The City of God and the City of Joy

By: Paul Rowe

The fifth-century City of God, written by Augustine, is a classic theological exploration of the interaction of church and state. It is often overlooked that Augustine wrote the book as a defense of Christian civil institutions in a pluralist environment. The occasion of its writing was the sack of Rome by the Visigoths in 410. Roman pagans accused Christians of bringing on the fall of Rome by undermining its martial virtues and angering the gods. In modern terms, the Christians were divisive and unpatriotic. Their practices had disturbed public order. Their proselytizing and way of life had brought on Rome’s fall.

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