Source:Nibley:CW03:Ch11:2

Augustine's letters show no central church authority in his day

Augustine's letters show no central church authority in his day

In the 270 letters of Augustine that have survived, we see the man at work trying to answer the great questions of doctrine and administration that should have been answered by the head of the church. Letters pour in to him from all over the Christian world, and he answers them as best he can: He never refers the questioners to any higher authority, even though the cases are sometimes very serious and have nothing at all to do with his diocese; nor does he personally ever appeal to any higher authority, either in administrational or in doctrinal matters, however important they may be. This is not surprising if one knows the situation. "If there had been, in the Church of the 4th century, a central authority recognized and active, it would have offered a means of solution. But it was not so." Thus wrote Monsignor Duchesne, speaking of the administrative solution. But it goes just as well for the doctrinal. "There was not there a guiding power," says Duchesne, "an effective expression of Christian unity. The Papacy, such as the West knew it later on, was still to be born. In the place which it did not yet occupy, the State installed itself without hesitation. The Christian religion became the religion of the emperor, not only in the sense of being professed by him, but in the sense of being directed by him." Many of Augustine's letters illustrate this point admirably....[1]

Notes

  1. ↑ Hugh W. Nibley, The World and the Prophets, 3rd edition, (Vol. 3 of Collected Works of Hugh Nibley), edited by John W. Welch, Gary P. Gillum, and Don E. Norton (Salt Lake City, Utah: Deseret Book Company; Provo, Utah: Foundation for Ancient Research and Mormon Studies, 1987), Chapter 11, references silently removed—consult original for citations.