The MOST Theological Collection: Grace, Predestination and the Salvific Will of God: New Answers to Old Questions



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Foreword by Bertrand de Margerie, S.J.

Preface to original Latin edition; note on revised English edition


I. Brief sketch of the solution

The chief dilemma on predestination can be solved, by strict theological method. Many have not solved it because they used philosophical method, and because of an erroneous interpretation of Romans 8-9 (§§1-4). Sketch of solution (§5)

II. The opinions of the principal schools

The older Thomists (§§6-7); the Molinists (§§8-9)


CHAPTER I: Explicit texts of Sacred Scripture

The best exegetes of all schools teach today that St. Paul in Rom 8-9 did not teach predestination of individuals to glory, but (in 8:28ss) he explained the plans of God for Christians as a group, and gave (chapter 9) the principles on the election of a people as the chosen people in both Testaments (§§10-13); that is, Paul speaks of the external economy (vocation to the Church) not of the internal economy (predestination to glory) (§14); it is not permitted to transfer the principles of external economy to internal, for they are opposite (§§15-16); vocation to the Church is not infrustrable (§17); in no other places does Scripture speak explicitly of predestination to glory (§18). Conclusions (§19). Objection from Acts 13:48 (§20).

CHAPTER II: Explicit texts of the Magisterium of the Church

The Councils of Orange, Quiersy and Valence certainly exclude antecedent positive reprobation, and say that predestination is decreed differently from reprobation. So probably both should not be before, nor both after prevision of merits (§§21-23).

CHAPTER III: The purpose of creation

Scripture teaches that God made all things for Himself but also that the manifestation of glory and communication of good to creatures are inseparable (§§24-26); Vatican I teaches the same (§§27-31); manifestation and communication are also inseparable in regard to individuals, so that God deserts no one for the order of the universe (§§32-36); St. Thomas teaches the same (§§36-38); and does not hold that God deserts some for the order of the universe (§39): so negative antecedent reprobation is excluded.

CHAPTER IV: The nature of the redemption

In the OT God redeemed His people in freeing them from Egypt, and made them His people by the covenant. By the covenant, God became as it were the kinsman of His people, united in life with them. Out of intense love God wanted to bind Himself by a bilateral covenant, to favor them (§41); He bound Himself to prove His love, so as to reassure them, and move them to respond, so that He might give the more (§§43-43a); the new covenant as foretold by Jeremiah, and described by St. Paul in the Epistle to the Hebrews, and other NT writings, is parallel to the old: in both God binds Himself on conditional human obedience to a law. The obedience of the new covenant is basically Christ’s, to which that of His members is joined (§42); on the most basic level, in both covenants, human obedience does not move the Father: the fundamental reason for the grant of favor is His spontaneous love, which leads Him to bind Himself, and thereby to have a superadded reason in the covenant (§44); in the new covenant, the Father bound Himself by infinite objective titles (§45) to establish an infinite treasury (§46) and to distribute it (§47). He provided infinite titles for each individual man (§48). Conclusions: If someone fails to receive a rich abundance, the reason cannot be on God’s part, for He bound Himself by infinite titles, even after original sin: the reason for failure is man’s resistance. So there is no reprobation before foreseen demerits (§49). Objections: On gratuity of predestination and perseverance (§50) and on mere permission of ruin (§51).

CHAPTER V: The universal salvific will

Implicitly revealed in OT (§52); explicitly in NT (§53); Select Fathers (§54). This will is sincere, since it is a part of the love of God (to love is to will good to someone), and its force is the same as the force of God’s love, which is measured by the infinite titles established at such pain in the Passion. Therefore God showed He sets no limits (short of miracles) which He will not pass to save: man sets limits by resistance (§§55-56). This appears also in the Father analogy (§57); and is confirmed by reason (§58). Conclusion: Negative reprobation before foreseen demerits contradicts the salvific will (§59). Objections: On mere permission (§60); from omnipotence (§61); from original sin (§62); from case of unbaptized infants (§63); from problem of pagans (§§64-69); from human weakness (§§70-72); from the good of the universe (§73).

CHAPTER VI: Official teaching on the Sacred Heart and Immaculate Heart

Christ’s Heart is fully human. But no human heart deserts those it loves with no fault of theirs: so there is no reprobation before foreseen demerits (§74); and the actual distribution of graces depends on the desire of the Heart of Mary, Mother of all: but no mother deserts her children through no fault of theirs, so they fall into failure, to be able to punish (§75). Objection on anthropomorphism (§76).

