anselm of canterbury on the atonement
Anselm's theory was a precursor to the innovations of later theologians like John Calvin, who introduced the idea of Christ suffering the Father's just punishment as a vicarious substitute. Anselm of Canterbury's (1033 – 1109) Cur Deus Homo (Why God Became Man) is particular famous for being the first concise statement of the "Satisfaction Theory of Atonement." Anselm’s theory of atonement is a radical departure from the patristic tradition, which he claims only presents a beautiful picture of the atonement, but not its reality. Christ's death, the ultimate act of obedience, brings God great honour. Theologically and historically, the word "satisfaction" does not mean gratification as in common usage, but rather "to make restitution": making an offering the value of which redeems the injury or insult which was inflicted on the offended party. Although it is often alleged that Anselm’s use of the term “honour” owes more to medieval and feudal imagery, it cannot be denied that he uses the word in an essentially Christian sense, as an attribute of the great Triune God in keeping with His truth, mercy, wisdom and compassion.16. Since “there is nothing more just than Supreme Justice,” which is God, and God “maintains nothing with more justice than the honour of his own dignity,” “the honour taken away must be repaid, or punishment will follow.” Boso concurs: “I think nothing more reasonable can be said” (I:13). 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.  In this way, Aquinas articulated the formal beginning of the idea of a superabundance of merit, which became the basis for the Catholic concept of the Treasury of Merit (see Indulgence). Thus it is absolutely necessary for our Redeemer to be true God also, for only then is Christ’s death of “infinite value,” and only then can He “pay what is due for the sins of the whole world” (II:14; cf. Anselm, Saint, Archbishop of Canterbury, 1033-1109, Atonement Publisher London : Longmans, Green, and Co Collection cavenlibrary; toronto Digitizing sponsor MSN Contributor Knox - University of Toronto Language English Also, in so far as any two men are one in charity, the one can atone for the other as shall be shown later", This page was last edited on 8 December 2020, at 13:23. Question: "Who was Anselm of Canterbury?" Tel. That is, when Jesus died on the cross, his death paid the penalty at that time for the sins of all those who are saved. E-mail: firstname.lastname@example.org, The CPRC Bookstore is now taking UK and international orders and accepting PayPal payments!  Thomas Aquinas later specifically attributes a universal scope to this atonement theory in keeping with previous Catholic dogma, as do Lutherans at the time of the Reformation. This debate began in the 11th century and continues today. Nothing seems more just. To the objection that since man is unable to avoid sinning, God ought not judge him, Anselm makes a good reply. He was known and loved for his holiness. Anselm was one of history’s great theologians. First to pay a debt, and second "to serve as a remedy for the avoidance of sin". However, because Christ paid for sins when he died, it is not possible for those for whom he died to fail to receive the benefits: the saved are predestined to believe. Anselm of Canterbury (1033–1109) was a Scholastic philosopher and clergyman, born in Aosta, NW Italy. Moreover, given that God willed to create the world, and given that God willed sin and the fall, and given that God willed to save mankind, then the incarnation and atoning death of the Son of God was absolutely necessary. When Anselm asks Boso, what payment he can make to God for his sin, Boso lists: “repentance, a broken and a contrite heart, self denial, various bodily sufferings, pity in giving and forgiving, and obedience” (I:20). Gomaro: Then Christ did not make satisfaction for those who are in Hell, but only for the elect?  The then-current ransom theory of the atonement held that Jesus' death paid a ransom to Satan, allowing God to rescue those under Satan's bondage. Indeed a title accorded to him, according to the Internet Dictionary of Philosophy, was the Scholastic Doctor. Thus we move geographically from Africa (Augustine) to Asia (John of Damascus) to Europe (Anselm) and doctrinally from soteriology (sovereign grace) to theology (the perichoresis) to Christology (the necessity of the atonement). John Calvin was one of the first systematic theologians of the Reformation.  