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Cur Deus Homo IX-X: Did The Father Wish Christ To Die? (Cath-Orth caucus)
Internet Medieval Source Book ^ | A.D. 1097-1100 | Saint Anselm of Canterbury

Posted on 05/14/2007 3:42:01 PM PDT by annalex



How it was of his own accord that he died, and what this means: "he was made obedient even unto death; " and: "for which cause God has highly exalted him;" and: "I came not to do my own will; " and: "he spared not his own Son;" and: "not as I will, but as you will ."

Anselm.. It seems to me that you do not rightly understand the difference between what he did at the demand of obedience, and what he suffered, not demanded by obedience, but inflicted on him, because he kept his obedience perfect.

Boso. I need to have you explain it more clearly.

Anselm.. Why did the Jews persecute him even unto death?

Boso. For nothing else, but that, in word and in life, he invariably maintained truth and justice.

Anselm.. I believe that God demands this of every rational being, and every being owes this in obedience to God.

Boso. We ought to acknowledge this.

Anselm.. That man, therefore, owed this obedience to God the Father, humanity to Deity; and the Father claimed it from him.

Boso. There is no doubt of this.

Anselin. Now you see what he did, under the demand of obedience.

Boso. Very true, and I see also what infliction he endured, because he stood firm in obedience. For death was inflicted on him for his perseverance in obedience and he endured it; but I do not understand how it is that obedience did not demand this.

Anselm.. Ought man to suffer death, if he had never sinned, or should God demand this of him?

Boso. It is on this account that we believe that man would not have been subject to death, and that God would not have exacted this of him; but I should like to hear the reason of the thing from you.

Anselm.. You acknowledge that the intelligent creature was made holy, and for this purpose, viz., to be happy in the enjoyment of God.

Boso. Yes.

Anselm.. You surely will not think it proper for God to make his creature miserable without fault, when he had created him holy that he might enjoy a state of blessedness. For it would be a miserable thing for man to die against his will.

Boso. It is plain that, if man had not sinned, God ought not to compel him to die.

Anselm.. God did not, therefore, compel Christ to die; but he suffered death of his own will, not yielding up his life as an act of obedience, but on account of his obedience in maintaining holiness; for he held out so firmly in this obedience that he met death on account of it. It may, indeed be said, that the Father commanded him to die, when he enjoined that upon him on account of which he met death. It was in this sense, then, that "as the Father gave him the commandment, so he did, and the cup which He gave to him, he drank; and he was made obedient to the Father, even unto death;" and thus "he learned obedience from the things which he suffered," that is, how far obedience should be maintained. Now the word "didicit," which is used, can be understood in two ways.For either "didicit" is written for this: he caused others to learn; or it is used, because he did learn by experience what he had an understanding of before. Again, when the Apostle had said: "he humbled himself, being made obedient even unto death, and that the death of the cross," be added: "wherefore God also has exalted him and given him a name, which is above every name." And this is similar to what David said: "he drank of the brook in the way, therefore did he lift up the head." For it is not meant that he could not have attained his exaltation in any other way but by obedience unto death; nor is it meant that his exaltation was conferred on him, only as a reward of his obedience (for he himself said before he suffered, that all things had been committed to him by the Father, and that all things belonging to the Father were his); but the expression is used because he had agreed with the Father and the Holy Spirit, that there was no other way to reveal to the world the height of his omnipotence, than by his death. For if a thing do not take place, except on condition of something else, it is not improperly said to occur by reason of that thing. For if we intend to do a thing, but mean to do something else first by means of which it may be done; when the first thing which we wish to do is done, if the result is such as we intended, it is properly said to be on account of the other; since that is now done which caused the delay; for it had been determined that the first thing should not be done without the other. If, for instance, I propose to cross a river only in a boat, though I can cross it in a boat or on horseback, and suppose that I delay crossing because the boat is gone; but if afterwards I cross, when the boat has returned, it may be properly said of me: the boat was ready, and therefore he crossed. And we not only use this form of expression, when it is by means of a thing which we desire should take place first, but also when we intend to do something else, not by means of that thing, but only after it. For if one delays taking food because he has not to-day attended the celebration of mass; when that has been done which he wished to do first, it is not improper to say to him: now take food, for you have now done that for which you delayed taking food. Far less, therefore, is the language strange, when Christ is said to be exalted on this account, because he endured death; for it was through this, and after this, that he determined to accomplish his exaltation. This may be understood also in the same way as that passage in which it is said that our Lord increased in wisdom, and in favor with God; not that this was really the case, but that he deported himself as if it were so. For he was exalted after his death, as if it were really on account of that. Moreover, that saying of his: "I came not to do mine own will, but the will of him that sent me," is precisely like that other saying: "My doctrine is not mine ;" for what one does not have of himself, but of God, he ought not to call his own, but God's. Now no one has the truth which he teaches, or a holy will, of himself, but of God. Christ, therefore, came not to do his own will, but that of the Father; for his holy will was not derived from his humanity, but from his divinity. For that sentence: "God spared not his own Son, but gave him up for us all," means nothing more than that he did not rescue him. For there are found in the Bible many things like this. Again, when he says: "Father, if it be possible, let this cup pass from me; nevertheless not as I will, but as you will ;" and "If this cup may not pass from me, except I drink it, your will be done;" he signifies by his own will the natural desire of safety, in accordance with which human nature shrank from the anguish of death. But he speaks of the will of the Father, not because the Father preferred the death of the Son to his life; but because the Father was not willing to rescue the human race, unless man were to do even as great a thing as was signified in the death of Christ. Since reason did not demand of another what he could not do, therefore, the Son says that he desires his own death. For he preferred to suffer, rather than that the human race should be lost; as if he were to say to the Father: "Since you do not desire the reconciliation of the world to take place in any other way, in this respect, I see that you desirest my death; let your will, therefore, be done, that is, let my death take place, so that the world may be reconciled to you." For we often say that one desires a thing, because he does not choose something else, the choice of which would preclude the existence of that which he is said to desire; for instance, when we say that he who does not choose to close the window through which the draft is admitted which puts out the light, wishes the light to be extinguished. So the Father desired the death of the Son, because he was not willing that the world should be saved in any other way, except by man's doing so great a thing as that which I have mentioned. And this, since none other could accomplish it, availed as much with the Son, who so earnestly desired the salvation of man, as if the Father had commanded him to die; and, therefore, "as the Father gave him commandment, so he did, and the cup which the Father gave to him he drank, being obedient even unto death."



