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Cur Deus Homo Book Second XII-XV: Christs Death Removes Sin (Cath-Orth caucus)
Internet Medieval Source Book ^ | A.D. 1097-1100 | Saint Anselm of Canterbury

Posted on 07/27/2007 3:39:45 PM PDT by annalex

CHAPTER XII.

How, though he share in our weakness, he is not therefore miserable.

Boso. All these things plainly show that he ought to be mortal and to partake of our weaknesses. But all these things are our miseries. Will he then be miserable?

Anselm.. No, indeed! For as no advantage which one has apart from his choice constitutes happiness, so there is no misery in choosing to bear a loss, when the choice is a wise one and made without compulsion.

Boso. Certainly, this must be allowed.

 

CHAPTER XIII.

How, along with our other weaknesses, he does not partake of our ignorance.

Boso. But tell me whether, in this likeness to men which he ought to have, he will inherit also our ignorance, as he does our other infirmities?

Anselm.. Do you doubt the omnipotence of God?

Boso. No! but, although this man be immortal in respect to his Divine nature, yet will he be mortal in his human nature. For why will he not be like them in their ignorance, as he is in their mortality?

Anselm.. That union of humanity with the Divine person will not be effected except in accordance with the highest wisdom; and, therefore, God will not take anything belonging to man which is only useless, but even a hindrance to the work which that man must accomplish. For ignorance is in no respect useful, but very prejudicial. How can he perform works, so many and so great, without the highest wisdom? Or, how will men believe him if they find him ignorant? And if he be ignorant, what will it avail him? If nothing is loved except as it is known, and there be no good thing which he does not love, then there can be no good thing of which be is ignorant. But no one perfectly understands good, save he who can distinguish it from evil; and no one can make this distinction who does not know what evil is. Therefore, as he of whom we are speaking perfectly comprehends what is good, so there can be no evil with which he is unacquainted. Therefore must he have all knowledge, though he do not openly show it in his intercourse with men.

Boso. In his more mature Years, this should seem to he as you say; but, in infancy, as it will not be a fit time to discover wisdom, so there will be no need, and therefore no propriety, in his having it.

Anselm.. Did not I say that the incarnation will be made in wisdom? But God will in wisdom assume that mortality, which he makes use of so widely, because for so great an object. But he could not wisely assume ignorance, for this is never useful, but always injurious, except when an evil will is deterred from acting, on account of it. But, in him an evil desire never existed. For if ignorance did no harm in any other respect, yet does it in this, that it takes away the good of knowing. And to answer your question in a word: that man, from the essential nature of his being, will be always full of God; and, therefore, will never want the power, the firmness or the wisdom of God.

Boso. Though wholly unable to doubt the truth of this with respect to Christ, yet, on this very account, have I asked for the reason of it. For we are often certain about a thing, and yet cannot prove it by reason.

 

CHAPTER XIV.

How his death outweighs the number and greatness of our sins.

Boso. Now I ask you to tell me how his death can outweigh the number and magnitude of our sins, when the least sin we can think of you have shown to be so monstrous that, were there an infinite number of worlds as full of created existence as this, they could not stand, but would fall back into nothing, sooner than one look should be made contrary to the just will of God.

Anselm.. Were that man here before you, and you knew who he was, and it were told you that, if you did not kill him, the whole universe, except God, would perish, would you do it to preserve the rest of creation?

Boso. No! not even were an infinite number of worlds displayed before me.

Anselm.. But suppose you were told: "If you do not kill him, all the sins of the world will be heaped upon you."

Boso. I should answer, that I would far rather bear all other sins, not only those of this world, past and future, but also all others that can be conceived of, than this alone. And I think I ought to say this, not only with regard to killing him, but even as to the slightest injury which could be inflicted on him.

Anselm.. You judge correctly; but tell me why it is that your heart recoils from one injury inflicted upon him as more heinous than all other sins that can be thought of, inasmuch as all sins whatsoever are committed against him?

Boso. A sin committed upon his person exceeds beyond comparison all the sins which can be thought of, that do not affect his person.

Anselm.. What say you to this, that one often suffers freely certain evils in his person, in order not to suffer greater ones in his property?

Boso. God has no need of such patience, for all things lie in subjection to his power, as you answered a certain question of mine above.

Anselm.. You say well; and hence we see that no enormity or multitude of sins, apart from the Divine person, can for a moment be compared with a bodily injury inflicted upon that man.

Boso. This is most plain.

Anselm.. How great does this good seem to you, if the destruction of it is such an evil?

Boso. If its existence is as great a good as its destruction is an evil, then is it far more a good than those sins are evils which its destruction so far surpasses.

Anselm.. Very true. Consider, also, that sins are as hateful as they are evil, and that life is only amiable in proportion as it is good. And, therefore, it follows that that life is more lovely than sins are odious.

Boso. I cannot help seeing this.

Anselm.. And do you not think that so great a good in itself so lovely, can avail to pay what is due for the sins of the whole world?

