On Anselm and the Conscious, Creative Word

The Monologion presents one of the best (if not the best) examples of the ontological differences between Christianity and other faiths, particularly the static monotheism of Islam and the pan(en)theism of Hinduism.

§29-31 begin to show this forth. The supreme essence of reality creates by verbalization. There is a nonmaterial manner by which the supreme essence makes all things. This manner is a verbalization of the supreme essence, that is an expression of the essence that is neither created by it, but is one with, and yet distinct from it. This expression, or Word, is simple, not composed of other elements, but is a single Word of the supreme essence. This Word is one with, coming from the supreme essence, without being subsumed by it.

There is much in the Monologion that contradicts non-Trinitarian faiths, but the crux of it finds its origin point here. God is not static, but is active within himself. Apart from this there can be no creation. Here Islam and Mormonism fail. Their monolithic understanding of God cannot account for why there is something rather than nothing. Here Hinduism fails, because creation is not a component of God or made by God infusing its material, but is created by God speaking himself, and creation reflecting that divine solidarity.

§49-57 continue working on this theme, and demonstrate Anselm’s pietistic genius. The divine activity is one of love, that expresses its love by creating. The divine Love between the Father and Son is a part of their activity as a third person (§57, page 64):

Love, like the Father and the Son, is, on its own, the supreme essence. And yet, Father, Son and their love taken together do not become several supreme essences, but only one. The supreme essence alone is uncreated and has created all things through itself and nothing but itself. The consequence of this is that the Father, the Son, and also the Love, are each, as individuals, the uncreated Creator without all three, taken together, making several uncreated Creators, but only one.

Divine simplicity and Trinitarianism is grounded in God’s love for himself, which is expressed by creating and inviting creation into that love (§69-71, 75). This is what ontologically separates Christianity from other faiths. God is not static nor incorporated into creation, but active and transcendent. This activity is characterized as love, and creation is invited to love God and be loved by God. Neither Allah nor eastern mysticism can offer love from a transcendent being.