Reflections on Augustine's Spirituality

Donald X. Burt, OSA

Friendship and Society:
Introduction to Augustine's Practical Philosophy


Chapter 11

A. Introduction
    1. The Nature of the Church
    2. History of Donatism
B. Augustine on the Justification of State Intervention in Religious Disputes
C. Justifying Reasons for State Intervention
D. Toleration of Pagans, Jews and Manicheans

Chapter 11


A. Introduction

The question of the proper relation between church and state raises a number of issues. The central problem may be stated as follows. Given that there exists a society (the state) with primary responsibility for the temporal common good and that there is another society (the church) with primary responsibility for the spiritual growth and salvation of individual human beings, what is the appropriate relationship between them? There are three possibilities:

a. the two societies should be independent entities with no interference or intervention in the life of each other;

b. the church should be subordinate to the state existing as an agency of civil authority and serving its goals; c. the state should be subordinate to the church in the sense of supporting the church in its work and protecting it by laws aimed at furthering its purposes.

As we shall see, Augustine subscribed to the last option, believing that the authorities in the state were agents of God with the responsibility of promoting God's interests on earth and that part of those interests was the protection of that religious body that was the instrument of his grace and revelation in time.

But how far is church or state obliged to go in protection and promotion of God's truth? Can error be tolerated? On an individual level should we passively tolerate those who disagree with us? How should we deal with another person whose ideas are contrary to ours? Should we treat them with understanding? Should we forcefully try to convince them of the "error" of their way of thinking? Or, if they refuse to agree with us should we then shun them as being unworthy of our attention and perhaps dangerous to our well-being?

When the issue of toleration is applied to a society (be it social, religious, or civil), the question becomes to what extent can the society tolerate views contrary to the accepted belief. Can those who believe differently be punished for their contrary ideas? The state has the primary duty to protect the peace and temporal prosperity of its members. When does a difference in ideas become dangerous to these goals? The church must be concerned with the eternal welfare of its members and perhaps of every human being. Does this obligation give the church the right and obligation to demand orthodoxy of its members? Does it give it the right to in some way "force" those outside to become members? Can it use state power to pursue this goal?

These are some of the questions Augustine addressed in dealing with the pagans, jews, heretics and schismatics of his day. The heretics and schismatics were members of the church who had separated themselves from the main body by a serious difference in belief or practice. The pagans, jews, and others like the Manicheans who were never baptized were not part of the institutional church and thus never subject to its law. Does the church have a set of responsibilities and rights over them different from its obligations to those of its own members who have wandered from the "sheepfold?" In dealing with any case of those who believed differently the practical question facing church authorities was "To what extent can we use the state's power to accomplish church goals?"

In order to unravel this last problem, the questions previously raised in the discussion of the state's general right to punish must be addressed:

1. Does the state have the authority to legislate with respect to religion, for example by favoring one religion and proscribing all others?

2. Assuming that the state has such authority, what are the reasons justifying the exercise of that authority in a particular case?

3. Assuming that there are good reasons for exercising the authority (for example, by outlawing a particular religion), what are the limits on how the state may implement its authority? What is the proper attitude or motivation that should be present in those who make and enforce such laws?

Most of Augustine's thought justifying civil intervention in matters of religion was developed within the context of the Donatist controversy and was based on his convictions about the nature of the true church of Christ, that church which had its roots in the apostolic community of believers who walked with Christ and which (in Augustine's opinion) was continued in the Catholic Church as it existed throughout the world. Consequently, in order to understand his conclusions on state intervention in matters of religion, it will be helpful to begin with an examination of his views on the nature of the church and with a brief history of the Donatist controversy.

1. The Nature of the Church

Augustine believed that the Catholic Church as it existed in the fifth century was the direct descendant of the church created by Jesus Christ. It was composed of the community of those humans spread over many places through time who were united in the one mystical body of which Christ was the head. He expressed this idea in many places but a typical example is the following excerpt from a sermon delivered to his congregation in Hippo:

You heard when the Psalm (Ps. 73.21) was read that a poor and needy man cries out to God in this world. As you ought to remember, this is the voice of one person and yet not of one person. It is not the voice of one person because the faithful are many, many people scattered throughout the whole world like so many pieces of grain groaning in the midst of the chaff. And yet it is the voice of one person because all of these faithful are members of Christ and thus form with him one body.1

It is obvious that when Augustine speaks about THE Church he is not thinking about the various bureaucratic structures necessary to enable a religious society to operate efficiently. Much less is he referring to the physical structures of cathedral, monastery, and convent erected by the faithful over the years to house their worship. For him "Church" meant one thing only: the community of humans who were united in some way with Christ in faith and hope and love, those especially who entered the community through baptism and who thereafter were faithful to the baptismal promises made.

Although baptism into the Catholic Church was the ordinary way of being a member of the Body of Christ, Augustine recognized that there were other ways of becoming a member. Martyrdom for the sake of Christ certainly merited membership in his Mystical Body even though the martyr was not yet baptized. Augustine also recognized that some who lived before Christ, the great prophets and other pious people who perhaps had learned of Christ through a private revelation, could not be excluded. As he said to the people of Hippo one morning:

From the beginning of the human race, whoever knew Christ in some way and believed in him and led a pious and just life according to his commandments, was undoubtedly saved by him. We now believe in Christ both as dwelling with the Father and as having come on earth in the flesh. In like manner some of old believed in him both as dwelling with the Father and as destined to come as Messiah in the flesh. The nature of this faith has not changed, nor is salvation any different now from the way it was then. The only difference is that those events which in the past were foretold as future events in our present time are now proclaimed as having actually occurred in the past. With regard to the way in which salvation comes to believers and to other pious persons, let us leave that in the hands of God and accept his will. The religion practiced under other names and through other rites and more obscurely revealed and perhaps known by fewer persons than is the case now is one and the same faith. The salvation provided by this faith, which alone is the path to promised salvation, was never lacking to those who were worthy of it.2

Even though the phrase "salvation provided by faith is never lacking to those worthy of it" seems to suggest that salvation is possible for those of different faiths and perhaps even of no faith, this was not Augustine's view. Outside of those who were martyred because they knew and believed in Christ and those who received the sacrament of baptism and who (when they reached maturity) were committed believers in Christ, there were relatively few who could be members of Christ's Mystical Body and most of these were the "saints" of the Old Testament. Although Augustine may have left open the door to the possibility of what was later to be called the "baptism of desire," he never went through that door himself. He believed that it was not enough simply to lead a good life; it some way or other one also had to have some sort of faith in Christ and though he admitted that this could come through a private revelation, he insisted that the only secure way to the faith that saves was through martyrdom or valid baptism. This belief left him in an uncomfortable position of having to assume that salvation was denied to unbaptized infants and adults who were without faith but were otherwise fine people who lived according to the principles of christianity without believing in or even knowing about the teaching of Christ. His position is stated clearly in the following sentences:

No one achieves eternal salvation who does not have Christ as his head. No one can have Christ as head if he is not a part of Christ's body which is the church.3

One must belong to "Christ's church" in order to be saved and the ordinary entrance to the church is through Catholic baptism.

