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On The City of God

St. Augustine was one of the most, if not the foremost theologians of all time.  He was the Bishop of Hippo, a Roman province, in what is now modern Algeria.  In 410 CE the great city of Rome was pillaged by the vicious German Visigoths.  This was a great blow to the Empire and the beginning of the fall of the Western Empire. The Christian religion had been the state religion for some thirty years.  The Roman pagans blamed the Christian religion for the fall of Rome. Augustine was charged by his friend and Christian martyr Marcellinus with the task of refuting such claims. Thus the City of God (defined as a heavenly city, as written in the Psalms.)  “Along with St. Paul, he was the early most important formulator of Church doctrine and one of the first to combine Greek philosophy with Christian theology” (Time:100 Ideas That Changed the World p. 33).

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Well educated in both Greek Platonic philosophy and Christian theology he penned the City of God as the refutation against the pagans’ charges.  Although best known for his Confessions, The City of God was the work with which he was most proud.  This massive work (well over 1,000 pages) was written between the years 412 and 427 CE.

Following is one of many of Augustine’s refutations:  “From this earthly city issue the enemies against whom the City of God must be defended.  Some of them, it is true, abjure their worldy error and become worthy members in God’s City.  But many others, alas, break out in blazing hatred against it, and are utterly ungrateful, notwithstanding its Redeemer’s spiritual gifts.  For, they would no longer have a voice against it, had not its sanctuaries given them asylum as they fled before the invaders swords, and made it possible for them to save that life of which they are so proud” (Bourke 40).

Here, Augustine is saying that those who rejected the one true God’s grace for worship of the Roman pagan gods, were some saved by His grace.  This is but one of many of Augustine’s refutations that pagan religion brought the pillage of Rome.

Later in his work Augustine discusses at length deeper issues of theology along with an amazing and extensive, almost mathematical investigation into the lineage back to the origins of the City of God and the City of Man.

Final Note:  Augustine spoke of the City of God as the citizens of that heavenly city “but live here as alien sojourners” (Time 2).

Sources:

Lacayo, Richard ed./writer  Time: 100 Ideas that Changed the World

Bourke, Vernon J. ed.  The City of God   (abridged edition) Image Books Doubleday

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