Tuesday, January 18, 2022

A fascinating medieval disputation.

The decayed idea that scholasticism can be dispensed with as futile arguments over angels and pins disintegrates quickly upon honest examination. Yes, there is bad scholasticism, but that is light years away from the scholasticism bad! reigning in secular and too many Catholic minds.

For those on the inside, it is a treasure house of carefully-reasoned thought. 

For example: What is the "motive" of the Incarnation?

The Angelic Doctor said that it happened because man had sinned. 

Per the Subtle Doctor, Blessed John Duns Scotus, it was willed for itself. 

An introduction:

Though it has its roots in the writings of the Church Fathers, it did not receive its first systematic treatment until the time of medieval scholasticism. At that juncture, opposing theses were advanced by two of the most authoritative scholastic theologians of the 13th century: St. Thomas Aquinas and Bl. John Duns Scotus. 

The former, which we may call the Thomistic thesis, argued that if Adam had not sinned, God would not have become man. Thomas wrote the following in his Summa Theologica: “the work of the Incarnation was ordained by God as a remedy for sin; so that, had sin not existed, the Incarnation would not have been.”1 Thus, for Thomas, the only reason for the Incarnation is the redemption of fallen man. 

The Scotistic thesis, on the other hand, argued that the Incarnation was willed by God from all eternity prior to any consideration of sin, and thus it would have come about even had Adam not sinned. For Scotus, God created the world and everyone in it for the sake of Christ, sin or no sin. Christ, then, was not an afterthought of God, but rather the first thought, so to speak. 

The essay focuses on the Scotistic Thesis for the Universal Primacy of Christ and is an excellent explanation of it.

Definitely worth contemplating.


  1. This was the view I recently heard on an Orthodox podcast recently which I liked very much: That the plan was always that Jesus would incarnate - probably after Mankind had finished the work on earth so that we might present creation rightly ordered to Him as a precious gift.

    Adam's mistake and all the unhappiness since then didn't change the plan for incarnation, but now made His death necessary.


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