HA/HL 112 Church History Reformation History
I. Introduction to Scholasticism A. Named after the “schools” that were set up around the cathedrals for Christian Education purposes • Progressed from a “theologian in residence” to groups of monks meeting in a motherhouse to colleges or universities • These gathered groups became known as the “schoolmen” – thus, “scholastics”
II. Scholasticism as a Method for doing theology. A. Scholasticism is a particular way, or method, that theology was done in the medieval period. 1. Anselm of Canterbury. Came up with phrase, “faith seeking understanding” (fides querens intellectum). He insisted that faith and reason do not contradict each other. a) He emphasized the “ransom theory” of atonement
2. Abelard of Paris. Introduced the “Christ as example” theory of atonement a) In Abelard’s “Sic et Non” (1122 CE), was a book the dealt with a “scholastic method” to resolve apparent theological contradictions. This method was further developed in Peter Lombard’s Four Books on the Sentences. The method followed the following pattern: i) A question for discussion would be posed (questo) ii) An answer in the affirmative (videtur quod) iii) An answer in the negative (sed contra) iv) A resolution to the apparent contradictions between points 2 and 3 would be given (responsio).
• III. The development of schools of thought in Medieval Theology A. Early Medieval Scholasticism 1. The two scholastic schools of thought: a) The Dominicans, of whom Thomas Aquinas was the leading proponent b) The Franciscans, led by people such as Duns Scotus and William of Ockham
B. Scholastic Theology in the Late Middle Ages 1. In the Late Middle Ages, the rational system of Thomas Aquinas is increasingly called into question. • Do Faith and reason really fit together so neatly? • Is there order to life, in the way Thomas implied? • The 14th century was tumultuous, an “age of adversity, and ” the medieval world was coming apart 2. Theologians begin see cracks developing in Thomas’ system. New theologians were giving theology a new orientation.
C. John Duns Scotus (d. 1308) 1. Felt that God acted in arbitrary ways.
2. God’s ways were beyond our ways and our reason, never counter to them.
3. Scotus stresses God’s freedom and free will. What God wills is good because God wills it to be so. • Thomas: God wills the only good • Scotus: Whatever God wills is good. • Thus, God could will “whatever” (e.g., hate rather than love as a virtue) and that would be good.
4. Scotus questioned many church teachings from logical or philosophical perspectives a) He accepted them because they were rooted in Scripture, which had been approved by the church i) So ultimately, Scotus believed strictly on the basis of the authority of the church
5. In terms of justification, Scotus is a confusing combination of Pelagian and Augustinian tendencies. a) On the one hand, like Pelagius, he presents a very positive picture of humanity: original sin appears to have done little damage to the natural powers • Natural human beings can be assured that if they do their best God will grant grace and restore people to righteousness b) On the other hand, to balance Pelagianism and to protect God*s sovereignty, Scotus stresses the Augustinian theme of predestination: • only those who have been predestined to that state by God. can truly enter into a state of grace
D. William of Ockham (d. 1349) 1. He was very critical of the French controlled papacy (he lived during the “Babylonian captivity of the church”). He argued that: a) The state is independent of the church b) The church is to be involved only in the spiritual realm c) The present hierarchical structure is only one of many options d) Scripture (and not the pope) is the only infallible authority e) In secular affairs the clergy are always subject to the civil authorities f) Laity have equality with the clergy
E. Gabriel Biel (1420-1495) and via Moderna Nominalism 1. Beil was a German theologian and secular priest, “the last of the scholastics.” a) Was attracted to mystical piety b) A professor of theology at the newly established University in Tübingen from 1484 to 1495 c) His theology stands in the tradition of Scotus and Occam
2. Biel wanted to know “Does God have to grant grace when we do our very best? a) Theoretically it is foolish to speak of the absolutely powerful God being forced to do anything. b) Practically, God should reward human good works with grace. HA/HL 112 Church History Reformation History
(i) Biel concluded that God must grant grace to the person who has done his or her very best: “When we do what is in us (i.e., our very best), God does not deny grace” (Facientibus quod in se est, Deus non denegat gratiam).” c) But what is “the very best” we can do as sinful human beings? i) Biel adds some qualifications: • Technically, human beings cannot fulfill the divine law and therefore cannot merit eternal salvation without God’s grace. • the natural human being can fulfill only the letter of the law and not the spirit. • However, this act of loving God above all things earn a limited merit (meritum de congruo), making the person eligible to receive God’s first infusion of grace. On this basis only, we can please and love God above all, and thus we merit God’s final salvation (meritum de condigno).
3. In tension with this doctrine of justification is the “absolute power of God, whereby God predestines some to eternal salvation • The tension is thus solved: Some are predestined to salvation in light of the good works that God foresaw they would perform.
IV. The schola Augustiniana moderna, or the Modern Augustinian school A. Led by Gregory of Rimini, they argued that the resources of salvation were all found outside of human nature. One cannot resist sin or turn to God apart from God. 1. This proposal was rejected by Biel 2. Luther, an Augustinian, takes up the cause • God’s power and salvation become major themes for what became known as the reformation.