ND   JMC : History of Medieval Philosophy / by Maurice De Wulf

161. Some Theologico - Philosophical Controversies of the ninth, tenth and eleventh Centuries. -- (1) The Controversy on Predestination and Liberty. -- Gottschalk, a monk of Orbais, a contemporary of Rhaban Maur, was led by the study of St. Augustine to doubt about the possibility of reconciling human freedom with Divine grace. Admitting an absolute predestination of the good and the wicked alike, he concluded that man is a mere plaything in the hands of Almighty God and has neither freedom nor responsibility. If we call to mind the disturbances caused by the similar teachings of Jansenius in more recent times, it will help us to realize the intensity of the excitement aroused in the ninth century by Gottschalk. HINCMAR OF RHEIMS (802-882), RHABAN MAUR and FLORUS OF LYONS came forward as champions of free will. RATRAMN OF CORBIE and SERVATUS LUPUS took the side of Gottschalk; while both parties combined in attacking JOHN SCOTUS ERIUGENA who had interfered in the controversy with a theory of his own -- against Gottschalk's, only still more erroneous than the latter. The views of Gottschalk were condemned in the synods of Mainz (848) and Quiercy (849).

(2) The Transubstantiation Controversy. -- T here are two important matters of speculation, in regard to which reason must bow submissively before the teachings of faith: the dogma of the Eucharistic Transubstantiation in connection with our notions of substance and accident; and the mystery of the Blessed Trinity in connection with our concepts of person and nature. As rationalism grew bolder in the schools and disturbed the theologians (v. below) by its daring disquisitions on the categories and the Universals, regardless of faith and standing up for reason alone, it came into inevitable conflict with both of these mysteries.

The former was attacked by BERENGAR, or BERENGARIUS, OF TOURS,{1} a pupil of the school of Chartres, and apparently an antirealist in the Universals question. Of an ardent and impetuous temperament, Berengar (999-1088) soon sowed dissension in the schools. The accidental qualities of the bread and wine (taste, colour, form, etc.), he contended, could not remain without the underlying support which Aristotle had called substance. Hence, he concluded, the Gospels cannot have meant to teach real transubstantiation; the body and blood of Christ are really present, but only hidden beneath the sacramental species. He was attacked by LANFRANG (1010-1089). ADELMAN OF LIÉGE (1048), DURANDUS OF TROARN, HUGH OF BRETEUIL and other former school-fellows of Berengar's at Chartres,{2} also opposed the latter's teaching; but it took twenty years of lively controversy and four Church synods to stamp it out successfully.

(3) Roscelin's Tritheism. -- Roscelin's name is known rather on account of his tritheism than of his anti-realism (145). He made the three Divine persons three independent beings, like three angels: if usage allowed it, he said, we might speak of three Gods. Otherwise, he went on to argue, God the Father and God the Holy Ghost must have become man with God the Son. To save appearances, he admitted that the three Divine persons have but one will and one omnipotence.{3}

This very marked tritheism,{4} refuted by St. Anselm and Abelard in common, even after its author's retractation, seems to us a plain application of Roscelin's anti-realism.{5} If the three Divine persons, he argued, are one and the same God, then all three must have become incarnate, which cannot be admitted. There are, therefore, three Divine substances, three Gods, as distinct as three angels, because each substance constitutes an individuality: which is the fundamental assertion of anti-realism (143). There is an intimate connection here between the thought of the theologian and of the philosopher.

{1} He had precursors in RATRAMN and HERIGER, abbot of Lobbes, who were opposed by PASCHASIUS RADBERT (ninth century).

{2} CLERVAL, op. cit., pp. 64 and 131-41.

{3} "Audio . . . quod Roscelinus clericus dicit in Deo tres personas esse tres res ab invicem separatas, sicut sunt tres angeli, ita tamen ut una sit voluntas et potestas aut Patrem et Spiritum sanctum esse incarnatum; et tres deos vere posse dici si usus admitteret" (Letter of St. Anseim to Fulco).

{4} Against PICAVET, Roscelin, etc., p. 25.

{5} Cf. our art. Les récents travaux sur l'histoire de la phil. méd. (Rev. Néo-Scol., 1898, p. 74).

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