SermonIndex Audio Sermons
Image Map
SermonIndex.net : Christian Books : Section 2. Theological Systems Devised To Harmonize The Dogmas Of Grace And Free-Will

Grace Actual And Habitual by Joseph Pohle

Section 2. Theological Systems Devised To Harmonize The Dogmas Of Grace And Free-Will

The relation of grace to free-will may be regarded from a twofold point of view. We may take grace as the primary factor and trace it in its action on the human will; or, starting from the latter, we may endeavor to ascertain how free-will is affected by grace.

The first-mentioned method has given birth to two closely related theological systems, Thomism and Augustinianism; the latter to Molinism and Congruism, which are almost identical in substance.

Besides these there is a fifth theory, which tries to reconcile the two extremes and may therefore be called eclectic.

That the human will is free, yet subject to the influence of grace, is an article of faith unhesitatingly accepted by all Catholic theologians. It is in trying to explain how grace and free-will cooeperate, that the above-mentioned schools differ.

In approaching this extremely difficult and obscure problem we consider it our duty to warn the student against preconceived opinions and to remind him that the different systems which we are about to examine are all tolerated by the Church. To-day, when so many more important things are at stake and the faith is viciously assailed from without, the ancient controversy between Thomism and Molinism had better be left in abeyance.

Article 1. Thomism And Augustinianism

Thomism and Augustinianism both hinge on the concept of gratia efficax ab intrinseco s. per se, whereas Molinism and Congruism will not admit even the existence of such a grace.

1. THE THOMISTIC THEORY OF GRACE. -- The true founder of the Thomistic system is not St. Thomas Aquinas, who is also claimed by the Molinists, but the learned Dominican theologian Banez (1528-1604). His teaching may be summarized as follows:

a) God is the First Cause (causa prima) and Prime Mover (motor primus) of all things, and all created or secondary causes (causae secundae) derive their being and faculties, nay, their very acts from Him. If any creature could act independently of God, God would cease to be causa prima and motor primus.(706)

The influence of the First Cause is universal, that is to say, it produces all creatural acts without exception, -- necessary and free, good and bad, -- because no secondary cause has power to act unless it is set in motion by the motor primus.

In influencing His creatures, however, God adapts himself to the peculiar nature of each. The necessary causes He determines to act necessarily, the free causes, freely. All receive from Him their substance and their mode of action.(707) The rational creature, therefore, though subject to His determining influence, acts with perfect freedom, just as if it were not moved.

b) In spite of free-will, however, the influence which God exerts on His rational creatures is irresistible because it proceeds from an absolute and omnipotent Being whose decrees brook no opposition. What God wills infallibly happens.(708)

Nevertheless, God is not the author of sin. He moves the sinner to perform an act; but He does not move Him to perform a sinful act. The malice of sin derives solely from the free will of man.(709)

c) Since the divine influence causally precedes all creatural acts, God's concurrence with creatural causes (concursus generalis) must be conceived as prevenient, not simultaneous. The Divine Omnipotence not only makes the action possible, but likewise effects it by moving the will from potentiality to actuality.(710) Consequently, the causal influence which the Creator exerts upon His creatures is not a mere motio, but a praemotio, -- and not merely moral, but physical (praemotio physica).(711) It is by physical premotion that God's prevenient influence effects the free actions of His creatures, without regard to their assent.(712) Free-will is predetermined by God before it determines itself.(713)

d) If we analyse God's physical predeterminations in so far as they are created entities, we find that they are nothing else than the effect and execution of His eternal decrees, embodied in the praedeterminatio physica. It is the temporal execution of the latter that is called praemotio physica. Hence we are justified in speaking, not only of a temporal praemotio, but of an eternal praedeterminatio, in fact the terms are often used synonymously.(714)

Viewed in its relation to rational creatures, this eternal predetermination is nothing but a temporal premotion of the free will to determine itself. Since God has from all eternity made absolute and conditional decrees, which possess the power of physical predetermination without regard to the free consent of His creatures, physical predetermination constitutes an infallible medium by which He can foreknow their future free actions, and hence there is no need of a scientia media. If God knows His own will, He must also know the free determinations included therein. To deny this would be to destroy the very foundation of His foreknowledge.(715)

This is merely the philosophical basis of the Thomistic system. Its champions carry the argument into the theological domain by reasoning as follows: What is true in the natural must be equally true in the supernatural sphere, as we know from reason and Revelation.(716)

e) To physical predetermination or premotion in the order of nature, there corresponds in the supernatural sphere the gratia efficax, which predetermines man to perform salutary acts in such wise that he acts freely but at the same time with metaphysical necessity (necessitate consequentiae, not consequentis). It would be a contradiction to say that efficacious grace given for the purpose of eliciting consent may co-exist with non-consent, i.e., may fail to elicit consent.(717) The will freely assents to the divine impulse because it is effectively moved thereto by grace. Consequently, efficacious grace does not derive its efficacy from the consent of the will; it is efficacious of itself and intrinsically (gratia efficax ab intrinseco sive per se).(718)

