Central Argument in the Passage
Augustine creates a theology of Christian defense in the book the City of God. He explains the chronology of events from creation to the turmoil and upheavals of a man. Throughout the realization of the City of God, he puts together the philosophy of society and divine law to critique different things in the Christian doctrine. He emphasizes that the human endeavor has no purpose as the Scripture can guide people in the highest good or evil.
The focus of the passage in chapter three of Book IV is a Christian defense against the criticism of Roman pagans. It is St. Augustine’s response to the historical circumstances of the Roman Empire. He gives a clear assertion that the long ascendancy of the Roman Empire and power were long overdue and its misfortunes were not due to the coming of Christianity. According to Augustine’s argument, true God is responsible for the ordainment of the kingdoms and their leaders. One of the primary purposes of the argument is to counter the accusations directed against Christianity by the Roman pagans. The passage describes the character of the rulers of the Roman Empire; stressing that their lust to dominate their self-love is their demise. According to Augustine, Justice and worshiping the true God are the ways to prosperity and salvation.
The book focuses on the empire fall and the role of the true God to grant the things that can be considered as either good or blissful. Augustine points out that glorifying the pagan gods could not provide happiness and prudence to men. Through the pages on expert essay writing service, he referred to worship of false gods as idle bombast. Augustine gives a comparison of the rich and the poor in society to present his argument on the mighty nature of the true God compared to the false gods of the pagans. The rich man is living an uneasy life in fear, anxiety, and discontent. On the other hand, the poor man is contented, feels secure and lives in peace surrounded by kind people.
Augustine goes ahead and suggests that any fool would prefer the life of the poor man, as he is contented and happy. He further questions whether the rich man could be worshipping the true God for his misfortunes. Augustine argues that people should not turn to foolishness by worshipping the pagan gods who can neither make them happy nor enhance their lives.
According to the author, the ruler who truly worshiped without prejudice and served with religious rites and virtue should reign in the lives of people and enable them to receive what is meant to be internal. Therefore, he stresses the idea that the unjust rulers are the test of virtue as they impose evils to their people. On the other hand, good leaders are profitable to human affairs as they help in instilling virtues and morality. The wickedness of the bad leaders makes them destroy even their own souls out of iniquity.
Movement of Augustine’s Thought
Augustine refutes the pagans’ claim that the Christians triggered the sack of Rome. The purpose of the claim is to counter the allegations that introduction of Christianity was the beginning of misery in the empire. Augustine also focuses on the pagans’ belief that people should continue worshipping the false gods so as to continue achieving a material advantage in the world. These include the continuation of the Roman Empire and the supremacy of the Rome city. Augustine attacks the pagans that emphasized on the weakening of the Christian religion and attributed it to the fall of Rome. The author expressed that the fall of Rome was a normal occurrence that could have happened to anyone. Besides, Augustine stipulates that it was not a unique event as Romans experienced different calamities even after worshiping the old gods, and they did extremely nothing to prevent the occurrences. He goes ahead to describe many catastrophes such as plagues that occurred in the times of pagans to prove that Christianity was not solely responsible for the fall of Rome. Augustine questions the role of the old gods in preventing the harm and catastrophes previously experienced by the Romans.
Augustine stressed that the existence of Rome had nothing to do with the pagans but the true will of God. He emphasizes that the pagan gods such as Jove only behaved in their lowest manner and had nothing to contribute to the success of Rome. God expressed his favour to the ancient Romans in spite of their worship of false gods. God rewarded the virtuous nature of the ancient time Romans although they did not worship him.
The elements presented by Augustine in the City of God include the church, state, city of the world and the city of heaven. The internal goodness is a result of the church that is divinely established and represents God. The state formulates a political community that adheres to the politics of mind and virtue. Most of the societies especially the ones influenced by the church seek to do good. The city of the world is meant for the ones with internal damnation. The city of heaven is destined for the ones that are predestined for salvation thus Augustine elaborates on the theory of justice by emphasizing on sharing the things that are necessary for life. It is, therefore, crucial for the people to maintain order that leads them to true peace if they are to pursue the city of heaven. People are challenged to choose a human society in which they want to form part of according to the God’s plans.
Augustine makes a clear assertion that the problems that were common to the Romans were their own making but not from the teachings of Christianity. The Romans had sought protection from the Goths by fleeing from the Christian churches. Besides, the Roman gods were responsible for the destruction and degrading of the moral virtues that existed in Rome. Despite their criticism of Christianity, the gods did not help the pagans restore their moral virtues such as human happiness or prevent evil. Besides, the gods were unable to protect the human souls.
However, some of the pagans had a common belief that the worshiping of the gods will guarantee them happiness in lives after death. The book IV of the City of God also examines the Roman Polytheism. Augustine gives an assumption that the Roman Empire had experienced several defeats before the Christian era, and thus it cannot be attributed to the misfortunes that the empire was experiencing. The pagan deities provided no protection as some believed. God’s providence allowed Roman to flourish in the past, but the virtue changed after the transition to paganism. The pagan deities had their own responsibilities thus could not be trusted to bring stability and the desired happiness. The mix of the deities had already contributed to the defiance of each other’s rationality and morality. The efforts of the deities aimed at imitating God as they were glorified humans.
