Studying theology within the Augustinian tradition is a crucial component of doing theology at VU. What exactly is "doing theology within the Augustinian tradition"?
The Augustinian Tradition draws upon the legacy of St. Augustine's passionate pursuit of truth, an intentional endeavor that summons the union of mind and heart, correlates faith with reason, builds unity in the midst of diversity, and proceeds in the conviction that all authentic human wisdom is ultimately in harmony with divine wisdom. In fidelity to St. Augustine's theological reasoning in interaction with the religious, cultural, and intellectual traditions of his time, Christian theology in the Augustinian Tradition is a living, enduring way of understanding that continues to be refined, developed, and extended as it engages the contemporary world.
In other words, enriched by the tradition of St. Augustine, whose theology powerfully related faith and culture, theology is the study of Christianity as lived experience, and Theological Studies within the Augustinian Tradition aims to relate faith and culture for our time as Augustine did for his. Theology within the Augustinian Tradition thus seeks wisdom and truth
- in light of Christian religious, cultural, and intellectual traditions;
- in unity with Philosophy, Liberal Studies, and the Sciences;
- in the service of the Church;
- probing rigorously, with its own canons of inquiry and verification, broader questions of relevance to Christian belief and practice, the unity and prophetic mission of the body of Christ, life as a whole, and the discovery of God.
As Augustine put it, theological knowing is "understanding what we believe," that is, as a critical, systematic reflection on the life of faith. However, in the Augustinian tradition, it is both speculative and practical and distinctive in its emphasis on the union of mind and heart.
 Augustine's experience of what it means to be human entails awareness of self as "a divine project yet to be completed" (Daly, Theology). As such, the self is freedom, the freedom to create oneself over a lifetime. Time becomes the "fuel" of freedom, given by the Spirit, the co-doer of the self, always in relationship with others.
 "He [Augustine] is above all a theologian of will and desire" (Daly). "Every quest for knowledge is willed orientation of the mind towards the desired object" (O'Daly). If the Greeks discovered the mind, the exploration of the will (the "conative" drive) demanded different soil, the soil of Jerusalem. The will is the locus of freedom—it is the seat of praxis, of that human "doing" that constructs personhood over a lifetime. Augustine distinguished "free will" (liberum arbitrium) from freedom (libertas)—the latter is the result of grace (II Cor. 3:17). Grace is the liberating empowerment of the will, overcoming the heart, turned in on itself. With his rhetorical question, "What are we but wills?" Augustine mediated to the West the prophetic discovery of personhood as "the responsible self" (Scanlon).
 For Augustine, the workings of the mind are organized according to memory, understanding, and will. "Each human person has these potentialities ('memory, intelligence and love') making up a trinity within the human being, within the single person" (De Arriba). The heart, the perennial symbol of restless desire, is on fire with a divinely enkindled love. It burns with the unquenchable desire to know, which ultimately only the divine can satisfy. There is a reciprocity between love and knowledge: love depends upon understanding, but also enables all knowing. See also Section IV, Notes 7, 8, 9.
 "So what this person says is partly true—'Let me understand, in order to believe' and I on my side, when I say, just as the prophet says, 'On the contrary, believe, in order to understand,' am speaking the truth. Let's come to an agreement, then. So: understand, in order to believe; believe, in order to understand. I'll put it in a nutshell, how we can accept both without argument: Understand, in order to believe, my word; believe, in order to understand, the word of God" (Sermon 43, 9).
 "Possess wholehearted love, be passionate for truth, desire unity, if you wish to live in the Holy Spirit to reach eternal life" (Sermon 267, 4). "Both in analyzing and in synthesizing it is a unity that I seek, a unity that I love. But when I analyze, I seek a homogenous unit; when I synthesize, I look for an integral unit" (On Order, II, 18, 48). For Augustine, unity (unitas) connects the elements of the mind (memory, understanding, and will) and people with others (solidarity); it emanates from competing ideas and comes "from wholeheartedness (charity/caritas) in our service to others" (McCloskey, Cracked Pots). Above all, it means conversing in unity amid division, that is, "[w]hat one can do with the elements of the mind to unify understanding as well as uniting one's own learning with the learning of others who see the world very differently" (McCloskey, Cracked Pots).
 The "harmony of wills" motif is adapted from the College's Mission Statement.
 Augustine placed wisdom (sapientia) higher than knowledge (scientia): "the wisdom of truth" and the "truth of wisdom" are the goals of all theological knowing. Turning to the scriptures, he gave both "wisdom" and "truth" a strong Christological focus: Christ, the Wisdom of God (e.g., 1 Cor. 1:24) and the Truth (John 14:6). The journey toward wisdom and truth involves the transformation of mind and heart, which transformation unites truth and love in wisdom, leading toward the unity (perceived identity) of self and others (neighbors, world, God).
 For Augustine, philosophy and theology were virtually identical, largely due to his sense of the public, universal character of the Christian Message. Most often, when he used the term "philosophy," he referred less to a particular subject of study than to an aspiration to unity that permeates all liberal study. He understood philosophy in its etymological sense as "a love of and desire for wisdom," which receives its ultimate satisfaction only in God. When he spoke of philosophy in a more specialized way, he meant a higher discipline which enabled learners to integrate what they had discovered in the liberal arts and other learning experiences into a concentrated exploration of ultimate reality. Paying attention to "good content," Augustine valued liberal education as "aids in our search for truth" (McCloskey, Considerations). "Study of the liberal arts, when moderate and within bounds, makes students more alert, more persevering and better equipped to embrace truth. As a result, they desire truth more enthusiastically, pursue it more firmly and in the end rest in it more satisfyingly" (On Order, I, 8, 24). Still, Augustine cautions against a naïve understanding of the usefulness of liberal education. It needed "to be critiqued to ensure that it [was] aiding in the liberating search for truth and not enslaving students in a privileged form of training. Augustine's caution thus comes from the help liberal education gave him as well as the vulnerability he experienced when his liberal education supported his straying from the search for truth" (McCloskey, Cracked Pots).
 For Augustine, the truth, which the Church is called to proclaim, is a public truth. It is the truth for which every human heart is restless. The Church's mission is to proclaim and explore it endlessly in conversation with the human family as a whole, for "nothing genuinely human fails to raise an echo in [the] hearts" of the followers of Christ (Gaudium et Spes, 1). In his writings, Augustine often appeals to the "weighty authority of all peoples" as supporting and enhancing the authorities of sacred Scripture and the Church.
 For Augustine ("the disciple of the love of God"), love of God is "not a doctrine but a life, not an abstract analysis but a journey, not a theory but an experience ... possessed only by those who live it, and it is uniquely theirs as their own being" (Pegis, Mind). His emphasis on the human will and decision, particularly the decision to love, as the proper fulfillments of all knowing has mediated to the West the biblical understanding of the human being as person who recognizes the unitive quality of his or her relationships with God, fellow human beings, and the world.
 On Free Choice of the Will, bk. 1, §4, trans. Thomas Williams [Indianapolis: Hackett, 1993], 7. Anselm of Canterbury later reformulates, "faith seeking understanding" (fides quaerens intellectum).
 Or knowledge and love, theory and practice. See also Section IV, Notes 7, 8, 9.