Scotus is quite clear that the priest – or at any rate the Church – does not have any sort of instrumental role in the sacrifice of Christ’s body in the mass; the church is rather the principal agent offering the Eucharistic sacrifice. And elsewhere Scotus puzzlingly argues on scriptural grounds that there is no obvious sense in which Christ sacrifices himself in the Eucharist. In fact, Scotus is clear that there is a real sacrifice in the Mass that is distinct from the sacrifice of Calvary. So his views seems dangerously close to the view of the Eucharistic Sacrifice later rejected by both Protestants and Catholics alike. He argues that, in the Eucharist, the Church offers Christ’s body and blood to God.
-Richard Cross, “Duns Scotus”
Once more Duns Scotus proves himself the proper medieval forefather of Protestantism. But I think Richard Cross is too hasty in his judgement that Protestants would reject this view of the Eucharistic Sacrifice. (Although it is definitely certain that Trent would.)
As Melanchthon have pointed out in his Apology of the Augsburg Confession, The Church does rightly offer up a Eucharistic Sacrifice which is distinct from the Sacrifice on Calvary, and as the magisterial Protestants have argued following the Blessed Doctor, there is simply no scriptural evidence that Christ sacrifices himself in the Eucharist. The Eucharistic Sacrifice offered up by the Church which is distinct from the Sacrifice of Calvary are the sacrifices of praise, thanksgiving, faith, obedience, worship, etc, this is a real and not a fake or sham sacrifice, sacrifices which we are commanded by God to offer.The only problematic part is the last claim, that the Church offers the Christ’s body and blood to God. Without reading the actual texts of Scotus, there is a very limited sense in which the Protestant can agree with this, and that is simply that the Church *pleads* the Christ’s given body and blood of the covenant for the remission of sins and for God’s propitious countenance. If you want to call this “offering” or “presenting” Christ’s body and blood to God, or even in the language of Trent, “representing”, we are not going to quibble over the labels. But what would be an abominable blasphemy is the idea that the Christ’s body and blood is “immolated” or “sacrificed” in the Eucharist.
But the Protestants, along with Scotus, rightly rejects the strange idea of somehow Christ sacrificing himself in the Eucharist or the idea that somehow the Eucharistic Sacrifice is united to the Sacrifice of Calvary, etc.
The more I read the medieval scholastics the more interesting I find them to be. There is a rich diversity in medieval scholasticism and profoundity of thought which was regrettably squashed by both Trent and Protestant Orthodoxy alike…
2 thought on “Duns Scotus and the Protestant Doctrine of the Eucharistic Sacrifice”
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