Believing in Jesus Christ and being baptized into his church is the beginning of the path to salvation, but it is only the beginning. Being a baptized member of the church is not enough, one must be a good member, loving God above all and other humans as oneself, tasks that would be only imperfectly accomplished by most.4 Part of Augustine's complaint against the Donatists was that their insistence that only the perfect could be members of the true church. Augustine countered that the true church existing in time would always be a mixture of the good and the bad. When Augustine speaks about the faithful as "groaning amid the chaff," he is not speaking only about "unbelievers." A good bit of the chaff is to be found in the church itself. Indeed, everyone (with the exception of Mary, the mother of Christ) has there days of "being chaff" when they do not live fully the life that is expected of a member of Christ's Body. All humans are "cracked" and being baptized does not change that. Just as Augustine once said that to baptize a drunk gets only a baptized drunk, so he would contend that baptizing a cracked pot yields only a baptized cracked pot.

From Augustine's point of view, the happy part of this need to be a member of the Body of Christ to be saved was that one did not need to be perfect to be a member. Being a member and staying a member of the Body of Christ was more dependent on God's grace than human virtue. Contrary to what the Donatists claimed, baptism and all other sacraments "worked" not because of the perfection of the minister and/or recipient but because of the power of God. Discovery of the way to heaven and the strength to follow that path comes from faithful listening to the Word of God as preserved by and preached by the community of Christ's Body and accepting the life and strength that comes from remaining a participating member of that of that Body.

The institutional church was important in this only as an external sign whereby one could trace one's roots back to the apostolic community united with Christ, that community that had been explicitly and directly given the commission to preach the teaching of Christ to the whole world, to administer Christ's sacraments and to celebrate as community that great act of sacrifice, performed first by Christ on Calvary and repeated now in the unbloody sacrifice of the mass. Augustine was convinced that it was only by continuity with that first small externally visible version of the Body of Christ found in the original Christian community at Jerusalem, that one now could be sure that one was indeed a member (though unworthy) of that community of Christ which was the special vehicle for reaching the vision of God and the perfect happiness caused by that vision.

Augustine believed that being a member of the community of Christ was the most important thing in this life for any human because it gave the possibility of eternal joy. It is for this reason that Augustine will counsel "putting up with" someone [e.g. an unruly husband] who disrupts the peace of the family, and patiently enduring a tyrannical king who disrupts the peace of the state, while he is adamantly intolerant of anyone who threatens to disrupt the unity and peace of the Body of Christ, the historic christian community. Augustine saw Donatism as such a disruptive force.5 It split the christian community into two groups: the "pure" [the Donatist christian] and the "impure" [the Roman Catholic christian] and claimed that only the former were truly united with Christ and on the way to salvation.

For Augustine the community of good and bad which was in union with the apostolic community headed by Peter and his successors had the only valid claim to be the church of Christ. It was this church that was the Body of Christ on earth. It was this church who was the mother who nourished and guided humanity on its pilgrimage to the Heavenly City. It is no wonder that Augustine was so upset by the Donatist attack. He saw it as an attack on his mother.

2. History of Donatism

Donatism was a movement within North African christianity which had its origin in the disputes that followed the persecution of Diocletian (303-05).6 In 303 Diocletian ordered that all the sacred scriptures of the christians be handed over to civil authorities and that all church property be registered. This was followed by a demand that every citizen perform a ritual act signifying loyalty to the Emperor and the gods of the Empire. The penalty for non-compliance was death. Many christians, bishops included, obeyed the edict. These came to be known as the traditores, the "traitors" who had "handed over" the sacred scriptures to civil authority. They were universally condemned by those who had maintained a steadfast commitment to the faith by refusing to give up any of the sacred books. Frend describes the position of those who had remained faithful as follows:

Even to alter a single letter of the scriptures was a crime, but contemptuously to destroy the whole at the command of pagan magistrates was to merit eternal punishment in hell. Whoever, therefore, maintained communion with the traditores would not participate in the joys of heaven.7

Pardon for such miscreants could only come after long and hard penance. Until then they were condemned and any sacrament attempted by an unrepentant priest of bishop was invalid.

The end of the persecution in 305 did not end the turmoil in North Africa. Too many high placed christians had failed in their responsibility to remain faithful and there were persistent clashes between those who had fallen and those who had stood their ground. The dispute came to a head in 311-312 with the consecration of Caecilian as Primate of Africa at Carthage by three bishops, one of whom was suspected of being a traditor. Seventy bishops from Numidia (the place where the major concentration of those who rejected the traditores existed), traveled to Carthage under the lead of Secundus of Tigisis. Upon arriving he declared Caecilian's consecration suspect and called a council of bishops to resolve the matter. Caecilian was condemned and the Numidian bishops (with the support of the Carthaginian lower classes) elected Majorinus in his place. The split (schism) in the North African christian community was now complete. Upon the death of Majorinus in 313, Donatus of Casae Nigrae was chosen to replace him, reigning for 40 years. Thereafter the anti-traditores party he represented came to be known by his name: the church of the Donatists.

The Donatists believed that since the christian church was meant by Christ to be holy, only those who were holy could be part of it. All sinners were excluded and any rituals or prayers they performed were ineffective. The validity of all sacraments depended on the holiness of the administrator and the recipient. To be baptized by one who was not a member of this "church of holiness" was invalid and to receive the grace of the sacrament it was necessary to be rebaptized. The dispute was disturbing to both church and state in the western world. North Africa was a very powerful part of the western empire. Carthage was the second largest city and the North African church rivaled the church at Rome in influence and strength. Donatism was especially powerful in North Africa because the native people saw it as an "African christianity" that bravely confronted the alien "Roman" christianity of Catholicism.

In fact there was little to choose between the two groups when it came to doctrine. Their main dispute was about which group had continuity with the Apostolic church created by Jesus and what degree of perfection was required of individuals to be upstanding members of that church. Both agreed that the state had a legitimate interest in religious disputes and both freely called upon the state to intervene to support their cause.8

This mixture of religious and civil interests in Augustine's day is not surprising. The Roman Empire had a long history of using religion as a means of preserving civil order. In earlier years the emperors were defenders of the pagan gods, going so far as to declare themselves as gods too. Christianity and other religions were tolerated as long as they lived in peaceful co-existence with the official religion of the empire. When they were seen to be antagonistic, refusing to perform the rituals honoring the gods of the empire, they were persecuted. With the conversion of Constantine in 312, this attitude towards religion did not change; only the official religion. Now christianity became the official state religion and, as before, unity in religion was seen to be a way of preserving unity in the empire. Thus Constantine was not deviating from the policy of his predecessors when he took an active part in the North African dispute between Donatist and Catholic. As a christian emperor he was as much concerned (though perhaps for different reasons) about maintaining unity in the church as were the bishops.

