Christianity and Classical Culture: A Study of Thought and Action from Augustus to Augustine

By Charles Norris Cochrane | Go to book overview

PART III
REGENERATION

X
THE CHURCH AND THE KINGDOM OF GOD

THUS far, we have traced the declining fortunes of Romanitas through the vicissitudes of four hundred years. In the programme of conservation inaugurated by Augustus Caesar we have seen an attempt to salvage all that was of permanent value in the thought and aspiration of classical antiquity and to give it effective expression under the aegis of Eternal Rome. But the apparent fulfilment of the Augustan programme in the second century was merely the prelude to its breakdown in the third; and, with the collapse of the classical commonwealth, various princes devoted themselves to projects of reform, culminating in that undertaken by Constantine and his successors, the emperors of the fourth century. Our examination of that effort has revealed, in some degree, the reasons for its failure; but, for a fuller comprehension of those reasons, it is necessary to consider the implications of Nicene Christianity as they were developed by certain of the great contemporary churchmen. This study will serve to emphasize the futility of the hopes entertained by renovationist emperors from Constantine to Theodosius, the impossibility of achieving, within the forms of the New Republic, the spirit of the Christian Commonwealth. At the same time, it will make more intelligible the attitude of the fourth-century Church to what, in the language traditional to Christianity, was known as the Kingdom of God.

To the fourth-century Church the vision of the Kingdom was the vision of a spiritual aristocracy, a society regenerated by the acceptance of Christian truth; and, for it, the heart and centre of this truth was contained in the Nicene formula. To develop the implications of that formula was to be the achievement of the fourth-century exponents of Christianity. This 'revaluation of values' served to complete the moral and intellectual revolution which, in the words of a recent writer, has created the psychological gulf between antiquity and modern times.1 In undertaking their task fourth-century apologists had,

____________________
1
Lot, La fin du monde antique, ad fin.

-359-

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Christianity and Classical Culture: A Study of Thought and Action from Augustus to Augustine
Table of contents

Table of contents

  • Title Page iii
  • Preface v
  • Contents ix
  • Part I- Reconstruction 1
  • II- Romanitas: Empire and Commonwealth 27
  • III- Roma Aeterna: the Apotheosis of Power 74
  • IV- Regnum Caesaris Regnum Diaboli 114
  • Part II 177
  • VI- Quid Athenae Hierosolymis? the Impasse Of Constantinianism 213
  • VIII- State and Church in the New Republic 292
  • Part III- Regeneration 359
  • XII- Divine Necessity and Human History 456
  • Index 517
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