The Church as an imagined social space

Historian Robin Lane Fox has written a new book, Augustine: Conversions and Confessions, which Rowan Williams predicts will be “a water­shed in Augustinian studies.” In his New Statesman review, Williams, the former Archbishop of Canterbury, deftly summarizes how Augustine envisioned the Church:

For [Augustine], the Christian Church was not a human institution – but equally, not even a divine institution in the ordinary sense. It was an imagined social space: a place where human desires found their proper focus and human relations were harmonised accordingly. The Church was where you discovered what you most acutely needed and how you could become most fully what you were created to be – an agent in community, drained of self-will and self-absorption by the pressure of God’s love, so that you could relate to others without fear, rivalry and lust for power.

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