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True Wisdom

1. The Wisdom of God

Christ is the wisdom of God.
With all wisdom and understanding, he made known to us the mystery of his will according to his good pleasure, which he purposed in Christ, to be put into effect when the times reach their fulfillment, to bring unity to all things in heaven and on earth under Christ (Ephesians 1.8-10) this mystery, which for ages past was kept hidden in God, who created all things. 10 His intent was that now, through the church, the manifold wisdom of God should be made known to the rulers and authorities in the heavenly realms, 11 according to his eternal purpose that he accomplished in Christ Jesus our Lord (Eph 3.9-11) This mystery is that through the gospel the Gentiles are heirs together with Israel, members together of one body, and sharers together in the promise in Christ Jesus. (Ephesians 3.6). Jesus lives forever. His priesthood is permanent. He is able to save completely those who come to God through him because he is always alive to intercede for them (Hebrews 7.24-7).

Only because the Christ on the ground, the visible Church, is Christ, and is the fact that God has confronted all humankind with, is there any effective interruption and transformation of man by God and any real knowledge of God. No Elitism From Pauls letter to the Corinthians, it is clear that some Christians in Corinth believe that the resurrection of Christ has elevated them up into a new spiritual realm in which they exist above those around them. They have moved from lower material and bodily world, perhaps through the intermediate psychical world, into an upper spiritual world. They believe that they are an elite, a spiritual people (3.1), mature (2.6, 14.20) and strong (10.12), that already possesses all spiritual gifts (1 Corinthians 1.5-7) and can regard all others as mere bodies. Saint Paul assures them that resurrection does not separate us from the lower orders, or from the materiality of our own bodies, for the resurrection of Jesus re-unites these three worlds, abolishing the division into these three separate domains. The apostle tells them that the resurrection is not yet their possession but they may receive it now only in the form of the cross, and of 1

the ongoing passion of the Christian life. If they consider themselves of the be already filled, rich and at home in the kingdom (4.8) they are mistaken, for in the true wisdom found in the Church of Christ, the wise, the rich and the powerful wait for those who are apparently foolish, without education, poor and powerless. Gentiles want mastery: Greeks look for knowledge, Romans for power.
Those who are regarded as rulers of the gentiles lord it over them and their high officials exercise authority over them. But it is not so with you. Instead whoever wants to because great among you must be slave of all. For even the Son of Man did not come to be served, but to serve and to give his life as a ransom for many (Mark 10.42-5).

The world-fearing escapism of the Gnosticism of the surrounding culture is not the Wisdom of God. Christ is the Logos in which creation participates: all parts of creation, the bottom as much as the top, will be filled with that wisdom and so redeemed. The incarnation, passion, and cross of Christ are the wisdom of God. Union with Christ takes us through identification the lower as much as the higher parts of creation, and involve as much humiliation as elevation.

2. Christians After Rome

The Collapse of Empire and the Charge of Failure of failure of pietas Augustine (354-430) was bishop of Hippo, near Carthage, in Latin-speaking north Africa, from which he was in close touch with Rome. He wrote a wide range of teaching material, biblical commentaries, introductions to Christian doctrine along with discussions of crises in the government of the Church and the wider political crisis of Rome. Like every other pastor, Augustine simply passed on what he has received. He teaches all that he has learned from his own teachers, among them the other Church Fathers whose work we also have. We are able to comment on how well Augustine has learned his lessons, and how well he is able to pass on the practices and instincts that allow for the exercise of a Christian mind that will allow subsequent generations of the Church to do the same. Two works in particular have had a significance, The Confessions and The City of God. Some events are immediately understood to have huge implications. One of these is the sack of Rome. It was understood at the time to be the fall of what had seemed to be the worlds greatest and most invincible empire. But Rome, unable to raise its own troops to man his armies, had been employing whole German tribes as mercenaries. In 140 one of these armies, under Alaric the Goth, marched into Rome and sacked it. When women were raped, some of the Christians among them, afraid that their purity was lost, had even taken

