extended prayer to God. What a privilege it is to read and to absorb it!

When I was first asked to prepare a personal statement of faith for presbytery, I put a sentence from the Confessions at the head of the page:

      You have made us for yourself, and our hearts are restless
      until they find their rest in you.

Years later, when I was pastor of Grace Covenant Presbyterian Church in Richmond, Virginia, I frequently began prayers with these words:

      Great are you, O LORD, and greatly to be praised,
            and your greatness is unsearchable! 

I knew, of course, that they were from Psalm 145:3. What I had forgotten, until I read the Confessions again while I was there, was that it was Augustine who had taught these words to me, in the very first sentence of his prayer.

Now, as executive director of the Foundation for Reformed Theology, it is my privilege to be reading the Confessions yet again. What a feast! I find myself led and compelled to share some of it with you, and I shall begin with the first paragraph, including both of the quotations above.

I now have six translations of the Confessions in my study. A friend of mine told me that she has three translations, and when we compared our collections, there was no overlap! I suspect there may be more available. Surely this bears witness to its ongoing importance. This time through, I am reading from a series by New City Press, The Works of Saint Augustine: A Translation for the 21st Century

Augustine's Confessions, I, 1, 1


Great are you, O Lord, and exceedingly worthy of praise; your power is immense, and your wisdom beyond reckoning. And so we humans, who are a due part of your creation, long to praise you--we who carry our mortality about with us, carry the evidence of our sin and with it the proof that you thwart the proud. Yet these humans, due part of your creation as they are, still do long to praise you. You arouse us so that praising you may bring us joy, because you have made us and drawn us to yourself, and our heart is unquiet until it rests in you.


Augustine, The Confessions, introduction, translation and notes by Maria Boulding, in The Works of St. Augustine: A Translation for the 21st Century, Part I--Books, volume 1 (New York: New City Press, 1997), Book I, Chapter 1, paragraph 1, p. 39.


Dr. James C. Goodloe IV Grace and Peace,

Dr. James C. Goodloe IV, Executive Director
Foundation for Reformed Theology
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(804) 678-8352

Celebrating Our First Thirty Years, 1982-2012


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