Assumptions and Premises
Augustine has been thorough in his assumptions and premises regarding the contribution of Christianity and the fall of the Roman Empire. He constructs arguments that delve into mythologies and etymologies by plucking out every inconsistency. He makes his assumptions in the context of falling empire whose fall coincided with the introduction of Christianity as the religion of the state. However, Augustine had to make assumptions that combated historical correlations. He focused on the past troubles experienced in the Roman Empire before the introduction of Christianity to counter the allegation of the pagans that attributed the misfortunes to the religion.
Augustine admits in the course of his argument that happiness and the worldly success cannot be granted through fealty to the Christian gods or the Greco-Roman. He referred to the gods as fake who have no powers to grant any form of happiness. Besides, he made some of his arguments by attacking cultural assumptions on the effects of divinities on the human beings and their behaviors. Augustine succeeds in attacking the contradictions and idiosyncrasies of the ancient myths about the nature of the Christian God. While discussing the role of the Christian God in the world affairs, Saint Augustine is seen to have drifted. By basing his assumptions on the biblical sources, he makes the premises that cannot be refuted.
The book presents a logical flow of arguments with employment of regularity. Most of the arguments regarding the leaders of the Roman Empire are derived from the deductive logic that is internally accurate. The deductive arguments represent the premises of his arguments. Augustine seems to be careful in selecting the premises not to be seen as biased towards Christianity. Most of his arguments in support of Christianity are based on the Bible verses and past catastrophes that were experienced in Rome. The analysis of Greco-Roman religion is based on the Christian definitions of divinity.
Augustine made assumptions about Christianity in his book such as ‘God is good’. He also presented an assumption that the pagan gods that were worshiped in Rome could not guarantee happiness and success in the world. Most people worshiped the gods without being aware of the consequences and the works of the God. He gives a comparison of a rich man and another average man who lived in different circumstances. The rich man was discontented, unhappy and never satisfied in life. On the other hand, the poor man was happy and content with the family members. He gives a major assumption that everyone would prefer a happy life, and that can only be given to those who believe in the true God. He stipulates that people will be judged according to their deeds as God has a plan for the entire world. It was contrary to the argument of the Romans that God was only responsible for their misfortunes experienced and the happiness was determined by the deeds of a person. The assumption that the philosophers who came to the world before Christ were preparing the way for Christianity to enable people live better made him experience troubles with the original thinkers. Morality can be instilled by leaders, and they can also destroy it. He attributes some of the suffering of the Roman Empire to the earlier leaders.
Nature of the Arguments
Most of Augustine’s arguments are explicit in that they state the claim and use the reasoning skills to deduce evidence. For instance, Augustine presents facts in book four that proved that the long duration of the Roman Empire was to be ascribed. Besides, the author tries to reason that the early kingdoms were founded and maintained by one true God rather than the gods of the heathen and Jove. The sermons of Psalms and Gospel of John help him in presenting the explicit arguments by referring to biblical verses on the role of God in the life of human beings and his wonderful deeds. The main argument of the book for was regarding the lives of the Roman Empire involved in the worship of gods. He described people not able to point out the good deeds that the gods help them achieve in the longest times that they were living in a cruel lust and dark fear. The attention turned to the gods only resulted to empty pride of the Romans as they could not get the happiness they much desired. The arguments are explicit as the logical reasoning used help to attribute the miseries of the Roman Empire to the worship of the gods.
Arguments Made Elsewhere in the Book
The arguments are also made in book one where he censures the pagans who attributed the calamities of the world to the Christian religion. Besides, he rebukes the people who cast up to the Christians. Similarly, Augustine reviews the calamities suffered by the Romans before the time of Christ in book two and the universal practice of the false gods. He argues that people did not get any relief from the calamities even after worshipping false gods. The argument corresponds to the one presented in the first passage of chapter three Book IV chapter three that the false gods could not grant people happiness. The passage was placed before the chapter “How Like Kingdoms without justice are to bands of robbers” to show the relationship between the worship of false gods and bad leaders and societies that embrace vices.
Argument at the Particular Time
Augustine made the arguments to counter the false allegations against Christianity at a time that the church received major resistance from the people. The pagans attributed the misfortunes of the empire and the City of Rome to the introduction of Christianity to counter its spread. He chose that particular moment to refute the claims and ensure that people start believing the one true God. For instance, he emphasized on the unworthiness of the worshiped gods in that they could not offer people what they desired leading to life of struggle.
Augustine was born in 354 CE in a Roman North African province. He once heard a mysterious voice telling him to read the Bible and specifically the book of Romans. He read, ‘Let us behave decently, as in daytime, not in carousing and drunkenness, not in sexual immorality and debauchery, dissension or jealousy.’ He was convicted by the readings and changed to a better man who believed in true God and the virtues of Christianity. Augustine became a preacher. At the time, the Roman Empire was going down, and they were looking for someone to blame for their troubles. They turned to Christianity to explain their concerns and attribute the woes of the empire to the religion. Augustine’s love for the Bible in his early childhood and the mysterious voice greatly contributed to his defense of Christianity. He grew up with a belief that God was the only one who could grant the demands and desires of a person.
