Justo L. Gonzalez
InterVarsity, 2016. 175pp.
Any study of Augustine is helpful to the church today, and especially to the pastor who is looking to grow in his own understanding of his faith, church history, and doctrine. “Save Paul and the other New Testament writers, no other Christ writer or thinker has left such a profound footprint on the life and thought of the church as has St. Augustine.” Gonzalez is quick to give credit where credit is due in his understanding of the importance of Augustine on Western Christianity. Specifically, the author credits the Latino/a culture and theology in regard to Western Christianity. The book was originally published in 2013 in Spanish because Gonzalez was seeking to better understand Augustine based on his mestizaje or mestizo background.
The term mestizaje (or mestizo) means “to belong to two realities and at the same time not to belong to either one.” In the case of Augustine, the book explores the two cultures that give a framework to his life. “The home in which Augustine was reared, with a Roman father and a mother who was of Berber origin, or at least Punic, was clearly mestizo.” Gonzalez walks the reader through Augustine’s life from his path to faith to his writings that are more familiar to the church today. The author does give an exhaustive biography of the life of Augustine, but certainly gives an ample introduction in to the life and work of the famous historical church figure.
Benefit for Pastoral Ministry
As with most biographical works that pertain to church history, theologians, missionaries, and the like I have found that one of the greatest benefits for ministry has been encouragement. To take the opportunity to read about someone from another time period, who struggled through some of the same things that we now see today, helps me. Pastors are constantly seeking new material and sources for illustrations and in my experience one of the best places to find that is in biographical, or church history work. The Mestizo Augustine is no exception.
Another helpful aspect of the book is the opportunity to read debates and discussion that predate all of us, seeing how certain doctrines were defended or refuted. I am not endorsing any particular doctrine or statements from Augustine or his acquaintances, but it is helpful to see how Augustine defended the faith against false teachings, some of which are still around today.
Gonzelez’ explanation of the mestizo terminology and culture are helpful. He provides insight into an entire people group who belong to both their historical Hispanic culture and to their present American culture, but never fully belonging in either. This was an eye-opening moment for me early in the book. I found The Mestizo Augustine to be informative, brief, and fairly easy to read. If you are looking for a book to add substance to your reading and thought life it is helpful.
Essential — Recommended — Helpful — Pass It By
 González, Justo L. The Mestizo Augustine: A Theologian Between Two Cultures. IVP Academic, an imprint of InterVarsity Press, 2016.
 Ibid. 18.
This Lifeway Pastors review was written by Chance Dodd.