Christian Themes

(Literary Essentials: Christian Fiction and Nonfiction)

A number of core themes emerge. First, in the Franciscan tradition, love and the will are the two fundamental concepts that link God and humans. The concepts come together in election and by an understanding of the nature of the Trinity. One of the medieval debates was whether God’s will was irresistible. If it was, would that not make humans automatons and therefore incapable of love or being loved? Duns Scotus held that humans were free, which made it possible for humans to will to love God and authenticate that freedom by an act of love.

Like most medieval theologians, Duns Scotus was concerned with finding some merit in humans by which God might accept them, even though God had chosen (elected) individuals to receive his salvation and gain eternal life. Scotus saw that humans, of themselves, in their fallen state, needed to have put in them a “disposition” (habitus) to love. There is an ethical necessity to love the perfect good (God), but an inability to do so. This implanting of a disposition is an act of grace, following on from people’s election. However, the will of each person can still choose whether to act on that disposition and actually choose to love God. This is the one possible act of merit and what make each person “loveable” to God.

The inevitable question that attaches itself to all discussions of election is whether once elected, one is always elected, whatever one does. Although Scotus holds that all...

(The entire section is 431 words.)