A Tale of Two Cities (Augustine’s City of God)

The basic idea behind Augustine’s City of God is this: There is the city of this world that is focused on self and there is the city of God that is focused on God. The difference between these two cities is summed up in one sentence from Book XV: “The good make use of this world in order to enjoy God, whereas the evil want to make use of God in order to enjoy the world.” Augustine allows for a third group who does not even believe God, but the two categories are the main groups of people.
If Augustine is right, and I think he is, then there are many people who think they belong to the city of God but they actually belong to the city of this world. Why would I say this? Because many people follow Him in the same way they might “follow” a genie in a bottle. As long as the genie produces, we keep the bottle around. But the moment the wishes run out, we toss the bottle aside. We do not want anything else from the genie and we don’t want him around. He wasn’t a friend. He was someone we used.
Augustine says people who use God like this are “evil.” They are not followers at all. They are in it for themselves. They say they love god but what they really mean is that they love themselves and want to use God to get what they want.


Leave a Reply