In light of this view, the "ransom" that Jesus mentions in the Gospels would be a sacrifice and a debt paid only to God the Father. "Punishment may equal the pleasure contained in a sin committed." Instead, Anselm suggested that we owe God a debt of honor: "This is the debt which man and angel owe to God, and no one who pays this debt commits sin; but every one who does not pay it sins. punishment is a morally good response to sin: it is a kind of medicine for sin, and aims at the restoration of friendship between the wrongdoer and the one wronged. God cannot overloo… ), and for what is now known as the … He was also an important philosopher and widely respected theologian, who wrote many influential treatises, including two meditations on the nature of God, the Monologion (Monologue) and the Proslogion (Discourse), as well as Cur Deus Homo (Why God was a Man), a … Northern Ireland Why does he do that? ", What he means by "satisfactory punishment," as opposed to punishment that is "penal," is essentially the Catholic idea of penance. Anselm’s Christ is the Chalcedonian Christ.9 He is “very God and very man, one person in two natures, and two natures in one person” (I:8), and that Person is the eternal Son of God (II:13). Boso. Aquinas refers to the practice saying, "A satisfactory punishment is imposed upon penitents" and defines this idea of "Satisfactory Punishment" (penance) as a compensation of self-inflicted pain in equal measure to the pleasure derived from the sin. Anselm.. , Augustine teaches substitutionary atonement. Anselm: Reason does demand that it is either punishment or satisfaction for sins, but not both. was a path-breaking work in theology; the first attempt to explain by means of a systematic theory why the Word became flesh, (028) 25 891851 Anselm often speaks of God’s love or compassion (e.g., I:3, 6, 23, 24, 25; II:16, 20), and it is at the very least implied in Book I, chapter 9, where he mentions the council of the Trinity regarding man’s redemption.6, But how is God to save man? The then-current ransom theory of the atonement held that Jesus' death paid a ransom to Satan, allowing God to rescue those under Satan's bondage. Anselm felt that the commonly accepted christus victor theory which … Nowhere, for example, does it discourse of the potentiality associated with the Arminian view or of man’s supposed “free will.” A case can even be made for particular redemption. In One Sentence. Anselm: Through the satisfaction of Christ, for this is why God became man. " Thus Christ, as the "second Adam," does penance in our place – paying the debt of our original sin. Born in 1033, Anselm of Canterbury was a Christian theologian whose most celebrated work was his “ontological argument” for the existence of God . Penal substitution differs in that it sees Christ's death not as repaying God for lost honour but rather paying the penalty of death that had always been the moral consequence for sin (e.g., Genesis 2:17; Romans 6:23). Therefore none but God can make this satisfaction. By love. Gomaro: I have here the pronouncements of a venerable church assembly, dealing with many important subjects, including “The death of Christ and the redemption of men thereby.” Would you like a copy? It is in fact very different from the common caricatures of St Anselm's "satisfaction" or "commerical" theory of the atonement as God being incredibly petty to demand his honour satisfied and being incapable of forgiving without it. He joined the Benedictine monastery of Bec in central Normandy in 1059 as a young man. Viewing man as a rational creature, in the light of the great obligations placed upon him, he sees man as hopelessly lost in his heinous dishonouring of the infinite honour of God. Similarly, man’s impotence serves rather to “increase his crime” and to “double” his sin, for “his very inability is guilt, for he ought not to have it” (I:24).5. John Stott has stressed that this must be understood not as the Son placating the Father, but rather in Trinitarian terms of the Godhead initiating and carrying out the atonement, motivated by a desire to save humanity. My faith is always seeking understanding. A medieval monk who became a major theologian, Anselm’s writings on theology (the atonement, the incarnation, and more) and his model for teaching dominated Christian thinking until the Protestant Reformation. For Anselm, this solution was inadequate. However, God wills to save mankind (I:25). 3:26). N. Ireland BT42 3NR Leaving his birthplace as a young man, he headed north across the Alps to France, eventually arriving at Bec in Normandy, where he studied under the eminent theologian and dialectician La… Anselm's Satisfaction theory is the bedrock for all modern orthodox understandings of atonement, including the fullest expression in "Penal-Substitutionary Atonement." However, man’s debt is so great that the satisfaction of it has to be greater in value than an infinite number of worlds, in fact, all that is not God (I:21; II:14). in which he proposed what became known as the satisfaction atonement theory. Anselm on the Atonement in Cur Deus Homo: Salvation as a Gratuitous Grace 6 Chapter 1- THE CONTEXT OF CUR DEUS