The Confessions of St. Augustine by Carl Trueman
Trueman summarizes one of the great themes of The Confessions: “Central to human psychology for Augustine is love. Love is the desire or will to become one with its object. ...It is not enough for human beings simply to exist or to maintain existence.... They strive for other things. Augustine would say that they want to love and be loved.”
St. Augustine began his search for love in earthly objects that did not satisfy. He sought love in social acceptance, fame, sexual relationships, philosophy and the quest for truth. He found that these things merely turn individuals back to themselves. Trueman explains,
[T]he desire for social acceptance was really a desire to reassure the ego that it was the center of the universe, a salve for insecurity. Sexual pleasure was ultimately at root a selfish act, a desire for love which terminated in personal pleasure rather than true self-giving to another. The quest for truth was actually more exciting than the discovery of truth because it allowed the individual thinking subject to remain the measure of all things rather than that which is itself measured.
St. Augustine came to realize that this search for love is right and good but becomes disordered because of our fallen sinful nature. Trueman explains that instead of finding our true love in Christ, we settle for loving ourselves.
[Although] human beings, made in God’s image, are made to love... the drive to love, to find full meaning and satisfaction through love, remains; but now it is turned inward from loving God to loving self. All roads of love ultimately lead back to the self and the self cannot provide a truly satisfying object of love. Thus, humans desperately try to find that fulfillment in finite objects ordered to the self. But such is a fools’ errand, doomed to frustration. Mar/Apr 2014 Theology Matters, p. 1
Why Do We Draw the Line? by Dr. Carl Trueman
Trueman also makes the argument that we must be attentive to the boundaries of faith or we will soon lose the center. Trueman writes, "Centers and boundaries are ultimately dependent upon each other--one cannot meaningfully talk of one without assuming the existence of the other." Trueman observes that most Christian doctrine is actually boundary-forming and not center-focused. "For example, to say that God is infinite is to say something negative about God: He has no limits. This formulation sets a boundary; there are lots of things I might be able to say about God, but if at some point I say He has limits, I cross a boundary into error." Jan/Feb 2013 Theology Matters, p. 11