It follows that efficacious grace must be conceived as a praedeterminatio ad unum.(719)

f) If efficacious grace is intrinsically and of its very nature inseparably bound up with the consent of the will, it must differ essentially from merely sufficient grace (gratia mere sufficiens), which confers only the power to act (posse operari), not the act itself (actu operari). Efficacious grace, by its very definition, includes the free consent of the will, while merely sufficient grace lacks that consent, because with it, it would cease to be merely sufficient and would become efficacious.(720)

Here the question naturally arises: How, in this hypothesis, can sufficient grace be called truly sufficient? The Thomists answer this question in different ways. Gazzaniga says that sufficient grace confers the power to perform a good deed, but that something more is required for the deed itself.(721) De Lemos ascribes the inefficacy of merely sufficient grace to a defect of the will.(722) If the will did not resist, God would promptly add efficacious grace.(723)

CRITICAL ESTIMATE OF THE THOMISTIC THEORY. -- The Thomistic system undoubtedly has its merits. It is logical in its deductions, exalts divine grace as the prime factor in the business of salvation, and magnificently works out the concept of God as causa prima and motor primus both in the natural and the supernatural order.

But Thomism also has its weak points.

A. The Thomistic conception of efficacious grace is open to two serious theological difficulties.

(1) To draw an intrinsic and substantial distinction between efficacious and merely sufficient grace destroys the true notion of sufficient grace.

(2) The Thomistic theory of efficacious grace is incompatible with the dogma of free-will.

Though in theory the Thomists defend the sufficiency of grace and the freedom of the will as valiantly as their opponents, they fail in their attempts at squaring these dogmas with the fundamental principles of their system.

a) Sufficient grace, as conceived by the Thomists, is not truly sufficient to enable a man to perform a salutary act, because ex vi notionis it confers merely the power to act, postulating for the act itself a substantially new grace (gratia efficax). A grace which requires to be entitatively supplemented by another, in order to enable a man to perform a salutary act, is clearly not sufficient for the performance of that act. |To be truly sufficient for something| and |to require to be complemented by something else| are mutually exclusive notions, and hence |sufficient grace| as conceived by Thomists is in reality insufficient.

Many subtle explanations have been devised to obviate this difficulty. Billuart and nearly all the later Thomists say that if any one who has received sufficient grace (in the Thomistic sense of the term) is denied the gratia efficax, it must be attributed to a sinful resistance of the will.(724) But this explanation is incompatible with the Thomistic teaching that together with the gratia sufficiens there co-exists in the soul of the sinner an irresistible and inevitable praemotio physica to the entity of sin, with which entity formal sin is inseparably bound up.(725) If this be true, how can the will of man be held responsible so long as God denies him the gratia ab intrinseco efficax?

Speaking in the abstract, the will may assume one of three distinct attitudes toward sufficient grace. It may consent, it may resist, or it may remain neutral. It cannot consent except with the aid of a predetermining gratia efficax, to merit which is beyond its power. If it withstands, it eo ipso renders itself unworthy of the gratia efficax. If it takes a neutral attitude, (which may in itself be a sinful act), and awaits efficacious grace, of what use is sufficient grace?

To resist sufficient grace involves an abuse of liberty. Now, where does the right use of liberty come in? If cooeperation with sufficient grace moves God to bestow the gratia per se efficax, as the Thomists contend, then the right use of liberty must lie somewhere between the gratia sufficiens and the gratia efficax per se. But there is absolutely no place for it in the Thomistic system. The right use of liberty for the purpose of obtaining efficacious grace is attributable either to grace or to unaided nature. To assert that it is the work of unaided nature would lead to Semipelagianism. To hold that it is owing to grace would be moving in a vicious circle, thus: |Because the will offers no resistance, it is efficaciously moved to perform a salutary act; that it offers no sinful resistance is owing to the fact that it is efficaciously moved to perform a salutary act.|(726)

It is impossible to devise any satisfactory solution of this difficulty which will not at the same time upset the very foundation on which the Thomistic system rests, viz.: |Nulla secunda causa potest operari, nisi sit efficaciter determinata a prima [scil. per applicationem potentiae ad actum],| that is to say, no secondary cause can act unless it be efficaciously determined by the First Cause by an application of the latter to the former as of potency to act.

b) The Thomistic gratia efficax, conceived as a praedeterminatio ad unum, inevitably destroys free-will.

