Roc Homily (2) – 2nd Sunday Ordinary Time (A) 2017

anselm-of-canterbury 1. ATONEMENTSt. Anselm and his theory of atonement

 Thanks to: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Satisfaction_theory_of_atonement

St. Anselm of Canterbury first articulated the satisfaction view in his Cur Deus Homo? as a modification to the ransom theory that was postulated at the time.
The then-current ransom theory of atonement held that Jesus’ death paid a ransom to Satan, allowing God to rescue those under Satan’s bondage.
For Anselm, this solution was inadequate. Why should the Son of God have to become a human to pay a ransom? Why should God owe anything at all to Satan?

Instead, Anselm suggested that we owe God a debt of honor:

“This is the debt which man and angel owe to God, and no one who pays this debt commits sin; but every one who does not pay it sins. This is justice, or uprightness of will, which makes a being just or upright in heart, that is, in will; and this is the sole and complete debt of honor which we owe to God, and which God requires of us.”

This debt creates essentially an imbalance in the moral universe; it could not be satisfied by God’s simply ignoring it.

In Anselm’s view, the only possible way of repaying the debt was for a being of infinite greatness, acting as a man on behalf of men, to repay the debt of honor owed to God.

Therefore, when Jesus died, he did not pay a debt to Satan but to God, His Father.

In light of this view, the “ransom” that Jesus referred to in the Gospels would be a sacrifice and a debt paid only to God the Father, in behalf of “many”.

Tomorrow: Aquinas’ modifications to Anselm’s theory…

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