The MOST Theological Collection: Outline of Christology

"I. From Eternity"


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Hebrews 13. 8: "Jesus Christ is the same yesterday and today and forever." How is this true since He was born in time? Because there is only one Person in Jesus, a Divine Person. Even though His humanity did not always exist, yet His Person does - we say does, to indicate that He is outside of time.

Did the Father always plan to send His Son into this world? Yes in the sense that all the decrees of God are eternal, identified with His Person, which is eternal, timeless. So the decree for the incarnation always existed. Furthermore, it is clear that in the present arrangement of Providence, He surely did come because of sin. Thus the Nicene Creed says: "For us men and for our salvation, He came down from Heaven." And He Himself said in Matthew 20. 28: "The Son of Man... came to give His life as a ransom for many."

But, we may ask further: Would He have come if Adam and Eve had not sinned?

We need to notice that this question deals with a futurible, that is, with what would happen, if something else would take place. Some scholars think God Himself does not know the futuribles. They are in error of course, for many times in Scripture He does know them. ( 1 Sam 23. 10-13; Jer 38. 17-23; Mt 11. 21-23; Lk 10. 13. And it is a universal belief: If we pray for something that would be bad if He would grant it, He would not give it.

So the debate goes on. In general, Dominicans tend to say no, He would not have come; while Franciscans tend to say yes, He would have. Those who say He would have come independently of sin like to appeal to two Scriptural texts:

Proverbs 8. 22 ff: "The Lord possessed me in the beginning of his ways... ." - But in the original setting, this line referred to the virtue of wisdom. Later Jews tended to think of it as almost a person. Then Christians could relate it to 1 Cor 1. 24 where Christ is called "the wisdom of God." This is true in as much as He is the divine Logos. But since the basic meaning of the text refers to the virtue not to a person, the text is not at all conclusive.

Colossians 1. 15-17: "He is the image of God, the first born of all creation. For in him all things were created in heaven and on earth, visible and invisible, whether thrones or dominations or principalities or powers - all things were created through him and for him. He is before all things." - Christ, presumably as incarnate, is the goal, the one for whom all things were created. This could be taken to mean that logically the decree for incarnation precedes the decree for the creation of all else. To take this otherwise would require us to say that this holds only for the actual order of things, and does not refer to the hypothetical order: would He have come if there had been no sin of Adam and Eve?

But it is probably better to broaden the picture. It was, as a matter of fact, not only for the sin of Adam and Eve that He came, but for all sin. If Adam and Eve had not sinned, would there have been sin in other humans? Had Adam and Eve not sinned, their children would have inherited the gift of integrity, the coordinating gift, that made it easy to keep all drives in their proper places. Lack of it does give an inclination towards evil. But Adam and Eve sinned even with this gift, and so could their descendants have sinned, at least many of them, without it.

But further, St. Paul in Galatians 2. 20 says: "He loved me and gave Himself for me." Vatican II, in Gaudium et spes ยง22 taught: "The Son of God loved me, and gave Himself for me." It means that Christ offered His death was offered for each individual person, not just for humanity in a block. With this motivation or attitude, it seems clear He would have come even for the sins of one person, whoever it might be.