augustine by Jh87QR


									St. Augustine
  Joseph Fornieri
Life and Legacy
   Augustine lived from 354 A.D. to 430 A.D.
   Roman empire and its fall are the context of
    Augustine‟s political thought.
   Christianity was viewed by many Roman
    intellectuals as the cause of Rome‟s fall.
   Augustine‟s The City of God against the
    Pagans rebutted these accusations.
Life and Legacy - Continued
   The fall of Rome was not due to its neglect of
    imaginary gods, but instead was rooted in its
    moral decadence and lust for power.
   R.W. Dyson, “In drawing upon the language and
    ideas of the pagan philosophical heritage, and
    in scrutinizing those ideas in the light of
    Christian revelation, Augustine has effectively
    fashioned them into a Christian philosophy of
Life and Legacy - Continued
   Augustine‟s Confessions documents his struggle to
    find Christian faith.
       The work brings interiority and introspection to the fore of
        philosophical inquiry.
       Augustine was a lover in love with love, ultimately
        focusing on the ability of individuals to love God and his or
        her fellow human beings.
   Cicero‟s book Hortensius is credited with turning
    Augustine toward the love of the immortality of
       This thought reflected the Stoic school, a school of
        philosophy that deeply influenced the fathers of the
        Catholic Church.
Life and Legacy - Continued
   Stoic teachings that were important to the
    church included:
       The law of nature based on right reason (A
        Christian understanding of the law of nature)
       A lost Golden Age (Fall from the Garden of
       A universal common humanity (Spiritual dignity
        of all human beings created in the image of God)
Life and Legacy - Continued
   Augustine‟s spiritual journey included time spent
    as a Manichaean.
   Manichaean beliefs included:
       The universe is divided into two material forces
        including light (goodness) and darkness (evil).
       The goal of life was to separate these forces.
       Liberation could be achieved by the elite few who
        possessed a secret knowledge or gnosis about how the
        light particles in their souls could be released from the
        dark matter imprisoning their true selves.
       Human beings, given this structure of the universe,
        were not responsible for evil.
Life and Legacy - Continued
   Augustine‟s mature teachings reflect this Manichaean
    legacy including his key teaching about the city of
    man and the city of God.
   Augustine was also influenced by St. Ambrose to
    move away from simple literalism to a more nuanced
    allegorical approach to scripture.
       In matters that are so obscure and far beyond our vision,
        we find in Holy Scripture passages which can be
        interpreted in very different ways without prejudice to the
        faith we have received. In such cases, we should not
        rush headlong and so firmly take our stand on one side
        that, if further progress in the search for truth justly
        undermines the position, we will fall too.
Life and Legacy - Continued
   The death of Augustine‟s concubine and young son
    had a profound impact on Augustine.
   Augustine studied the Neo-Platonists, Plotinus and
    Porphyry, whose teachings included:
       Philosophical life was participation in the divine life and
        served as a path to divinization.
       The One was the sustaining force of the True, the Good,
        and the Beautiful.
       All things are drawn toward the one and the soul‟s moral
        purity is a prerequisite to the ascent toward the one.
       Augustine credited the Neo-Platonists with freeing him
        from Manichaean materialism and his understanding of
        evil as a privation rather than an active force.
Life and Legacy - Continued
   Augustine converted to Catholic Christianity
    around 385-386 A.D.
       “Oh God make me chaste, but not yet.”
       Romans 13:13: “Not reveling and drunkenness,
        not in lust and wantonness, not in quarrels and
        rivalries. Rather, clothe yourselves with the Lord
        Jesus Christ, spend no more thought on nature
        and nature‟s appetites.”
   Divine grace and not human will liberates
    and saves human beings.
Life and Legacy - Continued
   Augustine rejected the Pagan equation of
    evil and ignorance and embraced a Pauline
    understanding that we can know the good
    but reject it for evil unless we are helped by
    God‟s grace.
   Augustine observed human beings take a
    perverse delight in sinning.
Life and Legacy - Continued
   Augustine established a philosophical retreat,
    but abandoned a life of leisure to take up the
    post of Bishop in Hippo where he battled
    external foe and internal heretic.
   Augustine died in 430 A.D. around the same
    time the Vandals were besieging Hippo.
   Augustine‟s writing survived the fall of Roman
    Africa and became an important part of
    Christian and Western civilization.
Augustine’s Theology: The Word,
Creation, Fall, Redemption, and Judgment
   The Incarnation of Jesus Christ is the
    turning point of history for Augustine.
   The Sermon on the Mount and the humble
    service and sacrificial love of Jesus Christ
    revealed human pretensions of glory as
    pale images at best and idolatrous
    perversions at worst of the true glory that
    belongs to God.
Augustine’s Theology: The Word, Creation,
Fall, Redemption, and Judgment - Continued

