Saturday, September 30, 2006

Anselm on the Temporal and Atemporal

Here is a passage from St. Anselm's De concordia, section 5, that addresses very nicely the assymetry between the temporal and the atemporal that I was talking about in this post.
When St. Paul says that God foreknew, predestined, called, justified, and glorified his saints, none of these actions happen before or after on God's part. They must all be understood as existing simultaneously in an eternal present. For eternity has its own unique simultaneity which contains both all things that happen at the same time and place and that happen at different times and places...

In this way therefore whenever Sacred Scripture speaks of things which occur by free will as though they were necessary, it is speaking acording to the eternity in which truth, and nothing but the truth, is present immutably. It is not speaking of the temporal world in which the acts of our will and behavior are not everlasting; and just as, while they do not exist, there is no necessity for them to do so, so too it is often not necessary that they occur at some time.

1 comment:

Mike L said...


Anselm's approach takes much of the steam out of the argument that divine "foreknowledge" of damnation entails divine "intent" thereof. It does so without the gratuitous and, I believe, false hypothesis that for God there is only "the now."


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