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Page:Catholic Encyclopedia, volume 10.djvu/493

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MOLINISM


439


MOLINISM


At this stage of the controversy the Thomists urge wrth great emphasis the grave accusation that the Molinists, by their undue exaltation of man's freedom of will, seriously circumscribe and diminish the suprem- acy of the Creator over His creatures, so that they destroy the efficacy and predominance of grace and make impossible in the hands of God the infallible re- sult of efficacious grace. For, they argue, if the de- cision ultimately depends on the free will, whether a given grace shall be efficacious or not, the result of the salutary act must be attributed to man and not to God. But this is contrary to the warning of St. Paul, that we must not glory in the work of our salvation as though it were our own (I Cor., iv, 7), and to his teach- ing that it is Divine grace which does not only give us the power to act, but "worketh" also in us "to will and to accomplish" (Phil., ii, 13); it is contrary also to the constant doctrine of St. Augustine, according to whom our free salutary acts are not our own work, but the work of grace.

The consideration of these serious difficulties leads us to the very heart of Molina's system, and reveals the real Gordian knot of the whole controversy. For Molinism attempts to meet the objections just men- tioned by the doctrine of the Divine scienlia media. Even Molinism must and does admit that the very idea of efficacious grace includes the free consent of the will, and also that the decree of God to bestow an efficacious grace upon a man involves with metaphysi- cal certainty the free co-operation of the will. From this it follows that God must possess some infallible source of knowledge by means of which he knows from all eternity, with metaphysical certainty, whether in the future the will is going to co-operate with a given grace or to resist it. When the question ha.s assumed this form, it is easy to see that the whole controversy resolves itself into a discussion on the foreknowledge which God has of the free future acts; and thus the two opposing systems on grace are ultimately founded upon the general doctrine on God and His attributes. Both systems are confronted with the wider and deeper question: What is the medium of knowledge (medium in quo) in which God foresees the (absolute or conditioned) free operations of His rational creatures? That there must be such a medium of Divine fore- knowledge is evident. The Thomists answer: God foresees the (absolute and conditioned) free acts of man in the eternal decrees of His own will, which with absolute certainty produce prwmovendo as definite pradeterminationes ad unum, all (absolute and condi- tional) free operations. With the same absolute cer- tainty with which He knows His own will, He aLso foresees clearly and distinctly in the decrees of His will all future acts of man. However, the Molinists maintain that, since, as we remarked above, the pre- determining decrees of the Divine Will must logically and necessarily destroy freedom and lead to Determin- ism, they cannot possibly be the medium in which God infallibly foresees future free acts. Rather these de- crees must presuppose a special knowledge (scienlia media), in the light of whiith God infallibly foresees from all eternity what attitude man's will would in any conceivable combination of circumstances assume if this or that particular grace were olTcrcd it. And it is only when guided by His infallible foreknowledge that God determines the kind of grace He shall give to man. If, for example, He foresees by means of the scienlia media that St. Peter, after his denial of Christ, shall freely co-operate with a certain grace, He de- crees to give him this particular grace and none other; the grace thus conferred becomes efficacious in bring- ing about his repentance. In the case of Judas, on the other hand, God, foreseeing the future resistance of this Apostle to a certain grace of conversion, de- creed to allow it, and consequently bestowed upon him a grace which in itself was really sufficient, but re- mained inefficacious solely on account of the refrac-


tory disposition of the Apostle's will. Guided by this scienlia media God is left entirely free in the disposi- tion and distribution of grace. On His good pleasure alone it depends to whom He will give the supreme grace of final perseverance, to whom He will refuse it ; whom He will receive into Heaven, whom He will ex- clude from His sight for ever. This doctrine is in per- fect harmony with the dogmas of the gratuity of grace, the unequal distribution of efficacious grace, the wise and inscrutable operations of Divine Providence, the absolute impossibility to merit final perseverance, and lastly the immutable predestination to glory or rejec- tion; nay more, it brings these very dogmas into har- mony, not only with the infallible foreknowledge of God, but also with the freedom of the created will. The scienlia media is thus in reality the cardinal point of Molinism; with it Molinism stands or falls. This doctrine of the scienlia media is the battle-field of the two theological schools; the Jesuits were striving tO' maintain and fortify it, while the Dominicans are ever putting forth their best efforts to capture or turn the position. The theologians who have come after them,, unhampered by the traditions of either order, have fol- lowed some the doctrine of the Jesuits, some the Do- minican system.

The chief objection directed against Molinism at its rise was, that its shibboleth, the scienlia media, was a. sheer invention of Molina and therefore a suspicious: innovation. The Molinists on the other hand did not hesitate to hurl back at the Thomists this same objec- tion with regard to their prainolio physica. In reality both accusations were equally unfounded. As long as; there is an historical development of dogma, it is nat- ural that, in the course of time and under the super- natural guidance of the Holy Ghost, new ideas and new terms should gain currency. The deposit of faith, which is unchangeable in substance but admits of development, contains these ideas from the begin- ning, and they are brought to their full development by the tireless labours of the theological schools. The idea of the scienlia media Molina had borrowed from his celebrated professor, Pedro da Fonseca, S.J. ("Commentar. in Metaphys. Aristotelis", Cologne, 1615, III), who called it scienlia mixta. The justifica- tion for this name Molina found in flu' ('(insidcration that, in addition to the Diviiif kimw Icdfrc of the purely possible (scienlia simplicis mlrltuji niur) and the knowledge of the actually existing (sm i,!i,i nxuniis), there must be a third kind of "interniidialc kimwl- edge", which embraces all objects thai arc fciund neither in the region of pure possibility nor strictly in that of actuality, but partake equally of both extremes and in some sort belong to both kinds of knowle<lge. In this cla.ss are numbered especially tho.se free ac- tions, which, though never destined to be realized in historical fact, would come into i-xi.s|ciici- if certain conditions were fulfilled. A liyixil helical occurn^nce of this kind the theologians call a coiidilional future occurrence (actus liber condilinmdi fiiluntx kcu fiilurihi- lis). In virtue of this particular kind of I )ivinc knowl- edge, ChrLst, for exairii)lc, was able to declare with cer- tainty to His okstinatc hearers Ihal the inhabitants of Tyre and Sidon would have done penanci' in sackcloth and ashes, if they had wilnessed the signs and mira- cles which were wrought in Coruzain and Hcthsaida (cf. Matt., xi, 21 sq.). We know, however, th.at such signs and miracles were not wrought and that the in- habitants of Tyre and Sidon were not converted. Y(^t God had infallibly foreseen from all eternity that this conversion would h.ave taken place if the condition (which never was realized) of Christ's mission to these cities h.ad been fulfilled. Who will doubt that God in His omniscience foresees distinctly what any inhabitant of New ^'ork would do throunhout I he day, if he were now in London or Paris instead of America? It is true that a number of Thomists, for example Ledesma ("De div. gratia auxil.", Salamanca, 1611,