Wednesday, February 11, 2009

Who's Who in Theology: Anselm

Archbishop of Canterbury; sometimes described as the founder of Scholasticism

Born in Aosta (northwest Italy) of noble family, Anselm was educated at the abbey of St. Leger, where the classical curriculum trained him for the clarity of expression later characteristic of his writings. Anselm’s father intended him for a political career and opposed his son’s decision to become a monk. In 1057 Anselm left home and traveled in Burgundy (France) and Normandy for two years before settling in a Benedictine monastery at Bec, Normandy, to study under the renowned theologian Lanfranc. Anselm took monastic vows and succeeded his teacher as prior in 1063, a tribute to his intellect and piety. He later became abbot of Bec (1078–1093). Under Anselm’s leadership the monastery and its school became a prominent center of learning. Once when a neighboring abbot complained that he could not improve his boys no matter how much he beat them, Anselm gently responded with what sounds like a twentieth-century question: ‘Have you tried not beating them?’ Although he could be scathing in condemnation of monks who laid up treasure on earth, he showed compassion for ordinary human weakness. His humble faith produced the prayer, ‘Grant that I may taste by love what I apprehend by knowledge, that I may feel in my heart what I touch through the Spirit.’

After the Norman conquest of England in 1066, English lands were granted by William I (‘The Conqueror’) to the monastery of Bec. Because of that property, Anselm paid three visits to England, where he made a favorable impression on the clergy during a period of reorganization in their church. When the archbishopric of Canterbury became vacant on Lanfranc’s death in 1089, the English clergy urged that the abbot of Bec should succeed him. For the gentle monk it was not an inviting prospect. William II (‘Rufus’), who had come to the English throne in 1087, was notably disinclined to appoint someone with strong views about the rights and independence of the church. Indeed, the king was reluctant to appoint anyone at all. A four-year vacancy ensued, much to Rufus’s satisfaction, for the revenues of any vacant diocese went to the Crown. No help came from Rome, since at the time an unseemly squabble was going on between two rival claimants for the papacy.

Then the dilemma was unexpectedly resolved. Anselm, in England on monastic business, was called to hear the confession of the king who had become seriously ill. The apprehensive Rufus, it is related, forced the pastoral staff into Anselm’s clenched hands. The abbot protested, ‘You have yoked an old sheep with an untamed bull to the plough of the church, which ought to be drawn by two strong oxen.’ Anselm refused to be consecrated until Rufus restored certain lands to Canterbury, recognized the archbishop as his spiritual father, and acknowledged Urban II as the rightful pope (a choice forced upon Anselm because of his Norman connections). Rufus agreed, but he recovered and was never one for keeping his promises. The yokefellows did indeed prove incompatible. Again and again Rufus, one of the most evil and rapacious of English sovereigns, thwarted Anselm’s administration of the church and his concern for the spiritual welfare of the nation. The king would not even permit the archbishop to go on a visit to Rome. Anselm would not dilute his Christian principles to satisfy a royal tyrant, but his position gradually became so untenable that he left the country in 1097. He returned only after Rufus had died in mysterious circumstances and his brother Henry I had sent an invitation to the exiled primate (1100).

By that time the Investiture Controversy was at its height, and in keeping with a papal decree of 1099 Anselm declined to pay the expected homage to the new king or to consecrate bishops who had done so. Six unhappy years passed before a compromise was reached. Anselm was never at his best in political affairs, so his early rejection of a career in politics proved to be a wise decision. Only the last two years of his primacy were spent in peace. The papacy made some amends for the halfhearted support given him in England by canonizing him a little less than a half century after his death.

As a scholar, Anselm reintroduced the spirit of Augustine into theology. Much of Anselm’s writing was done during the placid decades at Bec—notably Monologion, De veritate, and Proslogion. Anselm sought to demonstrate the existence and attributes of God by an appeal to reason alone. He spoke of an absolute norm above time and space that could be comprehended by the mind of man. That norm was God, the ultimate standard of perfection. Anselm’s so-called Ontological Argument was that the existence of the idea of God necessarily implied the objective existence of God. He always insisted, however, that faith must precede reason: ‘I do not seek to understand in order that I may believe, but I believe in order to understand.’

