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Augustine, Bishop of Hippo

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  1. Augustine, Bishop of Hippo 354-430

  2. Background • North Africa • Home of Perpetua and Felicity (Carthage) • Serious, rigorous in faith • Dominant presence of Donatists • Violent conflict in Augustine’s time • But “backwaters” of Empire

  3. Augustine’s life • Ambitious pagan father Patricius, pious Christian mother Monica • Well-educated, career in rhetoric (law) • Spent his youth “searching” • For love: lived with a woman for 15 yrs, had a son • For meaning: read philosophy, joined different religious/philosophical groups • For God: unsure about Christianity as a youth • Confessions 1: “You have made us for yourself, and our hearts are restless until they rest in you”

  4. Influential ideas • Human condition • Created to love • Deeply influenced by sin (“original sin”), especially “pride” (RWCH, 200) • Love • Two loves: for God, for people/creation • People become unhappy when loves are confused • Challenge of life: order loves properly • “enjoy” God for God’s own sake • “use” things of creation to get to love of God • “love” neighbor in God (“use with delight”) • Church and society • Human nature is mixed, church is mixed • “Two loves founded two cities” (Chidester, 134)

  5. City of God • Response to pagan critique and Christian triumphalism • Contrasts “earthly” and “heavenly” city • Founded on two desires, therefore: • proper to human nature • But must be ordered correctly • Heavenly city • “pilgrim” in earthly life • Not identical to church, but Christians have dual citizenship • Challenge for Christians: sort through their duties to both cities (202, ch. 14) • “Common cause” for mortal human life for both cities (203, ch. 17): civil law

  6. Questions • Is he right, that peace is the purpose of waging war? (p199) Is it the highest good? • Would anyone disagree, in Aug’s time or today? How/why? • What might Augustine’s voice contribute to contemporary discussions of religion and politics? • Common good (203) • Best use of temporal goods for both cities (202) • WWAD re: views of church?