The Anti-Manichaean Polemic and Beyond
Epilogue: Creation, Contingency, and Augustine's Theology 257
Epilogue Creation, Contingency, and Augustine's Theology In the final analysis, what does Augustine's use of the doctrine of creatio ex nihilo tell us about him as a theologian? On the one hand, his writing continually conveys a spirit of humility in the face of his own finitude and the awesome majesty of his Creator. In comparison to God, everything that Augustine encountered in this world was char- acterized by a transitory and fleeting nature. But while he might have perceived the world as a spiritually and ontologically impoverished realm, he could never view it as evil in itself. This fact points to a second trait: Augustine was imbued was an unshakeable belief in the inherent goodness of the totality of creation. He was not, of course, oblivious to the presence of evil in the world and its apparent perva- siveness in human existence. But on the basis of his reading of Gen- esis (1:31), he could confidently proclaim that everything made by God was very good. This fundamental conviction (coupled with a metaphysics which recognized the existence of spiritual reality) pro- vided the very core of Augustine's theodicy and his rejection of the substantiality of evil. Both characteristics of Augustine the theologian (and by implica- tion, of his theology) presuppose a deep and abiding sense of contin- gency. 1 On a personal level, Augustine could find ready confirmation for the contingency of creation on the basis of his own inner journey and its accompanying struggles. The Confessiones, in fact,...
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