If Adam & Eve Did Not Sin?

Faith Formation

From the Pastoral Team

From Our Associate Pastor

Would Christ still have come into the world if Adam and Eve did not sin?

The great medieval Franciscan theologian John Duns Scotus responded YES to that question.

For Scotus, the Incarnation is so central to the divine plan that it should be considered independent from human sin. That is, of the fall of Adam and Eve. God’s actions should be pure initiative, not reactive and caused by sin. God became human because he wanted us to be united to Godself.

This is why Scotus became an advocate of the Immaculate Conception of Mary, the feast we celebrate this Thursday. He articulated his thoughts in three steps (using these original Latin words):

(En Español)

Potuit: God could have done this, that is, God could have made anyone free of original sin if God wanted to.

Decuit: It would have been pleasing/fitting/beautiful to be the case. In view of the goal of the incarnation and the merits of Christ, Mary would be protected from contracting original sin at the moment of her conception. In this way, she would be sinless by the grace of God and the merits of Christ, not by her own. Fecit: God did such a thing. God would always act in the highest and best way. Preserving Mary from sin is a greater gift than restoring her to wholeness after sinning.

This means salvation does not depend upon the presence of sin, nor is actual sinfulness a necessary condition for it. The Incarnation appears as the greatest act of divine initiative and love, independent of human fallenness. Mary did not have to have sinned in order to have need of a savior.

Together, Scotus’ positions on the Incarnation and the Immaculate Conception point to three central Franciscan insights: the goodness of creation, the dignity of human nature, and the graciousness of God. All three work harmoniously to frame this position on the relationship of God with the order created out of divine love: both persons and nature.

In this vision, it is the abundance of grace that takes center stage, a grace that is always at work in the created order, because God’s loving presence is dynamic and life-giving.

That, to me, sounds like really good news indeed! Have a blessed Advent!

Fr. Sam Nasada, OFM

(Some of this explanation is taken from “Understanding John Duns Scotus” by Mary Beth Ingham, CSJ)

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