The MOST Theological Collection: Grace, Predestination and the Salvific Will of God: New Answers to Old Questions
"Pt. 2: Predestination and reprobation - Ch. 15: The controversies de auxiliis"
243. After St. Thomas, many others wrote on our question. But throughout some centuries, no considerable new light was added towards the solution, or towards removing the obscurities left at the time of St. Thomas.
However, in the last part of the 16th century, two men of great genius stand out among those who attempted to propose new interpretations: Domingo Bañez, O.P., and Luis Molina, S.J.
244. Because the opinion of Garrigou-Lagrange, on which we have already said so many things, and of which we have given a summary above1 is practically the same as that of Bañez, we can treat his position more briefly now.
But it will be good to add a few things on the opinion of Bañez about the universal salvific will. As we saw2 he thought that "much more probably" the universal salvific will is only a signified will. However he did not deny that it might perhaps be a sincere will. Considering the hypothesis that it might be sincere, he wrote:3 ". . . even if that act is formally in God, it is not empty, but is a testimony of divine mercy. Nor is it a feigned will. For not without cause does God permit some to fail to reach the ultimate end . . . but the reason is, that the vindicative justice of God may be shown towards those who fell, and the greater abundance of mercy towards those who are saved. . . ." and he continues, and cites Romans 9.
Garrigou-Lagrange himself, however, explicitly says that the salvific will is sincere. But, as we have seen above,4 his opinion on predestination and the efficacy of grace cannot be reconciled with any true and sincere salvific will.
245. Conclusions on the opinion of Bañez: He sincerely tried, and tried ingeniously, to follow St. Thomas. In spite of that we must say:
1) He was right in holding that St. Thomas does teach negative reprobation before consideration of demerits in his commentary on Romans, and perhaps in some other passages as well.
2) Yet, there is no passage of St. Thomas which contains the theory of sufficient and efficacious grace proposed by Bañez, as we have already shown.5
3) Nor does St. Thomas have the opinion on divine foreknowledge solely through infrustrable decrees, as we shall see in chapter 22.
4) Bañez did not find the real teaching of St. Thomas in CG. 3.159-61, nor did he see the error in the interpretation of Romans 8-9. As a result, Bañez did not find the true revealed solution.
A. The problem of interpreting Molina
246. The words of Molina himself: Even the Molinists today dispute what is the real opinion of Molina on some points of major importance. Let us read what Molina himself says:6 He had proposed an objection as follows: "[It can be objected] that from this our opinion it follows that it is in the power of each adult to bring it about that he has been predestined from eternity by God. But this is very absurd, since the gift of predestination is to be referred solely to the free will of God." He tries to answer this objection as follows:7 ". . . we must deny that the conclusion follows: For although God so makes provision towards beatitude for all adults, both the predestined and the reprobate, He leaves them in the power of their own counsel making it a matter of free choice for them either to come to eternal life or to turn aside to extreme misery; that which follows from our view, in fact, that which we openly assert is this: Given any providential plan whatsoever of this sort, with certain definite means which God, for His part, has decreed to give to an adult-whether [this plan] has added to it the characteristic of predestination, because God foresees that this man through his liberty is going to come through these means to beatitude, or whether [this plan] has reprobation added to it, because He foresees that the man, through the same liberty, will not come to eternal life but will finish his life in sins because of which he will be damned-it is always within the power of the will of such an adult to do the contrary [of what he actually will do]. But if, as could be, that [contrary] were going to happen, [then] just as God would have foreseen it [the contrary] from eternity instead of that which He [actually] foresaw, so that providential plan would have added to it the contrary characteristic or predestination or reprobation. However, before God established it [that providential plan for the man], He would have been fully able to choose, not that same order of things and plan of providence for the adult in question, but one out of an infinity of others, in which He foresaw that the opposite would happen, out of that same freedom of the man's will. Wherefore, it is not in the power of an adult human to bring it about that he has been predestined by God from eternity, but it depends solely on the free will of God, even though, in whatsoever order of things the man be placed, it is in his power to do the opposite of that which he really will do."
247. Comments on the words of Molina himself: Molina seems to openly deny that the fundamental reason underlying the decision as to who will or will not be reprobated depends on human conditions. Still, he is considered by many as the great patron of the opinion that says predestination is decreed after consideration of merits. To see how these two points can be reconciled, we need a distinction:
1) In one sense Molina says that God predestines, or reprobates, in as much as He freely-not because of foreseen merits or demerits-chooses one order of things and not another, from which choice of order differences will follow, e.g., God knows that Peter in order A will freely consent to the graces he will receive and will be saved, but He knows that the same Peter in order B would not consent, but would be lost. Therefore, by choosing the order, God is said to predestine or reprobate inasmuch as the final outcome of salvation or ruin for Peter depends on the order which God chooses. It is in this sense that Molina says: "It is not in the power of an adult human to bring it about that he has been predestined by God from eternity."
2) In another sense, Molina says that God predestines, inasmuch as, presupposing the choice of the actual order (which choice is made entirely freely by God, and not after foreseeing merits and demerits), within this order, merits and demerits are really the reason underlying the decision as to who will be reprobated or elected. Hence Molina says, speaking of the order of providence which God has actually chosen: "Whether [this plan] has added to it the characteristic of predestination, because God foresees that this man through his liberty is going to come through these means to beatitude, or whether [this plan] has reprobation added to it, because He foresees that the man, through the same liberty, will not come to eternal life. . . . "
If, then, we consider the whole process of predestination, in the fullest, most fundamental sense, it is entirely gratuitous according to Molina, nor is the outcome decided by human merits or demerits. But if we consider the difference between the reprobate and the elect within the present order, then this distinction depends entirely on the free will of man.
248. Molina's objection and reply in regard to human control: But Molina seemed to see a further objection as possible, because he had said that an adult is predestined within the present order because God foresees that the man will have good merits. For someone might say: "If in the present order I am able to choose freely to live well or badly; and if in any order whatsoever the same is true so that, as Molina says, it is always in my power to do the opposite to what I might actually do, then, in whatsoever order God had wanted to place me, I always could do well, and so, I could do this in all orders, so that in no matter what order God might place me, I could bring it about that I would be saved. So, even in the first sense, I could bring it about that I would be predestined."
