Friendship and Society:
Introduction to Augustine's Practical Philosophy
A. The Nature of Peace
B. The Nature and Morality of War
s. La Doctrine Politique De Saint Augustin, (Paris: Librairie Plon: 1927), pp. 255-300; Herbert Deane, op. cit., pp 154 ff; Louis J. Swift, The Early Fathers on War and Military Service (Wilmington: Michael Glazier, Inc., 1983), p. 110-148; John Helgeland, Robert J. Daly, and J. Patout Burns, Christians and the Military, Philadelphia: Fortress Press, 1985), pp. 73-86; John Langan, "The Elements of St. Augustine's Just War Theory," Journal of Religious Ethics, vol. 12, # 1 (Spring, 1984), pp. 19-38; Richard S. Hartigan, "St. Augustine on War and Killing: The Problem of the Innocent, "Journal of the History of Ideas, vol 27 (1966), pp. 195-204. Louis Swift responds to Hartigan in "Augustine on War and Killing: Another View," Harvard Theological Review, vol 66 (1973), pp. 369-83. See also R.A. Markus, "Saint Augustine's Views on the Just War," in The Church and War, edited by W.J. Sheils (London: Basil Blackwell, 1983); David A. Lenihan, "The Just War Theory in the Work of Saint Augustine," Augustinian Studies, vol. 19 (1988), pp. 37-70; David A. Lenihan, "The Influence of Augustine's Just War: The Early Middle Ages," Augustinian Studies, vol. 27-1 (1996), pp. 55-94.
WAR AND PEACE
A. The Nature of Peace
The importance of peace in Augustine's thought is suggested by the fact that the word pax in one of its various forms appears more than 2500 times in his writings. The reasons for his emphasis are evident. The driving force of all human action is the desire for happiness and no one can be happy without peace. As he observes, there is nothing that we talk about, so fervently desire, so welcomed when achieved, in a word, so good for us as peace.1 Every human thirsts for peace but it is hard to come by. An individual's peace depends on a good will, a will that is driven by an ordered love, and in the present circumstances of life humans find such love hard to maintain.2 In his 30's Augustine had confidence in his unaided ability to choose the good if he so desired but in his later years he became more and more convinced that his ability to choose rightly and love well was dependent on the grace of God. Peace was therefore more a gift of God than a human accomplishment.3 Accepting the gift of God's grace (and to do so one must have the grace of acceptance), humans are strengthened in the midst of the pressures of life before death and are insured that their life after death will be free of all strife.4 Through the grace to love peace above all, greed is conquered and jealousy disappears.5 This is so because it makes no sense to greedily clutch at peace or to be envious of the peace that others have. The wonderful characteristic of peace is that it can be shared freely with others without lessening one's portion.6
Peace (like health) can be defined only negatively, as the absence of dissention and strife. It's perfect realization, therefore, is in that theoretical world of absolute unity, a world in which there is "One" and not "Many." In the really existing world of multiplicity peace is found in an ordered tranquility, an arrangement of like and unlike things whereby each of them has its proper place.7 The beginning of peace for the individual comes when love is well-ordered and the objects of such love are possessed.8
For a person to have perfect peace there must be internal and external harmony. The body must have an ordered balance among its parts; the soul, an ordered satisfaction of its appetites. The sensitive appetites must seek neither too much or too little of those material things necessary for sustaining physical life. The intellectual appetites must reflect a correspondence between desire and moral values. A person's internal peace depends on good order between body and soul and health in the living whole. As we have seen, peace between humans comes with an orderly friendship or "oneness of heart" (concordia). Peace in the family comes when such friendship is reflected in a harmonious arrangement of authority and obedience among those who live together. Peace among citizens living in political community rests on a harmony between rulers and those ruled. Finally, the peace of the heavenly city, that most ordered and harmonious society, will be realized at the end of time when humans and angels will rejoice in God and rejoice in each other because of God.9
