Augustine as Mentor, Book Review

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A BOOK REVIEW OF AUGUSTINE AS MENTOR: A MODEL FOR PREPARING SPIRITUAL LEADERS BY EDWARD L. SMITHER JOY MORROW CHURCH HISTORY 520 SEPTEMBER 22, 2013 2 Edward L. Smither’s book on Augustine as Mentor brings to light the importance and relevance of mentoring not only in the early church, but for the modern-day Christian church as well. Smither’s years of study left a legacy in his assessment of this Augustinian inheritance and its value for leaders and those who instruct on leadership. As he states in the Preface, “[T]this study is concerned with mentoring spiritual leaders, that is, shepherding those who shepherd the Lord’s flock.” [1] His primary concern is for the pastors who are in isolation as they have no one to be accountable. Mentoring is perhaps a lost art and Smither’s has found a rare piece in Augustine’s example. Additionally, Dr. Smither states this volume is not a critique of Augustine’s theology only of his practical application of his model for mentoring pastors [2]. Dr. Smither presents what he refers to as “the mentoring matrix” or a mosaic if you will [3]. Here he names the mentors (Cyprian, Pachomius, Basil, and Ambrose) of the third and fourth century and the patterns utilized by them which were perhaps the more influential between them. Of first note, are letters written to the churches and the church leaders of that time. As traveling took leadership away from the people for extended periods, it was common to write letters of encouragement, instruction, discipline, and exhortation by the bishops to the churches of which they governed [4]. The best example of this is the Pauline letters of the New Testament. Secondly, councils gave strength to the leadership in aiding decision processes as well as dealing with heresy in the church. Lastly, sound teaching was a proven element in the mentoring process of the third and fourth
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