their own lives (City of God 1.16-23). Christians in Rome wrote to Augustine for his advice as pastor. Some blamed the weakening and fall of Rome on the abandonment of Romes gods by the Christians. Christians do not show the elementary respect and pietas towards the ancestors, and they promote the unmanly virtue of weakness. Varro was one of the small number of nostalgically pagan scholars who had been making this charge. Augustine points out that the Roman republic fell and turned into the empire even before the Christians arrived. In the City of God Augustine discusses the rise and fall of Rome, and points out that all political empires rise and fall, and that none of them is forever, however much they aspire to eternity. Christians do not identify the kingdom of God with any particular regime or form of political life. The Church amongst the Nations Augustine argues that the Church is a people in a public and political sense. The Church is the exemplary nation, the model for all other nations. A nation is held together by a particular form of life and self-government. The Church is the only successful representation of what a nation can be. The Church is a self-controlled people, able to be so because it participates in the self-control of Christ. It masters the passions and demonstrates all the attributes of the man who is well-ordered and therefore ordered towards all other men. Within the household of the Church all the passions and partiality of man is pacified and reconciled. This discipline comes from outside us, from Christ, but in the Spirit it also grows up within us and becomes intrinsic to us. Then we are properly self-ruled and self-governed people. Christians bring their Christgiven practices of self-government to which society they live amongst. Augustine sets out to deconstruct the theological-political ideology of Rome and he does so by comparing Rome and the Church. He starts from the assumption that we all seek the recognition of our peers and so we compete with one another for glory. Rome stands for earthly and short-lived glory, while the Church stands for permanent glory. By competing for glory Romans built this vast empire but it was also the very same forces that tipped that empire over into decline. Rome is not eternal, and it is not the will of God for man, so it is not eternal. Augustine taught that we must not equate present political arrangements with the will of God. We must not be appalled at the fall of Rome to the barbarians. We should not take Rome or any other political arrangements as the unchanging will of God, for nothing on earth is immutable. Roman history had been one of continual conflict and war. States without justice are just gangs of thugs. Even the virtuous republic was based on love of glory rather than justice, since Romans loved glory more than virtue. Since it was never just, their city did not provide the well-being of all, it was never a real commonwealth. Its various classes were always at war with one another.

That worldly glory has always been about winning mastery of others, and has been at an appalling human cost. All human civilisation and institutionbuilding is nothing but children building castles in the sand. Christians had been blamed for abandoning the ancient Roman traditions, for decline in warrior virtue and a failure to undertake the civic duties of putting on spectacles that repeat the glory of Rome. Augustine replies that change is not necessarily bad. There is an underlying story of growth and new changes to Gods law that change to give us the control man needs as he grows up. Everything will be transformed. Plato assumed that the cosmos is essentially unchanging and timeless, so he was unable to see that one age is succeeded by another, but the prophets of Israel could. Augustine agrees with Tertullian that states are based on idolatrous theologies. The gods of the Romans were once men, but were propelled up towards divinity by the adulation of subsequent generations. It is the Christian duty to tell rulers that they are not gods, but they are under the (external) authority (of God). Men are not gods, but men are intended to become imago Dei. Christians are not citizens of any state, but are pilgrims (peregrine), without citizen rights. Christians are a high-born race of foreigners here on earth. They will not receive their glory on earth, as pagan warriors do, but they will receive a much more effective recognition later. The two cities and their citizens are as mixed as two crops growing in one field. A people is only a people because they have a unity. When they are not united they are not a people in a political sense, but just a rabble. No people bestows this unity on themselves. Their unity comes from outside them, from God. If they are just a people without law, then they are a rabble not a people, each seeking to make himself the one who is over all others. They will only be a people in a complete sense when they are a well-ordered people, held together by mutual service, and so are truly one people. When every member serves the unity of the whole, , Not until this people are ruled by the theological monarchy of one God can there really be a demos, democracy and koinonia. Augustine responds to Ciceros account of the Republic (De Res Publica). Cicero believes that the res publica, public affairs, are the affairs of the people, and that where there is no justice, the virtue which must underpin all fair dealing in society, there can be no law or peace. Where there is no law, there is no common interest, no commonwealth, and a rabble, but no people. A tyrant makes the very existence of community impossible. Cicero argues that in its earliest days Rome met the criterion of agreement on justice. Augustine disagrees. True justice did not flourish in Rome's heroic days because Rome worshipped many gods and thus many incompatible accounts of virtue, right and justice. So, following Cicero's argument, there was no community agreement on justice, and thus no justice. Only Gods nation, the

polis that rules and combines heaven and earth, counts as a people in Ciceros sense, for only in this heavenly city is there the agreement, and obedience to it, which underpins justice. This, argues Augustine, makes the heavenly city a better community. Two Loves Make Two Cities Augustine contrasts worldly glory, self-love, and the desire of the flesh, with heavenly glory and love of God. There are these two forms of love, and they create two societies and two jurisdictions (politeia). There is the City of God, which God extends to man so that man can share it and live with God and his fellow man. And there is the City of Man, which the city in which man attempts to live and so without God and without his fellow man. The earthly city was created by self-love that resulted in denial of God. It glories in itself and everyone struggles for their own reputation. The Heavenly City glories in its Lord and finds its highest glory in God.
We see then that the two cites were created by two kinds of love: the earthly city was created by self-love reaching the point of contempt for God, the Heavenly City by the love of God carried as far as contempt for self. In fact, the earthly city glories in itself, the Heavenly City glories in its Lord. The former looks for glory from men, the latter finds its highest glory in God, the witness of a good conscience. The earthly lifts up its head in its own glory, the Heavenly City says to its God: My glory, you lift up my head. In the former, the lust for dominion lords it over its princes as over the nations it subjugates; in the other both those put in authority and those subject to them serve one another in love, the rulers by their counsel, the subjects by obedience. City of God 19.28

