, Research Paper
Peace in City of God
In the City of God, Saint Augustine wants to defend the Church from the allegations that the Romans have against it. Is Christianity dangerous? The Romans seem to think that they undetermined the peace of their society. The barbarians spared Rome for everything that was happening with the coming of Christ. All the awful things that were happening to Rome with the war were intended to happen because God wanted them to learn a lesson and to be better persons. Everything that happened during that time was attributable to the influence of the Christian church. The tragedies that occurred in Rome were only attributed to the influence of the Christian Church and the existence of Christ, although they were coherent with the traditions of war. The Romans seem to think that Christianity is dangerous and that it undermined the empire because the Christians believed in another world. They have faith and hope in God and they strongly believe that after death there is something much better, a new world in which everything is good. On the other hand the Romans were a strong empire and in order to keep that good empire they could not think of the possibility that another world existed. The Romans were a military empire and
they had to fight to clear others out of the way, they had to be aggressive. While the Christians believed in sharing everything in common, the Romans believed in personal excellence. Christianity in general is not dangerous for anyone but based on their experience and there strong believes in the empire it was not good for keeping peace in their society.
The supreme good, final end and highest good in the City of God is God. Our final good and the highest achievement in life is to live eternally in heaven, while the final end of the earthly life is live eternal death. The highest good a man can achieve in this earthly life is to have an eternal blessing from God and to live in peace. According to Saint Augustine peace is the supreme good. Therefore we may say that the most valuable thing or supreme good that exists in this life is to live with the desire to live with peace in the eternal life. Either peace or the idea of peace is so great that even in this earthly life there is no word we hear with such pleasure, nothing we desire more, or find more gratifying. Every man wants to live a happy life and wishes to be joyful and this is why there is no one who does not wish to have a peaceful life. Even those who make war desire nothing but to attain peace with glory. ?Peace then is the purpose of waging war?(The City of God 452). In the end every man?s desire is to seek peace by waging war, although no man seeks war by making peace.
Saint Augustine identifies several background conditions that make peace possible. One of them is justice and it is regulated through the just judge, which is God. God is the one who is in charge of regulating the peace fairly to all human beings. To achieving the peace of all things there has to be an order of tranquility. Order is a distribution in which things have a special place no matter how equal and unequal they are. For the preservation of every mortal race, there has to be a harmony, which will bring things to fit one another. The peace of the body consists in the arrangement of is parts. The irrational soul and the rational soul each find peace with harmony, the irrational by the response of the appetites and the rational by the knowledge and action. The peace of body and soul is living an ordered life and also to be a healthy human being. Peace between men is, to be friends with each other, to live with an agreement of order that will make your life more harmonious. Similarly, domestic and civil peace consists of getting to a harmonious agreement either with those who live together (family) or those in the community, which are the citizens of your country. Peace between man and God is to live your life having faith in God and in the heavenly city which is promised to those who live a good and ordered life. In order to have peace in the celestial or heavenly city, one must have achieve the privilege of living an eternal life in which one can enjoy one another and the presence of God. Therefore in order to have peace in society we need a judge, God, who is in charge of putting things together in order and harmony and
distributes things fairly among human beings. ?God, the wise Creator and just Ordainer of all natures, has made the mortal race of man the loveliest of all lovely things on earth. He has given to men good gifts suited to their existence here below. These good gifts are granted, however, with the perfectly just understanding that whoever uses the goods which are meant for the mortal peace of mortal men, as these goods should be used, will receive more abundant and better goods; but that whoever misuses his gifts on earth will both lose what he has and never receive the better gifts of heaven?(The City of God 458). There can be no union between men if no justice exists because each man has to respect the other and everyone deserves to live with the peace that justice is done in the world by the earthly law and the supreme and highest law.
Another of the conditions to make peace possible is faith. Faith is something that is hard to achieve because in order to attain it one must feel very strong about the life that is promised after death. If this mortal body is a stranger to God, it is not going to walk by faith but rather by sight. The unity of body or soul has to exhibit an ordered obedience of faith to the eternal law in order to attain peace. ?He refers all peace of body or soul, to their combination, to that higher peace which unites a mortal man with the immortal God and which I defined as ?ordered obedience guided by faith, under God?s eternal law??(The City of God 459). The terrestrial city is more concerned with ruling and having order in this city, they seek earthly peace, and therefore they do not live by faith.
On the contrary to live by faith in the heavenly city, one must use this earthly peace until this life is over and consequently one is going to achieve this heavenly peace. God is the creator of everything and although I have not seen him, by faith I believe that he exists. He says that the life that is after death is better than the one of earth and having faith in him, I hope that someday I achieve the privilege of living forever in heaven.
Virtue is another one of the background conditions for peace. In order to be a virtuous person some qualities are necessary in order to obtain moral excellence and good behavior. In order to obtain true virtue it is necessary to be a person who believes in God and is truly religious. Virtue must be practiced with the efforts to overcome the union of the body and the soul. A man who believes in eternal life and salvation of the soul must practice virtue. This virtue must come from God and from the teachings of the Christian Church. It is important that one distinguishes between true virtue, which comes only from God and from the one that comes from pride, which is useless because it only helps in this earthly life.
The last of the background conditions is to live like the pilgrims. Their basis for equality is Christianity and in order to obtain peace they had to view themselves as Christians. They view this earthly life as a journey in which they pass away to a better place. The pilgrims said, that the earth is not ours and that it is not our final end, its just part of our journey through life. ?This peace the
pilgrim City already possesses by faith and it lives holily and according to this faith so long as, to attain its heavenly completion, it refers every good act done for God or for his fellow man?(The City of God 465-466).
I think that this background conditions to achieve peace don?t exist in this world of today. Although there is a great community of Christians in the world, the values are not the same as they used to be. Human beings are more concerned with the earthly happiness; everyone desires to have power and money. They turn away from the eternal happiness, which is acquired through being able to follow your moral values in the right way. I think that a good solution for this problem is having more teachers of faith and having a strong church that teaches humanity the importance of living rightly in order to achieve what a man mostly desires, peace.