{GREEK SMALL LETTER ALPHA}) It is important to state the question clearly: Not physical premotion as such,(727) but the implied connotation of praevia determinatio ad unum, is incompatible with the dogma of free-will. The freedom of the will does not consist in the pure contingency of an act, or in a merely passive indifference, but in active indifference either to will or not to will, to will thus or otherwise. Consequently every physical predetermination, in so far as it is a determinatio ad unum, must necessarily be destructive of free-will. Self-determination and physical predetermination by an extraneous will are mutually exclusive. Now the Thomists hold that the gratia per se efficax operates in the manner of a supernatural praedeterminatio ad unum. If this were true, the will under the influence of efficacious grace would no longer be free.

To perceive the full force of this argument it is necessary to keep in mind the Thomistic definition of praemotio physica as |actio Dei, qua voluntatem humanam, priusquam se determinet, ita ad actum movet insuperabili virtute, ut voluntas nequeat omissionem sui actus cum illa praemotione coniungere.|(728) That is to say: As the non-performance of an act by the will is owing simply and solely to the absence of the respective praemotio physica, so conversely, the performance of an act is conditioned simply and solely by the presence of a divine premotion; the will itself can neither obtain nor prevent such a premotion, because this would require a new premotion, which again depends entirely on the divine pleasure. If the will of man were thus inevitably predetermined by God, it could not in any sense of the term be called truly free.

-- -- -- -- -- -- -

{GREEK SMALL LETTER BETA}) The Thomists meet this argument with mere evasions. They make a distinction between necessitas consequentis (antecedens), which really necessitates, and necessitas consequentiae (su -- -- -- -- -- -- -

B. The Thomistic system is open to two serious objections also from the philosophical point of view. One of these concerns the medium by which God foreknows the future free acts of His rational creatures; the other, 2. AUGUSTINIANISM. -- This system, so called because its defenders pretend to base it on the authority of St. Augustine, has some points of similarity with Thomism but differs from the latter in more than one respect, especially in this that the Augustinians,(745) though they speak with great deference of the gratia per se efficax, hold that the will is not physically but only morally predetermined in its free acts. Hence Augustinianism may fitly be described as the system of the praedeterminatio moralis. Its most eminent defender is Lawrence Berti, O. S. A. (1696-1766), who in a voluminous work De Theologicis Disciplinis(746) so vigorously championed the Augustinian theory that Archbishop Jean d'Yse de Saleon, of Vienne,(747) and other contemporary theologians combated his teaching as a revival of Jansenism. Pope Benedict XIV instituted an official investigation, which resulted in a decree permitting Augustinianism to be freely held and taught.

a) Whereas Thomism begins with the concept of causa prima and motor primus, Augustinianism is based on the notion of delectatio coelestis or caritas. Berti holds three principles in common with Jansenius: (1) Actual grace consists essentially in the infusion of celestial delectation. (2) This heavenly delectation (i.e. grace) causally precedes free-will in such wise that its relative intensity in every instance constitutes the law and standard of the will's disposition to do good.

(3) Simultaneously with this celestial delectation, concupiscence (delectatio carnalis, concupiscentia) is doing its work in fallen man, and the two powers constantly contend for the mastery. So long as celestial delectation (i.e. grace) is weaker than, or equipollent with, concupiscence, the will inevitably fails to perform the salutary act to which it is invited by the former. It is only when the delectatio coelestis overcomes concupiscence (delectatio coelestis victrix) that free-will can perform the act inspired by grace. There is a fourth principle, and one, too, of fundamental importance, which brings out the essential difference between Augustinianism and Jansenism, viz.: the delectatio coelestis never overpowers the will but leaves it free to choose between good and evil.(748)

b) The relation between merely sufficient and efficacious grace in the Augustinian system, therefore, may be described as follows: Merely sufficient grace imparts to the will the posse but not the velle, or at best only such a weak velle that it requires the delectatio victrix (gratia efficax) to become effective. Efficacious grace (delectatio coelestis victrix), on the other hand, impels the will actually to perform the good deed. Hence there is between the two an essential and specific difference, and the efficacy of that grace which leads to the performance of salutary acts does not lie with free-will but depends on the delectatio coelestis, which must consequently be conceived as gratia efficax ab intrinseco sive per se.(749)

c) Nevertheless, the necessity of the gratia efficax ab intrinseco, according to the Augustinian theory, is not due to the subordination of the causa secunda to the causa prima, as the Thomists contend, but to a constitutional weakness of human nature, consisting in this that its evil impulses can be overcome solely by the delectatio coelestis victrix (gratia efficax, adiutorium quo. The case was different before the Fall, when the gratia versatilis (gratia sufficiens, adiutorium sine quo non) sufficed for the performance of salutary acts.(750)

d) However, the Augustinians insist against the Jansenists, that the delectatio coelestis (i.e. efficacious grace) does not intrinsically compel the will, but acts merely as a praemotio moralis, and that while the will obeys the inspiration of grace infallibly (infallibiliter) it does not do so necessarily (non necessario). With equal certainty, though not necessarily, the will, when equipped solely with sufficient grace, succumbs to concupiscence. The ultimate reason for the freedom of the will is to be found in the indifferentia iudicii.(751) By way of exemplification the Augustinians cite the case of a well-bred man who, though physically free and able to do so, would never turn summersaults on a public thoroughfare or gouge out his own eyes.

