Do you think Jesus would have come, and was originally planning on coming to earth, and incarnating, even without the ‘fall’ of humanity into sin? Here is how Myk Habets (friend, mentor, soon to be doctoral supervisor, co-editor, brother in Christ) has asked this question with more elaboration:
[A]ccording to Christian tradition Jesus Christ is pre-eminent over all creation as the Alpha and the Omega, the ‘beginning and the end’ (Rev 1.8, 21.6; 22.13). This belief, when theologically considered, is known as the primacy of Christ.1 The specific issue this doctrine addresses is the question: Was sin the efficient or the primary cause of the incarnation? This essay seeks to model the practice of modal logic in relation to the primacy of Christ, not to satisfy the cravings of speculative theologians but to reverently penetrate the evangelical mystery of the incarnation, specifically, the two alternatives: either ‘God became man independently of sin,’ or its contradiction, ‘God became man because of sin’. Examining historical responses to the primacy of Christ will lead to a consideration of how some recent theologians have taken up these themes and sought to develop them. This in turn provides resources that contribute towards an understanding of the incarnation assuming that the efficient cause was human sin. Finally, an argument will be presented defending the primacy of Christ and a justification for the hypothesis that there would have been an incarnation of the Son irrespective of the fall. [Myk Habets, The author 2008. Journal compilation C The Dominican Council/Blackwell Publishing Ltd. 2008, 9600 Garsington Road, Oxford OX4 2DQ, UK, and 350 Main Street, Malden MA 02148, USA DOI:10.1111/j.1741-2005.2008.00240.x, p. 343.]
So what do you think? Do you think that if sin was the primary reason for Jesus becoming human, that this would mean that creation determined something for God, that God did not first determine for himself? Thomas Aquinas, Habets argues throughout the rest of his essay, would answer in the affirmative; i.e. that the primary reason Jesus came to earth as a human being was to deal with the consequences and fall out provided by the Fall. It is understandable why Aquinas and the classical Tradition have taken this view, but is the traditional view consistent with the theo-logic required by a doctrine of God that sees Jesus as primary over all of creation?
Here is how Myk breaks this down in even more pointed fashion:
[T]wo views on the primacy of Christ dominate the discussion within medieval theology, those of the Franciscans, led by John Duns Scotus, and those of the Dominicans, led by Thomas Aquinas. According to the first view humanity was created for glory, and sin is merely an episode along the way. The incarnation would have occurred irrespective of the fall since humanity’s ultimate destiny is participation in the being of God and the incarnation guarantees that this will be realized. This Franciscan position is known as the Scotistic thesis. It is what one scholar terms ‘elevation-line’ theology which sees the incarnation as the way to the elevation or consummation of creation.5 The second major view considers the deliverance of creation as secondary to the question of sin. This is the Dominican position known as the Thomistic thesis. It may be characterised as a ‘restitution-line’ theology, in which the incarnation occurred solely as a remedy for humanity’s sin, with the restitution of creation as a corollary. Both ‘school’s’ of thought deserve some articulation before examining some recent contributions to the issue. [pp. 344-45]
Something to consider for you then. Are you an ‘elevation’ theologian or an ‘restitution’? Or maybe you are both?