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Anselm

Renewing Your Mind / R.C. Sproul
The Truth Network Radio
January 4, 2022 12:01 am

Anselm

Renewing Your Mind / R.C. Sproul

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January 4, 2022 12:01 am

In the 11th century, Anselm set forth his argument for the existence of God--and people have been talking about it ever since. Today, R.C. Sproul examines this argument and why it's so controversial.

Get R.C. Sproul's Teaching Series 'Consequences of Ideas' for Your Gift of Any Amount: https://gift.renewingyourmind.org/2041/consequences-ideas

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We live again in a time that is one of the most anti-intellectual periods in Western Christianity. That is, we are anti-mind and it's become a virtue among Christians to embrace what is called a child like faith in a childlike faith doesn't have a new fuel for Christians are called to think deeply about things that matter they will renew your mind, Dr. RC Sproul continues his series.

The consequences of ideas, and he will help us think through the origin of the both a secular and biblical point of view for believers. This is important. We need to be fully engaged because these are ideas that shape our culture and our last session we took him brief. In fact, all too brief glimpse at the prodigious work of St. Augustine and I might mention here that from Augustine through the Middle Ages and up into the Renaissance, the history of philosophical thought in the Western world was dominated by Christian thinkers. Obviously there were non-Christian thinkers who had some significant contributions to make in the development of Western thought that the dominant players in that period of time were Christian intellectuals and of course that's not the case today but it has been in previous time. Now when we get to the beginning of the second millennium.

That is, to the 11th century we meet a man who, following in the line of Augustine made a significant contribution. Most of the realm of theology and to philosophy, and I'm referring of course to St. Anselm who became the Archbishop of Canterbury, Anselm, like Augustine was both a theologian and philosopher, and he's most famous for three important works that he wrote the first one that will mention is the little book Cárdenas Homo this really a?

Cur Deus Homo why the God man and from a somewhat speculative vantage point Anselm was trying to give a rational argument for the need or the necessity of a person who participated both deity and humanity to function and to serve adequately as a mediator for our redemption and he also was asking the question in this book. Why an atonement was an atonement necessary for God to redeem his people, and this is significant in the history of theology because Anselm really developed in greater detail than anyone had before him, the so-called satisfaction view of the atonement, namely, that in the atonement of Christ satisfied the demands of God's justice by serving as our substitute in our place. So the whole idea of vicarious sacrifice was central to the thinking of Anselm and he saw in this the necessity of God's having such satisfaction in order for God not to compromise or to negotiate his own justice, but again our greater concern today is for the philosophical contributions of Anselm and his two other works that are important are the mama love you and the cross Logan and the model of EM.

He begins to develop some of his arguments for the existence of God. No Anselm followed in the footsteps of Augustine and adopted a concept that Augustine himself had used as part of his own personal creed and that is the statement credo would entirely gone credo CRE DO what you today and entelechy, and TEL LIGAM in that Frakes what is being confessed. Are these words I believe in order that I might under stand now, neither Augustine nor Anselm was ever satisfied with a blind faith which they consider to be a form of credulity that was not in any way virtuous, but rather, though both subscribe to the idea that in the final analysis, God is incomprehensible, namely that we cannot contain in our finite minds are our finite intellect, a total comprehensive understanding of God. Nevertheless, the God who is has revealed himself to us with sufficient clarity, and particularly in the sacred Scriptures to such a degree that we can at least have an apprehensive knowledge of him and those who put their trust in God and their faith in God and the things of God should never be satisfied with a childish, immature understanding of God. I mentioned that because we live again in a time that is one of the most anti-intellectual periods in Western Christianity that is we are anti-mind and it's become a virtue among Christians to embrace what is called a child like faith, of course, there is a point for a childlike faith insofar as as a small child puts implicit trust in one who knows more than the child does, namely the parent while they're very young. At least it doesn't last too long. Of course, that we as the children of God should have an implicit trust in our heavenly father. Just as a young child has that kind of implicit trust in their earthly parents, but this concept of a childlike faith has come to mean too many people today. What I would call what Anselm would call what Augustine would call a childish faith.

The settlement have to think about the content of my faith. That's a destructive thing that scholars get into. I'm just going to keep it as simple as I possibly can and not be engaged in any serious study of theology or the word of God or anything else is can we keep it simple. Now that point when we take that position.