CRITICAL ESTIMATE OF AUGUSTINIANISM. -- On account of its uncritical methods Augustinianism has found but few defenders and deserves notice only in so far as it claims to base its teaching on St. Augustine.

Like the Bible, the writings of that holy Doctor have been quoted in support of many contradictory systems.(752) If the use of Augustinian terms guaranteed the possession of Augustinian ideas, Jansenius would have a strong claim to be considered a faithful disciple of St. Augustine. Yet how widely does not the |Augustinus Iprensis,| as he has been called, differ from the |Augustinus Hipponensis|! Augustinianism, too, utterly misconceives the terms which it employs. Space permits us to call attention to one or two points only.

a) In the first place Augustinianism labors under an absolutely false conception of sufficient grace.

How can that grace be sufficient for justification which is first described in glowing colors as parva et invalida and then in the same breath is declared to be insufficient except when reinforced by a gratia magna in the shape of delectatio victrix? What kind of |grace| can that be which in its very nature is so constituted that the will, under the prevailing influence of concupiscence, infallibly does the opposite of that to which it is supernaturally impelled? It is quite true that the distinction between gratia parva and gratia magna(753) is found in St. Augustine. However, he understands by gratia parva not sufficient grace, but the grace of prayer (gratia remote sufficiens), and by gratia magna, not efficacious grace as such, but grace sufficient to perform a good act (gratia proxime sufficiens).(754)

b) Augustinianism is unable to reconcile its theory of a praemotio moralis with the dogma of free-will.

Under the Augustinian system the influence of efficacious grace can be conceived in but two ways. Either it is so strong that the will is physically unable to withhold its consent; or it is only strong enough that the consent of the will can be inferred with purely moral certainty. In the former alternative we have a prevenient necessity which determines the will ad unum and consequently destroys its freedom. In the latter, there can be no infallible foreknowledge of the future free acts of rational creatures on the part of God, because the Augustinians reject the scientia media of the Molinists and expressly admit that the same grace which proves effective in one man remains ineffective in another because of the condition of his heart.(755)

c) Finally, the three fundamental principles of the Augustinian system are false and have no warrant in the writings of St. Augustine.

It is not true that pleasure (delectatio) is the font and well-spring of all supernaturally good deeds. Such deeds may also be inspired by hatred, fear, sorrow, etc.(756) With many men the fear of God or a sense of duty is as strong an incentive to do good as the sweet consciousness of treading the right path. St. Augustine did not regard |celestial delectation| as the essential mark of efficacious grace, nor concupiscence as the characteristic note of sin.(757)

The second and third principles of the Augustinian system are likewise false. If delectation is only one motive among many, its varying intensity cannot be the standard of our conduct; and still less can it be said that the will is morally compelled in each instance to obey the relatively stronger as against the weaker delectation; for any necessitation that does not depend on the free will excludes the libertas a coactione, but not that libertas a necessitate which constitutes the notion of liberty. There can be no freedom of the will unless the will is able to resist delectation at all times. Consequently, the fourth principle of the Augustinians, by which they pretend to uphold free-will, is also false.(758)

READINGS: -- The literature on the different systems of grace is enormous. We can mention only a few of the leading works.

On the Thomist side: *Banez, O. P., Comment. in S. Theol. S. Thom., Salamanca 1584 sqq. -- *Alvarez, O. P., De Auxiliis Gratiae et Humani Arbitrii Viribus, Rome 1610. -- IDEM, Responsionum Libri Quatuor, Louvain 1622. -- Ledesma, O. P., De Divinae Gratiae Auxiliis, Salamanca 1611. -- *Gonet, O. P., Clypeus Theologiae Thomisticae, 16 vols., Bordeaux 1659-69. -- Contenson, O. P., Theologia Mentis et Cordis, Lyons 1673. -- De Lemos, O. P., Panoplia Divinae Gratiae, 4 vols., Liege 1676. -- Goudin, O. P., De Scientia et Voluntate Dei, new ed., Louvain 1874. -- *Gotti, O. P., Theologia Scholastico-Dogmatica iuxta Mentem Divi Thomae, Venice 1750. -- Gazzaniga, O. P., Theologia Dogmatica in Systema Redacta, 2 vols., Vienne 1776. -- *Billuart, De Gratia, diss.5 (ed. Lequette, t. III, pp.123 sqq.). -- IDEM, Le Thomisme Triomphant, Paris 1725. -- *Fr. G. Feldner, O. P., Die Lehre des hl. Thomas ueber die Willensfreiheit, Prague 1890. -- IDEM, in Commer's Jahrbuch fuer Philosophie und spekulative Theologie, 1894 sqq. -- *Dummermuth, O. P., S. Thomas et Doctrina Praemotionis Physicae, Paris 1886. -- I. A. Manser, Possibilitas Praemotionis Physicae Thomisticae, Fribourg (Switzerland) 1895. -- Joh. Ude, Doctrina Capreoli de Influxu Dei in Actus Voluntatis Humanae, Graz 1905. -- Del Prado, De Gratia et Libero Arbitrio, 3 vols., Fribourg (Switzerland) 1907. -- P. Garrigou-Lagrange, S. Thomas et le Neomolinisme, Paris 1917.

