Friday, February 17, 2012

Places to Go to get the Truth in a Dispute... Augustine Style

Do you have a situation in which you're not sure who is telling the truth? Here's what Augustine recommends:

1) Find the grave of a Christian martyr or someone "holy."

2) Bring the disputants to that grave.

3) Await the outcome of the truth.

If you've got a criminal who needs to come clean and fess up, this may work as well.

2. Wherefore, beloved, in regard to that scandal by which some are troubled concerning the presbyter Boniface, I do not say to you that you are not to be grieved for it; for in men who do not grieve for such things the love of Christ is not, whereas those who take pleasure in such things are filled with the malice of the devil. Not; however, that anything has come to our knowledge which deserves censure in the presbyter aforesaid, but that two in our house are so situated that one of them must be regarded as beyond all doubt wicked; and though the conscience of the other be not defiled, his good name is forfeited in the eyes of some, and suspected by others. Grieve for these things, for they are to be lamented; but do not so grieve as to let your love grow cold, and yourselves be indifferent to holy living. Let it rather burn the more vehemently in the exercise of prayer to God, that if your presbyter is guiltless (which I am the more inclined to believe, because, when he had discovered the immoral and vile proposal of the other, he would neither consent to it nor conceal it), a divine decision may speedily restore him to the exercise of his official duties with his innocence vindicated; and that if, on the other hand, knowing himself to be guilty, which I dare not suspect, he has deliberately tried to destroy the good name of another when he could not corrupt his morals, as he charges his accuser with having done, God may not permit him to hide his wickedness, so that the thing which men cannot discover may be revealed by the judgment of God, to the conviction of the one or of the other.
3. For when this case had long disquieted me, and I could find no way of convicting either of the two as guilty, although I rather inclined to believe the presbyter innocent, I had at first resolved to leave both in the hand of God, without deciding the case, until something should be done by the one of whom I had suspicion, giving just and unquestionable reasons for his expulsion: from our house. But when he was laboring most earnestly to obtain promotion to the rank of the clergy, either on the spot from myself, or elsewhere through letter of recommendation from me, and I could on no account be induced either to lay hands in the act of ordination upon one of whom I thought so ill, or to consent to introduce him through commendation of mine to any brother for the same purpose, he began to act more violently demanding that if he was not to be promoted to clerical orders, Boniface should not be permitted to retain his status as a presbyter. This demand having been made, when I perceived that Boniface was unwilling that, through doubts as to his holiness of life, offense should be given to any who were weak and inclined to suspect him, and that he was ready to suffer the loss of his honor among men rather than vainly persist even to the disquieting of the Church in a contention the very nature of which made it impossible for him to prove his innocence (of which he was conscious) to the satisfaction of those who did not know him, or were in doubt or prone to suspicion in regard to him, I fixed upon the following as a means of discovering the truth. Both pledged themselves in a solemn compact to go to a holy place, where the more awe-inspiring works of God might much more readily make manifest the evil of which either of them was conscious, and compel the guilty to confess, either by judgment or through fear of judgment. God is everywhere, it is true, and He that made all things is not contained or confined to dwell in any place; and He is to be worshipped in spirit and in truth by His true worshippers, in order that, as He heareth in secret, He may also in secret justify and reward. But in regard to the answers to prayer which are visible to men, who can search out His reasons for appointing some places rather than others to be the scene of miraculous interpositions? To many the holiness of the place in which the body of the blessed Felix is buried is well known, and to this place I desired them to repair; because from it we may receive more easily and more reliably a written account of whatever may be discovered in either of them by divine interposition. For I myself knew how, at Milan, at the tomb of the saints, where demons are brought in a most marvelous and awful manner to confess their deeds, a thief who had come thither intending to deceive by perjuring himself, was compelled to own his theft, and to restore what he had taken away; and is not Africa also full of the bodies of holy martyrs? Yet we do not know of such things being done in any place here. Even as the gift of healing and the gift of discerning of spirits are not given to all saints? as the apostle declares; so it is not at all the tombs of the saints that it has pleased Him who divideth to each severally as He will, to cause such miracles to be wrought. [source].

I'm thinking the next time two Roman apologists can't agree on something, this procedure should be followed. Let's see if it works to determine which one is correct. Or perhaps in the next priest scandal this method may come in handy as well.


Martin Yee said...

Haha. Sounds funny and superstitious to me.

EBW said...

Gerry Matatics may agree to come if the other party swears an oath first

Andrew said...

James, Augustine wasn't infallible unless he can be used to support a particular Roman Catholic dogma. Silly protester.

Pete Holter said...

This sounds good to me! :)

Let me know when you head a little west so we can get together and hammer out our first “Reformed and Papists Apart” document. Ha ha!

No, I really do hope we’ll find our unity in Christ someday soon. It is a burden on my heart.

With love in Christ,

James Swan said...

I'm surprised no one ventured over here to defend the tradition Augustine was following. Ah well.

Pete Holter said...

James Swan: “I'm surprised no one ventured over here to defend the tradition Augustine was following. Ah well.”

Hey, James!

Wait, what’s wrong with Augustine’s plan? I think it sounds reasonable and good.

With love in Christ,