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The political teachings of Thomas Aquinas celebrate the state and political life

The political teachings of Thomas Aquinas celebrate the state and political life

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The political teachings of Thomas Aquinas celebrate the state and political life. Thomas also stresses the demands on rulers to provide justice and to protect the weak and the poor. This teaching is consistent with the scripture of the Hebrew and Christian traditions. It is more consistent with those traditions than is the political stance taken by Augustine. During the time of St. Augustine there seemed to be a direct relationship between that of Christianity and the fall of the Roman Empire. At the time Christianity was revolutionary in terms of religion and what was being practiced at the time in Rome. Up to the time of Christ civil religion reined, closely tying virtue and eternal reward with obedience to the government. In congruence with past philosophers, Rome believed that a just political order guided by reason and inhabited with patriotic, virtuous citizens was the greatest end for mankind. Civil gods of the city were looked upon to instill motivation for the citizens beyond civil punishment to live virtuously. The Romans feared that Christianity if made into state religions would make the citizens feel less obligated to the state and would diminish civic duty, such as voting and soldiering in war times. The Roman people’s fear of Christianity came to a climax when Rome fell to the Goth barbarians in the year 410ad. Augustine devotes nearly half of The City of God to discredit the pagan religions in hopes of showing the Roman society its fallacy. Augustine begins with the division of the pagan theology into three types; mythical, natural, and civil. Mythical theology, he explains, is that of the poets and it appeals to the multitude with gods who are worshipped for material and worldly goods. It is insufficient because it places material goods as the greatest end in life, thus breeding vice and war. Natural theology is that of
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the philosophers and it is monotheistic. It is based on a true notion of God, making it superior to mythical or civil religion, but it is only accessible to a very few wise men and therefore unable to benefit society. It is also inadequate because the philosopher believes he comes to knowledge of truth by his own means, which creates differences in opinion of truth among different philosophers. Because of this Augustine denounces the idea of an oligarchy as a ruling form of government. . Lastly he describes civil theology, which is the official religion of the city, which was a polytheistic religion that emphasized worship for life after death again in hope to promote virtuous citizens Augustine attempts to disprove its usefulness, and in turn prove Christianity to be the one, true religion. He wishes to explain to the Romans that Christianity does not undermine civil authority, but instead promotes it Augustine compounds all this in his doctrine of the two cities, The City of God and the City of Man.
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