The Emperor's concern for maintaining civil peace was sharpened by the fact that the religious dispute was not a quiet debate between a few people in a library. A majority of the population was affected, sometimes violently. In the fourth and fifth century most of the North African educated classes were still pagan and thus disinterested in the dispute among christians. Christianity was a religion of the lower classes in the province of Numidia where Augustine lived and worked. These were those who went to church and the churches that they attended were usually Donatist. When Augustine became bishop of Hippo, the majority of the town was Donatist, the local Donatist church attracting many more Sunday worshippers than Augustine's church. If one added in the healthy sprinkling of Manicheans, jews, and pagans living in Hippo, the Catholics were obviously a solid minority.9 Given the passionate nature of the North African, it is no wonder that disputes about ownership of church property and about belief were as likely to be settled by clubs as by argument. A fanatic fringe of the Donatists, the Circumcellions, were especially troublesome. They considered violence as the best means of conversion. Clergy were killed, Catholic churches were vandalized and desecrated, rebaptism of peasants on Catholic estates was imposed by force.10 It was frightening time and the emperors needed to intervene to preserve some semblance of order.

Constantine tried to resolve the North African dispute through a church council first at Rome and then at Arles where the decision of the assembled delegates in 314 was against the Donatists, but this did little to stop the conflict. After seven more years of fruitless effort, Constantine gave up trying for a peaceful resolution and washed his hands of the matter. From then till the end of the fourth century the Donatist fortunes swung between violent suppression under Macarius (the imperial commissioner in 347) through toleration under the emperor Julian in 361-63. Such grudging tolerance ended when Honorious became emperor in 398. He favored the Catholic position and there was a gradual hardening of regulations limiting all other religious practice. Finally in 405 he issued an Edict of Unity which declared that the Donatists were indeed heretics and were therefore forbidden to own property or have public celebrations of their belief.

The final act in the state suppression of Donatism took place in 411-412. Under the command of the emperor Honorius a council was called at Carthage presided over by the imperial delegate, Marcellinus, a good friend of Augustine. Its purpose was to provide a final chance for Donatist and Catholic to make their case, to confirm the Catholic position, and to decide whether Donatism was to be tolerated in the future. The continuing strength of the disputing parties was reflected in the number of bishops who attended: 286 Catholic and 284 Donatist. The decision of the conference was that Donatism should be officially proscribed. The decision was appealed directly to Honorious but without success. In January 30, 412, he issued a final command that Donatism should be outlawed. Donatist property was confiscated, Donatist clergy was condemned to exile, and Donatist membership became a crime to be punished by fine.11

Implementation of the edict proved more difficult than its issuance. Donatism was still a force in North Africa long after Augustine died in 430 and, as Frend suggests,

Donatism may have remained the religion of a large proportion of the African villagers in the fifth century as well as the fourth. Perhaps, after all, the Circumcellions had the last word.12

In fact, Donatism in North Africa outlasted the first emperor to condemn it (Constantine) by 400 years and there is some hint that its passionate conviction that the true Church is only for the pure has lasted in various forms down to the present day.13

B. Augustine on the Justification of State Intervention in Religious Disputes

There is no question that Augustine believed that the state had the authority to legislate in matters of religion. At the very beginning of his debate with the Donatists, he writes to Parmenian defending the right and duty of the christian ruler to act in defense of God's interests in matters of religious dispute. He argues that just as civil authority can punish the murderer and the thief, so it can punish heresy and schism.14 At about the same time (400-02), in response to a letter of the Donatist Petelian, Augustine carries forward the argument by insisting that christian kings can not make a neat separation between their christianity and their position as a ruler of the state. Kings are bound to serve God not simply as private individuals but precisely as kings. He writes:

When we take into consideration the nature of human society, we find that kings, by the very fact that they are kings, have a service which they can render to God, a service which cannot be supplied by those who do not have the authority of kings.15

The source of this regal obligation is found in the fact that every king receives his authority ultimately from God. With that authority comes the responsibility to care for the welfare of the ordinary citizens. But (Augustine asks), if kings are representatives of God, how can they be excused when they take violations of human rights like adultery seriously but ignore violations of divine rights such as sacrilege?16 A king serves God by commanding what is right and forbidding what is wrong both in moral law and in religious observance. If there is no violation of individual freedom in forbidding crimes attacking humans such as adultery, theft, or murder, why claim that it violates freedom when a ruler forbids heresy, an attack on the true church and on God?17 Crimes against true religion deserve punishment as much any other crimes. Augustine argues that in punishing heretics and schismatics ... kings serve God, as they are divinely commanded because of their position as kings, if they command the good and prohibit evil in their kingdom not only with regard to those things which pertain to human society but also as regards things pertaining to divine religion. And indeed it does not make sense to complain: "But you should respect my freedom!" Indeed, why do you not proclaim that you should allow free will to have its way in questions of murder and debauchery and other evil deeds and crimes? God did indeed give humans free will, but he neither wished that the good should go unrewarded nor that the evil should go unpunished.18

The crime of the Donatists and others who break away from the church is that they are revolting against Christ and the church. If they use violence to promote their cause, they are even more in the wrong, but the essential element in their crime is in their revolution against God in the person of his church.19 Augustine believed that heretics and schismatics, far from being honest but confused seekers of truth, are those who ... "for the sake of some temporal advantage, especially for the sake of glory and preeminence, originate or follow false and new opinions.20 With such a negative view of heresy/schism, it is no wonder that he considered heresy and schism to be innately dangerous, disreputable, and worthy of eradication even if it meant using civil power to accomplish their elimination.

C. Justifying Reasons for State Intervention

Augustine believed that there were at least three reasons justifying civil intervention to resolve religious disputes, especially those between the Catholic church and schismatic churches such as the Donatists.

First, as we have seen above, he was firmly convinced that the Roman Catholic church had the divinely appointed mission to save the world. Consequently he considered any movement which endangered this mission as dangerous in the extreme and deserving of the most severe penalties. By their attack on the sacramental system (tying in the efficacy of the sacrament to the "purity" of the minister and demanding rebaptism for one baptized as a Catholic) and their claim to be the true church founded by Christ, the Donatists disrupted the unity of the church. Their attack on Catholicism amounted to an attack on the Body of Christ, ripping from it confused souls who, once separated, were cut off from the only source of saving grace. Such an attack on "God's Body" was in a way an insult to God Himself and the civil rulers were bound to use their office to prevent such insults. Civil intervention was thus justified to restore unity to the Catholic Church and thereby defend the honor due to God.