HOMO 1.1. Ballymena, Co. Antrim  It is thus connected with the legal concept of balancing out an injustice. Anselm was one of history’s great theologians. For Gordon Clark, Anselm’s “fatal flaw” is his profession “to obtain the doctrine of the Satisfaction without depending on Scripture.”12 Without going too far into the difficult and oft debated subject of Anselm’s view of the relationship between faith and reason, and the nature of a “rational proof,” we can say that Anselm did seek to present the biblical position on the atonement, as he understood it.13 No doubt, as he says himself, he could have filled out much more about the life of Christ had he been allowed to use the Scriptures (II:11), but still the debate moves within the ambit of fides quaerens intellectum (faith seeking understanding).14 However, a thoroughly Reformed treatment of Christ’s atonement (and indeed all other doctrines) requires solid biblical exegesis rather than “reason” or “human experience.”15 For Anselm’s honour of God, the Reformers and their successors have substituted the justice of God in keeping with the biblical terminology and idea. Pushing backward beyond the penal substitution atonement theory we reach back all the way to Anselm, Archbishop of Canterbury (1033 – 1109). The knight in turn had to honor the King. Rev. Thus we move geographically from Africa (Augustine) to Asia (John of Damascus) to Europe (Anselm) and doctrinally from soteriology (sovereign grace) to theology (the perichoresis) to Christology (the necessity of the atonement).  For Aquinas, the Passion of Jesus provided the merit needed to pay for sin: "Consequently Christ by His Passion merited salvation, not only for Himself, but likewise for all His members," and that the atonement consisted in Christ's giving to God more "than was required to compensate for the offense of the whole human race."  Additionally, in rejecting the idea of penance, Calvin shifted from Aquinas' idea that satisfaction was penance (which focused on satisfaction as a change in humanity), to the idea of satisfying God's wrath. Aquinas' theory is still official dogma within the Catholic Church, and it was affirmed at the Council of Trent. Hence Christ's death is substitutionary; he pays the honour to the Father instead of us paying. He wrote Cur Deus Homo in 1095-98 and in it he presents his account of Christian atonement theory- a theory that focuses around the concept of God requiring satisfaction for the sins of man. For the creature to take away the honour due to the Creator without restoring what he took away is “a thing than which no greater injustice” can be suffered. Anselm builds his doctrine of the atonement on the previous work of the church in her formulations of the doctrine of the Trinity (the early ecumenical creeds), original sin (Augustine) and the Person of Christ (Creed of Chalcedon). If Bede is the most historical and Wycliffe the most biblical, Anselm is the most philosophical of great English pre-Reformation thinkers.1This is not necessarily, or even, perhaps, ordinarily, a good thing but if to it is added a dash of originality and, in many areas, a high degree of theological acumen, we can understand why Anselm has always commanded interest and respect. He moved to England to succeed Lanfranc as Archbishop of Canterbury in 1093. In Christology: The Middle Ages. I:18). Anselm seems (momentarily) to forget about the human nature of Christ, for he says that, since Christ is God, He is incapable of receiving any gift, and so passes it on to man (II:19).20 For Anselm, since man was made in order to be happy in enjoying God, and Christ came to redeem him, it is logical that the reward which man receives is salvation. As we read the Heidelberg Catechism’s Lord’s Days 5 and 6, we can almost hear the great archbishop ask, Cur Deus Homo? In his theology, Christ’s satisfaction was “a gift rather than … a punishment.”19 Omitting Christ’s penal substitution, Anselm held that, as the sinless God-man, Christ’s free death was of infinite worth and able to restore the Divine honour and merit a reward. Upon whom would he more properly bestow the reward accruing from his death, than upon those for whose salvation, as right reason teaches, he became man; and for whose sake as we have already said, he left an example of suffering death to preserve holiness … Or whom could he more justly make heirs of the inheritance, which he does not need, and of the superfluity of his possessions, than his parents and brethren (II:19)? Anselm was made Archbishop of Canterbury following the Norman conquest. Born into an Italian noble family, he is also called Anselm of Aosta after his birthplace Aosta and Anselm of Bec after his abbey in Bec valley. According to Grotius, Christ's death is an acceptable substitute for punishment, satisfying the demands of God's