Probably with such an objection in view, Molina added, in the passage cited above: "However, before God established it [that providential plan for the man] He would have been fully able to choose, not that same order of things and plan of providence for the adult in question, but one out of an infinity of others, in which He foresaw that the opposite would happen, out of that same freedom of the man's will. Wherefore, it is not in the power of an adult human to bring it about that he have been predestined by God from eternity. . . ."
249. The efficacy of the order: In this reply of Molina, there is a certain clear presupposition, namely: That which really is the outcome-salvation or perdition-depends, for all men, on the order chosen, for there is no one at all who, in some order which God could have chosen, would not live so badly that he would perish. And there is no one who would perish in this order, who would not have lived well in some other order. Therefore, B. Beraza, SJ, concludes:8 ". . . in a hypothetical order there is no distinction or reason for distinction. You who are reading this, in [some] hypothetical order were the holiest of all the saints that are and will be in heaven; and simultaneously [in a different hypothetical order] you are the basest of all who are and will be in hell." Therefore, if Beraza has correctly interpreted the view of Molina about the orders, we must conclude that not only the difference between salvation and ruin depends for everyone on the order chosen, but also the precise degree of holiness or wickedness that each will reach.
250. The interpretation given by Father Aquaviva: This implication becomes still clearer if we consider the interpretation of Molinism given by Claudius Aquaviva, the General of the Jesuit order, in 1613:9 "For the future, let our [theologians] teach entirely, that between that grace which really produces its effect, and is called efficacious, and that [grace] which they call sufficient, there is a difference not only in actu secundo, because it obtains its effect through the use of free will that has also a cooperating grace [while] another [grace] does not likewise [obtain its effect]; but even in actu primo, because, presupposing [God's] knowledge of conditional [futures], as a result of the efficacious purpose of God and [His] intention of most certainly accomplishing good in us He deliberately selects such means [graces] and confers them in such a manner and at such a time that He foresees they will infallibly be effective, [for] He would employ other graces, if He had foreseen these would be ineffective."
251. To understand this most clearly, it is helpful to recall the historical background, as H. Rondet, SJ, reports it:10 "In the year 1613, the [Jesuit] General, Aquaviva, put an end to [the discussion within the Jesuits]. Less restrained than Paul V, he commanded the theologians of his order to teach that between sufficient and efficacious grace, there is a difference in actu primo, and he did this in the intention of saving the traditional notions about the predilection of God for the elect." Therefore, according to Father Aquaviva, Molinism involves this tenet: God has a special benevolence for the elect. If He did not have this, they would not be elect. He has this benevolence not because of their works, for this benevolence precedes their good works. For this special benevolence is the reason why God "deliberately," as Fr. Aquaviva said, chooses graces in actu primo as efficacious for the elect. The absence of this special benevolence explains why the reprobates do not receive the efficacious graces (i.e., not to such an extent that they would be saved). Therefore, because all this depends in the first place on God alone, and since without an efficacious grace man will not actually, according to Molinism, do a good act, and since God does not give such efficacious grace to all-it is obvious that there is a certain antecedent reprobation in this decision of God, towards those to whom He does not give the efficacious grace. (The precise sense in which this is true will be made clearer below.)11 So it seems that God, in choosing the order, acts according to the special benevolence He has for certain persons. In other words, God chooses the order precisely in order to save these special ones. By that very fact He passes by the others. Those whom He passes by are negatively reprobated, before any prevision of demerits.
252. As Rondet explained, Father Aquaviva issued his order precisely in order to provide for retaining the theory of the special benevolence of God for the elect. The same position is apparent from the words of Beraza. For Beraza, in the context from which the citation given above was taken, is replying to an objection based on 1 Cor 4:7: "Who distinguisheth thee" and he is labouring strenuously to show that within the theory he defends no one can "distinguish himself," i.e., no one can determine whether or not he will be reprobated. Beraza adds elsewhere:12 "So, all our doctors admit the predefinition of salutary acts; all admit the special benevolence of God for the predestined; . . . all teach that efficacious grace is given by God as such, that is, out of a motive of efficacy [with the intention that it may be efficacious]."
However, not all Molinists admit that Father Aquaviva has correctly interpreted the thought of Molina. For example, an outstanding Molinist, Father Lennerz, S.J. wrote:13 "We do not know why God chose the present order, and not a different one . . . However, from the thesis proved thus far, and from the present thesis, it is clear that God did not choose the present order as a result of an absolute decree of saving . . . certain men, and them alone, and of excluding the rest from eternal salvation."
We will need, then, to make two separate comparisons: one of the Aquavivan interpretation of Molina with revelation, one of the other interpretations of Molina with revelation.
B. Comparison of Father Aquaviva's interpretation with revelation.
There are chiefly two elements of his interpretation that we want to compare with the revelation on the salvific will, namely, the need of special benevolence for salvation and the predefinition of graces in actu primo. In regard to both we must ask: (1) Whether it can harmonize with any degree of a salvific will, even the minimum degree; (2) whether it can harmonize with the actual force of the salvific will, as it is known to us from revelation.
Before taking up these questions, it is good to note that the Molinists do not labour under the same difficulty as the older Thomists in regard to sufficient and efficacious graces. As we have seen,14 according to the older Thomists, man lacks a metaphysical element that is needed for the actual performance of the act (i.e., he lacks the application) even though he has a sufficient grace. But in the Molinistic theory, man can have, through sufficient grace, even the act itself.
253. The need of special benevolence in predestination:
1) In comparison with a minimum degree of the salvific will: The Molinists speak of a "special" benevolence as needed for salvation. We must ask in what sense it is to be called "special." Now it could scarcely be supposed that the same degree of benevolence would be required for each and every man. For this would be the case only if all men were precisely equal both in weakness and in malice. It would at least seem, on the basis of experience, that not all men are equal in these. But if the degree required for each varies with the individual, then what the Molinists call "special" benevolence will be a different degree in different cases. What then can be the common "special" characteristic that runs through so many varying cases? It is hard to see what it could be except the intention on the part of God to save. It is true that in Molinism, God is said to give to all such means that they could be saved. But we are inquiring rather into the intention (or deficiency therein) that underlies the decision of God to give such varying degrees (graces according to varying degrees of benevolence). He does this with the outcome that many are lost, even though the recipients are so weak-almost impotent-in the face of the influence of the order chosen by God, that there is no one at all who would not reach any set degree of wickedness or of sanctity, according to the order assigned.
