By John O'Meara
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Extra resources for Charter of Christendom: The Significance of the City of God
Whether he was writing a letter to the priest Firmus,10 or engaged in the opening chapters of certain stages of the work, or reviewing it as a whole when he came to publish his Retractations, his general outline and description are both accurate and un- varying. Here we shall give without comment his over-all description in the Retractations, followed by his explanations at various important points of the book as it proceeded. Retractations (II. 69) 426-427. In the meantime Rome had been swept by an invasion of the Goths under the leadership of King Alaric and the impact of a great disaster; and the worshippers of the many false gods, to whom we commonly give the name of pagans, attempting to attribute this visitation to the Chris- tian religion, began more sharply and more bitterly than usual to blaspheme the true God.
The two associations center on these two mutually exclusive focuses. The city of God is, revert- ing to Augustine's definition of the ciuitas, the multi- tude of men bound in association by the love of God. Among the misunderstandings that have arisen from attaching undue importance to the term "city" is that Augustine is speaking, not of two citiesâof those predestined to salvation and those predestined to damnationâbut of three;20 that is, the two mentioned, which may be described as the spiritual-heavenly city and the carnal-earthly city, with the addition of a third, the spiritual-earthly city.
Inasmuch as the City of God is a discussion of religion (disputatio religionis) , both works share the same topic. The De Moribus Ecclesiae Catholicae, written in 388-390, has this striking passage on the "way," which is, at the same time, a summary state- ment of one aspect and much of the contents of the City of God: "the way which God built for us in the segregation of the Patriarchs, the bond of the Law, the foretelling of the Prophets, the sacrament of the Man assumed, the testimony of the Apostles, the blood of the martyrs and the entering into possession of the gentiles.