   The use of the Greek word logos for word in the
    Gospel of John embedded Christ with the rich
    meanings that logos had in Greek culture of
    divine wisdom and cosmic intelligence.
   The term linked the Hellenic and Hebraic
   The love of God or wisdom is the orientation of
    the true philosopher from Augustine‟s
Augustine’s Theology: The Word, Creation,
Fall, Redemption, and Judgment - Continued

   Augustine rejected Tertullian‟s antipathy
    towards philosophy.
       Tertullian, “I believe because it is absurd.”
   Augustine comes closest to the teachings
    of the second century church father Justin
       Martyr believed the seeds of wisdom, the Logos
        Spermatikos, were scattered throughout the
Augustine’s Theology: The Word, Creation,
Fall, Redemption, and Judgment - Continued
   Augustine credits Plato with coming closest among the
    pagan philosophers to the Christian understanding of
      “If Plato, therefore, has declared that the wise man
       imitates, knows and loves this God and is blessed
       through fellowship with him, why should we have to
       examine other philosophers? No school has come
       closer to us than Plato.”
   Natural law teaching of the Stoics played important role
    in Augustine‟s thought as well.
Augustine’s Theology: The Word, Creation,
Fall, Redemption, and Judgment - Continued

   Humanity‟s ability to conform with natural law
    has been impeded by the fall from innocence
    and the Garden of Eden (prelapsarian state) to
    the condition defined by original sin
    (postlapsarian state).
   Human beings are divided by the law of sin.
   Human efforts are necessary to overcome this
    condition, but not sufficient. Only God‟s
    revelation and grace can overcome this fallen
Augustine’s Theology: The Word, Creation,
Fall, Redemption, and Judgment - Continued
   Pride prevented pagan philosophers from accepting
    God‟s incarnation in Jesus Christ.
   The pagan philosophers failed to appreciate the depth
    of human depravity.
   Faith precedes wisdom for Augustine.
      “Lest you believe, you will not understand.”

      Sapienta (wisdom) comes through loving rightly.

      Scientia (knowledge) without faith and love leads to
       vanity and pride.
Augustine’s Theology: The Word, Creation,
Fall, Redemption, and Judgment - Continued
   Tyrannical and philosophical souls are not
    distinguished by differences in intelligence but in
    the orientation of their love.
       Tyrants love themselves.
       Philosophers love God.
   Augustine embraced a linear view of history
    (creatio ex nihilio) instead of a cyclical view of
       Human beings are actors in a drama that is overseen
        by a Creator God who desires to bring about some
        ultimate good.
Augustine’s Theology: The Word, Creation,
Fall, Redemption, and Judgment - Continued
   God created all things good.
   The fall is precipitated by human pride when Adam and
    Eve ate from the tree of knowledge of good and evil.
   Pride is the original sin as Adam and Eve thought they
    could know better than God.
   The fall divided human beings against one another,
    against themselves, and against nature.
   The doctrine of original sin makes the consequences of
    this act apply to all human beings.
Augustine’s Theology: The Word, Creation, Fall,
Redemption, and Judgment - Continued

