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Cur Deus Homo

Anselm of Canterbury Why God Became Man (Or, Why God-Man?)

[Selections: Chapters which are not focused on the central argument have been omitted. Use the list of chapter headings to judge the additional topics]


Succeeding the Apostles, many of our holy Fathers and holy teachers make very many significant points regarding the rational basis of our faith. They do so not only in order to confound the foolishness of unbelievers and to break through their hard-heartedness, but also in order to nourish those who, having hearts already cleansed by faith, delight in the rational basis of our faith a rational basis for which we ought to hunger once [we have] the certainty of faith. Although our holy Fathers make so many significant points that we do not expect either in our own day or in future times anyone to be equal to them in contemplating the truth, nevertheless if anyone who is steadfast in faith wants to engage in investigating the rational basis for his faith, I think he ought not to be reproached. For because "the days of man are short" the holy Fathers were not able to say all of the things which they could have said if they had lived longer. Moreover, the rational basis of truth is so extensive and so deep that it cannot be exhausted by mortals. Furthermore, within His Church, with which He promises to remain unto the end of the world, the Lord does not cease to impart the gifts of His grace. And--to mention only one passage in which the Sacred Page summons us to rational investigation--the passage "Unless you believe you will not understand" clearly advises us to direct our attention toward understanding for it teaches us the way in which we ought to advance to understanding. Finally, since I discern that the understanding which we acquire in this life is a middle-way between faith and sight, I think that the more anyone advances to understanding, the closer he comes to the actual seeing for which we all long.

Strengthened, then, by these considerations, I endeavor (although I am a man of meager learning) to rise up a bit higher in order to behold (to the extent that heavenly grace deigns to grant me) the rationale for those doctrines which we believe. And when I find some point which I did not previously notice, I shall willingly disclose it to others, so that I may learn from another's judgment what I ought to believe confidently.

Therefore, Pope Urban, my father and lord, you who are worthy of all Christians' loving reverence and reverential love, and whom God's providence has established as supreme pontiff within His Church: since I can present the enclosed treatise to no one else more rightly, I present it to the scrutiny of Your Holiness, so that by the authority of Your Holiness what is therein deserving of acceptance may be approved and what must be corrected may be amended.


There are certain men who without my knowledge copied for themselves the first parts of the enclosed work before it was completed and perfected. Because of these individuals I have been forced to finish this treatise as best I could and more hastily than suited me, and hence in a more abbreviated form than I had intended. For if I had been permitted to publish it unhurriedly and at a convenient time, I would have added many things which I have left unsaid. With great tribulation of heart -- God knows the source and the cause of my having suffered this -- I began it in England upon request and finished it in the province of Capua as an exile. In accordance with the subject-matter with which it deals I entitled it Why God Became a Man; and I divided it into two short books. The first of these contains the answers of believers to the objections of unbelievers who repudiate the Christian faith because they regard it as incompatible with reason. And this book goes on to prove by rational necessity -- Christ being removed from sight, as if there had never been anything known about Him -- that no man can possibly be saved without Him. However, in the second book -- likewise proceeding as if nothing were known of Christ -- I show with equally clear reasoning and truth that human nature was created in order that the whole man (i.e., with a body and a soul) would some day enjoy a happy immortality. And I show the necessity of man's attaining this end for which he was created, and [that it can be attained] only by means of a God-man. And I show that all the things which we believe about Christ ought, necessarily, to occur.

I ask all those who wish to copy this volume to affix this preface, together with all the chapter titles, before the beginning of the text. This way anyone into whose hands the volume comes will see on its countenance, so to speak, whether the whole body of the text contains anything which he may deem important .


1. The central problem governing the entire work. 2. How the things to be said are to be construed. 3. The objections of unbelievers and the replies of believers. 4. These answers seem to unbelievers to lack cogency and to be pictures, as it were. 5. The redemption of man could not have been accomplished through any other person than a divine person. 6. How unbelievers find fault with our saying that God has redeemed us by His death, that in this way He has shown His love for us, and that He has come to vanquish the Devil on our behalf. 7. The Devil had no just claim against man. Why the reason for God's liberating man in manner seems to have been based in the Devil. 8. How although the lowly things which we affirm of Christ do not apply to His divinity, nonetheless to unbelievers it seems unfitting that these things are affirmed of Him with respect to His humanity. Why it seems to them that this man did undergo death willingly. 9. He died willingly. The meaning of the following texts: "He became obedient unto death"; For this reason God has exalted Him"; "I have not come to do my will"; "God spared not His own Son; Not as I will but as You will." 10. How these same texts can rightly be interpreted in another way. 11. What sinning and making satisfaction for sin are. 12. Whether it is fitting for God to forgive sin out of mercy alone, apart from any repayment of debt. 13. Nothing ought less to be tolerated in the order of things than that the creature remove the honor owed to the Creator and not repay what he removes. 14. How the punishment of a sinner honors God. 15. Whether God lets His honor be violated even slightly. 16. The reason that the number of angels who fell is to be made up from among human beings. 17. Other angels cannot be substituted for fallen ones. 18. Whether there will be more holy men than there are evil angels. 19. Man cannot be saved without satisfaction for sin. 20. Satisfaction ought to be proportional to the measure of the sin. Man cannot make satisfaction by himself. 21. How grave sin is. 22. How when man permitted himself to be conquered by the Devil he did an injury to God for which he is unable to make satisfaction. 23. What it was that man, when he sinned, removed from God and cannot repay. 24. As long as man does not repay to God what he owes, he cannot be happy and is not excused because of his inability. 25. Necessarily, man is saved through Christ.


1. Man was created just in order to be happy. 2. Man would not have died if he had not sinned. 3. Man will be resurrected with the body in which he lives during this present life. 4. God will accomplish with human nature that which He began. 5. Although [what God began] must be accomplished, nevertheless He will not accomplish it under the constraint of necessity. There is a necessity which diminishes or eliminates gratitude, and there is a necessity which increases it. 6. Only a God-man can make the satisfaction by means which man is saved. 7. It is necessary that one and the same being be fully divine and fully human. 8. God ought to assume a human nature from the race of Adam and from a virgin woman. 9. It is necessary that the Word alone and a human nature conjoin in one person. 10. This man is not required to die. How He is able to sin and not able to sin. Why He and an angel ought to be praised for their justice even though they cannot sin. 11. He dies of His own power. Mortality does not pertain to sinless human nature. 12. Although He shares our misfortunes, He is not unhappy. 13. It is not the case that along with our other infirmities He has ignorance. 14. How His death outweighs the number and the magnitude of all sins. 15. How His death blots out even the sins of those who put Him to death. 16. How God assumed from the sinful mass a sinless human nature. The salvation of Adam and of Eve. 17. In God there is neither necessity nor impossibility. There is a necessity which compels and a necessity which does not compel . 18. How the life of Christ is paid to God for the sins of men. The sense in which Christ ought, and the sense in which He ought not, to have suffered. 19. How very reasonable it is that human salvation results from His death. 20. How great and how just the mercy of God is. 21. It is impossible for the Devil to be reconciled. 22. The truth of the Old and of the New Testament has been proved within the statements that have been made.



Chapter One: The central problem governing the entire work. In reply to those who make inquiry, I am accustomed to give the rational bases of a particular problem of our faith. On numerous occasions and with very great fervor many individuals have urged both by word of mouth and in letters, to write down these considerations for posterity. For they say that these considerations please them; and they regard them as satisfactory. They make their request not in order to approach faith by way of reason but in order to delight in the comprehension and contemplation of the doctrines which they believe, as well as in order to be ready, as best they can, always to give a satisfactory answer to everyone who asks of them a reason for the hope which is in us. Unbelievers habitually raise this particular problem as an objection to us, while derisively terming Christian simplicity a foolish simplicity; and many believers repeatedly mull over this same problem in their minds. I mean the following problem: For what reason and on the basis of what necessity did God become a man and by His death restore life to the world (as we believe and confess), seeing that He could have accomplished this restoration by means of some other person (whether angelic or human) or else by merely willing it? Now, not only learned men but also many unlearned men ask about this problem and desire to know its solution. Many individuals, then, keep asking that this problem be dealt with; and in spite of the fact that the investigation seems very difficult, the solution is intelligible to everyone and is commendable because of the utility and the elegance of the reasoning. Therefore, even though the holy Fathers have said about this problem what ought to be adequate, nevertheless what God will deign to disclose to me about this topic I will endeavor to show those who are inquiring. Now, issues which are examined by the method of question-and-answer are clearer, and so more acceptable, to many minds -- especially to minds that are slower. Therefore, from among those who have been making this entreaty I shall take as my fellow-disputant the one who has been urging me to this end more insistently than the others, so that in the following way Boso may ask and Anselm answer.

