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Jerome, Augustine, and the Fall of Rome

An Object Lesson for American Christians

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It is here in the midst of the daily affairs of the earthly city that God chooses to advance his heavenly kingdom. This kingdom is embraced by faith, and yet its members function as salt and light in the earthly kingdom where their civic virtues help restrain the evil around us.

When an alien spaceship destroyed the White House in the 1993 science fiction film Independence Day, I'm told that pre-9/11 moviegoers were not horrified at the possibility and that some even cheered (perhaps because they were a bit cynical about the current occupant of the Oval Office). As the world's lone superpower, we believe there is no nation on earth that would dare invade our nation and occupy our territory. While terrorists may do great damage and cause huge loss of life (as they have done), from a strategic point of view, a terrorist strike is of little consequence when it comes to challenging the military and economic might of the United States. At this point in our history, the fall of the American Republic to a foreign adversary (space aliens aside) is unthinkable.

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1 [ Back ] Henry Chadwick, The Early Church (New York: Penguin, 1967), 125.
2 [ Back ] Jerome, The Nicene and Post-Nicene Fathers: Volume VI: St. Jerome, Letters and Select Works, eds. Philip and Henry Wace (Grand Rapids: Eerdmans, 1996), 500.
3 [ Back ] Jerome, The Christian Church in the Epistles of St. Jerome (London: Society for Promoting Christian Knowledge, 1923), 123.
4 [ Back ] Peter Brown, Augustine of Hippo (Berkeley: University of California Press, 1969), 190.
5 [ Back ] Brown, 425.
6 [ Back ] Augustine, Sermon 103, Sermons (Hyde Park, NY: New City Press, 2000), 11.
7 [ Back ] Henry Chadwick, Augustine (New York: Oxford University Press, 1986), 100.
8 [ Back ] Augustine, City of God (New York: Image, 1958), XIX.17.

Kim Riddlebarger is pastor of Christ United Reformed Church (Anaheim, California) and co-host of The White Horse Inn radio broadcast. He is author of A Case for Amillennialism: Understanding the End Times and Man of Sin: Uncovering the Truth about the Antichrist (Baker, 2006). Kim blogs at

Issue: "Zion" Nov./Dec. 2009 Vol. 18 No. 6 Page number(s): 25-28

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