The main conflict in the eleventh century is between those who see theology as little more than Bible commentary and those who feel that rational analysis and argument was needed. The first group argued that God was such a mystery, so intellectually inaccessible, that we could hope to talk about him at all only in the symbolic language he himself had graciously given us for that purpose. Nor could we expect to get beyond that language, to infer other truths from it by reason. On the contrast we have a second division of this time that sees God as friendly and sensible and believes there must be reason and rational behind faith. During this time period we see the development of Neoplatonic Philosophies.
Anselm's writings place him securely in the second group. As he follows the theories of St. Augustine very closely; he believes that man cannot be freed of sin without the help and guidance of God.
Anselm sets out to offer the truth through revelation and by inspiring us to accept that revelation in faith. Once we accept the truth on that basis, however, we can hope to reason out proofs for what we have already accepted through faith. Anselm sees God as a rational, and under the confines that we living in his created world face. Thus we should be able to discover the rationality of God's actions, at least to some extent.
During his life in the world Anselm gained a reputation as an original and independent thinker and was admired for his skill at teaching and gentleness. Under the guidance and inspiration of Anselm the monastery began a school at the monastery that soon became a theological and philosophical center of learning. At the request of his community Anselm began publishing his theological works. These...