Each city provides a definition of what it is to be human and offers a training regime. One City makes people antagonists and does not intervene to aid. The society of man, even turned in on himself, and against God, is some kind of society; but it does not live from any resources of its own. The other city raises them and frees them. it uncurls them and make them look up, and look at one another. All society is derived from the society of God, so all human societies are free-riding on the company of heaven, which makes itself present here for us in the communion of saints of earth, the Church. The secular sphere and the world as far as we are aware of it, is is entirely the product of the generosity of God, revealed in the gospel, made visible in the Church. The Church is the colony of man with God holding out in the territory of man without God. But though this little colony is under siege its inhabitants lower the good resources of God over the walls down to their besiegers, and daily march out on mercy missions to them. The Church merely points out that no present kingdom is yet the kingdom of God. We live by faith in the city that is ahead of us.
A household of human beings whose life is based on faith looks forward to the blessings which are promised as eternal in the future, making use of earthly and

temporal things like a pilgrim in a foreign land, who does not let himself be taken in by them or distracted from his course towards God, but rather treats them as supports which help him more easily to bear the burdens. City of God 19.17

3. Christ the Mediator

The Gospel is the climax of all philosophy. It reveals the truth whatever aspects of the pagans had discovered. What the Greeks were looking for the Christians have found. Christ is the high point of mankind. He displays the full range of the virtues and attributes of man recognised by the pagans, in the political philosophy of the Greeks. and in the Scriptures by the people of God. Christ is Our Way We do not need to wonder how we shall make our ascent to God, for Christ has made this ascent, and opened the road for us. Now he is now our road and he leads us along it to God. Augustine often represents Christ within the contexts of mans search for truth, or of the souls wish to find its way home. The soul pines and yearns, but does not know what it yearns for.
The mind had to be trained and purified by faith; and in order to give mans mind greater confidence in its journey towards the truth along the way of faith, God the Son God, who is himself the Truth, took manhood without abandoning his godhead, and thus established and founded this faith, so that man might have a path to mans God through the man who was God. For this is the mediator between God and men, the man Jesus Christ. As man he is our Mediator; as man he is our way. For there is hope to attain a journeys end when there is a path which stretches between the traveller and the goal. But if there is no path, or if a man does not know which way to go, there is little use in knowing the destination. As it is, there is one road, and one only, well secured against all possibility of going astray; and this road is provided by one who is himself both God and man. As God, he is the goal; as man, he is the way. The City of God Book 11, chapter 3.2, 11.1

Christ Has Broken Through Our misdirected worship creates many substitute gods. But they are not able to help us, because they are themselves dependent on us. These idols hang over our heads, each represents a particular regime that offering its own sort of life, but only by sourcing this life ultimately from us. The bad leaders and educators, who have not led and educated us, have built barriers over us, to keep us down and dependent on them. We owed them nothing and we should have given nothing to them. They were only created by our gullibility or our desire to get ahead of others. But fatally we paid them the attention they sought and by which they made increasing and more costly demands on us so that man gave them his own substance and their acquired a real enough power over him. The recalcitrant powers above us are our very own ancestors, who by not exercising their proper recognition of God, have 6

drastically reduced the moral space and freedom available to us. They are our first sin. Christ, our champion and our wisdom, has broken through the many false mediators and eons. They did not recognize him and attempted to bar his way. But has now burst through them and gone through, so the heavens are now open to us. He now he commands the whole way from us to God. He is our way out, he is the whole route, and he is also at the far end waiting for us. In baptism Christ sends us his Spirit to lead us and travel with us on this arduous route. He also provides us with the communion of the saints, our predecessors in the faith, do not want our reverence (as pagan ancestors do) but show us how to give our reverence solely to God. Obedient powers the angels always give glory to God. They do not demand anything from men, for they receive from God all they need. Whatever praise they receive from men they pass straight on to God.
If we wish to render this worship to them, they are not glad to receive it; and when they are sent to men in such a form that their presence is detected by the senses, they directly forbid such worship. City of God 10.19

Christ our Provider Christ gives us our life. He gives us the life that he himself is. It is not won or worked for, but simply given by him, who is free to give it, to us, who need it. He does not give us what he does not provide himself. Other all creatures, all the gods included, can give us only what they sourced from elsewhere, for they have no life or substance of their own. The Lord provides for us the life that is his own, and he is able to provide this to us, without limit, forever.
He is both the priest, himself making the offering, and the offering. This is the reality, and he intended the daily sacrifice of the Church, being the body which he is the Head, learns to offer itself through him. This is the true sacrifice; and the sacrifice of the saints in earlier times were many different symbols of it. .. This was the supreme sacrifice, and the true sacrifice, and all the false sacrifices yielded place to it. 10.20

Christ is our provider and he is what he provides: he is the priest and the sacrifice.
This being so, it immediate follows that the whole redeemed community, that is to say, the congregation and fellowship of the saints, is offered to God as a universal sacrifice, through the great Priest who offered himself in his suffering for us that we might be the body of so great a head under the form of a servant. For it was this form he offered, in this form he was offered, because it is under this form that he is the Mediator, in this form he is the Priest, in this form he is the Sacrifice.

