Three theories of the Incarnation are, or have been current in the schools, and they are these: - 1. That taught by Raymond Lully, and since his time by various modern optimists. Admitting that the Incarnation is not simply and absolutely necessary to God-a proposition which could not be asserted without impiety, itmaintains that, given the Creation, the Incarnation must follow as its necessary consequence. God, decreeing Creation, was bound to decree the best and most perfect kind of creation; but that involves the union ...
Three theories of the Incarnation are, or have been current in the schools, and they are these: - 1. That taught by Raymond Lully, and since his time by various modern optimists. Admitting that the Incarnation is not simply and absolutely necessary to God-a proposition which could not be asserted without impiety, itmaintains that, given the Creation, the Incarnation must follow as its necessary consequence. God, decreeing Creation, was bound to decree the best and most perfect kind of creation; but that involves the union of a created nature with an uncreated Person: and so God could not decree creation, without at the same time decreeing the Incarnation, which was its perfection.There is in this view much truth and great beauty, but it is founded more on what theologians call convenience than on necessity. 2. The second theory of the Incarnation is that formulated by S. Thomas, and generally taught by that school of theological thought which from him takes its name of Thomist. The Thomists teach that Jesus not only came principally to save sinners, in which all agree, but that, if there had been no sin, there would have been no Incarnation. They say that His coming was altogether remedial, and that He could not have come otherwise, so far as God's present decrees aloe concerned. In support of this view there is a large amount of Scripture evidence, that would seem at first sight to decide the question in their favour, especially when taken in connection with several congenial expressions in the Hymns and Offices of the Church. The greatest modern exponent of this view is Vasquez. 3. The third view of the Incarnation is that taken by the Scotists, by Suarez, and by many other theologians both ancient and modern. It teaches-and so far in accordance with Thomist theology, that Jesus came principally to save sinners, and for that end came in passible flesh; but here its agreement ceases. It asserts that even if Adam had never sinned, Jesus would yet have come, and come by means of Mary, in impassible flesh; that He was predestinated the Firstborn of creatures before the decree which permitted sin; that the Incarnation was from the first an intentional and integral part of the scheme of creation; that it was not merely occasioned by sin, but that sin only determined the manner of it, and its accompaniments of suffering and death. And it is as regards the manner of the Incarnation alone, as speaking of our Lord's coming in passible and mortal flesh, that the Scotists understand those passages in Holy Scripture, in the writings of the Fathers, and in the Office Books of the Church, which at first sight seem to make for the Thomist view. The Scotista dwell very much on the doctrine that J eaus was decreed before all creation, and therefore before the permission of sin. They hold that all men exist because of Christ, and not Christ because of them, that all creation was for Him, and was not only decreed subsequently to His predestination, but for His sole sake
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