Skip to comments.Cur Deus Homo I-III
Posted on 05/08/2007 4:39:59 PM PDT by annalex
Cur Deus Homo (Why God Became Man)
Saint Anselm of Canterbury
THE first part of this book was copied without my knowledge, before the work had been completed and revised. I have therefore been obliged to finish it as best I could, more hurriedly, and so more briefly, than I wished. For had an undisturbed and adequate period been allowed me for publishing it, I should have introduced and subjoined many things about which I have been silent. For it was while suffering under great anguish of heart, the origin and reason of which are known to God, that, at the entreaty of others, I began the book in England, and finished it when an exile in Capra. From the theme on which it was published I have called it Cur Deus Homo, and have divided it into two short books. The first contains the objections of infidels, who despise the Christian faith because they deem it contrary to reason; and also the reply of believers; and, in fine, leaving Christ out of view (as if nothing had ever been known of him), it proves, by absolute reasons, the impossibility that any man should be saved without him. Again, in the second book, likewise, as if nothing were known of Christ, it is moreover shown by plain reasoning and fact that human nature was ordained for this purpose, viz., that every man should enjoy a happy immortality, both in body and in soul; and that it was necessary that this design for which man was made should be fulfilled; but that it could not be fulfilled unless God became man, and unless all things were to take place which we hold with regard to Christ. I request all who may wish to copy this book to prefix this brief preface, with the heads of the whole work, at its commencement; so that, into whosesoever hands it may fall, as he looks on the face of it, there may be nothing in the whole body of the work which shall escape his notice.
The question on which the whole work rests.
I HAVE been often and most earnestly requested by many, both personally and by letter, that I would hand down in writing the proofs of a certain doctrine of our faith, which I am accustomed to give to inquirers; for they say that these proofs gratify them, and are considered sufficient. This they ask, not for the sake of attaining to faith by means of reason, but that they may be gladdened by understanding and meditating on those things which they believe; and that, as far as possible, they may be always ready to convince any one who demands of them a reason of that hope which is in us. And this question, both infidels are accustomed to bring up against us, ridiculing Christian simplicity as absurd; and many believers ponder it in their hearts; for what cause or necessity, in sooth, God became man, and by his own death, as we believe and affirm, restored life to the world; when he might have done this, by means of some other being, angelic or human, or merely by his will. Not only the learned, but also many unlearned persons interest themselves in this inquiry and seek for its solution. Therefore, since many desire to consider this subject, and, though it seem very difficult in the investigation, it is yet plain to all in the solution, and attractive for the value and beauty of the reasoning; although what ought to be sufficient has been said by the holy fathers and their successors, yet I will take pains to disclose to inquirers what God has seen fit to lay open to me. And since investigations, which are carried on by question and answer, are thus made more plain to many, and especially to less quick minds, and on that account are more gratifying, I will take to argue with me one of those persons who agitate this subject; one, who among the rest impels me more earnestly to it, so that in this way Boso may question and Anselm reply.
How those things which are to be said should be received.
Boso. As the right order requires us to believe the deep things of Christian faith before we undertake to discuss them by reason; so to my mind it appears a neglect if, after we are established in the faith, we do not seek to understand what we believe. Therefore, since I thus consider myself to hold the faith of our redemption, by the prevenient grace of God, so that, even were I unable in any way to understand what I believe, still nothing could shake my constancy; I desire that you I should discover to me, what, as you know, many besides myself ask, for what necessity and cause God, who is omnipotent, should have assumed the littleness and weakness of human nature for the sake of its renewal?
Anselm.. You ask of me a thing which is above me, and therefore I tremble to take in hand subjects too lofty for me, lest, when some one may have thought or even seen that I do not satisfy him, he will rather believe that I am in error with regard to the substance of the truth, than that my intellect is not able to grasp it.
Boso. You ought not so much to fear this, because you should call to mind, on the other hand, that it often happens in the discussion of some question that God opens what before lay concealed; and that you should hope for the grace of God, because if you liberally impart those things which you have freely received, you will be worthy to receive higher things to which you have not yet attained.
Anselm.. There is also another thing on account of which I think this subject can hardly, or not at all, be discussed between us comprehensively; since, for this purpose, there is required a knowledge of Power and Necessity and Will and certain other subjects which are so related to one another that none of them can be fully examined without the rest; and so the discussion of these topics requires a separate labor, which, though not very easy, in my opinion, is by no means useless; for ignorance of these subjects makes certain things difficult, which by acquaintance with them become easy.
Boso. You can speak so briefly with regard to these things, each in its place, that we may both have all that is requisite for the present object, and what remains to be said we can put off to another time.