   Evil resides in the human will according to Augustine,
    and no human efforts can undue the consequences of
    this reality.
   Jesus Christ is the atonement for human depravity.
       Philippians 2:5 – 9: “your attitude should be the same as
        Jesus Christ: Who being, in very nature God, did not
        consider equality with God something to be grasped but
        made himself nothing, taking the very nature of a servant,
        being made in human likeness. And being found in
        appearance as a man, he humbled himself and became
        obedient to death – even death on the cross.”
Augustine’s Theology: The Word, Creation,
Fall, Redemption, and Judgment - Continued
   The redemption of the fallen world will only
    happen with Christ‟s second coming and the
    final judgment of the living and the dead.
   Augustine‟s thought is divided between the
    tensions of the fallen world and the perfection of
    God‟s redemption of this fallen world.
   Peter Brown states, “So the City of God, far
    from being a book about flight from this world, is
    a book whose recurrent theme is „our business
    within this common mortal life‟; it is a book
    about being otherworldly in the world.”
Character and History of the Two
   The City of God is defined by its love of God or
    amour Dei.
       Matthew 22:37: “to love God with all your heart and with all your
        soul with all your mind… and to love your neighbor as yourself.”
   The City of Man is defined by the love of self or
    amour sui.
       When we love ourselves in a selfish manner we choose
        personal desire over faithful love in God.
          Cupiditas – cupidity or greed

