Bags of Bran

Encouragement from 1094
February 4, 2013, 8:56 am
Filed under: Bible, Biography

I’ve been teaching on the Fundamentals of the Faith lately, and in my preparation to talk about substitutionary atonement, I unearthed a gem.

In response to a request to systematize his view of the atonement, Anselm says:

“I…hesitate to respond to your request for the serious reason that the subject matter is not only of great importance, but is fair with a reason above human understanding, just as it has to do with him who is ‘beautiful above the sons of men.’ I am always indignant with poor artists when I see our Lord himself painted with an ugly form, and I am afraid that I may find myself in the same position if I dare to set out such a beautiful theme in rude and contemptible language.”

Being hesitant to write theology for fear of doing the subject matter an aesthetic injustice?

If only our contemporary hymnodists were blessed with such hesitancy, we would not be assailed thrice weekly with “rude and contemptible language,” fisticuffed into rhyme by blunt objects, and set to “bar tunes” in the sense that Luther did not intend.

St. Anselm, Cur deus homo (page 103 of A Scholastic Miscellany: Anselm to Ockham, ed. Eugene R. Fairweather, Library of Christian Classics) (how’s that for a bibliographic monstrosity?)


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