Religious Studies

Research Article

Anselm on the Necessity of the Incarnation

Brian Leftowa1

a1 Department of Philosophy, Fordham University, Bronx, New York 10458

Abstract

Anselm's Cur Deus Homo argues that only by the Incarnation can God save humanity. This seems to sit ill with the claim that God is omnipotent and absolutely free, for this entails that God could save humanity in other ways. I show that features of Anselm's concept of God and treatment of necessity make the claim that the Incarnation is a necessary means of salvation problematic. I then show that for Anselm, all conditions which make the Incarnation necessary for human salvation stem from God's nature and prior choices. If so, the Incarnation's necessity restricts neither God's freedom nor His power. For that the Incarnation is necessary given God's actual choices does not entail that it would have been necessary had God made other choices, or that God could not have made choices which would have made the Incarnation non-necessary.