Secondly, the more violent fringes of Donatism were interfering with the day by day life of the church. Some civil intervention was therefore needed, not only to protect the christian community, but also to protect innocent individuals who were being threatened by the violence of the terrorist factions on both sides of the dispute.21

Finally, the Donatists by their divisive stance and by the violence that they sometimes used to further their cause endangered the peace, order, and unity of the empire itself. Donatism was attractive to many in North Africa because it was seen as an expression of the local culture, an ideology that confronted the "foreign" intrusions of Roman empire and the Roman church. Thus, state action against the Donatists was justified to protect the life of the empire itself.

Such reasons justified civil intervention, but the question remained: "How far should this intervention go?" Over the more than 30 years of Augustine's conflict with Donatism, his position on the degree and reasons for civil intervention clearly changed. From initial reluctance to call in civil power to support the Catholic case, he gradually accepted its use as a defensive measure against the violence of the Donatists, and finally came to accept it as an offensive weapon for destroying the movement and providing a forceful suasion for individual conversions.22

Up to the year 400 Augustine seems firmly opposed to any use of civil intervention against the Donatists. Thus, in a letter written in 392 to the Donatist bishop Maximinus proposing a discussion of their differences, Augustine says:

I shall not take any action while the army is present lest anyone of yours should think that I wanted to use force rather than a peaceful method. After the departure of the army I shall see to it that all who hear us may know that it was no part of my plan that men should be forced into communion against their will, but that truth should be manifest to those seeking it in quietness.23

Although Augustine rejects the use of civil power to influence the debate during these years, he did not believe that its use for good cause was always out of place.24 At that particular time he simply did not deem it advisable. He did not mean to imply that the church never has the right to call for the use of such power nor that the state did not have the duty to respond to that call when it comes.

In the first decade of the fifth century, Augustine began to see the need for civil power to offset the increasing violence against church people and property. At this stage it seems that he favors such intervention reluctantly and only as a defensive measure against the attacks of the Donatists, attacks which prevented many from making up their own minds free from threats. He was still convinced of the power of truth to sway the mind if only it could be given a chance. Though justifying civil intervention, he still hoped that it would not be necessary as an offensive weapon that would pressure Donatists back to Catholicism. Thus, when Augustine learned that the Donatist bishop Crispinus had used force to rebaptize eighty tenant farmers on his estate, he did not call in civil authority to remedy the situation. Instead he proposed a free discussion of Catholic and Donatist position in the presence of the rebaptized farmers so that

... when they are free from the fear of coercion, they may choose according to their own free will. And, if there are some people who have come over to us, under the compulsion of their own masters, let the same thing be done there as here. Let them hear us both and choose what pleases them.25

Unfortunately the environment was not conducive to such a fair and free discussion; the violence of the Circumcellions was increasing. As a consequence Augustine and his fellow Catholic bishops came more and more to the view that civil power had to be called in, not to persuade the indifferent, but to protect the terrified. Consequently at the ninth Council of Carthage (16 June 404), a majority of the Catholic bishops favored an imperial decree of union that would end the heresy. Augustine at first cautioned prudence, saying that such a decree should be aimed at defense, not suppression. However, a new incident occurred which brought about a quick imperial intervention. The Catholic bishop of Bagai was attacked by a band of Donatists and this was brought directly to the attention of the Emperor Honorius. He issued an edict (12 February 405) forcing union of the Donatists with the Catholics. The good effects that seemed to flow from the enforcement of this imperial edict prompted Augustine to reconsider his reluctance to use civil force to resolve church division. In 408 he wrote to Vincent, the Rogatist (Rogatism was a sect within Donatism) bishop of Cartenna, explaining his change of mind:

I have, then, yielded to the facts suggested to me by my colleagues, although my first feeling about it was that no one was to be forced into the unity of Christ. But this opinion of mine has been set aside, not because of opposing arguments, but by reason of proven facts.26

Although there is some dispute whether or not the repressive civil laws really decreased the Donatist numbers, Augustine was much impressed by the good effects of the enforcement of the imperial edict. The mass conversions which resulted convinced Augustine that civil action might possibly bring about the Church unity that he so desperately desired. He thus began the final stage of his thought about the justification of civil intervention. He began to argue for the use of civil force as an offensive weapon against schism and heresy, a weapon which would use civil penalties to persuade the heretic/schismatic to leave their wandering ways and rejoin the Catholic church. The reason for this change was based on Augustine's deep felt conviction that as a shepherd of souls he had the responsibility to save as many as he could from destructive doctrines of those attacking the church. As he told his people in a sermon delivered in 406, his fear of his own eternal damnation forced him to pursue the Donatists. With some emotion he proclaimed:

I shall call back the erring. I shall seek out the lost. Whether they are willing or not, I shall do it!27

The death knell for Donatism as an organized, public body was sounded at the Council of Carthage in 411. The whole controversy was aired out with both sides permitted to make their strongest arguments. The judgment of Marcellinus, the imperial representative, favored the Catholics and this was upheld by an imperial edict of unity on 30 January 412. In essence the decision of the emperor forbade the Donatists to meet and directed that all their property be turned over to the Catholics. With that edict Donatism was deprived of any semblance of official state recognition. To profess Donatism even privately was now a crime punishable by civil law.

Augustine justified such civil legislation by arguing that its purpose was not to force conversion but only to make the unconverted consider their position more seriously. Civil penalties forced the ordinary Donatists to ask the question: "Am I so committed to my belief that I am willing to suffer civil penalties in order to maintain it?"28 In threatening punishment, the state was acting like a father who uses discipline so that his beloved son might freely choose to give up that activity which threatens his welfare. Augustine believed that it was this message of love that should be read into the actions of Christian kings who were trying to use the power given them by God to protect their subjects from eternal disaster.29

Augustine remained convinced that if the law removed external obstacles to conversion and made the heretic/schismatic think seriously about their situation, they would freely and sincerely choose to return to the church. The first step in conversion was to give people an opportunity to hear the truth and to motivate them to pay attention to the truth. Like freshmen in a required philosophy course, the audience had to be forced to come in and then motivated to think about ultimate questions. This reasoning was at the root of Augustine's most forceful argument justifying civil intervention, the so-called Compelle Intrare ("Compel them to enter") argument.