We wonder, then, about the non-special benevolence that is found in such varying degrees, and has no other identifiable common feature except that it never has saved nor ever will save even one soul from the beginning to the end of creation; a benevolence which is restrained from going further even though added graces would cost God nothing; and all this in spite of the fact that men are, as we said, so close to impotent in the face of the order assigned to them-Is perhaps the real difference between non-special and special benevolence found in a lack of intention to save in the non-special benevolence? At this point in our investigation we cannot say for certain.
However, thus far we have been working by speculation, in comparing Molinistic tenets with a minimum degree of the salvific will. We have clarified some possibilities, but have arrived only at a suspicion-not at certitude-that the Molinistic system does not fit with even a minimum degree of the salvific will. That suspicion will pass into a certitude soon15 when we consider Molinistic teaching on predefinition of graces. Meanwhile, we must compare Molinism with the actual vehemence of the salvific will as it is known to us by revelation.
2) In comparison with the vehement salvific will made known by revelation: Mere speculation can never tell us what benevolence God has for individuals, for He is sovereignly free in setting this measure. But God has graciously revealed His will in this matter. For God's benevolence for each man has its measure in the infinite objective titles16 which Christ established for each one in the infinite love of His passion, which He offered for each individual man, according to the authentic interpretation of Pope Pius XII and Vatican II17, so that St. Paul could say correctly:18 "He who did not spare his own Son but gave him up for us all, will he not also give us all things with him?" That is, if God has benevolence to such an extent for each individual man that He even sent His only Son to a most horrible death for the salvation of each individual, there is no grace (except the extraordinary)19 that He will refuse if it is needed for salvation. Hence we can see the proper setting of the statement of Pope Pius XII that God at all times sends down to all "a rich abundance of divine graces."
But let us look into the matter more precisely. If, as Pius XII says, the passion of Christ was offered for each individual, then we can determine the degree of benevolence that God has for each one. For the passion provides a measure of the love of God, since love can be measured by the obstacles it can surmount. The love of God was so immense that it could surmount even so great an obstacle, that is, it could send His only Son to a terrible death. Furthermore, God did all these things in such a way that He could really owe it to Himself to give graces. He cannot owe them strictly to man, but He can and does owe it to Himself, because of the covenant,20 and the infinite objective titles that were established, titles that by their very nature (since all works of an infinite Person are of infinite value) are of infinite worth. The Father did all this in the first phase, the establishment of the infinite treasury, in the objective redemption. He did the same for the second phase, the dispensation of the same treasury in the subjective redemption, since the same infinite price is again presented in the Mass to obtain the dispensation of the treasury. He did it in the Mass, as we saw in chapter 4, for each individual. So it is in this setting that the words of St. Paul are to be understood:21 "Will he not also give us all things with him?" For St. Paul wrote these words precisely in such a context: "He who did not spare his own Son but gave him up for us all, will he not also give us all things with him?" That is: If God loves to such an extent, has benevolence to such an extent for each man that He did not stop short even at sending His own Son for the salvation of each individual, most certainly, there is nothing else that could be needed for salvation that He will refuse: He will give all. For God does not change. If in the first phases of the process God not only spoke of, but proved such great benevolence towards each man; therefore, in the remaining stages of the same work, towards which the previous phases were ordered, God will not change His plan, nor diminish the benevolence He had for each man in the first phase. He has guaranteed that He will not change, for He has bound Himself by the infinite titles of the Mass, so that He owes it to Himself to offer to each man all that the redemption earned for him insofar as may be needed for salvation (except, as we have seen, extraordinary things, for the extraordinary cannot become the ordinary). In other words, St. John Damascene was completely right in saying that reprobation is decreed only when22 "after God has done everything to save, the man remains unreformed and not cured, or rather, incurable, as a result of his own resolve." For God, on His part, does not set limits, or hold back the graces that are, as it were, bought and paid for: the man who perishes does so because he makes himself incurable, incapable of perceiving graces.23
In fact, the abundance of graces is not only rich enough for salvation, but is such that each man is obliged to strive for highest perfection, as we have seen.24
Obviously, then, the truth is far other than the picture painted by Molinism, which teaches that God so tempers and holds back graces that many thousands of men perish: they perish by their own fault, but would not have actually perished if God had not held back the graces that He bought for them at so great a price. Clearly, the Molinistic view on special benevolence does not arise from an exegesis of the sources of revelation.
Our conclusion is confirmed by the fact that, as we saw briefly above,25 the Molinists arrived at their theory of predefinition of graces in actu primo as a result of their theory of special benevolence. We must now examine that theory of predefinition more fully. We shall see that it contradicts not just the revealed degree of the salvific will, but even the slightest conceivable degree of an universal salvific will.
254. Predefinition of graces in actu primo: As we saw above, Father Aquaviva taught that efficacious grace differs from sufficient grace,26 "not only in actu secundo, because it obtains its effect through the use of free will that has also a cooperating grace . . . but even in actu primo because, presupposing [God's] knowledge of conditional [futures], as a result of the efficacious purpose of God and [His] intention of most certainly accomplishing good in us, He deliberately selects such means [graces] and confers them in such a manner and at such a time that He foresees they will infallibly be effective [for] He would employ other graces, if He had foreseen these would be ineffective."
Therefore, according to this interpretation, if God has special benevolence for a certain man, e.g., Gaius, God will choose for Gaius such a series of graces that He foresees Gaius will cooperate with them, at least to such an extent as to be saved-but if, on the contrary, God has only ordinary benevolence for another, e.g., Mark, God will choose for Mark a series of graces such that Mark is foreseen as not going to cooperate, at least, not enough to be saved. By such a process God puts into effect the intention of predestining or reprobating which He had previously formed in regard to each individual man, when He decided whether to have special or only ordinary benevolence for various individuals.
255. So we must investigate, to see whether or not this explanation of graces can harmonize with any true universal salvific will. For the sake of clarity, we shall speak of single graces. It is obvious that all who are saved cooperate with many graces; nor do all those who perish reject every grace. However, if God really regulates the effect of graces in the way described by Father Aquaviva, it is clear that God can, in this way, determine who will or will not be saved. Hence it is sufficient to investigate the principles that apply to individual graces.
When they consider this question, the Molinists do as they did in speaking of special benevolence: they fix their attention on the fact that God gives even to the reprobate graces such that they could have cooperated with them if they wished, and so could have been saved. As a result, they conclude that God has a true salvific will even towards the reprobate.
