K:JNWTS 30/3 (December 2015): 16

Anselm on the Incarnation and Redemption[1]

He acted of His own will [for our salvation, JTD]; and because His will is always good, He acted out of goodness alone. God did not need to secure man's salvation in the way He did; but human nature needed in that way to make satisfaction to God. God did not need to suffer such agony; but man needed to be reconciled through God's sufferings. God did not need to humble Himself through incarnation; but man needed to be rescued from the depth of Hell through God's incarnation. The Divine Nature did not need, and was not able, to be abased or to toil. It was necessary for human nature to do all these things [viz., to make satisfaction, to be reconciled, and to be rescued] in order to be restored to that end for which it was created. But neither human nature nor anyone other than God Himself was able to accomplish these things . . . And this remission is possible only if complete satisfaction has been made. This satisfaction ought to be such that the sinner or someone on his behalf gives to God something of his own which is not owed--something which exceeds everything that is not God.

O good Lord Jesus Christ, in this state I was neither seeking nor deliberating; but like the sun You shined forth upon me and showed me my plight. You cast off the leaden weight which was drawing me down; You removed the burden which was pushing me down; You repelled the foes who were impelling me onward, warding them off for my sake. You called me by a new name which You derived from Your name. Stooped over as I was, You stood me upright to face You, saying" "Be confident, I have redeemed you and given my soul [life] for you." . . . Yes, O Lord, such was my condition, and these things You have done for me. I was in darkness because I knew nothing--not even my very self. I was on slippery footing because I was weak and prone to sin. I was on the downward road to the chaos of Hell because in our first parents I had descended from justice to injustice [or righteousness to unrighteousness, JTD] (and injustice leads down to Hell), from happiness to the misery of this life (from which one falls into eternal misery). The weight of original sin was dragging me down; the unbearable burden of God's judgment was pushing me down . . . Being thus destitute of all help, I was illumined by You and shown my condition. For while I was not yet able to know my condition You taught all these things to others on my behalf, and later You taught these same things to me even before I inquired. You cast aside the leaden weight, the unbearable burden, and the impelling foes, for You removed the sin in which I had been conceived and born, You removed also the condemnation of this sin, and You forbade evil spirits to constrain my soul. You gave me the name Christian, which derives from Your own name; through Your name I confess, and You acknowledge, that I am among the redeemed.[2]

[1] Anselm of Canterbury (1033-1109) is justly famous for his marvelous book Cur Deus Homo ("Why the God Man?"). The quotations above are a summary of that work which every Christian should read and take to heart. It is a wonderful exposition of the Biblical revelation of why God the Son had to become man, i.e., only the God-Man could pay the price of the salvation of sinners.

[2] "A Meditation on Human Redemption," in Anselm of Canterbury: Volume One, edited and translated by Jasper Hopkins and Herbert Richardson (Edwin Mellen Press, 1974) 139, 142-43.