The effort to achieve peace must begin within oneself. One cannot hope to draw others to peace unless one possesses it within and at least here in the realm of the interior man there is some truth in saying "to love peace is to have it."10 We may not be always able to control our times, but we have some control over our reaction to our times. Living a good life, we make our times good, at least with respect to their impact on our eternal destiny. A good life gives a basis for hope and in that hope we can find interior peace.11
Creating such peace will always be a difficult task. As long as we live in our disintegrating body we must cope with our unruly flesh and weakened spirit. Only a person with no temptation, only a person who is finally free of hunger, thirst, illness, and tiredness can find a complete peace within themselves. Lacking that, there will always be a daily battle to be fought, a threat or obstacle to be overcome.12 We are thus never free of anxiety. In the best of times the good and beauty of this world tempts us. In the worst of times we are in danger of despairing because of the evil we see around us and in us.13 Even the most advanced in virtue, one who is here and now at peace with himself and the world, must carry on the battle to retain that peace, conscious always of the God who will assist him as he toils and will crown him when he finally succeeds.14
Having achieved a modicum of internal peace, the individual can then seek peace with other human beings. There are two basic rules for peaceful relations with others. First, one must do them no harm; second, one must try as far as possible to benefit them.15 Ideally, peace with others rests on a quiet mutual trust such as one might find between inseparable friends,16 but realistically it often can only be found in a fragile hope resting on the trustworthiness of sworn oaths of unknown barbarians.17 Peace with strangers is always fragile and uncertain and even peace with those we know may not survive whatever changes in them (or in us) tomorrow may bring.18
Some peace can be found in the present life but perfect peace can be achieved only after death by those destined to reach heaven. There are at least three reasons for this. First and foremost the perfection of peace comes when it is permanent but this is not secured until after death when the person enjoys that direct vision and perfect love of God which removes even the possibility of sinning. Secondly, even though we may have everything anyone could wish for in this life (Augustine lists such things as money, a large family, blameless sons, pretty daughters, full cupboards, plenty of cattle, no ruined walls or broken fences, no tumult or quarreling in the streets, nothing but quiet and peace, an abundance of wealth in the home and in the state), the best that comes from this is a "second-hand" sort of peace. It does not fulfill all our desires because it is temporal, tied to material things, and therefore destined someday to perish.19 Even though we are satisfied with what we have at the present moment, the prospect of death causes fear that all the goods we possess here and now will eventually be lost.20 There is still something more needed for our peace and happiness to become perfect: that they be never-ending.21 Finally, as long as there is life this side of death there will be conflict, internal conflict with a body slowly falling apart and a soul constantly besieged by temptations.
Peace in this life is difficult even for saintly people who earnestly strive for the goods of the eternal city. It is even more of a problem for those who are dedicated only to the values and goods of this world. They too form a community, an earthly city, since they are united by the things that they love, namely, the goods of this earth.22 Such peace resting on temporal values and material goods can be nothing better than incomplete and fragile. It is incomplete because it does not take into account the eternal values that should dominate every aspect of human life. In a society committed to temporal values, communities are formed by individuals acting for selfish reasons, more concerned for their own welfare than the welfare of others. The peace that results is fragile because there is no true "oneness of heart." Such justice as exists is based on self-interest more than respect for the rights of others.23
In the earthly city humans seek happiness but it is happiness mixed with fear because the community in which it exists is constantly torn by conflicting opinions and desires which frequently explode into domestic quarrels and wars with foreigners. Each society seeks to be lord of the world. They want peace but only on their own terms.24 Their victories are hollow because in their very success the victors become fearful of future failure. They learn the bitter lesson that the power to win a war is not nearly enough power to keep a peace.