On the Augustinian side: Card. Norisius, Vindiciae Augustinianae, Padua 1677. -- *Berti, De Theologicis Disciplinis, 8 vols., Rome 1739 sqq. -- Bellelli, Mens Augustini de Modo Reparationis Humanae Naturae, 2 vols., Rome 1773. -- L. de Thomassin, Memoires sur la Grace, etc., Louvain 1668.

For a list of Molinistic and Congruistic authors see pp.269 sq.

Article 2. Molinism And Congruism

The point in which these two systems meet, and in regard to which they differ from Thomism and Augustinianism, is the definition of efficacious grace as efficax ab extrinseco sive per accidens.

This conception was violently attacked by the Spanish Dominican Banez and other divines. About 1594, the controversy between the followers of Banez and the Molinists waxed so hot that Pope Clement VIII appointed a special commission to settle it. This was the famous Congregatio de Auxiliis, consisting of picked theologians from both the Dominican and the Jesuit orders. It debated the matter for nine full years without arriving at a decision. Finally Pope Paul V, at the suggestion of St. Francis de Sales, declared both systems to be orthodox and defensible, and strictly forbade the contending parties to denounce each other as heretical.(759)

While Thomism devoted its efforts mainly to the defense of grace, Molinism made it its chief business to champion the dogma of free-will.

1. MOLINISM. -- Molinism takes its name from the Jesuit Luis de Molina, who published a famous treatise under the title Concordia Liberi Arbitrii cum Gratiae Donis at Lisbon, in 1588. His teaching may be outlined as follows:

a) In actu primo there is no intrinsic and ontological but merely an extrinsic and accidental distinction between efficacious and sufficient grace, based upon their respective effects. Sufficient grace becomes efficacious by the consent of the will; if the will resists, grace remains inefficacious (inefficax) and merely sufficient (gratia mere sufficiens). Consequently, one and the same grace may be efficacious in one case and inefficacious in another. It all depends on the will.(760)

b) This theory involves no denial of the priority and superior dignity of grace in the work of salvation. The will, considered as a mere faculty, and in actu primo, is raised to the supernatural order by prevenient grace (gratia praeveniens), which imparts to it all the moral and physical power necessary to perform free salutary acts. Neither can the actus secundus be regarded as a product of the unaided will; it is the result of grace cooeperating with free-will.(761) Consequently, the will by giving its consent does not increase the power of grace, but it is grace which makes possible, prepares, and aids the will in performing free acts. To say that the influence of grace goes farther than this would be to assert that it acts independently of the will, and would thereby deny the freedom of the latter.(762)

c) The infallibility with which efficacious grace works its effects is to be explained not by God's absolute will, but by His infallible foreknowledge through the scientia media, -- a Molinistic postulate which was first defined and scientifically demonstrated by Father Fonseca, S. J., the teacher of Suarez.(763) God foreknows not only the absolutely free acts (futura) of His rational creatures by the scientia visionis, but likewise their hypothetically free acts (futuribilia) by means of the scientia media, and hence He infallibly knows from all eternity what attitude the free-will of man would assume in each case if grace were given him. Consequently, when God, in the light of this eternal foreknowledge, actually bestows a grace, this grace will prove efficacious or inefficacious according as He has foreknown whether the will will give or withhold its consent. Thus can the infallibility of efficacious grace be reconciled with the dogma of free-will without prejudice to such other dogmas as final perseverance and the predestination of the elect, because God by virtue of the scientia media has it absolutely in His power to give or withhold His graces in each individual case.(764)

CRITICAL ESTIMATE OF MOLINISM. -- Even the most determined opponents of Molinism admit that this system possesses three important advantages.

a) First, it gives a satisfactory account of the sufficiency of |merely sufficient grace,| which in its physical nature does not differ essentially from efficacious grace.

Second, Molinism safeguards free-will by denying that efficacious grace either physically or morally predetermines the will to one course of action.

Third, Molinism explains in a fairly satisfactory manner why efficacious grace is infallibly efficacious. God in virtue of the scientia media knows with metaphysical certainty from all eternity which graces in each individual case will prove efficacious through the free consent of the will and which will remain inefficacious, and is thereby enabled to bestow or withhold grace according to His absolute decrees.

b) The question may justly be raised, however, whether, in endeavoring to safeguard freewill, the Molinists do not undervalue grace, which is after all the primary and decisive factor in the work of salvation.