Likewise on the same topics; and how otherwise they can be correctly explained.

IT is also a fair interpretation that it was by that same holy will by which the son wished to die for the salvation of the world, that the Father gave him commandment (yet not by compulsion), and the cup of suffering, and spared him not, but gave him up for us and desired his death; and that the Son himself was obedient even unto death, and learned obedience from the things which he suffered. For as with regard to that will which led him to a holy life, he did not have it as a human being of himself, but of the Father; so also that will by which he desired to die for the accomplishment of so great good, he could not have had but from the Father of lights, from whom is every good and perfect gift. And as the Father is said to draw by imparting an inclination, so there is nothing improper in asserting that he moves man. For as the Son says of the Father: "No man cometh to me except the Father draw him," he might as well have said, except he move him. In like manner, also, could he have declared: "No man layeth down his life for my sake, except the Father move or draw him." For since a man is drawn or moved by his will to that which he invariably chooses, it is not improper to say that God draws or moves him when he gives him this will. And in this drawing or impelling it is not to be understood that there is any constraint, but a free and grateful clinging to the holy will which has been given. If then it cannot be denied that the Father drew or moved the Son to death by giving him that will; who does not see that, in the same manner, he gave him commandment to endure death of his own accord and to take the cup, which he freely drank. And if it is right to say that the Son spared not himself, but gave himself for us of his own will, who will deny that it is right to say that the Father, of whom he had this will, did not spare him but gave him up for us, and desired his death? In this way, also, by following the will received from the Father invariably, and of his own accord, the Son became obedient to Him, even unto death; and learned obedience from the things which he suffered; that is, be learned how great was the work to be accomplished by obedience. For this is real and sincere obedience when a rational being, not of compulsion, but freely, follows the will received from God. In other ways, also, we can properly explain the Father's desire that the Son should die, though these would appear sufficient. For as we say that he desires a thing who causes another to desire it; so, also, we say that he desires a thing who approves of the desire of another, though he does not cause that desire. Thus when we see a man who desires to endure pain with fortitude for the accomplishment of some good design; though we acknowledge that we wish to have him endure that pain, yet we do not choose, nor take pleasure in, his suffering, but in his choice. We are, also, accustomed to say that he who can prevent a thing but does not, desires the thing which he does not prevent. Since, therefore, the will of the Son pleased the Father, and be did not prevent him from choosing, or from fulfilling his choice, it is proper to say that he wished the Son to endure death so piously and for so great an object, though he was not pleased with his suffering. Moreover, he said that the cup must not pass from him, except he drank it, not because he could not have escaped death had he chosen to; but because, as has been said, the world could not otherwise be saved; and it was his fixed choice to stiffer death, rather than that the world should not be saved. It was for this reason, also, that he used those words, viz., to teach the human race that there was no other salvation for them but by his death; and not to show that he had no power at all to avoid death. For whatsoever things are said of him, similar to these which have been mentioned, they are all to be explained in accordance with the belief that he died, not by compulsion, but of free choice. For he was omnipotent, and it is said of him, when he was offered up, that he desired it. And he says himself: "I lay down my life that I may take it again; no man taketh it from me, but I lay it down of myself; I have power to lay it down, and I have power to take it again." A man cannot, therefore, be properly said to have been driven to a thing which he does of his own power and will.