256. But it is not enough to consider only this point. For we must consider also, the intention of God in acting as He does. We shall see that the universal salvific will cannot be true and universal if God deliberately (as Aquaviva said) so chooses graces that some will not be saved. There is a deficiency in the salvific intention precisely because, in this theory, God would choose or not choose efficacious graces as such. Nor can the difficulty be escaped by saying that even though God chooses efficacious graces as such, He does not choose ineffective graces as such. For in this theory, as we shall see, there is no room for mere permission. The reason is this: If God foresaw that a certain grace would be effective in a case where He did not have special benevolence, "He would employ other graces." For if God saw that, e.g., Mark would not resist, but yet God did not wish to exercise special benevolence towards him, God would choose another grace. If He did not-then there could be efficacy without: special benevolence-but that cannot be admitted in this theory. For, according to the Molinists, efficacious grace is a "greater benefit." But, a greater benefit does not come without greater, or special, benevolence. If it could, some man for whom God would not have special benevolence could be saved by making good use of certain graces given without special benevolence on the part of God.
This fact has not escaped the notice of the best Molinists. One cannot help admiring the great ingenuity they have shown in their attempts to escape this difficulty. But it is all in vain. For, as S. Gonzalez, SJ, admits about this predefinition:27 "Now this divine decree in whatsoever way it may be conceived, shows forth an absolute divine will which, for such a man, is a true predilection." Therefore, the critical element, namely, the need of special benevolence, always remains in any attempt at explanation. Without this special benevolence or predilection, God "would employ other graces" if He saw that a man for whom He had no special benevolence would use them well (at least, to such an extent as to be saved-for the theory cannot admit a man could be saved without the special benevolence).
The same situation can be explained also as follows, picturing it in an anthropomorphic way, as many Molinists often do, for the sake of comparison: God chooses graces in two ways. In the first way: He chooses efficacious graces, as it were, inspecting them, to see if they are going to be effective in the cases for which He intends them and "He would employ other graces" if He saw they were not going to be effective. In the second way: God chooses ineffective graces. To attain this result, it would not be sufficient to merely choose graces without any special precaution or care, as if God merely took the first graces He happened upon. For in this way at least some graces should turn out to be effective, since graces chosen blindly, without special care, at least sometime should be such that a man would actually consent to them-unless we say that the human will has no power at all. Therefore, the mere omission of special diligence would not always result in the choice of ineffective graces: in order that they be always effective, there is need of a diligence no less special LEST effective graces be chosen. Hence Beraza says openly:28 "All our doctors . . . teach that efficacious grace is given by God as such, that is, out of a motive of efficacy [with the intention that it may be efficacious]." Similarly, other graces are necessarily given without the intention that they be effective.
257. We conclude: If in this way God deliberately so chooses a series of graces for a certain man, e.g., Mark, so that Mark perishes, and if God "would employ other graces" if He foresaw that Mark would be saved, then, even though Mark really could have been saved with these graces, yet it is also true that in God there is an intention of avoiding the salvation of Mark. Therefore, the theory of predefinition of graces in actu primo cannot harmonize with even the minimum degree of a true universal salvific will. It is not strange, then, that Father Dalmau, SJ, in explaining how the Thomists and Molinists differ in regard to predestination writes:29 "The authors on both sides agree in the essential lines. The differences among those who hold the same opinion do not directly concern this question [predestination] but others more or less related to it. The chief difference between Thomists and Molinists is in the explanation of the efficacy of grace. . . ." since the Molinists teach that graces are only extrinsically efficacious, and that sufficient grace gives a man a true power of positive consent, while the Thomists hold that graces are intrinsically efficacious, and they say that a man cannot consent positively unless graces move him to do so. But in regard to predestination itself, both Thomists and Molinists teach that a man cannot "distinguish himself," and say that God decides the eternal fate of each man before any consideration of free conditions within man. We saw above that the opinion of the Thomists cannot fit with any true universal salvific will. We must say the same thing of the Aquavivan interpretation of Molinism.
258. The theory of reprobation by the choice of orders: We have already seen what the Aquavivan interpretation holds about the effect of the divine choice of the order. The force of the order chosen is so great that one must say with Father Beraza:30 ". . . in a hypothetical order, there is no distinction nor reason for distinction. You who are reading this, in [some] hypothetical order were the holiest of all the saints that are and will be in heaven: and simultaneously [in a different hypothetical order] you are the basest of all who are and will be in hell." But if this is true, then it is difficult to believe that human freedom has any power at all, even in regard to negative conditions, the placing or omission of resistance. Therefore human freedom is at least much attenuated if not altogether extinguished, in this interpretation.
We shall consider other aspects of the choice of orders, below.31
C. Comparison of other interpretations of Molinism with revelation.
259. As we have just seen, at least two features of Molinism, within the interpretation of Aquaviva, must be rejected as contrary to revelation, namely, the theory of the need of special benevolence for salvation, and the theory of predefinition of graces in actu primo. But other interpretations of Molinism are possible which omit these two elements, but still involve a predefinition of graces in actu secundo, and predestination and reprobation through the choice of orders.
260. Predefinition of graces in actu secundo: It is clear that this theory does not contradict the universal salvific will. However, we must still ask a question about the power of positive consent which this theory gives a man. Since, however, in this second part of our investigation we are treating predestination, it will be more opportune to save the treatment of the problem of the positive power of consent for chapter 18, in the third part of this book.
262. Predestination and reprobation through the choice of orders: Before comparing this point with revelation, we need to review an important distinction. For, even though God is truly almighty, there are some things He cannot do without a miracle. For example, once God has wisely established the law of nature as a result of which no one can walk on the waters, even Christ Himself could not do so, except by a miracle. Similarly, as we saw above,32 God created human nature having the power of autonomous freedom in working out salvation. Hence, as we saw, if God wishes to move a man infrustrably, so as to forestall or cancel out free resistance, He can do this only by a grace that is rightly compared to a miracle: it is a grace that is by very nature extraordinary.33 Still further, many sins will follow from this liberty that God has granted. Among these sins will be the sin of heresy. Later generations of those who fall into heresy are very likely to be in good faith. When members of these later generations were children, they were powerfully inclined to believe what their parents told them. As a result, many remain in heresy, in good faith.
