“He did not hold to original sin by a single couple and instead opted for the notion of the primacy of Christ formed by the Franciscan theologian Duns Scotus. Scotus held that God’s love could not be undermined by a defect in creation such as original sin. Rather, from all eternity, God willed a creature to grace and glory so that whether or not sin ever entered into creation, Christ would have come. God is love and Christ is first in God’s intention to love; the whole creation is structured on the incarnation.”
— A Hunger for Wholeness, A: Soul, Space, and Transcendence by Delio, Ilia, OSF
I’m enjoying another book by Ilia Delio and the quote which was about Teilhard de Chardin, succinctly explains something I heard Fr. Lou McCormick, OFM say in a homily nearly twenty years ago. I remember sitting in the chapel at Mt. Irenaeus at the time I heard it. It just made sense. The idea that God would create a universe with an intentional flaw that would require the death of his son to redeem never made any sense as an adult. Many years later I learned that the doctrine of original sin was a creation of St. Augustine. How many times have you heard well meaning religious folks tell you that you were damned if you didn’t accept Jesus Christ as your lord and savior. I remember a discussion with a local pastor about that topic. I said to the guy, “What about the apostles? What about the unborn?” The chap made an exception for the unborn and infants and that’s when I knew that the doctrine was flawed.
Most of my adult life I’ve thought that the reason for the incarnation was to show us how to live. Love your neighbor. Do good to those who harm you. Take care of the poor and the rest of the gospel message should be the real focus. Reducing Jesus to merely a sacrificial atonement for sin is a disservice to his earthly ministry. The Sermon on the Mount, The Beatitudes and Matthew 25:31-46 are the most meaningful for me and always have been.
I had a friend tell me tonight that I was one of the few people he met who continues to seek after God or if you will a higher power. I can’t deny that I don’t spend a lot of time reading spiritual and religious works. I am attracted to them and to holy places. I’m not a person who is devoted to piety. In fact piety seems foreign to me, but I cannot deny that I ponder deep questions at times. Recently I have been reading a wonderful book written by Ilia Delio. The title, “Making All Things New: Catholicity, Cosmology, Consciousness” just leapt out at me. It’s not the first book written by the author that I’ve read and probably won’t be the last. I’m very grateful to Sister Ilia who offers scholarship and great insight on a topic that has interested me since I was a young boy. I cannot begin to explain the book here nor do I want to except to encourage you to read if for yourself. It you are spiritual seeker who is looking for insights about the future of Christianity and Catholicism then this book deserves your attention. The following quote comes from the final chapter of the book.
Religion, therefore, is always a genesis, a birthing of the Spirit toward greater unity. Without the dynamic energy of transcendence by which consciousness rises and relationships deepen, religion grows old and weary; it becomes rote, a mechanistic repetition of old ideas. To function out of an old cosmology with old ideas of matter and form, to think that God does not do new things, is to make an idol out of Jesus and to ignore the power of the Spirit.
Delio, Ilia (2015-09-22). Making All Things New: Catholicity, Cosmology, Consciousness (Catholicity in an Evolving Universe Series) (Kindle Locations 4083-4086). Orbis Books. Kindle Edition.
This is one of my favorite articles on the Incarnation. When I first heard this about ten years ago it made sense to me. Prior to that time I had always felt ill at ease with other explanations of the theology of creation and the place of Christ in the universe. This made sense to me then and it does now. I think of this often and share it now for anyone who happens upon this blog in search of a deeper understanding of creation. The sin centered universe never made any sense to me. This does and it really precedes the other way of thinking.
The Incarnation is the model for creation: there is a creation only because of the Incarnation. In this schema, the universe is for Christ and not Christ for the universe. Scotus finds it inconceivable that the ‘greatest good in the universe’ i.e. the Incarnation, can be determined by some lesser good i.e. Man’s redemption. This is because such a sin-centered view of the Incarnation suggests that the primary role of Christ is as an assuager of the universe’s guilt. In the Absolute Primacy, Christ is the beginning, middle and end of creation. He stands at the center of the universe as the reason for its existence.
For more on this topic follow the link below.
Too often incarnation and resurrection are just words and thoughts that are too abstract for most of us to get a handle on. For Franciscans the incarnation is about the primacy of Christ. The universe exists for Christ not Christ existing for the universe. The universe and therefore all creation is for Christ. It’s not for man to defile but to give glory. Those among us who see a dichotomy between man and the universe are those who might see its defilement as desirable. There are some Catholics who got very upset because they saw a picture of someone urinating on Christ. But each and everyday we climb into our car and tool down the road we are urinating on Christ. We are defiling creation and eventually all sin has a price and ours is about to get exacted and at a tremendous cost. Perhaps we will pay with our lives and our civilization.
A conversation with my daughter yesterday let me hear how a sensitive young person sees the future. She thinks it’s too late and perhaps it is, but then again maybe there is hope of a resurrection. I hope that’s the case.
My sister sent me a Youtube video which reminded me of the work and writings of John Duns Scotus. I like to remind myself that all theology is theory and that no one really knows what is going on. But, first as a person and then later a person being formed in the Franciscan tradition the idea of a sin centered universe was counter intuitive to me. I have many reasons for saying that, but most of all my own experience dictates that God is love and that love surrounds me and us at all times and does not have to be earned.
Franciscan Spirituality sees the Incarnation as the guarantee of union with God. It is not something to be hoped for or to be looked forward to – it is something, which is happening NOW. God is Love and that Love is our redemption and redemption is not primarily being saved from sin, but is rather the gift of the possibility of openness to the experience of the divine Other in our life. How can it be otherwise when we posit the notion of the divine and human in Jesus? Scotus’s doctrine of the absolute centrality of Love is both timely and profoundly needed by our world. Men and women cry out for an experience of hope in a world which has lost direction – in the teaching of Duns Scotus, Franciscan Spirituality has within its hand that hope-filled experience and the end of that longing. For if God willed the Incarnation from all eternity, then it was always his intention to become part of sinful creation – sin determines the manner of that becoming, but it does not determine the fact that it was going to be….Br. Seamus Mulholland
Today at Mass Fr. Bob’s homily was about how we are all brothers and sisters of the same father. That fundamental concept of the Incarnation is frightening to much of contemporary society. Subtle demonization of our brothers and sisters is a path to the point where their lives are viewed as worth less than our own. They are viewed not as the beloved of God, but as something less.
“I honor the place in you where Spirit lives
I honor the place in you which is
of Love, of Truth, of Light, of Peace,
when you are in that place in you,
and I am in that place in me,
then we are One.”
In each of us there is the spirit of God. Namaste is a greeting that invites us to consider the spark of the divine in those who we greet. It is a moment of mindfulness.
I was on Route 1 nearing the turn for Mt. Irenaeus when suddenly I spotted three deer entering the roadway about a tenth mile ahead. One looked normal and the other two looked different. From a distance they almost looked like fawns, but then as I got closer I realized that two of the deer were albino. I have never seen anything like that, but here on Sunday morning as I neared Mt. Irenaeus I saw three deer. Continue reading “Angels in our midst”
In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God. He was in the beginning with God. All things came to be through him, and without him nothing came to be. What came to be through him was life, and this life was the light of the human race; the light shines in the darkness, and the darkness has not overcome it.
Christmas is a celebration of the word made flesh that has come to dwell among us. The incarnation blesses the world because God loves the world and always has. Jesus was not created for the world. The world was created for Jesus. Continue reading “In the beginning was the word”