Anselm: Born of a Woman

“For it was appropriate that, just as death entered the human race through a man’s disobedience, so life should be restored through a man’s obedience; and that, just as the sin which was the cause of our damnation originated from a woman, similarly the originator of our justification and salvation should be born of a woman.”

-Anselm, Cur Deus Homo (Why God Became Man) Book 1.3

Anselm: The Beauty of the Gospel

“We are not doing God any injury or insult, but are wholeheartedly giving him thanks and praise, and proclaiming the ineffable profundity of his mercy. For God has shown the magnitude of his love and devotion towards us by the magnitude of his act in most wonderfully and unexpectedly saving us from the evils, so great and so deserved, by which we used to be beset, and returning us to the enjoyment of the good things, so great and so undeserved, which we had lost.

If then, they were to consider diligently how fitting it is that the restoration of mankind has been brought about in this way, they would not deride our simplicity, but would join us in praising God’s wise benevolence.

For it was appropriate that, just as death entered the human race through a man’s disobedience, so life should be restored through a man’s obedience; and that, just as the sin which was the cause of our damnation originated from a woman, similarly the originator of our justification and salvation should be born of a woman.

Also that the devil, who defeated the man whom he beguiled through the taste of a tree, should himself similarly be defeated by a man through tree-induced suffering which he, the devil, inflicted. There are many other things, too, which, if carefully considered, display the indescribable beauty of the fact that our redemption was procured in this way.”

-Anselm of Canterbury, Why God Became Man, Book 1, 3.

Anselm: The Coming Consummation

“We believe that the present physical mass of the universe is to be changed anew into something better. We believe that this will not come to pass until the number of elect humans has reached its final total, and the blessed city to which we have referred has been brought to completion; also that, after the completion of the city, the renewal will follow without delay. Hence, it may be inferred that God from the beginning planned to bring both these things to fulfillment simultaneously.”

-Anselm of Canterbury, Why God Became Man, Book 1, 18.

Anselm: Is the Father Unjust?

“God the Father did not treat [Christ unjustly or irrationally]; nor did he hand over an innocent man to be killed in place of the guilty party. For the Father did not coerce Christ to face death against his will, or give permission for him to be killed, but Christ himself of his own volition underwent death in order to save mankind.”

-Anselm of Canterbury, Why God Became Man, Book 1, 8.

Anselm: Can God’s Honor Be Violated Even to a Limited Extent?

“Nothing can be added to, or subtracted from, the honor of God, in so far as it relates to God himself. For this same honor is, in relation to him, inherently incorruptible and in no way capable of change. But when any creature whatever maintains, either by natural instinct or in response to reason, the station in life which belongs to it and has been, as it were, taught to it, this creature is said to be obeying God and honoring him.

This is so most of all in the case of a rational being, to whom it has been given to understand what is right. When such a being desires what is right, he is honoring God, not because he is bestowing anything upon God, but because he is voluntarily subordinating himself to his will and governance, maintaining his own proper station in life within the natural universe, and, to the best of his ability, maintaining the beauty of the universe itself.

But when a rational being does not wish for what is right, he dishonors God, with regard to himself, since he is not willingly subordinating himself to God’s governance, and is disturbing, as far as he is able, the order and beauty of the universe. In spite of this, he does not harm or besmirch the honor of God to the slightest extent.

For, if those things which are contained within the ambit of heaven were to wish not to be under heaven, or to move away from heaven, it would in no way be possible for them to be anywhere other than under heaven, or to flee from heaven without approaching heaven. This is because, wherever they came from, and wherever they were going to, and by whatever route, they would be beneath heaven, and the further they would remove themselves from any part of heaven, the nearer they would approach to the part opposite.

Thus, even should a human being or a bad angel not wish to be subject to the divine will or governance, he cannot flee from it, because, if he wishes to escape from a will that issues orders, he runs beneath a will that inflicts punishment; and if you ask by what route he passes from one to the other, it is nowhere other than beneath a will that gives permission; and the supreme Wisdom changes his wrong desire or action into the order and beauty of the universal scheme of things to which I have been referring.

For—setting aside the fact that God does many good things, in all manner of ways, for the benefit of wrong-doers—the alternatives, voluntary recompense for wrongdoing, or the exaction of punishment from someone who does not give recompense, retain their own proper place in this same universal order and their own regulatory beauty.

If the divine Wisdom did not impose these forms of recompense in cases where wrongdoing is endeavouring to upset the right order of things, there would be in the universe, which God ought to be regulating, a certain ugliness, resulting from the violation of the beauty of order, and God would appear to be failing in his governance. Since these two consequences are as impossible as they are unfitting, it is inevitable that recompense or punishment follows upon every sin.

…It is plain, therefore, that no one can honor or dishonor God, So far as God himself is concerned, but, in so far as the other party is concerned, a person appears to do this when he subjects himself to God’s will, or does not subject himself.”

-Anselm of Canterbury, Why God Became Man, Book 1, 15.

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.

Anselm: God Cannot Remit A Sin Unpunished

“For the devil would not have been able to tempt mankind if it had been God’s will to prohibit him. Would God, I repeat, not be acting in a similar way if he were to bring man back to Paradise stained with the filth of sin without any washing, that is, in the absence of any recompense, at least supposing man were to remain in this state for ever?

…Consider it, then, an absolute certainty, that God cannot remit a sin unpunished, without recompense, that is, without the voluntary paying off of a debt, and that a sinner cannot, without this, attain to a state of blessedness, not even the state which was his before he sinned. For, in this case, the person would not be restored, even to being the kind of person he was before his sin.

…It is to no avail that someone who is not making payment says, ‘Forgive’, and the reason why someone who is making payment makes supplication is that this very fact of his supplication is a contingency of relevance to the repayment of the debt. For God owes nothing to anyone, but all creation is in debt to him, and therefore it is not expedient that a human being should deal with God as an equal deals with an equal.”

-Anselm of Canterbury, Why God Became Man, Book 1, 19.