Still, the temporal peace that one can achieve while living on earth is not a negligible good. It can bring with it a health, security, and human fellowship that are true gifts of God. Indeed it is God who gives the strength to preserve such peace when achieved and the fortitude to restore it when lost.25 Avoiding war and seeking the material goods necessary for a pleasant earthly life are not unworthy goals even for citizens of the heavenly city. Tragedy in life does not come from the human desire for temporal goods. Rather it comes from loving such temporal goods so fervently and exclusively that the eternal goods of heaven are forgotten, that vision of God and eternal fellowship which brings the ultimate victory of an eternal, supreme, and untroubled peace.26
The difference between citizens of the earthly city and citizens of the heavenly city is not that one group seeks peace and the other does not. The difference lies in the quality of peace each group seeks and how they use the peace of this world. Whereas the citizens of this world are intent upon acquiring only the temporal peace that they can get from earthly possessions and comforts, citizens of the heavenly city look beyond these goods to the heaven promised them and use the material and temporal goods of this life as pilgrims use the advantages of the territory they pass through. For them such goods are not snares and obstructions hindering their journey home; they are ways to ease or at least not increase the burdens of the corruptible body they are dragging down their pilgrim path. Citizens of the earthly city seek an earthly peace, a harmony between authority and obedience in a society driven by a collective will to achieve those things necessary for existence this side of death. Members of the heavenly city, on the other hand, make use of such earthly peace only as long as their mortality demands it. They are not reluctant to follow the laws and customs that guarantee an orderly life on earth. In this they have common purpose with those who see such peaceful temporal life as the only goal and who believe that the limited peace it achieves as the highest peace attainable.27
For citizens of the earthly city the perfection of peace, if it is to be achieved at all, can be achieved only in time; for citizens of the heavenly city peace now comes from hope.28 This hope is a secure hope for those who have faith in Christ. His resurrection and his promise of eternal life gives assurance that perfect peace is attainable. As a result, believers in Christ can be happy in this life and certain of their destiny in the next, looking forward to the fulfillment of his promise of eternal peace for those who love well.29
Even for saints the best peace that can be achieved in this life is through hope based on the promises of Christ and faithful obedience to the eternal law. The peace of heaven will begin with the face to face vision of God and will be fully realized in a union between creature and creator.30 Augustine hints at how a union of such disparate beings can take place when he notes that, just as now humans live through an embodiment of a rational soul, in heaven they shall be enlivened by the fullness of the Holy Spirit, that same Spirit who now supports them by grace as they continue their earthly journey.31 In heaven it will be God loving his now-perfected image in the creature.
Attempting to describe how humans shall feel when they are bathed by this flood of infinite love, Augustine uses an analogy of drunkards who seem to lose their minds by over-indulging in good wine. When in heaven humans see God and are joined to him in love, they shall experience such unspeakable joy that in a certain way they will "lose their human minds as they are made divine and are intoxicated with the sweetness of God's house."32 They shall be joined to that one who alone can satisfy all their desires, "glued to God" by love and never more to be separated.33 Then will be experienced the final peace of resting in God. There is no adequate analogy for such peace in this life. Indeed, compared to that peace, all earthly joy will seem like misery.
This union with God will carry with it a peace with ourselves and peace with neighbors. We shall be "friends with our body."34 There will be a harmony between resurrected body and soul. No longer will we be at war with ourselves.35 There will be no more obstacles to overcome, no longer any desires for domination to control. Once death is passed we shall have perfect health in body and soul. Whereas now we love even those closest to us with a trust based on faith (because none of us knows completely the mystery of "the other"), in heaven God will bring to light the things hidden in darkness and will reveal the secrets of the heart. Then our love for our human loves will come from the vision of how lovely they indeed are.36 In some way our life in heaven will be like the life enjoyed by Adam and Eve in Eden before their sin. Like them we shall walk together hand in hand with God as our friend, but with an important difference. In heaven we shall know that our peaceful joy will never end.37
Just now such wonderful, unending peace is impossible. In our present condition sometimes peace between individuals can be achieved only through conflict; just now peace between nations often must be won through war. It is too this dark necessity of human life that we must now direct our attention.
B. The Nature and Morality of War38
The American Heritage Dictionary of the English Language defines war as "A state of open, armed, often prolonged conflict carried on between nations, states, or parties." As defined it is obviously an activity which involves violence, an action which brings harm to persons and property. The overriding principles measuring the morality of war are the same two which govern all human actions relating to others: the principle of justice and the principle of "Do No Harm." Justice in its aspect of commutative justice demands that the existing rights of other human beings be respected. The principle of "Do No Harm" commands that, unless reasonably excused, we must not harm others in pursuit of our own good and that we must rescue others from harm that comes from any source. Justice admits of no exceptions. We must always respect the rights of others. "Do No Harm" principle allows harming others or being indifferent to the harm that comes to them from other sources as long as there is a good reason for doing so. For a war to be moral it must therefore be just and must avoid all unnecessary harm.
A presumably just war must be just in its goal, its authorization, and in the means whereby it is waged. There first of all must be a just reason for going to war (jus belli) and the decision to wage the war must be made by one who has the proper authority to make that decision. Given the fulfillment of these conditions, the war can be begun morally but it still can become immoral because of the way in which it is carried on. There must be jus in bello also whereby no rights are violated and no unnecessary harm is done in waging the war.
