The Christian Witness in the Earthly City: John H. Yoder as Augustinian Interlocutor

Posted on May 12, 2015 by PLT Staff

Paper presented by Gerald Schlabach at the second meeting of the Lived Theology and Power Workgroup in New York City. Both Augustine of Hippo and John Howard Yoder dwelt upon the issue of how to serve our earthly city without eroding our loyalty to God’s Kingdom. Schlabach explores the similarities between Augustine and Yoder’s attitudes towards the earthly city.

Excerpt: “St. Augustine of Hippo has exercised such an abiding influence upon political thought in the West for a curious reason: intrinsic to his vision of human society is the insight that we can never quite set our affairs in order and never quite get our politics right. The world’s best possible peace is a shadowy one; its most stable order is a tenuous one; its fullest possible justice is always only somewhat more just than current arrangements. In fact, the very effort to forge a definitive political order lies at the root of many of humanity’s gravest injustices, disorders and conflicts. Inevitably if not explicitly, therefore, politics according to Augustine must always be temporal, tentative, and revisable.”

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