Augustinian Studies

Volume 53, Issue 1, 2022

Philip Lindia
Pages 69-90

The Fear of God as Pedagogy: Augustine’s Theological Framework for Eschatological Cataplexis as a Catechetical Tool

This article demonstrates the intersection of Augustine’s pedagogy and theology through a case study of his threats of divine judgment (eschatological cataplexis) in catechesis. Augustine’s use of this rhetorical device resists recent scholarship that has sought to ameliorate Augustine’s vision of hell. Augustine’s cataplexis in the catechumenate elucidates the practical side of his mature theological reflections on hellfire and eternal damnation: why catechists should utilize fear as an act of love, how fear cannot cause salvation in and of itself, and how in the faithful, general fear is refined to shed servile fear, that avoids the bad, in favor of chaste fear, that seeks the good. Augustine’s view of love and teaching prove to be intimately intertwined with his vision of fear and an eternal hell.