Was Jesus Really Plan B?

Was Jesus Really Plan B?

The majority of Christian theologians and preachers have seen Jesus’ incarnation as a response to the sin of Adam and Eve: no sin, no incarnation. In effect, that makes the Incarnation Plan B.

Blessed John Duns Scotus, a Franciscan theologian who died in 1308 and was beatified in 1993, saw this differently. Starting with the assertion that Jesus is “the firstborn of all creation” (Col 1:15), Scotus called the Incarnation God’s greatest work (summum opus) and reasoned that it could not have been occasioned by human sin.

Francis of Assisi’s love for the crib, the cross, and the Eucharist suggests that he would have supported John Duns Scotus on this issue. That minority position among theologians has drawn increased support in recent years. Scotus’ teaching on Mary’s Immaculate Conception was not mainstream before 1854. “Was the Incarnation Plan A?” is an extremely practical question with enormous implications. For more on this, at StAnthonyMessenger.org, see articles by Fathers Stephen Doyle, OFM (December 1999) and Kenneth Overberg, SJ (December 2001).

Easter is a couple weeks away. May it be a blessed one for us all!

This blog was taken from Pat McCloskey’s “Dear Reader” column in St. Anthony Messenger. To subscribe to this award-winning publication, click here.

Photo: Alex Linebrink/PhotoXpress


About the Author

Pat McCloskey, O.F.M., is the Franciscan editor of St. Anthony Messenger. He also serves as the editor of Franciscan Media's popular Weekday Homily Helps.
  • Joyce Donahue

    Hmm – how does that match up with the words of the Exsultet: “O truly necessary sin of Adam, destroyed completely by the death of Christ! O happy fault that earned so great, so glorious a Redeemer!”? The word “earned” would then seem to be problematic, if we go with the principle of “lex orandi, lex credendi”. If we look at all of this as part of a great plan predestined by God, then Adam’s sin was predestined, and therefore not due to free will. Quite a conundrum.

  • Christopher Heffron

    Hi, Joyce! Father Pat McCloskey would like to respond to your questions.

    Dear Joyce!
    The Exultet speaks as though God acts in time as humans act:
    past/present/future. Most of our God-talk follows the same pattern.
    Time, however, is a limitation for human beings but not for God. All time is
    equally present to God.

    The Incarnation is not Plan B—or to put it another way, “Cleanup
    needed on aisle three.” Blessed John Duns Scotus taught that it was
    intended for anything was created.

    Father Pat McCloskey