Anselm.. This also much disinclines me from your request, not only that the subject is important, but as it is of a form fair above the sons of men, so is it of a wisdom fair above the intellect of men. On this account, I fear, lest, as I am wont to be incensed against sorry artists, when I see our Lord himself painted in an unseemly figure; so also it may fall out with me if I should undertake to exhibit so rich a theme in rough and vulgar diction.
Boso. Even this ought not to deter you, because, as you allow any one to talk better if he can, so you preclude none from writing more elegantly if your language does not please him. But, to cut you off from all excuses, you are not to fulfil this request of mine for the learned but for me, and those asking the same thing with me.
Anselm.. Since I observe your earnestness and that of those who desire this thing with you, out of love and pious zeal, I will try to the best of my ability with the assistance of God and your prayers, which, when making this request, you have often promised me, not so much to make plain what you inquire about, as to inquire with you. But I wish all that I say to be received with this understanding, that, if I shall have said anything which higher authority does not corroborate, though I appear to demonstrate it by argument, yet it is not to be received with any further confidence, than as so appearing to me for the time, until God in some way make a clearer revelation to me. But if I am in any measure able to set your inquiry at rest, it should be concluded that a wiser than I will be able to do this more fully; nay, we must understand that for all that a man can say or know still deeper grounds of so great a truth lie concealed.
Boso. Suffer me, therefore, to make use of the words of infidels; for it is proper for us when we seek to investigate the reasonableness of our faith to propose the objections of those who are wholly unwilling to submit to the same faith, without the support of reason. For although they appeal to reason because they do not believe, but we, on the other hand, because we do believe; nevertheless, the thing sought is one and the same. And if you bring up anything in reply which sacred authority seems to oppose, let it be mine to urge this inconsistency until you disprove it.
Anselm.. Speak on according to your pleasure.
... to be continued
St. Anselm: Proslogium; Monologium: An Appendix In Behalf Of The Fool By Gaunilo; And Cur Deus Homo, Translated From The Latin By Sidney Norton Deane, B. A. With An Introduction, Bibliography, And Reprints Of The Opinions Of Leading Philosophers And Writers On The Ontological Argument, (Chicago, The Open Court Publishing Company,, 1903, reprinted 1926)
Sorry, someone has to do it. :)
It is ironic, is it not, that the West chose theological opinions of both +Augustine and +Gregory which were outside the consensus patrum
In a way it explains how we drifted apart. If the west stuck with the consensus we would be on the same sheet of music, and probably there would have never been a rift.
There has been of late quite a discussion in the Latin Church over the proper translation of the words pro multis at the consecration. The post Vatican II era saw the usage of for all as opposed to the appropriate for many. +Gregorys theology arguably would support the former
Pro multis is biblical (Mat 26:28, Mar 14:24). "For all" is not what He said. This is a good example that cherry-picking your favorite Church Father is inferior to consensus patrum, which is the only approach that guarantees the catholicity of the Church and the orthodoxy of the Faith.
For only through consensus do we all believe the same thing and agree that the faith is right and true.
which for us is at base is a hesychastic pursuit,
Blessed are all they that fear the Lord: that walk in his ways. (Ps. 127)I agree, they should have kept it as in Latin.
[God] will have all men to be saved, and to come to the knowledge of the truth. (1 Tim 2:4)
Something about having a fool for a client? Some kind of guide is critical, whether or not one is familiar with the consensus patrum -- seems to me.
“Something about having a fool for a client? Some kind of guide is critical, whether or not one is familiar with the consensus patrum — seems to me.”
Even the greatest of Elders at the Holy Mountain are under obedience to someone.
"Pro multis" is part of what Christ actually said, knowing that not all will benefit from it, even though God does not delight in seeing his people perish, even the wicked (cf Eze 18:23), or anyone for that matter (cf Eze 18:32).
The Divine Liturgy of +John Chrystsostom retains the pro multis
However, the very next recitation sung by the priest says:
Thus expressing our universal conviction that God loves all people and desires to have all men saved (cf 2 Tim 2:4) and that it is our sincere hope that our God is a Savior of all men, especially the believers (cf 1 Tim 4:19).
Yet, we know that not all men will come to Him when called.
I agree. The Catholic Church would have been better off never changing what it says in Latin because, as it is, it is misleading.
A "brighter line" drawn to include, or to exclude Calvinism?
Exclude, of course. Our disagreement with Calvinism is that we believe that Christ redeemed all sin and wished the salvation of all; yet not all respond to the call. Thus both “for all” and “for many” is a true statement, deppending on the intended and unsaid here, context. The rise of calvinist thinking, I suspect, drove the desire to avoid the false conclusion that the Church teches limited atonement, drawn from the Epiclesis.
annalex, I had hoped you would have said "included". Religion Moderator, I'd like to request that the "caucus" designation be removed, so that Calvinists can engage the thread and discuss the doctrines/beliefs mentioned.