Augustine subscribed to the common sense conviction that war should be avoided whenever possible and that every war needs individual justification to be morally acceptable. He was not an absolute pacifist. Obviously the best world would be a world in which peace is guaranteed, but this is not the world in which we live just now. As Augustine sadly observes:
Human society is a single community despite the width of its expansion to all parts of the world and the extreme differences one finds in this place or that. The human race is one because of the common nature shared by its members. However, each individual is driven by his passion to pursue private goals. Unfortunately the objects of these purposes are such that no one person (much less all in the community) can be perfectly satisfied. Only God, the good without limits, can satisfy the human thirst. As a result the earthly community in which humans live just now is in a permanent state of civil war where those who fail are oppressed by those who succeed.39
The painful truth about human society is that though God determined that humans should have their origin in common parents "so that they might be united not only by a likeness of nature but even by family ties," the wars they wage against their own kind are more vicious than any fought by any species of supposedly anti-social animals.40
How should good people respond to such violence? Here Augustine makes an important distinction between acting to defend oneself and acting to defend others, especially when one is charged with governance of a human community such as the family and the state. Augustine believed that killing in defense of one's own life was immoral, not so much because the attacker's life was worth more than one's own, but rather because when you kill another to save your own life you show an inordinate attachment to the temporal and temporary good that is your life this side of death. According to his way of thinking, it is simply not sensible to kill another in defense of a good that can (and eventually will) be taken away even against your will. It is for this reason that Augustine says:
I do not approve of killing another person in order to avoid being killed yourself. The only exception would be if you are a soldier or a public official and thus are not acting on your own behalf but for the sake of others or for the sake of the society in which you live.41
Earthly peace is certainly a worthwhile good. It is worth preserving and protecting and those in charge of a community cannot be indifferent to its absence. The good ruler should indeed wage war with tears in his eyes, but sadness about the necessity does not do away with the necessity. Indeed, the injustice of the hostile nation's attack creates the duty to wage war in defense of the community.42 Unprincipled nations may rejoice in wars and conquest, but it is an unfortunate last resort for nations of principle. The war is always unfortunate but it would be even more unfortunate to allow evil nations to dominate those who are good.43 As Augustine says:
Even in war the goal is to achieve peace ... (and) when victory goes to the combatant with the more just cause surely this is a reason for rejoicing and the peace that results is welcome.44
Of course, it would be better to negotiate peace than to win it through violent conflict, to "destroy war with a word" rather than end it with a sword.45 Apart from the disruption caused by a war in progress, the peace and happiness achieved through the spilling of blood is as fragile as glittering glass. "One can never shake off the horrible dread that such peace may suddenly shatter into fragments." 46
Pacifism may be an option, indeed even an obligation, when it comes to defending one's own life, but for the civil ruler it is not a condition that he can impose upon the community he rules. Of course if the whole community elects pacifism in the face of an unjust attack by a violent and cruel enemy, then the ruler would need to bow to their wishes. Just as one must honor the wishes of competent persons who do not wish you to defend their lives by killing the attacker, so too a community's refusal to defend itself violently must be respected. However, there is no obligation on a Christian community to do so. Against those who argued that Christ's message was to "turn the other cheek" when attacked, Augustine argues that Christ was referring to an inward disposition rather than a bodily action.47 Even Christ became somewhat violent against the incursions of the money-lenders in the Temple, and he seemed to believe that it was good that the disciples had a sword in Gethsemane, though he condemned the way they used it. As Augustine instructed the imperial official Marcellinus:
The precepts of patience are always to be preserved in the heart in order to keep it in readiness, and those kindly feelings which keep us from returning evil for evil are always to be nourished by the will. But it remains true that we often must act with a kind harshness when we are trying to make recalcitrant souls change their ways. We must so act because we must consider their welfare rather than their inclination. ... Thus if the earthly state observes the teachings of Christ, even war will be waged with kindness. And if the peace that follows is based on piety and justice, it will be that much easier to take into account the needs of the conquered.48
Every decision to go to war is a momentous event and it must be left in the hands of those who act with the authority and guidance of God. Augustine believed that the only person with such authority is that one who is the officially designated leader of the nation.49 As we have seen, he believed that God is the source of all true authority of human over human. It is by divine providence that any particular civil society exists. Along with its existence comes the bestowal of authority to rule and this is centered in the official designated to lead. Whether bad or good, the temporal ruler has authority ultimately from God and should be obeyed in all matters that do not conflict with faith and morals. Once a person is designated leader in a society, whether it be the family or the state, there is an obligation to rule. Every person has an obligation to serve God in their particular capacity in life and no exception is made for one who has been legitimately chosen to rule the state. Thus, as Augustine remarked to Petelian:
When we consider humanity's condition living in society, it is clear that kings by the very fact that they are kings have a service to give to the Lord ... a service that cannot be given by anyone who is not a king.50
Since there is a special obligation to use the authority to rule, it is safe to assume that with the authority comes a divine grace to use the authority well, to make wise decisions in the service of the common good. Certainly Augustine had no misconceptions about the king being any better as a human being than the rest of the human race. Rulers are as wounded by sin as are those they rule. Like the rest of the human race, kings are sometimes blinded by stupidity and dominated by passion. It is for this reason that while Augustine will maintain that kings may never morally kill in defense of their own personal good, he will insist that they have a moral obligation to defend the community against the attack of an aggressor nation. The reasons for this paradox rest on two crucial differences between defending oneself and defending others:
1. The ruler has an obligation to protect the common good and the well-being of the citizens; the individual is under no equivalent obligation to protect her/his life, especially if this demands the use of violent force against the attacker.