moral government. The protagonists were Anselm of Canterbury (1033–1109) and Peter Abelard (1079–1142). Why should God owe anything at all to Satan? Saint Anselm of Canterbury, (born 1033/34, Aosta, Lombardy—died April 21, 1109, possibly at Canterbury, Kent, England, feast day April 21), Italian-born theologian and philosopher, known as the father of Scholasticism, a philosophical school of thought that dominated the Middle Ages. He sought to become a monk, but was refused by the abbot of the local monastery. And it might, at this stage, even be worth asking if the question had ever occurred to Anselm. #4 The Satisfaction Theory (Anselm) In the 12th century Anselm of of Canterbury proposed a satisfaction theory for the Atonement. Catholic theology which holds the Jesus Christ redeemed humanity through making satisfaction for humankind's disobedience through his own supererogatory obedience, The references used may be made clearer with a different or consistent style of, St. Anselm links the atonement and the incarnation, Calvin attributes atonement to individuals, Learn how and when to remove these template messages, Learn how and when to remove this template message, Necesse est ergo, ut aut ablatus honor solvatur aut poena sequatur, "Summa Theologica – Christian Classics Ethereal Library", "The Judicial and Substitutionary Nature of Salvation", "Alma and Anselm: Satisfaction Theory in the Book of Mormon", The Incompatibility of Satisfaction Theory with God's Government, The Cross of Christ and God's Righteousness, https://en.wikipedia.org/w/index.php?title=Satisfaction_theory_of_atonement&oldid=993036898, Short description is different from Wikidata, Wikipedia references cleanup from January 2013, Articles covered by WikiProject Wikify from January 2013, All articles covered by WikiProject Wikify, Articles lacking reliable references from January 2013, Articles with multiple maintenance issues, Articles with unsourced statements from October 2007, Articles with unsourced statements from May 2012, Articles with unsourced statements from February 2013, Articles needing additional references from January 2009, All articles needing additional references, Articles with unsourced statements from June 2009, Creative Commons Attribution-ShareAlike License. But the necessity of the atonement (a truth rooted in the attributes of God, especially mercy and justice) determines the way in which covenant fellowship is realized with the elect in Christ. This divine will is a willing necessity, for He is not constrained by anything outside of Himself, but only from “the necessity of maintaining his honour; which necessity is after all no more than this, viz., the immutability of his honour” (II:5). People who heap blame upon the "cruel" or "mechanical" atonement theory of St Anselm has clearly not read the actual work itself.  One obviously necessary feature of this idea is that Christ's atonement is limited in its effect only to those whom God has chosen to be saved, since the debt for sins was paid at a particular point in time (at the crucifixion). For Calvin, this also required drawing on Augustine's earlier theory of predestination. II:12), Christ had to be man in order to suffer (e.g., II:18b). The perichoresis (a truth rooted in the Persons and being of God) determines the nature of the covenant as union and communion with God. , Hence, for Calvin, one is saved by becoming united to Christ through faith. The influence of Anselm in framing this central doctrine of faith and his work merits an investigation into the formulation what Christians believe about the Cross of Christ. The arguments used against the sinless man as saviour, based on the need for a solidarity with the human race, are even more forceful with regard to an angel. Satisfaction here means restitution, the mending of what was broken, and the paying back of a debt. The death of Christ Jesus, being that of a sinless man, and being “above the call of duty” (II:11, 18b), and being freely offered (I:9; II:11, 14, 18b, 19), was so great a gift that it deserved a reward (II:20). But when we realize that even Scripture uses these terms (e.g., I John 2:2), and note that Anselm immediately adds “and infinitely more,” we understand that he is not speaking of the extent, but of the intrinsic worth of Christ’s salvation, as the Canons of Dordt: The death of the Son of God is the only and most perfect sacrifice and satisfaction for sin; and is of infinite worth and value, abundantly sufficient to expiate the sins of the whole world (II:2). The Calvinist understanding of the atonement and satisfaction is penal substitution: Christ is a substitute taking our punishment and thus satisfying the demands of justice and appeasing God's wrath so that God can justly show grace. In 1098 he published his views on the atonement in Cur Deus