Early Christian Sources

Early Christian Sources - EarlyChristianSources The basic...

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Early Christian Sources The basic logic inherited from early “Christian Fathers” goes like this (Barnes 1948, 13ff) 1. mankind by nature social (following Aristotle and Stoics) 2. golden age, state of nature without coercive government was garden of Eden prior to the fall 3. government was necessary after the fall because of human vices 4. government is a divine institution, leaders are agents of god, rebellion is a sin 5. earthly utility of the state is incidental, heaven is what is important 6. improving worldly conditions not a priority (“you’ll get your reward in heaven”) 7. poor, etc. exist as opportunity for almsgivers (cf. gospel of John – Lazarus as opportunity for Jesus) In St. Augustine’s City of God this comes together as measuring the value of social institutions in terms of whether they get people to heaven Medieval Sources Important inheritances include idea that all institutions of state are inventions that post-date a “golden past.” Specific ideas about popular sovereignty and consent of governed from Romans. From church the idea of the
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