BOSO. Just as right order requires that we believe the deep matters of the Christian faith before we presume to discuss them rationally, so it seems to me to be an instance of carelessness if, having been confirmed in faith, we do not eagerly desire to understand what we believe. Indeed, assisted by the prevenient grace of God I am, it seems to me, holding so steadfastly to faith in our redemption that even if I were not in any respect able to understand what I believe, nothing could wrest me from firmness of faith. Accordingly, I ask you to disclose to me that which, as you know, many are asking about along with me: viz., for what reason and on the basis of what necessity did God -- although He is omnipotent -- assume the lowliness and the weakness of human nature in order to restore it?

ANSELM. What you are asking of me exceeds my capacities. And so I fear to deal with matters too high for me, lest perhaps when someone suspects or even observes that I do not give him a satisfactory answer, he may think that I have departed from true doctrine rather than that my intellect is not powerful enough to comprehend this truth.

BOSO. You ought not so much to have this fear as you ought to remember that in a discussion of some problem it often happens; that God discloses what at first was hidden. Moreover, you ought to hope from the grace of God that if you willingly share those things which you have freely received, you will merit the receiving of the higher things to which you have not yet attained.

ANSELM. There is another reason why it seems to me that we cannot at all -- or else can only scarcely -- deal amply with this matter now. For in order to do so we need an analysis of ability and necessity and will and of certain other notions which are so interrelated that no one of them can be fully examined apart from others. And so to deal with these notions requires a separate work -- one not easy [to compose], it seems to me, but nonetheless not altogether useless. For an ignorance of these notions produces certain difficulties which become easy [to deal with] as a result of understanding these notions.

BOSO. Where these notions become relevant you can speak briefly about them, so that we may have the knowledge which is adequate for the present work but may postpone to another time the additional points which need to be discussed.

ANSELM. I am also very reluctant to honor your request both because the topic is very important and because just as it deals with Him who is beautiful in appearance above the sons of men, so it is also adorned with a rationale which exceeds human understanding. Hence, I fear that just as I am accustomed to become indignant with untalented artists when I see the Lord Himself portrayed with an uncomely countenance, so I may provoke indignation if I presume to explore such an elegant topic by an inelegant and contemptible discourse.

BOSO. This fear ought not to deter you, since just as you permit whoever can to say these things better, so you forbid no one who does not like your discourse from writing more beautifully. But so that I may exclude all your excuses: [remember that] what I am asking of you, you will be writing not for the learned but for me and for those who are seeking this solution together with me.

Chapter Two: How the things to be said are to be construed.

ANSELM. I observe your importunity and the importunity of those who with you seek this solution out of love and religious desire. Therefore to the best of my ability, and assisted by God and by means of your prayers, I will attempt not so much to exhibit the solution you are seeking as to seek it with you. (In requesting this solution you have often promised these prayers to me, who was requesting them for this same end.) But I want everything that I say to be accepted in the following manner: If I say something which a greater authority does not confirm, then even though I seem to prove it rationally, it should be accepted as certain only in the sense that it appears to me for the time being to be thus, until God somehow reveals the matter to me more fully. But if to some extent I am able to give a satisfactory answer to your question then assuredly it must be the case that one who is wiser than I would be able to give a more fully satisfactory answer. Indeed, we must realize that no matter what a man can say about this topic, the deeper rationale for so important a doctrine will still remain hidden.

CHAPTER ELEVEN: What "to sin" and "to satisfy for sin" mean.

ANSELM. We must inquire, now, into the reason why God forgives the sins of men. And to do this more clearly, let us first see what "to sin" and "to satisfy for sin" mean.

BOSO. It is your function to explain, and mine to listen.

ANSELM. If an angel or a human being always rendered to God what he should, he would never sin.

BOSO. I can only agree.

ANSELM. "To sin," then, is nothing else than not to render to God His due.

BOSO. What is the debt we owe God?

ANSELM. The will of every rational creature must be subject to the will of God.

BOSO. Perfectly true.

ANSELM. This is the debt which angel and man owe to God, so that no one sins if he pays it and anyone who does not pay it, sins. This is justice or rectitude of will, which makes persons upright or right in heart, that is, in Will. This is the only and the total honor which we owe to God and which God exacts of us. For only such a will produces works pleasing to God, when it is able to act; and when it is unable to act, it gives satisfaction by itself alone, because no effect of activity gives satisfaction without it. A person who does not render God this honor due Him, takes from God what is His and dishonors God, and this is to commit sin. Now, as long as he does not repay what he has plundered, he remains at fault. Neither is it enough merely to return what was taken away, but on account of the insult committed, he must give back more than he took away. For example, one who harms the health of another does not do enough if he restores his health, unless he makes some compensation for the injury of pain he has inflicted. Similarly, for one who violates the honor of some person, it does not suffice to render honor, if he does not make restitution of something pleasing to the person dishonored, in proportion to the injury of dishonor that has been inflicted. This also must be given attention: when someone pays back what he unjustly pilfered, he must give what could not be demanded of him if he had not defrauded the other person. Thus, therefore, everyone who sins must pay to God the honor he has taken away, and this is satisfaction, which every sinner must make to God.

BOSO. Since we have set out to follow reason, I have no objection I can make on any of these points, although you frighten me a bit.

CHAPTER TWELVE: Is it fitting for God to remit sin out of mercy alone, without any payment of the debt?

ANSELM. Let us go back and see whether it is fitting for God to remit sin out of mercy alone, without any payment for honor taken away from Him.

BOSO. I do not see why it is not fitting.

ANSELM. To remit sin in such a way is the same as not to punish it. And since to deal justly with sin, without satisfaction, is the same as to punish it, then, if it is not punished, something inordinate is allowed to pass.

BOSO. What you say is reasonable.

ANSELM. It is, however, not seemly for God to let pass something inordinate in His kingdom.

BOSO. If I wanted to say otherwise, I would be afraid of sinning.

ANSELM. Hence it is not fitting for God to remit sin without punishing it.

BOSO. That follows.

ANSELM. There is another consequence, if an unpunished sin is remitted: one who sins and one who does not sin will be in the same position before God. And that would be unseemly for God.

BOSO. I cannot deny that.

ANSELM. Look at this, also. Everyone knows that the justice of human beings is subject to the law that the measure of recompense is weighed out by God in proportion to the degree of justice.

BOSO. So we believe.

ANSELM. But if sin were neither atoned nor punished, it would not fall under any law.

BOSO. I cannot disagree.

ANSELM. If pardon is given out of mercy alone, injustice is less encumbered than justice. And this appears extremely incongruous. This incongruity even goes so far as to make injustice resemble God, for as God is subject to no law, neither would injustice be.

BOSO. I cannot refute your argument. But since God commands us absolutely to forgive those who offend us, it seems to be inconsistent for Him to command us to do what is not fitting for Him to do.

ANSELM. There is no inconsistency here, because God gives us this command precisely that we may not usurp what belongs to God alone. For it belongs to no one to carry out vengeance, except to Him who is the Lord of all. Even when earthly rulers exercise vengeance justifiably, the one who is really exercising it is the One who established them in authority for this very purpose.

BOSO. You have gotten rid of the inconsistency which I thought was there. But there is another problem for which I would like to have your answer. For since God is so free that He is subject to no law, to no one's judgment, and so kind that nothing kinder can be imagined, and since nothing is right or becoming but what He wills, it does seem extraordinary to say that He absolutely does not will, or has not the freedom, to pardon an injury to Himself, although it is from Him that we are accustomed to ask remission even of the wrongs we do to others.