The first complete presentation of this approach occurred in a letter written in 416 to Donatus, a Donatist priest. Augustine draws a parallel between the wedding feast described in scripture (Luke 14, 15-24) and the action of the state forcing Donatists into union with Catholics. Just as the lord of the banquet not only invites guests but even compels them to attend, so the church, acting in the name of God sends out its servant (the civil powers) to bring the indifferent and unwilling to the eternal banquet of faith and glory.30

Augustine agreed that Faith cannot be forced. But, continuing the analogy with the banquet, he makes the point that even though the guests were forced to attend, once they were there they enjoyed the feast willingly.31 In the same way (Augustine believed) once the heretics has been brought to the "gates of Faith" they would take the final step through conviction. Augustine admitted that this method of getting the indifferent into the banquet hall and at the feet of the Master was not the ideal method, but it seemed to work and certainly seemed preferable to abandoning those who would only come to believe through a friendly severity. In Augustine's words:

It is indeed better (as no one ever could deny) that men should be led to worship God by teaching, than that they should be driven to it by fear of punishment or pain. But it does not follow that because the former course produces the better men, those who do not yield to it should be neglected. For many have found advantage (as we have proven, and are daily proving by experience) in being first compelled by fear or pain, so that they might afterwards be influenced by teaching and follow by action what they had learned through words.32

As was the case for punishment in general, Augustine insisted that any punishment imposed on heretics or schismatics had to be done out of love. It should be like a loving father disciplining a disruptive boy for his own good or like a concerned doctor cauterizing a deadly wound in order to cure the patient. It would be wonderful if all children could be trained through meaningful dialogue and all the sick could be cured by conversation, but this is not realistic. Sometimes painful methods must be used to get the good effect. So too it would have be ideal if all heretics and schismatics could be persuaded by rational debate to return to the church, but this too was not realistic. In Augustine's experience, many of these dissenters were like seriously sick people in irrational frenzy and many others were infected with a lassitude which made teaching impossible without some incentive to listen. And as far as the use of civil power is concerned, Augustine argues that if it is cruel for a christian king committed to the welfare of his people to be indifferent to their attempted suicide, it is no less cruel for him to stand back and watch while they suffer eternal death by continuing to adhere to a heretical doctrine.33

The aim of laws regulating religion certainly includes the protection of the church and preservation of the peace of the state, but in Augustine's opinion the primary justification for such laws is to cure individual heretics/schismatics of the confusion and perversity that leads to eternal punishment. It is for this reason that although Augustine seems to accept (though reluctantly) capital punishment in special cases, he never accepts it as a punishment for heresy or schism. The reason is simple. Other punishments leave a lifetime for conversion; capital punishment cuts short a life that might otherwise have been corrected.34

It was impossible for Augustine to remain indifferent to the people affected and infected by the scourge of Donatism. Although he was generally sympathetic towards those who had ideas different from his own, he could not remain indifferent to a movement which actively proselytized its views and thereby endangered the salvation of individual souls, the unity of the Church, and the civil peace. In all of Augustine's actions against the Donatists, charity was the motive and peace the goal. The paradox is that Augustine pursued the heretics because he loved them so much. He was concerned with their eternal welfare. He believed with all the sincerity of his heart that humans could most surely attain salvation only within the Catholic church. His words and actions against heresy and schism were but logical conclusions from those convictions. Is this persecution? Augustine rather considered it to be a form of friendly persuasion motivated by love.

D. Toleration of Pagans, Jews, and Manicheans

Augustine's defense of civil power to subdue the Donatists was quite vigorous and the use of such power was sometimes quite harsh. His treatment of pagans, jews, Manicheans and other non-Catholic groups was mild by comparison. In Augustine's day the pagan population of Hippo was a minority.35 The town was mainly christian though some pagans still held positions of authority. In Rome and in North Africa the pagans were mostly freethinkers, committed more to the ideals of the old empire than the gods of the old religion. As a consequence and unlike the Donatists, these intellectuals seldom if ever became especially violent or fanatic specifically in defense of the pagan gods.36

The debate between christianity and paganism was usually carried on at a highly rational level. For example, the communication between Augustine and such pagan correspondents as Maximus (Letter 17), Dioscorus (Letters 117, 118), Longinianus (Letters 233, 234, 235), Volusianus (Letter 132), and in his response to the questions posed by a group of Carthaginian thinkers (Letter 37), were always polite and courteous. As CombPs observes:

To convert by force of honesty, devotion, and tenderness, to seek occasions for making contact with their minds, to accumulate proofs which might convince them, to make appeal to sentiments which might move them, to lead those still hesitating to become christians by appeal to their reason and their heart: such was the method of Saint Augustine with regard to the faithful of the ancient religion. Their persons and their goods were sacred to him.37

Augustine was tolerant of the person of the individual pagan and he also had a high regard for the classic culture of the Greeks and Romans. He believed that the study of the liberal arts taught by the great pagan thinkers of antiquity could be a step in the understanding of the christian faith. At the same time he fully supported the imperial edicts of Valentian II and Theodosius that outlawed both public and private practice of pagan rites. Their use of magic, their superstitions, their celebrations seemed to Augustine to be works of the devil. Their representations of the gods in theater productions were provocative if not positively obscene. Augustine compared such pagan activities to those of children playing in the mud who must be corrected by a stern teacher so that they might rub the dirt from their hands and move on to more useful activities. Such restrictions benefited the pagans pulled from their muddy play and were also a protection for the unsophisticated christian who might be tempted to join them. Indeed, Augustine was less upset by the pagans still indulging in such practices than he was by "Sunday-christians" who would rush from the church to join their friends at their games and shows. As Van Der Meer remarks, too many christians seemed to embrace the pagan motto: "To hunt, to bathe, to gamble, to laugh ... that is to live!" agreeing with the pagan complaint that the worse thing about the high-minded moral life of the christian was that it was just too boring!38

Despite his antipathy towards pagan practices and rituals, Augustine insisted that no individual christian or group of christians had the right to invade pagan properties and take the law into their own hands by destroying pagan artifacts. This was the business of the state acting as the agent of the one true God and protector of public morals. In fact most of the attacks on pagan shrines were not done by the Catholic christians but by the radical wing of the Donatists, the Circumcellions, who hoped to be martyred by the enraged pagan crowds. At his daily services Augustine instructed his congregation (who were perhaps already shuffling their feet in anticipation of an early exit to the pagan shows) that they should be more concerned about "breaking the idols in the hearts of pagans" so that they might become good christians who would thereafter destroy their own pagan shrines.39

