St. Anselm Of Canterbury

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St. Anselm Of Canterbury Biography

Feelosofi – St. Anselm of Canterbury, also known as Anselm, was an important figure in the history of medieval philosophy and theology. He was born around 1033 in Aosta, Italy, and later entered the monastery at Bec, Normandy, under the guidance of Lanfranc, a famous theological figure of his time. In 1093, Anselm was appointed Bishop of Canterbury, the highest position in the Church of England, and he played a central role in church reform and relations between church and state.

One of his most important contributions was in the field of theology. He is known for the ontological argument he developed in his book “Proslogion,” in which he tried to prove the existence of God simply by thinking about Him. Although this argument has been the subject of intense debate in the history of philosophy, it remains one of the starting points for profound Christian theological thought.

Anselm is also known for his efforts to defend the autonomy of the church against the interference of political authorities. He fought courageously for the freedom of the church and its right to appoint bishops in accordance with religious principles, not simply state policy. His conflicts with King William II and King Henry I of England provide powerful examples of the church’s struggle against political power.

In addition, Anselm was a prolific writer, with many theological works, letters, and treatises that are still relevant today. His work covers topics such as grace, repentance, the nature of God, and the importance of faith in the Christian faith.

St. Anselm of Canterbury is an inspiring figure in church history and philosophy. His contributions to theology, philosophical thought, and his struggle for church autonomy reflect devotion and courage that should be appreciated in the intellectual and spiritual journey of humans in the Middle Ages.

St. Anselm Of Canterbury Thoughts

The Ontological Argument

The Ontological Argument, first put forward by St. Anselm of Canterbury, is a philosophical argument that aims to prove the existence of God deductively, only through conceptual thinking without the need for empirical evidence. This argument is based on the idea that God is “the most perfect thing that can be thought of,” so that if one can imagine God, then God must exist in reality, because something that exists in reality is more perfect than that which exists only in thought.

This argument is famous for Anselm’s work entitled “Proslogion,” where he uses highly structured language and logic to structure his argument. Although this argument has sparked much discussion and controversy among philosophers, including criticism from Immanuel Kant and Thomas Aquinas, it remains a major topic in the philosophy of religion.

Anselm’s Ontological Argument illustrates the complexity of the relationship between thought and existence and is a classic example of the exploration of the idea of God in philosophical and theological traditions.

Anslemian Soteriology

Anslemian soteriology draws on the thought of St. Anselm of Canterbury about human salvation or salvation in the context of Christian theology. Anslem developed a very influential substance theory of salvation in his works, especially in the book “Cur Deus Homo” (“Why God Became Man”). According to Anslem, human sin is an affront to God’s honor and results in a moral debt that only God himself can pay. Therefore, through the incarnation of Christ and His death on the cross, Anslem believes that God satisfied His justice and restored humanity’s relationship with Him. Anslemian soteriology emphasized divine justice and the importance of atonement and created an important foundation in Christian theological thinking regarding salvation and the redemptive work of Christ. Although controversial, this concept makes a significant contribution to the understanding of Christian theology and discussions surrounding God’s grace and justice.

Fides Quaerens Intellectum

“Fides Quaerens Intellectum” is the concept underlying the theological thought of St. Anselm of Canterbury. In Latin, this expression means “faith seeks understanding.” Anselm put forward this idea as the basis for an intellectual approach to the Christian faith. According to him, faith and reason are complementary and mutually reinforcing, where faith encourages humans to seek a deeper understanding of religious teachings. In other words, Anselm taught that strong faith must be accompanied by a serious intellectual effort to understand and reflect on religious teachings. The concept of “Fides Quaerens Intellectum” highlights the importance of critical thinking and understanding in religious experience and became the basis for the development of Christian theological and philosophical thought in subsequent times.

Lack of Human Capabilities

The lack of human abilities is one of the central concepts of St. Anselm of Canterbury. In his theological works, particularly in “Cur Deus Homo” or “Why God Became Man,” Anselm discusses the inability of humans to meet the demands of divine justice and pay their sin debt to God.

According to him, human sin is an act of humiliation against God, which requires redemption that only God himself can do. Humans do not have the ability or resources to free themselves from sin and achieve salvation. Therefore, Anselm believed that God, through the incarnation of Christ and His death on the cross, was the only one who could satisfy divine justice and save humanity. Anselm’s concept of “Lack of Human Capabilities” highlights the importance of understanding redemption and God’s grace in the teachings of Christianity and becomes the basis for the theories of salvation that developed in subsequent Christian theology.