ANSELM. What you say about His freedom and will and kindness is true. But we must understand these things by reason in such a way as not to seem to compromise His dignity. For freedom extends only to what is advantageous or to what is becoming, and a kindness which would bring about something unworthy of God ought not to be called kindness at all. But when we say that what God wills is just and what He does not will is not just, this is not to be understood in the sense that if God should will something unbecoming, it would become right by His willing it. It is not, for example, logical to say: "If God wants to lie, it is right to lie"; rather, one who wants to lie is not God. For a will can never choose to lie unless it be a will in which the truth is impaired, in fact, a will which is itself impaired by deserting the truth. When, then, someone says: "If God wants to lie" all he means is: "If God were of such a nature that He could wish to lie"; and so it does not follow that a lie is right. Perhaps, though, it may be interpreted in the same sense as when we say of two impossible things: "If this is, that is," although neither the one or the other is so. Should a person say, for instance: "If water is dry, then fire is wet," neither statement is true. Therefore, it is true to say: "If God wills this, it is right," only regarding those things which it is not unfitting for God to will. If, for example, God wills that it rain, it is right that it rain, and if He wills that some man be killed, it is right that he be killed. Hence, if it is not fitting for God to do anything unjustly or inordinately, it does not pertain to His freedom or kindness or will to pardon without punishment a sinner who does not make recompense to God for what he took away.

BOSO. You are making irrelevant every objection I thought I could make against you.

ANSELM. Consider, further, why it is not fitting for God to do this.

BOSO. I am gladly listening to whatever you say.

CHAPTER THIRTEEN: Nothing is less tolerable in the order of things than for a creature to take away honor due to the Creator and not make recompense for what he takes away.

ANSELM. Nothing is less tolerable in the order of things than for a creature to take away the honor due to the Creator and not make recompense for what he takes away.

BOSO. That is perfectly clear.

anselm. Now, nothing would be less justifiably tolerated than what is least tolerable.

BOSO. This is clear, too.

ANSELM. Then I think you will not say that God ought to tolerate that than which nothing would be less justifiably tolerated, such as that a creature not restore to God what he takes from Him.

BOSO. On the contrary, I see that that is to be denied, absolutely.

ANSELM. Likewise, if there is nothing greater or better than God, there is nothing more just than for the supreme justice which is the same as God Himself, to preserve His honor in the order of the universe.

BOSO. Nothing is clearer to me than that.

ANSELM. Therefore, God preserves nothing with greater justice than the honor of His dignity.

BOSO. I have to agree.

ANSELM. Do you think He would be preserving it entirely, if He permitted it to be taken away from Him in such a way that there would be no reparation and no punishment for the offender?

BOSO. I dare not say yes.

ANSELM. Then it is necessary either that the honor taken away be restored, or that punishment follow. Otherwise, either God will not be just to Himself or He will be unable to attain either. And it would be monstrous even to entertain that thought.

CHAPTER FOURTEEN: What kind of honor does the punishment of a sinner give to God?

BOSO. I understand that nothing more reasonable can be said. But I want you to tell me if the punishment of a sinner gives honor to God, or rather, what kind of honor it is. For if the punishment of a sinner is not for the honor of God, when the sinner does not repay what he took away, but is punished, then God loses His honor in such a way as not to regain it. But this seems to contradict what we have said.

ANSELM. It is impossible for God to be deprived of His honor. For either the sinner freely pays what he owes, or God takes it from him against his will. It may be that a person by free choice shows due subjection to God -- either by not sinning or by making reparation for sin -- or it may be that God subjects him to Himself, against the person's will, and thus He shows Himself his Lord, which is what the person himself refuses to acknowledge voluntarily. And in this matter, we must observe that just as man, by sinning, plunders what belongs to God, so God, by punishing, takes away what belongs to man. Surely, not only that which he already possesses is said to belong to a person, but also what is in his power to possess. Since, then, man is so made that he could have possessed happiness if he had not sinned, it follows that when, because of sin, he is deprived of happiness and every good, he is paying back what he plundered, out of what belongs to himself, although he is paying unwillingly. For although God does not transfer to His own use, for His own advantage, what He takes away -- as a man directs to his own use, money he takes away from another -- nevertheless, what He takes away He uses for His own honor, by the very fact that He takes it away. For by taking it away, He shows that the sinner and the things that belong to him are subject to Himself.

CHAPTER FIFTEEN: May God permit His honor to be violated, even in the least degree?

BOSO. I like your explanation. But there is still another question I would like you to answer. If God must preserve His own honor, as you are establishing, then why does He allow it to be violated, even in the slightest degree? For what is allowed to be damaged in any measure is not entirely and perfectly protected.

ANSELM. Considered in itself, God's honor cannot be increased or diminished. It is itself, by itself, honor incorruptible and absolutely unchangeable. But when each single creature, either by natural impulse or by the use of reason, fulfills its direction toward a goal proper to itself, and, so to speak, prescribed for it, it is said to obey God and to honor Him. This is especially true of rational nature, which has the gift of knowing what it ought to do. When it wills what it should, it honors God -- not that it confers anything on Him, but that it freely subjects itself to His will and plans and keeps its place in the order of the universe, and to the best of its power, it preserves the beauty of that universe. But when it does not will what it should, it dishonors God so far as it can, since it does not subject itself freely to His plan, and, to the extent of its power, it disturbs the order and the beauty of the universe, although it does not injure or degrade the power and dignity of God, at all. If, for example, those things that are contained within the sphere of the sky should wish not to be under the sky or to be released from the sky, they could not at all exist except under it, nor can they flee from the sky except by drawing nearer to it. For no matter where they were to come from or where they were to go, or what direction they took, they would be under the sky, and the greater the distance they would get away from any part of the sky, the closer they would approach to the opposite part. Similarly, even though a man or a fallen angel is unwilling to submit to the divine will and plan, still he cannot escape it; for if he wants to escape the dominion of the will that commands, he rushes under the dominion of the will that punishes. And if you ask how he passes from one state to another, it is only under a permissive will; and supreme wisdom directs his perversity of will or action toward the order and beauty of the universe I have been talking about. For a willing satisfaction for wickedness, or at least the exaction of a penalty from one who refuses satisfaction -- granting that God draws good out of evils in many ways -- takes its proper place in this same universe, and contributes to the beauty of its order. If divine wisdom did not impose these sanctions where wickedness tries to disturb right order, there would arise in the very universe which God has to keep in order, a certain deformity from the violation of the beauty of order, and God would seem to be deficient in His providence. As these two consequences are unfitting, they are therefore impossible, with the result that it is necessary that satisfaction or punishment follow every sin.

BOSO. You have answered my objection satisfactorily.

ANSELM. It is evident, then, that no one can honor or dishonor God, as God is in Himself; but to the extent of his own nature, a person appears to do one or the other, when he subjects his own will to Gods, or withdraws it from God's.

BOSO. I know nothing to say against that.

CHAPTER TWENTY: Satisfaction must be made in accordance with the measure of the sin. And man cannot do this by himself.

ANSELM. You do not doubt this, either, I suppose: that satisfaction must be made in accordance with the measure of the sin.

BOSO. If it were otherwise, sin would remain to some extent outside the rule of order; and this cannot be, if God leaves no disorder in His kingdom. But we have already established the principle that the slightest incongruity in God is impossible.

ANSELM. Tell me, then: what will you pay to God for your sin?

BOSO. Repentance, a contrite and humbled heart, fasting, and all sorts of bodily work, mercy in giving and forgiving, and obedience.

ANSELM. In all these things, what are you giving to God?

BOSO. Do I not honor God, when, because of fear and love of Him, in sorrow of heart I give up temporal joy; when by self denials and labors I trample underfoot the delights and repose of this life; when, in giving and forgiving, I give liberally of what is mine; when, in obedience, I subject myself to Him?