To him is attributed what became known as the ‘satisfaction theory’ of the atonement, which sees God as the offended party and man as the offender. That view was elaborated in a famous work Cur Deus homo? (Why Did God Become Man?), which Anselm completed in 1098 in Italy. He rejected the view of the Atonement that saw it as the settlement of a lawsuit between God and the devil. Anselm’s hypothesis was that all human beings had sinned in and with Adam. God’s honor demanded that every creature should subject itself to him so that his eternal purposes should be completed. Since finite man could never make satisfaction to the infinite God, ‘no one but one who is God-man can make the satisfaction by which man is saved.’ The voluntary death of the sinless Christ on the cross was the only way and the only acceptable satisfaction.

Acknowledged as the greatest scholar between Augustine and Aquinas, Anselm’s distinctive characteristic was his resort to intellectual reasoning rather than to biblical tests and traditional writings—while still upholding the prime place of faith. His theology has had profound influence on many modern theologians, including Karl Barth.

J. D. Douglas


WHO’S WHO IN CHRISTIAN HISTORYJ. D. Douglas and Philip W. Comfort,
EditorsDonald Mitchell, Associate Editor
Tyndale House Publishers, Inc.

Friday, February 06, 2009

A response to a modern-day prophecy

This post is about a response to the modern-day prophecy about the Philippines. A prophecy of almost the same nature but different content for Thailand had been made last year. Lately, I had been witnessing preachers prophesying to people in the congregation. And I agree, most of those prophecies were not really about predicting what will happen in the future but sort of general statement that can always come true whatever the situation is. But I can testify that the prophecies were meant and to encourage.

Here is the email I received from my professor. I deleted some sentence that may cause security problem with those who are ministering in the restricted countries. This does not affect the main thought of this email

Dear Partners in Global Missions,

I appreciate the ‘prophecy‘ below, but there's really nothing new about it! The last time someone gave this kind of ‘prophecy‘ in the Philippines, I heard the ‘prophet‘ ran away with another woman and divorced his wife!

The Bible is clear on how a nation can prosper, and there is no need for a ‘new revelation‘ on this theme. After all, Japan, Singapore, and Hong Kong became prosperous even without a prophet prophesying about their imminent riches!

The sending of missionaries from the Philippines does not even need a ‘prophecy‘ because the Risen Lord has given this command 2,000 years ago. For one thing, God's covenant people in the Philippines need only to OBEY the Great Commission. Nowhere in the Bible can we find a text that requires a PROPHESY for fulfilling the Great Commission aside from the required OBEDIENCE necessary to fulfill it. For another, churches should promptly obey the Great Commission and enlist, train, commission, send, and support their missionaries across the nation and around the world.

When the Korean Church sent more than 20,000 missionaries to different parts of the world, believers did so out of their OBEDIENCE to the Great Commission. The Church in Myanmar (a much economically deppressed country than the Philippines) has more than 4,000 cross-border missionaries because believers simply obeyed the Great Commission even at the absence of a ‘prophesy.‘

Of course, we do not need ‘prophesy‘ to find oil reserves on our lands and shores because they are a ‘given‘ under GENERAL OR UNIVERSAL REVELATION. Our Filipino engineers only need more time to ‘discover‘ them, depending on the latest technology available. (They may, however, need ‘discernment‘ and ‘wisdom‘ where to find the reserves!)

Speaking of ‘missionaries‘ from the Philippines going to the countries mentioned in the ‘prophesy‘ below, already thousands have gone into those areas. The Philippine government used to call them OCW (Overseas Contract Workers), but we, believers, know them as Overseas Christian Workers!

Do we need ‘prophesy‘ to ‘show‘ us the existence of the PRINCIPALITY OF CORRUPTION across the Philippine archipelago? I think Filipinos are not naive on this one. We simply turn on our TV set to find ourselves watching all forms of corruption, from commercials to telenovelas!

Of course, I believe in genuine biblical prophesy. What we should be extra wary about are the so-called modern-day prophesies that sound like ‘pastoral counseling advices‘ that feature the obvious rather than the mysterious.