There is something incongruous in the notion that the efficacy or inefficacy of divine grace should depend on the arbitrary pleasure of a created will. If sufficient grace does not become efficacious except by the consent of the will, how can the resultant salutary act be said to be an effect of grace? St. Paul, St. Augustine, and the councils of the Church do not say: |Deus facit, si volumus,| but they declare: |Deus facit, ut faciamus,| |Deus ipse dat ipsum velle et facere et perficere,| and so forth. What can this mean if not: Divine grace need not concern itself with external circumstances, occasions, humors, etc., but it takes hold of the sinner and actually converts him, without regard to anything except the decree of the Divine Will. On account of this and similar difficulties Cardinal Bellarmine, who was a champion and protector of P. Molina, seems to have rejected Molinism(765) in favor of Congruism.(766)

c) The same reasons that induced Bellarmine to embrace Congruism probably led the Jesuit General Claudius Aquaviva, in 1613, to order all teachers of theology in the Society to lay greater emphasis on the Congruistic element in the notion of efficacious grace. This measure was quite in harmony with the principles defended by the Jesuit members of the Congregatio de Auxiliis before Clement VIII and Paul V. Aquaviva's order is of sufficient importance to deserve a place in the text of this volume: |Nostri in posterum omnino doceant, inter eam gratiam quae effectum re ipsa habet atque efficax dicitur, et eam quam sufficientem nominant, non tantum discrimen esse in actu secundo, quia ex usu liberi arbitrii etiam cooperantem gratiam habentis effectum sortiatur, altera non item; sed in ipso actu primo, quod posita scientia conditionalium [scientia media] ex efficaci Dei proposito atque intentione efficiendi certissime in nobis boni, de industria ipse ea media seligit atque eo modo et tempore confert, quo videt effectum, infallibiliter habitura, aliis usurus, si haec inefficacia praevidisset. Quare semper moraliter et in ratione beneficii plus aliquid in efficaci, quam in sufficienti gratia est, in actu primo contineri: atque hac ratione efficere Deum, ut re ipsa faciamus, non tantum quia dat gratiam qua facere possimus. Quod idem dicendum est de perseverantia, quae procul dubio donum est.| This modified, or perhaps we had better say, more sharply determined form of Molinism is called Congruism.(767)

2. CONGRUISM. -- The system thus recommended by Aquaviva in its fundamental principles really originated with Molina himself. It was developed by the great Jesuit theologians Suarez, Vasquez, and Lessius, and became the official system of the Society of Jesus under Muzio Vitelleschi (d.1645) and Piccolomini (d.1651).

a) The distinction between gratia congrua and gratia incongrua is founded on the writings of St. Augustine, who speaks of the elect as |congruenter vocati.|(768) The Congruists maintain against the extreme Molinists that the efficacy of grace is not attributable solely to a free determination of the will, but, at least in part, to the fact that grace is bestowed under circumstances favorable to its operation, i.e. |congruous| in that sense. When the circumstances are comparatively adverse (incongrua), grace remains merely sufficient. A prudent father who knows how to govern his children without physical force will speak the right word to each at the proper time. Similarly God adapts His grace, if it is to prove efficacious, to the circumstances of each individual case, thereby attaining His purpose without fail. Thus the reckless youth on the city streets needs more powerful graces than the pious nun in her secluded convent cell, because he is exposed to stronger temptations and his environment is unfavorable to religious influences. Since grace is conferred with a wise regard to temperament, character, inclinations, prejudices, time and place, there exists between it and free-will a sort of intrinsic affinity, which in the hands of God becomes an infallible means of executing His decrees.(769)

b) The actual bestowal of congruous grace, considered in actu primo, is undoubtedly a special gift of God, and hence the gratia congrua possesses a higher value than the gratia incongrua sive inefficax. An entitatively weaker impulse of grace, if conferred under comparatively favorable conditions, is more precious than a stronger impulse which fails in its purpose by reason of unfavorable circumstances created by inclination, training, or environment. Little David accomplished more with a handful of pebbles in his scrip than had he been heavily armed.(770)

c) Congruism assigns a far more important role to grace than extreme Molinism. It makes the will depend on efficacious grace, not the efficacy of grace upon the will. Bellarmine illustrates this difference by the example of a sermon which, under an entirely equal distribution of internal grace, converts one sinner while it leaves another untouched.(771)

CRITICAL ESTIMATE OF CONGRUISM. -- Among the different systems devised for the purpose of harmonizing the dogmas of grace and free-will, Congruism probably comes nearest the truth. It strikes a golden mean between the two extremes of Pelagianism and Semipelagianism on the one hand, and Calvinism and Jansenism on the other, and its principal theses can be supported by clear and unmistakable passages from the writings of St. Augustine.

