St. Augustine: Christianity in History

The great early Christian thinker, St. Augustine of Hippo (354-430), had interesting views on the role of Christianity in history. He thought that Christianity was somewhat separate from the world. This was different from many of the ancient religious, which believed that their religion dealt explicitly with the world around them.

In his famous book, The City Of God,  St. Augustine presented an interesting idea. He said that there were two cities, one of God, and one of man. The city of man existed in history, and was perishable, carnal, and filled with war and strife. The city of God was eternal, spiritual, and peaceful. He said that the people of the city of man worship themselves, and ascribe all of their achievements to their own glory. The inhabitants of the city of God recognize God as the source of all of their good fortune and good qualities. The contrast is love of self, which exists in the city of man, and love of God, which exists in the city of God. Originally, all men belonged to the city of God, but that changed with the fall of Adam. Now  all men start as citizens of the city of man, and must work their way up to be citizens of the city of God

Augustine said that Christians are citizens of the city of God, but are forced to live as pilgrims in the city of man. The city of man exists in history, and the city of God exists in eternity. The city of God does not exist in history, and is separate from it. Augustine said that neither the city of God nor the city of man will triumph in history, but the city of God will triumph in eternity. Christianity, therefore, does not have victory in history, because it will have a much greater victory in eternity. This idea is different from that of other religions, particularly Islam and Judaism, which both seem to believe that their god (Allah and Jehovah, respectively) will directly intervene in history for the victory of his chosen people.

The idea that Christianity will not win in history is somewhat unique. Many other religions, such as Judaism and Islam, believe that they will have victory over the unbelievers. Augustine believed that is was not necessary to have victory in history, because a much more glorious victory awaited the citizens of the city of God in eternity.

Advertisements

2 thoughts on “St. Augustine: Christianity in History

  1. Pingback: Political Ambition in Early Christian Literature | supererling

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s