Anselm: It Is Impossible for God the Lose His Honor

“It is impossible for God to lose his honor. For either a sinner of his own accord repays what he owes or God takes it from him against his—the sinner’s—will. This is because either a man of his own free will demonstrates the submission which he owes to God by not sinning, or alternatively by paying recompense for his sin, or else God brings him into submission to himself against his will, by subjecting him to torment,and in this way he shows that he is his Lord, something which the man himself refuses to admit yoluntarily.

In this connection, it needs to be borne in mind that, just as a man by sinning seizes what belongs to God, likewise God, by punishing him, takes away what belongs to man. For it is not just a person’s present property which is said to belong to him, but what it is in his power to possess.

Since, therefore, man was created in such a way as to be capable of possessing blessed happiness, if he were not to sin, when he is deprived of blessedness and of all that is good, on account of sin, he is paying back what he has violently seized from his own property, however much this is against his will.

For, although God does not transfer what he seizes to a use which is to his own advantage, in the way that a man diverts to a use advantageous to himself money which he takes from another person, God nevertheless utilizes for his own honour what he takes away, through the fact of his taking it away. For by seizing the sinner and his belongings he affrms that they are subject to himself.”

-Anselm of Canterbury, Why God Became Man, Book 1, 14.

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