Skip to comments.Cur Deus Homo IX-X: Did The Father Wish Christ To Die? (Cath-Orth caucus)
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.
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)
I plan to publish it for discussion in short installments as Catholic-Orthodox caucus threads. All Christians as well as non-Christians are very welcome, but I ask all to maintain the caucus discipline: no interconfessional attacks, no personal attacks, and no off-topic posts. Avoid mentioning confessions outside of the caucus for any reason.
As Christ is sinless, the Father did not compel Him to die but rather, Christ wished to die on His own free will.
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
As a figure of speech, it can be said that the Father moved Christ to His death, as the Father gave the Son the gift of obedience to the Father's will. However, the way in which the Father moved Christ did not overcome Christ's free will.
... 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.
Now we understand how the will of the Father and of the Son interacted in the Incarnation and the Passion. In the next installment we will inquire into their necessity:
The question which still troubles us is, how the death of the Son can be proved reasonable and necessary.
Hmmm...it sounds as if what is being said here is that God the Father plan was based upon what the Son was willing to do of His own will. Is this correct?
What does Anselm mean by "obedience in maintaining holiness"?
Yes, this is my understanding of what St. Anselm is saying here. However, consider:
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.
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.
The conclusion seems to be that the necessity of the Incarnation and Passion was understood by both, just like you and I might independently understand an engineering dilemma in the same way, because of our exalted knowledge of the problem. If then I act on the problem on my own will in accordance with your understanding, then it cannot be said that you compelled me to do it.
This gets into the thinking and workings of the Trinity, which in itself is difficult to comprehend. However, it would seem to me there is a greater argument that the Son understood what the Father wished for Him to do and was submissive in carrying out the Father's will. I would go back to the Nicene Creed which states the Son proceeded from the Father. This, to me would indicate that all things, including God's will, generates from the Father down. I would also point to Isaiah 53:10 that it "pleased the LORD to bruise him" which seems to be at odds with Anselm's conclusion that this idea was generated from the Son.
I question whether the Son (and the Holy Spirit) would have to "agree" with the Father which sounds like some sort of council. I would say they are always in agreement which is the will of the Father. Their very nature, that of being God, understands the will of God the Father. Therefore, the will of God the Father was always to have His Son die, and the Son, understanding this will, was submissive unto death.
One way I try to work through the Trinity is to examine the complementary statements. And here HarleyD is clearly on the money. It's inconceivable tht the Son would disagree with the Father.
On the flipahdeedoodah side, trying to draw and work with the distinction between agreeing "just because" that's what the Father wants as opposed to agreeing "on the merits" is also hard for me. In the first way, can we usefully conjecture about the Father willing something that wasn't good "on the merits"? In the second way, does the Son do anything whatsoever "on His own"? Or does even the Son's perception and assessment of the goodness of anything come in loving assent to the Father?
Then again, I'm not sure that I understand correctly the problem that Anselm is trying to resolve. I always get dizzy when we start looking at the Trinity.
Pinging Kolo for some Oriental wisdom.
"You ask what is the procession of the Holy Spirit? Do you tell me first what is the unbegottenness of the Father, and I will then explain to you the physiology of the generation of the Son, and the procession of the Spirit, and we shall both of us be stricken with madness for prying into the mystery of God." +Gregory the Theologian
Best I can do on short notice. I'd suggest that this is good advice, however. Beware! :)
Well, I balk at the idea of the Son being willing to do something "of His own will."A lot depends on whether we're speaking of Christ's divine or human will.
Hmmm...it sounds as if what is being said here is that God the Father plan was based upon what the Son was willing to do of His own will. Is this correct?
That would be in agreement with Jesus oft repeated statement that He came to do the Will of the Father.
30 I can of Myself do nothing. As I hear, I judge; and My judgment is righteous, because I do not seek My own will but the will of the Father who sent Me.
I would suggest that the Father’s will was the death of the Son and the Son knew that was what God's (Father) will was and it was His (Son) will. There is no discussion. The will of the Father and the Son was one of the same. Your verse points that out.
I was just reading about + Elizabeth Seton and one of her big concerns was, "First: we should do what God wants, second: we should do it in that manner in which He wants it done and third (here's the kicker) We should do it because it is His will."
Here her standard is obedience, not because it's good for you to exercise and eat well (though it is) but because God wills it. Our obedience comes from our Love (which comes from grace and all that, but that's another part of the discussion.)
Anselm is saying that God the Fathers plan was essentially to acquiesce to the will of the Son, who agreed to do the Fathers will.
Okay, treat me like the idiot I am, please. Is it as though there were this conversation:
Father: I want to save the WORLD.or is it, more like:
Son: Well, I want what you want, whatever it is.
Father: Well I think the way we do it is You die for their sins.
Father: I want to save the WORLD.Or is this just so off base that I should go out and jump off a cliff?
Son: Well, I want what you want, whatever it is, and if you wanted me to die for their sins, I'd even do that.
Father: Well then, I think that's the way we're going to do it. We'll do it that way.
I can understand Anselms viewing Christs sacrifice as an act of obedience. I think this is correct from Christs humanity side. However, Christs divinity side was the will of the Father, both who felt the Son must be sacrificed. I believe Anselm may have been looking at the humanity of Christ while not giving due consideration to His deity. Anselms statement that God the Father didnt compel the Son to die raises the question of whether God the Father needs to compel anyone to do His will.
This is a very fine point but Anselms argument seems to hinge on this concept.
I would say that Christ not only knew the Fathers will but it was His will as well. The wills are the same. This is what makes God ONE, while being three. God loves the Son because they are the same holiness, same thought, same will. Just don't ask me much more about the Trinity or I will go crazy.
I would suggest that the Fathers will was the death of the Son and the Son knew that was what God's (Father) will was and it was His (Son) will. There is no discussion. The will of the Father and the Son was one of the same. Your verse points that out.
I think your post was clear enough, and I agree.
I would say that Christ not only knew the Fathers will but it was His will as well. The wills are the same.According to the one divine will, only the Son became man, so only the Son has a human will. Anselm seems to be exploring Christ's obedient submission of his human will to the one divine will.
I thought about that and I think you have a point in some of the writings above. Anselm states the following:
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.
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.
Consequently, although the Son had a free choice in the matter of His death, it was a fixed choice.... Thus, Christ freely chose what was fixed from God.I regret that I cannot find the Latin original so I could see what word is translated as "fixed." My educated guess is that Anselm used the past participle of the verb figere (to fasten). (Cf. the past passive participle of the compound verb crucifixus, meaning to be fastened on a cross.)
Latin participles are non-finite (i.e. they are not inflected as to subject) verbal adjectives; consequently, assuming the past participle of figere, there is no subject to whom we can attribute Christ's "fixed choice." So, as I understand Anselm, Christ's "fixed choice" was a resolute human choice (or if you prefer, a decision) to suffer death, as opposed to a predetermined divine choice.
Anselm clearly states that God drew and move Christ's human will since God the Father gave Christ that will.