ANSELM. When you render to God what you owe to Him, even without having sinned, you ought not to count it as payment for a debt you owe because of sin. Now all those things you mention, you owe to God. In this mortal life, so great must be your love and so great your desire to arrive at the goal for which you were created (this is the purpose of prayer), and so great your sorrow at not being there yet, and your fear that you may not arrive there, that you ought not to experience any joy except from those things which give you either the help or the hope to arrive at your goal. For you do not deserve to have what you do not love and desire in proportion to its nature, and regarding which you are not in sorrow when you do not yet possess it and you are still running such a great risk of never possessing it. This risk also involves fleeing the repose and earthly pleasures which distract the mind from that genuine repose and delight, except to the extent that you know they foster your intention to persevere. But you must regard your giving as a paying of a debt, just as you recognize that what you are giving you have, not from yourself, but from Him whose servant you are -- both you and the one to whom you are giving. Nature also teaches you to do for your fellow-servant, that is, as one human being to another, what you want him to do for you; and it makes clear that whoever is not willing to give what he has, ought not to receive what he does not possess. With regard to forgiveness, I say briefly that vengeance does not at all belong to you, as we said before. The reason is that you do not belong to yourself, nor does he who did you any injury belong to you or to himself, but you are servants of one Lord, created by Him out of nothing; and if you have revenge on your fellow-servant, you are proudly arrogating to yourself a right of judgment over him which belongs exclusively to the Lord and Judge of all. As for obedience, now, what do you give to God that you do not owe Him, to whose command you owe all that you are and have and are able to do?

BOSO. I do not dare to say now, that in all these cases I give anything to God which I do not owe Him.

ANSELM. What payment, then, will you make to God for your sin?

BOSO. If, even when I am not in the state of sin, I owe Him myself and whatever I can do, in order to avoid sinning, I have nothing to offer Him in compensation for sin.

ANSELM. What, then, will become of you? How can you be saved?

BOSO. If I take your arguments into consideration, I do not see how. But if I have recourse to my faith -- I hope that in Christian faith that woketh by love, I can be saved. Besides, we read: If the unjust be converted from his injustice and do justice, all his injustices are forgotten.

ANSELM. This is said only to those who either awaited Christ before He came, or who believe in Him after His coming. But we excluded Christ and the Christian faith as if they never existed, when we proposed to seek by reason alone, whether His coming was necessary for the salvation of men.

BOSO. So we did.

ANSELM. Let us, then, proceed by reason alone.

BOSO. Although you lead me into some tight corners, still I greatly desire you to continue as you began.

CHAPTER TWENTY-ONE: How grave a burden sin is.

ANSELM. Let us assume that you do not owe all those things which you have just supposed you could render as payment for your sin. And let us see whether they can avail to making satisfaction for even one very small sin -- such as taking a single look which is contrary to God's will.

BOSO. Except for the fact that I hear you calling this sin into question, I would think that I could blot it out by a single act of remorse.

ANSELM. You have not yet considered how grave sin is.

BOSO. Show me this now.

ANSELM. Suppose you were to find yourself in the presence of God and someone were to give you the command: "Look in that direction." And suppose that, on the contrary, God were to say: "I am absolutely unwilling for you to look." Ask yourself in your heart what there is, among all existing things, for the sake of which you ought to take that look in violation of God's will.

BOSO. I find nothing for the sake of which I ought to do this -- unless perhaps I were caught in the necessity of having to commit either this sin or some greater one.

ANSELM. Exclude this necessity, and consider with regard only to the sin in question whether you could [legitimately] commit it for the sake of saving your life.

BOSO. I see clearly that I could not.

ANSELM. So as not to make you tarry longer: what if it were necessary either for the whole world and whatever is other than God to perish and be reduced to nothing or for you to do so small a thing which is contrary to the will of God?

BOSO. When I consider the action itself, I see it to be something trifling. But when I reflect upon the fact that it is contrary to the will of God, I recognize that it is something extremely grave and comparable to no loss. However, we are often irreproachable in acting against someone's will, so that his possessions are safeguarded; afterwards, our having done this pleases the one against whose will we have acted.

ANSELM. This happens to a man who sometimes does not understand what is useful to him, or who cannot replace what he loses; but God has no needs, and even as He has created all things, so He could also replace them if they were to perish.

BOSO. I must admit that even for the sake of preserving the whole of creation, it is not the case that I ought to do something which is contrary to the will of God.

ANSELM. What if there were more than one world, full of creatures, just as this world is?

BOSO. If there were an infinitely multiple number of worlds and they too were exhibited to me, I would still give the same answer.

ANSELM. You can do nothing more rightly. But if it were to happen that contrary to the will of God you were to take that look, consider as well what you would be able to render as payment for this sin.

BOSO. I do not have anything more than what I have already mentioned.

ANSELM. By comparison, then, this is how gravely we sin whenever we knowingly do something, however small, contrary to the will of God. For we are always in His presence, and He always commands us not to sin.

BOSO. As I see it, we are living in very great danger.

ANSELM. It is evident that God demands satisfaction in proportion to the extent of the sin.

BOSO. I cannot deny it.

ANSELM. Therefore, you do not make satisfaction unless you pay something greater than is that for whose sake you ought not to have sinned.

BOSO. I see both that reason requires this and that it is altogether impossible.

ANSELM. And God cannot elevate to happiness anyone who is at all obligated by the debt for sin because God ought not to do so.

BOSO. This verdict is exceedingly grave.

CHAPTER TWENTY-FIVE: Necessarily, man is saved through Christ.

BOSO. How, then, will man be saved if he does not pay what he owes and if he ought not to be saved unless he pays it? Or how can we impudently maintain that God, who is rich in mercy beyond human understanding, cannot bestow this mercy?

ANSELM. At this point you ought to ask those who believe that Christ is not necessary for man's salvation -- those in whose place you are speaking -- to explain how man can be saved apart from Christ. However, if they cannot at all do so, then let them stop scoffing at us, and let them come near and join themselves to us, who do not doubt that man can be saved through Christ; or else let them give up the hope that man's salvation can somehow occur. But if they dread doing so, let them believe with us in Christ, so that they can be saved.

BOSO. Let me ask you, just as I did at the beginning, to show me in what way man is saved through Christ.

ANSELM. Since even unbelievers admit that man can in some way be made happy, and since we have demonstrated adequately that man's salvation can by no means occur if we assume that Christ does not exist: has not the possibility of man's being saved through Christ been sufficiently proved? For it is possible for man to be saved either by means of Christ, or else by some other means, or else by no means. Therefore, if it is false that man's salvation can by no means occur, and false that it can occur by some other means, it is necessary that it occur by means of Christ.

BOSO. Suppose someone perceives the reason why man's salvation cannot occur in some other manner but does not understand how it can occur through Christ. And suppose he wants to claim that it cannot occur either by means of Christ or by any other means. What answer shall we give him?

ANSELM. What answer ought to be given to someone who affirms of what must occur that it cannot occur -- his reason being simply that he does not know how it occurs?

BOSO. That he is foolish.

ANSELM. Therefore, what he says must be treated with contempt.

BOSO. That's true. But he ought to be shown how the thing he thinks to be impossible does really occur.

ANSELM. From what I have already said, do you not realize that it is necessary for some men to attain happiness? For if it is unfitting for God to bring a man having any stain to that end for which He created him free of every stain -- lest [by so doing] He should seem either to regret the good work He had begun or to be unable to fulfill His purpose -- then, much more, because of this same unfittingness, it is impossible that no man whatsoever be elevated to the end for which he was created. Therefore, either the kind of satisfaction-for-sin which I earlier showed to be required must occur outside the context of the Christian faith -- something which no sound reasoning can demonstrate -- or else satisfaction-for-sin must assuredly be believed to occur within the context of the Christian faith. For that which on the basis of rational necessity is inferred really to be the case ought not to be called into any doubt, even if the reason why it is true is not discerned.

BOSO. What you say is true.

ANSELM. So what more are you asking?

