Christianity According to St. Augustine and Machiavelli

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In St. Augustine’s book entitled Political Writings, one could see that Christianity plays a very important role in his view of politics. His opinion on the morality or lack of morality in politics, to me makes it more evident that Christianity persuades his views. Although it seems his writings have become quite well known and admired, not everyone fully shared his beliefs. Niccolo Machiavelli, for instance, seemed to believe in a government that was not driven by morality, but more by practicality. In, The Prince, Machiavelli stresses that the moral fibers of government should not be so soft. Like St. Augustine, his work went on to become one of the most famous books ever written about politics. Throughout the two works there are some similarities and differences regarding politics, however it their view of Christianity and morality that many find most intriguing.
After reading St. Augustine’s book it seemed to me that he had very little interest in politics as a whole, but he did seem to have a a great interest on the moral problems that plagued them. The books that make up this work come from one of his previous works entitled, The City of God, in which Augustine discusses many different aspects of the city. Augustine’s view of Christianity in regard to politics was due to the moral decline of the Roman Empire and the effect of this decline on the still faithful Christians. Augustine blamed the pagan gods and their lack of concern for the moral character which defined those who worshiped them. He also makes a reference to Plato’s Republic, in regards to the way Plato wanted to banish the poets from his city in speech. Augustine also felt that there should be strong censorship of the poets when writing about the gods because they made fools out of them. Augustine is also very concerned with the amount of people who in past invasions of their homelands escaped by lying about being Christians and then turned their backs on Christ when the danger had subsided. Augustine’s work also raises the question of why mercy is extended to the pious and ungrateful. Augustine responds by reminding everyone that, “The sun rises upon the good and evil, and the rains fall upon the just and the unjust.” The book also discusses Gods patience with humans and how the choice to repent ones sins lies within the man. He tells how some will recognize...

... middle of paper ... things, I do think it is safe to say that they are both Christians. Although, without question St. Augustine is more in touch with his faith, he seems to be less in touch with politics. Machiavelli on the other hand does not separate man from what he sees to be his natural state of morality but uses it to the advantage of politics. When discussing Moses and his helping the Israelites escape to the promise land, Machiavelli mentions the miracles of Christ and states that God has done his part and it is time for humans to do theirs. This leads me to think that he believes politics should not lack God but work in conjunction with him.
To me St. Augustine is not educated only in his faith, but in the faiths of others as well and he shows no discrimination but more concern with how they are led morally in their beliefs. Machiavelli, however seems to be content with the use of religion as tool to secure the strength of the state. After fully reading the work I do not feel as though Machiavelli is as anarchical of a person as some would be led to think. I think he just had a better understanding of human nature and how it is commonly applied to politics.

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