cover of book

A Thomistic Christocentrism: Recovering the Carmelites of Salamanca on the Logic of the Incarnation
by Dylan Schrader
Catholic University of America Press, 2021
eISBN: 978-0-8132-3409-0 | Cloth: 978-0-8132-3408-3
Library of Congress Classification BT220.S385 2021
Dewey Decimal Classification 232.1

Saint Thomas Aquinas famously held the opinion that, in God’s actual plan for the world, the Word would not have become flesh except to redeem us from sin. Conversely, Blessed John Duns Scotus argued that God intended Christ first, such that Christ would have come even if there had been no sin. While Aquinas and Scotus were far from the first to consider this question, they became emblematic of two seemingly irreconcilable approaches. In this book, Father Dylan Schrader recovers the thought of the Salmanticenses, the Discalced Carmelites writing at the University of Salamanca in the seventeenth century. The Salmanticenses argue that Christ is primary in God’s intention precisely as redeemer, so that it is true both that God has made everything else for the sake of Christ and that Christ’s coming is essentially redemptive, connected with sin. In this way, the Salmanticenses offer a Thomistic Christocentrism.

This book summarizes the historical background to the Salmanticenses, from the time of Anselm up through the early-modern period. Next, it presents and defends the Salmanticenses’ argument for the primacy of Christ the redeemer. A Thomistic Christocentrism then turns to two key post-conciliar figures, Karl Rahner and Hans Urs von Balthasar. Rahner sees Christ as the culmination of the world’s opening up to God. Balthasar sees Christ as the reconciler of divine and human freedom through his cross, descent, and resurrection. Both Christocentric approaches have good aspirations but suffer from serious flaws. In its final chapters, this book applies the Salamanca theory to Rahner and Balthasar, showing its enduring value for post-conciliar Christocentrism.
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