2. Because the authority to rule comes from God, it can be assumed that the civil ruler receives special help in fulfilling the obligations of leadership. These obligations include the responsibility for making prudent decisions in time of crisis and carrying out those decisions without untoward passion. The individual, acting in her/his own behalf, has no claim to such special help.
In sum, the civil ruler has the authority and the special obligation to combat the injustices that touch or threaten the society. Since the authority to rule has been bestowed by the providence of God, that same providence must grant special help so that the authority may be used well. It is still possible for a particular ruler to choose to use violence stupidly or with uncontrolled passion, but by the grace of God such immoral exercise of violence is less likely for a king than for a subject. It is for this reason that Augustine seems to leave no room for conscientious objection. Once war is declared, it is the responsibility of the soldier to obey. Even if the king has acquired his throne in some unjust way, all commands that are not clearly unjust should be obeyed. Doubts about the justice of any war should be resolved in favor of the ruler since Augustine believed that analysis of the justice or injustice of going to war or waging war are beyond the competence of the ordinary soldier. Only the king has the information and the divine guidance to decide such matters. If the war is in fact unjust then the king is culpable; the soldier following commands remains innocent. Thus, the soldier should obey if the command is clearly moral or if he has some unresolvable doubt about the morality of the command. Of course, if the command is clearly contrary to the eternal law, then the soldier must disobey.51
Augustine believed that the right to repel aggression was written into the very law of nature. Although he had reservations about individual's killing in order to save their own lives or goods, he had no hesitation in allowing individuals to repel aggression against the lives of others or in having public officials act to save the state from unjust attack. The first consideration when analyzing a particular war is (assuming that war is declared by one with the proper authority) whether the reasons for going to war are just, whether there is present jus belli. Augustine writes:
A great deal depends on the reasons why humans undertake wars and on their authority to begin a war. The natural order of the universe which seeks peace among humans must allow the king the power to enter into a war if he thinks it necessary. That same natural order commands that the soldiers should then perform their duty, protecting the peace and safety of the political community. When war is undertaken in accord with the will of God (the God who wishes to rebuke, humble, and crush malicious human beings), it must be just to wage it.52
A just war is thus one that is a reaction to possible/actual injuries or in response to a direct command of God. Augustine believed that just wars could be either defensive or offensive. A just defensive war is one that is waged to protect the security of the state. A just offensive may be one of two kinds:(1) wars seeking reparations for damage done or goods stolen; (2) wars commanded by God to punish a criminal state.53
If wars are declared for good reason by one with the authority to do so, they are just at least in their initiation. Unfortunately, the lesson of history is that many if not most wars are begun for the wrong reasons. As Augustine comments:
What else can we call it but crime on a grand scale when a nation wages war solely from a desire to dominate others and goes on to crush and grind down neighboring nations that have caused no one any harm?54
Sometimes a spirit of extreme nationalism makes a people believe that they are predestined for greatness and makes them wish that the whole world should bow before their greatness. Sometimes wars are begun to distract the citizens from internal troubles by creating an external enemy. Sometimes wars happen simply as a means of satisfying the personal ambition of the ruler. Indeed, every war that is unjust starts with some sort of disordered love for the goods of this world.55 And, though Augustine never makes the application to nations specifically, I suspect that he would agree that some wars are started out of the same passion that prompted him to steal the pears in his youth just for the sake of doing something evil. He would likely admit that after humanity's fall from grace humans sometimes kill, injure, destroy, and vandalize for no other reason than that it is fun.
