Flopping Is Good For Soccer

The Ghost of World Cup Past

This post is part of an on-going series in which I and others systematically read through Augustine of Hippo’s City of God in 2014.

City of God 14.1–14.11.

Book fourteen discusses the distinction between flesh and spirit and how they relate to our emotions and our bodies. Augustine will also critique some philosophical positions, especially the Stoics.

14.1–2. Citizens of the City of God live by the spirit, and citizens of the City of Man live by the flesh. But what exactly is meant by spirit and flesh? Augustine claims that even the high-minded philosophers live by the flesh.

Flesh means a number of different things in the various passages of Scripture. Here Augustine uses it to refer to the totality of the human individual and society in its fallen state. Only God’s redeemed live by the spirit.

Augustine refers to those who believed that Christ had no human soul. This doctrine was known as Apollinarianism, which was condemned as heresy in the fourth century. (My copy of the Penguin edition misplaces the footnote on this a sentence too early, which might confuse some readers.)

14.3–4. Augustine argues that “the flesh” does not cause us to sin. Rather corruptible flesh is the punishment for the sin of Adam. He says that a corrupted body might incite a person to sin, but it cannot be the source of sin. After all, the Devil is the father of wickedness, but he has no fleshy body.

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Trademarking the Name of God

This post is part of an on-going series in which I and others systematically read through Augustine of Hippo’s City of God in 2014.

City of God 13.14–24.

13.14–15. Augustine discusses the condition of man after the Fall. Adam sinned, which brought death to himself and all his posterity.

Augustine returns to themes that he’s already discussed at length in City of God. When he discussed the fall of the demons, he already talked about how a good will can pervert itself, so he only has to allude to it here. He’s already covered the idea that the human soul is not preexistent, so it’s simple for him to point out that all humans have a fallen nature because they derive from Adam. And his idea that the act of forsaking God is a kind of death is related to his idea that sin is the encroachment of non-existence into existence, which he discussed earlier. Many discussions that seem tangential are actually part of the greater argument.

13.16. This chapter begins a section in which Augustine discusses how Christians ought to view earthly bodies. He emphasizes the importance of the body, and idea that was lacking in the philosophers as well as many Christian bishops. It’s still a doctrine that Christians often neglect.

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This post is part of an on-going series in which I and others systematically read through Augustine of Hippo’s City of God in 2014.

City of God 12.21–13.13.

12.21 is one of Augustine’s longer chapters. He argues that it is blasphemous to think of an endless cycle of ages in which souls alternate between misery and happiness. He uses Christian arguments, but he also turns the Platonists own arguments against them.

This philosophical discussion is the background to his discussion of the special creation of man.

12.22–24. Man’s creation is special. God made humans halfway between the beasts and the angels. Augustine conceives of a creation in which God created multiple individuals of each kind of animal, but when it came to making humans, he only made one pair. This reinforces the idea that all men are brothers. Showing the extent of sin, Augustine notes that though we are all brothers, humans treat each other worse than the animals treat each other.

Note Augustine equates the Image of God with the possession of a rational soul.

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This post is part of an on-going series in which I and others systematically read through Augustine of Hippo’s City of God in 2014.

City of God 12.4–12.20

12.4–5. Augustine argues that everything in creation has its place and fulfills a divine aesthetic. Because we look at the world from our own perspective, we often cannot see how things work together. We merely think about whether things promote our own comfort. The Egyptians didn’t see the beauty in the plagues of frogs.

Augustine mentions that some creatures like living in fire. He’s talking about salamanders, which don’t really like living in fire.

12.6. God did not create the fallen angels with an evil nature or an evil will. Where does evil come from?

Augustine comes to the conclusion that evil occurs when a will values a lesser good higher than a greater good. Therefore, evil could begin even though everything was created good. When a good angel started to value something more than God, the ultimate good, that angel became perverted, introducing evil.

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