Boso. But this simple fact, that God allows him to be so treated, even if he were willing, does not seem becoming for such a Father in respect to such a Son.

Anselm.. Yes, it is of all things most proper that such a Father should acquiesce with such a Son in his desire, if it be praiseworthy as relates to the honor of God, and useful for man's salvation, which would not otherwise be effected.

Boso. The question which still troubles us is, how the death of the Son can be proved reasonable and necessary. For otherwise, it does not seem that the Son ought to desire it, or the Father compel or permit it. For the question is, why God could not save man in some other way, and if so, why he wished to do it in this way? For it both seems unbecoming for God to have saved man in this way; and it is not clear how the death of the Son avails for the salvation of man. For it is a strange thing if God so delights in, or requires, the blood of the innocent, that he neither chooses, nor is able, to spare the guilty without the sacrifice of the innocent.

Anselm.. Since, in this inquiry, you take the place of those who are unwilling to believe anything not previously proved by reason, I wish to have it understood between us that we do not admit anything in the least unbecoming to be ascribed to the Deity, and that we do not reject the smallest reason if it be not opposed by a greater. For as it is impossible to attribute anything in the least unbecoming to God; so any reason, however small, if not overbalanced by a greater, has the force of necessity.

Boso. In this matter, I accept nothing more willingly than that this agreement should be preserved between us in common.

Anselm.. The question concerns only the incarnation of God, and those things which we believe with regard to his taking human nature.

Boso. It is so.

Anselm.. Let us suppose, then, that the incarnation of God, and the things that we affirm of him as man, had never taken place; and be it agreed between us that man was made for happiness, which cannot be attained in this life, and that no being can ever arrive at happiness, save by freedom from sin, and that no man passes this life without sin. Let us take for granted, also, the other things, the belief of which is necessary for eternal salvation.

Boso. I grant it; for in these there is nothing which seems unbecoming or impossible for God.

Anselm.. Therefore, in order that man may attain happiness, remission of sin is necessary.

Boso. We all hold this.


... 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)

TOPICS: Apologetics; Catholic; Orthodox Christian; Theology
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To: Forest Keeper
From Aquinas' Catena Aurea on the Book of Matthew, Mt 26:42.

Origen: He took with Him the self-confident Peter, and the others, that they might see Him falling on His face and praying, and might learn not to think great things, but little things of themselves, and not to be hasty in promising, but careful in prayer. And therefore, “He went forward a little,” not to go far from them, but that He might be near them in His prayer.

Also, He who had said above, “Learn of me, for I am meek and lowly in heart,” now commendably humbling Himself, falls on His face. But He shews His devotion in His prayer, and as beloved and well-pleasing to His Father, He adds, “Not as I will, but as thou wilt,” teaching us that we should pray, not that our own will, but that God’s will, should be done.

And as He began to have fear and sorrow, He prays accordingly that the cup of His Passion may pass from Him, yet not as He wills, but as His Father wills; wills, that is, not according to His Divine and impassible Substance, but according to His human and weak nature. For in taking upon Him the nature of human flesh, He fulfilled all the properties thereof, that it might be seen that He had flesh not in appearance only, but in reality.