BOSO. I have not come for you to remove from me doubts about my faith but for you to show me the rational basis of my certainty. Therefore, just as you have led me rationally to the place where I can see that for his sin sinful man owes to God what he cannot pay, and that unless he pays [what he owes] he cannot be saved, so I want you to lead me to the place where on the basis of rational necessity I understand the following points: viz., (1) that all those things which the Catholic faith commands us to believe about Christ if we want to be saved must be true; (2) how they avail to man's salvation; and (3) how it is that God saves man by mercy although He forgives man's sin only if man pays what he owes on account of his sin. In order that your arguments may be the more certain, begin so basically that you establish them on a firm foundation.

ANSELM. May God continue to aid me now. For you do not at all spare me or take into account the weakness of my knowledge when you impose upon me so difficult a task. Nevertheless, trusting in God rather than in myself, I shall make the attempt (since I have already commenced); and with God's help I shall do the best I can. But lest because of too lengthy a sustained-presentation weariness should arise in him who is willing to read these things, by making another beginning let us distinguish what is still to be presented from what has already been said.


CHAPTER ONE: Man was created just in order to be happy.

ANSELM. We ought not to doubt that God created rational nature just in order for it to be happy through enjoying Him. Indeed, the reason it is rational is in order to discriminate between what is just and what is unjust, between what is good and what is evil, between what is a greater good and what is a lesser good. Otherwise [i.e., could rational nature not make these discriminations], it would be the case that it was created rational in vain. But God did not create it rational in vain. Therefore, there is no doubt that it was created rational for the foregoing purpose. Similar reasoning proves that rational nature received the ability to make these discriminations in order that it would hate and shun evil, and love and choose good, and more greatly love and choose a greater good [than love and choose a lesser good]. For otherwise, it would be the case that God bestowed in vain upon rational nature this ability-to-discriminate, because rational nature would discriminate in vain if it did not love and shun in accordance with its discrimination. But for God to have bestowed in vain such a great capability would not be fitting. Thus, it is certain that rational nature was created for the purpose of loving and choosing the Supreme Good above all other things -- loving and choosing it for its own sake and not for the sake of anything else. (For if [rational nature loves the Supreme Good] for the sake of something else, it really loves not the Supreme Good but this other thing.) But rational nature is able to do this only if it is just. Therefore, so that it would not be rational in vain, it was created both rational and just at once. Now, if it was created just in order to love and choose the Supreme Good, then it was created just either for the further purpose of one day attaining what it loves, and has chosen, or else not for this purpose. But if it were not the case that rational nature was created just for the further purpose of attaining the thing it justly loves and chooses, then its having been created such as justly to love and choose this thing would have been in vain, and there would be no reason why rational nature ought ever to attain this thing. The consequence would be that as long as rational nature would do just works by loving and choosing the Supreme Good, for which it was created, it would be unhappy; for against its will it would be in a state of deprivation, since it would not possess what it desired. But this view is utterly absurd. Consequently, rational nature was created just in order to be happy through enjoying the Supreme Good, viz., God. Accordingly, man, who is rational in nature, was created just in order to be happy through enjoying God.

CHAPTER TWO: Man would not have died if he had not sinned.

ANSELM. The fact that man was created in such a state as not to have to die is easily proven from the following consideration: It is opposed to God's wisdom and justice (as I said earlier) that He compel to undergo death someone blameless, whom He created just, for the purpose of becoming eternally happy. Consequently, if man had never sinned, he would never have died.

CHAPTER THREE: Man will be resurrected with the body in which he lives during this present life.

ANSELM. From the above considerations the eventual future resurrection of the dead is clearly proven. Indeed, if man is to be perfectly restored, he ought to be restored to such a state as he would have been in had he not sinned.

BOSO. It cannot be otherwise.

ANSELM. Therefore, just as had man not sinned he was to have been transformed into incorruptibility with the body he had, so it ought to be the case that when he will be restored he will be restored with the body in which he lives during this present life.

BOSO. What answer shall we give if someone claims that this ought to occur in the case of those in whom the human race will be restored but that it need not occur in the case of reprobate men?

ANSELM. Nothing can be thought to be more just or fitting than the following: The whole man (i.e., consisting in a soul and a body) would have been eternally happy if man had persevered injustice; correspondingly, the whole man will be eternally unhappy if man continues in injustice.

BOSO. On these matters you have satisfied me with terse answers.

CHAPTER FOUR: God will accomplish with human nature that which He began.

ANSELM. From the foregoing considerations the following point is easy to recognize: Either God will accomplish with human nature that which He began, or else He has created in vain so sublime a nature for [receiving] so great a good. But if God is recognized to have created nothing more precious than rational nature, for the purpose of rejoicing in Him, then He is very far from allowing any rational nature to perish completely.

BOSO. A rational mind cannot think otherwise.

ANSELM. Therefore, it is necessary that God will accomplish with human nature what He began. But this accomplishment can occur, as I said, only by means of complete satisfaction for sin. And no sinner can make complete satisfaction.

BOSO. I now understand the necessity of God's accomplishing what He began -- in order that He not seem, contrary to what is fitting, to fail in what He has undertaken.

CHAPTER SIX: Only a God-man can make the satisfaction by means of which man is saved.

ANSELM. But this work can only be accomplished if there is someone who pays to God, for man's sin, something greater than every existing thing besides God.

BOSO. This has been proven.

ANSELM. Moreover, whoever can give to God something of his own which surpasses everything that is less than God must be greater than everything that is not God.

BOSO. I cannot deny it.

ANSELM. Now, nothing except God surpasses everything that is not God.

BOSO. This is true.

ANSELM. Therefore, only God can make this satisfaction.

BOSO. This follows.

ANSELM. But only a man ought to make this satisfaction. For in any other case it would not be man who makes it.

BOSO. Nothing seems more just.

ANSELM. Therefore, if (as has been established) it is necessary that the Heavenly City be completed from among men, and if this completion can occur only if the aforementioned satisfaction is made, and if only God can make this satisfaction and only a man ought to make it: it is necessary that a God-man make it.

BOSO. "Blessed be God." Now we have discovered a major point regarding the topic we are investigating. Therefore, proceed as you have begun. For I hope that God will continue to aid us.

CHAPTER SEVEN: It is necessary that one and the same [individual] be fully divine and fully human.

ANSELM. We must now investigate the manner in which a God-man can exist. For it is not the case that the divine nature and the human nature can be changed into each other so that the divine nature becomes human or the human nature becomes divine; and it is not the case that they can be so mingled that from these two natures there is formed a third nature which is neither fully divine nor fully human. Indeed, if it were possible for the one nature to be changed into the other, then the result would be only someone who is divine and not someone who is human, or else only someone who is human and not someone who is divine. Or if they were so mingled that from the two corrupted natures a third nature were formed (as from two individual animals -- one male and one female, but of different species -- a third animal is born, which does not retain fully either the nature of the father or the nature of the mother but receives a third nature, which is a mixture of the two), then the result would be neither someone who is human nor someone who is divine. Therefore, the God-man about whom we are asking cannot be made from a divine nature and a human nature either by the transformation of the one into the other or by the corrupt mingling of both into a third. For these things cannot happen; or if they can happen, they do not apply to what we are investigating. But if these two integral natures are said to be conjoined in some manner such that, nevertheless, the human nature is distinct from the divine nature and the one who is divine is not identical with the one who is human, then it is impossible for either one to do what must be done. For the one who is divine will not do it, because He will not be under obligation to do it; and the one who is human will not do it, because he will not be able to do it. Hence, in order that a God-man will do this, it is necessary that one and the same [individual] be fully divine and fully human, so as to make this satisfaction. For only one who is truly divine can make satisfaction, and only one who is truly human ought to make it. Therefore, since it is necessary to find a God-man who retains the integrity of both natures, it is no less necessary that these two integral natures conjoin in one person (just as a body and a rational soul conjoin in one man); for otherwise it is impossible that one and the same [individual] be fully divine and fully human.

BOSO. All that you say pleases me.

CHAPTER EIGHT: God ought to assume a human nature from the race of Adam and from a virgin woman.

