Did God Become Man Because of Sin, Or For Love of Man Had There Not Been Sin?
Is this a false question? Perhaps, but it impinges on the understanding of God as Mercy in both cases.
Scotus argues that the reason for the Incarnation is Love. The Love of God in himself and the free desire that God has to share that love with another who can love him as perfectly as he loves himself, i.e. the Christ. Scotus says that all the souls that were ever created and about to be created could not, cannot and never will measure up to the supreme love that Christ has for the Trinity. The very fact of the preconception of the Incarnation in Scotus’s thought means that we are co-heirs to this Trinitarian love that Christ has. The Incarnation, then in Duns Scotus, becomes the unrepeatable, unique, and single defining act of God’s love. God, says Scotus, is what he is: we know that God exists and we know what that existence is: Love. Thus, if Man had not sinned Christ would still have come, since this was predetermined from all eternity in the mind of God as the supreme manifestation of his love for the creation he brings about in his free act. The Incarnation is the effect of God freely choosing to end his self-isolation and show who and what He is to that creation. The Incarnation, therefore, in Franciscan spirituality is centered on Love and not sin.
Sin has been given too much prominence in contemporary soteriology: God redeems from sin because he loves us?: no, says the Scotist, God loves us and then redeems us. Redemption is an act of love first and foremost, not an act of saving us from sin, and the first act of redemption is the Incarnation. God foresees us in union with him before he sees how sin disrupts that relational dynamic between He and us. Scotus makes it clear that the first movement is from God, a revelatory movement wherein God freely chooses to move beyond his own self-loving and share that loving with something other than himself – namely creation, and this process is epitomized in the Incarnation.
What the Incarnation shows us is not primarily the need for redemption, but the need that is in each one of us for love. That love which is so utterly free and unmerited that it embraces our own limitations, our own failures, our own hopes and longings and in uniting itself to us in the Incarnate Word in the person of Jesus of Nazareth elevates the human project to that which it always was in the mind of God. Scotus begins with Love, that love which is the very being of God himself, he travels the road of Love, which is made manifest in the Incarnation, and he ends with love, that love so hard to see in the misery of the abandoned Jesus on the cross, that Love which glorifies the whole creational project in the Resurrection.