De Concordia: Foreknowledge, Necessity and Predestination

Having read Anselm's De Concordia: The Compatibility of God's Foreknowledge, Predestination, and Grace with Human Freedom,  I was struck by how similar many of his arguments sound to those of Martin Luther in Bondage of the Will. Luther was clearly influenced by Anselm in his thinking, whether directly or indirectly.

For example, Luther argued that man does not have moral freedom of the will, because the sinful will is corrupt and unable to change itself to will good. Therefore, if we are to will good and choose God, then it must be because God has changed our broken will. Anselm writes:

"Now let us consider whether people who do not have this uprightness of will can acquire it in some fashion by themselves...no one who does not possess uprightness of will is equipped to acquire it alone with an act of the will...So there is no way by which creatures can have it on their own. Yet neither can a creature have it from another creature. Just as creatures cannot save other creatures, they cannot give them the means necessary for salvation. So it follows that a creature possesses he uprightness which I have called uprightness of the will only by the grace of God."

-Anselm of Canterbury: The Major Works, p. 455

This, of course, leads to the age-old question of why God gives this uprightness of will to some and not others. Is it merited or earned? Anselm again says:

"And even if God does not give grace to everyone, for 'He shows compassion to whom he wills and hardens those he wills to harden' [Rom. 9:18], still he does not give to anyone in return for some antecedent merit, for 'who has first given to God and he shall be rewarded?' [Rom. 11:35]...It must all be attributed to grace, too, because 'it is not of the one who wills, nor of the one who runs, but of God, who shows mercy' [Rom. 9:16]. For to all, except God alone, it is said: 'What do you have that you have not received? And if you have received it all, why do you boast as though you had not received it?' [I Cor. 4:7]...Thus when God gives willing and running to someone conceived and born in sin to whom he owes nothing but punishment, this is not 'of the one who wills, nor of the one who runs, but of God who shows mercy."

-Anselm of Canterbury: The Major Works, p. 455, 458

Not just in the matter of moral will, though, but also with regard to metaphysical free will, Luther seems to follow Anselm. Speaking of will in the abstract, metaphysical sense, Martin Luther agrees that man's will is free in the sense that it is not compelled in any way. Sinners are morally unable to will righteousness and are therefore in bondage in a moral sense until released by God's grace. However, sinners are not in bondage in the sense of being forced to sin against their wills. In Bondage of the Will, Luther writes: "I said 'of necessity'; I did not say 'of compulsion'; I meant, by a necessity, not of compulsion, but of what they call immutability. That is to say: a man without the Spirit of God does not do evil against his will, under pressure, as though he were taken by the scruff of the neck and dragged into it, like a thief or footpad being dragged off against his will to punishment; but he does it spontaneously and voluntarily."

Anselm likewise says:

"From all this it would seem to follow that people who sin do what they do necessarily even though they act freely." -Anselm of Canterbury: The Major Works, p. 440

And this leads to one more thing that often happens in discussions about foreknowledge, free will and necessity. It is often said that God's predestination is based on His foreknowledge. That events are predestined based on the fact that God has foreseen them already happening. In other words God is foreseeing things happen apart from his intervention (His knowledge is the result of things), and His predestination is simply a stamp of acknowledgement that He has indeed seen those things. Anselm makes a very good point about why this is a bad view:

"Since God is believed to foreknow or know all things, we have still to consider whether his knowledge results from things or whether the existence of things results from his knowledge. For if God owes his knowledge to things, it follows that they exist prior to his knowledge of them and that their existence is not owed to God...Of course every quality, every action, everything that has existence owes its being at all to God..." -Anselm of Canterbury: The Major Works, p. 447

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