a) Other points in its favor are the following: |Sufficient grace,| in the Congruist hypothesis, is truly sufficient so far as God is concerned, because its inefficaciousness is attributable solely to the human will. That free-will is properly safeguarded under the influence of efficacious grace (gratia congrua) is admitted even by theologians of the opposing schools. True, Congruism does not regard the will as an abstract notion, but as a factor closely interwoven with the concrete circumstances of daily life. As favorable circumstances (education, association, temperament) merely influence the will but do not compel it, so supernatural grace (gratia congrua s. efficax) may soften the will and occasionally even break down its resistance, but (rare cases excepted)(772) will never compel it to do good. Congruism marks a distinct advance over extreme Molinism also in this, that it bases the difference between gratia efficax (congrua) and gratia inefficax not entirely on the will of man, but likewise on the will of God, whereby it is able to explain such formulas as |Deus facit, ut faciamus,| |Deus est, qui discernit,| etc., in a manner entirely compatible with the dogmatic teaching of the Church.(773)

The modus operandi of the gratia congrua (efficacious grace) is explained by Congruism, in common with Molinism, as follows: There is a threefold efficacy: the efficacy of power (efficacia virtutis), the efficacy of union (efficacia connexionis), and the efficacy of infallible success (efficacia infallibilitatis). Grace (both efficacious and sufficient) does not derive its efficacia virtutis from the free-will of man, nor from the knowledge of God (scientia media), but from itself. The efficacia connexionis (of union between act and grace) on the other hand, depends entirely on the free-will, since, according to the Council of Trent as well as that of the Vatican, efficacious grace does not operate irresistibly but can be |cast off.| The efficacia infallibilitatis springs from God's certain foreknowledge (scientia media), which cannot be deceived.(774)

b) Nevertheless, it would be unreasonable to contend that Congruism solves all difficulties. The mystery surrounding both the unequal distribution of efficacious grace and the scientia media still remains. Moreover, the theory that God adjusts himself slavishly to all the circumstances of His creatures, can hardly be reconciled with His dignity and omnipotence. It would no doubt be far worthier of His majesty to seize upon the free will of man and compel it to perform the salutary act which He wishes it to perform. Whoever has studied the lives of saints and eminent converts knows that the sudden and seemingly unaccountable changes of heart which many of them have experienced can hardly be regarded as miracles in the strict sense, though on the other hand it seems certain that grace worked in them with little or no regard to the |congruity| of circumstances. Again, it is one of the highest and most sublime missions of grace not to be balked by unfavorable circumstances but to re-shape them by changing a man's temperament, dulling concupiscence, weakening the power of temptation, and so forth. In other words, grace does not depend on but controls and fashions the circumstances of the recipient.

After all is said, therefore, the relation of grace and free-will still remains an unsolved mystery.(775)

3. SYNCRETISM. -- Seeing that each of the different systems which we so far reviewed contains grains of truth, some theologians(776) have adopted the good points of all four and combined them into a fifth, called Syncretism.

These authors begin by assuming the existence of two quite distinct sorts of efficacious grace, the (Thomistic-Augustinian) gratia efficax ab intrinseco, and the (Molinistic-Congruistic) gratia efficax ab extrinseco. The former, they contend, is bestowed for the performance of more difficult good works, such as resisting grievous temptations, observing onerous precepts, exercising patience in severe tribulation, etc.; while the latter enables man to accomplish less difficult acts, such as short prayers, slight mortifications, etc. The connecting link between the two is prayer, which has been instituted for the purpose of enabling man to obtain that gratia efficax ab intrinseco which is necessary for the performance of the more difficult works of salvation. Sacred Scripture teaches that prayer originates in grace, that it is binding upon all men, and that it accomplishes its purpose infallibly.(777)

CRITICAL ESTIMATE OF SYNCRETISM. -- The outstanding characteristic of Syncretism is its insistence on prayer as a highly important, not to say the most important, factor in the work of salvation.

a) In this the Syncretistic school is undoubtedly right. Sacred Scripture and Tradition both strongly emphasize the importance and necessity of prayer, so much so that one naturally expects to find prayer playing an essential and indispensable role in every complete and orthodox system of grace. |The present economy of grace is essentially and intrinsically an economy of prayer,| is a theological axiom which cannot be too strongly insisted upon. To have brought out this great truth forcibly and luminously is the merit of Syncretism.

b) We do not mean to intimate, however, that the Syncretistic theory has solved the problem of the relation between free-will and grace. On the contrary, by adopting two such heterogeneous concepts as gratia efficax ab intrinseco and gratia efficax ab extrinseco it has actually increased the difficulties found in the other systems. For now we are put before the dilemma: -- the Thomistic gratia efficax either supposes free-will or it does not: if it does, there is no reason to limit this grace to the more difficult works of salvation; if it does not, then the gratia efficax can be of no assistance in the performance of more difficult works, because these too, to be meritorious, require the cooeperation of free-will.

