Now you have here the two elements of the idea of God. Insofar as God is beyond any difference, He is beyond subject and object. Love is not a subjective feeling, directed towards an object. Not objects are ultimately love, but through our love toward them love itself is love. Amor amato, love is love, and that means the Divine ground of being is love. Love is beyond the separation of subject and object. It is the pure essence, blessedness, which is the Divine ground in all things. Therefore if we love things in the right way, including ourselves, then we love the Divine substance in them. If we love things for their own sake, in separation from the Divine ground in them, then we love them in the wrong way, then we are separated from God.. So he can speak of a right self-love, namely if you love yourselves as loved by God, or if you love through yourselves – God, the Divine loving ground of everything.
But on the other hand Augustine is in the personalistic tradition of the Old and New Testament and the early Church. And for him this is even of much stronger importance than for the Eastern theologians, like Origen. He completely takes the point of the West in the Trinitarian discussion. He is not so much interested in the different hypostases, the powers of being in God, the three personae, as he is interested in the unity of God. And he expresses this in terms which make it very clear that he is one of those who are responsible for our present-day inclination to apply the term persona to God, instead of applying it to the Father, Son and Spirit.
He is inclined, but of course he never became heterodox, in this respect, although his tendency goes, as the West’s always went, toward a Monarchianistic tendency.
He expresses this in using analogies between the Trinity and the personal life of man. He says: “Father, Son and Spirit are analogous to amans, (he who loves), quod amato, (that which is loved), and amor, (the power of love. ). Or: “The Trinity is analogous to memory, intelligence, and will.” This means that he uses the Trinity in order analogically to give a description of God as person. Since God is a person, and that means a unity, all acts of God towards outside are always acts of the Trinity, even the Incarnation. None of the three personae or hypostases acts for Himself. Since the substance of all things is love, in its three-fold appearance as amans, quod amato, and amor, everything which is created by the Divine Ground has the traces of the Trinity, and this gives the immediate world this theonomous character, that character of all forms of life, not denied or broken, but theonomously filled with Divine substance.
With respect to the relationship of God and the world, there are several important things. He expresses, of course, very clearly the doctrine of creation out of nothing.
There is no matter which precedes the creation. Creation is done without an independent substance. This means a continuous threat of finitude. I believe that when our modern Existentialist thinkers – including myself – say that finitude is the mixture of being and non-being, or in everything finite . non-being is present, it has something to do with Augustine’s statement that “everything is in danger of the fathomless abyss of nothingness. ” The world is created in every moment by the Divine will, which is the will of love. Therefore Augustine concludes – and all Reformers followed him – that creation and preservation are the same thing. I. e. , the world is in no moment independent of God. The forms, laws, and structures of reality do not make it an independent reality. God is the supporting power of being, which has the character of love. This makes every deistic fixation of two realities – God and the world – impossible. God is the continuous, carrying ground of the world.