My name is Gary Augustine. I’ve been a pastor for the last 24 years in Illinois, 45 miles due west of Chicago. This website elsewhere includes a number of recordings of sermons on various subjects and bible texts, but my real purpose here is to explore the controversial subjects being thrown around social platforms from the whole perspective of biblical thought rather than simply making moral conclusions based upon isolated biblical statements. For those who recoil from any discussion of the Bible, I point out that Western Culture has been heavily influenced by it for better or worse. If we hope to heal any of the current trouble between those who believe it and those who don’t, it will be worth it for all sides to consider where misunderstandings of what the Bible has really said can be corrected or at least put in proper light.
I became a Christ follower in 1973 and that designation immediately took over virtually every thought and motivation. I desired to live out faith as perfectly as I could taking every word of the Bible literally seeking to conform all behavior to its standards. It didn’t take long to realize that all my best efforts produced less than I hoped. I came to learn that behavior is more often a result of beliefs and attitudes than of simple acts of the will. What was need was not more will- power in “living,” but a new way of “seeing.” I began to look not at what the Bible was asking me “to do,” but what it was asking me “to become.” A seemingly simple adjustment, but once again, easier said than done. Everything I read was being screened through a filter of how I saw the world, how I saw myself, and what I believed would make me happy. Most of the time I didn’t even know I was seeing with those glasses. I have discovered since, this is true of most people no matter their belief system, especially those affected by western thought.
I attended a Bible School from 1974 through 1977 and went to seminary from 1989-1994. Between those years I got married to Pamela (whom I met at the Bible School) and proceeded to have 4 children––three boys and a girl. I supported our family by entering business in sales, first in advertising, then in the building maintenance industry, then in a tax and insurance business. During the 12 years of business, I experienced feast or famine and, generally speaking, a regular serving of frustration. Pamela stayed home with the children, and when the time came, home schooled them––three through 8th grade and one through high school. Afterwards she would go back to school to become a nurse and then later a professor of nursing at a community college. Though business was a struggle (somewhat like Joseph in Egypt, I had half good years and half bad ones!), I identified myself as a father more than as a businessman which is certainly at least partly responsible for my uneven success, but in the long run, the results have been good. I coached highly competitive baseball with my boys and helped my daughter develop her skills in fiction writing and as I reach my 67th year of life, Pamela and I have been married now for 41 years. My children are all in their 30s, independent, successful, and continue to follow the faith that has been central to our family. We have eleven grandchildren who are all geniuses from my point of view and so beautiful I often wonder if they are actually related to me. There has been much bumping of curbs going down the road, but it was precisely those bumps that often knocked the glasses off and got me looking at things differently.
I have studied the Bible for 45 years both in English and in its original languages (though I cannot be called a scholar of biblical languages). I have read nearly 2000 books on biblical and spiritual theology as well as philosophy, historical thought, political science, classical literature and culture with the goal of seeing Biblical thought as one would study geography from a satellite in space. I wanted to see the whole landscape, not just a hill here or a forest there. I wanted to see how the rivers and mountains were essentially part of and dependent on each other. I wanted to get know not just that we should go down a particular road, but why that road and not this one, where it led, what difficulties one would encounter on various roads and gain a thorough cost/benefit analysis. I wanted to discover the traumas and upheavals that created the topography and what if anything was the consequence and ultimately what if anything needed to be done to rectify things. And lastly I wanted to know what God’s role was in it all and what was mine. What is His responsibility? What is my responsibility? Why this division of labor and not that one? And what benefits accrue to me (and the rest of us) for going along with it.
I can’t say, I have been able to thoroughly answer all these questions, but I believe I’ve made real progress, partly by entering into a conversation with the bible as well as with others who have hungered to answer tough questions, and by sharing what I have learned. This blog is a continuation of that conversation, a continuation of my sharing and ultimately a continuation of my learning.