Feast of St. Anselm of Canterbury

Today is the feast of Saint Anselm (1033-1109), the archbishop of Canterbury, philosopher, and theologian. St. Anselm is an important figure in the English Christian tradition that eventually grew into contemporary Anglicanism, and which also shaped the faith of the Wesley family and gave rise to the early Methodist movement. Anselm's writings address various philosophical issues such as the existence of God, the nature of the atonement, and the compatibility of free-will and divine foreknowledge.

St. Anselm was required reading in my philosophy classes at LSU and my theology classes in seminary where he was sometimes blamed for inventing the "bad" penal substitution theory of atonement, which the excellent Methodist blog Incarnatio points out is a still more ancient doctrine than Anselm, though Anselm did try to flesh it out in novel ways with perhaps mixed results.

Here follows a prayer of St. Anslem:

Lord Jesus Christ; Let me seek you by desiring you,and let me desire you by seeking you;let me find you by loving you,and love you in finding you.

I confess, Lord, with thanksgiving,that you have made me in your image,so that I can remember you, think of you, and love you.

But that image is so worn and blotted out by faults,and darkened by the smoke of sin,that it cannot do that for which it was made,unless you renew and refashion it.

Lord, I am not trying to make my way to your height,for my understanding is in no way equal to that,but I do desire to understand a little of your truthwhich my heart already believes and loves.

I do not seek to understand so that I can believe,but I believe so that I may understand;and what is more,I believe that unless I do believe, I shall not understand. Amen.

-from The Oxford Book of Prayer, ed. by George Appleton

Check the Etherial Christian Classics Library for more from Anselm of Canterbury.



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