ANSELM. It now remains to ask from where and in what way God will assume a human nature. Either He will take it from Adam or He will create a new human being from no other human being -- as He created Adam. But if God were to create a new human being, not of Adam's race, then this human being would not belong to the race of men who are born from Adam. Therefore, it would not be the case that he ought to make satisfaction for Adam's race, because he would not descend from it. For just as it is right that human nature make satisfaction for human nature's guilt, so it is necessary that the one who makes satisfaction be either the sinner himself or someone of his race. Otherwise, neither Adam nor his race would make satisfaction for themselves. Therefore, just as from Adam and Eve sin was transmitted unto all men, so only they themselves or someone descended from them ought to make satisfaction for men's sin. Consequently, since they themselves are unable to [make satisfaction], it is necessary for the one who will do this to derive from them. Moreover, just as, had Adam not sinned, he and his entire race would by themselves have remained standing, without the assistance of another creature, so if Adam's race rises after the fall, it should rise and be lifted up by its own efforts. For no matter through whom it is restored unto its own place, assuredly it will stand because of him through whom it will recover its place. Moreover, when God first created human nature in Adam alone and willed to create a woman (in order for human beings to be reproduced from the two sexes) only from Adam, He showed clearly that He willed to create only from Adam that which He was going to create from human nature. Therefore, if the race of Adam were restored through a man who is not from the Adamic race, it would not be the case that [it is restored] unto the dignity that would have been its possession had Adam not sinned. And, thus, it would not be fully restored; and God's plan would seem to be a failure. But both of these consequences are unfitting. Therefore, the human nature [of the man] through whom Adam's race is to be restored must be assumed from Adam.

BOSO. If we follow reason, as we proposed to, then this conclusion must, inescapably, be true.

CHAPTER TEN: This man is not required to die. How He is able to sin and not able to sin. Why He and an angel ought to be praised for their justice even though they cannot sin.

ANSELM. However, we now ought to investigate whether this man would be required to die, just as all other men are required to die. Now, if Adam was not going to die had he not sinned, much more would not this man -- in whom there could be no sin, because He would be God -- be required to undergo death.

CHAPTER ELEVEN: He dies of his own power. Mortality does not pertain to sinless human nature.

ANSELM. But it now remains to examine whether He would be able to die with respect to His human nature (for with respect to His divine nature it would always be the case that He is incorruptible).

BOSO. Why should we be in doubt about this, since He would be a real man, and every man is naturally mortal?

ANSELM. I think that mortality pertains not to sinless human nature but to corrupt human nature. Indeed, if man had never sinned and if his immortality had been immutably confirmed, he would have been no less a real man; and when mortals will rise in incorruptibility, they will be, no less, real men. For if mortality pertained to the essence [veritas] of human nature, there could not at all be a man who was immortal. Therefore, neither corruptibility nor incorruptibility pertains to the sinless state of human nature, since neither of these is essential to human nature; rather, the one conduces to man's unhappiness, the other to his happiness. (But since there is no human being who does not die, the word "mortal" was included in the definition of "man" by the philosophers, who did not believe that human nature as a whole ever could have been or ever can be immortal.) Therefore, the fact that that man would be a real man does not suffice to show that He ought to be mortal.

BOSO. Then, look for another reason; for I do not know, if you do not, the reason which proves that He can die.

ANSELM. There is no doubt that as He will be God, so He will be omnipotent.

BOSO. This is true.

ANSELM. Therefore, if He wills to, He shall be able to lay down His life and take it up again.

BOSO. If He cannot do this, it seems that He is not omnipotent.

ANSELM. Therefore, if He wills to, He shall be able never to die; and [if He wills to] He shall be able to die and to arise. But as far as His power is concerned, it does not matter whether He lays down His life without anyone else serving as a cause thereof or whether, with His permission, someone else is a cause of the fact that He lays it down.

BOSO. There is no doubt about this.

ANSELM. Therefore, if He is willing to permit it, He will be able to be killed; and if He is unwilling to permit it, He will not be able to be killed.

BOSO. Reason leads us unswervingly to this conclusion.

ANSELM. Reason has also taught us that He ought to have something greater than whatever is inferior to God -- something which He would give to God willingly and not out of debt.

BOSO. This is true.

ANSELM. But this gift can be found neither beneath Him nor beyond Him.

BOSO. This is true.

ANSELM. Therefore, it must be found in Him.

BOSO. This follows.

ANSELM. Therefore, He will give either Himself or something belonging to Himself.

BOSO. I cannot think otherwise.

ANSELM. It must now be asked what kind of giving this ought to be. For since every creature is God's, it is not the case that He will be able to give to God -- as if it were to one who did not already have this as his own -- either Himself or anything belonging to Himself.

BOSO. True.

ANSELM. Therefore, this giving must be interpreted as follows: In some way in which He will not be required to, He will offer, for the honor of God, either Himself or something belonging to Him self.

BOSO. This follows from the things already said.

ANSELM. If we say that He will give Himself in the sense of obeying God, so that by perseveringly keeping justice He will surrender Himself to God's will, this would not be a case of giving what God does not already exact from Him as a debt. For every rational creature owes this obedience to God.

BOSO. This cannot be denied.

ANSELM. Therefore, He must in some other way give to God either Himself or something belonging to Himself.

BOSO. Reason drives us to this conclusion.

ANSELM. Let us see whether perhaps this giving is the giving of His life, or the laying down of His life, or the handing Himself over to death, for the honor of God. For God does not exact His life from Him as something owed. Indeed, since there will be no sin in Him, He will not be required to die, as I said.

BOSO. I cannot think otherwise.

ANSELM. Let us consider, in addition, whether this view agrees with reason.

BOSO. You continue to speak, and I shall continue to listen willingly.

ANSELM. If man sinned through pleasure, is it not fitting that he make satisfaction through distress? And if (with the result that he dishonored God by sinning) he was conquered by the Devil so easily that it could not happen more easily, is it not just that in making satisfaction for sin man should (for the honor of God) conquer the Devil by such a difficult means that it could not be done by any means more difficult? And is it not fitting that man, who by sinning so stole himself from God that he cannot remove himself to any greater extent, should by making satisfaction so give himself to God that he cannot give himself to any greater extent?

BOSO. There is not anything more reasonable.

ANSELM. Now, for the honor of God, a man can willingly and out of no obligation suffer nothing more harsh and difficult than death; and a man cannot at all give himself to God to any greater extent than when he hands himself over to death for the honor of God.

BOSO. All of this is true.

ANSELM. Therefore, He who shall will to make satisfaction for man's sin ought to be such that He can die if He wills to.

BOSO. I see clearly that that man about whom we are inquiring ought to be such that He will not die of necessity (because He will be omnipotent) and will not die out of obligation (because He will never be a sinner) and yet will be able to die of His own free will (because it will be necessary [that he be able to die freely]).

ANSELM. There are also many other reasons why it is especially fitting for that man to be like men and to dwell among them, yet without sin. These reasons stand out, of themselves, more readily and more clearly in His life and deeds than they can be demonstrated by reason alone, independently of experience. For who will explain how necessarily and how wisely it happened that He who was going to redeem men and to lead them back, by His teaching, from the way of death and perdition to the way of life and eternal happiness associated with men and in this association (although He taught them by word how they ought to live) presented Himself as an example? But how could He give Himself as an example to weak and mortal men, so that they would not depart from justice on account of wrongs or insults or pain or death, if they did not know that He Himself experienced all these things?

CHAPTER TWELVE: Although He shares our misfortunes, He is not unhappy.

BOSO. All of these considerations show plainly that He ought to be mortal and ought to share our misfortunes. Yet all of these misfortunes contribute to our unhappiness. Will He, therefore, be unhappy?

ANSELM. By no means. For as something beneficial which someone possesses against His will does not conduce to his happiness, so to experience something detrimental wisely and willingly, without being compelled to, is not [a cause of] unhappiness.

BOSO. This point must be granted.

CHAPTER FOURTEEN: How His death outweighs the number and the magnitude of all sins.

BOSO. I ask you now to teach me how His death outweighs the number and the magnitude of all sins -- seeing that you have shown one sin which we regard as trifling to be so infinite that if an infinite number of worlds were exhibited, each as full of creatures as is our world, and if these worlds could be kept from being reduced to nothing only on the condition that someone would take a single look contrary to the will of God, this look ought, nonetheless, not to be taken.

