Proslogium – Anselm

How to properly read Anselm…

…building upon the idea that this proof of God’s existence was part of sanctification for the Christian and possibly allure for the on looking unregenerate seeker, Anselm’s first chapter sets the stage for the reader to qualify their assessment. If read coldly without reverence then one cannot remain on point with him. An example of such a qualification  from the introduction:

Be it mine to look up to thy light, even from afar, even from the depths. Teach me to seek thee, and reveal thyself to me, when I seek thee, for I cannot seek thee, except thou teach me, nor find thee, except thou reveal thyself.4 Let me seek thee in longing, let me long for thee in seeking; let me find thee in love, and love thee in finding. Lord, I acknowledge and I thank thee that thou hast created me in this thine image, in order that I may be mindful of thee, may conceive of thee, and love thee; but that image has been so consumed and wasted away by vices, and obscured by the smoke of wrong-doing, that it cannot achieve that for which it was made, except thou renew it, and create it anew. I do not endeavor, O Lord, to penetrate thy sublimity, for in no wise do I compare my understanding with that; but I long to understand in some degree thy truth, which my heart believes and loves. For I do not seek to understand that I may believe, but I believe in order to understand. For this also I believe—that unless I believed, I should not understand.[1]

This prayer may be skimmed over to the academic who simply is looking for the argument the atheist would respond to. However, to the Christian who sees Anselm’s personal qualification it will become evident that there are considerations in humility to be observed before embarking on the argument deductively. It is the skimming of such a passage that causes the value of this work to be missed by the empiricist.


[1]               Anselm Proslogium 3

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