Even a war begun for the best of reasons by one who clearly has the authority to make the decision can become unjust through the way in which it is waged. A jus belli can become immoral because there is no jus in bello. The injustice comes not from the killing; it comes from the attitude and methods of those who kill. As Augustine remarks:
The real evils in war are the love of violence, the cruel passion for revenge, the blind hatred of the enemy, the sometimes insane uncontrolled resistance to attack, the lust for power, and other things of this sort.56
For a war to be waged justly, Augustine insists that alliances must be honored, the rights of noncombatants must be preserved. Wars must not be waged by nations intoxicated by the thrill of violence. Every war should be waged reluctantly with sadness. Though there is a certain glory in battlefield bravery, it is always more glorious to achieve one's goals by negotiation than by combat. War should always be waged as a last resort and should never be waged if there is no reasonable hope of success. The only justification for war is to restore order and peace to civil society and anything, such as useless victories, that hinders the quick accomplishment of that peace should be rejected. In sum, every war should be waged modestly and ended graciously out of prudence if for no other reason. The victor should realize that the vanquished will not always be a subjugated people and that memories of harsh treatment last forever.57
Augustine uses the community's legitimate desire for peace and order to justify its wars against external disruption. How he used this same desire for peace and order to justify punishment of the community's own criminal citizens is the topic to be examined in the chapter than follows.
1. The City of God, 19.11.
2. Exposition of some Propositions from the Epistle to the Romans, 13-18; Commentary on Psalm 121,12.
3. The City of God, 15.4.
4. Commentary on the Gospel of John, 104,1.
5. Exposition of the Epistle to the Galatians, 52.
6. Sermon 357,1.
7. The City of God, 19.13.1.
8. Commentary on Psalm 84,10; Sermon 357,2; The Morals of the Catholic Church and the Morals of the Manicheans, 1.3.4.
9. The City of God, 19.13.1.
10. Sermon 357, 2-3.
11. Sermon 80, 8.
12. Commentary on Psalm 84, 10.
13. Sermon 20a,1.
14. Sermon 61a, 7.
15. The City of God, 19.14.
16. Sermon 357, 1.
17. Letter 47, 2.
18. The City of God, 19.5.
19. Commentary on Psalm 143,18; Commentary on Psalm 89, 9.
20. The Happy Life, 2,11.
21. The Morals of the Catholic Church and the Morals of the Manicheans, 1,3,5.
22. The City of God, 19.24.
23. Commentary on the Gospel of John, 77.5.
24. The City of God, 19.12.
25. Ibid., 19.13.2.
26. Ibid., 15.4.
27. Ibid., 19.17.
28. Commentary on Psalm 147, 20.
29. Commentary on Psalm 122, 9; Sermon 229H, 3;Sermon 242A, 1.
30. The City of God, 19.24.
31. Sermon 256, 3.
32. Commentary on Psalm 35, 14.
33. Commentary on Psalm 62, 17.
34. Sermon 155, 14.15; The City of God, 22.30.1.
35. Enchiridion on Faith, Hope, and Charity, 23.91.
36. Ibid., 32.121.
37. Letter 55, 9.17.
38. For an overview of attitudes towards war see F. S. Northedge, "Peace, War, and Philosophy," in The Encyclopedia of Philosophy, edited by Paul Edwards (New York: Macmillan Publishing Company, 1967), vol. 6, 63-67. Mortimer Adler, "War and Peace," in The Great Ideas (originally published as volumes 1 & 2 of The Great Books of the Western World) (New York: Macmillan Publishing, 1992), pp. 901-911. For more discussion of Augustine's position on war see Gustave Comb
39. The City of God, 18.2; 5.22. See P.R.L. Brown, "Political Society," in Augustine: A Collection of Critical Essays, edited by R.A. Markus, op. cit., p. 324.
