Summary of “City of God” Pt. 19 – Part 5, Book 19

The first post dealing with the fifth and final part of “City of God.” This section will deal with the end of human history as it moves into eternity future. To start with though, Augustine will look at how popular philosophy understood the chief ends, goals, and motivations of man.

“City of God” Part Five – “The Ends of the Two Cities,” Book Nineteen – “Philosophy and Christianity on Man’s End”

Chapter 1: Before properly dealing with the ends of the two Cities, Augustine will take a look at how philosophers view the ends and goals of man. His main source in this book is Varro, who proposed four main categories that men pursue. Due to varying interpretations of these categories, Varro was able to divide these into 288 sub categories.

“There are four ends which men naturally pursue… These ends are: first, pleasure aroused by the pleasant stirring of our bodily senses; second, calm, in the sense of the absence of all bodily vexation; third, that combination of pleasure and serenity which Epicurus called, in a single word, pleasure; fourth, the primary demands of nature which include, besides pleasure and calm, such needs of our body as man’s innate spiritual powers, whether great or small.”

Chapter 2: Augustine shows how Varro reduced and eliminated the 288 categories into three interpretations of one of the above four main categories.

Chapter 3: In order to decide which of the three theories is correct, Varro needed to first decide on a definition of man. He decided that man is both soul and body.

Chapter 4: Augustine looks at various virtues so that he can accurately portray the ‘supreme good’ as it is understood by those in the City of God.

“[The City of God] holds that eternal life is the supreme good and eternal death the supreme evil, and that we should live rightly in order to obtain the one and avoid the other.”

Chapter 5: Christians prefer the view that a virtuous life must also be a social life.

Chapter 6: Even at times of peace and prosperity, the fallenness of man can cause great harm and suffering. Here, Augustine uses the example of judges torturing innocent men so that they may obtain evidence to use in trial.

Chapter 7: One of the problems of the global community of mankind is that language divides us. This leads to wars and untold suffering.

Chapter 8: Augustine dwells briefly on two of the worst miseries a man can experience. The betrayal of a close friend, and the loss of a faithful one.

Chapter 9: Another misery of human life, falling victim to the Devil’s deceit. The Platonists speak of the gods as our friends, and so are deceived by Satan taking on the form of an angel of light.

Chapter 10: It is also possible for Satan and demons to deceive Christians, but knowledge of this can in fact be a blessing to us as it motivates us to discern truth.

Chapter 11: Notes on the topic of peace, and how it is also considered by Augustine to be one of the greatest goods mankind can strive for. It is important to note that he is not just talking of peace as the absence of warfare. He is also thinking of piece with God, friends, family, and between the human nature and and it’s will.

Chapter 12: Joy and peace are two of the things man craves the most. Various examples are given to illustrate the truths of this.

Chapter 13: More discussion on the topic of peace.

“Peace, in its final sense, is the calm that comes of order. Order is an arrangement of like and unlike things whereby each of them is disposed in its proper place.”

Chapter 14: Perhaps the most base form of peace desired is the peace between body and soul, that is, desiring life over death.

Chapter 15: Augustine now looks at the concept of servitude/slavery. His conclusion is that it only comes about because of sin.

Chapter 16: Remarks on the believing slave needing to obey, and the believing father to command.

Chapter 17: Those in the City of God are active in their pursuit of peace with fellow man, regardless of the fellow man’s religion or philosophy.

Chapter 18: Augustine firmly rejects the distinctive characteristic of Varro’s school of thought, namely, universal skepticism.

Chapter 19: Augustine makes it clear that faith and doctrine are most important in a new converts life. Things like dress code and philosophy, so long as they don’t contradict divine command, are of little concern.

“The City of God does not care in the least what kind of dress or social manner a man of faith affects, so long as these involve no offense against the divine law. For it is faith and not fashions that brings us to God.”

Chapter 20: Augustine reiterates that the true peace men desire is an eternal peace, not just peace here on earth.

Chapter 21: Augustine argues that there was never really a ‘Roman Republic,’ as it is to be understood from the definition given by Scipio and Cicero in On the Republic. He also claims that a great injustice was done against the people when their worship was commanded to be directed to demons.

Chapter 22: Answering the objection of how the Romans were supposed to know of the True God; through the fulfillment of prophecy and the miracles of the apostles.

Chapter 23: Augustine examines an error made by Porphyry, in quoting Apollo, that Christ is a dead God. He also points out the contradictions made when sating that the Hebrew God is a rightly powerful God, and that Jesus was a truly pious man.

“Porphyry makes his god Apollo say that the God of the Hebrews is mighty enough to make the gods themselves quake with fear before Him. Well, in view of the fact that this God is none other than the one who said, ‘He that sacrificeth to gods shall be put to death, save only to the Lord,; I am amazed that Porphyry himself did not quake with fear, too, and tremble lest he, in the act of sacrificing to his gods, be done away with.

Chapter 24: Augustine offers up a differing definition of a ‘people’ from Cicero. This new definition takes into account the desires, whether morally good or corrupt.

Chapter 25:  In the absence of faith in God, the virtues men may take pride in are not true virtues.

Chapter 26: Although the City of Man will never have a true peace, one that is eternal, it is still beneficial for us to pray for peace in this world.

Chapter 27: The City of God does have its own peace. Augustine also recognizes that there is no one alive who does not need to ask God to forgive his debts.

Chapter 28: Whereas peace is the thing to be most desired, the type of warfare to be avoided is the one between the will and the passions.

Next time: “Separation of the Two Cities in the Last Judgement”

 

 

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