          Concupiscentia – concupiscence or disordered appetite
Character and History of the Two
Cities - Continued
   The fall leads us to depraved desires.
   Ordo Amoris requires a hierarchical love with God at
    the apex.
   Augustine‟s should not be misconstrued as self-hatred
    but as a rejection of selfishness.
   Cardinal virtues were expressions of love:
       Temperance – ability to love a thing in its proper measure.
       Fortitude – the ability to hold steadfast to one‟s love.
       Prudence – the ability to direct one‟s love properly.
       Justice – the ability to love God, other and self
Character and History of the Two
Cities - Continued
   Love and happiness are linked in
    Augustine‟s political ethics.
       Like Aristotle, Augustine views happiness as
        objective perfection.
       Slavish desires must be disciplined and
        subordinated to love of God and neighbor.
   Augustine traces the history of the two
    cities from Cain through the tower of Babel.
Character and History of the Two
Cities - Continued
   Augustine embraces the doctrine of
    predestination indicating God has
    foreknowledge of who will be saved and
   The two cities are intermixed.
   Augustine rejected Eusebius‟ vision of
    Christian Empire.
Questions for Reflection
How do the views of both Aristotle and
 Augustine on happiness differ from the
 current belief that happiness consists in the
 satisfaction of subjective desire?
The Two Cities, City of God, Book
XIV, Chapter xxviii
Accordingly, two cities have been formed by two
  loves: the earthly by the love of self, even to the
  contempt of God; the heavenly by the love of
  God, even to the contempt of self. The former,
  in a word, glories in itself, the latter in the Lord.
  For the one seeks glory from men but the
  greatest glory of other is God, the witness of
  conscience. The one lift up its head in its own
  glory; the other says to its God.
Augustine’s Critique of Roman Glory
and the Libido Dominandi
   Rome is a case study of the earthly city
    infected with pride.
   Augustine demythologizes Roman history
    and critiques its heroes and rejects its
       Cluacina goddess of sewers is a great example
        of what he rejects.
Augustine’s Critique of Roman Glory
and the Libido Dominandi - Continued
   Romans loved glory.
       This glory they most ardently loved. For its sake they
        chose to live and for its sake they did not hesitate to
        die. They suppressed all other desires in their
        boundless desire for this one thing. In short, since
        they held it shameful for their native land to be in
        servitude, and glorious for it to rule and command,
        their first passion to which they devoted all their
        energy was to maintain their independence; the
        second was to win dominion.
Augustine’s Critique of Roman Glory
and the Libido Dominandi - Continued
   Regulus is an admirable Pagan hero but
    his virtue is imperfect.
   Roman suicides were a prideful
    unwillingness to persist in the face of defeat
    and suffering.
   Rome was undone by its lust for power and
    domination (libido dominandi).
Augustine’s Critique of Roman Glory
and the Libido Dominandi - Continued
   Herbert Deane interprets Augustine:
       Men were created equals, and God alone was the
        superior and the ruler of mankind. But the soul of fallen
        man, in “a reach of arrogance utterly intolerable,”
        perversely seeks to ape God by aspiring “to lord it even
        over those who are by nature its equals – that is, its fellow
        men”…. This lust for domination over other men is
        associated with the love of glory, honor, and fame, which
        men “with vain elation and pomp of arrogance seek to
        achieve by the subjection of others.” Like avarice, the
        desire to exercise power and domination is not confined to
        a few men, although it is particularly strong in the
        ambitious and the arrogant; “there is hardly any one who
        is free from the love of rule, and craves not human glory.
Augustine’s Critique of Roman Glory
and the Libido Dominandi - Continued
   Augustine views states as being nothing less
    than band of robbers.
   Augustine focused on the unrealizable nature of
    the ideal as described by Plato, Aristotle, and
   Cicero provided Augustine with the logical
    device necessary to deny the existence of the
    Roman Republic because of the lack of true
    justice necessary for its foundation.
   The city‟s love its true foundation.
Questions for Reflection
To what extent does James Madison‟s view
 of human nature correspond with
Questions for Reflection
What does Augustine‟s diagnosis of the libido
 dominandi mean for politics? Is the lust for
 power intrinsic or can it be cured through
 proper social conditioning? Can we
 appease those who are driven by its
 tyrannical longings?
Kingdoms as Dens of Robber Barons,
City of God, Book IV, Chapter iv
Justice being taken away, then, what are
  kingdoms but great robberies? For what are
  robberies themselves but little kingdoms…
  Indeed, that was an apt and true reply which
  was given to Alexander the Great by a pirate
  who been seized. For when that king had
  asked the man what he meant by keeping
  hostile possession of the sea, he answered with
  bold pride, “What you mean by seizing the
  whole earth; but because I do it with a petty
  ship, I am called a robber, while you who does it
  with a great fleet are styled emperor.”
The Role of the State
   Freedom and equality were destroyed by
    the fall.
   Slavery is a punishment for violating the
    natural law.
   All authorities including wicked authorities
    need to be obeyed.
   Things can always be worse so chaos and
    anarchy are to be avoided.
The Role of the State - Continued
   Christians should serve the state to achieve
    what degree of justice, order, and peace that is
   Augustine all living beings possessed an
    intrinsic and natural yearning for peace.
   The peace of the family was important for the
    peace of society.
   Peace can be achieved through love or fear.
The Role of the State - Continued
   The Romans established Pax Romana
    through fear and conquest.
   The temporal peace between the city of
    God and man is known as the Peace of
   Christians are obliged to contribute to this
The Role of the State - Continued
   Augustine understands war to be a consequence of
    man‟s fallen state, but he argues for justice in war:
       A great deal depends on the reasons why humans
        undertake wars and on the authority to begin a war. The
        natural order of the universe which seeks peace among
        humans must allow the king the power to enter into a war
        if he thinks it necessary. That same natural order
        commands that the soldiers should then perform their
        duty, protecting the peace and safety of the political
        community. When war is undertaken in accord with the
        will of God (the God who wishes to rebuke, humble, and
        crush malicious human beings), it must be just to wage it.
The Role of the State - Continued
   Christian emperors may exist, but they will
    still be forced to make tragic decisions
    where evils will be competing.
   Peace should be the goal of such a
Augustine and American
Americans have always considered themselves an exceptional
  people called to a higher purpose. Our Puritan forefathers
  described their new colony in Massachusetts Bay as “city
  upon the hill” (Mathew 5:14) – a nation set apart. Borrowing
  from Virgil, the founders likewise proclaimed that they had
  established a novus ordo seclorum – a new order for the
  ages (eternity). Indeed, this motto, along with “In God we
  trust” and annuit coeptis (“God smiles upon us”), is stamped
  on our currency. Consonant with this exceptionalist strain in
  American history, Ronald Reagan referred to the United
  States as “a shining city upon the hill.” Indeed, throughout
  their history, Americans have understood their national
  destiny in terms of a mission – or a special calling – to serve
  as an exemplar or model of democracy to the world.
Questions for Reflection
Is American exceptionalism any different
  from Rome‟s founding myth? Does it
  inevitably lead to national arrogance and
  imperialism? Did Abraham Lincoln
  introduce an important qualification to this
  belief when he referred to Americans as
  God‟s “almost chosen people.” What would
  Augustine think of American
A People Are Defined in Terms of the Object of Their
Love, From City of God, Book XIX, Chapter xxiii-xxiv