This is the sacrifice of Christians who are many, making up one body in Christ. This is the sacrifice which the Church continually celebrates in the sacrament of the altar, a sacrament well-known to the faithful where it is shown to the Church that she herself is offered in the offering which she presents to God. City of God 10.6

We are imperfect and he is perfect, and the perfect one perfects the imperfect.
The true sacrifice is offered in every act which is designed to unite us to God in a holy fellowship, every act, that is, which is directed to that final Good which makes possible our true felicity 10.6 The whole redeemed community, that is to say, the congregation and fellowship of the saints, is offered to God as a universal sacrifice, through the great Priest who offered himself in his suffering for us that we might be the body of so great a head This is the sacrifice of Christians who are many, making up one body in Christ. This is the sacrifice which the Church continually celebrates in the sacrament of the altar, a sacrament well-known to the faithful where it is shown to the Church that she herself is offered in the offering which she presents to God.

The Whole Christ Augustine strongly emphasises the identity of Christ with the Church. Christ is the whole Christ, the Head and the Body. Christ is the definition and criterion of the Body, the Church and, more than that, he is the source and agent of that Body. We may not divide Christ our head from the Church his body. The head is our captain and leader. He is the spring and head-waters from which the whole Church flows. Augustine points out that the Son sings both the psalms of distress and abandonment, that identifies him with the least. He explains the identity of Christ with his body in his commentary on Psalm 37 (our psalm 38).
When Christ speaks he sometimes does so in the person of the Head alone, the Saviour who was born of the virgin Mary; but at other times he speaks in the person of his body, holy Church diffused throughout all the world. We are within his body provided that we have a sincere faith in him, and unshakeable hope, and burning charity. We are within his body, we are members of it, and we find ourselves speaking those words. The need to make sense of this forces us to recognise that Christ here is the full Christ, the whole Christ; that is, Christ, Head and body.

Christ lends his identity and very being to the Church, and thus Christ considers the Church his own, including its sins and deficiencies his own. The Head takes the sins of the Body, and the body takes the righteousness of the Head. He says of our sins, that they are his sins. He has made our debts, his. Christ exchanges with us (communication of attributes).

The entire psalm refers to himself. But when the next line refers to the tale of my sins we cannot doubt that Christ is still speaking, so whose sins can these be, if not the sins of his body, the Church? The body of Christ is speaking as one with its Head. How can they speak with one voice? Because, says Scripture, they will be two in one flesh (Genesis 2.24). Since he himself declared that they are two no longer, but one flesh is there anything strange in affirming that the one same flesh, the one same tongue, the same words, belong to the one flesh of Head and body? Let us hear them as one single organism, but let us listen to the Head as Head, and the body as body. The persons are not separated, but in dignity they are distinct, for the Head saves and the body is saved. May the Head dispense mercy, and the body bemoan its misery. The role of the Head is to purge away sins, the bodys to confess them. Wherever Scripture does not indicate when the body is speaking when the Head, we hear them speak with one single voice. The Head speaks the words that properly belong to the body, and you hear them as the words of the Head too. Whenever you hear the voice of the body, do not separate it from the voice of the Head; and whenever you hear the voice of the Head, do not separate it from the body; for they are two no longer, but one flesh.

The Lord is our servant, and now united with him, we are entirely free to serve all others, and to discover that in this service, no one compels us and we are free, entirely our own masters. Commenting on the verse in Psalm 100 Serve the Lord with gladness Augustine says
In the house of the Lord, slavery is free. It is free because it serves not out of necessity, but out of loveYou are at once both a servant and free: a servant, because you have become such; free, because you are loved by God your Creator; indeed, you have also been enabled to love your Creator... You are a servant of the Lord and you are a freedman of the Lord. Do not go looking for a liberation which will lead you far from the house of your liberator! Commentary on the Psalms, Psalm 100.

4. Augustine as Teacher
Augustine is a great teacher of the bible. Christ is present at every point in the Old Testament. The whole bible is his book. The psalms are the Christian song book, and indeed, Augustine tells us, they are Christs song book. Christ sings every part of them, and every part of them tells us, as we sing them, about the relationship between him and us. Christ is the Head and the Body: he is the body of and he is the source of this Body. Augustines theology is pastoral, the product of a Christian leading and protecting his flock. He responds to the other what is said, is said in reaction to other claim or imperatives felt by his flock, so much of Augustines work is polemical. He is fighting for the health of the Christian community. It is made in reply to a prior claim. He is replying for instance to some of the best known of Roman pagan political authorities.

