In his recent Theology of Augustine: An Introductory Guide to His Most Important Works (6-7), Matthew Levering offers this summary of Augustine’s distinction between use and enjoyment, uti and frui: “In loving our neighbors and ourselves, we should do nothing that is not also fully and truly love of God. If we were to act against the love of God, we would thereby fail also to be true lovers of our neighbors and ourselves. With regard to our neighbors and ourselves, ‘use’ therefore signifies rightly ordered love rather than manipulation or instrumentalization.”
In Augustine’s terminology, God “uses” us, but Levering clarifies that God does not use as we use: “God’s love of us can be called ‘use’ because he loves us not as his ultimate good but as ordered to that good. He is the divine good, and he wills to share it with us; in this regard he can be said to ‘use’ us, by ordering us to the good that he is. The difference between his ‘use’ of things and our ‘use’ of things, therefore, is that we use things as part of our journey to attain our end, whereas he already is his end and he uses things to give them their end. His use is useful not to him but to us.”
Any publication by Levering is an event to celebrate, and this latest looks to live up to his usual high standard.