The MOST Theological Collection: Grace, Predestination and the Salvific Will of God: New Answers to Old Questions
"Preface to original Latin edition; note on revised English edition"
It is with both regret and joy that I send this book to the press. The joy needs no explanation. The reason for regret is this: in writing this, it was necessary to argue as forcefully as I could against many views that I know are dear to many friends of mine, both among the Thomists and among the Molinists. So I sincerely ask their pardon: I would have much preferred not to have to write against their views.
I want to explain to my friends of the older Thomist school that it was not from reading the books of their opponents that I arrived at my position. Many years ago, I sincerely thought I agreed with Father Garrigou-Lagrange, OP, on this matter. But it was from studying his books, not from Molinist works, that I came to see that I could not adhere to his opinion, because it leaves no room for a sincere salvific will, even though he wanted to leave room for it.
Similarly, I hope my Molinist friends will believe me when I say that it was not from reading the books of Thomists that I came to hold that the form of Molinism held by most Molinists today does not leave room for the salvific will. I came to this view chiefly from studying the outstanding work of Father Beraza, SJ, and from many personal letters that I exchanged with a certain prominent Molinist.
When I first came to see that I had to give up the view of Garrigou-Lagrange, I did not at once see what other view I could hold. But not long afterwards—not from my ability or merits, but from the divine goodness—the new solution proposed in this book came into my mind. My first thought was to merely write a periodical article to present it, but it soon became evident that an article would not be enough. For, from the outset, I realized the need of adhering most strictly to sound theological method. That required a diligent investigation of all places in the sources of revelation that bear on the problem, in the light of all declarations of the Magisterium of the Church. After that, some metaphysical considerations needed to be added. Since so many Sources had to be studied with so much care, an article was obviously insufficient.
After writing the first version of this book which, though much shorter than the present edition, contained the complete solution, it was a source of great encouragement to find that some outstanding Thomists, working independently, had already come to very similar conclusions. For I happened to read the commentary on the first section of the Summa by Father F. Muñiz, OP, in the edition of the Bibliotheca de Autores Cristianos. I was practically astounded to read his words: "That negative reprobation before prevision of sins seems to us to be, from every point of view, incompatible with the universal salvific will of God." The solution that he, and Father Marín-Sola, OP, proposed, although not entirely the same as that at which I had already arrived independently, was sufficiently similar, as we shall see later, to make me rejoice that such outstanding Thomists held such a view. After this, I again received a great joy in reading the splendid book by Dom Mark Pontifex, OSB, Freedom and Providence, in which I again found a very similar view, identical in the main points. Similarly, I was greatly encouraged by the brilliant article "Notre liberté devant Dieu," by Father Philippe de la Trinité, OCD, who is rightly considered to be one of the outstanding theologians of our times. He had come to practically the same conclusions too.
But, in view of the great difficulty of the matter, it seemed good, before publication, to seek the critical judgment of many theologians. I therefore sent nearly 500 privately lithographed copies to many theologians whom I happened to know, both in Europe and in the United States, and in other lands as well. About a hundred replied. Many of them liked my position substantially; many did not. These excellent scholars who replied were a great help—some because they by their approval gave needed encouragement, others because they gave positive suggestions for improvement, still others because they raised objections.
By the goodness of Divine Providence, those who replied belonged to many and diverse schools of theology. That is, replies came from Thomists, Molinists, Scotists, Syncretists, and others. Among them were dogmatic theologians, exegetes, and patrologists. Perhaps the reader may wonder which schools liked, and which disliked my position. Actually, the division did not follow school lines. Instead, there were both Thomists and Molinists among those who liked it; and, conversely, both Thomists and Molinists among those who did not like it. However, one principle of division appeared in many, though not all cases: those who did not like it seemed to want to solve the entire problem by metaphysics; those who liked it seemed to want to start with the sources of revelation and the Magisterium, and only after that to add metaphysical considerations.
Most valuable of all were the objections. In writing this edition, I tried to answer absolutely all objections that were sent in these letters. Some are answered at the ends of chapters, in the form of explicit replies to objections; other objections are answered in the body of the chapters.
So I most sincerely thank these many good friends who gave such great help, and ask that we pray for one another, so that we all may finally come to see the Truth itself directly, not through the mirror.
Wm. G. Most
March 7, 1963
A NOTE ON THE revised ENGLISH EDITION
This treatise was first published in Latin in 1963. The original English translation was made by the author and published in 1971. No position was changed, but chapter 4 was expanded, and additional topics were taken up in it. The present English edition has been revised, and new considerations have been added in a few places.
All translations of quoted passages are by the author of the book, except those from Scripture. Scripture quotes are taken from the Revised Standard Version Catholic Edition, unless otherwise noted (e.g., Phil 2:13 and 2 Cor 3:5, which are the author’s translation). Quotes from J. I. Packer and O. R. Johnston’s edition of Luther’s De Servo Arbitrio are their translation.
The author is greatly indebted to Christopher V. Mirus, who showed remarkable understanding and keen theological penetration in helping to prepare this revised edition.