Important Insights from Richard Rohr’s book Eager to Love: From a Theology of Atonement to a Theology of Abundance
By Bridget Mary Meehan, ARCWP
The Franciscan School of Theology's focus on God's extravagant love and abundance taught by Saint Bonaventure and John Duns Scotus provides an alternative to Atonement Theology taught by St. Anselm and St. Thomas Aquinas.
The Franciscan theological position was never condemned and was always held as an alternative by the institutional Catholic Church. However, most Catholics were not exposed to Franciscan theology, but this worldview fits well today with the spiritual journey of contemporary mystics an emerging universe.
Franciscan School of Theology emphasized God as Outpouring Love, and our call is to live love each day.
Bonaventure: “We come from God reflecting the divine image, our DNA is found in God. Everything in creation is an example and illustration of the one God mystery in space and time. ..We return to the Source from which we came.” P. 166.
“Grace is inherent in the universe from the moment of the “Big Bang”. (implied in Genesis 1:2, Spirit hovers over the chaos) Grace is “the very shape of the universe from the start.” In this view, ‘salvation is not a divine transaction that takes place because you are morally perfect but much more it is an organic unfolding, a becoming of who you are already are, an inborn sympathy with and capacity for the very One who created you….The Christ Mystery, …is plan A for God, and not a Plan B, a mop up exercise after Adam and Even ate the apple.”
“For Scotus and for Bonaventure, the Trinity is the absolute beginning and ending point. Outpouring Love is the inherent shaped of the universe and when we love, only then do we fully exist in this universe.” We do not need to understand what is happening or who God is before we live in love. The will to love precedes any need to fully understand whatever we are doing , the Franciscan School would say.” p. 182
Almost all seminaries taught Thomas Aquinas . This meant that knowing the truths of the faith, correct doctrine was the most importan thing.
“In short, truth was equated with knowing instead of loving.”
“According to the Christian understanding of the Bible in the first millennium, Jesus “died for our sins to pay a debt to the devil or to pay a debt to God the Father proposed by St. Anselm of Canterbury" (1033-2209)
The great Franciscan theologian, John Duns Scotus, was not guided by Temple language of atonement, blood sacrifice or satisfaction for sins but to “the utterly new world that Jesus offered, where God’s abundance has made any economy of merit, sacrifice, reparation or atonement both unhelpful and unnecessary. Jesus undid once and for all (Hebrews 7:27,9:12, 10:10) all notions of human and animal sacrifice and replace them with his new economy of grace, which as at the heart of the gospel revolution.” P. 187“In other words, we are all saved by grace and the utter freedom of God to love who and what God wills, without our tit-for-tat thinking getting the way of God’s absolute freedom , and absolute freedom to love. .. we all need to know that God does not love us because we are that good, God loves us because God is good. Nothing humans can do will inhibit, direct, decrease or increase God’s eagerness to love… Only great love can handle great truth.” P.188, (Eager to Love, by Richard Rohr)
I believe that God is extravagant love always loving, healing, empowering and transforming, moving in all beings everywhere and always loving, healing and empowering through us. Now, this is a theology of abundance that speaks to contemporary spiritual seekers, mystics and prophets today.