Christ, the Power and Possibility of God in St. Anselm of Canterbury

  • Jonathan McIntosh New Saint Andrews College
Keywords: Anselm, Christology, Modality, Omnipotence, Monologion, Cur Deus Homo


In this article I examine the modal theism of St. Anselm of Canterbury, arguing that the person of the divine Son plays an important role in how Anselm thinks about God’s power and possibilities. Beginning with his first major theological work, the Monologion, I show how Anselm’s characterizes God’s knowledge of creation, not in the traditional, Augustinian terms of an intellectual divine “idea,” but in the comparatively more linguistic terms of a divine “locutio” or “utterance.” I go on to argue that this sets Anselm up for a somewhat unique modal theology, one in which God is best understood as acting and creating, not against the backdrop of an already defined and existing domain of possibilities, but in a way that makes him the inventor and creator of his own possibilities. In the second part of the article, I turn to Anselm’s influential work of Christology, Cur Deus Homo, to examine how his “theistic actualism” is paralleled in select aspects of his account of the divine Son’s Incarnation in the person and work of Jesus Christ.

How to Cite
McIntosh, J. (2019). Christ, the Power and Possibility of God in St. Anselm of Canterbury. TheoLogica: An International Journal for Philosophy of Religion and Philosophical Theology, 3(1), 3-21.