Therefore somebody must do it who is both God and man, who as God can do it and who as man must do it. The God-man alone is able to do it.
5) But he doesn’t reach it through what he did, because he had to do that anyhow; he had to give full obedience to God; but he did it by what he suffered, because he did not have to suffer, since he was innocent. So voluntary suffering is the work through which the Christ gives satisfaction to God.
6) Although our sin is infinite, this sacrifice – -since it is given by God Himself – is an infinite sacrifice, and it makes it possible for God to give Christ what he has deserved by this sacrifice, namely, the possession of man. He himself doesn’t need anything, but what he needs and will have is man, so God gives him man.
Now this idea, in these 6 steps, is legalistic, of course, is quantitative, but it has behind it a very profound meaning, namely, that sin has produced a tension in God Himself. And this tension one feels. Anselms theory became so popular because everybody felt that it is not simple for God to forgive sins, as it is not simple for us to accept ourselves – it is the most difficult thing – -and only in the act of suffering, of self-negation, is it possible at all. And that was the power of this doctrine and still is; in every Lenten service, in our Week of Passion this week, we hear of the “atoning work” of Christ. The Church never has dogmatized Anselm; cleverly it restricted itself from doing so, because there is no absolute theory of atonement. As we shall see, Abelard had another one, and others did also, e. g., Origen. The Church has not decided.
But the Church obviously liked Anselm’s theory most, probably because it felt it has the deepest psychological roots, namely the feeling that a price must be paid if one has become guilty; that we cannot pay it, but that God must pay it. But now the question was: How can man participate? And to this the juristic mind of Anselm had no answer. Here Thomas came in and said: It is the mystical union between head and members, between Christ and the Church, which makes us participate in all the steps which have been (made) by Jesus himself.