May 7, 2011

Augustine (354–430) on Loving the Man but Hating the Vice

Wherefore the man who lives according to God, and not according to man, ought to be a lover of good, and therefore a hater of evil. And since no one is evil by nature, but whoever is evil is evil by vice, he who lives according to God ought to cherish towards evil men a perfect hatred, so that he shall neither hate the man because of his vice, nor love the vice because of the man, but hate the vice and love the man. For vice being cursed, all that ought to be loved, and nothing that ought to be hated, will remain.
Augustine, "The City of God," NPNF, 1st series, ed by Philip Schaff (Peabody, Mass: Hendrickson, 2004), 2:266.

[Note: It's important to read Calvin's reference to Augustine on this point elsewhere in his writings. Given what Augustine says elsewhere, and how Calvin interprets him, I don't think Augustine would have a problem saying God hates lost sinners, but he wants to qualify that by saying He hates them as sinful or living in vice, not their natures as human beings. See Aquinas' qualifications on this point (here and here) as well.]

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