Augustine on Schism

Saint Augustin et Sainte Monique

Saint Augustin et Sainte Monique (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

I tell you of a truth, my Beloved, even in these high seats there is both wheat, and tares, and among the laity there is wheat, and tares. Let the good tolerate the bad; let the bad change themselves, and imitate the good. Let us all, if it may be so, attain to God; let us all through His mercy escape the evil of this world. Let us seek after good days, for we are now in evil days; but in the evil days let us not blaspheme, that so we may be able to arrive at the good days.

via CHURCH FATHERS: Sermon 23 on the New Testament (Augustine).

Post By Joel Watts (10,115 Posts)

Joel L. Watts holds a Masters of Arts from United Theological Seminary with a focus in literary and rhetorical criticism of the New Testament. He is currently a Ph.D. student at the University of the Free State, analyzing Paul’s model of atonement in Galatians. He is the author of Mimetic Criticism of the Gospel of Mark: Introduction and Commentary (Wipf and Stock, 2013), a co-editor and contributor to From Fear to Faith: Stories of Hitting Spiritual Walls (Energion, 2013), and Praying in God's Theater, Meditations on the Book of Revelation (Wipf and Stock, 2014).

Website: → Unsettled Christianity

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13 thoughts on “Augustine on Schism

  1. Then, there’s I Corinthians 1:10 juxtaposed to I Corinthians 11:19. While there should be no divisions, there must be heresies.

  2. Ok, let me be a jerk. Perhaps why young people reject the church, and old people pontificate about what young people should be doing. I don’t know anything about Augustine, but I find it ironic that Augustine is used to deflect schism in the UMC, considering that the schism involves sexual definitions. The following is from Wiki on Augustine. Perhaps it is wrong. Please correct, if wrong:

    As a youth Augustine lived a hedonistic lifestyle for a time, associating with young men who boasted of their sexual exploits with women and men.
    It was during this period that he uttered his famous prayer, “Grant me chastity and continence, but not yet.”
    At about the age of 19, Augustine began an affair with a young woman in Carthage. Possibly because his mother wanted him to marry a person of his class, the woman remained his lover for over thirteen years and gave birth to his son Adeodatus.
    In 385, Augustine abandoned his lover in order to prepare himself to marry an heiress.
    Augustine’s mother had followed him to Milan and he allowed her to arrange a marriage, for which he abandoned his concubine.
    He had to wait two years until his fiancée came of age, and he soon took another concubine. Augustine eventually broke off his engagement to his eleven-year-old fiancée, but never renewed his relationship with either of his concubines.
    In the summer of 386, after having heard and been inspired and moved by the story of Placianus’s and his friends’ first reading of the life of Saint Anthony of the Desert, Augustine converted to Christianity.
    Possidius also described Augustine’s personal traits in detail, drawing a portrait of a man who ate sparingly, worked tirelessly, despised gossip, shunned the temptations of the flesh, and exercised prudence in the financial stewardship of his see.

    • Augustine’s about face on sexual desires might be likened to that of a reformed drunk preaching total abstinence.

      For Augustine, being fruitful and multiplying was okay as long as one didn’t enjoy it in the process.

      Whereas Augustine’s sexual exploits caused him to catch a cold in later life, his attitudes subsequently gave the church a case of congenital sexual influenza that it has never quite gotten over!

      Interestingly enough, much like Luther, Augustine believed women were inferior. For the traditional church, homosexuals are a step or two down the ladder from women.

  3. On a positive note, the UMC I attended last Sunday had a farewell to the pastor.
    From the program,
    “RITUAL OF FAREWELL TO A PASTOR

    V I D E O
    Pauley Perrette and Imagine No Malaria”

    Interesting, part of the ritual was both the congregation and the pastor in formal, ritual style, asking to be forgiven for anything they did wrong. Better than losing your job forever.

    And one gift, among others, given to the pastor was a donation to the “no malaria” cause. Video had the actor from NCIS talk about the cause, plus the fact that she was a UMC member (sans tattoos, just makeup). Should publicize that more, to attract young members. Donnie and Marie did wonders for Mormons. Methodists need a little more zing, and good PR, not the stodgy, bitter, anti- stuff from their conferences. Comes across like a Political convention, and no one really likes politicians, especially a bunch of them together in a convention.

  4. St. John Chrysostom on those who perpetuate schism
    “Therefore I assert and protest, that to make a schism in the Church is no less an evil than to fall into heresy.” (Homily 11 on Ephesians)

  5. So the story goes, while the early 20th century Russian Orthodox Church was vehemently debating particulars in the order of worship, a few blocks away, Bolsheviks were plotting the demise of the Russian Empire. In the early 21st century, while churches debate whether or not homosexuals are worthy of Christ’s salvation, not only are children in America going to bed hungry, some have even had their water supply taken from them.

    Having forgotten Matthew 25:35, Christianity in American life is headed for a day of reckoning on this side of the grave.

    For more on the water issue, follow the link below.

    http://www.foodandwaterwatch.org/pressreleases/as-water-crisis-in-detroit-escalates-groups-pressure-united-nations-to-take-action-restore-water-service-to-thousands-of-residents-and-ensure-the-human-right-to-water/

  6. Here’s another cheery thought. Could it be the Religious Right wants schism? While that may sound counter intuitive, it makes sense if conservatives realize their war on gay marriage is lost and they want to move on to other battles. This is nothing new. For at least as long as I’ve been alive, conservative Christianity has believed it could win by just keeping a fight going.

    With schism, flag and motherhood Christianity can purify itself into a core of true conservative believers by jettisoning liberals. After all, this is what the Republican Party has been doing for the past three decades.

    Then, as often happens with cults, anyone outside the supposedly chosen ingroup can conveniently labeled an infidel. Thus, atheists, liberals, Muslims, etc. can be limped together as the enemy. This strategy can also have the added benefit of separating deep pocket families from being influenced by a presumably poisonous liberal agenda.

    In turn, this facilitates the leadership’s ability to claim to be under attached from evil outside forces bent on destroying “truth, justice, and the American way” (to borrow a well-worn phrase from the 1950s Superman television series).

    The above is not merely idle speculation. As usual, the foreign press has picked up on this trend while American entertainment/media confines itself to political horse races and gossip. The link below offer one perspective from abroad.

    http://www.globalpost.com/dispatch/news/afp/140621/religious-right-looks-beyond-gay-marriage-next-battles

    • The religious left has made noise about schism as well. Believe it or not, the right is not the source of all evil. It isn’t a cult, and is not politically driven by and large. To suggest those things is ignorance at it’s finest. I could post links to conservative news outlets which say the same type of broad stroke, slanderous garbage about liberals, but it does not represent the whole. The overwhelming majority of conservatives are not single issue individuals and are actually rather accepting of homosexual marriage as a civil protection. There is no more a far right conspiracy than there is a far left conspiracy.

      • While the Religious Right may not be the root of all evil, it nevertheless has more to gain from schism than does the more inclusive left.

        • That statement, whether true or not, does not point to the right wanting schism. The left is no more inclusive than the right, they simply choose to include different people than the right. Should there be a schism, I and those who believe as I do, would not be welcomed with open arms to a liberal church.

          • So, in how many liberal churches have you become persona non grata? Or, have you rejected liberals by not associating with them?

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