Boso. Yes! it has even infinite value.

Anselm.. Do you see, then, how this life conquers all sins, if it be given for them?

Boso. Plainly.

Anselm.. If, then, to lay down life is the same as to suffer death, as the gift of his life surpasses all the sins of men, so will also the suffering of death.

 

CHAPTER XV.

How this death removes even the sins of his murderers.

Boso. This is properly so with regard to all sins not affecting the person of the Deity. But let me ask you one thing more. If it be as great an evil to slay him as his life is a good, how can his death overcome and destroy the sins of those who slew him? Or, if it destroys the sin of any one of them, how can it not also destroy any sin committed by other men? For we believe that many men will be saved, and a vast many will not be saved.

Anselm.. The Apostle answers the question when he says: "Had they known it, they would never have crucified the Lord of glory." For a sin knowingly committed and a sin done ignorantly are so different that an evil which they could never do, were its full extent known, may be pardonable when done in ignorance. For no man could ever, knowingly at least, slay the Lord; and, therefore, those who did it in ignorance did not rush into that transcendental crime with which none others can be compared. For this crime, the magnitude of which we have been considering as equal to the worth of his life, we have not looked at as having been ignorantly done, but knowingly; a thing which no man ever did or could do.

Boso. You have reasonably shown that the murderers of Christ can obtain pardon for their sin.

Anselm.. What more do you ask? For now you, see how reason of necessity shows that the celestial state must be made up from men, and that this can only be by the forgiveness of sins, which man can never have but by man, who must be at the same time Divine, and reconcile sinners to God by his own death. Therefore have we clearly found that Christ, whom we confess to be both God and man, died for us; and, when this is known beyond all doubt, all things which he says of himself must be acknowledged as true, for God cannot lie, and all he does must be received as wisely done, though we do not understand the reason of it.

Boso. What you say is true; and I do not for a moment doubt that his words are true, and all that he does reasonable. But I ask this in order that you may disclose to me, in their true rationality, those things in Christian faith which seem to infidels improper or impossible; and this, not to strengthen me in the faith, but to gratify one already confirmed by the knowledge of the truth itself.

 


Source.

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
KEYWORDS:
Cur Deus Homo (Why God Became Man) is the first major theological work in the West that followed the Great Schism of 1054. This book is a major contribution to the theology of Atonement.

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.

Previous:

Cur Deus Homo I-III
Cur Deus Homo III-V
Cur Deus Homo VI-VIII: Is God Omnipotent and Wise?
Cur Deus Homo IX-X: Did The Father Wish Christ To Die?
Cur Deus Homo XI-XIV: God's Honor, Compassion, and Justice
Cur Deus Homo XV-XVIII: Men and Angels, Perfection and Election
Cur Deus Homo XIX-XX: No Satisfaction
Cur Deus Homo XXI-XXIII: Enormity of Sin
Cur Deus Homo XXIV-XXV: Unhappiness of Man
Cur Deus Homo Book Second I-IV: Holy, Happy Man
Cur Deus Homo Book Second V-VII: The Necessity of God-Man
Cur Deus Homo Book Second VIII: The Necessity of the Virgin Mary
Cur Deus Homo Book Second IX-X: The Sinless Word
Cur Deus Homo Book Second XI: Christ Chose To Die

1 posted on 07/27/2007 3:39:52 PM PDT by annalex
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To: Andrew Byler; Blogger; Forest Keeper; fr maximilian mary; Huber; jo kus; Kolokotronis; kosta50; ...
Write to me if you want in or out on this St. Anselm ping list.

The summary:

***

Christ is free from all our weakness: He is not miserable and does not partake of our ignorance. That is because He "will not take anything belonging to man which is only useless, but even a hindrance to the work which that man must accomplish", and he is happy going about His sublime plan.

While even a single sin is so monstrous as to be impossible for us to repay under our own power, the injury to Christ Who is without sin is an even greater sin than all other sin combined: "no enormity or multitude of sins, apart from the Divine person, can for a moment be compared with a bodily injury inflicted upon that man."

Christ's "life conquers all sins, if it be given for them", because Christ's "existence is as great a good as its destruction is an evil, then is it far more a good than those sins are evils which its destruction so far surpasses."

Christ's death removes even the sin of His murderers, because a sin "may be pardonable when done in ignorance".

We conclude:

reason of necessity shows that the celestial state must be made up from men, and that this can only be by the forgiveness of sins, which man can never have but by man, who must be at the same time Divine, and reconcile sinners to God by his own death. Therefore have we clearly found that Christ, whom we confess to be both God and man, died for us; and, when this is known beyond all doubt, all things which he says of himself must be acknowledged as true, for God cannot lie, and all he does must be received as wisely done, though we do not understand the reason of it.

2 posted on 07/27/2007 3:51:17 PM PDT by annalex
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To: annalex
Next installment:
Cur Deus Homo Book Second XVI: Christ, Mary, Adam, Eve
3 posted on 08/02/2007 4:13:08 PM PDT by annalex
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