Caucus protection removed because the article poster raised doctrines of another confession (Calvinism) and that confession now has an interest in discussing them.
Ping to read the Paschal Homily
IMO it's at that singular point that I believe the discussion should start. Ping to some friends for help with explaining Limited Atonement...
Based on the writings from NewAdvent, the Catholic Church looks upon Anselm’s writings on the Atonement as kind of the genesis of thought but not the final word. It would be interesting to compare current Orthodox and Catholic perspectives. While we often discuss differences between these two churches (church authority, the filoque, etc), the atonement doesn’t seem to be one of them. Is there a difference in views?
I will say that of all the doctrines of the Reformers, this one seems to be the most controversial yet for me it was the easiest to grasp. In my mind all Christians believe in limited atonement simply because all are not saved no matter how you look at atonement. But in keeping with annalex above request, we’ll save the discussion of limited atonement for another time.
The RCC believes there is no salvation outside the Roman Catholic Church.
Calvinists (like most Protestants) believe there is no salvation outside of God's merciful gift of grace through faith in Jesus Christ.
Same result; different criteria. Magisterium-ordained salvation; God-ordained salvation.
Like you, Alex, I recognized the absolute truth of Limited Atonement in an instant by a single sentence. It was so powerful in its clarity and obvious truth I couldn't deny it --
If God wanted all men to be saved, all men would be saved.
He's God. He gets what He wants. He lacks for nothing.
Me, I'm out of here.
CAUSE OF GOD AND TRUTH.
Section 35Romans 11:32.
For God hath concluded them all in unbelief, that he might have mercy upon all.
This passage of Scripture is produced as a proof of Gods will, that all men should be saved, and to show that he has rejected none from salvation by an absolute and antecedent decree, and consequently that Christ died for all men; seeing as God hath concluded all men in unbelief, none excepted, so, by the rule of opposition, he hath mercy on all, none excepted. To which I answer:
1. That God shows mercy to all men in a providential way, is granted, for his tender mercies are over all his works; (Psalm 114:9.) but that all men are partakers of his special mercy through Christ, must be denied, since the vessels mercy are manifestly distinguished from the vessels of wrath fitted for destruction (Rom. 9:22, 23); and certain it is, that there are some whom he that made them will not have mercy on them, and he that formed them will show them no favor (Isa. 27:11); and where God does extend his special mercy, it is wholly owing to his sovereign will and pleasure, for he hath mercy on whom, he will have mercy, and whom he will he hardeneth (Rom. 9:18).
2. By the rule of opposition, no more can be thought to be the objects of Gods mercy than those whom he has shut up in unbelief; which is not true of all men that ever were in the world; for, though all men are, by nature, unbelievers, yet they are not all shut up by God in unbelief. To be shut up in unbelief, is the same as to be concluded under sin, the meaning of which phrases is, not that God makes men sinners and unbelievers, or puts them into the prison of sin and unbelief, but that he proves, demonstrates, and convinces them, that they are in such a state and condition, as Chrysostom on the other place observes, and which is the sense that Grotius and Vorstius, who were both on the other side of the question, give of these words; for such who are savingly convinced of sin, are held and bound down by a sense of it in their consciences, that they can find no by-way to creep out, or make any excuse for it. Now, all men are not in this sense concluded under sin, or shut up in unbelief, none but those whom the Spirit of God reproves and convinces of these things; which convictions are wrought in them, on purpose that they may flee, not to their own merits, but to the mercy of God, which they may hope to share in, since with the Lord is mercy, and with him is plenteous redemption (Ps. 130:7).
3. It is not said absolutely, God hath concluded, pantaV , all in unbelief, that he might have mercy, pantaV , on all; but God hath concluded, touV pantaV , them all in unbelief, that he might have mercy, touV pantaV , on them all, which limits and restrains the all to the persons the apostle is speaking of in the context; were the elect of God among the Jews and Gentiles, and so designs the fullness of the Gentiles, whom God determined to bring in, (v. 25), and especially that all Israel, (v. 26), that shall be saved, not by their own righteousness, but by the pure mercy and free grace of God. In short, by the all whom he has mercy on, and in order to bring them to a sense of their need thereof, concludes in, and convinces of, unbelief, are to be understood all believers, that is, who are eventually so, be they Jews or Gentiles, as Vorstius observes, and which is manifest from a parallel text, The scripture hath concluded all under sin, that the promise by faith of Jesus Christ might be given to them that believe (Gal.3:22). Hence this passage neither militates against an absolute election, nor special redemption of particular persons.- John Gill
I don't think your sentence is entirely inconsistent with the general doctrine of unlimited atonement. I for one believe that the atonement was unlimited in scope, but limited in application. The scope is towards "all men" the application is "limited" to "all who believe".
Yes, and applied by God alone, perfectly and personally. 8~)