The danger of allegorisation

If the true church is the one that actually suffers persecution, not the one that inflicts it (as some say), let them ask the apostle what church Sarah typified when she inflicted persecution on her handmaid. For (the apostle declares) that the free mother of us all, the heavenly Jerusalem – which is the true church of God – was prefigured by that woman (Sarah), who cruelly treated her handmaid. But if we investigate the story further, we shall find that the handmaid rather persecuted Sarah by her haughtiness, than Sarah the handmaid by her severity: for the handmaid was doing wrong to her mistress; the mistress only imposed on her a proper discipline in her haughtiness.

Again I ask, if good and holy men never inflict persecution upon any one, but only suffer it, whose words they think that those are in the psalm where we read, “I have pursued mine enemies, and overtaken them; neither did I turn again till they were consumed? If, therefore, we wish either to declare or to recognize the truth, there is a persecution of unrighteousness, which the impious inflict upon the Church of Christ; and there is a righteous persecution, which the Church of Christ inflicts upon the impious.  She therefore is blessed in suffering persecution for righteousness’ sake; but they are miserable, suffering persecution for unrighteousness.  Moreover, she persecutes in the spirit of love, they in the spirit of wrath;

Augustine, NPNF1-04. Augustin: The Writings Against the Manichaeans and Against the Donatists, chapter 2 – 9,10

When Paul said, ‘You are to deliver this man to Satan for the destruction of the flesh, so that his spirit may be saved in the day of the Lord.’ 1 Cor.5.5 is was not that he was handed over to be burned but excommunicated from fellowship of the church so that he would be restored (as indeed he was – see 2 Cor.)

Paul said that we are to have nothing to do with judging the world.



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