Skip to comments.Primacy of Jesus Christ, Alpha and Omega (sin or no sin)
Posted on 08/06/2008 8:58:59 AM PDT by koinonia
More than two centuries before the Reformation, a theological debate broke out that pitted theologian Thomas Aquinas against an upstart from Britain, John Duns Scotus. In essence, the debate circled around the question, "Would Christmas have occurred if humanity had not sinned?"
Whereas Aquinas viewed the Incarnation as God's remedy for a fallen planet, his contemporary saw much more at stake. For Duns Scotus, the Word becoming flesh as described in the prologue to John's Gospel must surely represent the Creator's primary design, not some kind of afterthought or Plan B. Aquinas pointed to passages emphasizing the Cross as God's redemptive response to a broken relationship. Duns Scotus cited passages from Ephesians and Colossians on the cosmic Christ, in whom all things have their origin, hold together, and move toward consummation.
Did Jesus visit this planet as an accommodation to human failure or as the center point of all creation? Duns Scotus and his school suggested that Incarnation was the underlying motive for Creation, not merely a correction to it. Perhaps God spun off this vast universe for the singular purpose of sharing life and love, intending all along to join its very substance. "Eternity is in love with the inventions of time," wrote the poet William Blake...
(Excerpt) Read more at christianitytoday.com ...
When Mary gave birth to a baby in Bethlehem, she participated in an act of divine creation that continues to this day. Paul's phrase "in Christ" hints at a reality made vivid in his metaphor of the body of Christ: the church extends the Incarnation through time...
Duns Scotus called his approach "the Doctrine of the Absolute Primacy of Christ in the Universe." Those who root their identity in Christ have a holy mission to reclaim territory that has been spoiled. The Christian ministers to the poor and suffering not out of humanistic motives, but because they too reflect the image of God; insists on justice because God insists on it; and honors nature because it stands as God's work of art, the background setting for Incarnation....
Among Jesus' final words, in Revelation, are these: "I am the Alpha and the Omega, the first and the last, the beginning and the end." John Duns Scotus must be smiling.
More of the banal Paul trumps Gospels nonsense.
***We urge children to “accept Jesus into your heart,***
I work hard to purge that image from my kids, who hear it in Sundays School, Youth Group, etc....
I wonder if the Medieval sources actually mentioned Christmas specifically ... or if this article's author doesn't believe or wish to acknowledge that the Son of God was incarnate nine months (give or take) before Christmas.
This is not meant to be confrontational. I know very little about the Eastern Orthodox church. Does it regard Paul's Epistles as less important than the four Gospels?
Discussion on the Absolute Primacy of Christ... Ping.
The Orthodox (and Catholic) Churches have only Gospels on the altar. The rest (of the NT and OT) must be interpreted to conform to the Gospels, not the Gospels to the rest of the Bible.
Actually, looking this up, St. Thomas directly addressed the exultet. From the Catholic catechism :
But why did God not prevent the first man from sinning? St. Leo the Great responds, "Christ's inexpressible grace gave us blessings better than those the demon's envy had taken away."307 And St. Thomas Aquinas wrote, "There is nothing to prevent human nature's being raised up to something greater, even after sin; God permits evil in order to draw forth some greater good. Thus St. Paul says, 'Where sin increased, grace abounded all the more'; and the Exsultet sings, 'O happy fault,. . . which gained for us so great a Redeemer!'"From the original source:
Objection 3. Further, human nature has not been made more capable of grace by sin. But after sin it is capable of the grace of union, which is the greatest grace. Therefore, if man had not sinned, human nature would have been capable of this grace; nor would God have withheld from human nature any good it was capable of. Therefore, if man had not sinned, God would have become incarnate.
Reply to Objection 3. A double capability may be remarked in human nature: one, in respect of the order of natural power, and this is always fulfilled by God, Who apportions to each according to its natural capability; the other in respect to the order of the Divine power, which all creatures implicitly obey; and the capability we speak of pertains to this. But God does not fulfil all such capabilities, otherwise God could do only what He has done in creatures, and this is false, as stated above (I, 105, 6). But there is no reason why human nature should not have been raised to something greater after sin. For God allows evils to happen in order to bring a greater good therefrom; hence it is written (Romans 5:20): "Where sin abounded, grace did more abound." Hence, too, in the blessing of the Paschal candle, we say: "O happy fault, that merited such and so great a Redeemer!"
