AUGUSTINE’S IMPACT ON WESTERN THOUGHT
October 30, 2011
An influential idea in Western thought is that history has a goal and is puposeful. This idea altered the Greek-Roman notion that history and time revoved in meaningless circles with no ultimate goal. With the fall of the Roman Empire to Germanic invaders in 431 AD Augustine, theologian and philosopher, wrote The City of God. This book became a classic source in shaping Western thought. Augustine contrasts The Worldly City with The City of God. The state, Worldly City, has the function of maintaining peace, law, and order. The Heavenly City, the church as institution, those bound together in faith by the love of God in Christ. The church, however, as worldly institution is made up of people who are also citizens. As such church as institution is part of the Worldly City. Faithful members of the church are not only members of the worldly kingdom as citizens but also members of The City of God. (Church as Spiritual Kingdom). Church as institution, however, as well as its members can and do sin as history attests. Yet the City of God with its message of grace and forgiveness serves to leaven the Worldly City. When it fails reform and repentance is in order. When one joins with fellow believers trusting and thanking for grace one joins in the Kingdom, or City of God. The City of God moves towards its final fruition – it is an already realitybut not yet fulfilled. That awaits the fulfillment of Christ’s Second Coming. History will then be completed with the victory of the City (Kingdom) of God.
The idea that history is puposeful would play an importand role shaping subsequent western philosophy regarding the meaning of time and history.