We saw that in pacifying the passions and bringing wisdom to man, Christ has done what all other philosophers wanted to do. He has created a new race of self-controlled men. Christians are philosophers because they love the wisdom Christ has opened up and their desires are not brought under control. Augustine was a philosopher before and during his slow conversion first through Platonism (the realisation that God is spirit) to Christianity. His conversion to the Christian faith does not mean that he ceased to be a philosopher, but that he really did become what all philosophers hoped to become. What the philosophers, he calls them the Greeks, were looking for, the Christians have found. Christianity is the summation of philosophy so after Plato, Aristotle, the Stoics and Epicureans, Christianity is the fifth philosophy. Protecting the Church The Christian Church always contains some who are appalled by the failure of the Church, and who decide therefore to gather a small group to withdraw. If this withdrawal is accompanied by denunciation of the catholic Church as corrupt they threaten the unity of the Church and so are schismatic. The Church has to be defended from such purists and separatists. During the persecution under the emperor Diocletian (284-13) some bishops surrendered copies of the Scriptures to the magistrates. The Donatists decided that such bishops had lost their authority in the Church, that no Christian could take the sacraments from their hands, and that the ordination carried out by such bishops were invalid. Augustine decided that this breakaway purity movement was an illegitimate division of the Church. The Church must exercise discipline against those who threaten its unity. The Donatists should give up their resistance and come back into the Catholic Church, and accept the authority even of tarnished leadership. There may be no purer church holding itself aloof from the Church, and Donatists were no purer than any other part of the Church. Every withdrawal must only intend to be temporary, the better to speak prophetically, and so serve the whole Church. There is no extra hidden truth for a spiritual elite; the whole truth is publicly revealed to the catholic Church. Purification Augustine has demonstrated that Christ is the truth and the means of our coming to know the truth, while all other gods are delusions. Nonetheless we have to be purified from them. Augustine starts from the presumption that we are looking for education and purification. He is in dialogue with the pagan world on this. But this purification cannot be achieved by ourselves but performed for us by someone who is not in any need of purification himself. Christ is already pure and not needy as the rest of us are. He purifies and educates us. But purification and education are only half the story. It is life and relationship that we need. As we learned from Athanasius, it is life itself that is missing in 10

our case. We require life without limit but are bound and contained by mortality. We are panicked by the knowledge that our resources are finite, and not adequate. This life has to come from somewhere and someone who is not contained or constrained in this way. We do not have this life. He does have this life. So he gives it to us. Though we fight him off and prefer substitutes to relationship to the real source of life, Christ persists and wins us. Our life is simply a matter of reception of his life from him. As we receive this we learn how to take more of these supplies that come to us and pass them on to other people. This education is about developing a new set of instincts of Christ-likeness. Our will is bound and paralysed until it is freed by God, and through sanctification healed and taught how to learn to be free. All the purification and education is then simply about learning how not to refuse the supply of life that is being brought to you. Our life is simply a matter of reception of his life from him. But it is secondarily a matter of not resisting the gift as it comes. It is a matter of purification and education the development of a new set and the Christian life is simply about learning to receive. It is actively and willingly being passive. Augustine was determined that we can only be philosophers because the true wisdom has himself acted for us. We did not think our way to him. He came to us, and only thus we were able even to start to think freely. It is the generous initiative of God that has produced human salvation and the possibility of free-will as a result. Augustine expresses this in his reply to Pelagius and Julian of Eclanum who want to establish the particular dignity of the calling of the monk. Pelagius believes that Christians who become monks can make their way to perfection. Augustine insists that perfection is Gods work alone, so who is perfected will be revealed only when all history is judged. If Pelagius makes his case too well, these who leave behind the world to become ascetic champions are the real Christians, and the result would be that we have a two-tier Church. Are the asceticism and monasticism motivated by a reluctance to admit that we are embodied, and that bodies are our proper means of being present to one another? The Church is no holding pen or vehicle for ordinary believers who need this kind of restraint. The gospel does not present us with a moral agenda which all can agree on. There are many definitions of the good in circulation. Though debate about these is good in itself, it never brings us to a definition we can unite on. We cannot come to unity through discussion and thus through the power of reason. We need to be given the final definition of the good. And a single definition of the good has been given to us. But what is good is not just a huge abstraction that hangs far above us, but a person, the person of Christ. The good himself has taken hold of us, and all our discussion must be informed by this retrospective realization. Life is not simply about being good on whatever definition but about relationships with specific other people. One relationship is offered to us: if we take it, all other relationships become 11

possible. We can take it, only, as it is given unforced. Human life cannot be reduced from the personal to non-personal. What kind of people will we become as we gain in knowledge of God? What process do we have to go through to become holy? Like all other Fathers of the Church Augustine holds together the two issues of knowledge of God and how it may be acquired. It may be acquired by the discipleship that will take us through all the practices and virtues of the disciple that will conform us to Christ. He is our salvation, and his labours save us. Yet our labours are brought into being by his, so our labours always remain his labours, corrected by his, and made to correspond his labours. It is the reconciliation and unity of our labour with his that is our salvation this reconciliation of our acts to his acts to make them one is what it means that we are reconciled with him. The Free and the Captive Will The freedom of man is the outcome of his history with God. Man becomes free. Man is brought up into his place and task by the action of God who, by denying reinforcement to options that do not lead to this outcome, draws him into the full freedom of the creature of God. Augustine discusses whether our wills are free (Liberum arbitrium). Freedom and a will of our own is what God intends we have, but we do not yet have it. It has to be shaped within us by good practices (virtues). We are destined to freedom. It is a cruel delusion to say that people are already free. We are destined and predestined to be free. We are not permitted not to take up this freedom and not allowed to prevent others from taking it up. Theology has to offer an account of the complex character of the complex covenants in which we are involved, of the complexity of our relationships and of the recalcitrance of our wills, and so it has to provide an account of the bondage of the will and of the hardened heart, and of the principalities and powers. Love If we are not turned outwards towards God, we are curved in (incurvatus) on ourselves. We become fascinated by pleasure and never discover that there is anything beyond it that is even more wonderful. But self-love is not really a proper definition of the problem. The problem is that our love, that is, our passions and drives, is completely unfocused. It goes in all directions, and thus does not arrive at its proper goal. We do not know how to love one another or even ourselves, because we do not know how to regard ourselves as God's creatures, rather than our own creatures, and so do not understand the respect that God's extends to us. Since we do not know God's definition of us and our future and our interests, we do not how to pursue our own proper future or how to identify our interests, and so in this sense we cannot be properly self-interested. Only God know what our properly selves can


