About Me

familyI’m a Christian trying to live in light of what Jesus has done for me. I’m also a husband to Esther, father to Isaiah and Naomi, a writer, an ordained minister in the Conservative Congregational Christian Conference, and a visiting scholar at Reasons to Believe. I have a B.A. from the University of Georgia in Philosophy and Religion, an M.Div. from Covenant Theological Seminary, and a PhD from Fuller Theological Seminary in historical theology. I am the author of several forthcoming books, including Ascending Toward the Beatific Vision: Heaven as the Climax of Anselm’s Proslogion (Brill). I also write regularly for The Gospel Coalition and Desiring God. For a list of my publications, see my CV.

Soliloquium is simply the Latin word for “soliloquy,” which means “an act of speaking one’s thoughts aloud when by oneself or regardless of any hearers.” St. Anselm uses the term soliloquium to describe one of his theological books, and its method of introspective, meditative, prayerful thought. Later he describes his theological approach as “faith seeking understanding.”

This blog is my place to “soliloquize.” Some posts are more theological, others are more devotional, some are about a piece of literature I happen to be reading, and some are completely random. My primary purpose is to learn—for me, writing is a part of the learning process, part of “seeking understanding.”

The views represented on my blog are mine alone and not representative of my church or anyone else.

If you would like to republish one of my posts, please contact me at ortlund@gmail.com.

anselm

“I do not try, Lord, to attain Your lofty heights, because my understanding is in no way equal to it.  But I do desire to understand Your truth a little, that truth that my heart believes and loves.  For I do not seek to understand so that I may believe; but I believe so that I may understand.  For I believe this also, that ‘unless I believe, I shall not understand.'”

 Anselm, Proslogion, chapter 1

20 Comments

  1. Gav,

    If Facebook is an accurate indicator, word on the street has it that you may be considering doing doctoral work on Anselm. That’s pretty rad.

    The interplay between absolute divine simplicity and trinitarian doctrine have recently become an interest of mine, and I’d like to have someone to bounce ideas off of. Perhaps you could cook up some posts on Anselm and we could get some back and forth going.

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    1. Drew, thank goodness for facebook – we would hardly know each other without it!! I also have thought about that interplay, as Anselm goes right there in chapter 23 of Proslogion. I will try to post a quote sometime soon, and then you can go to town.

      PS: if you are interested in more about my desires for doctoral work in Anselm, check this out: https://gavinortlund.wordpress.com/2010/04/21/an-infinite-multiplication-of-happiness/

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  2. Christof Meyer

    Hey Gavin,

    I just got here through Mere-O. Matt is a good friend of mine. Are you informed by the fact that Anselm was building on Augustine’s use of the word Soliloquy? Have you heard the Mars Hill audio interview of Thomas Hibbs on the exhibit of the work of Georges Roualt and Makoto Fujimura – called Soliloquies? It really gets into the relational quality of a soliloquy and its role in leading towards dialogue.

    Anyway. It’s a great tradition and Soliloquium is a great title for a blog.

    CM

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  3. Hey Chris,

    thanks for the comment! I’ll definitely check out that interview – sounds interesting. I’d be curious of any passages you know of where Augustine draws out the term soliloquium. He certainly had a massive impact on Anselm, but I’ve not explored his influence with respect to that particular term before. Thanks,

    Gavin

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  4. Brad Stenberg

    I had breakfast with Mark Labberton last week and he told me he had read some of your blogs and said you were a good writer. I read your recent post on Samuel Rutherford’s book, The Loveliness of Christ. You are blessed to have parents who have enriched your life as they have. I’m going to get the book because it resonates with my life right now. Thanks Gavin.

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  5. Thanks Brad! You’ll have to let me know what you think of The Loveliness of Christ.

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  6. Rob de Roos

    I read your article, “Wholly Other or Wholly Given Over? What Van Til Missed in his Criticism of Barth,” and I believe you fundamentally missed the mark of understanding of Van Til’s understanding of Barth. Van Til’s fundamental disagreement is based is actualism and dimensionalism- that God is only his acts, and the theological Kantian distinction of the noumenal and the phenomenal. Barth often does appear to express perfectly sound Reformed, evangelical theology but these are based in an actualistic and dimensionalistic understanding of who God is. Apart from this basis I would agree that Van Til’s comments on Barth are just “pot shots”. But once you understand the root problem, his criticism make perfect sense.

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    1. Hi Rob, thanks for commenting. The focus of my article was on Van Til’s charge of Kantianism in Barth, and the notion that God is only in His activity (Van Til uses the term “activism” which contrary to some of his defenders is not the same as actualism, which is a broader term referring to a particular ontology). So I agree with you about what is at the root of Van Til’s critique. The problem, in my opinion, is that Barth never said that God is only in his acts, and in fact said just the opposite at great length and most vigorously. I therefore find the charge to be simply inaccurate. If Van Til or others feel that, contrary to all appearances, Kantianism/activism is IMPLICIT in Barth’s theology, they have the responsibility of showing how and why. Saying, “Barth may have said X, but what he really meant was Y” requires evidence. Otherwise its just putting words into someone’s mouth.

      I have no undue loyalties to Barth, but I feel we should treat others with greater attention to what they actually said when engaging in theological criticism.

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  7. Rob de Roos

    Yes, I think McCormack of Princeton argues very similarly. So the debate goes on …

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  8. Greetings, Somehow or another, I just came upon your blog. Very nice. I’m not a HT, but I read Anselm’s Proslogion a few years ago; loved it. So reverent and richer than how we write theology. So too Augustine’s Confessions. The quote you have here from Anselm brings Jn 6:45 to mind where Jesus is interpreting Isaiah 54. Do you know if Anselm appealed to that verse or did anything with 1 Cor 2:10-16? Grace & Joy

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  9. Hi Gavin, where can I contact you for permission to translate one of your articles into French?

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    1. emailed you, let me know if you didn’t receive, thanks

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      1. I think I did! Don’t consult my WP.com account much.

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      2. But if I want to email regarding permission to translate one of your articles, where should I write?

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      3. hi stephane, you can contact me at ortlund@gmail.com

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  10. lynchfamily6

    Came across your post on listening well. Good stuff! Are you by any chance related to Ray and Anne Ortlund? Ray was on our ministry board (Asian Access) for many years. Cheers!

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    1. Yes they were my grandparents. Thanks! Blessings, Gavin

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  11. I am a member of a reformed congregational church in Brazil. It is very comforting to know that there are still Reformed congregational churches in America. I’ve read your article about John Owen and Congregationalism. Very good! I’m trying to translate the book “the true nature of a gospel church and its government” to Portugues. It’s a huge challenge for me because I’m not a expert in english yet. God Bless you pastor!

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  12. Hi Gavin,

    I’m considering a Th M in Church History with an emphasis on Anselm. Which area(s) of his life and thought might make for a good thesis topic?

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    1. Hi Drew, great to hear of your interest in Anselm!! There are many possibilities, and I believe much depends on your personal interest, but two areas of massive neglect are (1) Anselm’s doctrine of (spiritual) friendship (his letters could be particularly useful to study this) or (2) Anselm’s devotional writings/influence, particularly his Prayers and Meditations. In Anselm’s own day he was widely known not just as theologian but as a spiritual adviser and director, but today this aspect of his legacy is often overlooked. One other idea, if you want to study Anselm’s theology, would be his doctrine of heaven—this is also very neglected but important. Of course, there is a massive stream of literature on his view of atonement if you want to get more specific and interactive, rather than being a trailblazer. Let me know if I can help you anymore. Blessings on your studies.

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