According to Augustine of Hippo, “True justice has no existence save in that republic whose founder and ruler is Christ.” Augustine went on to spell out in no uncertain terms what this means for a proper understanding of the nature and authority of governments: “Justice being taken away, then, what are kingdoms but great robberies? For what are robberies themselves, but little kingdoms? The band itself is made up of men; it is ruled by the authority of a prince, it is knit together by the pact of the confederacy; the booty is divided by the law agreed on. If, by the admittance of abandoned men, this evil increases to such a degree that it holds places, fixes abodes, takes possession of cities, and subdues peoples, it assumes the more plainly the name of a kingdom, because the reality is now manifestly conferred on it, not by the removal of covetousness, but by the addition of impunity. Indeed, that was an apt and true reply which was given to Alexander the Great by a pirate who had been seized. For when that king had asked the man what he meant by keeping hostile possession of the sea, he answered with bold pride, ‘What thou meanest by seizing the whole earth; but because I do it with a petty ship, I am called a robber, whilst thou who dost it with a great fleet art styled emperor’ ” (City of God, Bk. II.21, IV.4).
According to Christopher Dawson “The drastic realism of this definition has proved shocking to several modern writers on Augustine. Indeed, so distinguished a student of political thought as Dr. A. J. Carlyle is unwilling to admit that St. Augustine really meant what he said . . . In reality there is nothing inconsistent or morally discreditable about St. Augustine’s views. They follow necessarily from his doctrine of original sin; indeed, they are implicit in the whole Christian social tradition and they frequently find expression in later Christian literature” (Enquiries into Religion and Culture, p. 243f.). Unfortunately, this historically orthodox Christian understanding of the nature and authority of governments has largely been rejected by the Churches of the modern Western world. As a result the Church has become a mere ghetto and the Christian faith has been reduced to little more than a mystery cult. This book seeks to correct this error by setting forth a Christian political theology for the twenty-first century.
Author: Stephen C. Perks
Hardback | 330 pages | £20 | ISBN: 978-1-909145-02-3
This book is also available as a free PDF download. Please read and observe our copyright policy.