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The prevailing narrative of human history, given to us as children and reinforced constantly through our culture, is the plot of progress. As the narrative goes, we progressed from tyranny to freedom, from superstition to science, from poverty to wealth, from darkness to enlightenment. This is modernity’s origin myth. Out of it, a consensus has emerged: part of human progress is the overcoming of religion, in particular Christianity, and that the world itself is fundamentally secular.
In The Two Cities: A History of Christian Politics, Andrew Willard Jones rewrites the political history of the West with a new plot, a plot in which Christianity is true, in which human history is Church history.
The Two Cities moves through the rise and fall of empires; cycles of corruption and reform; the rise and fall of Christendom; the emergence of new political forms, such as the modern state, and new political ideologies, such as liberalism and socialism; through the horrible destruction of modern warfare; and on to the plight of contemporary Christians. These movements of history are all considered in light of their orientation toward or away from God.
The Two Cities advances a theory of Christian politics that is both an explanation of secular politics and a proposal for Christians seeking to navigate today’s most urgent political questions.
Andrew Willard Jones is the Director of Catholic Studies at Franciscan University of Steubenville. He is the author of Before Church and State: A Study of Social Order in the Sacramental Kingdom of St. Louis IX and a founding editor of the journal New Polity.
“The Two Cities is the among the best general histories of the Church written since Vatican II. Jones ends with an ambitious interpretation of the political and cultural challenges facing Christians in the postmodern West. A must read.”
Editor, First Things
“In the contemporary world, believers tend to share the basic assumption of nonbelievers that the history of the world is an essentially secular story; they differ from nonbelievers only by insisting that Christianity has an important part to play in its unfolding. But in this book Andrew Willard Jones radically reorients our imagination on this point: Christianity is not just one character among others in a larger narrative but is the story itself; the history of the world is ultimately the history of the Church because ‘the Incarnation is the center of history.’ Uniquely situated as a historian with theological depth and a theologian with historical substance, Jones offers an accessible account that will be especially welcome to students seeking to understand more profoundly what it means to be Catholic today. This book is worth reading many times over.”
D. C. Schindler
Professor of Metaphysics and Anthropology,
John Paul II Institute for Studies on Marriage and Family
“In the face of so many histories which frame the Church as a religious institution on a secular stage, Andrew Willard Jones challenges us in The Two Cities to see the Church—and history itself—for what the believing Christian knows them to be: the locus of our communion with God and one another as we ascend by the grace of Christ out of sin and into heavenly glory. In this way, Jones carries the monumental achievement of Augustine’s City of God into the twenty-first century, extending the contest between the earthly and heavenly cities, which frames Augustine’s reading of biblical and world history, into the middle ages, early modern, modern, and post-modern periods. The result is a compelling, accessible, and powerful account of the perennial drama of which the Church is the protagonist: struggling—as each of her members must always—with the temptation to enthrone the love of power, pleasure, and honor upon the altar of her heart, and yet providentially advancing through movements of ‘renewal in continuity’ toward the consummation of the ages at the marriage supper of the lamb.”
Associate Professor of Theology
Director of the Graduate Theology Online Program
Franciscan University of Steubenville