I've never heard of this before. I hate to ask "are you sure?", but I'm going to wait and see how the (Latin) Catholics respond this one.
Thanks for the ping.
I hadn’t known that only the gospels were on the altar. The Catholic Church certainly does regard the writings of Paul, like the gospels, as infallible. Sacred Tradition must depend on the letters of Paul, as it does on the gospel Various passages which seem to deny spiritual authority (such as where Paul claims he hasn’t received a word on a given topic of marriage) do not negate the fact that the Church history of incorporating such writings into scripture has affirmed such teachings. (Protestants often Paul’s hesitance while making hay of the author of Maccabees’ apologetic introduction.)
That said, the gospels consist of the actual utterances of Christ. In contrast, the letters consist of Paul’s divinely aided understanding of such utterances. Therefore, when Paul questions whether marriage is ideal if the final age is imminent, we must understand that Paul is correct in applying Christian principles, guided as he is by the Holy Spirit, even if he is uncertain about future events.
Anyone attempting to interpret Paul therefore has the task which would be difficult without the guidance of the Holy Spirit (which works through His church as a corporate body, as well as through an individual in harmony with that church): One must recognize that Paul is addressing the circumstances of his day without stumbling over the heresy of modernism, which proposes that novel circumstances overturn human nature or morality, or that a modern understanding of Christ may be superior to that of the apostles.
“Various passages which seem to deny spiritual authority (such as where Paul claims he hasnt received a word on a given topic of marriage) do not negate the fact that the Church history of incorporating such writings into scripture has affirmed such teachings. (Protestants often Pauls hesitance while making hay of the author of Maccabees apologetic introduction.)”
“Various passages, which seem to deny Paul’s spiritual inspiration (such as where Paul claims he hasnt received a word on a given topic of marriage) do not negate the fact that the Church history of incorporating such writings into scripture has affirmed such teachings as infallible. (Some Protestant apologists often ignore Pauls hesitance while making hay of the author of Maccabees apologetic introduction.)”
Kosta wrote: “More of the banal Paul trumps Gospels nonsense.”
I think Yancey’s key point is not the “Gospels vs. St. Paul”, but a challenge to Evangelicals to read the Gospel with St. Paul.
If Paul says, “According as he hath chosen us in him before the foundation of the world, that we should be holy and without blame before him in love:
Having predestinated us unto the adoption of children by Jesus Christ to himself, according to the good pleasure of his will,
To the praise of the glory of his grace, wherein he hath made us accepted in the beloved.” (Ephesians 1:4-6). It seems that for us to be predestined in Christ before creation as his children, God would surely first have had to have in mind the Incarnation of him in whom we were to be predestined.
Besides, the Prologue of the Gospel of John doesn’t speak of Redemption when speaking of the “Word (Logos) was made flesh (sarx)” (John 1:14). Rather, “But as many as received him, to them gave he power to become the sons of God, even to them that believe on his name”. (John 1:12)
Yancey’s information is not 100% accurate. Aquinas and Duns Scotus never knew one another, in fact, Duns Scotus would have been 8 years old when Aquinas died.
The fact is that Aquinas did not take a strong stance on the subject. In fact he wrote that this is not a very important question given the actual economy of grace and he himself admits that the opposite opinion can also be called probable. His stance in his Summa theologica is that “it is more probable” that the work of the Incarnation was ordained by God as a remedy for sin, so that, if sin had not existed, the Incarnation would not have been.
When Duns Scotus came on the scene and said that it was “absurd” to say that God’s greatest work in all creation (the Incarnation) was “occasioned” by sin, the disciples of Aquinas then took a strong, definitive stance based on what Aquinas called “more probable” (for the thomists or disciples of Aquinas it was not more probable, but quasi-infallible dogma—makes for good debates :)
Don't be afraid to ask the question if you're asking it with sincerity (and I truly believe you are).