possibly be. But there is nothing wrong with these drives as such we are not intended to be creatures without drives passions or loves, for this would be simply to be inert, to be without life. The creature that is at the deepest level driven by the love of God that is the love set in the creature that will not satisfied by anything short of God. God takes away the objects of our affections and we are driven on. God will not allow that creature finally to rest content until it is united to its Creator. Selflove does not adequately define the issue. We are not intended to be creatures without drives passions or loves, for this would be simply to be without life altogether. Our problem is that our drives and passions, and so our love, is completely unfocused. It goes in all directions, never arriving at its proper goal. We do not know how to see ourselves, pursue our own proper interests or properly respect and even love ourselves. God knows what our proper selves can possibly be.

6. Problems in Augustines Legacy

The East has several great teachers, but in the West Augustine dominates. He is overwhelmingly the most important thinker of the Western Christian tradition. He is heir of all the Christian teachers we have met so far. But more than that he is the transmitter of much of the teaching of the ancient pagan world as it is recorded by those Christians who confronted it. For these two reasons Augustine is the intersection of many traditions of thought, not only Christian, but pagan too. Augustine is not only the source of Western theology but the father of Western political thought and therefore also of Western life. We are his heirs, whether or not we intend to be. The Western world is formed by attitudes to freedom, personal responsibility and guilt, to the individual and to the body, that it has inherited from him. When these attitudes are - this is the good inhetiance, but as the West has distanced itself, it has not = but become captive to their most unfortunate characteristics. Augustine is not only a very considerable theologian, but a colossal thinker across the whole range of humanities ethics, politics, philosophy, psychology and much more. But he is not just an individual thinker, but he is chief means by which the thought of the ancient world has reached us. He is our contemporary. All Western theology and philosophy continues to be a voyage around his thought. One particular selection of Augustines views have come together to form our own modern worldview. Fall, Sin and Pessimism The Western account of salvation sets the doctrines in the order: creation, sin, redemption. This suggests that Christ became incarnate in order to fix sin, so that there would have been no incarnation without the fall. Augustine appears to have made the coming of God consequent on the fall and sin of man.


Augustine makes sin the natural but culpable passion of man the fallen creature. This makes sin a doctrine of natural theology. But sin is not a matter of our human nature. The Eastern Fathers understood sin as a failure to be oriented towards our proper goal. Sin can only be reckoned from what God intends us to become, and thus it is a deviation from the future. We are not yet complete. We are a work in progress. Only in this sense is our humanity deficient. We do not need to escape our humanity, we need only to become properly human. We can identify plenty of pagan metaphysical loose ends in Augustines, and beneath them the deep pagan assumption that creation is not good and that salvation must ultimately mean escape from it, from one another. But Augustine is just one Father of the Church, and when he is unable to provide what we need we must go to other Fathers. The Greek-speaking East received a more complete conceptual inheritance than the Latin-speaking West. The East remained in contact with the whole legacy of Platonism, and indeed of all that is contained in Aristotle and the Stoics and Epicureans but they represent the abandonment of the overarching worldview. The West inherited only a reduced version of this inheritance, and this has made for a more fatalistic account of our place in the world. This is not to say that what the West is not also familiar in the East, but the East did have greater conceptual resources for dealing with it, and was able to give a more sophisticated account of the difference the gospel made to the worldview it inherited. The East preserved a more balanced legacy, with as much from Plato as from Aristotle and the Stoics. In comparison the West received a more Stoic inheritance and representing a simplified cosmology, in which it is assumed that nature is the most fundamental thing. The individual thing exists and may subsequently come into relationships, acquire life and enter community. One result is that the West has more difficulty in showing the place of man in the world and that this place is also a role, so that man is seen to have a contribution to make to the world. Time and Eternity How successful was Augustine in making the philosophical conceptuality he inherited serve the gospel? Does he contrast time and eternity as though they were opposites, as Plato had assumed they were? Does Augustines account disparage the body, creation and time? Does it still communicate the distaste felt by Plato and the gnostics for materiality and society. Is Christian asceticism motivated by a distaste for the body? The widespread ancient distrust of materiality and bodies can be seen in the Manicheans (whom Augustine discusses in Confessions 85). Augustine insisted that God does not have a body, that is, he does obliged to suffer materiality or change, he is not imposed upon or effected by outside pressures. Since God is not subject to any other forces and so he does not suffer time. Time in the ancient