But if we discard the definition of a people, and,
  assuming another, say that a people is an
  assemblage of reasonable beings bound together by
  a common agreement as to the objects of their love,
  then, in order to discover the character of any people,
  we have only to observe what they love. Yet
  whatever it loves, if only it is an assemblage of
  reasonable beings and not of beasts, and is bound
  together by an agreement as to the objects of love, it
  is reasonably called a people; and it will be a superior
  people in proportion as it is bound together by higher
  interests, inferior in proportion as it is bound together
  by lower.
Questions for Reflection
How does Augustine‟s Christian realism differ
 from the political realism of Machiavelli and
Questions for Reflection
Does Augustine‟s teaching on slavery as a
 punishment for sin and his related teaching
 on obedience to tyrants lead to a political
 quietism that passively resigns us to the
 evils of this world rather than confronting
The Peace of Babylon, City of God,
Book XIX, Chapter xxvi
Miserable , therefore is the people which is
  alienated from God. Yet even this people has a
  peace of its own which is not to be lightly
  esteemed, though indeed, it shall not in the end
  enjoy it, because it makes no good use of it
  before the end. But it is our interest that it enjoy
  this peace meanwhile in this life; for as long as
  the two cities are commingled, we also enjoy
  the peace of Babylon.
“Mirror of a Christian Prince,” City of
God, Book V, Chapter xxiv
But we say that they are happy if they rule justly; if they are not lifted up amid
   the praises of those who pay them sublime honors, and the
   obsequiousness of those who salute them with an excessive humility, but
   remember that they are men; they make their power the handmaid of His
   majesty by using it for the greatest possible extension of His worship; if
   they fear, love, worship God; if more than their own they love that kingdom
   in which they are not afraid to have partners; if they are slow to punish ,
   ready to pardon; if they apply that punishment as necessary to government
   and defense of the republic, and not in order to gratify their own enmity; if
   they grant pardon, not that iniquity may go unpunished, but with the hope
   that the transgressor may amend his ways; if they compensate with the
   lenity of mercy and the liberality of benevolence for whatever severity they
   may be compelled to decree; if their luxury is as much restrained as it
   might have been unrestrained; if they prefer to govern depraved desires
   rather than any nation whatever; and if they do all these things, not through
   ardent desire of empty glory, but through love of eternal felicity, not
   neglecting to offer ot the true God, who is their God, for their sins, the
   sacrifices of humility, contrition, and prayer.
Questions for Reflection
What are the necessary qualities that define
 a Christian emperor for Augustine? How
 do Augustine and Machiavelli differ in their
 understanding of these qualities?
Reinhold Niebuhr: A 20th-Century Augustinian
on the Ironies of American History

To What extent does Niebuhr‟s diagnosis of
 the ironies of American history apply to
 current American foreign policy?
   Augustine emphasizes the limitations of politics.
   Efforts to achieve perfection in this life our
   Pseudo or ersatz religions such as Nazism and
    Communism reveal the destiny of human
    desires for utopia.
   Liberalism is similarly fated in the eyes of
    Augustine‟s understanding of human efforts to
    master their own lives without God‟s grace.

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