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Tuesday, November 22, 2011

Blogging Anselm

As promised, I am reading St. Anselm of Canterbury's Cur Deus Homo, for the purpose of blogging my way through it.  The first thing that strikes me is Anselm's pastoral tone.  This is pastoral theology, responding to pastoral questions, structured as a pastoral dialogue.  As a pastor, I find myself identifying with Anselm and with his pastoral task.

It isn't the easiest thing to read a work like this on an iPhone, but manageable.  Cur Deus Homo is not a particularly long work, and kindle tells me I am 15 percent through it already, after an hour or two.  So far, I find Anselm to be quite consistent with a Christian view of salvation.  His views of sin, death, hell, Satan, victory, and punishment, reflect classical Christian thought (see previous blogs).  This line is especially resonate for me:  "For, as death came upon the human race by the disobedience of man, it was fitting that by man's obedience life should be restored."  Note the emphasis on obedience rather than sacrifice.

Anselm makes clear that God did not require the death of the Son, and is not responsible for his death.  He is clear that hell is a choice people made when they "forfeited the blessings" of life with God.  He notes that the suffering humans experience by forfeiting those blessings are both just and unjust.  In no way, it seems to me, does punishment reflect God's will in Anselm's thought.  I even find in my reading so far an understanding that the Christian's life, and the life of the Christian community, is changed by Christ's act of salvation.

Stay tuned, I have a ways to go.