conception meant decay, and God is not subject to decay. But there is more that has to be said about time. The Church does not oppose time to eternity, or understand time as a failure of eternity. It understands time as the product of eternity; eternity extends already itself to us, bit by bit, as time. Eternity is the life of the Father, Son and Holy Spirit. Eternity is time performed by these virtuosi. It is the fullness of their life, given to us in time and as time. There is time because God has given us time, or God has time for us. We will need to state this again in chapters 10 and 11 in reply to modernitys assumption that time is a dark force of necessity. God and the Soul In On the Trinity Augustine represents the human mind as a triad of memory, understanding and will and uses this as an analogy for the trinity. Father, Son and Holy Spirit relate as memory, imagination and will. This has allowed the tradition to assume that the soul is inside the individual, with the resulting location of all experience somewhere within us, which makes it difficult not to conceive of the world of other persons as a problem. But Christian theology cannot accept the premise that because God is mind and man has mind, there is already something essential in common. Such theology of the isolated mind might mean that minds could can communicate without words or any reference to the external world, and if minds can communicate wordlessly, we have no need for the world and can cut it out altogether. But the world is good and with it all the variety and plurality of other people. We cannot cut other people out and plunge into ourselves, or into the mind, as a shortcut by which to gain access to God. The way to God is the way God has taken to us, and that is through other people, people who are not us, but whom we have to listen in order to learn about Gods readiness to hear us. Augustine has left us the Western habit of thinking in terms of abstract and external relations and failure to understand that the Word of God is eternally generated in him and intrinsic to him. The Judicial Idiom The West understands human relations primarily in terms of a trial. We stand accused, and we are waiting for judgment. In this court-room scene it may be that we are in dock, or that we are on the bench, or that we have to accuse one another in order to remain on the judgment seat and not in the dock. We justify ourselves, and so by passing on the blame to someone else. We free ourselves of debt or blame by convincing our accusers to identify someone else as responsible. But it was not Christian theology that made this legal and forensic conception of human affairs central. Rather the Christian doctrine of salvation has been elaborated in a logic that comes from the Roman thoughtworld that expresses itself in terms of who owned what and whom. It thought in the conceptuality of landlords and tenants, masters and servants, creditors


and debtors. There is a creditor who is owed and a debtor who is having trouble paying up, or an angry master who has to beat his servant to get anything out of him. There is always a debt to be paid. This unequal relationship is expressed in the conceptuality of property, default and penalty has left us with an external legal (juridical or forensic) conceptuality. The Western philosophical procedure is a process of legal cross-examination, the application of set of categories, which are questions or accusations directed to the object as though it were a malefactor. It is not Christian theology, but the Western ontology, derived from Roman jurisprudence, that understands us in these terms. The courtroom account describes our interaction in terms of unspecified guilt, rather than of action and of being. The Western account of salvation makes one account of the cross that is made preeminent. It understands blood principally in terms of the death of Christ and therefore of a death that had to be suffered in order to pay an obligation or penalty. This concedes too much to necessity. Instead we must hold the cross together with the resurrection, so that we understand that blood also refers to the indestructible life of Christ, and thus to the resurrection. We have seen that, in the pagan account, the existence of the world is the result of a cosmic misfortune. The pagan account is premised on a doctrine of a fall. Western ontology assumes that something is missing, and that someone is at fault, and the subsequent Western tradition is expressed in terms of fault, guilt and blame. The western Christian tradition does not manage to control this conception. The Arrangement of Knowledge The ancient world regards all knowledge simply as philosophy, that is, as wisdom and science . Just as it is God who holds the world together, all branches of knowledge are held together by the knowledge of God. The purpose of all knowledge is to come to know God from whom all things come. All sciences serve our appreciation of the creatures of God. All sciences serve theology. We have this arrangement: Philosophia all knowledge 1. doxology theology worship of God 2. cosmology 3. knowledge of city, law, traditions, humanities, politics, ethics 4. knowledge of nature, bodies, physics In other words we have: 1. the knowledge of God theology 2. the means of knowing God philosophy (the apprenticeship, pilgrimage, sanctification). All human and natural sciences contribute to the apprenticeship.