Augustine's attitude towards the pagan was thus quite different from his approach to the Donatists. He was not satisfied in simply restricting their Donatist practices; he wanted their personal conversion to the catholic position. While he hoped of course that the pagans would become Catholic christians and be baptized, he did not feel that any force beyond the force of reason should be applied to them. They were not a threat to the unity of the church because they were outside of it. They were not a threat to civil order because they (unlike the Donatists) peacefully accepted the civil laws prohibiting the public practice of their rites. The Donatists, on the other hand, were wandering christians, lost sheep but still members of Christ's flock. As a pastor of that flock, Augustine felt a special responsibility to bring the wandering Donatists back to the fold, a responsibility that he did not feel towards the multitude of individuals of other theological species wandering the earth. Because of his conviction of the need for membership in the church to be saved, he hoped and prayed that many of these "alien" herds would join the christian fold, but he felt no special duty to "compel them to come in." This he could leave in the hands of God. But for those who were now members of the sheep-fold, he felt a special obligation to prevent them from wandering away even if it took the "barking dog" of civil power to keep them in line. By baptism they had already become members of the Body of Christ; it was up to him as shepherd to do all he could to deter them from running away from that Body in a moment of insanity.40

Augustine went even further in his toleration of the jews. They were a substantive presence in Hippo and even more in Carthage, prompting Augustine to observe that there were only two kinds of people in Hippo: christians and jews.41 He had great regard for the observant jew but was disturbed by some of the antics of those who did not take their religion seriously. As he warned his church congregation one day:

You are told to observe the sabbath spiritually, not like the worldly idleness of the jews on their sabbath. They use the free time for parties and excess. It would be better for them if they spent the time in useful work, taking care of the land instead of fighting in the stadium shows. And their women would be more usefully employed in spinning wool on the sabbath than in dancing shamelessly all day long on their balconies.42

Augustine believed that the God-fearing jew was symbolized by the older son in the story of the prodigal son. Like that older son they are forced by their convictions to stand by and watch while others march in to the banquet of the father. It is a sad sight but the hopeful element in the story is that the father came out to the son who would not join the banquet and said to him: "Son you are with me always. ... I don't want you to miss our feast. Don't be jealous of your younger brother. You are with me always" It was clear to Augustine that the father in the story (who represents the Divine Father) is bearing witness to those of the jewish faith who have always worshiped the one God have always been near to him. These are the jews who, while not yet entering the Father's house to share in the banquet, are still able to say to God: "I have not disregarded your commandment" (Luke 15:29).43 Augustine had a respect tinged with sadness for such jews who were serious about the practice of their faith, though still blind to the reality of Christ. He was never troubled by their continuing worship according to the Old Law and he never favored civil law against either their person or their practice. The pagan practices were indeed works of the devil, but jewish worship was a valid but incomplete means of serving the true God.44

His tolerant attitude was dictated by a number of factors.

First of all, there seemed little temptation among his christian flock, who were sometimes drawn to imitate the antics of the non-observant jew, to be converted to the orthodox judaism of the serious believer. Judaism was, if anything, a more difficult practice than Catholic christianity.45 Moreover he saw judaism as serving the cause of the christian church in a number of different ways. It provided the church with the heritage of prophecy reaching back even to Adam and was in a sense the scrinaria,

... a desk containing the Law and the Prophets for the use of christians, testifying to the doctrine of the church by disclosing in words what the christians honor in the sacrament.46

Even more, through their diaspora the jews have spread the ancient prophecies of the coming of Christ contained in the pages of their sacred books throughout the known world.47 They thus prepared the ground for conversion to Christ throughout the world.

It is because of this continuing service to the church in spreading the good news of the Messiah that Augustine believed that, despite their blindness, the jewish people came under the protection of God's promise to Cain. As he remarks:

Although they were conquered and oppressed by the Romans, God did not "slay" them, that is, God did not destroy them as jews. In that case they would have been forgotten and would have been useless as witnesses to what I am speaking of. Consequently, the first part of the prophecy, "Slay them not lest they forget thy law," (Ps 58:11-12) is of small import without the rest, "Scatter them." For, if the jews had remained bottled up in their own land with the evidence of their scriptures and if they were not to be found everywhere, as the church is, the church would not then have them as ubiquitous witnesses of the ancient prophecies concerning Christ.48

Augustine interpreted the command "Do not slay them!" as meaning that jews should not be killed either physically by execution or spiritually by forbidding them to practice their faith and forcing their conversion. Till the end of time they will stand as a warning of what can happen to anyone who pridefully turns their back on Christ the Messiah.49 Augustine felt no special obligation to convert the jews nor to punish them for their rejection of Christ. Both conversion and punishment could be left in the hands of God, that God who declared through the parable of the prodigal that he still stood close by that elder son who as yet was unable or unwilling to join the banquet.

A final word on Augustine's attitude towards the Manicheans deserves brief mention.50 This was a special case for Augustine because he had himself been a Manichean for over ten years and for part of that time had been a convinced believer and an enthusiastic proselytizer. There is a suggestion that his somewhat abrupt exit from Carthage when he was a young academic was in fact an exile imposed by imperial law. And, when he sought solace in his hometown of Hippo, he was summarily refused entrance into his mother's house because of his fervent Manichean belief. Such was his enthusiasm that soon after, when a dear Manichean friend became seriously ill, Augustine seemed more disturbed by his deathbed conversion to christianity than by his imminent death.51 It can be safely said that of all of the great theological debates he would have with Manicheans, Donatists, Pelagians, and Arians, Augustine understood and was sympathetic towards the Manichean position the most. He not only knew what they believed; he knew the sentiments that drew them towards that belief even under the threat of persecution.

The civil suppression of Manicheanism had been in place long before the time of Augustine. The movement was seen by imperial officials as not only a threat to the pagan and thereafter christian orientation of the society; it also had about it the taint of being an invasion from the East, an insidious way in which the enemy Persia was infiltrating the western empire. In its beliefs Manicheanism was far different from Roman Catholicism, but its acceptance of Christ and Paul as prophets and its respect for the New Testament scriptures merited its designation of being a "heresy" prohibited by law. Indeed, the only recorded executions for heresy were those imposed on Manicheans.52 By the end of the fourth century the civil laws against the Manicheans were enforced with increasing severity and in this implementation many Catholic bishops played an important part, identifying the Manicheans hidden in the midst of the christians in the towns.53

When the bishop Augustine began his serious debate with Manichean opponents, the environment both in the empire and in the church was conducive to calling on civil forces to aid the Catholic cause. But Augustine never demanded such intervention. Instead he maintained that the correction of the Manicheans should be achieved not by inducing anxiety through persecution but rather by quiet discussion, friendly encouragement, and by an understanding consolation for their plight.54 Certainly his reluctance was not based on doubts about the legitimacy of state intervention. He had approved the empire's suppression of pagan practices and shrines. He was even more favorably inclined towards the civil laws that seized Donatist property and made it a crime even to be a Donatist. Why then was he so tolerant of the Manicheans? Perhaps for the following reasons.