262. So a critical question is this: Is it necessary from the very nature of things-so that only by an immense multiplication of miracles could things be otherwise-that God should permit, as it were by indirect voluntary, the eternal ruin of certain men? If we ask this question in referring to the effects of their own freedom in each man, of course the answer is "Yes." For unless God sends extraordinary graces,34 many will persist in their sins, and so will perish. But our problem is about a different area, namely: From the fact that God has chosen order A for the whole world, does it follow that certain men, e.g., Peter and Paul, will perish, since they will be born in places without sacraments, or since in order A they will meet with sudden death at the precise time when they are not in the state of grace, even though through much of their life they were in the state of grace? Will it be true that if God chooses order B, Peter and Paul will not perish, since the circumstances we mentioned will be different, but instead other men, e.g., Titus and Gaius, will perish, who would not have perished in order A?
If it is inevitable that whatever order God chooses, certain men will surely perish who would not have perished in a different order, and, conversely, certain ones will be saved who would not be saved in the other order-then clearly God can have a true and sincere universal salvific will which will include even the men we have spoken of-and He can have this whether He chooses order A or order B. For as it were by indirect voluntary He permits these undesirable effects (we must recall however the great force the Molinists attribute to the orders).35 God could, of course, prevent these losses by multiplying miracles: but the extraordinary must not become ordinary.
263. Therefore, we must ask two questions:
1) Is it actually necessary that God permit men to perish in this way, as it were by an indirect voluntary (unless He multiplies miracles)?
2) If the answer to the first question is "No it is not necessary" then: Does God really and actually will to permit men to perish in the way described?
The first question is a purely factual question: whether or not by the very nature of things the case is such that God could not do other than permit some to perish, no matter which order He chooses, unless, of course, He should multiply miracles. We shall have to raise this factual question separately in considering various classes of conditions, below.
The second question is a question about the free decision of God. If the answer to the first question is in the negative, so that God can do other than permit men to perish through assignment of the order, even without miracles, then it is not enough for us to ask what God is bound to do, in the very nature of things. Nor is it enough to say that God has given to those who will perish, graces with which they really could have been saved. Our chief question is this: What did God freely will to do? The answer to this question can be had solely through revelation. To find it, we must compare with the salvific will, the weight of the reasons to the contrary, i.e., the obstacles to be overcome if God would not will to permit these men to perish through the assignment of the order. If the reasons to the contrary, or the obstacles, are of much less weight than the revealed force of the salvific will, our conclusion will necessarily be that God does not will to permit men to perish in this way.
264. To make our investigation of this point as clear as possible, let us suppose that Mark is a man who is going to perish in the present order, and let us ask: What changes would need to be made in order to save him?
1) A greater abundance of grace? As we have seen above,36 God refuses each man no ordinary grace without which he would actually perish. In fact, He gives more, for He obliges them to tend to perfection. For such is, as we have seen, the sense of the words of St. Paul, when considered in their immediate and remote context, by strict exegesis: "He who did not spare his own Son but gave him up for us all, will he not also give us all things with him?"37 We could not conceive what more God could do for Mark, in this respect. Rightly did Christ say:38 "Greater love has no man than this. . . ."
2) Different external circumstances? (Different time of death will be treated separately below): We know that within the present order, God assigns places to men out of a most wise and most loving providence. Even the hairs of the head of Mark are all numbered. And even though the objective titles established by Christ refer by nature to graces of the internal economy and not directly to the external economy, nevertheless, the universal salvific will, which is so powerful that it willed to establish such great titles, rules always and everywhere, even in the external economy.
Now, even with our very finite minds we can find at least one way in which a most wise and most loving Father could so distribute external places that no one will perish by reason of the place assigned. This is explained in Appendix II.39 In general, we said that God assigns places according to the needs of individuals. Perhaps God has even a better way of making assignments than that which we conjectured. (Let us recall also the compensations which we know God provides in the places that have less external means of grace).40 We will speak about this in Appendix II, conjecturing chiefly about the care of Providence in regard to assigning places where there are all, few, or no sacraments. Of course, God also takes care of other circumstances.
So it is clear that God can-either in the way suggested, or in some other better way-so assign men to external places that no one will perish in one place who would not have perished in another. He can do this without any miracles. Therefore, according to the principle we already saw,41 since the difficulty of acting this way is much lesser than the difficulty that the salvific will actually surmounted in the Passion, God does will to so govern external assignments.
3) A difference in temptations: We need to distinguish two categories of temptations: (a) Temptations that depend on or come with the assignment of external place. Inasmuch as they depend on the place assigned, they fall under the principles we have seen for the assignment of place. (b) Temptations that do not depend on the assignment of place.-These cannot come except by permission of God. Now since the salvific will is most vehement, and is so great that God refuses no grace insofar as it may actually be needed for salvation,42 and since He governs all things according to this most vehement will-Who could hope for anything better in any order whatsoever? Actually, as temptations increase, grace increases too. St. Paul says well:43 "God is faithful, and he will not let you be tempted beyond your strength, but with the temptation will also provide the way of escape, that you may be able to endure it." As we have already seen,44 by the word "faithful" St. Paul recalls that God does all this because He has bound Himself by the covenant to act towards us as the next of kin, as our Father. But, if the temptations are regulated by our Father, then nothing better could be hoped for in any order.
4) A different time of death? Can God control the time of death without the use of a miracle? Or must He, if He does not use a miracle, sometimes permit the time of death to be determined by the blind operations of natural causes? The answer is that God can, by His providence, so govern the natural causes that He Himself-and not mere blind causes-determines the time of death. And, at least in general, He can do this without a miracle. For example, if Gaius is planning a trip by plane on a plane that is going to fall on that very day, from a mechanical defect, God can move Gaius not to take the trip on that day and hour and ship. He can do this at least in most cases without a miracle, for, as we have seen,45 it is specially easy for God to move wills even by frustrable movements, in regard to natural things. Likewise, God can move the mechanics who work on the plane so that they find and correct the defect. Again, if Gaius is going to make a trip by auto in a car that will stall on a railroad crossing at the time when the train is due to pass, God can move the engineer to run just a trifle faster or a trifle slower, so that he will not reach the crossing at the moment when Gaius is stalled. Or, He can move Gaius to see the train in time. Or, if Gaius were about to die from a disease, God can move those who are caring for him to think of the better available natural means that will put off death for a while.
