November 11, 2010

Thomas Aquinas (1225–1274) on Simultaneous Love and Hate

This idea of loving and hating a person at the same time but in different respects is very old in church history, at least going back to Augustine. Here's the same idea in Aquinas:
It is our duty to hate, in the sinner, his being a sinner, and to love in him, his being a man capable of bliss. And this is to love him truly, out of charity, for God's sake [Debemus enim in peccatoribus odire quod peccatores sunt, et diligere quod homines sunt beatitudinis capaces. Et hoc est eos vere ex caritate diligere propter Deum].
Thomas Aquinas, Summa Theologica, II–II, Q. 25, art. 6.

See also this excellent quote by the Puritan Thomas Manton on the same idea for a comparison. The slogan "love the sinner but hate the sin" is a distortion of the ancient truth that we are to both love the sinner and hate the sinner at the same time but in different respects.

2 comments:

Derek Ashton said...

It's a paradox... :)

Not an inexplicable one, either. This has ties to Romans 11:28, where Paul states nearly the very same thing about God's disposition toward apostate Israel.

We ought to view ourselves the same way, of course: hating ourselves inasmuch as we have remaining sin and the corruption of the flesh. Loving ourselves inasmuch as we flee to Christ and thus preserve our souls. Hence our Lord's command that we must hate our own lives.

Blessings,
Derek

YnottonY said...

Well said, Derek. The principle helps to make sense of many otherwise difficult texts.