Augustine was a strong defender of Christianity and hoped to silence them by focusing on the leaders of the Roman Empire and the Christian faith. He paid attention to the earlier troubles of the empire before the introduction of Christianity. In his arguments, Augustine refutes the claim that the introduction and spread of Christianity in the empire caused the gods to abandon the city. Rome was ransacked, and the people were brutally murdered and others raped. Augustine completely disagrees with the perception of the pagan Romans and lays his logical refutation in the book. Pagans were strong believers in their false gods especially the goddess Fortuna who brought them luck. However, the gods and goddess could not grant the Romans happiness. He starts by reminding people that misfortunes do not choose the place or person to affect. He described the plagues that had affected the Roman Empire even when they were actively involved in the worship of the gods. According to Augustine’s argument, the destruction of the empire was attributed to the moral and spiritual corruption of the minds of the people.
Relation to the Local Context
Religion had performed a major role in the development of Roman Empire in spite of rejection by the pagans who believed in their false gods. From the beginning, the empire was polytheistic with an array of gods and spirits. However, most Romans refrained from the imposition of religious beliefs as they believed that they were watched by the ancestors, gods, and spirits. Christianity and Judaism posed great threats to the pagans and the worship of idols in the Roman Empire. Although the Jews had already established themselves in the empire, the emperors targeted them as they were the blame for the misfortunes and catastrophes. For instance, they were blamed for the great fire of Rome and all the ills that befell the empire. At the time, Christianity was viewed as a sect of Judaism and persecutions increased upon Christianity and the churches. The people who do not belong to the city of God will be subjected to everlasting misery. Therefore, it is the duty of the teachers of the Holy Scripture to defend their true faith by refuting what is wrong according to the Christian teachings. They should perform their duties to conciliate the hostile and the ignorant.
Book V emphasizes on leadership and justice. When there is no justice in the established kingdoms, they turn to have no order. The kingdoms and empires are governed by laws agreed upon by people. When people abandon the laws and increase the evil to the extent that it takes controls the societies by influencing people and possession of the cities, it is no longer a kingdom but a band of robbers. Augustine specifically follows Book 4 chapter 3 with Book 4 chapter 4 to show the relationship between poor leadership and the worship of the gods. The example in chapter three of the happiness of the poor man and discontent of the rich is clear explanation that the gods could not meet the demands of the people. Leaders can guide their people to the worship of the true God by emphasizing on virtues. The central argument of the City of God was to refute the Romans who blamed the troubles of the empire to the Christians. Besides, he wanted to enlighten people on the eternal peace that can be found here on earth once people believe in God.
Augustine argues that the existence of good leaders in the society is more advantageous to their citizens rather than themselves. He describes them as a true gift of God that enables them live a wonderful life and receive what is meant to be internal. Augustine described the good leaders as contrary to those who existed in Roman Empire as he called them unjust. Good leaders are able to instill virtues to their people and can grant them happiness by leading them to the worship and serving the true God with genuine rites rather than the unjust rulers who only impose evils to their subjects.
Chapter five describes the existence of kingdoms without justice and compares them to a band of robbers. The chapter focuses on the fall of the Roman Empire and their miseries to present the argument on the importance of justice in the society. The authority should be involved in implementing the agreed upon laws to minimize evil and other vices. Once there is no justice, people tend to take possession of the cities, increases covetousness and impunity. The injustices described in the chapter can form a logical basis for reasoning on the miseries that were caused by evil rulers in the Roman Empire. People suffered even before Christianity was introduced in the Roman Empire thus cannot attribute their miseries and struggles to the religion.
Implications of the Chapter to the Design of the Book
The passage mainly concentrates on the argument against the false gods of the Roman Empire. Augustine aimed at refuting the allegations against Christianity as the cause of the troubles and misfortunes. The passage has implications in the books I-X of the City of God. They focus on refuting the fancy of polytheistic worship in the Roman Empire for people to prosper. Augustine also presents the claim of the overwhelming calamities that befell people even under the worship of the false gods. The first section of book I-V provides a critique of the pagan religion and the VI-X their philosophy. The first section of the books of Augustine aims at examining classical pagans and their gods. He asserts that the Roman religion did not bring happiness to its adherents. His examination of paganism was based on the light of Christian teachings and ideals.
Broader Implications on Augustine’s Thinking
The passage has significance in the Augustine’s broader thinking of the City of God in that he poses a challenge to the human society to choose where to belong. Augustine poses the question whether to continue worshiping the false gods who could not offer anything or meet the demands of the Romans compared to the true God who grants happiness. The story of the rich and the poor man living on different sides of the life has significance in his thinking as it helps Augustine unfold the plans of God to his people. The history of Roman Empire is crucial to him as he shapes the arguments to counter the allegations leveled against Christianity.