A Brief Book Summary from Books At a Glance

The final culmination of the city of man is in eternal punishment, but the final state of the City of God is consummated Glory.

This work will defend the City of God against those who prefer their own gods as the founders of their city. The city of this world is controlled by a lust for domination. During the sacking of Rome, even the enemies of God were sheltered and safe in Christian holy places, yet now those who were saved are blaming Christ for the destruction. Never before have invaders spared people out of respect for their gods—it is only the Christian God who has been honored this way. 

 

Introduction

Augustine’s The City of God is one of the most influential works in the history of literature. It is a towering achievement of Christian philosophy that defends Christianity in light of the pillage of Rome. Augustine critiques and attacks pagan religion and morality, and rebuts those who were blaming Christians for the sack of Rome. He develops a biblical theology of two kingdoms, the city of the world and the City of God. Augustine traces out the origins, historical advance, and eternal ends of the two cities. Despite human sin, the City of God will conquer and be victorious. The final culmination of the city of man is in eternal punishment, but the final state of the City of God is consummated Glory.

The City of God consists of two parts which are divided into numbered books. Part 1 contains Books 1-10, and Part 2 contains Books 11-22.

Summary:  Part 1, Books 1-5

Part 1: Book 1

This work will defend the City of God against those who prefer their own gods as the founders of their city. The city of this world is controlled by a lust for domination. During the sacking of Rome, even the enemies of God were sheltered and safe in Christian holy places, yet now those who were saved are blaming Christ for the destruction. Never before have invaders spared people out of respect for their gods—it is only the Christian God who has been honored this way. Rome entrusted her defense to gods who had been conquered before! Pagan temples in Rome were violated, but Christian places were sanctuaries. Only the name of Christ stopped this aspect of traditional warfare. God in grace often blesses the righteous and the wicked, but he also allows both to experience disasters. In disaster, however, the righteous are refined and purified, whereas the wicked are destroyed. Even the good need to be weaned away from their love of temporal things and comfort, and they need to learn to speak up against evil (sometimes they refrain because they don’t want to lose temporal advantages or be rejected). A righteous person is content with God regardless of circumstances, and losing temporal goods is inevitable at death. Treasures in heaven are not plundered by invaders. We will all die, and so our lifespan in this world is not overly consequential. Although we want to treat the bodies of the dead with respect and bury them, believers who were slain and unburied have lost nothing and will be resurrected. Those who were taken into captivity are still with God, and stand in the tradition of Daniel and others. The celebrated story of Marcus Regulus claims that he endured captivity and torture for the gods—if this is a mark of honor for him, and the gods are still praised, why are Christians jeered at if they have gone into captivity trusting in God?

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