Christianity 201

October 31, 2016

Reading the Classics: Anselm of Canterbury

The Bible emphasizes using your intellect…

So what shall I do? I will pray with my spirit, but I will also pray with my understanding; I will sing with my spirit, but I will also sing with my understanding. I Cor 14:15

He answered, “‘Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your strength and with all your mind‘ -Luke 10:27

…but warns against being captivated by philosophy:

Don’t let anyone capture you with empty philosophies and high-sounding nonsense that come from human thinking and from the spiritual powers of this world, rather than from Christ. – Col. 2:8

Timothy, guard what has been entrusted to you. Avoid the pointless discussions and contradictions of what is falsely called knowledge. I Tim 6:20

(underlining added)


anselm-of-canterburySt. Anselm? Who is he? Wikipedia informs us that,

Anselm has been called “the most luminous and penetrating intellect between St Augustine and St Thomas Aquinas” and “the father of scholasticism”, Scotus Erigena having employed more mysticism in his arguments. Anselm’s works are considered philosophical as well as theological since they endeavor to render Christian tenets of faith, traditionally taken as a revealed truth, as a rational system.

Angus Stewart notes, “If Bede is the most historical, and Wycliffe the most biblical, Anselm is the most philosophical of English pre-Reformation thinkers.” Some Christians hesitate to read philosophy, either because they feel the genre is foreign, or too academic; or because they associate Christian philosophy with its secular counterparts.

His writing was often vertical in nature, and so I’ve classified these as prayers. (A similarity between this, and the vertical worship writing in our modern church music is worth observing.) You’ll also note in bold face below a particular quotation for which he is often remembered.

Writing at the turn of the 12th Century, he is revered by Anglicans and Catholics alike; the former for his position as Archbishop of Canterbury, the latter for his perspective on Mary.

Dialogues (Socratic method of teaching; this one clearly supporting limited atonement)

Gomaro: You speak often about “the elect.” How are they redeemed?

Anselm: Through the satisfaction of Christ, for this is why God became man.

Gomaro: Why then do unbelieving infidels go to Hell?

Anselm: They are punished for the great debt of their sins.

Gomaro: If their sins were punished on themselves, they were not satisfied by Christ, since it would be incongruous for the infinitely wise God to satisfy for sins twice.

Anselm: Reason does demand that it is either punishment or satisfaction for sins, but not both.

Gomaro: Then Christ did not make satisfaction for those who are in Hell, but only for the elect?

Anselm: I see no way of opposing you.

Quotations:

God does not delay to hear our prayers because He has no mind to give; but that, by enlarging our desires, He may give us the more largely.

Remove grace, and you have nothing whereby to be saved. Remove free will and you have nothing that could be saved. (attributed to him)

Let no worldly prosperity divert you, nor any worldly adversity restrain you from His praise.

God often works more by the life of the illiterate seeking the things that are God’s, than by the ability of the learned seeking the things that are their own.

In this way, then, the Lord Jesus ought not to have undergone death because He alone [among men] was innocent; and no one ought to have inflicted death upon Him; nevertheless, He ought to have undergone death because He wisely and graciously and usefully willed to undergo it.
De Veritate

Prayers:

“O God, let me know you and love you so that I may find joy in you; and if I cannot do so fully in this life, let me at least make some progress every day, until at last that knowledge, love and joy come to me in all their plenitude. While I am here on earth let me know you fully; let my love for you grow deeper here, so that there I may love you fully. On earth then I shall have great joy in hope, and in heaven complete joy in the fulfillment of my hope.”

“I acknowledge, Lord, and I give thanks that you have created your image in me, so that I may remember you, think of you, love you. But this image is so obliterated and worn away by wickedness, it is so obscured by the smoke of sins, that it cannot do what it was created to do, unless you renew and reform it. I am not attempting, O Lord, to penetrate your loftiness, for I cannot begin to match my understanding with it, but I desire in some measure to understand your truth, which my heart believes and loves. For I do not seek to understand in order that I may believe, but I believe in order to understand. For this too I believe, that “unless I believe, I shall not understand.

So truly, therefore, do you exist, O Lord, my God, that you can not be conceived not to exist; and rightly. For, if a mind could conceive of a being better than you, the creature would rise above the Creator; and this is most absurd. And, indeed, whatever else there is, except you alone, can be conceived not to exist. To you alone, therefore, it belongs to exist more truly than all other beings, and hence in a higher degree than all others. For, whatever else exists does not exist so truly, and hence in a less degree it belongs to it to exist. Why, then, has the fool said in his heart, there is no God (Psalms xiv. 1), since it is so evident, to a rational mind, that you do exist in the highest degree of all? Why, except that he is dull and a fool? — Proslogium

“My God, I pray that I may so know you and love you that I may rejoice in you. And if I may not do so fully in this life let me go steadily onto the day when I come to that fullness …Let me receive That which you promised through your truth, that my joy may be full.”

Thus you are just not because you give what is owed, but because you do what is appropriate to you as the highest good.
 

Sources:

AZ Quotes, Brainy Quotes, About.com, Inspiring Quotes, Catholic Fire

 

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