Tag Archive: St. Anselm of Canterbury



“For by the grace given me I say to every one of you: Do not think of yourself more highly than you ought, but rather think of yourself with sober judgment, in accordance with the faith God has distributed to each of you.” -Romans 12:3

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"The Confusion of Tongues," by Gustave Dore. engraving, c. 1865

In my earlier post concerning 2 Corinthians 10:7 entitled, “On Proper Pride and Humility,” I discussed a little about the relative aspects of pride and a few ways one can avoid this particular sin in their life. Yet, I feel some added clarification is required, that we may gain a deeper understanding of this sin, in order that it might be identified. Pride has great ability at concealing itself in ones life, by defining it with more clarity, we may illuminate it.

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Pride at its very core is a lie and deceitful. To have pride in oneself, is to take those attributes one has been granted by God and embellish upon them so they become more than they are. As Paul urges, “Do not think of yourself more highly than you ought.” This in essence it what pride is, to think of oneself more highly than you should, or to think about a particular attribute more than you should.

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Therefore, if you stand in front of a mirror and suck it in and flex periodically, as I have been known to do, you are exercising that pride. Also, if you are a big, “Rock Band” fan and picture yourself in your minds eye playing in front of a crowd of screaming women, or men, this is also prideful. Do not use your mind and heart to exalt and exaggerate the self, for to do so is incredibly sinful. In addition, because you will fall short in this elaboration, this can lead to extreme depression, when one doesn’t match up to the conception offered up by the sinful mind.

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In atheism, a popular argument against God’s being, is that if He existed or exists than He is an extremely prideful being. Yet, when we take Paul’s definition, we find this not to be the case at all. God knows exactly who He is and cannot be anything different. Furthermore, because he is the thing-above-which-no-greater-can-be-thought, as defined perfectly in St. Anselm of Canterbury’s Ontological Argument, He is perfectly worthy of worship. In fact, due to God’s knowledge of exactly what He is, this is humility.

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"Sistine Chapel Ceiling (detail)," by Michelangelo. fresco, c. 1508-1512

Paul continues saying, “think of yourself in sober judgment.” This is what humility is when it is in, “accordance with the faith God has distributed.” This being the case then it negates the idea of God being a prideful, and thereby sinful deity. God cannot deceive Himself, for this would present an irreconcilable contradiction, for He would have to imagine Himself greater than He is, which is an impossibility when one applies the definition of God offered by Anselm.

This verse suggests something which may give some insight into what human nature consists of. We are told, again, to think of ourselves in sober judgment in accordance with our faith in Christ. Thereby, since faith plays such a roll in the sober judgement of self, the question arises if we can have any victory against pride away from Christ? I would argue we can’t for the world is based on the self and the flesh. This sin of pride is the very same that drove Adam and Eve from the Garden. In a world where even good actions are self serving and motivated by the self, this doesn’t seem like a complete absurdity.

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"Adam and Eve Expelled," by Gustave Dore. engraving, c. 1865

To be in accordance with one’s faith, we need to realize that we are indeed imperfect and sinful. This is how Paul had such a lowly conception of himself without sinning. Paul realized how much of a sinner he was and how unworthy he was to both serve God, and be offered grace through Jesus Christ. Paul was completely humble in that he knew what he was and worked for God to serve all man and almost singlehandedly brought about the New Israel among the Gentiles.

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Remember to use discernment and do not elaborately adorn yourself with things like makeup, clothing (but please do wear clothes), jewelry, and anything that you use to magnify your being. This goes for both men and women. Yet, at the same time, we do not need to look like we just crawled out of a gutter whenever we go out in public, but we should use, “sober judgement in accordance with the faith.” Do not attempt to hide the beauty of being that goes beyond mere appearances, but be modest. God has granted you many things and because God is perfect, they are perfect. Do not magnify it by means of worldly things to either please the self or others, for this is a stumbling block to both, and sinful.

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Finally, God has distributed the Spirit to all those in the faith. I can’t address every context and every situation, for such wisdom and omniscience belongs to God alone. Pray to the Lord that He may reveal you by the Spirit of Truth, if such sin is present, and to what degree. Pray that He would help and instruct you how to walk that thin line between both pride and envy, that you may see yourself for who you are, a precious child of the Most High.

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“And who through the Spirit of holiness was appointed the Son of God in power by his resurrection from the dead: Jesus Christ our Lord.” -Romans 1:4


When one embarks on discourse with another “Christian,” it is not uncommon to come to some disagreement concerning the divinity of Christ. The prominent confusion rests in the union between the three separate supposed parts as one, the Father, Son and Spirit. We have physical laws all around us, like Pauli’s Exclusion Principle, which states that two forms of matter cannot occupy the same space at the same time. In addition, there are metaphysical laws like the law of identity, which when combined with physical laws, such as the Exclusion Principle, are assumed, by some, to prove the absurdity of such a claim as the complete union of what is known as the Holy Trinity. Though the Trinity isn’t an explicit doctrine in the bible, the Triune God is an implicit theme throughout the scriptures.


