Doctor of Leadership in Global Perspectives: Crafting Ministry in an Interconnected World

Man of God living in the City of Man

Written by: on September 16, 2021

The City of God by Saint Augustine is one of his many influential writings that impacted Western philosophy and theology. Even though Augustine’s writings are over 1500 years old, the theology and exegesis still affect every seminary and theologian worldwide. The complex and sensitive issues discussed throughout the book are the same issues that Christians in our modern world still continue to struggle. The struggles of just war, systematic injustice, divide between City of God and City of Man, inheritance of brokenness from the previous generation, and many more ongoing battles between God and Satan continues to rage on even today. The Christian historical context of the early century is genuinely fascinating. How can a religion started by a couple of followers who claimed Jesus was the Messiah grow out to become a national religion of one of the most powerful empires in the history of humanity? But that once glorious and most powerful Roman empire collapses and comes to an end of an era. And as pagans are mad and blaming the Christians for the decline of Rome, Saint Augustine, the doctor of theology, defends the City of God from allegations and attacks from the City of man.


Alan Ryan, the author of On Augustine, the two cities, expounds on Augustine’s doctrine and theology presented in his book, The City of God. Alan highlights a question that every Christian must ask and meditate for their generation. “What is the city of God and who are its citizens, and what is the earthly city and who are its citizens?”[1] Augustine concluded the city of God belongs to those who God saves by His grace, and the city of Man belongs to all the rest who are not saved. While the rest of all other creations stay within the boundary of the Creator’s design, the City of man continues to experience hate, evil, war, murder, and consequences of sin. Alan brings thorough insights and history into the context of 4th century Christians living in the times of decline of the Roman empire. The Christians at the time had to face many challenges and persecutions that ranged from refusing to bow to the Roman gods, dealing with lower social status, guidance in how to live out the civic laws according to God’s rules, and overwhelming pagan philosophies. The Christians were the minorities, and the pagan majority blamed and attacked the minority. I wonder if there ever was a time when Christians were the majority of a nation?


Just as Saint Augustine took the position to defend and expound on his faith in God, I believe we must also take the necessary steps personally and as the church to support and expound on our faith in God. I am not sure about the political and theological atmosphere of other states in America, but here in the bay area, evangelical Christians are the minority. The city of the bay area consists of a mix of all kinds of people who believe in God or a higher being. My church is located in Santa Clara County, where many fortune 500 companies are represented. We have apple’s newly built building right across from my church, 2 Buddhist temples, 1 Iranian Christian church, and a Hindu temple all within our cul-de-sac. The parking lots of Apple are full during weekdays, and all the other parking lots of religious centers are full and packed on the weekends. This is a good illustration of different people of faith living in the same city. Everyone in the city has some sort of faith and they are busy living out their faith. In recent years, I see that the political and social tensions arising within the people who live in two different cities of faith but living together in the same physical earthly space. Much of the differences in political and social perspectives are rooted in one’s theology and worldview on God and life. I asked this question to myself, ‘As a man of God, did Augustine live a silent, separated and indifferent life in the City of Man, or did Augustine proclaim, write, dream, and live to be a man of God in the city of Man?’

[1] Alan Ryan, On Augustine: The Two Cities. 1st edition. (New York: Liveright, 2015), 71.


About the Author


Jonathan Lee

President of Streamside Ministry Lead Pastor of EM @ San Jose Korean Presbyterian Church in Sunnyvale, CA

5 responses to “Man of God living in the City of Man”

  1. mm Troy Rappold says:

    Jonathan: Thanks for sharing your thoughts and your experience in the Bay area of CA. You live in a part of the country that is high-tech and a melting pot of political and religious ideologies. You must be able to relate to Augustine in his day and the culture in which he found himself. You , like him, stand as a witness to Christ.

  2. mm Roy Gruber says:

    Jonathan, having visited my son in San Jose, I have a sense of the pluralistic environment in which you minister. You asked a good question: “I wonder if there was ever a time when Christian were the majority of a nation?” I’m not sure about other nations but I sincerely doubt that has ever been true in America. Judeo-Christian values composed a bigger part of culture before recent times, but the idea of Christian nation presents a false confidence to me. The better focus examines how we reach one life at a time and how we engage the world around us in ways that point to Jesus and the gospel. I serve in northern Utah and Mormonism stands as the clear majority faith. Though the years, churches here have tended to retreat and hunker down in response to the dominant faith, hoping not to lose any of those who believe in the Jesus of the Bible. I believe more effectiveness for the kingdom happens when we engage our culture, like Augustine did in his day. May God bless your efforts in place close to my heart due to someone I care very much about being a part of that region.

  3. mm Andy Hale says:


    One of the challenges we face in reading Augustine was that the Christian faith was in the majority. This was just the beginning of the reign of Christendom among the empires of Europe. At the end of his life, Christianity was nearly 100 years as the official religion of Rome, seeing the pagan religions of the Empire stamped out by a fervent Christian majority.

    In the fall of Rome, we can learn a hard lesson about what Christianity, in the hands of the power and rich, can do in the name of God. And, it’s not great!

  4. Kayli Hillebrand says:

    Jonathan, such great parallels drawn from Augustine’s work to what we see today and your own specific context. I think your reflection on the reading this week plays well into your NPO and the desire you have to cultivate the younger generation with a solid foundation in their faith. The world is in need of more men and women that belong to the city of God who are also very present with those in the city of man. With the current physical landscape of your cul-de-sac, have there ever been any efforts for interfaith work to allow for the congregations to build relationship and learn from one another? In my work with university students, it always draws them deeper into their own faith when we engage with those who practice other beliefs.

  5. mm Henry Gwani says:

    Jonathan, your question about living a “silent, separated and indifferent life in the City of Man,” challenges me to the core because if I’m to be honest, that is where I find myself often. Yet, every week I speak or lead prayer in some Christian context. I think the global church has not been as effective as we should be because in general, we have been voiceless and indifferent. It seems to me that many believers would like to be more relevant in addressing the issues around us but lack the wisdom on how to effectively engage the world, the way The Lord, Paul and Augustine did. May Augustine’s testimony continue to inspire us to do as he did.

Leave a Reply