We sin that so far from being a virtue. It is a vice.

According to the New Testament because the New Testament commands us that we are to be babes and evil childlike in our sin, but in understanding we are to be men, that is, we are to be adults and is the author of Hebrews laborers that it is a sin to be satisfied with the milk and we are commanded as we seek maturity in Christ to the diet of the meteor things of the faith. Now this is the kind of thing that both Augustine and Anselm were jealous to communicate that the content that God has revealed in his Scripture is content that was designed to be understood by his people and that we must seek to gain as much understanding as we possibly can, of that which God has provided for us again.

We know at the outset that we can't possibly have a comprehensive understanding of God. But we should not allow that to lure us into an ungodly kind of skepticism or negligence of his truth. It is the duty of the Christian not only to believe with the purpose of belief is that in order that it's a purpose clause here. We might understand. And now that takes work and it takes hard work means we have to study and think clearly and so one again.

A deeper understanding of God. Now with this Anselm believed that the Christian faith was rational because of that and because of his heavy use of reason in his philosophy. Many have called him a rational list, but when we talk about rationalism where reason is placed above divine revelation that would be a slanderous appellation to make to Anselm and some believe that revelation was the ultimate source of truth matinee could bear rational speculation, like Augustine before him, he believes that that which God reveals is not irrational it is to be understood in an intelligible manner. We are responsible to apply our minds to the deepest possible level of cogent thinking and trying to understand the God who reveals himself now. When he begins to develop his arguments for the existence of God before we get to his most famous one. He started with a simple argument in the model of human and that is this, that if anything exists Ward us put it another way, whatever exists either exists through something or by means of something or it exists through nothing as a very simple distinction either something. Whatever exists in this world exists because it is been made by something other than itself or is come from nothing in the point that Anselm wants to establish at the very beginning is that for something to come from nothing is a manifest logical absurdity. Now keep in mind here that we've already looked at Augustine's doctrine of creation where he says that God creates things ask me hello out of nothing but what that means is that there wasn't some preexistent matter that God then shaped and reshaped into the present world, something that eternally coexists with him and what Augustine did not mean when he said that creationists asked me hello that things come out of nothing by themselves. That is, with nothing causing them to be, because God is not nothing God is something in the whole reason why Augustine and Anselm and others are pointing to the necessity of a create tour is because of their conviction that it's manifestly impossible for something to come out of nothing by itself.

I can't think of any principal more rational than that and I can't think of any pit of irrationality that has been more frequently jumped into by modern thinkers than that they use sometimes more sophisticated language, but as I pointed out in my book, not a chance that it still remains impossible for something to create itself because to create itself. It would have to be before it was which means would have to be and not be at the same time and in the same relationship and so to argue that something comes into being out of nothing by its own power is to jump into a C of pure absurdity, but then we get over into the process. Low VM which is the most controversial and perhaps interesting work that came to us from St. Anselm because it's in the process. Low VM that he developed the famous ontological argument for the existence of God. Usually when Christian thinkers look at the traditional arguments for the existence of God they'll boil down to three or four.

The three most popular and most famous are called the cosmological argument for God's existence where you reason from the cosmos or the world back to its first costs, or to a creator, or the teleological argument, which is the argument from design where we look around and we see that the things seem to operate for certain purposes or for certain reasons and you can't have design without a design error.

You can't have purpose without somebody intelligently planning the desired and and those are two very famous arguments that people work over again and again but the ontological argument as it was spelled out by Anselm is one that is exceedingly vexing. It's the kind of argument that easily gives you an Excedrin headache number one and for the most part it's been dismissed and then revisited and then dismissed again through Western philosophical history and even in our own day. There's been a revival of interest in Anselm's ancient ontological argument notes called the ontological argument because it's an argument from being an ontology is the science of being, and we while we looked at the pre-Socratic's and Heraclitus and Parmenides in Plato and Aristotle. We know that the metaphysical aspect of philosophy is one that focuses attention on ontology on being now the ontological argument is called the ontological argument because it is an argument from being to the existence of God. Now the way Anselm states the argument is extremely important because sometimes you can try to shorthand. This argument and missed the whole point that Anselm was trying to communicate the way he did. It was this, he says that God is that then which no greater can be can see God is that than which no greater can be conceived of. Again, the shorthand version is often stated this where the God is the greatest conceivable being that it is interesting that Anselm devastated that way. His articulation of it is much more awkward.

