Thursday, November 8, 2007

Two cities

Last night I was reading an article on the KoC website. The article touched on the responsibility of the layman to use whatever gifts they have been given to improve the temporal order. I was curious so I did more research and found this at; http://www.vatican.va/archive/hist_councils/ii_vatican_council/documents/vat-ii_cons_19651207_gaudium-et-spes_en.html
“This council exhorts Christians, as citizens of two cities, to strive to discharge their earthly duties conscientiously and in response to the Gospel spirit. They are mistaken who, knowing that we have here no abiding city but seek one which is to come, think that they may therefore shirk their earthly responsibilities. For they are forgetting that by the faith itself they are more obliged than ever to measure up to these duties, each according to his proper vocation. Nor, on the contrary, are they any less wide of the mark who think that religion consists in acts of worship alone and in the discharge of certain moral obligations, and who imagine they can plunge themselves into earthly affairs in such a way as to imply that these are altogether divorced from the religious life. This split between the faith which many profess and their daily lives deserves to be counted among the more serious errors of our age. . . . The Christian who neglects his temporal duties, neglects his duties toward his neighbor and even God, and jeopardizes his eternal salvation” (GS 43 . )

A little background;
1. This is a V2 document so the purpose is primarily to address problems facing the modern church. V2 was a council first pastoral in nature seeking to attend to issues of practical theology.
2. GS asserts that “the human race is involved in a new stage of history” characterized by a dynamic, evolutionary concept of reality as opposed to the static concept of ages past. This means that change is now the norm for the majority of human kind. Change in migration, economics, culture and education.
3. These changes all have their impact on religion. Especially the practice of religion.

One definition;
1. Two cities The immediate reference in tradition is Augustine. “Fecerunt itaque civitates duas amores duo” Two loves therefore made two cities. Continuing… the love of oneself to the contempt of God produced the earthly city, however the love of God to the contempt of self the heavenly city. I think GS tries to bring balance to the idea of 2 cities thinking that perhaps zest for the heavenly city has gotten the better of us. Calling it one of the more serious errors of this age.

With the above understood to paraphrase St Paul; We are required to live fully in the position in which we were called. No matter if it does not seem “spiritual”. We must do it with the intention of gospelizing it. I am not just talking about treating our co-workers well or being honest at work. I believe it goes much deeper than that. I understand this to mean that we are required to find that thing which is not “right” and use whatever power, influence or wealth we have been given charge over to make it right. So whether one is a carpenter or CEO the requirement remains the same. What is not right? Make it right.
I am interested in hearing what others think the implications of this are.
I for one seldom think of my job in this light. I usually limit my Christian witness to the realm of morality and ethics. It is quite a challenge to try to understand my job in terms of a vocation or calling and I do not wrestle with how to do that near enough. How can the project I am doing right now be gospelized? Finally this flies in the face of the theocratic solutions proposed by fundamentalists and the secular solutions proposed by materialists. Because it assumes that economics or politics are themselves good one need not create a “Christian economics (bible based money management please…Islam does that!), however, because I am a Christian I must apply the discipline in a Christian way. The Christian solution is to truly believe that one is a citizen of two cities.

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