What is God’s State, and What Does It Mean?June 26, 2021
The State of God (De Civitate Dei), one of the most important works of St. Augustine, is an important work that has shaped social and state philosophies.
The importance of love, especially love of God, is great in Augustine’s philosophy. Love is an important quality that brings people together and unites them with God.
There are two different kinds of love in Augustine’s philosophy. The first is love of God, as we have seen, and the other is self-love or love of the world. People with different characters who contain these affections naturally build two different societies. People who love God will create the State of God, and those who are filled with worldly love will create the World State (De Civitate Dei, XIV, 28.). The work called The State of God is the story of these two states.
During the time of Augustine, the Roman Empire collapsed and it is tried to find out what or who was responsible for this collapse. Pagans, this collapse was caused by the Christians; because they said that they brought a new moral understanding that abolished Roman values. Therefore, if the old customs of worshiping the gods are revived, Rome will return to its former glory. Augustine, M.S. With this work in 413, he tried to refute what the pagans said and to reveal the principles of the salvation of society. Augustine, who is in an effort to regulate the social order with divine commands, says that Jesus is at the head of the society formed by people full of God’s love. It’s not just people in this society; but there are also angels. Members of this society will live happily ever after in heaven.
The community formed by people who love themselves or the world will be subjected to an eternal punishment in hell along with the demons. These are of course two different societies that will be discussed in the next world. In this world, the individuals of these two different societies are mixed with each other. However, people with love for God need to set themselves apart from others and live a life worthy of the State of God. It is God’s divine law that also determines the essentials of such a life. Under the leadership of those who are aware of this law, people will strive to attain the State of God. This work of Augustine, who said that the leaders in this life were kings in the state and men in the family, had a great impact. Many modern historians, influenced by this work, who evaluated the entire history of humanity from a different perspective, have used a similar method. In almost the entire history of Europe, especially since Carolus Magnus, all rulers have maintained their sovereignty as God’s representative on earth. In addition, after this work of Augustine, which can be considered as a kind of utopia, many philosophers felt the influence and impulse of the State of God to write their own utopias.
Prepared by: Sociologist Ömer YILDIRIM
Source: Omer YILDIRIM’s Personal Lecture Notes. Atatürk University Sociology Department 1st Year “Introduction to Philosophy” and 2nd, 3rd, 4th Grade “History of Philosophy” Lecture Notes (Ömer YILDIRIM); Open Education Philosophy Textbook