But there was a reason for that. God is not being than which no greater can be conceived.

Now that's the primary premise that he adds to that that for God to be that which then no greater can be conceived. He must exist in reality as well.

As in the mind. That is, he must have real being, and not just hypothetical being, because if you're thinking, simply of the idea of God that exists in your mind you are not thinking about the God of Anselm because Anselm is saying that the God is defining is the greatest being conceivable, and if your conceiving of the greatest being conceivable as not existing.

Then we can come up with a greater being than the one you're talking about the one who actually is because existence is greater than nonbeing or nothingness in the language that he's using here now. His chief antagonist was a monk by the name of Ghana low who took up arguments against this somewhat strange ontological argument for the existence of God were gonna low arguments and wait a minute. He said just because we can conceive of the greatest island conceivable on island of which no greater island can be conceived does not mean that such an island exists in less we have the power to conjure up reality just by conceiving it well.

Anselm said you're right. Gonna low just because we can conceive of the greatest conceivable island doesn't mean that such a conceivable island exists in reality.

But the greatest conceivable island is not the highest conceivable being. There's a difference between arguing for that being than which no greater can be conceived as being necessarily conceived as actually existing than arguing that a perfect island or perfect horse or perfect man can be.

Therefore thought to exist in reality know what's going on behind the scenes here and what's being assumed tacitly in this way of thinking is what's left for modern and later philosophers to argue about.

But one of the common views is that what Anselm is really saying here is that you cannot think of being without thinking of being as being nonexistent being is unthinkable non-existent islands are conceivable as an mental concept, but you cannot even have a mental concept of non-existing being, because being by definition be's rating by definition is it is a necessary logical connection to the very idea of being too conceive of it as being for example, in his response to gonna low.

He would say that it's impossible to have if your rational person. It is impossible to have the idea of a possible necessary be because of a necessary being is simply possible, then it's not really necessary. So now we have to think in terms of this idea, but becomes a central point of focus later on in philosophy, particularly in Thomas Aquinas of the idea of necessary be necessary. Being in this case is that being, which is both logically necessary to assume and ontologically necessary now that distinction is when ontological necessity and logical necessity will look at in greater length when we look at St. Thomas Aquinas. But for now we mention it only in passing that what Anselm is driving at. I think is again the logical necessity of a really existing being.

Again, you cannot think of being as not being that introduces the logical principle that is one of the most weighty, if not the way to the logical proof for anything. There is and that is the impossibility of the contrary, the impossibility of the contrary is the rule that says something cannot be its opposite, intellectually, logically or rationally, so that the being greater than which no other can be conceived cannot even be conceived of as not be. If you have your Excedrin headache take two aspirin and call me. Well, these are certainly concepts that requires some deep thinking birthday, but Dr. RC Sproul was helping us make our way through them step-by-step. This week on Renewing Your Mind.

We are pleased to feature Dr. Spruill series. The consequences of ideas in 35 messages. He traces the development of philosophical thought in the Western world and he hopes to see why those ideas matter today. You're welcome to contact us and request this complete series will send them to you in a nine DVD set for your donation of any amount to later ministries you can make a request online@renewingyourmind.org or if you prefer you can call us at 800-435-4343. In addition to the full series when you contact us this week will include a bonus disc that contains the audio files of the series plus a helpful study guide that provides you with an outline of each message. Additional reading suggestions and group discussion questions. So again with your donation to Betty about requesting 35 part series. The consequences of ideas number is 800-435-4343 and or web address is Renewing Your Mind.org but what you can always visit our online archive of past Renewing Your Mind programs what easy way to do that is with our free link in your app downloaded today and begin exploring the resources available there you find audio and video clips articles daily Bible studies and many other helpful resources. Just search for linear in your app store. Can we discover knowledge of God through nature. There's a difference of opinion on that question tomorrow. Dr. Spruill introduces one theologian who answered with an emphatic yes. I hope you'll join us Wednesday for Renewing Your Mind


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