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Did certain Problematic Ideas within Franciscan Theology bring about the Loss of Thomistic Natural Law and possibly help bring about Francis's Amoris Laetitia?

The Washington Post called Francis "A Franciscan Jesuit for pope."

Did certain problematic ideas within Franciscan theology such as "voluntarism" (that the will comes before the intellect in God) help bring about the loss of natural law and help bring about Francis's Amoris Laetitia?

Edward Feser's book, The Last Superstition,on pages 167, 168, and 170 seems to say that the Franciscan theologians John Duns Scotus's  and William of Ockham's "tendency toward voluntarism" may have helped bring about the present denial of natural law and ethics:

 - "John Duns Scotus (c. 1266-1308) and William of Ockham (c. 1287-1347), who, though scholastics, rejected Aquinas's synthesis of Aristotelianism and Christian theology. Their reasons for doing so anticipate certain key themes of modern philosophy . . . [these ] led to the undoing of the Scholastic tradition, which had reached its apex in Aquinas's thought."

- "Both Scotus and Ockham denied the possibility of the sort of knowledge of God Aquinas claimed could be had through reason..."

- "The motivation for Scotus's skepticism was an excessive emphasis (as Thomists see it) on God's will over His intellect. Aquinas, in Scotus's estimation, makes God and His actions too comprehensible, too rational, too open to our puny philosophical investigations. So radically free is God's will, in Scotus's view, that we simply cannot deduce from the natural order either His intentions or any necessary features of the things He created, since He might have created them in any number of ways, as His inscrutable will directed."

- "Meanwhile, Scotus's and Ockham's tendency toward voluntarism (i.e. their emphasis on will over intellect), and the related idea that morality derives from arbitrary divine commands, became secularized in the notion that all law rests ultimately on the sheer will of a sovereign, rather than in a rationally ascertainable natural order. Combine these themes and you are not far from Thomas Hobbes's view that man's "natural" condition is to be at war with his fellowman, and that this unhappy situation can be remedied only by agreeing to submit to the will of an absolute ruler."

Moreover, the pro-Amoris Laetitia website Where Peter Is apparently supports certain ideas of Scotus:

"Duns Scotus and his Franciscan school of theology successfully defended the Absolute Primacy of Christ. God did not send His Son into the world as a consequence of sin but “by reason of His very great love”. (Eph. 2:4)" [https://wherepeteris.com/who-art-thou-o-immaculata/]

The independent scholar James Larson explained to me in an email exchange the problem with this and other ideas of Scotus:

I am very far from being an expert on Scotus, and have no desire to be so. But I would offer the following:

Employing "univocity" in relation to any terms used of both God and His creation necessarily terminates in some type of pantheistic-gnostic mush. Strictly speaking God is the only Being, in the sense of possessing Being of Himself. It is true that, in relation to created things, we do distinguish the category of substantial being from all the categories of accidental being by saying that it is something suited to exist "in itself". But this is a definition necessary to distinguish the category of  relative, created, substance from accidens, which are suited to exist only as inhering in substance. Without understanding the principle of analogy between all created things and God, we necessarily end up confusing the Thomistic concept of creative "participation" in being with the idea that creative things are somehow "part" of God. In other words, we destroy Catholic ontology (and all that is contained in the concept creation ex nihilo), and ultimately everything which is intimately connected to this ontology. Even sanctifying grace, and the entire concept of possessing the life of God in our souls, must be considered a created gift of God.

In regard to the so-called Franciscan doctrine which is usually now termed the "Absolute Primacy of Christ".

St. Thomas, while certainly being clear that the question has not been given final determination by the Church, yet declares his tentative opposition to this notion because Holy Scripture never offers any other reason for Christ's Incarnation other than that supreme Divine Love which "bends over" towards man in order to merit our redemption from sin. Christ Himself says, "Greater love than this no man hath, that a man lay down his life for his friends" (John 15:13). To attempt to assert therefore that through the proposed doctrine of "Absolute Primacy of Christ"(the notion that Incarnation would have occurred even without sin) they somehow possess a greater and deeper understanding of the primacy of Christ and the greatness of His love is indeed a "walking on thin ice".It smacks ultimately of placing some sort of "necessity" in God in relation to His creation.

Interestingly enough, Mary of Agreda (herself a Franciscan Conception), in the City of God, claims endorsement of this Franciscan theory as a private revelation from Christ (Vol. I, p.77). But even more interesting, she places "necessity" in God in relation to creation. Thus, she writes:

"The Majesty of God, beholding the nature of  his infinite perfection, their virtue and efficacy operating with magnificence, saw that it was just and most proper, and, as it were, , a necessity, to communicate Himself, and to follow the inclination of imparting and exercising his liberality and mercy, by distributing outside of Himself with magnificence, the plenitude of the infinite treasures, contained in the Divinity. For, being Infinite in all things, it is much more natural, that He communicate gifts and graces, than that fire should ascend, or the stone should gravitate toward its center, or that the sun should diffuse light." (ibid. p. 52)

So much for the total gratuitousness and freedom of God in relation to all of His gifts to man.

You might also be interested in reading my two-part fictional work The Mind of Antichrist, which is here:

 

 


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