The version I have is translated by Edmund Hill, who has a footnote here which I find extremely to the point: “It is worth noting that Augustine takes it for granted that to write on the Trinity was to interpret the Scriptures. There was no question of dogmatic writers and bible commentators belonging to different species.” I couldn’t agree more. It is a fun quote, is it not?”
Archive for December, 2007
Tags: Augustine, Augustine of Hippo, Christianity, church, God, Lane Keister, orthodoxy, Presbyterian, Protestantism, Religion, St. Augustine
Tags: Augustine, Augustine of Hippo, Christianity, church, God, leithart, orthodoxy, Protestantism, Religion, Roman Catholicism, St. Augustine
Augustine On Spirit and Letter
“How are the “doers of the law justified” (Rom 2)? Augustine explains that “they are not otherwise doers of the law, unless they be justified, so that justification does not subsequently accrue to them as doers of the law, but justification precedes them as doers of the law” (26.45). The phrase “being justified” simply means “being made righteous” by Him, of course, who justifies the ungodly man, that he may become a godly one instead (26.45). He does, however, recognize the possibility that “justified” here is used in a declarative sense: “They shall be deemed, or reckoned as just, as it is predicated of a certain man in the Gospel,” “But he, willing to justify himself,” “meaning that he wished to be thought and accounted just” (26.45).”
Tags: Augustine, Augustine of Hippo, Christianity, church, God, orthodoxy, Protestantism, Religion, Roman Catholicism, St. Augustine
TBNN has learned of a scandal going on within the Vatican. Although no official announcement has yet been made, our sources tell us that Pope Benedict has converted to Christianity. How could this happen? How could the leader of the Roman Catholic Faith convert to another religion? The Pope’s journey is interesting and educating for us all. Several months ago, the Vatican began encouraging all Catholics to read great Catholic theologians. The thought was that this would increase the people’s faith in the work of Rome. Possible authors included Thomas Aquinas, Johann Eck, Karl Rahner, and Mel Gibson.
In the midst of all this, one thing occurred which no one could predict. The Pope himself began to read Augustine. The Pope apparently did not realize that both Catholics and Protestants claim him as one of their great theologians. The Pontiff reportedly started by reading “Confessions.” One source told us that he couldn’t put the book down and was late to a mass because of it.
Protestants have never claimed that Augustine’s theology was purely biblical. He made some mistakes along the way. However, he also greatly affected Martin Luther, John Calvin, and other Reformers for the good. His stress on the sovereignty of God could be heard throughout the turmoil of the 1500’s. We at TBNN assume that Pope Benedict did not know that Augustine had such impact upon Luther, etc. We don’t think Luther has yet been declared a favorite son of the Vatican.
Pope Benedict’s journey through Augustine was completed when he tackled “On the Trinity.” The Pope reportedly struggled a great deal with this one because the Virgin Mother does not play an important role in this text. In fact, she is not mentioned as a significant part of the God-head at all. She is not even mentioned as Co-Redemptrix.
This is when things got out of hand. Due to the influence of Augustine, Pope Benedict began to read the bible. He learned about the grace and sufficiency of Christ. Furthermore, he couldn’t find any mention of the immaculate conception, the assumption of Mary, transubstantiation, extreme unction, purgatory, or even a Pope. He couldn’t even find anything about those funky, red Cardinal outfits.
After finishing the books of Genesis, John, and Romans, the Pope experienced what can only be called a “dark night of the soul” that lasted for three days. He neither ate nor drank. He remained in his quarters praying and singing.
What happened next is difficult to believe, but has been verified by three different sources. The Pope came out of his room after the third night with a big smile on his face. He addressed the Cardinals in normal, everyday clothing (khakis and a Polo shirt), and told them that after reading Augustine and the bible, he had become a Christian.
It is difficult to determine with clarity what occurred after that. The Vatican is being extremely secretive about it. We do know that there was a large argument within the body of Cardinals about it. Some were excited while others were aghast. The Pope himself seemed to be filled with joy.
Pope Benedict has scheduled a public speech in front of St. Peter’s Basilica this coming Friday afternoon. We do not know what he will say, but TBNN has heard rumors about the title of the address. It will be called, “I read Augustine, and now I don’t get the Mass.”