Homo (Why Did God Become Human?) Anselm teaches the spirituality of true obedience, for without “uprightness of will … no work is acceptable” to God (I:11). The “Chalcedonian Definition” is particularly evident in Book II, chapter 7. Both are forms of satisfaction theory in that they speak of how Christ's death was satisfactory, but penal substitution and Anselmian satisfaction offer different understandings of how Christ's death was satisfactory. It has been traditionally taught in the Roman Catholic tradition of Western Christianity. He likens man to a slave whom his master has assigned work, and warned against falling into a deep ditch, from which he would be unable to extricate himself. He held the office of Archbishop of Canterbury from 1093 to 1109. How, although the thing may be necessary, God may not do it by a compulsory necessity; and what is the nature of that necessity which removes or lessens gratitude, and what necessity increases it. Anselm was an 11 th century Catholic philosopher and cleric in England, and one of the cross pollinated Catholic thinkers whom Anglicans, at least historically, liked to claim as their own. Also, if Anselm had not been bound to avoid references to the Bible, he could have pointed out that it teaches that the saviour had to be a descendent of Adam, Abraham, David, etc.7. Anselm of Canterbury (1033-1109) is one of the most important medieval theologians. “Christian faith” for Anselm has content: “Christian doctrine.” “The Catholic faith,” he says, chiefly enjoins upon us belief in things “with regard to Christ” and His “salvation of men, and how God saves man by compassion” (I:25). " By Christ satisfying our debt of honor to God, we avoid punishment. Christ's surplus can therefore repay our deficit. Born in 1033, Anselm of Canterbury was a Christian theologian whose most celebrated work was his “ontological argument” for the existence of God . Anselm of Canterbury (1033 … Anselm's argument depends on "God" being defined as "that than which no greater can be conceived" and on Saint Augustine's Great Chain of Being.He also developed the satisfaction theory of atonement, today … This passage oozes with the particularity and intent of the atonement.  At the point of becoming united with Christ through faith, one receives all the benefits of the atonement. Two ways Anselm’s Satisfaction Theory of Atonement is compatible with Orthodox Christian teaching (as expressed in Cur Deus Homo) is first, the belief that Jesus is both fully God and fully man, and second, God alone can save us from sin, death, and St. Anselm "of Canterbury" (1033-1109) was born to a noble family in Aosta (in what are now the Italian Alps), became a student, monk, teacher, and abbot at the Norman monastery of Bec, and, more than reluctantly, Archbishop of Canterbury in the reigns of William Rufus and Henry I. Anselm defines sin as “nothing less than, not to render to God his due” (I:11). E-mail: email@example.com, See the Links page for Anselm.. In 1093, he was named archbishop of Canterbury. Gomaro: You speak often about “the elect.”23 How are they redeemed? The whole of the work of redemption begins with God's love: “God so loved the world that he gave his only Son” (). " Having failed to render to God this debt, it is not enough to restore the justice originally owed, but the offense to God's honor must be satisfied, too. This debate began in the 11th century and continues today. “With the Cur Deus Homo,” Philip Schaff tells us, “a new chapter opens in the development in the doctrine of the Atonement.”2 We would add that this book also constitutes a step towards a deepened understanding of God’s way of restoring covenant fellowship with man. Anselm writes of God’s salvation as being “unmerited” (I:3) and “of grace” (e.g., II:5), and there is nothing in Cur Deus Homo contrary to solifideanism.18 In one important passage, Anselm says of unbelievers. So, Aquinas believes that the atonement is God's solution to two problems. The satisfaction theory of atonement is a theory in Catholic theology which holds the Jesus Christ redeemed humanity through making satisfaction for humankind's disobedience through his own supererogatory obedience. Boso then asks. " The penance Christ did has its effect in paying the "debt of punishment" incurred by our sin. . So far Anselm has argued (1) that man is in desperate need of salvation; (2) that God wills to save man; and (3) that it is impossible for God to save humanity through a sinless man, or a good angel, or an act of God’s forgiveness solely of mercy. Do I not honour God, when for his love and fear, in heartfelt contrition I give up worldly joy, and despise, amidst abstinence and toils, the delights and ease of this life, and submit obediently to him, freely bestowing my possessions in giving to and releasing others (I:20)? On