Remember the old hymn, ‘Standing on the Promises?‘ That's exactly how God's covenant people should live. We live each passing day according to God's promises (Psalm 119) rather than modern-day prophecies.

Tons of grace,
Terry Casino

Wednesday, February 04, 2009

Modern-day prophet

I believe that God can use modern day prophets to reveal his will for individual and for a nation. No doubt, if God used the prophets thousand of years ago, he can still use them today. I have been receiving emails about prophecies for the Philippines and somehow I have doubts this is authentic. Below is the prophecy of Cindy Jacobs for my country. Next time I will post the response of my theology professor about this and modern-day prophecy in general.

THE NEXT TWO YEARS EXTREMELY SIGNIFICANT You know I love you Philippines . I want you to pray, the next two years, the Lord is showing me, are going to be extremely significant for the Philippines . You're kind of on the cusp of re-civilization, I want to say that, either you're gonna go into greatness, it's going to transform the nation, or I see that there's gonna be some troubled times. So PRAY, PRAY, PRAY! I know you're already praying, but this is the time God is gonna pull down the SPIRIT OF CORRUPTION, and God is going to release the Spirit of truth and righteousness into this nation, because 'Righteousness exalts a nation.' The Lord is giving MANY PROMISES for the Philippines . I mean the Philippines is going to be ONE OF THE WEALTHIEST NATIONS on the earth. You know I prophesied that there'll be oil found off the coasts of the Philippines , and there's much more to be found, there's gold, the treasures of darkness are there. I remember prophesying in Baguio City that there's going to be treasures of darkness, and it has not been found, they were saved for the Body of Christ. And remember, they found this treasure, the Japanese had buried them on the ground after World War II. That was a sign. What does God mean to do? The SPIRIT OF POVERTY will be broken. I want to say to you, mothers will be able to feed their children, there is going to be a system put in place. FOR MINDANAO Even in Mindanao, you know, I've prophesied over Mindanao, and I want to say to you again Mindanao , 'Arise, you are the blue-flamed warriors that I talked about, warriors of fire, warriors that God is going to bring with HOLINESS,' and it's gonna happen. I just see literally THOUSANDS OF MISSIONARIES going out of Mindanao , thousands, thousands. I mean to Cambodia , Vietnam , Laos , Bangladesh , even to India , Central Asia -- Kyrgystan , Kazakhstan . The Lord says, 'I'm a just God,' those places where darkness has tried to grip, where it seems there's been so much desolation, so much poverty, so much sorrow. The Lord says, ‘I, the Lion of Judah , am going to rise in those darkest places, and bring justice, and the people who were set in darkness will see a great light. But not only see a great light, but be LIGHT-BEARERS to the ends of the earth,‘ says the Lord. (In view of fighting going on in Mindanao right now) I did not know there was fighting going on in Mindanao right now. I want to say, ‘Where sin abounds, grace much more abounds.‘ You might say like Jeremiah thought in the Book of Lamentations, ‘God, You've abandoned us, where are You?‘ But the Lord say, ‘Do not lose hope and do not lose heart, because the Lord says ' Mindanao will be transformed.'‘

Satan is making a last great stand. Satan has come down with great wrath because he knows his time is short in Mindanao . So RISE UP, even though, you know, it's terrible, and everywhere you look around is devastation, ‘Out of this darkness is going to come a TRANSFORMATION MOVEMENT that will be shown and modeled around the world,‘ says the Lord. NATIONAL FAST FOR THE COMING ELECTIONS You know, the Lord shows me, over the Philippines there is a PRINCIPALITY OF CORRUPTION, and this corruption has been so systemic, and so deep, and this principality thinks it controls the Philippines . But the Lord is showing me that there will be a NATIONAL FAST, praying -- everyone, the north, the south, the east and the west, the whole church, not part of the church, STANDING UP and FASTING and PRAYING. There should not be a day that there isn't fasting going on for the Philippines . And I am calling you, wherever you are, whoever is hearing my voice, whatever pastor is hearing my voice, whatever youth movement, the Lord is saying, 'LOVE YOUR NATION.' This is a strategic nation. Fast for the elections coming up!