Tuesday, 14 September 2010

Newbigin on Augustine on Government

The church father Augustine famously argued that love is [should be...?] the foundation of all human government - not just Christian. Here's Lesslie Newbigin's summary of Augustine's argument:
[Augustine] insists that love is the basis of [all human] society; even in their wars men are in fact seeking peace. But peace is only possible where there is order, and order depends on proper government; but government in which one is subordinated to another is only right is the one who is called to govern does so for the sake of those he governs - as their servant. The motive power of order is therefore love... Love, not natural justice, is what holds even the earthly commonwealth together... love creates order first in the family and among neighbours and then, by extension, in the city and the nation... Faith working through love is the foundation of justice, and without justice there is no commonwealth.
Lesslie Newbigin, Foolishness to the Greeks: The Gospel and Western Culture (Eerdmans, 1986): 103-4.

1 comment:

John McClean said...

I wonder if Newbigin has this right! Augustine says that the city of man and the city of God are both based in love, but in different loves. The earthly city is created by self love and so is fractious, yet it has a certain unity in ‘love of ruling’ and is driven by a restless love of power. Does Newbigin assume that "love" is always a virtue for Augustine.
See City of God, XIV.28