During Augustine's life, government authorities were generally friendly to the Christianity he came to adopt and defend. His correspondence mentions one imperial magistrate in Africa, Virius Nicomachus Flavianus, a pagan vicar of Africa who seemed partial to Donatist Christians whom Augustine considered secessionists. Otherwise, from the 390s to 430, assorted proconsuls, vicars, and tribunes sent from the imperial chancery and asked to maintain order in North Africa were willing to enforce government edicts against Donatists and pagans. To an extent, Augustine endorsed enforcement. He was troubled by punitive measures that looked excessive to him, yet scholars generally agree with Peter Burnell that Augustine unambiguously approved punitive judgments as an “unavoidable” necessity. But Burnell and others seem to make too much of it: Augustine's position on punishment supposedly indicates that he posited “an essential continuity” (rather than emphasized the contrast) between “any given state” and the celestial or “eschatological” city of God.

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Kaufman, Peter Iver. "Augustine's Punishments." Harvard Theological Review 109, no. 4 (October 5, 2016): 550-566. doi: