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INCARNATION, INDWELLING, AND THE VISION OF GOD: HENRY OF GHENT AND SOME FRANCISCANS Henry of Ghent believes that it is possible to infer from the metaphysics of the Incarnation the following two claims: (1)A nature that lacks active rational powers lacks any passive potency for assumption (that is, it is necessary that a nature which possesses a passive potency for assumption possesses active rational [cognitive and appetitive] powers), and (2)An assumed rational nature lacks any opportunity not to enjoy the vision of God (that is, it is necessary that such a nature exercises its rational powers with respect to knowing and loving God beatifically). Henry gets to (1) and (2) by means of a third claim: (3)If God is hypostatically present to the essence of a substance, he is hypostatically present to its powers.1 So Henry's position is characterized by three separate sorts of argument. The first is the attempt to defend (3). The second derives (1) from (3); and the third derives (2) from (3). In what follows, I want to discuss these arguments in some detail, along with the attempts of three significant Franciscans (Richard of Middleton, William of Ware, and Duns Scotus) to refute them. I shall label Henry's arguments respectively the presence argument, the power argument, and the opportunity argument. As we shall see, 'As we shall see below, my phrase 'hypostatically present' covers a number of possible Latin terms and their cognates, all of which were used—to greater and lesser degrees—synonymously by me authors I examine here. Root terms include illapsus, elevatio, circumincessio, praesentia, beatificatio. As we shall see, part of the difficulty in die debate is in understanding die different nuances of diese terms. I will not look at this terminological difficulty as such below, since I diink die issues can be made sufficiently clear without including this added complexity. Anyone interested can trace the problem through the texts included in die footnotes. But I will bring out one crucial point. Henry is convinced that hypostatic indwelling is a ? instance of beatification. Some of die arguments used against him depend on a denial of this claim. 79 Franciscan Studies (57) 1999 80Richard Cross Henry proposes two distinct presence arguments—two distinct attempts, that is, to defend (3). Not only do the Franciscans reject Henry's arguments, they also between them defend the contradictories of Henry's principles: (I1) It is not the case that a nature that lacks active rational powers lacks any passive potency for assumption, (2·) It is not the case that an assumed rational nature lacks any opportunity not to enjoy the vision of God, (31) It is not the case that, if God is hypostatically present to the essence of a substance, he is hypostatically present to its powers. I will discuss their defence of these principles below. Henry's first claim—(1)—might look uncontroversial enough. After all, denying (1) would mean that God could become incarnate in an irrational nature—as an ass, for example, or as a stone. And Henry's (2) might appeal to those theologians who want to be able to show that Christ, during his earthly life, was both viator and comprehensor.2 But both (1) and (2) were generally denied by theologians of the late thirteenth and early fourteenth century. Denying (1) and (2), and arguing instead that God could become an ass or a stone, and that God could assume a nature that lacked the beatific vision, is not just a theologically pointless scholastic exercise in counterfactual reasoning.5 Some important issues, both 2UnUl about forty years ago, the claim diat Jesus was both viator and comprehensor was generally regarded as a "certain" theological opinion. I will return to some of die views of theologians on this opinion in section 1 below. 3For a brief discussion of this in relation to die Christology of Ockham, see Alister E. McGrath, "Homo Assumptus? A Study in the Christology of die 'Via Moderna' with Special Reference to William of Ockham," Ephemerides Theologiae Lovanienses, 60 (1984): 283-97, and die literature cited by McGrath. McGrath specifically targets for criticism die view of E. Borchert that speculations of die...

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Additional Information

ISSN
1945-9718
Print ISSN
0080-5459
Pages
pp. 79-130
Launched on MUSE
2013-07-03
Open Access
No
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