The nexus that Augustine declares of the Church with spirituality, as an outgrowth of spirituality, and as the dynamic resolution of paradox that spirituality may entail is difficult to overstate. One need not get into details of the vexed doctrine of predestination to see that, by the time Augustine articulated this view of spirituality in A.D. 401, the tightly rationalized structures of Christian thought on the subject could be succinctly stated, and more than this, stated in the form of an invocation, because they were completely familiar to those who, like the good bishop of Hippo, had the responsibility for maintaining the coherence and doctrinal integrity of the growing religion.
In short, the doctrine articulated in the Confessions in A.D. 401, like the doctrines articulated by the modern Church, did not originate with Augustine. He was merely its fifth-century instrument -- as it turns out its authoritative and definitive instrument at a time when Catholic orthodoxy was at an important juncture of history. The Church was both absorbing and making its final transition away from Greco-Roman and Jewish religious traditions and establishing a distinctive religious identity and position in the culture as a whole as the culture of Imperial Rome was edging toward decline. But the Church was under attack, too, from within because of multiple heresy controversies and from without, as the Roman Empire and sundry church councils adjusted