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.


“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.



“Four major challenges to discipleship”, by Justin Martyr (sort of)

Last night I saw this interesting tweet:

Justin Martyr (AD 100–165) identified four major challenges to discipleship:

1. sexual immorality
2. wealth
3. magic
4. ethnic hatred

Sub technology for magic and little has changed in almost 2,000 years

Interesting indeed, and probably entirely true.

But … Justin’s works are mainly apologetic.  So where did he say this?

The source for this, and other tweets based upon it, seems to be this tweet from 2017 by Andy Crouch:

Justin (AD 100-165) saw the four key challenges to discipleship as sexual immorality, magic, wealth, and ethnic hatred. (Apol. XIV)

I have also seen this, with added quotes, as if it was a direct quotation from the works of Justin.  Here is an example:

From a colleague: In the 2nd century, Justin Martyr named the 4 biggest challenges to Christians as “sexual immorality, magic, wealth and ethnic hatred”. Sub out magic for technology (magic w/algorithms) and not much has changed for humanity in almost 2000 years. Mike drop.

This is one way in which we get fake quotations, without anybody intending fraud.  Someone summarises in a striking way, and then others quote the summariser, and others assume the quotes refer to the author.

Thankfully Mr Crouch includes a reference, to the 1st Apology of Justin, chapter 14.  Here it is, in the old ANF translation – probably what was used:

[The demons] subdue all who make no strong opposing effort for their own salvation. And thus do we also, since our persuasion by the Word, stand aloof from them (i.e., the demons), and follow the only unbegotten God through His Son – we who formerly delighted in fornication, but now embrace chastity alone; we who formerly used magical arts, dedicate ourselves to the good and unbegotten God; we who valued above all things the acquisition of wealth and possessions, now bring what we have into a common stock, and communicate to every one in need; we who hated and destroyed one another, and on account of their different manners would not live with men of a different tribe, now, since the coming of Christ, live familiarly with them, and pray for our enemies, and endeavour to persuade those who hate us unjustly to live comformably to the good precepts of Christ, to the end that they may become partakers with us of the same joyful hope of a reward from God the ruler of all.

One sentence without taking a breath!  Thanks, Justin.  In the Fathers of the Church 6 translation by T. B. Falls (p.46-7) it is as follows:

They ensnare, now by apparitions in dreams, now by tricks of magic, all those who do not labor with all their strength for their own salvation–even as we, also, after our conversion by the Word have separated ourselves from those demons and have attached ourselves to the only unbegotten  God, through His Son. We who once reveled in impurities now cling to purity; we who devoted ourselves to the arts of magic now consecrate ourselves to the good and unbegotten God; we who loved above all else the ways of acquiring riches and possessions now hand over to a community fund what we possess, and share it with every needy person; we who hated and killed one another and would not share our hearth with those of another tribe because of their [different] customs, now, after the coming of Christ, live together with them, and pray for our enemies, and try to convince those who hate us unjustly, so that they who live according to the good commands of Christ may have a firm hope of receiving the same reward as ourselves from God who governs all.

Which is much the same.

But is Justin Martyr talking about “the four key challenges to discipleship”?  Not really.  He’s talking about the effect that Christ has had on the lives of those who accept him.

All the same, I think Justin would probably have approved of the interpretation.


A quote from Tacitus and its source

Around the web, you will find the following:

Cornelius Tacitus: He had a certain frankness and generosity, qualities indeed which turn to a mans ruin, unless tempered with discretion.

The thought was striking, as indeed it should strike anyone who is fairly open, like myself.  But is it Tacitus?

Well it is!  It is in fact from the Histories, book 3, chapter 86, as translated by A.J.Church and W.J.Brodribb (London, 1873 in this case, p.140.)  It is a description of the character of Vitellius!



Chrysostom on marriage

An intelligent, discreet, and pious young woman is worth more than all the money in the world. Tell her that you love her more than your own life, because this present life is nothing, and that your only hope is that the two of you pass through this life in such a way that, in the world to come, you will be united in perfect love.

H/t Mike Aquilina

— from Homily 20 on Ephesians 5:22-33, on page 61 of the little St. Vladimir’s book On Marriage and Family Life. (On Google Books).