Philosophical Theology

The philosophical theology developed by St. Anselm of Canterbury is an intellectual approach to the Christian faith that focuses on rational inquiry and a deep understanding of religious teachings. In his works, such as “Proslogion” and “Cur Deus Homo” (“Why God Became Man”), Anselm combined philosophy with theology to explain religious concepts such as the nature of God, salvation, and sin. He emphasized the importance of the use of reason in understanding faith, and the concept of “Fides Quaerens Intellectum” (“Faith Seeking Understanding”) is an expression of this approach.

Thus, Anslemian philosophical theology recognizes that reason and faith are not two contradictory things but rather complement each other. This approach has made a significant contribution to the history of Christian theological thought and has become the basis for exploring a deep understanding of religious beliefs.

Works of St. Anselm Of Canterbury

  • Monologion (1076)
  • Proslogion (1077-1078)
  • De Grammatico (mid- to late 11th century)
  • De Veritate (1090–1091)
  • De Libertate Arbitrii (1080s or early 1090s)
  • Cur Deus Homo (1094-1098)
  • De Conceptu Virginali et de Originali Peccato (12th Century)


St. Anselm of Canterbury, a medieval intellectual and theologian, played an important role in the history of Christian thought. His major contributions include ideas such as the Ontological Argument, Fides Quaerens Intellectum, and salvation theory, which illustrate his deep and profound thought. In addition, he emphasized the harmonious relationship between faith and reason in the understanding of religion, and this approach paved the way for the development of philosophical theology. His prolific work covered a wide range of theological and philosophical topics and had a profound impact on Christian understanding of grace, sin, and the nature of God. St. Anselm of Canterbury is one of the theological and philosophical figures who influenced the development of intellectual and spiritual thought in the history of the church and Western thought.


Who is St. Anselm of Canterbury, and why is he so important in church history and philosophy?

St. Anselm of Canterbury was a medieval theologian, philosopher, and bishop born around 1033. He is important for his contribution to combining philosophy with Christian theology. Anselm developed famous theological arguments, such as the Ontological Argument, and emphasized the importance of rational thought in understanding religion. As Bishop of Canterbury, he also played a central role in church reform and the struggle against the interference of political authorities in church affairs.

What is meant by the “Ontological Argument” developed by St. Anselm, and how did he contribute to Christian theological and philosophical thought?

The Ontological Argument is a philosophical argument developed by St. Anselm to prove the existence of God deductively, only through conceptual thinking. He claims that if one can imagine God as the most perfect thing, then God must exist in reality, because existence in reality is more perfect than just in thought. Although this argument has been the subject of debate, it remains a major topic of discussion in Christian theology and philosophy.

How does the concept of “Fides Quaerens Intellectum” influence the understanding of the relationship between faith and reason in Christian theology, and why is it relevant in today’s intellectual and spiritual context?

Konsep “Fides Quaerens Intellectum” yang diterapkan oleh St. Anselm menekankan pentingnya penggunaan akal budi dalam memahami iman Kristen. Ia berpendapat bahwa iman dan akal budi adalah saling melengkapi, dan pemahaman yang mendalam tentang iman dapat ditemukan melalui pemikiran rasional. Konsep ini masih relevan dalam konteks intelektual dan rohani saat ini karena mengingatkan kita akan pentingnya refleksi dan penalaran dalam keyakinan agama, serta mengajak kita untuk menjaga keseimbangan antara iman dan akal budi dalam pencarian pemahaman rohani yang lebih dalam.


  • St. Anselm’s Proslogion: With a Reply on Behalf of the Fool – Thomas Williams (Penerjemah) – 1995
  • Anselm’s Other Argument – Katherin Rogers – 2011
  • Anselm’s Philosophy – Sandra Visser dan Thomas Williams – 2008
  • Anselm’s Discovery: A Re-Examination of the Ontological Proof for God’s Existence – Charles Hartshorne – 1965
  • Anselm and the Logic of Illusion – George Braziller – 1967
  • Anselm’s Proslogion: An Introduction – Ian Logan – 2002
  • Anselm – Richard W. Southern – 1990
  • St. Anselm of Canterbury and His Theological Inheritance – Giles E. M. Gasper – 2004

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Raymond Kelvin Nando
Writer, Researcher, & Philosophy Enthusiast