It is clear, then, that at least in general, God can regulate the time of death without the use of miracles. However, if someone wishes to say that at least in some few cases God cannot do so without a miracle, we must consider separately two alternatives:
b) In the few cases in which it may perhaps be true that God could not regulate the time of death without a miracle: It is still not blind causes, but God Himself who determines the outcome. For God knows perfectly well what these blind causes are going to do in various combinations and circumstances. He does not assign anyone to a place and circumstances in which death will catch Him in sin except after foreseeing resistance that is such that, in whatever place the man might have been, God would have reprobated him.
It is good to note also that God, in His providential government, can often use the interval that comes between real and apparent death. Such an interval is especially likely to occur in cases of sudden death-and, if there are any cases in which God might not be able to control the time of death without a miracle, it would be cases of sudden death. In these cases there is a special opportunity for conversion. For we know that men in such a state are apt to be aware of what is happening. Their very fear will probably tend to make them specially receptive to the graces that will be sent, so that they can more easily be converted.
But someone may object: "Even if a certain number of sins-suppose we call the number 'Z'-would not suffice in itself for reprobation, yet, if death is about to come to Titus, from the effect of blind causes, and Titus already has Z sins, then, even though it is not difficult in itself to give Titus a different assignment of time of death, yet the sum total of reasons (the total of Z sins plus the difficulty of giving a different assignment of time of death) will be such that God will not will to interfere. Yet, if Titus had been in a different order, with Z sins, death would not have caught him in sin, and he would not have been reprobated."
There are two answers to this difficulty:
2) The objection implies that God has fixed a definite number or measure of resistance after which He will be willing to do little or nothing to save a sinner. But there is no such measure, as we have already shown.49 For the salvific will does not set limits: God is always disposed to act for our salvation. It is man himself, as St. John Damascene teaches,50 who sets limits by making himself incurable through many sins. (The objection from the infinity of mortal sin has already been answered above).51
However, we must recall that a man must be really curable in order that God may act to save Him. For example, if Titus resists grace so persistently that throughout the greater part of his life he is in the state of sin, he cannot be cured or curable if he returns to the state of grace for a few days by the help of confession. Such a man is not really cured of his malice, nor is his life really changed. In fact, there may be doubt of the validity of absolution in view of his dispositions. It is not, then, necessary to suppose that God will so govern the time of death that it will come to Titus within the relatively short time in which he is (perhaps) in the state of grace. This would be practically extraordinary. We know that God does save some in this way, but that is by way of exception. If then such a man is in sin, and death is going to come by natural causes unless God arranges otherwise, the reason for reprobation will be his grave and persistent resistance-for such resistance makes a man really incurable.52 In whatever order he might be, such a man would be reprobated, since God decrees reprobation for persistent resistance in this order-and He would not be more generous than He is in this order.
Now if Titus were in a place without the sacraments, he could not be converted except through perfect contrition. If he really made such an act, he would be truly, and not just apparently, cured.
In regard to assigning Titus to a place that lacks the sacraments, we must make these observations: If Titus were going to perish in a place without sacraments, but not in a place with sacraments, God would have assigned him to a place with sacraments, as we have already seen.53 Nor need we fear that the total number of places with the sacraments would be insufficient to permit this. First, we subtract from the needed number of places, the number of men who will not be saved even in places with the sacraments. For, as we conjectured, it is likely that, in general, God will put at least very many of them into places without sacraments so as to leave room in the more favorable places for those who would not be saved without them, but will be saved with them. We can subtract too the large number of those whom God can put into places without the sacraments and they will still be saved. As we conjectured, He is likely to do much of this, at least to the extent needed to make the most favourable places open for those who would not be saved without them. Also, we should note that the opportunities of formal grave sin are much fewer in the places without sacraments.54
So it remains true: The sole reason that determines reprobation is grave and persistent resistance to grace. Short of this, God does not reprobate, and so does not put a man in a place and circumstances where blind causes could determine his reprobation. We have already shown that resistance must be persistent, and so persistent that a man becomes incurable.55 However, if someone would still wish to assert that God reprobates for a lesser measure of resistance, then-regardless of what that critical measure might be-it would still be true to say that it is God who decides on reprobation on account of this critical measure and who assigns places and circumstances and time of death in view of this critical measure.
The conclusion we have reached in regard to the determination of time of death is certain, on the basis of theological principles and the revelation on the salvific will. Moreover, it harmonizes excellently with everything that Scripture teaches us about the providential government of the time of death:
b) The same divine attitude is shown again in the second Epistle of St. Peter:57 "The Lord . . . is forbearing toward you, not wishing that any should perish, but that all should reach repentance." As the context shows, these words refer to a delay in the second coming of Christ. But they reveal the divine attitude, according to which He does not wish to catch sinners in their sins, but instead waits, that they may be saved. For if He is willing to differ even the time of the second coming for the salvation of men, much more easily will He differ or regulate the time of individual death.
c) From the book of Wisdom we learn that at least at some times, God sends death earlier precisely to save a man who later would be corrupted:58 "There was one who pleased God and was loved by him, and while living among sinners he was taken up. He was caught up lest evil change his understanding or guile deceive his soul."
d) In many Gospel parables, God has revealed that He vehemently desires the return of the prodigal, that He goes out to seek the lost sheep and the lost drachma. But, according to the authentic teaching of Pius XII, it is certain that59 ". . . in the parables of mercy . . . the very Heart of God is manifested." Therefore, the attitude of God in regard to regulating the time of death is implicitly revealed in these parables.
e) However, in the parable of the ten virgins, Christ warned us against presumption, and told us to watch, for we know not the day nor the hour. And the warning was needed in spite of all we have said above, for even though God does not reprobate until60 "after God has done everything to save, the man remains unreformed and . . . incurable," yet, as we saw above,61 it seems that God sometimes sends death to a man after his first mortal sin, or after a few such sins. So a man must fear and watch, lest he be found in that category. But even the sinner whom God does not cut off so quickly must fear, for by repeated sins he may, without realizing it, grow to be incurable.62 Hence he must watch, lest he pass the point from which no return is possible without a strictly extraordinary grace, which is not given to all. Since such a sinner deteriorates gradually, he may not perceive the point63 at which he crosses the line of no return: after it, death may find him not watching, without oil in his lamp. For the virgins in the parable were without oil long before the actual coming of the bridegroom. For persons in such a state, death is unprovided for whatever time it may come. Death is always unprovided for in the case of the wicked; but it is never unprovided for in the case of the good. That is why we pray in the Litany of the Saints: "From a sudden and unprovided for death, deliver us." For a death that is sudden only in the chronological sense is harmless-it is harmful only if it is not only sudden but also unprovided for.