CHAPTER VII: The power of man for good and for evil, and the dependence of man on God

Scripture teaches that we depend entirely on God, but yet can determine whether and when we will do evil (§§77-78); the condition for reception of all graces is Pauline faith (§§79-80); in filling this condition, we depend on God inasmuch as faith is a positive good; but we can of ourselves resist grace, and can non-resist in the first stage of the process (merely doing nothing, without an act of will); in the second stage, on condition of this non-resistance, grace moves us to positive assent in such a way that we are both moved by grace and move ourselves by the power received from it (§§81-86); even sinners, unless hardened, can non-resist in the sense (§87). The Greek Fathers (§§88-97) and the Latin Fathers (§§98-103) and Orange and Trent (§§104-109) teach the same. The Councils add that grace alone makes the beginning, but that in the positive consent, we also act (§§110-111) and teach that we can resist all ordinary graces in the internal economy (§§112-113). St. Thomas teaches the same (§§114-115). Scripture and St. Thomas teach that God can always move infrustrably (§116); but that God does this only in extraordinary providence (§§117-125). Scholion on hardness (§§126-127). Conclusions (§128). Objections: From the Thomists’ theory of sufficient and efficacious grace (§§129-132); from St. Thomas’ commentary on Hebrews (§§133-138); on making grace efficacious by consent (§139); from 1 Cor 4:7 (§140); from the efficacy of the divine will (§141); from divine government (§142); from predilection (§143); from "dependence" of God (§144).

CHAPTER VIII: The virtue of hope, and final perseverance

Scripture teaches that God has bound Himself to give the graces needed in every temptation, and that hope is firm (§§145-47). St. Paul, on the basis of the Covenant, explicitly promises to all the offering of grace by which they actually can persevere (§§148-50) but this internal grace is not regularly infrustrable (§151). Trent teaches that the uncertainty in hope is wholly from man's side: from God's side hope is certain (§152). The gift of perseverance includes an internal frustrable grace and, if need be, a special providence of the time of death: the latter is given to those who do not make themselves incurable (§153). Conclusion: If anyone does not persevere, the defect is his alone, and not from God, who offers the means to all: there is no reprobation before foreseen demerits (§154). Objection from Trent (§155).

CHAPTER IX: The special promises of Christ

Eternal life is promised to those who leave either parents, or wives, or homes, or fields (§156) and to those who receive the Eucharist (§157): these promises would be empty if there were reprobation before foreseen demerits. Christ ordered us to forgive without end: If He reprobated before foreseen demerits, the disciples would be above the Master (§§158-59). Objections: On mere desertion (§160); God owes nothing (§161); a condition in Christ’s promise (§162).

CHAPTER X: The obligation of striving for perfection

God could not oblige all to strive for perfection and still desert some so that it would be metaphysically inconceivable for them to be saved, not to say, to be perfect (§§163-165). Objection on remote offering of grace (§166).

CHAPTER XI: The conformity of the human will with the will of God

The more one grows spiritually, the more his will is conformed to God’s will, and the more he wants all to be saved. If God did not sincerely want all saved, the more a man grew, the more deformed his will would be from the will of God (§§167-169).

CHAPTER XII: The ordinary teaching of the Church, and the faith of the people

All preachers, from all schools, preach in the same way: they do not know reprobation before foreseen demerits, e.g., they never preach, nor do the faithful believe, that Christ is the good shepherd for some only, so that He deliberately would desert others so they would perish so He could have some to punish (§170); popular books on theology, from all schools, teach the same (§§171-72). The same unanimity is found in the writings of the Saints (§§173-77). Conclusion: Reprobation before foreseen demerits is contrary to the faith of the preaching and believing Church (§§178-79). Objection (§180).

Conclusions from Part One


General preliminary notes

CHAPTER XIII: The teaching of the Fathers on predestination

Criteria in interpreting the Fathers: revelation was clarified gradually (§183), so care is needed in inserting distinctions in the Fathers (§184). The Fathers thought they were giving the fundamental reason for reprobation: hence they did not speak only of order of execution (§§185-186); nor only of glory considered separately (§187). Conclusion on inserting distinctions (§188). The nature of the human condition according to the Fathers (§189). Not knowing the distinction of the two economies, they gave the same rules for both (§§190-192). The Greek Fathers (§§193-202) and the Latin Fathers (§§203-205) taught there is no reprobation before foreseen demerits; except for St. Augustine, who taught the massa damnata theory, out of an erroneous interpretation of Rom 9 (§§206-08), but still wrote many things implying the same view as the other Fathers (§§209-212). From St. Augustine, we should keep predestination before foreseen merits, but reject things founded on misinterpretation of Rom 9. From the other Fathers, we should keep the rejection of reprobation before foreseen demerits (§213).

CHAPTER XIV: The opinions of St. Thomas

Because of his fidelity to theological method (§§214-15), St. Thomas in CG 3.159 ff. found the essential elements of the true solution, even though he still, in some passages of other works, held the theory of the massa damnata. He held rightly: Man cannot of himself give positive consent to grace, but can impede, or not impede grace. Only those who impede are deprived of grace. All others receive it, even perseverance (§§216-20); but if a man is in the state of sin, he cannot abstain long from other sins and resistance, until he is healed (§§221-26). A man who resists the grace of conversion cannot be converted without a grace comparable to a miracle (§§227-30). Confirmation of our interpretation by the impossibility of other interpretations (§§231-32). St. Thomas’ conclusions on predestination (§§233-34). Confirmation from other passages (§235). The source followed in the Summa (§§236-39). Conclusions on St. Thomas: No reprobation before foreseen demerits; predestination either before foreseen merits but after foreseen absence of grave resistance, or after foreseen merits (§240). Objections (§241).

