Originally Posted by PDN
I don't think it was a case of Augustine being ahead of his time. More a case of him working out the implications of the church being in bed with the empire and finding theological justifications for actions of the empire which appeared to contradict the plain sense of the New Testament.
Remember, the context in which Augustine developed his Just War theory was to justify taking military action against a heretical group - the Donatists. This was part of a process by which Christianity stopped being a minority faith that was persecuted but whose members were prepared to die in the name of Christ, and instead became a majority faith that persecuted o - thers and whose members were prepared to kill others in the name of Christ.
I always thought of St. Augustine as a very noble character and theologian - very honest, and really gifted, perhaps part of divine Providence, greater understanding.
I think I'll agree to disagree that vengence or protection of an empire was the motive for Augustine PDN, it seems too simple for to tag such a great Father in such a way to me. Especially in light of Scripture too -
We live in a world where evil exists, we know the way to salvation through Christ, and the peaceful way he proclaimed are part and parcel of the being a 'Witness' that bears fruit - but I believe that Augustine was a great theologian and clarified 'duty' too from the very
same Gospel, the protection of innocents is part and parcel of a society that lay it's foundation on Christ and on justice - there are many forms of 'violence' sometimes when words fail, ( as it did with the Donatists ) people think that physical violence is 'Just' - ( I tend to agree that it has to be weighed carefully ) however sometimes 'words' inflict the most worst kind of violence than anything else in everyday life. I think this is the worst kind of violence we commit on eachother sometimes..
Like I said, I don't think there was ever a 'war' that every single person consulted their conscience in order to understand what is 'Just' as defined by Augustine in particular. We have officers of peace that we are grateful for, they are the ones who use physical effort to suppress evil every single day of the week - they are not 'wrong' imo - They're police officers etc.
In fact, I think with the progress of technology people may pay more attention to the message of Scripture, as clarified by Augustine, a little better before acting, acting it out doesn't always justify or nullify the 'message' - or indeed thinking that not 'acting' to supress evil is good.
He wasn't calling people to violence, he was articulating with bravery the seeming contra indications in Jesus teaching, afterall he said many things, we can't afford to cast off one - with providence in mind and the reality of sin and fallen people to keep 'order' and thriving of justice in mind. He didn't invent it either, it was actually an aspect of Roman society too if a little under developed - Christ was a pacifist and that was the ultimate way, but he also warned us of the 'reality' of evil too - in Scripture.