265. Conclusion on reprobation by choice of orders: By an application of our principles64 to individual categories of possible differences, we have found that there is no reprobation through choice of orders since: (1) It is not really necessary from the nature of things that whatever order God chooses, some men perish through their providential assignment who would not have perished otherwise. For God always is able, by wise providence and assignment of places and compensations, to bring it about that no one will perish in one place who would not have been going to perish also in a better place; (2) God is not only able, but wants to so govern things. We know this because the vehement force of the salvific will, which has its measure in infinite objective titles for each individual, far outweighs the difficulty of governing things in this way.
In other words, God reprobates only after and because of foreseen grave and persistent resistance: If He does not foresee this, He does not assign a man to a place, circumstances etc. in which he would perish.
We readily admit that God could have been much less liberal in other orders, so that many who are now saved would have perished. But in the present order He is so liberal-as the revelation of the infinite objective titles for each man shows-that we must conclude that reprobation is decreed only after and because of grave and persistent foreseen resistance. Therefore God does not permit men to be, as it were, negatively reprobated by the action of blind causes.
D. General conclusions on the theories of Molinism.
266. 1) The interpretation proposed by Aquaviva cannot harmonize with any degree of a true universal salvific will, not even with a minimum degree. So in regard to this point, his view does not suffer substantially from the view of the older Thomists.65
2) A different interpretation of Molinism, which does not include the need of special benevolence for salvation nor predefinition of graces in actu primo, but which does include reprobation through choice of orders could harmonize with some degree of a true salvific will if, in the very nature of things, it were inevitable that, whatsoever order God would choose, certain men would perish who would not have perished in a different order, and vice versa. In fact, there could be some degree of a true salvific will even if God could avoid permitting them to perish but would still permit it, provided that He would give each man graces that really suffice (not in the older Thomistic sense) for salvation. However, even such a theory would fail to take into account the actual force of the salvific will, as it is known to us by revelation.
3) The Molinistic theories are the product of great ingenuity-but not of exegesis of the words of St. Thomas. They differ much from his teachings, especially in that St. Thomas has not one word about reprobation through choice of orders, nor (more probably) does he hold predestination after consideration of merits, nor does he make the distinction about predestination to glory considered separately. Further, St. Thomas makes the omission of resistance the critical factor, and distinguishes it from positive consent.
4) The Molinists improperly appeal to many of the Fathers.66
5) The picture painted by Molinism is far different from that given us by revelation. The Molinists do try to deduce their theory from revelation, inasmuch as the theories are made to reconcile certain revealed truths. However, at least many Molinists labour under an incorrect interpretation of 1 Cor 4:7.67 Nor have they seen the true force of the salvific will, but instead, many hold a view that cannot be harmonized with even a minimum degree of a universal salvific will.
Actually, the Molinistic theories owe more to speculation than to revelation. For their theory of predestination and reprobation through choice of orders is speculatively constructed as a means of keeping the gratuity of predestination. But this gratuity can be kept better in a different way68 and without diminishing the force of the salvific will and of human freedom. The second stage of Molinistic predestination was thought out to preserve human liberty: but it did not preserve it well.
6) We freely grant that God could have established other orders in which He could have been less liberal, and that in such orders, many who now are saved would have perished. But because of His supreme generosity and corresponding providence in this order, no one who now perishes would have been saved in another order.
7) We must still investigate the Molinistic view on the power of man to give positive consent to grace. We shall do this in chapter 18.
8) Many theologians charge that the Molinistic view of foreknowledge implies determinism. We shall investigate this point fully in chapter 19.
267. Objection 1: The Lord says in the Gospel:69 "Woe to you, Chorazin! woe to you Bethsaida! for if the mighty works done in you had been done in Tyre and Sidon, they would have repented long ago in sackcloth and ashes. . . . And you, Capernaum, will you be exalted to heaven? You shall be brought down to Hades. For if the mighty works done in you had been done in Sodom, it would have remained until this day." Therefore, it is certain that if the Tyrians and Sodomites had been in another order, they would have been saved.
Reply: We must distinguish between ordinary and extraordinary favours. The miracles of Christ, of which He speaks here, certainly are extraordinary. So they do not pertain to the abundance of ordinary graces of which we spoke. Nor is it required that even a most vehement salvific will should include miracles. The extraordinary cannot become ordinary: that would be a contradiction.
We must notice also: It is not entirely certain that all Sodomites were damned. Our Lord does not say this. We know from the words of St. Peter that out of those who died in the deluge, some were really not damned:70 ". . . [Christ, after His death] went and preached to the spirits in prison, who formerly did not obey, when God's patience waited in the days of Noah, during the building of the ark, in which a few, that is, eight persons, were saved through water." Similarly it could be that some of those who were killed by the fire from heaven in Sodom were not damned. But hope is better for the Tyrians. For the Lord says that if they had seen the miracles, "they would have repented . . . in sackcloth and ashes." But many are saved who never have done penance in sackcloth and ashes. Perhaps the text means: If they had seen miracles, many Tyrians would have done great works of penance, greater than the Jews did, to whom Christ was speaking.
268. Objection 2: The assignment of places to men does not fall under the objective titles that Christ established in the redemption.71 For the assignment of places pertains to the external economy, which does not come under merit.72 Therefore it cannot be said that God assigns places in the manner claimed above.
Answer: It is true that the assignment of places, being a part of the external economy does not fall under the merits of men. But it falls indirectly under the merits of Christ. For He merited for the salvation of all. Therefore, insofar as a wise assignment of places is needed for salvation, He merited that it be done wisely. But the assignment does fall directly under the universal salvific will, for it retains its force in both economies. We know that this will is most vehement having its measure in the passion and in the infinite objective titles for each individual. Therefore it remains true that the most loving Father, out of this will, will provide well for each individual son of His.
269. Objection 3: Does not the argument from infinite objective titles prove too much? Does it not prove that God ought to give even miracles, or at least, that He ought to give equal graces to all? But this is not true. He who proves too much proves nothing.
