Earlier this year I was given a very special book: Oliver O'Donovan's The Problem of Self-Love in St. Augustine, first published in 1980. Little did I realize that it would have so much to do with some of my interests this year. In chapter six, which concludes a study on Augustine and eudaemonism, O'Donovan lays out a beautiful summary of Augustine's take on creation, teleology and redemption.
Augustine's picture of the universe shows us one who is the source and goal of being, value, and activity, himself in the center of the universe and at rest; and it shows us the remainder of the universe in constant movement, which, while it may tend toward or away from the center is yet held in relation to it, so that all other beings lean, in a multiplicity of ways, toward the source and goal of being. But the force which draws these moving galaxies of souls is immanent to them, a kind of dynamic nostalgia rather than a transcendent summons from the center. Such a summons, of course, is presupposed; but it is reflected by this responsive movement which is other than itself, so that there is a real reciprocity between Creator and creature...
It is the meaning of salvation that is at stake: is it ‘fulfillment,’ ‘recapitulation’? . . . Between that which is and that which will be there must be a line of connection, the redemptive purpose of God. We cannot simply say that agape has no presuppositions, for God presupposes that which he himself has already given in agape. However dramatic a transformation redemption may involve, however opaque to man's mind the continuity may be, we know, and whenever we repeat the Trinitarian creed with Saint Augustine we confess that our being-as-we-are and our being-as-we-shall-be are held together as works of the One God who both our Creator and Redeemer.
Between that which is and that which will be there must be a line of connection...if salvation is truly salvation, if redemption is truly redemption, it necessitates continuity between that which is natural, and the perfect.