Why God has to create his own supremacy

Anselm’s Theology of the Possible, part 6

Related to his denial of non-existing possibles in the divine utterance is Anselm’s teaching on divine relations in the Monologion. Having identified the divine utterance as identical in substance with the supreme essence, Anselm poses the question as to what can and what cannot be said of God “substantially.” With respect to relations, Anselm says,

No one doubts that none of them is said substantially of the thing of which it is said relatively. Therefore, if something is said relatively of the supreme nature, it does not signify his substance. And so it is clear that whatever can be said of him relatively—the fact that he is supreme among all things, or that he is greater than all the things that he made, or anything else like these—does not designate his natural essence. For if none of those things in relation to which he is said to be supreme or greater had ever existed, he would not be understood as supreme or greater; but he would not on that account be any less good, and his essential greatness would in no way be diminished.[1]

According to Anselm, if God did not create anything, there would be nothing that existed in relation to him, and therefore nothing, for example, that God could be said to be supreme or greater in relation to. Supremacy or greatness, therefore, are not said of God substantially, that is, as he exists in himself, but only insofar as there exists a creation for God to be greater than. The relation of supremacy and greatness, in other words, only comes into being with creation.


[1] Monologion 15.

1 thought on “Why God has to create his own supremacy

  1. Pingback: Page not found | The Flame Imperishable

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