Among Melbourne Mint chief executive officer Peter August’s seven commitments to God was to study and learn more about his faith so he can put forth a good defence of it.
Speaking at the Wellington Eucharistic Convention on March 5 at St Patrick’s College in Silverstream, Mr August spoke about his early life as a “smart proud arrogant, selfish and angry with world” 18-year-old who had “feather, brick, truck” warnings from God and yet wilfully ignored those warnings.
“Feather is a light warning. It doesn’t hurt you. It’s a gentle warning,” he explained. “Brick is powerful warning really hurts you. And truck, well . . .”
Mr August said he had a particularly bad dream where he was lying in a ditch and the day was a very dark grey. He heard a loud voice saying, “condemned”.
“I knew it was God who has pronounced judgement. I felt a profound sense of loss of his presence. I knew what he pronounced was just, I was very remorseful but too late. I knew I would always be apart from God and that this would never ever change. I woke up. Very frightened. Glimpse of timeless eternity, but not that I want to experience,” said Mr August.
And yet he said, this did not change him. But the next few years saw his life spiralling downwards.
“I became very fearful. Fearfulness became depression, depression became despair. I felt a magnetic pull to the edge of abyss. I managed to summon enough courage to shout, ‘God help me’,” he said.
Fifteen years later, Mr August read Sr Faustina’s diary and saw that his nightmare was the torture of hell. On the positive side, he said, “Jesus, I trust in you” resonated in him.
He made seven commitments to the Lord which included always remaining in a state of grace and praying a lot. He also promised to defend the faith.
At a school reunion, Mr August ran into a friend who challenged him (Mr August) to a debate on faith.
“A lot of people believe that faith is belief without evidence. Or that God is
mythical or made-up like ancient gods,” said Mr August.
So, he said, they had to define faith and God.
“Faith is trusting what I had good reason to be true,” he said. “God was a little
more complicated. . . .”
Mr August also framed the debate in such a way that he and his friend had to
convince a mythical third friend who is an agnostic to their way of thinking. They both had to write down their arguments and focus only on the topic.
Mr August said he sourced the best Christian philosophers and debaters in
the world like Dr William Lane Craig, Dr John Lennox, Dr Scott Hahn, Dr Jordan Peterson.
“These guys are Oxford scholars, Harvard-educated. I mean they are at the top of their field. And here is a secret, it was free. I didn’t have to pay for any of it. And so I got an Oxford education on Christian philosophy and Christian apologetics,” he said.
In the end, Mr August’s conclusions turned his friend from totally atheist to an open-minded agnostic.
“That’s a big shift because at least, his mind is opened. So on that, at least we can pray for him and pray for others like him,” he said.