Saturday, September 20, 2014

"City of God" XVIII.54

Chapter 54:
Do we even need to argue these questions, given the fact that the "calculated" date of Christ's return has already passed? If nothing else, no one can seem to agree on when to start the calculations (His birth? His baptism? His death? His resurrection? His ascension? Pentecost?)
Instead of assuming that we have been deluded by Peter's magical arts, we should realize that we are Christians, who
in name and deed do not believe in Peter, but in Him in whom Peter believed; we have been drawn to Christ by Peter's exhortations, not drugged by his incantations; we have been helped by his services, not hoodwinked by his sorceries. Christ was Peter's teacher in that faith which leads to everlasting life. The same Christ is our teacher too.
So much for those who claim to follow Peter, in his throne and seat. It's not the magic utterances of a priest claiming Petrine authority that gives Christianity truth and power, it is the work and person of Christ.

And so Augustine ends his book, having

described in such detail as I judged adequate the historical course of the two cities, the heavenly and the earthly, intermingled as they have been from the beginning and are to be until the end of time.  The earthly one has made for herself, according to her heart's desire, false gods out of any sources at all, even out of human beings, that she might adore them with sacrifices. The heavenly one, on the other hand, living like a wayfarer in this world, makes no false gods for herself. On the contrary, she herself is made by the true God that she may be herself an true sacrifice to Him.
And so we may spot the difference between the City of God and the city of man--the former worships God according to His rules and in such a way that we lay our lives down for His glory; the latter worships itself, to the point of killing others for its own pride. This is not to say that one city cares about material goods and the other only spiritual things:
Both of these cities alike make use of temporal goods and both are equally afflicted by temporal ills--but how different they are in faith, how dissimilar in hope, how unlike in love! [diversa fide, diversa spe, diverso amore] This will go on until they are to be separated in the Last Judgment, when each shall achieve its appointed end--an end which will have no end!
Which means that Augustine now has the task of discussing the ends to which both cities are heading.

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