Thursday, March 28, 2013

The Collapse of a Christian Nation

In lieu of the cultural collapse in America that we are witnessing before our eyes, St. Augustine offers a blueprint for the American Evangelical church in his book the city of God, penned over 1600 years ago, that we would do well to read. I know that this may not be the answer that many Evangelicals want to hear, but I think it is the message that God desires for us to hear and obey. We need to face up to the fact, as Augustine did many centuries ago, that the Roman Empire has collapsed.

This is probably best because God's intent was never for the United States to be a New Testament Israel. God worked through a nation in the Old Testament, but not during the New Testament time (or the church age). During the New Testament period, God works through his church. I firmly believe that God never intended for the United States to become a Christian nation; rather he intended the Church in the U. S. to advance God's Kingdom and influence the nation for Christ through persuasion not legislation.

This following is a synopsis of the book that was taken from

Augustine wrote the treatise to explain Christianity's relationship with competing religions and philosophies, as well as its relationship with the Roman government, with which it was increasingly intertwined. It was written soon after Rome was sacked by the Visigoths in 410. This event left Romans in a deep state of shock, and many saw it as punishment for abandoning traditional Roman religion for Catholic Christianity. It was in this atmosphere that Augustine set out to console Christians, writing that, even if the earthly rule of the Empire was imperiled, it was the City of God that would ultimately triumph. Augustine's eyes were fixed on Heaven, a theme of many Christian works of Late Antiquity.

Despite Christianity's designation as the official religion of the Empire, Augustine declared its message to be spiritual rather than political. Christianity, he argued, should be concerned with the mystical, heavenly city, the New Jerusalem — rather than with earthly politics.

The book presents human history as being a conflict between what Augustine calls the City of Man and the City of God, a conflict that is destined to end in victory of the latter. The City of God is marked by people who forgot earthly pleasure to dedicate themselves to the eternal truths of God, now revealed fully in the Christian faith. The City of Man, on the other hand, consists of people who have immersed themselves in the cares and pleasures of the present, passing world.

Augustine provides a brief description of the contents of the work:
However, this great undertaking was at last completed in twenty-two books. Of these, the first five refute those who fancy that the polytheistic worship is necessary in order to secure worldly prosperity, and that all these overwhelming calamities have befallen us in consequence of its prohibition. In the following five books I address myself to those who admit that such calamities have at all times attended, and will at all times attend, the human race, and that they constantly recur in forms more or less disastrous, varying only in the scenes, occasions, and persons on whom they light, but, while admitting this, maintain that the worship of the gods is advantageous for the life to come. But that no one might have occasion to say, that though I had refuted the tenets of other men, I had omitted to establish my own, I devote to this object the second part of this work, which comprises twelve books, although I have not scrupled, as occasion offered, either to advance my own opinions in the first ten books, or to demolish the arguments of my opponents in the last twelve. Of these twelve books, the first four contain an account of the origin of these two cities—the city of God, and the city of the world. The second four treat of their history or progress; the third and last four, of their deserved destinies.
—Augustine, Retractions[1]
In other words, the City of God can be divided into two parts. Part I, which comprises Books I-X, is polemical in style and is devoted to a critique of Roman cultures and mores (Books I-V) and of pagan philosophy (Books VI-X). Interpreters often take these first ten books to correspond with the Earthly City, in contrast to the City of God discussed in Part II, which comprises the remaining twelve books. Part II is where Augustine shifts from criticism to positing a coherent account of the relationship between the City of God and an Earthly City subordinated to it.

As indicated in the above passage from the Retractions, the City of God can be further subdivided into the following parts:
Part I (Books I-X):
a) Books I-V: criticism of Rome
b) Books VI-X: criticism of pagan philosophy
Part II (Books XI-XXII):
c) Books XI-XIV: the origins of the two cities
d) Books XV-XVIII: their history or progress
e) Books XIX-XXII: their deserved destinies
This is a link is a link where the interviewer interviews two Evangelical scholars about the notion of America being a Christian Nation.