Does this concept, like some believe, necessarily lead to an absurdity though? It would if, and only if, God were a physical being bound by physical laws. However, if this were the case, He would not be God at all, for something, namely physicality, would transcend Him.

St. Anselm of Canterbury, in his famous Ontological Argument, provided, in my mind, the best philosophical, “secular definition” of God, when he said God was, “that-than-which-a-greater-cannot-be-thought.” Therefore, if God is bound by physicality, then He would be, “that-than-which-a-greater-can-be-thought,” explicitly contradicting who God is and must be. This being the case, it shows us, that a being that is not bound by physicality can be three-in-one without reaching any necessary absurdity.

St. Anselm had set out to prove by his Ontological Argument the existence of God by using the mere conception of God alone. He said:

“Even the fool, then, is forced to agree that something-than-which-nothing-greater-can-be-thought exists in the mind, since he understand this when he hears it, and whatever is understood is in the mind. An surely that-than-which-a-greater-cannot-be-thought cannot exist in the mind alone. For if it exists solely in the mind, it can be thought to exist in reality also, which is greater. If then that-than-which-a-greater-cannot-be-thought exists in the mind alone, this same that-than-which-a-greater-cannot-be-thought is that-than-which-a-greater-can-be-thought. But this is obviously impossible. Therefore there is absolutely no doubt that something-than-which-a-greater-cannot-be-thought exists both in the mind and reality. And certainly this being so truly exists that it cannot be even thought not to exist.”

I myself happen to have some reservations about St. Anselm’s theory, though it certainly does have its uses when trying to approach God using the mind. Yet, I feel St. Anselm’s argument to be a little too esoteric to convince the non-believer, though this is a rarity, someone coming to the Lord using the mind alone. I find other arguments such as the Cosmological Argument, from St. Thomas Aquinas and Samuel Clarke, and the Teleological Argument by William Paley, to be more convincing concerning God’s existence. In addition to the previous two arguments I mentioned, if one was to conjoin them with “Pascal’s Wager,” by Blaise Pascal, it provides a great argument, not only for the existence of God, but also for the existence of faith.

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Many philosophers have tried to disprove St. Anselm, but the argument is incredibly steadfast, which may suggest its overall credibility. One of these concerns if the particular “greater” can be used with existence, and that existence truly is a great making quality. Regardless, it is respected by both those of faith and also atheists. Even the atheist philosopher William L. Rowe conceded:

“If (my critique) is correct, Anselm’s argument fails as a proof of the existence of God. This is not to say, however, that the argument is not a work of genius. Perhaps no other argument in the history of thought has raised so many basic philosophical questions and stimulated so much hard thought. Even if it fails as a proof of the existence of God, it will remain as one of the high achievements of the human intellect.”

Romans 1:4 alone contains many references to the Trinity. These include, “Spirit,” “Son,” “God,” “Jesus Christ,” and “Lord.” The phrase, “through the Spirit of holiness,” is especially profound because it does not refer to some state of being or of mind on Christ’s part, but rather the Spirit itself, due to its capitalization. According to the verse, it was by this Spirit, who is declared to have immense power, which proclaimed Christ to be the Son of God. There are numerous reasons why the Trinity must be, but I will save those for another time.

In Genesis, the Bible gives us a large clue concerning the Lord’s triune nature. In fact, some of these occur right in the creation story itself. Though there are more than a couple examples I could mention, there is one, in my mind, that stands out above the rest when contemplating the Trinity. This may be an important thing to remember for those who struggle with the concept of the Trinity.


Genesis 1:26 (See my note, “On an Early Representation of The Trinity”) tells us we were created in the image and likeness of God. Thus, we are an abstract representation of the Lord’s being. Every one of us has a mind, a body, and a soul, yet we are individuals. Three in one. Given that God is “that-than-which-nothing-greater-can-be-thought,” are we to suppose He doesn’t transcend our being? This very same verse in Genesis indicates the existence of the Trinity by saying, “Let us make man in our image.” The words, “us,” and, “our,” indicate a plurality before the creation of man, suggesting that the Holy Trinity is indeed true.

It’s amazing but some of the best evidence concerning the trinity, or our triune Lord, is not so far away where we need to seek high and low for it. We don’t need to over analyze scriptures or seek out and search obscure places, rather, it is immediately seen and resides directly within each and every one of us.

"The Creation of Man," by Luca Giordano. fresco, c. 1684-1686

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