Saturday, April 21, 2012

Anselm (1033-1109)

Anselm was one of the most important Christian thinkers of the eleventh century. He is most famous in philosophy for having discovered and articulating the so-called Ontological_argumentment” for the existence of God. As a theologian  his formulation  of the subsitutionary theory of the atonement

Anselm's writings represent a recognition of the relationship of reason to revealed truth, and an attempt to elaborate a rational system of faith.

Anselm was born in 1033 in Aosta, a border town of the kingdom of Burgundy. In 1060Anselm should enter monastic life at Bec,  

 In 1070, Anselm began to write, particularly prayers and meditations, which he sent to friends to be used in their own private devotions. Eventually, his teaching and thinking culminated in a set of treatises and dialogues. In 1077, he produced the Monologion, and in 1078 the Proslogion. Eventually, Anselm was elected abbot of the monastery. At some time while still at Bec, Anselm wrote the De Veritate (On Truth), De Libertate Arbitrii (On Freedom of Choice), De Casu Diaboli (On the Fall of the Devil), and De Grammatico.

In 1092, Anselm traveled to England, King William Rufus kept the seat of the Arch Bishop of Canterbury  vacant so could collect its income.  Anselm was proposed as the new bishop, a prospect neither he nor the  king desired. Eventually, the king fell ill, and nominated Anselm to become bishop. Anselm attempted to argue his unfitness for the post, but eventually accepted. 

In addition to the typical cares of the office, his tenure as arch-bishop of Canterbury was marred by nearly uninterrupted conflict over the separation of church and state.Anselm had to go into exile and travel to Rome where  the Pope,  not only affirmed Anselm’s   position, but refused Anselm’s own request to leave office.

While in exile, Anselm finished his Cur Deus Homo and wrote his treatises On the Incarnation of the Word, On the Virgin Conception and on Original Sin, On the Harmony of the Foreknowledge, the Predestination, and the Grace of God with Free Choice.

Upon returning to England after William Rufus’s death, conflict again ensued over the issue of ensued between The new king Henry I exiled Anselm who once again traveled to Rome. When judgment was made by Pope Paschal II in Anselm’s  favor, the king forbade him to return to England, eventually reconciliation took place. Anselm died in England 1109,

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