First of all he knew from personal experience what it meant to be a Manichean desperately seeking answers to the mystery of life and death, good and evil. He himself had been mesmerized by the Manichean answers to such ultimate questions. Perhaps it was while remembering his own Manichean daze that he wrote to some who were still captivated by the doctrine:

Let those be angry with you who have never experienced the work necessary to discover the truth and the caution needed to avoid falling into error. Let those be angry with you who have never discovered how difficult it is to wade through the confusions of the flesh with a pious and clear mind. And, finally, let those treat you angrily who have never themselves strayed as you have strayed. For my part I can't do that. I went through such lengthy confusion before I came at last to recognize the simple truth that does not come from exotic legends. I barely succeeded, with God's help, in finally rejecting the empty ideas I had gathered from false theories and doctrines of many kinds. It was only after a long time that I sought a cure for my mental blindness, giving myself finally to the call and persuasions of the Divine Doctor who spoke to me from within. After going through all this how can I be angry with you? I must put up with you as I formerly had to bear with myself. I must be as patient with you now as my friends were patient with me when I was still blindly running madly astray, believing then as you believe now.55

Added to this sympathy for the personal confusion of the Manicheans was the fact that the movement did not seem to constitute a particular threat to the church nor to the faithful. Though related to christianity in its acceptance of Christ and Paul as some of its prophets and its reverence for at least part of the sacred scripture, the Manicheans were not a divisive force that split the "sheepfold" that was Christ's church. They had not been a part of the Mystical Body of Christ which had cut itself loose and thus were not a visible contradiction of the unity and universality of Christ's church. Furthermore, there was no indication that simple christians were particularly drawn to Manichean practices (as they were towards the pagan rites), practices which in any case were forbidden by law and indulged in publicly only at great personal risk. In sum, the conversion of the Manichean (as was the case with the jews) could be left up to God. The only pressure that christian prelates needed to bring to bear against them was the weight of reasoned argument.56

The Manicheans were committed to a rational approach to life and consequently were not reluctant to enter into public debates with Augustine about their teachings. They were easier debate opponents than the Donatists (who frequently would not show up) and the Pelagians (whose difference from the Catholic position involved many fine distinctions and rested on differing interpretations of the same scriptures). Whereas victory in argument with the Donatists had little effect on their continuing conviction and energetic imposition of those convictions on others, the debates with the Manicheans were quite effective. There seemed to be no need for civil pressure to "get their attention." They were willing to listen and sometimes even willing to accept defeat in rational argument. Having reached that point of an openness to a different point of view, Augustine believed that it could be left to the grace of God to further their final conversion if in his providence this was meant to be.

Indeed, one might say that Augustine's tolerant approach to the Manicheans was always his preferred method of dealing with those of other beliefs. It was only pastoral concern for stubborn sheep who would not listen and concern for their sometimes violent attacks on the sheep that remained that prompted Augustine the shepherd to go beyond plaintive pleading to calling in the power of the state to control the wandering sheep and force them to return.


1. Commentary on the Gospel of John, 7.1.2. For a commentary on Augustine's view of the Church see R. A. Markus, Saeculum: History and Society in the Theology of St. Augustine (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 1970), pp. 105-32.

2. Letter 102, 11-12, 15. See also Commentary on Psalm 90/2, 1; Commentary on Psalm 36/3, 4.

3. Letter to Catholics on the Unity of the Church, 19.49.

4. Augustine believed that the true Church is composed of "that fixed number of the saints predestined (for salvation) before the foundation of the world." (On Baptism Against the Donatists, 5.27.38). Just now one can not be sure who is a member because "Many who seem to be on the outside are in fact on the inside and many who seem to be on the inside are in fact on the outside." (Admonition and Grace, 7.16).

5. Augustine viewed any heresy as a serious matter since it endangered the eternal life of souls. He was also was that there was always a moral fault in the position of the heretic and, in the case of the Donatists, the moral fault was a lack of charity. This is reflected in his definition of heretics as "those who entertain in Christ's Church unsound and distorted ideas and who stubbornly refuse, even after warnings, to correct their contagious and death-dealing doctrines, but go on defending them." (The City of God, 18.51).

6. For a complete discussion of Donatism and Augustine's reaction to it, see W.H.C. Frend, The Donatist Church (Oxford: Clarendon Press, 1952). See also Gerald Bonner, St. Augustine of Hippo: Life and Controversies (Philadelphia: Westminster Press, 1963), pp. 237-311; Geoffrey Grimshaw Willis, St. Augustine and the Donatist Controversy (London: S.P.C.K., 1950).

7. W. H. C. Frend, op. cit., p. 10. See Peter Brown, Augustine of Hippo (Berkeley: University of California Press, 1967), p. 213.

8. See Brown, op. cit., p. 228. Merdinger notes that the Donatists were the first to call for imperial intervention to resolve the religious dispute with the Catholics. Eventually the Catholics beat them at this game. See J. E. Merdinger, Rome and the African Church in the Time of Augustine (New Haven: Yale University Press, 1997), p. 104.

9. See Merdinger, op. cit., pp. 68-69.

10. LETTER 185, 4.15. See Frend, op. cit., pp. 72-73, 172-78, 257-58.

11. See Emilien Lamirande, Church, State and Toleration: An Intriguing Change of Mind in Augustine, The Saint Augustine Lecture: 1974 (Villanova PA: Villanova University Press, 1975), p. 11.

12. Frend, op. cit., p. 299.

13. Merdinger, op. cit., p. 89.

14. See Against the Letter or Parmenian, 1.16.

15. Against the Writings of Petelian the Donatist, 2.210.

16. Letter 185, 5.20.

17. Letter 204, 4. See Against Gaudentius the Donatist, 1.19.

18. Against Cresconius the Donatist, 3.51.

19. Letter 89, 2.

20. The Usefulness of Believing, 1.1.

21. See Geoffrey Willis, op. cit., p. 129.

22. This change in view is reflected in comments that Augustine made at the end of his life in the review of earlier writings. See Retractions, 2.31.

23. Letter 23, 7. See Against the So-called Fundamental Letter of Mani, 1.1. See Bonner, op. cit., p. 301.

24. See Letter 51, 3, written in 399/400 ,where Augustine suggests to the Donatist Crispinus that it is only "christian mildness" that restrains him from asking for the civil action that their "monstrous sacrilege" deserves.

25. Letter 66, 2.

26. Letter 93, 17. See Letter 185, 29.

27. Sermon 46, 7.14. Augustine commented to his parishioners that while in the beginning the apostles were fishers of men, now christians must be hunters, beating the thickets and driving the wandering sheep into the nets that will save them. See Sermon 400, 11.

28. Against the Writings of Petelian, 2.186.

29. Ibid., 2.217.

30. Augustine believed that identifying the civil authorities as the servants who were sent out by the lord of the banquet to gather the recalcitrant guests was at least suggested in the words of the psalm (81.11) "And all the kings of the earth shall adore Him; all nations shall serve Him." See Letter 163, 10.

