Cruce Tectum

Cruce tectum, hidden under the cross, a blog for Epiphany Lutheran Church, Dorr, Michigan

Location: Moscow, Idaho

Wednesday, January 14, 2009

Great Quote from St. Augustine

From On Christian Doctrine (I.xxviii), cited in Richard John Neuhaus, The Naked Public Square (Grand Rapids: Eerdmans, 1984) p. 66:

All men are to be loved equally. But since you cannot do good to all, you are to pay special regard to those who, by the accidents of time, or place, or circumstance, are brought into closer connection with you. For, suppose that you had a great deal of some commodity, and felt bound to give it away to somebody who had none, and that it could not be given to more than one person; if two persons presented themselves, neither of whom had either from need or relationship a greater claim upon you than the other, you could do nothing fairer than choose by lot to which you would give what could not be given to both. Just so among men, since you cannot consult for the good of them all, you must take the matter as decided for you by a sort of lot, according as each man happens for the time being to be more closely connected with you.

John Kleinig makes the same argument in terms of vocation in his recent Bible study on Prayer in The Lutheran Spirituality Series (St. Louis: Concordia, 2006): "Your area of responsibility as a person of prayer, your department, is defined by your station in life, in your family, your workplace, your circle of friends, and your congregation" (p. 8). In other words, Christians are called to love all people, to pray for all people, to serve all people, to act for the good of all. But practically speaking, this is impossible. So God places us in our vocation, what Augustine calls the accidents of time, place, and circumstance, and it is precisely in said vocation that we are to serve those whom God places in our lives. This gives some helpful perspective for our Christian life, and as Neuhaus would say, our life lived as one not of the world, but in the world.


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