7. The Church and the City of God


Knowledge of Society God has called one community apart from the other, in order to show the one what its future is. The Church is the community of witness that God keeps in being here on earth. Christians say that the distinction between religion and secular, and between church and world is fundamental. Until Christ comes, we may not abolish the distinct between the church and the world, or say that we no longer say that there is a gap between what we have and what we desire. As soon as we take out of our definition of man any reference to his aims and purposes, you say that he may not hope for anything that he does not already possess, and so you take away his freedom. Then you have turned man into an asocial animal, who does not have the means to direct or control himself. The way to God is the way God has taken to us, and that is through other people, in particular those people whom God has made holy for our sake. We are not an isolated mind that can commune with other minds without words or without the mediation of the external world. Man must act as a being amongst other beings in a world of plurality. Man cannot cut out men and plunge into himself, into his mind, as a shortcut by which to gain access to God. Christians say that the distinction between the Church and the world, and so between religious and secular, is fundamental. Until Christ comes, we may not abolish the distinct between the church and the world, or say that we no longer say that there is a gap between what we have and what we desire. As soon as you say that man may no longer hope, and as soon as you take away the large definition of his nature that includes his aims and purposes, you take away his freedom. Then you have turned man into an asocial animal, who does not have the means to direct or control himself. The existence of the secular sphere, which Christians call the world, depends on a distinction between church and world. Thus this distinction between church and world, religious and secular, is a Christian distinction. It is the tension and the spring that drives human aspiration and so drives time and history. Without it we have no concept of time and change, or of ambition and hope. The secular tradition is the tradition that says that the world has absorbed and overcome the various distinct traditions that made up the world, and that it, the secular tradition, is the whole truth, and there is no other truth, and no other tradition. Judgment and Self-Government of the People of God The City of God is the society of God. We will also see it called the communion of God, or the kingdom or rule of God. Where God is lord, there is a well-ordered society. Under God's good rule there is no partisanship, rivalry or violence, but peace and plenty. 17

God intends that man exercises authority and judgment with him. He intends that we all come to learn this action and exercise it with him. The end and purpose of the judgment of God is that we grow up into the full sovereignty God holds out to us. Christianity is a form of apprenticeship to a master, that requires the learning of the complex skills of discipleship in direct personal relationship with that master. It is paideia, learning an action and life in close relationship with an expert, indeed with the source of that life. It requires relationship, time, patience, practice and testing. It creates a particular set of skills, virtue and character. It cannot be learned without that master, for it is precisely life-with-the-master. Scripture and doctrine bring about the development of the whole Christian people. They inform us of the otherwise unknowable process of our sanctification, nurture and maturation. This involves us in learning what we are given, and thus in learning unchanging and non-negotiable (dogma), and in learning what we are to negotiate and find our own expressions of (doctrine). This involves receptive and passive learning, and active practice. This practice involves judging, wrangling, checking, testing, re-expressing given truths in our own words. We learn by hearing, but then also by questioning, challenging and experimenting with other expressions of what has been said. Christian doctrine teaches the Christian life, forms the Christian and builds up the Christian community that serves the world by bearing witness to it. It is the goal of all philosophy, the true wisdom of God for man. A people is a people because they have a unity. No people bestows this unity on themselves. It comes from outside them, from God. If they are just a demos without law, then they are a rabble in which each seeks to make himself the one who is over all others. The Church is the body responsible for the formation and education of man Right judging and right doing is the proper action of the new people: it involves coaching them in the action of right speech and public speech. They see God judges rightly and they say so: they learn to praise God for the generosity and finesse with which he gives justice. The Christian community is being trained up to a range of offices that serve a single end, the service of the people. The Church is the true public commonwealth. All have the full status of citizens in this commonwealth and full participation in this assembly. All may grow up to the fullness of Christ. Some in the Church are given this or that specific office only in order to prepare the whole body together to exercise this office and authority for the world. The Church is the one true people, in which all may find their place and so is full manifestation of mans hope of sovereignty.


1. The Son has come to clear open the way to God for us. The true Son goes to work as the Father asks. The Son enters creation and descends the cosmos, taking on all human experience. He regards no experience or part of creation as too alien for him. 2. From all parts of creation he gives recognition solely to God and withholds it from every master not obedient to God. The Son refuses our life and all other masters. The Son drives out the interlopers. The Son has grasped us and does not let us go, so we are now attached to the people of God. 3. The Son, who may never die, suffers and dies. The cross was our act of attempting to separate the Son from the Father. But we did not succeed in separating the Son from the Father: they are together in the work of our salvation. 4. The ascent of Christ is the first fruits of the ascent of man. He is the ascent and consummation of man in one person. He has demonstrated the whole range of the kingly, priestly and prophetic gifts. 5. Christ is the whole Christ, the Head and the Body. The servant who is free, is lord. He is free to serve us and in all his service of us to remain lord. He is the source from which the whole Church flows. Christ lends his identity and very being to the Church. He gathers his people, sustains them and intercedes for them, so the Church is always renewed by Christ. 6. The Church is distinct from the world and remains withdrawn from it. The Church is the community of witness that God has called into being here on earth. God makes a difference between the Church and the world. The Church is made up of those in the world who called to be apart from the world holy whilst still in it. The Church contains the holy and the unholy. Until we are not turned around by Christ, we are curved in (incurvatus) on ourselves. 7. All kingdoms claim some small share of earth, but the city or kingdom of God, comprises the whole of earth and heaven in a single combined regime. As the church this heavenly city makes itself present to the world. there are two cities, and the secular and pagan city is dependent on the heavenly city. The church always witnesses to the earthly city. Theology is always in dialogue with philosophy, and with pagan worldviews. The Christian account of history as providence in which God orders all things. 8. Self-government is good. If we are good at governing ourselves, our selfgovernment may also serve others. The Church offers its self-government to


the world. It leads and judges the world. The Christian community serves as a leader to the nation that is ready to accept its leadership.