I read the opening lines of Augustine's De Trinitate today. I was struck. So much is loaded into this opening paragraph. Here is what Augustine writes.
The reader of these reflections of mine on the Trinity should bear in mind that my pen is on the watch against the sophistries of those who scorn the starting-point of faith, and allow themselves to be deceived through an unseasonable and misguided love of reason.
Note that Augustine is not the least concerned about starting on a polemical note. He is happy to engage in polemics. His pen "is on the watch". Augustine has in mind the "sophistries of those who scorn the starting-point of faith . . ." Here is Augustine's "faith seeking understanding". He clearly starts with faith (or claims to--this is certainly a larger discussion). These persons err in allowing themselves "to be deceived through an unseasonable and misguied love of reason". So much: our "unseasonable" and "misguided" love(s). And these disordered loves cause some persons to not make appropriate use of reason. Augustine is not denigrating reason, but apparently or more likely is speaking of reason when it is not ordered the way it ought to be ordered. And this dis-ordered approach to, and mis-appropriation of, reason is linked do (caused by?) not embracing the starting point of faith.
Augustine continues . . .
Some of them try to transfer what they have observed about bodily things to incorporeal and spiritual things, which they would measure by the standard of what they experience through the senses of the body or learn by natural human intelligence, lively application, and technical skill. There are others whose concept of God, such as it is, ascribes to him the nature and moods of the human spirit, a mistake which ties their arguments about God to distorted and misleading rules of interpretation. Again, there is another type; people who indeed strive to climb above the created universe, so ineluctably subject to change, and raise their regard to the unchanging substance which is God. But so top-heavy are they with the load of their mortality, that what they do not know they wish to give the impression of knowing, and what they wish to know they cannot; and so they block their own road to genuine understanding by asserting too categorically their own presumptuous opinions, and then rather than change a misconceived opinion they have defended, they prefer to leave it uncorrected.
One comment here. Toward the end Augustine can write: ". . . and so they block their own road to genuine understanding by asserting too categorically their own presumptuous opinions . . . " Throughout De Trinitate Augustine will work through the danger of not approaching God on God's terms. We must indeed be on the watch for "presumptuous opinions," and for the pride which tempts us to refuse to correct a "misconceived opinion."