31. Sermon 112, 7.8. See Against Gaudentius the Donatist, 1.25.

32. Letter 185, 6.21. See John M. Rist, Augustine: Ancient Thought Baptized (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 1994), p. 274.

33. Letter 173, 4. Markus observes (op. cit., pp. 141-43) that Augustine saw a wall of hardened habit separating the schismatic communities (such as the Donatists) from the unity of the one fold. (See Letter 89, 7.) A discipline that induced fear was not contrary to freedom. It was a way of enabling freedom by breaking down the walls of such restricting habit. In recommending discipline Augustine was thus motivated by pastoral concerns. He likens coercion to a medicine administered to an unwilling patient for his own good (Letter 93, 1.3). It is thus a work of love, for it is "better to love with discipline than to deceive with indulgence (Letter 93, 2.4)

34. Augustine admittedly had a second reason for his reluctance to putting heretics or schismatics to death for their belief. He did not want to create "martyrs" that might create an emotional attachment to a false faith. However it seems true that his primary reason remained an aversion to creating a practice that could result in the eternal damnation of the one executed.

35. For a description of pagan life in Augustine's North Africa, see F. Van Der Meer, Augustine the Bishop (London: Sheed & Ward, 1961), pp. 29 ff. See also Emilien Lamirande, op. cit., pp. 26 ff.

36. An exception to the pagan commitment to non-violence occurred in 408 in the town of Calama where Possidius was bishop. The latter tried to stop a traditional pagan procession and rioting followed. Pagan ruffians (aided and abetted now by Donatist confreres) stoned the Catholic church in the town and tried to burn it down. Clergy and monks were sought out for beating and one was killed. Possidius himself was saved only by hiding. See Van Der Meer, op. cit., pp. 40-46; Peter Brown, Augustine of Hippo, pp. 287-88.

37. Gustave CombPs, La Doctrine Politique de Saint Augustin, (Paris: Librairie Plon, 1927), p. 336. Lamirande (op. cit. p. 32) adds, "He does nowhere suggest the possibility of converting pagans by force and he apparently did not urge the application of imperial laws, which is to say that he did not seem to consider the suppression of paganism as a direct concern of the church. Here lies the most significant difference between his attitude towards paganism and his attitude towards Donatism."

38. See Sermon 62, 18. Van Der Meer, op. cit., p. 47. See Augustine's On the Harmony of the Gospels, 1.33.51.

39. Sermon 62, 17.

40. See Lamirande, op. cit., pp. 33-38. See Frend, op. cit., p. 242. See Augustine, On Baptism against the Donatists, 1.1.2; Letter 185, 6.23. Augustine suggests in his work Against Gaudentius the Donatist (1.25.28) that one of the implications of the scripture story of the banquet is that, although those who were first invited and refused (the jews) might be left to go their own way, those who were called in afterwards (the heretics and schismatics) could be forced to come in because they already belonged to the church and had a right and duty to participate in the banquet created for them by the Lord.

41. Sermon 62, 4. See Van Der Meer op. cit., p. 76. Liguori comments: "The jews formed no small part of the population of Hippo and Carthage and, though many were true to their religious beliefs and customs, others, with their careless morals and contentious ways, presented a serious difficulty to the zealous bishop in his solicitude for the members of his christian flock who were only too ready to revert to the practices of their pagan and jewish ancestry." Sister Marie Liguori, IHM (trans.), In Answer to the Jews (Adversus Judaeos), in St. Augustine: Treatises on Marriage and other Subjects vol. 27 of the Fathers of the Church series edited by Roy J. Deferrari (New York: Fathers of the Church, Inc., 1955), p. 389.

42. Sermon 9, 3. Hill comments: "We get a picture of jews in Roman Africa forming an active and uninhibited section of society. Augustine is not here being anti-semitic but simply unecumenical. He has no sympathy with, and probably little understanding of, Judaism as a religion, just as he had no sympathy with, but probably more understanding of, heresies like Manichaeanism, Donatism and Arianism." Edmund Hill, O.P. (trans.), Sermons, part 3, volume 1 of The Works of Saint Augustine: A Translation for the 21st Century, John E. Rotelle, O.S.A. (ed.) (New York: New City Press, 1990), p. 279.

43. Sermon 112a, 13.

44. See CombPs, op. cit., pp. 349-50. See Lamirande op. cit., pp. 349-50). Fredriksen comments: "Augustine's vision of the jews as a living witness to the christian truth was both original and, compared with his attitude toward pagans and non-Catholic christians, uncharacteristically tolerant." Paula Fredriksen, "Excaecati Occulta Justitia Dei: Augustine on Jews and Judaism," Journal of Early Christian Studies, 3.3 (1995), pp. 299-324.

45. Augustine pictures the observant Jew (the older brother of the prodigal) standing at the doors of the banquet hall in a fit of anger seeing the dissolute pass by into the feast. He writes: "And the elder brother is angry when he returns from the fields, and refuses to go in. He is the people of the jews, whose spirit appeared even in those who had already come to believe in Christ. The jews couldn't stomach it that the gentiles should come on such easy terms, without the imposition of any of the burdens of the law, without the pain of physical circumcision, that they should receive saving baptism in sin." (Sermon 112a, 8).

46. Fredriksen, op. cit., p. 317. See Against Faustus the Manichean, 12.23.

47. See The City of God, 18.46.

48. Ibid.

49. Against Faustus the Manichean, 12.12. See Fredericksen, op. cit., p. 318.

50. For a brief description of Manichean belief and its influence on Augustine see Donald X. Burt, Augustine's World: An Introduction to His Speculative Philosophy (Lanham, Maryland: University Press of America: 1996), pp. 14-17. For a more generous examination see Gerald Bonner, op. cit., pp. 157-236.

51. See Peter Brown, "The Diffusion of Manichaeism in the Roman Empire," in Religion and Society in the Age of Augustine (London: Faber and Faber, 1972), p. 113. See Confessions, 3.11; 4.4. See John J. O'Meara, The Young Augustine (New York: Longman, 1980), pp. 83-86.

52. See Brown, Religion and Society..., op. cit., p. 94. See Lamirande, op. cit., pp. 35-36.

53. See Brown, Religion and Society..., op. cit., pp. 110-11.

54. Against the Fundamental Letter of the Manicheans, 1.

55. Ibid., 2-3.

56. Peter Brown suggests that this attitude of "leave them to heaven" was influenced by Augustine's increasing stress on predestination and grace as the basic causes of conversions and his bad experience with the forced feigned conversions of pagans and Donatists who returned to Catholicism only out of fear. Peter Brown, "St. Augustine's Attitude to Religious Coercion," Religion and Society ..., op. cit., pp. 268-70. See Letter 23, 7 and Letter 34, 1.

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