In chapters 9-11, Augustine continues to question and mock the system of the pagan gods. Why is Jupiter over the gods? How is he different from Janus, who is said to be the world, when Jupiter is also said to be the world? Why aren’t Jupiter and Janus one god? Why does Jupiter have so many functions assigned to him, when normally each function is overseen by a different god? What is the deal with all these gods? Does any of this make any sense?
Clearly, it’s no surprise that Augustine rejects the worldview of Rome. What connection does this conversation have with the City of God? Big picture: a city that does not properly worship God cannot be a just or rightly ordered city. So, a city based on and propagating a worldview so full of contradictions and bizarre beliefs cannot be rightly ordered. Rome is a mess because its belief system doesn’t make any sense and the Romans falsely worships false gods. Augustine has pointed out many times, thus far, that even the greatest gods get weird worship – the Romans tell awful stories about Jupiter and worship him with strange rites. The gods are not gods and they are not worshipped with true worship. Given the injustice that the Roman world is built on, Rome itself must be incapable of justice within herself. Any city that seeks to be an eternal city must be built on an eternal foundation and must be oriented toward an eternal telos, while maintained by an eternally-oriented justice. When injustice and untruth is in the foundation, the city must fall. When the telos is time-bound or inadequate, the city must fall. When injustice permeates the city, the city must fall. Rome had pretensions to be the eternal city but built herself on a false foundation, painted herself with injustice, and oriented herself toward the maintenance of herself – a false and very temporal telos.
America – built on a foundation of war (a false foundation), maintained by worship of consumption and the self (full of injustice), and oriented toward liberty (an empty and false telos). So many other things that could be said, but it feels safe to say that America must fall. Just wanted to say that this week, because the furor has been dealing with the maintenance of our culture and the fate of refugees: can we accept refugees who might destroy our culture? Are we morally responsible to show compassion when we might be targets of terrorists? Well, any chance to increase justice and show compassion seems like a chance worth taking in a culture as unjust and self-centered as this American culture. And, this American culture is a false, unjust, empty culture anyway. I get wanting to maintain our city, but it will fall. It must fall because it is false, unjust, and empty. And ultimately, our (Christians’) citizenship is not in this city, but in that great City whose foundation is built on proper worship of the One True God, is maintained by justice, compassion, and grace, and is oriented toward the redemption of all things in Christ.