Minuet with Caesar

The Republic of Grace
Augustinian Thoughts for Dark Times

Charles Mathewes
Wm. B. Eerdmans Publishing, $20, 279 pp.

Migrations of the Holy
God, State, and the Political Meaning of the Church

William T. Cavanaugh
Wm. B. Eerdmans Publishing, $18, 206 pp.


With the psalmist, these theologians urge, “Put not your trust in princes, in a son of man, in whom there is no help. When his breath departs he returns to his earth; on that very day, his plans perish” (146:3–4). Both Charles Mathewes and William T. Cavanaugh claim the mantle of Augustine’s political theology. Yet Mathewes’s text seems guided by Reinhold Niebuhr’s concerns and Cavanaugh’s by radical orthodoxy’s polemics. For Cavanaugh, the two cities seem separable; for Mathewes, they are intricately and inevitably intertwined.

Cavanaugh’s essays argue that the modern nation-state has usurped God’s place by promising salvation to its citizens, while its citizens have treated the state as savior—from time, fate, sickness, and death. He claims that the modern nation-state has no analogue in...

To read the rest of this article please login or become a subscriber.

About the Author

Terrence W. Tilley is chair of the Theology Department at Fordham University.