The Syncretists try to evade this dilemma by contending that prayer, as the connecting link, communicates its own liberty and meritoriousness to the salutary acts performed through its agency, in other words, that these acts are the effect of prayer (effectus orationis). But aside from the fact that prayer itself is quite often a difficult act, the more arduous works of salvation would in the Syncretist hypothesis be stripped of their meritoriousness and degraded to the level of a voluntarium in causa, which is an untenable assumption.(778) Finally, there is something illogical and unsatisfactory in admitting on equal terms, as it were, two such incompatible notions as the Thomistic cognitio Dei in decretis praedeterminantibus and the Molinistic scientia media.

Thus in the end all attempts to harmonize the dogmas of grace and free-will fail to solve the mystery, and we are compelled to exclaim with St. Paul: |O the depth of the riches of the wisdom and of the knowledge of God! How incomprehensible are His judgments, and how unsearchable His ways!|(779)

READINGS: -- Molinistic and Congruistic works of importance are: *Molina, S. J., Concordia Liberi Arbitrii cum Gratiae Donis, Lisbon 1588 (repr. Paris 1876). -- Platel, S. J., Auctoritas contra Praedeterminationem Physicam pro Scientia Media, Douai 1669. -- Henao, S. J., Scientia Media Historice Propugnata, Lyons 1655. -- IDEM, Scientia Media Theologice Defensa, Lyons 1674-6. -- De Aranda, S. J., De Deo Sciente, Praedestinante et Auxiliante seu Schola Scientiae Mediae, Saragossa 1693. -- *Suarez, S. J., De Concursu, Motione et Auxilio Dei, new ed., Paris 1856. -- IDEM, De Auxilio Efficaci, Paris ed., 1856, t. XI. -- IDEM, De Vera Intelligentia Auxilii Efficacis (Op. Posthum., t. X, Appendix). -- *Lessius, S. J., De Gratia Efficaci (Opusc., t. II, Paris 1878). -- Sardagna, S. J., Theologia Dogmatico-Polemica, Ratisbon 1771. -- Wirceburgenses (Kilber, S. J.), De Gratia, new ed., Paris 1853. -- Murray, De Gratia, Dublin 1877. -- B. Jungmann, S. J., De Gratia, 6th ed., Ratisbon 1896. -- Th. de Regnon, S. J., Banez et Molina, Histoire, Doctrines, Critique, Metaphysique, Paris 1883. -- Card. Mazzella, S. J., De Gratia Christi, 3rd ed., Rome 1882. -- Palmieri, S. J., De Gratia Divina Actuali, thes.49-58, Gulpen 1885. -- *V. Frins, S. J., S. Thomae Doctrina de Cooperatione Dei cum Omni Natura Creata, Praesertim Libera, seu S. Thomas Praedeterminationis Physicae Adversarius, Paris 1890. -- *Schiffini, S. J., De Gratia Divina, disp.5, Freiburg 1901. -- Card. Billot, S. J., De Gratia Christi et Libero Hominis Arbitrio, I, Rome 1908. -- Limbourg, S. J. |Selbstzeichnung der thomistischen Gnadenlehre,| in the Innsbruck Zeitschrift fuer kath. Theologie, 1877. -- B. J. Otten, S. J., A Manual of the History of Dogmas, Vol. II, St. Louis 1918, pp.493 sqq.

Among the theologians who have tried to harmonize Thomism and Molinism we may mention, besides Ysambert and St. Alphonsus de' Liguori, *Tournely, De Gratia, Venice 1755. -- Card. Jos. Pecci, Sentenza di S. Tommaso circa l'Influsso di Dio sulle Azioni delle Creature Ragionevoli e sulla Scienza Media, Rome 1885. -- A. Adeodatus, J. Pecci's Schrift: Lehre des hl. Thomas ueber den Einfluss Gottes, etc., analysiert, Mainz 1888. -- C. Krogh-Tonning, De Gratia Christi et de Libero Arbitrio S. Thomae Doctrina, Christiania 1898. -- J. Herrmann, C. SS. R., De Divina Gratia, Rome 1904.

The history of the great controversy between Thomism and Molinism can be studied in H. Serry, O. P., Historia Congregationum de Auxiliis Divinae Gratiae, Louvain 1700 and Antwerp 1709. -- Livinus de Meyer, S. J., Historia Controversiarum de Divinae Gratiae Auxiliis, Antwerp 1705. -- *Schneemann, S. J., Entstehung der thomistisch-molinistischen Controverse, Freiburg 1879. -- *IDEM, Weitere Entwicklung der thomistisch-molinistischen Controverse, Freiburg 1880. -- *IDEM, Controversiarum de Divinae Gratiae Liberique Arbitrii Concordia Initia et Progressus, Freiburg 1881.

<<  Contents  >>





©2002-2020 SermonIndex.net
Promoting Genuine Biblical Revival.
Affiliate Disclosure | Privacy Policy