Saturday, June 23, 2007

Anyone want to study this? 5th Century Apologetics

Written as an apologetic to 5th century Post-Christian Rome, Augustine's City of God could be quite illuminating for followers of Christ today (imho). Just after the sack of Rome, the empire was crumbling and Augustine saw the writing on the wall. Here is an excerpt describing the culture from which his apologetic was written (ref: City of God, Chapter II.20). The concerns of the people and rulers were to:

"Let it remain undefeated, they say, only let it flourish and abound in resources; let it be glorious by its victories, or still better, secure in peace; and what matters it to us? This is our concern, that every man be able to increase his wealth so as to supply his daily prodigalities, and so that the powerful may subject the weak for their own purposes.

Let the poor court the rich for a living, and that under their protection they may enjoy a sluggish tranquillity; and let the rich abuse the poor as their dependants, to minister to their pride.

Let the people applaud not those who protect their interests, but those who provide them with pleasure.

Let no severe duty be commanded, no impurity forbidden.

Let kings estimate their prosperity, not by the righteousness, but by the servility of their subjects.

Let the provinces stand loyal to the kings, not as moral guides, but as lords of their possessions and purveyors of their pleasures; not with a hearty reverence, but a crooked and servile fear.

Let the laws take cognizance rather of the injury done to another man's property, than of that done to one's own person.

If a man be a nuisance to his neighbor, or injure his property, family, or person,
let him be actionable; but in his own affairs let everyone with impunity do what
he will in company with his own family, and with those who willingly join him.

Let there be a plentiful supply of public prostitutes for every one who wishes to use them, but specially for those who are too poor to keep one for their private use.

Let there be erected houses of the largest and most ornate description: in these let there be provided the most sumptuous banquets, where every one who pleases may, by day or night, play, drink, vomit, dissipate.

Let there be everywhere heard the rustling of dancers, the loud, immodest laughter
of the theatre; let a succession of the most cruel and the most voluptuous pleasures maintain a perpetual excitement.

If such happiness is distasteful to any, let him be branded as a public enemy; and if any attempt to modify or put an end to it let him be silenced, banished, put an end to.

Let these be reckoned the true gods, who procure for the people this condition of things, and preserve it when once possessed.

Let them demand whatever games they please, from or with their own worshippers; only let them secure that such felicity be not imperilled by foe, plague, or disaster of any kind. "

Upon this backdrop, Augustine lays the foundational apologetics for the doctrine of Original Sin, Amillennialism, Grace, the Trinity, and innerrancy of Scripture.

I'd really like to study this in a group, a book study group or Sunday School some time. Sure, I can read through the whole thing myself, but what fun is that?


Anonymous said...

I think it could be an interesting personal or academic study, but I don't see the church doing it. Augustine draws on a lot of Greek philosophy, esp. Plato, to make his case. Probably not appropriate for a Sunday School (ah,, is Sunday School scriptural? That's the question of the week, right?) Maybe like you said, you could do a Starbucks book study or something like that. Or maybe you'll encounter it in seminary if you take classical apologetics.

deb said...

Okay, RS, So when did you want to go to Starbucks or Borders with me and do it :-)