Yes, it is only the Gospels that are to be placed on the altar.
he signs the book with the thumb of his right hand at the beginning of the Gospel which he is to read, then himself on the forehead, the mouth and the breast: and while the ministers respond, Glory be to thee, O Lord, he censes the book thric From the General Instruction of the Roman Missal (GIRM):
GIRM 122: On reaching the altar, the priest and ministers make a profound bow . . . It is a praiseworthy practice that the Book of the Gospels [having been carried up by the lector or reader -GCC] be placed upon the altar.
GIRM 173: [in reference to a Mass with a deacon -GCC] When he reaches the altar, if he is carrying the Book of the Gospels, he omits the sign of reverence and goes up to the altar. It is particularly appropriate that he should place the Book of the Gospels on the altar, after which, together with the priest, he venerates the altar with a kiss.
And from the rubrics of the Extraordinary Form of the Roman Rite ("Tridentine Mass"):
"These being ended, if it be a solemn Mass, the deacon places the book of the Gospels on the middle of the Altar, and the celebrant blesses incense as above: . . . "
In the Low Mass in the EF, the Gospel is read from the Missal (there not being a separate Lectionary) and is not incensed.
"From the General Instruction of the Roman Missal (GIRM):"
I have some random pasting weirdness going on... silly gremlins in my mousepad.
The theological basis that the Messiah would enter into the world in about March is fairly sound, but is perfectly consistent with a Dec 25 Christmas. In fact, Catholics have since the early days of the Church recognized March 25th as the date that Christ was conceived, and therefore fulfilling such prophecies. March 25th, (or, actually April 6 accounting for the Julian calendar) incidentally, is the day that Christ died; the ancient Jews and Christians believed that great prophets died on the day they were conceived. (This feast is called that of the Annunciation, referring to the annunciation of Gabriel to Mary regarding the conception of Christ.)
The historicist arguments are quite presumptuous, ignoring the impact of the “Roman Warm Period,” for instance.
The syncretist arguments, that Christmas has a pagan origin, are thoroughly bankrupt: Some allege, for instance, that the date of Christmas is based on the date of Sol Invuctus, whereas that festival was moved to the date of Christmas in the third century. There existed a Judeo-Christian holiday on Dec. 25th (or the closes Jewish-calendar equivalent) as early as four centuries earlier, when the Macabbeans established that the 25th of Kislev be celebrated as the return of the Spirit of God into the Holy Temple (the Feast of the Dedication).
Niether the Feast of the Dedication, nor the ancient Judeo-Christian supposition that prophets were conceived on the day they die establish for certain that Christ was born on the 25th, but they certainly establish a pious and biblical reason for choosing that day to celebrate his birth.
The reason may be quite simple:
At Catholic masses, there are three readings. The first is from a New testament letter. The second is from the Acts of the Apostles, Revelations, or the Old Testament. The third is the gospel. (There is actually a fourth, the psalm, between the “first reading” and “the second reading.”)
The psalm and the first two readings may be read by a layperson, from a parapet or lectern which is not considered part of the sanctuary. The gospel may be read only by a priest.
I don't have a big problem with this, except that Paul met Jesus in the flesh on the road to Damascus. So he's a little more than an interpreter of of Jesus' sayings as related to him by the other Apostles (he probably never read the Gospels as the Epistles almost certainly predate the Gospels by many years). I suspect the authors of the Gospels were well acquainted with Pauls writings and did not feel the need to add to them; as the purpose of the Gospels was different--document Jesus ministry for future generations, not describing Christian Theology in detail.
And, it seems obvious that Paul was the man chosen by God to work out the backbone of Christian Theology (much of which is very vague in those portions of Jesus sayings reported in the Gospels) and to record it for us fortunate folks 2,000 year later. He also had the task of figuring out how the Resurrection fit into and fulfilled the Jewish Scriptures--he brought the big picture to life. God chose a truly extraordinary man for this task. I happened to read the first chapter of Romans this morning and marveled again at his intellect and God-given insight.
That is very interesting. I was not aware of that.
>> Duns Scotus <<
No-one ever said SCOTUS was infallible. Even though liberals treat certain justices as if they were.