A quotation from Augustine: “God doesn’t love you as you are; he hates you as you are.”

A tweet this evening:

God doesn’t love you as you are; he hates you as you are.

~Augustine

“You must be born again.”

But is it from Augustine?

In fact it is taken from M. C. Hollingworth, “Grace, confession, and the Pilgrim City: the political significance of St.Augustine of Hippo’s creation narratives”, Durham University thesis (2008), vol. 2, p.225, n.22, which is online here, but I will quote because such things vanish:

22 … Cf. Serm., IX, 9: ‘[God] doesn’t love you as you are, He hates you as you are. That’s why He is sorry for you, because He hates you as you are, and wants to make you as you are not yet., This thinking is presumably the background to Augustine’s exegesis of Matthew 7: 3-5, which features in a number of places in his writings.

Dr H. tells us that this is his own translation.

But of course we all want to check!  Augustine is a voluminous writer, so something just called “Sermons” tends to make the heart sink.  The bibliographical information refers to the Città Nuova collected edition of his works (contents here), to which nobody has access.  (I wonder whether Italians have collections of PDFs of these things?  I bet they do!)

Fortunately “Sermones” is listed in the Clavis Patrum Latinorum, as item 284, referencing the Patrologia Latina vols. 38 and 39.  And so when we look at the PL38, column 82, we find sermon 9, chapter 8, and the words:

Placeat tibi Deus qualis est, ama qualis est: non te ipse amat qualis es, sed odit te qualis es.

Which is our source.  The Latin for the whole sermon is online at The Latin LIbrary here.

Rather to my surprise, I find that I have on disk a copy of the English translation of this sermon, made by the “New City Press”, as part of their series, The Works of Saint Augustine: A translation for the 21st Century.  This volume has the title: Sermons, (1-19) on the Old Testament. Volume III/1. It was translated from the Italian edition above by Edmund Hill, OP, and appeared in 1990.  The sermon is entitled “Discourse on the ten strings of the harp”, preached in 420.  The division of the chapters presumably also from the Citta Nuova edition, and disagrees with the PL text.  Here is a chunk of it, talking about “Put off the old man and put on the new man”.  Page 267:

Such people are often tripped by thoughts like this, and they say to themselves, “If it were possible to do this, God would not be threatening us, he would not say all those things through the prophets to discourage people, but he would have come to be indulgent to everybody and pardon everybody, and after he came he wouldn’t send anyone to hell.” Now because he is unjust he wants to make God unjust too. God wants to make you like him, and you are trying to make God like you. Be satisfied with God as he is, not as you would like him to be. You are all twisted, and you want God to be like what you are, not like what he is. But if you are satisfied with him as he is, then you will correct yourself and align your heart along that straight rule from which you are now all warped and twisted. Be satisfied with God as he is, love him as he is.

He doesn’t love you as you are, he hates you as you are. That’s why he is sorry for you, because he hates you as you are, and wants to make you as you are not yet. Let him make you, I said, the sort of person you are not yet. What he did not promise you, you know, is to make you what he is. Oh yes, you shall be what he is, after a fashion, that is to say, an imitator of God like an image, but not the kind of image that the son is. After all there are different kinds of images even among men. A man’s son bears the image of his father, and is what his father is, because he is a man like his father. But your image in a mirror is not what you are. Your image is in your son in one way, in quite a different way in the mirror. Your image is in your son by way of equality of nature, but in the mirror how far it is from your nature! And yet it is a kind of image of you, though not like the one in your son which is identical in nature.

sdfs

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7 thoughts on “A quotation from Augustine: “God doesn’t love you as you are; he hates you as you are.”

  1. I have long been impacted by Psalm 5:5 which states of God “You hate all workers of iniquity.” In our day almost all we seem to hear about is the love of God who loves people unconditionally and this so often seems to lead them to never seek to change because, well, why change if God already loves you as you are. We hear so much about His love that we struggle to think of Him hating anyone. I prefer to tell people that God loved them enough to send his only begotten son (Jn 3:16) but that if we want to remain in that we love we must turn from our iniquity and obey Him (Jn 15:10).

  2. People who say “God is love” generally mean only “I don’t believe in God, and if there is one, he certainly doesn’t have anything to say about my vices.”

  3. I come to this late, but the easiest generally accessible text of Augustine to use is, indeed, hosted by Italians:

    http://www.augustinus.it/latino/index.htm

    Some of the sermons most newly restored to Augustine (especially by Clemens Weidmann) are not represented, but those are of interest to specialists. Everything else should be there.

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