Bernard on Loving God

Here’s a nice selection from Bernard of Clairvaux (d. 1153) that has to do with the Christian’s love for God.

“God…brings about your love for him, just as he causes other goods.  This is how he does it: he who made nature also protects it.  For it was so created that it needs its Creator as its Protector, so that what could not have come into existence without him cannot continue in existence without him.”

“So that no rational creature might be in ignorance of this fact and (dreadful thought) claim for himself the gifts of the Creator, that same Creator willed by a high and saving counsel that man should enter tribulation; then when man fails and God comes to his aid and sets him free, man will honor God as he deserves.”

“For this is what he says: ‘Call upon me in the day of tribulation.  I will deliver you, and you shall honor me’ [Ps. 50:15].  And so in that way it comes about that man, who is a bodily animal and does not know how to love anything but himself, begins to love God for his own benefit, because he learns from frequent experience that in God he can do everything that is good for him and that without him he can do nothing” (p. 75-6).”

I really appreciate that quote, which can be found in a treatise Bernard wrote called “On Loving God.”  (By the way, if any of our readers know the Latin behind “protector” in the first paragraph above, please let me know; that word got my attention.)

The above quote was taken from Bernard of Clairvaux: Selected Works ed. E. Griffen, trans. G.R. Evans (San Francisco: Harper Collins, 2005).

shane lems

1 thought on “Bernard on Loving God”

  1. Glad you are reading Bernard–wasn’t he second most frequently quoted theologian in Calvin’s institutes–after Augustine? Oh, speaking of over-interpretation–he was past master at it! Some of his homilies have to be seen to be believed–all pretty good stuff (or mostly, anyway–he was far too self-disciplined for my air-conditioned habits) but with little or no connection to the biblical text.


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