40. The City of God, 12.22-23. David Lenihan ("The Just War Theory in the Works of St. Augustine" (1988), op. cit., pp. 41-42) comments: "It is not militarism that Augustine venerates but order. Order is essential to the Augustinian world-view. Without order the world would be prey to chaos and the unbridled passions inherent in sinful man. Accordingly Augustine accepts military service for the purpose of order, all as part of God's plan which includes the wars of the Roman empire." He goes on to note that all the wars Augustine experienced were civil wars (even the barbarians were part of the Roman Empire) and thus the disruption of order was from within rather than from without. Even the Donatist movement (and to a lesser extent the Arian barbarian wars) were both theological and civil disturbances since Rome identified itself with the Catholic Church. "Thus, when Augustine condoned the wars of Boniface and praised the actions of Darius and advised Marcellinus on the moral acceptability of military service, he was referring to internal police actions of the empire and not external adventures." (Ibid., p. 53).
41. Letter 47.5. For a more extensive discussion of this point see Free Choice, 1.4-5. See Donald X. Burt, "The Moral Uses Of Violence: An Augustinian View", op. cit., pp. 45-48. See also Louis J. Swift, The Early Fathers on War and Military Service, op. cit., pp. 136-7. Swift cites a passage from The City of God (22.6) where Augustine (following Cicero) suggests that whereas death is natural in humans, it is not natural for the state.
42. The City of God, 19.7.
43. Ibid., 4.14.
44. Ibid., 15.4; 19.17.
45. Letter 239, 1.
46. The City of God, 4.3.
47. Against Faustus the Manichean, 22.76; Letter 138, 13; Commentary on the Lord's Sermon on the Mount, 1.19.57-58. Augustine writes: "Christ's command not to resist evil was intended to forestall our taking the kind of delight in revenge which feeds on another's misfortune. It was not meant to encourage us to neglect the correction of others" (Letter 47, 5). I believe that Lenihan ["The Just War ..." (1988) p. 56] goes too far in saying that the "evil in war is subjective and depends on the interior attitude of the soul." Certainly interior dispositions are important but they will not substitute for the absence of authority or just cause for war. Attitude cannot give what you do not have; it can only vitiate what you do have.
48. Letter 138, 2.14.
49. Against Faustus the Manichean, 22.75.
50. Against the Writings of Petelian the Donatist, 9.92.210. See Commentary on Psalm 124, 7; Exposition of some Propositions from the Epistle to the Romans, 72. Lenihan argues that Augustine was at heart a pacifist. He saw nothing wrong with Peter carrying a sword, he didn't want him to use it. David A. Lenihan, "The Just War in Augustine"(1988), pp. 38 & 45.
51. Letter 185, 2.8. Against Faustus the Manichean, 22, 75. G. CombPs, La Doctrine Politique de Saint Augustin, op. cit., p. 290. See Richard Shelly Hartigan, "Saint Augustine on War and Killing: The Problem of the Innocent," Journal of the History of Ideas, vol. 27 (1966), pp. 195-204. Louis J. Swift, "Augustine on War and Killing: Another View," op. cit., vol. 66 (1973), pp. 369-383. Also see Swift, The Early Fathers on War..., op. cit., pp. 139-40. As Swift notes in this latter work (p. 138), Augustine had little sympathy for any attempt to overthrow an established government. "It is incumbent on men to resist temporal power when it commands something that is contrary to God's will (Letter 185, 2.8), but an individual's only recourse in such circumstances appears to be passive resistance." See Letter 189, 4; Letter 138, 15.
52. Against Faustus the Manichean, 22.75.
53. For defensive war see The City of God, 22.6. Augustine writes: "As a rule just wars are those which avenge injuries, as for example when some nation or state has neglected to punish a wrong committed by its citizens or which has retained something that was wrongfully taken." (Questions on the Heptateuch, 6.10.). Augustine cites Israel's war against the Amorites as an example of a justified offensive war. The Amorites denial of free passage through their territory to the wandering Israelites was equivalent to a denial of a quasi-natural right, "a right that should have been granted in accord with the most reasonable standards governing human society," and therefore war was justified in pursuit of the denied right. See Questions on the Heptateuch, 4.44.
54. The City of God, 4.6.55. For wars waged for the wrong reasons see Ibid., 3.14; 3.21; 4.15; 5.12; 15.4; 18.2.
56. Against Faustus the Manichean, 22.74.
57. See The City of God, 1.4-5; 18.2; 15.4; 5.17. See also Letter 229, 2; Letter 189, 6; Letter 220, 12.
Back to Table of Contents
Back to Home Page