Tags: Anglican, anglicanism, Augustine, Augustine of Hippo, Christianity, church, God, Religion, St. Augustine
Augustine of Hippo on the Incarnation « Prydain
Augustine of Hippo on the Incarnation
Filed under: The Fathers and others on the Incarnation — Will @ 9:18 am
This first quote is a repost from Advent 2004–a short but meaningful excerpt from a sermon by Augustine of Hippo:
He by whom all things were made was made one of all things. The Son of God by the Father without a mother became the Son of man by a mother without a father. The Word Who is God before all time became flesh at the appointed time. The maker of the sun was made under the sun. He Who fills the world lays in a manger, great in the form of God but tiny in the form of a servant; this was in such a way that neither was His greatness diminished by His tininess, nor was His tininess overcome by His greatness. (St. Augustine, Sermon 187)
Here is another quote from Augustine–this one from De Trinitate, chap.2:
For perhaps our meaning will be more plainly unfolded, if we ask in what manner God sent His Son. He commanded that He should come, and He, complying with the commandment, came. Did He then request, or did He only suggest? But whichever of these it was, certainly it was done by a word, and the Word of God is the Son of God Himself. Wherefore, since the Father sent Him by a word, His being sent was the work of both the Father and His Word; therefore the same Son was sent by the Father and the Son, because the Son Himself is the Word of the Father. For who would embrace so impious an opinion as to think the Father to have uttered a word in time, in order that the eternal Son might thereby be sent and might appear in the flesh in the fullness of time? But assuredly it was in that Word of God itself which was in the beginning with God and was God, namely, in the wisdom itself of God, apart from time, at what time that wisdom must needs appear in the flesh. Therefore, since without any commencement of time, the Word was in the beginning, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God, it was in the Word itself without any time, at what time the Word was to be made flesh and dwell among us. And when this fullness of time had come, “God sent His Son, made of a woman,” that is, made in time, that the Incarnate Word might appear to men; while it was in that Word Himself, apart from time, at what time this was to be done; for the order of times is in the eternal wisdom of God without time.
“From a sermon by Augustine of Hippo (354-430), concerning the final advent of Jesus Christ to judge the living and the dead:
The first coming of Christ the Lord, God’s Son and our God, was in obscurity; the second will be in sight of the whole world. When he came in obscurity no one recognized him but his own servants; when he comes openly he will be known by both good people and bad. When he came in obscurity it was to be judged; when he comes openly it will be to judge. He was silent at his trial, as the prophet foretold: “He was like a sheep led to the slaughter, like a lamb before his shearers. He did not open his mouth.” But, “Our God will come openly; our God will come and not keep silence.” Silent when accused, he will not be silent as judge. And he is not silent now. By no means; when people of today recognize his voice and despise him, Scripture assures us he will not be silent…
But if he always gave sentence now, there would be nothing left for the Day of Judgment. That is why much is kept for that day; but in order to put fear of God into those whose cases are deferred, that they might be converted, some judgments are made here and now. Yet it is clear that God takes no pleasure in condemning. His desire is to save, and he bears patiently with evil people in order to make them good. Still, we have the Apostle’s warning, “The wrath of God will be revealed from heaven against all ungodliness and God will reward each one according to his deeds”…Do you despise him and think his judgment a matter of no account because he is good to you, because he is long-suffering and bears with you patiently, because he delays the day of reckoning and does not destroy you out of hand? “Do you not know that the patience of God is meant to lead you to repentance?”
And so what is the interplay between the two cities in the arena of community? Because when we say community we really mean politics, sociology, and law, and these are all subjects prone to the greatest confusion and subtlety, we need to be mindful to catch his thought. Many today are prone to define all things in terms of Community (Thomists, neo-Thomists, postmodernists, communitarians, communists, socialicrats). All speech, psychology, philosophy, and even truth itself is up for sacrifice at the altar of Community and should be given for its good accordingly.
Since it is said that communities create goods, or at least the good cannot be known apart from a given community, or possibly even what the good is, is an effect of the psychology of a given community, there can be nothing so important. So they say. The difference between this and the City of God being, that in the City of God the basis of Community is first the Truth and second the Good and that until the True and the Good are known there is no possibility of the existence of fulfilling and edifying Community.
In the City of God the Truth must be held in order to know the good or evil of any given community and to find meaning in the existence of community itself. Thus God Himself, or more specifically the Law of God, is the previously existing source of the existence of Community and precedes it both in time and in causation. In short, all communities are not created equal.
Knowing this creates for us the Aristotelian dilemma. When so many of today’s infra-theological heroes have focused their civics on Aristotelian and Thomistic foundations (Haurwaus, R. George, Macintyre, Weigel, Hittinger), and so culturally autonomous methods of framing the questions of the good and Community around the supposed good of Community in and of itself apart from the knowledge of God, do we have any need, any duty, to return the question to the framework that we seem to find in the scriptures themselves and in the teaching of the historical Church visa vie Augustine? Should we even give such a hearing in the halls of power? Certainly not if the City of man holds sway, because it does not have in mind the things of God, nor can it.
The premise that Community is a good, and a natural good, and an end in itself as a source of human flourishing, does nothing to advance itself beyond the fact that all communities are not good, many arm themselves against the true purpose of nature and fellowship, and many are aggressively organized against human flourishing. This being so, Community however it might be defined or explained can neither be the source nor the definition of the true or the good, but is the very thing that the true and the good define and create. The ultimate source and end of all things is found in God alone.
“City of God, Chapter 17 — WHAT PRODUCES PEACE, AND WHAT DISCORD, BETWEEN THE HEAVENLY AND EARTHLY CITIES.”