ANSELM. Suppose that man were present, and you knew who He was, and someone said to you: "Unless you kill this man this whole world and whatever is not God will perish." Would you do this for the sake of preserving every other creature?

BOSO. I would not do it even if an infinite number of worlds were exhibited to me.

ANSELM. What if you were then told: "Either kill this man or all the sins of the world will come upon you"?

BOSO. I would reply that I would prefer to bear all other sins -- not only those which have been committed and will be committed in this world, but also whatever sins can be thought of, in addition to these -- than to commit this one sin. And I think that I ought to give the same answer not only for the case of slaying Him but also for the case of the slightest harm which would touch Him.

ANSELM. You think correctly. But tell me why your mind judges that one sin which harms this man is more dreadful than all other sins which can be conceived; for no matter what sins are committed, they are all sins against Him.

BOSO. The reason is that a sin which is committed against His person surpasses, incomparably, all conceivable sins which are not against His person.

ANSELM. What will you say about the fact that often someone voluntarily endures harm against his person in order not to suffer greater harm in regard to his possessions?

BOSO. [I will say] that God does not have need of this long-suffering; for all things are subject to His power, as you mentioned previously in reply to one of my questions.

ANSELM. You give a good answer. We see, then, that no magnitude nor multitude of sins which are not against the person of God is comparable to [the sin of] harming the physical life of this man.

BOSO. This is very clear.

ANSELM. In your opinion how great a good is [the life] of Him whose being-put-to-death is so evil?

BOSO. If every good is as good as its destruction is evil, then [His life] is a good incomparably greater than the evil of those sins which His being-put-to-death immeasurably surpasses.

ANSELM. You speak the truth. Reflect also upon the fact that sins are as detestable as they are evil; and the life of this man is as lovable as it is good. Hence, it follows that His life is more lovable than sins are detestable.

BOSO. I cannot fail to understand this.

ANSELM. Do you think that such a great and lovable good can suffice to pay what is owed for the sins of the entire world?

BOSO. Indeed, it can [suffice to pay] infinitely more [than that].

ANSELM. Therefore, you see how His life would overcome all sins if it were given for them.

BOSO. Clearly.

ANSELM. Therefore, if to give one's life is to accept death, then just as the giving of His life outweighs all men's sins, so too does His acceptance of death.

BOSO. This is plainly the case regarding all sins which do not touch the person of God.

CHAPTER FIFTEEN: How His death blots out even the sins of those who put Him to death.

BOSO. But now I see another point that must be questioned. If to put Him to death is as evil as His life is good, how can His death overcome and blot out the sins of those who have put Him to death? Or if it blots out the sin of one of them, how can it blot out any of the sins of other men as well? For we believe that many of the former have been saved and that countless other men are saved.

ANSELM. This question is answered by the apostle who said that "if they had known it, they would never have crucified the Lord of Glory." For a sin done knowingly and a sin done in ignorance are so different from each other that the evil which these men could never have done knowingly, because of its enormity, is venial because it was done in ignorance. For no man could ever will, at least knowingly, to kill God so those who killed Him in ignorance did not rush forth into that infinite sin with which no other sins are comparable. Indeed, in order to ascertain how good His life was, we considered the magnitude of this sin not with respect to the fact that it was committed in ignorance but as if it were done knowingly -- something which no one ever did or ever could have done.

BOSO. You have shown rationally that the slayers of Christ were able to obtain pardon for their sin.

ANSELM. For what more do you now ask? Assuredly, you see how rational necessity shows that the Heavenly City is to be completed from among men and that this completion can be effected only through the forgiveness of sins -- a forgiveness which no man can have except through a man who is himself God and who by his death will reconcile sinful men to God, plainly, then, we have found Christ, whom we confess to be divine and human, and to have died for us. But now that we know this fact without any doubt, we also must not doubt the truth of all the things He says (since God cannot lie) and the wisdom of all the things He did (even though we may not understand the reason for them).

BOSO. What you say is true. And I do not at all doubt that what He said is true or that what He did was done reasonably.

CHAPTER EIGHTEEN: How the life of Christ is paid to God for the sins of men. The sense in which Christ ought, and the sense in which He ought not to have suffered.

ANSELM. But tell me now what you think must still be resolved regarding the problem you set forth at the beginning -- because of which problem many other topics intruded themselves.

BOSO. The crux of the problem was why God became a man in order to save mankind through His death, although He was apparently able to accomplish man's salvation in some other way. Responding to this problem, you showed by many compelling reasons that the restoration of human nature ought not to be left undone, and yet could not be done unless man paid what he owed to God for his sin. This debt was so great that only God was able to pay it, although only a man ought to pay it; and, thus, the same [individual] who was divine was also human. Hence, it was necessary for God to assume a human nature into a unity of person, so that the one who with respect to his nature ought to make payment, but was unable to, would be the one who with respect to his person was able to. Next, you showed that that man who was God had to be taken from a virgin by the person of the Son of God; and you showed how He could be taken sinless from the sinful mass. You proved very clearly that the life of this man was so sublime and so precious that it can suffice to make payment for what is owed for the sins of the whole world -- and even for infinitely more [sins than these]. Therefore, it now remains to show how His life is paid to God for the sins of men.

ANSELM. If He allowed Himself to be killed for the sake of justice, did He not give His life for the honor of God?

BOSO. Even though I do not see how He could reasonably have done this -- since He was able to keep justice unwaveringly and His life eternally -- nevertheless, it I can understand a thing which I do not doubt, I will admit that He freely gave to God, for God's honor, some such gift to which whatever is not God is not comparable in value, and which can make recompense for all the debts of all men.

ANSELM. Do you not realize that when He endured with patient kindness the injuries, the abuses, the crucifixion among thieves -- which were all inflicted upon Him (as I said above) for the sake of the justice which He obediently kept -- He gave men an example in order that they would not, on account of any detriments they can experience, turn aside from the justice they owe to God. He would not at all have given this example if, as He was able to do, He had turned aside from the death that was inflicted upon Him for such a reason.

BOSO. It seems that it was not necessary for Him to give this example, since we know that many people before His coming -- and John the Baptist after His coming and before His death sufficiently gave this example by bravely enduring death for the sake of the truth.

ANSELM. Except for Him, no human being through his death ever gave to God what he was not necessarily going to lose at some time or other, or ever paid what he did not already owe. But that man freely offered to the Father what He was never going to lose as a result of any necessity; and He paid on behalf of sinners that which He did not already owe for Himself. Therefore, it is much more the case that He gave an example, in order that no single human being would hesitate (when reason demands it) to render to God on behalf of himself that which one day he will summarily lose. For although He did not at all need to do so for Himself, and although He was not at all compelled to do so for others to whom He owed only punishment, He gave with such great willingness so precious a life -- indeed, His own self -- i.e., so great a person.

BOSO. You are coming very close to satisfying me. But bear with my asking a question which although you may think it foolish to ask, nevertheless I would not readily know what to answer if it were asked of me. You say that when He died, He gave what He was not obliged to. But no one will deny that when He gave this example in such a way, He did something better (and that His doing it was more pleasing to God) than if He had not done it. And no one will say that He was not obliged to do what He understood to be better and to be more pleasing to God. Therefore, how can we maintain that He did not owe to God the deed He performed -- i.e., the deed He knew to be better and to be more pleasing to God -- especially since a creature owes to God all that he is, all that he knows, and all that he can do?

