Volume 9, Number 2 (Spring 2014)
The paper discusses Anselm's account of human finitude and freedom through his discussion of what it means to receive what we have from God in De casu diaboli. The essay argues that Anselm is considering the same issue as Jean Paul Sartre in his account of receiving a gift as incompatible with freedom. De casu diaboli takes up this same question, asking about how the finite will can be free, which requires that it have something per se, when there is nothing, as St. Paul asserted in Romans, that we have not received. Anselm's notion that we have two wills, one for benefit or advantage, and one for justice, allows for something to come per se from the individual who wills and also accounts for the willing of the good angels as the acceptance of what they are and have as received and, hence, as finite. The essay concludes with reflection on Sartre and Camus's The Plague taking as the central ethical and existential problem of human life, as Anselm does, the problem of finitude, and comparing their responses.
A proof text that Anselm is a libertarian on free will is his point in De libertati arbitrii that it is logically impossible that God should cause the act of sin, since that would involve the contradiction of God willing that the created agent should will what He wills that the agent not will. Those, like Aquinas, who hold that God does will the act of sin often argue that, while sin is against the antecedent will of God, it is in accord with His consequent will. Anselm does not consider this possibility, in part, I suggest, because it would entail that God deceives His created agents; a thing which God would not do since He is perfect Truth. In the present paper I work through Anselm's De Veritate to see if his understanding of truth in general and divine Truth in particular might allow that God could deceive regarding His commandments. I conclude that, although Anselm's understanding of truth is surprisingly broad and complex, it would not allow the possibility that God, the standard of Truth, could antecedently issue commands which He consequently causes His created agents to disobey.
In speaking of the image of God in human beings, Saint Thomas, following Augustine, focuses on that element of the human being which distinguishes us from the animals-the rational soul, which includes the intellect and will. Such a position is not altogether harmonious with Scripture and with some theological principles articulated by Thomas elsewhere. In the first part of this paper, I examine Thomas's professed doctrine on the imago dei drawn from the two passages in which he is most explicit and systematic, Summa theologiae 1.93 and De veritate 10.1. In the second part, I consider Thomas's position on the relation between faith and reason, and how they come into play in our understanding of the Trinity. In the third part, I take up four particular arguments that Thomas makes in Summa theologiae 1.93, in the light of these principles, and argue for a broader interpretation of the imago dei, one that includes the entire human person. I conclude with some reflections on why this matters.
It was from St. Augustine that Anselm learned that the only-begotten Son is the true image of God, and that the human person is an image by virtue of the human mind. But it was St. Hilary of Poitiers, the only author whom he expressly cites in his De Trinitate, who pointed Augustine to the insight that if the Son is the image of the Father, the incarnate Son, Christ, is the image of God; and that human persons, man and woman, most fully image the image who is Christ by their participation in the Eucharist.