August 22, 2004


Two Cities: Augustine’s City of God (BreakPoint with Charles Colson, August 19, 2004)

On August 24, 410 A.D., the Visigoths, led by Alaric, sacked Rome. For the people of late antiquity, August 24 was even more traumatic than September 11 was for us. Rome, the capital of the greatest empire the world had ever known, was plundered by barbarians, people Rome regarded as uncouth and inferior.

In North Africa, these events prompted a Christian bishop to start writing about the lessons Christians should take away from the destruction of Rome. The result was a book that is every bit as relevant for our day as it was for his: The City of God by St. Augustine of Hippo.

In response to critics who blamed Rome’s demise on the fact that she abandoned the pagan gods and turned to Christ, Augustine introduced readers to two cities: the “City of God” and the “City of Man.” The City of Man is shaped by the love of self, even to the contempt of God, and the City of Godis shaped by the love of God, even to the contempt of self.

In describing the two cities, Augustine reiterated Jesus’ teaching that while Christians live in the City of Man, they do not belong to the City of Man. Their presence in the earthly city is like that of strangers sojourning in a foreign country. We are to enjoy the blessings the City of Man has to offer, including its rights, its protection, and its preservation of order, but we are always ready to move on. The City of Man is not our true home. No, our true home is in the City of God. And it is to that city that we owe our affections and our ultimate loyalty.

While this sounds like a recipe for withdrawal, it is anything but that.

Here's more on the healthy tension mentioned below.

Posted by Orrin Judd at August 22, 2004 12:20 PM
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