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Nazarene theologian and professor Thomas Jay Oord has posted an excerpt from his new book, The Nature of Love.  The excerpt, Augustine’s Love Problems, deals with deficiencies which Oord identifies in Augustine’s theology of love. I’m in the midst of a class on the Doctrine of the Trinity, so this was of above average interest to me. I am especially struck by the following:

After admitting God only uses us, Augustine realizes he has another problem. His notion of use implies God desires something other than those whom God uses. But this cannot be, according to Augustine’s system of belief. God is the only valuable one.

Augustine eventually confesses that actually God “does not make use of us, either.” God does not use us, that is, “in the same way as we use things.” “Our making use of things is directed to the end of enjoying God’s goodness,” he says. But “God’s making use of us is directed to his goodness.” In sum, God only loves himself.

According to Augustine, therefore, God cannot love us in the sense of enjoying us. To do so would mean we have some value God does not yet possess. God cannot love us in the sense of using us. To do so would also mean God lacks something that God does not already possess. God cannot love us in either sense of enjoy or usethe only two ways Augustine thinks anyone can love.

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