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Spiritual Ends and Temporal Power: An Integralist Reading of City of God

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Augustine in a Time of Crisis

Abstract

Modern interpretations of Augustine both liberal and postliberal have tended to see medieval “political Augustinianism” as misunderstanding Augustine’s own subtle account of the relation of temporal and spiritual power. I criticize R.A. Markus’s liberal reading of Augustine as opening up a new understanding of the political as a space of overlapping consensus. But I also criticize William Cavanaugh’s postliberal reading of Augustine as supporting a kind of Christian anarchism, in which coercive government is seen as always opposed to the City of God. Instead, I argue that medieval political Augustinianism was authentically Augustinian in holding that political rule can be just when it is brought into an ordered relationship with the spiritual hierarchy.

Earlier versions of this chapter were given as lectures at the University of Dallas (March 27, 2019) and at Harvard University (April 2, 2019). My thanks to Prof. Gladden Pappin of Dallas, and Amy Chandran, Evelyn Flashner, and Prof. Adrian Vermeule of Harvard for their hospitality. Some of the material in this chapter previously appeared in my introduction to City of God for The Josias, a website on Catholic Social Teaching: https://thejosias.com/2017/08/28/the-city-of-god-an-introduction (accessed April 14, 2019).

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Notes

  1. 1.

    Cf. Patrick J. Deneen, Why Liberalism Failed (New Haven: Yale University Press, 2018).

  2. 2.

    In contrast to the English-speaking world, where those who claim to be “Augustinians” in politics most often espouse some kind of political pessimism—human beings are so infected by sin that one ought not to expect very much from their political action.

  3. 3.

    H.-X. Arquillière, L’augustinisme politique: Essai sur la formation des théories politiques du moyen âge (Paris: Vrin, 1975), p. 199.

  4. 4.

    See: Numa Denis Fustel de Coulanges, The Ancient City: A Study on the Religion, Laws, and Institutions of Greece and Rome, trans. Willard Small (Baltimore: Johns Hopkins University Press, 1980); Ittai Gradel, Emperor Worship and Roman Religion (Oxford: Oxford University Press, 2002); John Scheid, The Gods, the State, and the Individual: Reflections on Civic Religion in Rome, trans. Clifford Ando (Philadelphia: University of Pennsylvania Press, 2016).

  5. 5.

    See: T.D. Barnes, “Legislation Against the Christians,” The Journal of Roman Studies 58 (1968): 32–50; W.H.C Frend, Martyrdom and Persecution in the Early Church: A Study of Conflict from the Maccabees to Donatus (Eugene: Wipf and Stock, 2014).

  6. 6.

    See: Eusebius, Life of Constantine, trans. Averil Cameron and Stuart Hall (Oxford: Clarendon Press, 1999).

  7. 7.

    See: Peter Brown, Augustine of Hippo: A Biography (Berkeley: University of California Press, 2000), chap. 25.

  8. 8.

    Sancti Aurelii Augustini episcopi De civitate Dei libri XXII., I, praef., ed. B. Dombart and A. Kalb, Bibliotheca scriptorum Graecorum et Romanorum Teubneriana, 5th ed. (Stuttgart-Leipzig: Teubner, 1993), 2 vols.; The City of God, trans. William Babcock, The Works of Saint Augustine: A Translation for the 21st Century, I.6–7 (New York: New City Press, 2012). Cited hereafter parenthetically as COG.

  9. 9.

    See Augustine’s own explanation of the outline in: Augustine, The Retractions, trans. Mary Inez Bogan, RSM, The Fathers of the Church: A New Translation, vol. 60 (Washington: The Catholic University of America Press, 1968), II, 69; pp. 209–10.

  10. 10.

    Erich Casper (ed.), Das Register Gregors VII, Lib. VII, 14, Monumenta Germanica Historiae: Epistulae, vol. 2, fasc. 2 (Berlin: 1920), p. 487; translation following: Ernest F. Henderson, Select Historical Documents of the Middle Ages (London: George Bell and Sons, 1896), p. 391; cf., Arquillière, L’augustinisme politique, pp. 22–3.

  11. 11.

    Leo XIII, Immortale Dei, §13; Arquillière, L’augustinisme politique, p. 23.

  12. 12.

    Arquillière, L’augustinisme politique, p. 23.

  13. 13.

    Ernst Bernheim, “Politische Begriffe des Mittelalters im Lichte der Anschauungen Augustins,” Deutsche Zeitschrift für Geschichtswissenschaft Neue Folge 1 (1896): 1–23, at p. 3; cf. Arquillière, L’augustinisme politique, pp. 60–1.

  14. 14.

    Bernheim, “Politische Begriffe,” p. 5; Arquillière, L’augustinisme politique, pp. 63–4.

  15. 15.

    Bernheim, “Politische Begriffe,” p. 5; cf. Arquillière, L’augustinisme politique, p. 64.

  16. 16.

    Cf. Arquillière, L’augustinisme politique, pp. 65–6.

  17. 17.

    Arquillière, L’augustinisme politique, pp. 67–71.

  18. 18.

    Pope St. Gelasius I, Famuli vestrae pietatis [Duo sunt], in: Andreas Thiel (ed.), Epistolae Romanorum Pontificum, Vol. 1 (Braunsberg: Eduard Peter, 1868), pp. 349–58, at pp. 350–1; cf. Arquillière, L’augustinisme politique, pp. 120–1.

  19. 19.

    Arquillière, L’augustinisme politique, p. 121.

  20. 20.

    See: Michael J. S. Bruno, Political Augustinianism: Modern Interpretations of Augustine’s Political Thought (Minneapolis: Fortress Press, 2014), pp. 43–51.

  21. 21.

    R.A. Markus, Saeculum: History and Society in the Theology of Saint Augustine, 2nd ed. (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 2007), p. 94.

  22. 22.

    See: Markus, Saeculum, p. 69.

  23. 23.

    Markus, Saeculum, p. 173.

  24. 24.

    Augustine, Ep. 89.7, quoted in: Markus, Saeculum, p. 143.

  25. 25.

    Augustine, Sermon 112.8, quoted in Markus, Saeculum, p. 143.

  26. 26.

    Markus, Saeculum, p. 151.

  27. 27.

    John Milbank, Theology and Social Theory, 2nd ed. (Oxford: Blackwell, 2006), p. 405; Rowan Williams, On Augustine (London: Bloomsbury, 2016), p. 111.

  28. 28.

    Cf. Williams, On Augustine, p. 116.

  29. 29.

    Williams, On Augustine, p. 112.

  30. 30.

    William T. Cavanaugh, “From One City to Two: Christian Reimagining of Political Space,” Political Theology 7.3 (2006): 299–321, at p. 309.

  31. 31.

    Cavanaugh, “From One City to Two,” p. 312.

  32. 32.

    Cavanaugh, “From One City to Two,” p. 312.

  33. 33.

    Cavanaugh, “From One City to Two,” p. 309.

  34. 34.

    Eric Gregory and Joseph Clair, “Augustinianisms and Thomisms,” in: Craig Hovey and Elizabeth Philips (eds.), The Cambridge Companion to Christian Political Theology (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 2015), pp. 183–6. My thanks to Caleb Cohoe for pointing me to this paper.

  35. 35.

    Gregory and Clair, “Augustinianisms and Thomisms,” pp. 186–7.

  36. 36.

    Thomas, Summa theologiae, Ia, q. 96, a. 4.

  37. 37.

    Markus, Saeculum , Appendix B. Markus’s reading is aided by the traditional break between Chapters 14 and 15 which separates “This is what the order of nature prescribes …” from the preceding text. The chapter divisions in Civ. Dei are, however, most likely not from Augustine himself. See: Gerard O’Daly, Augustine’s City of God: A Reader’s Guide (Oxford: Oxford University Press, 2004), pp. 277–8.

  38. 38.

    Augustine, De Gen. ad litt. 11,57; The Literal Meaning of Genesis, trans. John Hammond Taylor, S.J., vol. 2 (New York: The Newman Press, 1982), pp. 170–1.

  39. 39.

    Markus, Saeculum, pp. 202–7.

  40. 40.

    Gregory and Clair, “Augustinianisms and Thomisms,” pp. 187–8.

  41. 41.

    Gregory and Clair, “Augustinianisms and Thomisms,” p. 188.

  42. 42.

    Gregory and Clair, “Augustinianisms and Thomisms,” p. 190.

  43. 43.

    Robert W. Dyson, St Augustine of Hippo: The Christian Transformation of Political Philosophy (London: Continuum, 2005), p. 142.

  44. 44.

    Dyson, St Augustine of Hippo, p. 156.

  45. 45.

    Dyson, St Augustine of Hippo, pp. 149–50.

  46. 46.

    Dyson, St Augustine of Hippo, p. 151.

  47. 47.

    Dyson, St Augustine of Hippo, p. 156.

  48. 48.

    Dyson, St Augustine of Hippo, p. 150.

  49. 49.

    Gelasius, Tractate IV, in: Hugo Rahner, S.J., Church and State in Early Christianity, trans. Leo Donald Davis, S.J. (San Francisco: Ignatius Press, 1992), pp. 177–8.

  50. 50.

    Boniface VIII, Licet haec verba, 1302, translation in: Giles of Rome’s on Ecclesiastical Power: A Medieval Theory of World Government, ed. and trans. R.W. Dyson (New York: Columbia University Press, 2004), pp. xv–xvi.

  51. 51.

    Dyson, St Augustine of Hippo, p. 152.

  52. 52.

    Leo XIII, Immortale Dei, §14.

  53. 53.

    Robert Dodaro, Christ and the Just Society in the Thought of Augustine (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 2004), p. 112.

  54. 54.

    Adrian Vermeule, “Integration from Within,” Review of Why Liberalism Failed by Patrick J. Deneen, in: American Affairs 2.1 (2018), pp. 212, 202–13.

  55. 55.

    Gladden Pappin, “Toward a Party of the State,” in: American Affairs 3.1 (2019), pp. 149–60, 150.

  56. 56.

    Cf. Williams, On Augustine, p. 120.

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Pater Edmund Waldstein, O.Cist.. (2021). Spiritual Ends and Temporal Power: An Integralist Reading of City of God. In: Kabala, B.Z., Menchaca-Bagnulo, A., Pinkoski, N. (eds) Augustine in a Time of Crisis. Palgrave Macmillan, Cham. https://doi.org/10.1007/978-3-030-61485-0_9

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