Sunday, April 13, 2014

Scotus and Ecumenism

"The Vatican" and the Lutherans released a new document recently, that lays another charge at Scotus' door:

"146. Luther’s main objection to Catholic eucharistic doctrine was directed against an understanding of the Mass as a sacrifice. The theology of the eucharist as real remembrance (anamnesis, Realgedächtnis), in which the unique and once-for-all sufficient sacrifice of Christ (Heb 9:1–10:18) makes itself present for the participation of the faithful, was no longer fully understood in late medieval times. Thus, many took the celebration of the Mass to be another sacrifice in addition to the one sacrifice of Christ. According to a theory stemming from Duns Scotus, the multiplication of Masses was thought to effect a multiplication of grace and to apply this grace to individual persons. That is why at Luther’s time, for example, thousands of private masses were said every year at the castle church of Wittenberg."

So he's responsible for the reformation not only because of univocity as the postmodern theologians tell us, but because he allowed for the apparent abuse of multiple masses and he forgot that the mass was just the unique sacrifice of calvary.


The document does not cite a source, but this corresponds to Scotus' discussion in his Quodlibet q. 20. From the document, it sounds like Scotus is wrong, and that Catholics do not believe that the priest can apply grace from multiple masses to the soul of an individual (i.e. in Purgatory). But of course this is wrong. Catholics, even today, have masses said for their deceased relatives on the anniversaries of their deaths and other occasions (and indeed, still pay the priest a stipend). What would be the point of doing this if the grace or merit from a particular mass could not be applied to a soul? All Scotus did was formulate a principle that is still operative today, at least in practice. And if this theory did indeed originate with Scotus, how can we account for the fact that private masses for the dead were said long before Scotus was born?

The document links this teaching of Scotus with a late medieval forgetfulness of the mass being a re-presentation of the single sacrifice of Christ on Calvary; but if Scotus' view in fact is still accepted by the Church today, then the Church today is also forgetful of the unique nature of the sacrifice of the mass. But this may be a separate issue. Catholic apologists spend a great deal of time explaining this aspect of the mass today; and really, once the mass is described as a sacrifice, the fact that there has been more than one mass since Calvary is what requires explanation. It doesn't really matter whether there is just one mass per year or a thousand.

Earlier in the document we find that Cajetan, the most brilliant Catholic theologian of the 16th century, was to blame in causing the rift of Protestantism since he did not try to understand Luther in Luther's own framework, but only in his own, Thomistic framework. So I think we can all agree that Scotus is the remote cause of the reformation, but Cajetan is the proximate cause.


Gaetano said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Gaetano said...

Do they acknowledge the decisive contributions of this Scotist to the formulation of Catholic orthodoxy at Trent?

I suspect not...

Danielius said...

That has to be the most ecumaniacal official document I have ever seen. Was it uploaded on April 1st? Am I supposed to celebrate schism with a smile? Maybe I could recite some of Luther's statements about the Church at an "ecumenical Mass" or something. Maybe throw in quotes from other heresiarchs as well? Then again, apparently I missed a declaration of unity, because according to paragraph 238 we all already believe that we belong to the same church.

@Matthew Gaetano: Trent, eh? Paragraph 88 of this document says that Trent was needlessly polemical, because as paragraph 55 states, Luther made "errors", not errors (them stupid Catholic theologians misunderstood him). Moreover as paragraph 90 states - Trent must be interpreted through the lens of VaticanII (you see, non-doctrinal councils are far more important than teaching councils). So invoking Trent damns Scotists even more, obviously!

Can these pietistic clowns have the decency to stop dancing around the issue and state plainly that they think Trent was a mistake, all Scholastics were basically evil, doctrine does not matter and we will all get to kumbaya-land? That at least would be honest.

Anonymous said...

This covers these issues comprehensively -

Eucharistic Sacrifice and the Reformation Eucharistic Sacrifice and the Reformation. By FRANCIS CLARK. Oxford: Basil Blackwell, 1967

He patiently goes through and shows the scholastics only had unique-Christ-sacrifice story, and also shows that the claim that if masses give more grace then they must be other sacrifices was a conditional advanced for polemical purposes by Martin Bucer. That conditional wouldnt have been accepted by any of the scholastics, and could only be advanced by someone incompetent in/indifferent to metaphysics of transubstantiation and identity in multiplicity.

It was written in 1960 and does a pretty good job of explaining the catholic vs proddie accounts of the 'metaphysics of sacrifice'.

This link goes to Daphne Hampsen's 2011 book Christian Contradictions, on the very topic of Lutheran vs catholic patterns of thought. She does well in the first chapter to explain the difference. Hampsen doesnt quite get the intellectual point of the catholic doctrine (ie not enough awareness of scotist acceptatio and the place of potentia absoluta/ordinata etc as background to infused grace), but does well enough to explain the lutheran position. Indeed, after reading it, I was left wondering about whether 1) Lutheran accounts of virtualistic presence-on-reception were forerunners/played into the primary/secondary qualities debate, and also the isomorphism of Lutheran simul justus et peccator and the Spinozist natura naturata/natura naturans. Same sort of headfick of necessitarianism combined with limited 'agencied'-identity.



Neuro_diverse said...

The cause of the Reformation was Luther's psychological and possibly also neurological problems: he unquestionably had obsessive-compulsive disorder (OCD), of which scrupulosity is just an instance, and possibly also Asperger Syndrome (AS).

I presented the case for Luther's AS here:

Notably, Luther may have been the first to record a case of autism, of which AS is a mild version. From wikipedia:

"The Table Talk of Martin Luther, compiled by his notetaker, Mathesius, contains the story of a 12-year-old boy who may have been severely autistic.[177] Luther reportedly thought the boy was a soulless mass of flesh possessed by the devil, and suggested that he be suffocated, although a later critic has cast doubt on the veracity of this report.[178]"

Neuro_diverse said...

BTW, I am NOT Taylor Marshall, the author of the linked article, but the "Neuro_diverse" author of four comments in the article's combox.