Augustine first describes the particular status of the parties, this being a distinction necessary to framing their relationship to any law. This is also necessary because though contrary to most modern thought on this, the motivation of the individual actor is crucial to the moral quality of the act in traditional Christian thought. In other words, who is acting and what their highest intent is in the act are necessary facts for any legal analysis.
“But the families which do not live by faith seek their peace in the earthly advantages of this life; while the families which live by faith look for those eternal blessings which are promised, and use as pilgrims such advantages of time and of earth as do not fascinate and divert them from God, but rather aid them to endure with greater ease, and to keep down the number of those burdens of the corruptible body which weigh upon the soul.”
That is to say in Augustinian verbiage, that the faithless desire things as an end in themselves while the faithful desire them only instrumentally, or as a means to a higher end, that being the Love of God and the Glory of Christ.
“Thus the things necessary for this mortal life are used by both kinds of men and families alike, but each has its own peculiar and widely different aim in using them. The earthly city, which does not live by faith, seeks an earthly peace, and the end it proposes, in the well-ordered concord of civic obedience and rule, is the combination of men’s wills to attain the things which are helpful to this life. The heavenly city, or rather the part of it which sojourns on earth and lives by faith, makes use of this peace only because it must, until this mortal condition which necessitates it shall pass away.”
The purpose or motivation of those outside of Christ is always less than the highest good, and thus the reason for Law and the order it brings is merely personal peace in this life. Egoistically speaking, Augustine is agreeing that the non-Christian has as an intent only selfishness, and thus though they may receive the Laws of God and may have points of identity with Christian thought on how a Civil state should be governed, having a different status, being outside of the grace of God, and having a different intent, their own selfish pleasure and well being, in every good law they ordain, in truth they break the Law; but this is ordained by God so that there will be some semblance of peace on the Earth during this time when evil has not yet been extinguished. They use the same Law, but to a different end.
This next line is very important to understanding Augustine especially as a precursor to all who come after him.
“Consequently, so long as it lives like a captive and a stranger in the earthly city, though it has already received the promise of redemption, and the gift of the Spirit as the earnest of it, it makes no scruple to obey the laws of the earthly city, whereby the things necessary for the maintenance of this mortal life are administered; and thus, as this life is common to both cities, so there is a harmony between them in regard to what belongs to it….”
In other words, they live by the same laws.
“This heavenly city, then, while it sojourns on earth, calls citizens out of all nations, and gathers together a society of pilgrims of all languages, not scrupling about diversities in the manners, laws, and institutions whereby earthly peace is secured and maintained, but recognizing that, however various these are, they all tend to one and the same end of earthly peace.”
“It therefore is so far from rescinding and abolishing these diversities, that it even preserves and adopts them, so long only as no hindrance to the worship of the one supreme and true God is thus introduced. Even the heavenly city, therefore, while in its state of pilgrimage, avails itself of the peace of earth, and, so far as it can without injuring faith and godliness, desires and maintains a common agreement among men regarding the acquisition of the necessaries of life, and makes this earthly peace bear upon the peace of heaven; for this alone can be truly called and esteemed the peace of the reasonable creatures, consisting as it does in the perfectly ordered and harmonious enjoyment of God and of one another in God.”
“When we shall have reached that peace, this mortal life shall give place to one that is eternal, and our body shall be no more this animal body which by its corruption weighs down the soul, but a spiritual body feeling no want, and in all its members subjected to the will. In its pilgrim state the heavenly city possesses this peace by faith; and by this faith it lives righteously when it refers to the attainment of that peace every good action towards God and man; for the life of the city is a social life.”
The life of the city is a social life, both in the City of God and the City of man. And thus both live under one law, one code, one rule, and one Ruler, that being God Himself, but whereas the city of God obeys all things, submits to all things, endures all things, sufferers all things for the ultimate end of reaching their heavenly home, and they do all of these things as a means to a final good, the World uses the same as a means to the end of their own pleasure.
But it being social does not at all imply the social power to create the good, nor the true. The community, the social life is an effect, not the cause of the of the truth of God’s presence and power, both in the act of creation and even now as the ultimate good end of all things.
“In the midst of collapsing culture, a North African Bishop named Augustine stood up to defend the faith. In His classic work The City of God Augustine attempted to vindicate the faith while providing the church with a more biblical understanding of her relationship to the world. Augustine reminded us that spiritual opposition drives history forward. According to Genesis 3:15, human history plays out the fundamental spiritual opposition between the seed of the woman and the seed of the serpent. According to Augustine these two seeds are two contrasting cities:
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 (City of God, Book 14:28).
These two cities are not divided by geography, culture, or even politics. Rather, the seed of the woman and the seed of the serpent grow up together like weeds in the midst of a field of wheat (Matt. 13: 24-30). Where then does the Kingdom of God find its antithesis with the world? The Biblical/Augustinian answer is that the contrast transcends the mundane realities of this life and divides men according to their most profound spiritual allegiance.”