ANSELM. Although a creature has nothing from himself, nevertheless when God grants him the right to do or not to do something, He gives him both prerogatives in such way that although the one alternative is the better, neither alternative is definitely required. Rather, whether he does what is the better or whether he does the alternative, we say that he ought to do what he does. And if he does what is the better, he should have a reward, because He voluntarily gives what belongs to him. For example, although the state of virginity is better than the marital state, neither of these is definitely required of a man. Instead, we say both of him who prefers to marry and of him who prefers to keep his virginity that he ought to do what he does. For no one claims that virginity ought not to be chosen or that marriage ought not to be chosen. Rather, we say that before a man has decided upon either of these, he ought to do the one which he prefers; and if he keeps his virginity, he looks forward to a reward for the voluntary gift which he offers to God. Therefore, when you say that a creature owes to God what he knows to be the better and what he is able to do, then if you mean "[He owes it] as a debt" and do not add "provided God commands it," [your claim] is not in every case true. For, indeed, as I said, a man does not owe virginity as a debt; but if he prefers, he ought to marry. Now, perhaps the word "ought" troubles you, and perhaps you cannot understand it apart from [its signifying] a debt. If so, then be aware that just as ability and inability and necessity are sometimes ascribed not because they are in the things to which they are ascribed but because they are in something else, so it also happens in the case of ought to. Indeed, when we say that the poor ought to receive alms from the rich, this statement means nothing other than that the rich ought to give alms to the poor. For this obligation ought to be exacted not of the poor but of the rich. We also say that God ought to rule over all things -- not because He at all owes anything but because all things ought to be subject to Him. And [we say that God] ought to do what He wills, since what He wills ought to occur. Likewise, when a creature wills to do what it is his prerogative to do or not to do, we say that he ought to do it, since what he wills ought to occur. Hence, when the Lord Jesus, as I said, willed to endure death: since it was His prerogative to undergo death or not to undergo death, He ought to have done what He did, because what He willed ought to have been done; and He ought nor to have done it, because [He was] not [obliged to do it] out of debt.

Assuredly, the Lord Jesus was divine and human. Therefore, in accordance with His human nature (from the time that He was a man) He so received from His divine nature (which is different from His human nature) to have as His prerogative whatever He had that He was not obliged to give anything except what He willed to. And in accordance with His person He so possessed from Himself what He possessed, and was so completely sufficient unto Himself, that He was not obliged to make any recompense to anyone else and did not need to give anything in order to be recompensed.

BOSO. I now see clearly that it was not in any respect out of debt that He gave Himself over to death for the honor of God (as my argument seemed to show), and that nevertheless He ought to have done what He did.

ANSELM. Surely, that honor belongs to the whole Trinity. Therefore, since He Himself is God -- viz., the Son of God -- He offered Himself to Himself (just as to the Father and the Holy Spirit) for His own honor. That is, [He offered] His humanity to His divinity, which is one and the same divinity common to the three persons. Nevertheless, in order to say more clearly what we mean, while still abiding within this truth, let us say (as is the custom) that the Son freely offered Himself to the Father. For in this way we speak most fittingly. For by reference to one person [viz., the Father] we understand it to be God as a whole to whom the Son offered Himself according to His humanity; and through the name "Father" and the name "Son," an enormous devotion is felt in the hearts of those listening when the Son is said to entreat the Father for us in this way.

BOSO. I accept this most gladly.

CHAPTER NINETEEN: How very reasonable it is that human salvation results from his death.

ANSELM. Let us see now, as best we can, how very reasonable it is that human salvation results from His death.

BOSO. My mind strives toward this end. Now, although I think that I understand this point, I want you to produce the structure of the argument.

ANSELM. It is not necessary to discuss how great is the gift which the Son freely gave.

BOSO. This is [already] sufficiently clear.

ANSELM. But you will not suppose that he who freely gives to God so great a gift ought to go unrewarded.

BOSO. On the contrary, I recognize that it is necessary for the Father to reward the Son. Otherwise, the Father would seem to be either unjust, if he were unwilling [to give a reward], or powerless, if He were unable [to give a reward]. And both of these features are foreign to God.

ANSELM. One who rewards another either gives what the other does not already have or else remits what can be exacted from the other. Now, even before the Son performed so great a deed, everything that was the Father's was also the Son's; and the Son never owed anything that could be remitted. Therefore, what will be recompensed to one who needs nothing and to whom there is nothing that can be given or remitted?

BOSO. On the one hand, I see the necessity for giving a reward and, on the other, the impossibility thereof. For it is necessary that God pay what He owes; but there is not anything which He can pay.

ANSELM. If so great and so deserved a reward were not paid either to the Son or to someone else, then the Son would seem to have performed so great a deed in vain.

BOSO. This is heinous to suppose.

ANSELM. Therefore, it is necessary that a reward be paid to someone else, since it cannot be paid to Him.

BOSO. This follows inescapably.

ANSELM. If the Son wanted to give to someone else that which is owed to Himself, would the Father rightly be able either to prevent Him or to withhold the reward from the one to whom the Son would give it?

BOSO. Indeed, I think it both just and necessary that the reward be paid by the Father to the one to whom the Son wanted to give it. For the Son is permitted to bestow what is His own; and only to someone other than to the Son can the Father pay what He owes.

ANSELM. To whom will the Son more fittingly give the fruit and the recompense of His death than to those for whose salvation He became a man (as sound reasoning has taught us), and to whom (as we said), by dying, He gave an example of dying-for-the-sake-of-justice? Surely, they would imitate Him in vain if they would not share in His merit. Or whom will He more justly make to be heirs of the reward He does not need, and heirs of His overflowing fullness, than His own kinsmen and brethren (whom -- bound by such numerous and great debts -- He sees languishing with need in the depth of miseries), so that what they owe for their sins may be forgiven them and what they lack on account of their sins may be given to them?

BOSO. The world can hear of nothing more reasonable, nothing more kind, nothing more desirable. Indeed, I receive so much confidence from this thought that right now I cannot say with how much joy my heart exults. For it seems to me that God rejects no human being who approaches Him under this name.

ANSELM. This is true -- provided he approaches as he ought. Sacred Scripture everywhere teaches us how we are to approach the participation in such great grace and how we are to live under this grace. Sacred Scripture is founded upon the solid truth, as upon a firm foundation; and with God's help we have perceived this truth to some extent.

BOSO. Truly, whatever is erected upon this foundation is established upon a solid rock.

ANSELM. I think that I have now to some extent satisfactorily answered your question -- even though someone better than I can do this more fully, and even though the reasons for this matter are deeper and more numerous than my intelligence (or any mortal's intelligence) can comprehend. It is also clear that God did not at all need to do what we have been discussing; rather the immutable truth required it. For although on account of a unity of person God is said to have done the thing which that man did, nevertheless God did not need to come down from Heaven in order to overcome the Devil. And [God did not need] to act against the Devil by means of justice in order to free man. Rather, God demanded of man that he overcome the Devil and that, having offended God by his sin, he make satisfaction by his justice. Indeed, God did not owe anything to the Devil except punishment; and man did not [owe the Devil anything] except to conquer him in return for having been conquered by him. But man owed to God, not to the Devil, whatever was required of him.

CHAPTER TWENTY: How great and how just the mercy of God is.

ANSELM. We have discovered that God's mercy -- which, when we were examining God's justice and man's sin, seemed to you to perish -- is so great and so harmonious with His justice that it cannot be conceived to be greater or more just. Indeed, what can be thought to be more merciful than for God the Father to say to a sinner, condemned to eternal torments and having no way to redeem himself: "Receive my only begotten son and render him in place of yourself," and for the Son to say "Take me and redeem yourself"? For the Father and the Son do make these respective statements, as it were, when they call and draw us to the Christian faith. And what is more just than that He to whom is given a reward greater than every debt should forgive every debt if it is presented to Him with due affection?

CHAPTER TWENTY-TWO: The truth of the Old and of the New Testament has been proved within the statements that have been made.

BOSO. All the statements you make seem to me to be reasonable and to be statements which cannot at all be contradicted. And I recognize that whatever is contained in the Old and in the New Testament has been proved by the solution of the single problem which we have set forth. For you prove the necessity of God's becoming a man, and you do so in such way that even if the few things you have introduced from our books are removed (e.g., what you mentioned about' the three persons of God and about Adam), you would satisfy not only the Jews but also the pagans by reason alone. Moreover, this very God-man has established the New Testament and confirmed the Old. Therefore, just as it is necessary to affirm that He was truthful, so no one can deny the truth of anything contained in these testaments.

ANSELM. If we have said anything which ought to be corrected, I do not refuse correction if it is done in accordance with reason. But if that which we think we have rationally discovered is corroborated by truth's testimony, we ought to attribute this not to ourselves but to God, who is blessed forever. Amen.

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