The believer indeed must in the first instance be loth to incur pain, seeing it leads to death, and he is a man of flesh; but if it be God’s will, he acquiesces because he is a believer. For as we ought not to be too confident that we may not seem to make a boast of our own strength; so neither ought we to be distrustful, lest we should seem to charge God our helper with weakness.

It is to be observed that Mark and Luke write the same, but John does not introduce this prayer of Jesus’, that this cup may pass from Him, because the first three are rather occupied about Him, according to His human nature, John according to His divine.

Otherwise; Jesus makes this petition, because He sees what the Jews will suffer for requiring His death.

Jerome: Whence He says emphatically, “This cup,” that is, of this people of the Jews, who, if they shall put Me to death, can have no excuse for their ignorance, seeing they have the Law and the Prophets,910 who speak of Me.

Origen: Then again considering the benefit that would accrue to the whole world from His Passion, He says, “But not as I will, but as thou wilt;” i.e. If it be possible for all these benefits which shall result from My Passion to be procured without it, let it pass from Me, and both the world be saved, and the Jews not be condemned in putting Me to death.

But if the salvation of many cannot be procured without the destruction of a few, saving Thy justice, let it not pass away. Scripture, in many places, speaks of passion as a cup that is drained; and it is drained by him, who in testimony suffers whatever is inflicted upon him. He sheds it, on the contrary, who denies in order to avoid suffering.

Aug., de Cons. Ev., iii, 4: And that none might think that He limited His Father’s power, He said not, “If thou canst do it,” but “If it may be,” or, “If it be possible;” as much as to say, If thou wilt. For whatever God wills can be done, as Luke expresses more plainly; for he says not, “If it be possible,” but “If thou wilt.”

Hilary: Otherwise; He says not, Let this cup pass away from Me, for that would be the speech of one who feared it; but He prays that it may pass not so as that He should be passed over, but that when it has passed from Him, it may go to another. His whole fear then is for those who were to suffer, and therefore He prays for those who were to suffer after Him, saying, “Let this cup pass from me,” i.e. as it is drunk by Me, so let it be drunk by these, without mistrust, without sense of pain, without fear of death. He says, “If it be possible,” because flesh and blood shrink from these things, and it is hard for human bodies not to sink beneath their infliction. That He says, “Not as I will, but as thou wilt,” He would fain indeed that they should not suffer, lest their faith should fail in their sufferings, if indeed we might attain to the glory of our joint inheritance with Him without the hardship of sharing in His Passion.

He says, “Not as I will, but as thou wilt,” because it is the Father’s will that strength to drink of the cup should pass from Him to them, that the Devil might be vanquished not so much by Christ as by His disciples also.

Aug., in Ps. 32, enar. 2: Christ thus as man shews a certain private human will, in which He who is our head figures both His own will and ours when He says, “Let it pass from me.” For this was His human will911 choosing something as apart for Himself. But because as man He would be righteous and guide Himself by God’s will, He adds, “Nevertheless not as I will, but as thou wilt;” as much as to say to us, Man, behold thyself in Me, that thou canst will somewhat apart of thyself, and though God’s will is other, this is permitted to human frailty.

Leo, Serm., 58, 5: This speech of the Head is the health of the whole body, this saying is instruction to the faithful, animates the confessor, crowns the martyr. For who could vanquish the hatred of the world, or the whirlwind of temptations, or the terrors of the persecutors, if Christ did not in all and for all say to the Father, “Thy will be done.”

Let all the sons of the Church then utter this prayer, that when the pressure of some mighty temptation lies upon them, they may embrace endurance of the suffering, disregarding its terrors.

It seems, all agree that Christ speaks of His human will, and also as an example to us.
41 posted on 05/21/2007 4:23:03 PM PDT by annalex
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To: annalex
Next installment: Cur Deus Homo XI-XIV: God's Honor, Compassion, and Justice (Cath-Orth caucus).
42 posted on 05/23/2007 12:32:00 PM PDT by annalex
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To: annalex
It seems, all agree that Christ speaks of His human will, and also as an example to us.

Yes, I fully agree. Thank you for these passages.

43 posted on 05/25/2007 11:50:16 PM PDT by Forest Keeper (It is a joy to me to know that God had my number, before He created numbers.)
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To: annalex

keep alive

44 posted on 03/28/2016 8:14:46 PM PDT by annalex (fear them not)
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