Sacramental Causality: “Effecting What They Figure!”

Marilyn McCord Adams

in Some Later Medieval Theories of the Eucharist

Published in print October 2010 | ISBN: 9780199591053
Published online January 2011 | e-ISBN: 9780191595554 | DOI:
Sacramental Causality: “Effecting What They Figure!”

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Circumcision and new-law sacraments were held to be efficacious signs of spiritual benefits in suitable receivers and/or the real presence of the Body and Blood of Christ. Since the material stuffs are not naturally endowed with the relevant causal powers, explanations are required for how they can be efficacious in the production of such effects. This chapter examines Aquinas' appeal to instrumental causality to explain how material rites do have relevant powers by participating in the causal efficacy of the principal agent (equals God). Then it considers Scotus' efforts to promote new-law sacraments as powerless causes connected with the effect by ‘non-obvious’ essential dependence relations, as well as Ockham's related conceptualization of sacraments as causes sine quibus non.

Keywords: new-law sacraments; Body; Blood; Aquinas; material rites; Scotus; Ockham

Chapter.  12683 words. 

Subjects: Christian Theology

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