Answer: It does not follow from the infinite titles that God must give miracles in all cases. For this would be contrary to Wisdom, since the extraordinary would become ordinary, an inherent contradiction. So God did not intend to bind Himself to give miracles to all.
Nor does the argument prove that God gives equal graces to all. First, because God, within ordinary providence, gives graces only on condition of the non-resistance of man.73 But resistance and non-resistance vary. So, graces given vary. Further, God can give in some cases strictly extraordinary graces. He does this especially for great Saints. But still further, we must distinguish two things, namely, the rich abundance of graces that God offers to all, and other conditions that can promote receptivity in man.
In regard to the abundance of graces: It is certain, as we have seen, that God does offer such an abundance. The abundance is so great that, as we have seen above,74 God refuses no ordinary grace without which a man would actually perish; in fact, it is so great that, as we saw in chapter 10, "absolutely all, with no exception" are bound by the law of perfection. Hence, as we saw also, the Church teaches that "virtue . . . is . . . equally obtainable by high and low, rich and proletariat."
In regard to other conditions: We know that various conditions can promote better receptivity in man, and can give better opportunities, namely, the external place a man has, the varied conditions of life, the temptations and difficulties he meets, and other things. But these external things do not fall directly under the infinite titles, since they pertain to the external economy. Yet, they do fall under the universal salvific will. Hence we must make some distinctions:
1) As a result of the most vehement universal salvific will, which is effective in both economies, God never assigns men to a poorer external place in which they will perish, if they were not going to perish also in a better place. For the salvific will, as we said, is valid even in the external economy. Further, the wise assignment falls indirectly under the objective titles, inasmuch as these titles were established for men's salvation.
2 ) However, presupposing these things, which God does for all, He can wish in addition to promote in certain men not only salvation but may wish to lead them to extraordinary or heroic sanctity by special external assignments of external conditions, and even by miracles and by infrustrable graces, which He gives in some cases.
270. Objection 4: From the things said in this chapter, it seems to be implied that this is the best possible world.
Answer: We did not say that. We said merely that the generosity of God in granting graces and arranging all things for salvation could not be greater. For in the internal economy of personal salvation God will never deny any grace (short of the miraculous) without which a man would actually perish, except after and because of the man's resistance. We said that in the external economy, God so governs everything that no one perishes now in a poorer place who would not have perished also in a better place. But we admit there are many evils in this world, material evils, and voluntary evils, without which this world could be much better. By God's goodness and power, these very evils not infrequently prove to be occasions of gain towards salvation.
271. Objection 5: Suppose that Ivan is a boy who is born in atheistic Russia, of atheistic parents who from his earliest years not only do not teach him about God, but instead teach that there is no God. Will not Ivan probably be lost in this order, while in another order, in which he could have been born in different conditions, he might have been saved?
Answer: First, it is not certain that Ivan will perish even in this order. For God gives to each man, even this boy, a rich abundance of grace at least by interior means. Let us refer to a point about the salvation of infidels which we will develop in greater detail in Appendix II,75 namely, that two things are required as a minimum for their salvation: faith in God the rewarder, and observance of the moral law as it is known to each one. We will see too from the teaching of Pius IX that God does not permit anyone to be lost who does not sin through his own fault. Therefore, if Ivan does not sin gravely against the moral law insofar as it is known to him, God will certainly provide for the rest. But Ivan does not have so many and such great obligations in the moral sphere as Christians have. For Ivan thinks numerous things are permissible, in which other men who know the law, sin formally, and often. These things include some of the most difficult matters to observe. So the opportunities for grave sin are sharply reduced for Ivan. If, on this reduced basis, he remains clear of formal grave sin, we know from Pius IX that God will provide for him. We do not know the how, but we do know the fact. Ivan has lesser external opportunities; but he has also lesser obligations and dangers. So there is a certain compensation. So it is far from certain that Ivan will perish.
Further, in regard to the required faith in God, we not only know that God will provide for those who do not commit formal grave sins, but we can add that many in Russia do actually believe in God. From the very official battle against God, at least suspicions are bound to arise in many minds.
However even if, only for the sake of argument, we were to concede that Ivan would perish, we would still say: God, as we have shown,76 assigns external places wisely and lovingly. He does not assign anyone to a poorer place who will perish there if the same one were not going to perish even in a better place. Therefore, by no means does the objection prove that the order chosen determines reprobation in this case. Rather, God Himself makes that decision, and assigns places according to His most wise, most merciful, and most just judgment.
272. Because sharp disputes arose between the followers of Bañez and the followers of Molina, the disputants were summoned to the Holy See. At first, the Pope did not preside personally, but sent a Cardinal Legate; but later, beginning on March 20,1602, Clement VIII began to preside in person. He died in 1605, before the debates were finished. The debates continued under Leo XI, and were finally closed by Paul V who, through a Decree of the Holy Office of Dec. 1, 1611 prohibited the publication of books on the subject, even when written on pretext of commenting on St. Thomas, unless they had first been submitted to the Inquisition.77
Later, Clement XII, by a decree of Oct. 2, 1733, forbade all theologians78 "to brand with any theological note or censure the schools that hold a different opinion . . . until this Holy See judges some definition or pronouncement should be made."
Conclusions on the Congregations De Auxiliis:
1) The Church herself, even after literally years of debates before the Pope himself, approved neither Thomism nor Molinism.
2) From the fact that the Church condemned neither opinion and from the fact that it forbade calling either opinion heretical, no dogmatic conclusion can be drawn on the orthodoxy of the views of Bañez and Molina. One cannot conclude that neither view is actually heretical, since the decree was disciplinary, not dogmatic. In the debates on the Immaculate Conception, something similar happened: Sixtus IV, by the Constitution, Grave nimis,79 also prohibited calling either opinion heretical. Yet today we know that one of the two views really was heretical, even though it was not formally so at that time.
3) As the note in Denzinger informs us, the prohibition against publishing books on this matter has been removed by contrary custom. The prohibition against theological notes is still somewhat observed, although authors do not hesitate to say things that amount to theological notes; such as saying the opposite view contradicts a certain passage in Scripture, and similar statements. But, strictly speaking, all these prohibitions have been clearly abolished by the Code of Canon Law. For we read in Canon 6.6: "If any of the other disciplinary laws, which up to now have been in force, is contained neither explicitly nor implicitly in the Code, it is to be said to have lost all force . . ." Nonetheless, charity, the supreme law of the Gospel, should still apply even in this matter.