Volume 8, Number 1 (Fall 2012)
After emphasizing the importance of Rogers's book and defending its methodology, I critique Rogers's strategy for reconciling libertarian creaturely freedom with the doctrine that God is the cause of all being apart from Himself. I maintain that Rogers's denial that creaturely choices are caused by God is problematic as an interpretation of Anselm; furthermore, this denial means she must also deny either that creaturely choices have being, or that God is the cause of all being apart from Himself. The former denial is untenable; the latter constitutes rejecting God as creator omnium, not reconciling that doctrine with libertarian creaturely freedom.
Rogers is an eloquent defender of perfect being theology, a version of classical theism. She is an opponent of open-theism (in which God can change in certain respects, is not simple, and does know the future insofar as it is indeterminate). In Anselm on Freedom, Rogers argues for an understanding of human freedom that is compatible with God's perfection. For Rogers, the moral significance of human choices requires that they be self-initiated or self-caused. As such, they are not "fully traceable back to further causes outside of the agent"-not even to God. She also denies that God knows the intentional states of agents, that is, what it is like to be in that state from the perspective of the subject of that state. To avoid implying that God does not cause and know some things or aspects of things, Rogers denies that choices are things or even thing-like states. Yet she also contends that our choices do make a difference to God. To avoid the implication that they make God different, she argues both that God must create a specific world (the best possible one) and for "eternalism"-the thesis the past, present, and future actually co-exist. Rogers' account of human freedom, though logically consistent, raises serious issues regarding perfect being theology for anyone who holds that human choices are things to the extent that they are the intentional states of human beings, that God must know them as such, and that time is real.
I thank Grant and Staley for their comments, both kind and critical, on my book Anselm on Freedom. I applaud Grant’s defense of my overall project against those who claim that it is inherently anachronistic. In response to Grant and Staley I acknowledge that my terminology and language in the book was sometimes ill-chosen. However, I defend the thought that a choice does not have ontological status in isolation from the desires which led up to it, and I review the Anselmian texts which support this claim. I also respond to the suggestion that Anselm’s four-dimensionalism is contrary to our experience. I conclude by noting that one way to avoid Anselm’s conclusions, though not a move I find appealing, is to suppose that sin is less real or important than Anselm finds it to be.
In an article entitled "The Beauty of Hell: Anselm on God's Eternal Design," Frank Burch Brown argues that the reality of hell puts the core of the Christian faith at great risk. The article focuses on an investigation of Saint Anselm's Cur deus homo. Brown's thesis is that, while there is beauty in the details of Anselm's presentation, nonetheless it fails because the argument for the beauty of hell in the eternal design, which carries with it the unending suffering of the damned, cannot stand in the face of basic Christian elements such as hope and forgiveness and reconciliation. I argue that Anselm's view of hell can only be understood in the context of his understanding of heaven, and from that perspective, hell as a place of eternal punishment does have a necessary beauty and existence. I begin with Anselm's understanding of hell in the context of his understanding of heaven. Then I examine Brown's claim that Anselm's position yields an untenable interpretation. Finally, I offer three reasons why Brown's preferred interpretation of hell needs to be reexamined.
For Saint Anselm, truth is analogical, rather than strictly deductive or inductive. Such a notion of truth suggests beauty as a criterion. In the first of four sections, this essay examines the notion of truth as analogical as it appears in the main argument for the existence of God in the Monologion. In the second, the essay considers how the Proslogion invokes this aesthetic notion of truth more explicitly and by way of the work's very structure. The third section focuses on the more systematic treatment of truth as analogical which Anselm presents in De Veritate. The final section addresses Anselm's invocation of beauty and hence of his analogical notion of truth in making his case for what he calls the necessity of the Incarnation in Cur Deus Homo.
In this essay, I reflect on the place of beauty in Thomas Aquinas's ontology, etiology, and psychology. I suggest that Thomas's discussion of beauty in Summa theologiae 1.5.4, read in light of other important texts from Aquinas's corpus, brings to the fore the integration of formal and final causality in his etiology, the integration of cognitive and appetitive faculties in his psychology, and the integration of truth and goodness in his ontology, as well as the more fundamental integration of ontology, etiology and psychology with one another in Thomas's broader teaching. I then explore the bolder claim that beauty might even effect the integration of these various aspects of Aquinas's thought and of reality as he construes it. Finally, I conclude by offering some suggestions for further reflection on the significance of beauty in Aquinas's philosophy and theology in light of the account I offer in the body of the paper.
Saint Anselm clarified the need for the Incarnation in Cur Deus Homo, and in De conceptu virginali he affirmed that the Incarnation also preserved created reproductive nature. Now, using advances in scientific knowledge of that nature, one can elaborate Anselm's thought, showing that the Incarnation not only preserved but also resanctified humanity, male and female equally, and accomplished this through reproductive nature. Christ, by personally becoming incarnate as male, resanctified all that is male, and in two ways He likewise resanctified female humanity. First, through the divinely designed encoding of DNA He assumed the female Y chromosome. Second, through His conception, gestation, birth and nursing He resanctified through Mary all that is female. This comprehensive renewal of humanity happened naturally, once the supernatural event of the conception had occurred.