Today we all must be dunces for Christ!
That’s right. Saturday, November 8th, is Bl. John Duns Scotus’ feast day from whom the term “dunce” was derisively coined by both Protestants (with their God-alone doctrine) and Renaissance Humanists (with their man-alone doctrine). Centuries earlier, Scotus taught a both/and synthesis of the two, the Absolute Primacy of Christ, focusing on the importance of the Incarnation of Jesus as true God and true man. In doing so, he strikes a quintessentially Catholic balance between these perennial extremes. In fact, he taught that the entirety of God’s plan to create our universe revolved around His desire to be incarnated in the human family, which then put a special spotlight on Mary, His mother, and thus formed the basis for Scotus’ theological defense of her Immaculate Conception. The Protestants and Humanists could not refute the pesky Franciscan so they resorted to name calling.
Did you catch some of the connections to our order here, Bl. John Duns Scotus, the Franciscan theologian who successfully defended the Immaculate Conception? Just in case you were wonder why we Franciscans of the Immaculate are making such a big fuss about him. So, yes, please pray that we FI’s can be good “dunces” today for Jesus and Mary!
Stephen Beale at Catholic Exchange writes a great summary of four important things to know about Scotus’ teachings:
- The Immaculate Conception. His enduring theological defense of the Immaculate Conception based on his teaching of the Absolute Primacy of Christ.
- The Necessity of the Incarnation. Again, his doctrine of the Absolute Primacy of Christ, that Jesus would have come even if Adam had not sinned.
- Divine Being as Infinity. That infinity is the primary attribute of God and how he gives many beautiful insights to the significance of this.
- Will and intellect. That loving God is more important than knowing Him (although both are necessary).
via Catholic Exchange Four Things You Need to Know about John Duns Scotus:
Every faithful Catholic—if they don’t already—should get to know John Duns Scotus, the 13th [Century] Franciscan whose brilliant flights to the heights of speculative theology earned him the nickname the “Subtle Doctor.”
John Duns Scotus, whose feast day is Saturday, may have earned a permanent place in the pantheon of Catholic theologians if for no other reason than the mark he left on Marian dogma, but his reflections on the nature of divine being and the necessity of the Incarnation—that’s with or without original sin—compel our curiosity. Here are four reasons it’s worth getting to know Scotus.
1. The Immaculate Conception. Perhaps his lasting contribution to the faith and devotion of the Church is in the dogma of the Immaculate Conception. To be sure the Church had long believed that Mary had lived a sinless life. (St. Augustine famously declared that “When sin is treated, there can be no inclusion of Mary in the discussion.”) But the question of original sin was a thornier one. Many of the greatest saints of the Church—like St. Bernard of Clairvaux and St. Thomas Aquinas—found themselves caught between a theological rock and a hard place. While wanting to affirm her exceptional purity as Mother of God they also did not want to exempt anyone from the need for salvation through Christ.