LOUTH: LOVE AND THE TRINITY
Augustine on Love and the Trinity
, to which I shall mostly confine my discussion, Augustine’suse of his understanding of love to elucidate his doctrine of the Trinity occursmainly in two pivotal books: books VI and VIII. There is also a brief fore-shadowing in book V, and a kind of reprise in book XV.First, let us look at the brief foreshadowing in book V. In that book, Augustineasserts that the Spirit is peculiarly to be regarded as the “gift of God,”
. Unlike the names “Father” and “Son,” which reveal the intratrinitarian rela-tionships in which Father and Son stand, the name “Holy Spirit” reveals no suchthing, since both Father and Son are both holy and spirit. The designation
reveals the Spirit’s relationship to the Father and the Son. The identificationof the title
with the Spirit Augustine derives from Acts 8:20, wherePeter calls the Holy Spirit, which Simon Magus wishes to obtain, the “gift of God”; the fact that it is given by the Father and the Son is justified by referenceto John 15:26, which speaks of the Spirit “proceeding from the Father,” and toRom. 8:9, which affirms that anyone “who does not have Christ’s Spirit doesnot belong to him.” Augustine does not take the step from thinking of the Spiritas gift to thinking of him as love, though he comes very close when he goes onto say, “to speak of the gift of the giver and the giver of the gift is to use termsthat are relative one to another. Therefore the Holy Spirit is a certain ineffablecommunion of the Father and the Son; and thus perhaps is he called, becausethe same designation can be appropriate to both Father and Son”:
suggests something of the nature of love, but Augustine does notmake the connexion.
On the basis of this point, it seems, Augustine brings in the notion of love inbook VI. He notes that, though on the one hand one can speak of God as spirit,and on the other speak of the human spirit as spirit, when someone cleaves tothe Lord, “there is one spirit” (1 Cor. 6:17). If that is the case between humanbeings and God, how much more is that true, where there is
inseparabilis atqueaeterna connexio
, “an inseparable and eternal union” (
VI. iv. 6). Whichleads Augustine to begin the next section by asserting that “the Holy Spirit isthe basis (
) of the same unity and equality of substance,” and goes onto affirm that
whether it is a matter of the unity of the two [Father and Son], or holiness, orlove, or unity because of love, or love because of holiness, it is manifest
For all this see
. V. xi. 12.