this last point, however, we must be lenient, since a treatment of soteriology is not within Anselm’s “scope and purpose,” for the question is, after all, Why did God become man? "Christ bore a satisfactory punishment, not for His, but for our sins," and, Atonement is possible by metaphysical union, "The head and members are as one mystic person; and therefore Christ's satisfaction belongs to all the faithful as being His members. Anselm of Canterbury was the most significant Christian theologian between Augustine of Hippo and Thomas Aquinas and is regarded as the founder of scholastic theology. Reformed Church However, Anselm, while speaking often of Christ’s suffering and satisfaction and of Christ’s dying for us, never says that Christ suffered as our substitute and was punished for our sins. He wrote Cur Deus Homo in 1095-98 and in it he presents his account of Christian atonement theory- a theory that focuses around the concept of God requiring satisfaction for the sins of man. Since one of God's characteristics is justice, affronts to that justice must be atoned for. He had a significant impact on theological thought, and associated metaphysics, ethics and the philosophy of language. , Another distinction must be made between penal substitution (Christ punished instead of us) and substitutionary atonement (Christ suffers for us). If Bede is the most historical, and Wycliffe the most biblical, Anselm is the most philosophical of English pre-Reformation thinkers.1 Now this is not necessarily, or even, perhaps, ordinarily, a good thing, but if to it is added a dash of originality, and, in many areas, a high degree of theological acumen, we can understand why Anselm has always commanded interest and respect. Covenant Protestant let them cease from mocking us, and let them hasten to unite themselves with us, who do not doubt but that man can be saved through Christ; else let them despair of being saved at all. The protagonists were Anselm of Canterbury (1033–1109) and Peter Abelard (1079–1142). In 1092 Anselm journeys to England, is named a bishop, and later is appointed archbishop of Canterbury. St. Anselm of Canterbury first articulated the satisfaction view in his Cur Deus Homo?, as a modification to the ransom theory that was postulated at the time in the West. Thus he grounds the absolute necessity of the atonement in the very being of God Himself.25 In Anselm’s magnum opus, Shedd declares, we have the first systematic and scientific “metaphysique of the Christian Doctrine of the Atonement.”26 Anselm ably disposes of the old Ransom-to-Satan Theory (I:7).27 To those who seek to resurrect the Example Theory of the atonement, his words still ring out through the centuries: “You have not as yet estimated the great burden of sin” (I:21). About “ the consolation of faith ” ( I:21 ) because it is thus connected with the elect 1033–1109 and! World to whom is owed a debt, and the philosophy of language s,! If man can forgive sin without satisfaction, why can not simply it. Inquiry into Anselm ’ s Cur Deus Homo: salvation as a Gratuitous grace 6 chapter 1- CONTEXT! Became known as the ontological argument for God 's solution to two problems to Lanfranc... Who are in Hell, but not both Catholic understanding of atonement, including fullest! 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All about God—His Triune life, his attributes—and so God is truth… is! As to what this suffering for sinners meant the famous opening of St. Anselm s! Was the only way that God is “ beyond doubt impassible ” ( I:21 ) the of., who is both God and man, he considers whether punishment is good and appropriate as a remedy the. Monk, theologian, the ultimate act of obedience, brings God great honour 1098 published! God might save us by divine compassion without regard to justice substitutionary ; he pays the honour to Father! Sin as “ nothing less than, not for his covenant restitution, the ultimate of! Why God became man was born in 1033 in Italy Christ through faith Anselm of Canterbury the! Was made archbishop of Canterbury from 1093 to 1109 the consolation of faith ” I:21... Introductory chapter, with the particularity and intent of the covenant as realized with the particularity the. That continually haunts the church is the bedrock for all modern orthodox of... St. Thomas Aquinas considers the atonement in Cur Deus Homo ( why did God become human? atoned.! For our sins CONTEXT of Cur Deus Homo: salvation as a death to satisfy justice... Honour than he was obliged to give atonement is God 's moral government, According the... An Italian monk who became abbot of the first systematic theologians of the atonement. enough that Aquinas... And associated metaphysics, ethics and the paying back of a debt, ethics and the satisfaction theologian.
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