CHAPTER XV: The controversies de auxiliis

I. The opinion of Bañez

Bañez does not interpret St. Thomas correctly (§§244-45).

II. The opinion of Molina

Molina seems to say that predestination, within the present order, is after foreseen merits, but still is gratuitous since whether a man actually consents to graces depends entirely on the order chosen by God (§§246-49). Aquaviva imposed an interpretation of Molina in which grace is efficacious in actu primo out of divine predilection. Not all Molinists hold this (§§250-52). The need of special benevolence for salvation implies a denial of the salvific will (§253). Predefinition of graces in actu primo implies the same (§§254-57). Freedom is at least attenuated in the reprobation through choice of orders (§258). Predefinition of graces in actu secundo does not of itself contradict a salvific will (§260). Reprobation through choice of orders contradicts the actual revealed strength of the salvific will (§§261-65). Conclusions (§266). Objections: from Mt 11:21 (§267); from the external economy (§268); from inequality of graces (§269); that this is not the best world (§270); from the case of Ivan born in Russia (§271).

III. The Congregation de auxiliis

In them, the Church approved neither Molina nor Bañez, nor did she dogmatically state that neither is heretical (§272).

CHAPTER XVI: The teaching of St. Francis de Sales

St. Francis is of special importance because of special praise of the Holy See (§273); He was not a Molinist (§274); he held the same view as St. Thomas (§§275-77). Objection (§278).

CHAPTER XVII: Solution of the problem from the sources of revelation

I. Preliminary sketch of recent opinions

Since many ancient obstacles have been removed, we can hope for a solution today (§279). The opinion of Marín-Sola and Muñiz (§§280-81); of Philippe de la Trinité (§282); of Dom Mark Pontifex (§283); of Msgr. Journet (§283).

II. Solution from the revealed Father analogy

Just as in a human family, the father wants all his children to turn out well, and loves and cares for them not because of their merits but out of his own goodness, and disinherits no son except for grave and persistent offenses, so the heavenly Father wants all his children to be saved (salvific will) and disinherits no one from the eternal inheritance except for grave and persistent offenses; He saves the others neither because of nor after considering merits (which are not seen in theological moment in which He predestines) but because He from the start wanted to do this, out of His love which started by its own power, and continues by its own power, and in its course predestines all who do not gravely and persistently resist graces (§§284-89) so that predestination is gratuitous (§290). Ontologically, the condition of predestination is nothing in man, for non-resistance is non-being, though logically there is a condition in the divine mind (§291). Corollary for the spiritual life (§291a). Resistance needs to be grave and persistent, so as to counterbalance the effects of a salvific will that established infinite objective titles for each individual (§292). Yet it is necessary to watch (§293). By extraordinary means He saves some even though they resist grace persistently, probably chiefly those for whom others offer merits (§294).

III. Solution through other passages of revelation

The essential elements can be had also in the revelation of the salvific will (§295) and of the purpose of creation (§296). The solution is partly hinted at in Rom 6:23 (§297), and in philosophy (§298). Scholion on predestination after foreseen merits (§299). Conclusions: No reprobation except after and because of foreseen grave and persistent resistance; predestination before foreseen merits but after foreseen absence of grave and persistent resistance (§300). Objections: Consent and non-resistance are the same (§301); from theological series in which merits must be foreseen (§302); from perseverance (§303); from defectibility (§304); from the Covenant and the Last Judgment (§305); from anthropomorphism (§306).

General conclusions from part two


CHAPTER XVIII: How does grace produce its effects

I. Preliminary questions

The solution given for predestination does not limit us to one solution on efficacy of grace (§307). State of the question (§308).

II. The system of the older Thomists

Presentation of the system (§309). Difficulties: from freedom (§310); God becomes author of sin (§§310-321); contradiction of various revealed truths, especially salvific will (§322); contradiction of St. Thomas (§§323-327). The system of the older Thomists differs little from that of Martin Luther (§327a).

III. The Molinistic systems

Presentation of the system (§328). Difficulties (§329).

IV. The system of the Augustinians

Presentation of the system (§330). Difficulties (§331).

V. The Syncretistic systems

Presentation of the systems (§332). Difficulties (§333).

VI. The system of Marín-Sola and Muñiz

Presentation of the system (§334). Difficulties (§335).

VII. The teaching of the sources of revelation

Man of himself cannot do any positive salutary good, but he can determine whether and when he does evil, inasmuch as he can resist or do nothing against grace. At the start of a salutary act, grace alone works; in the consent, man cooperates (§336). So grace makes the start by moving the mind to see a good and the will to complacency in it; then man either resists or does not. If he does not, grace continues, and man becomes active, cooperating in consenting and in the outward act (§§337-39).

VIII. The opinion of St. Thomas

A. General principles: The same as those of revelation (§340-41).

B. The solution: In the first logical moment, grace alone operates, so that the mind of man sees a good specified in itself, and the will takes an indeliberate complacency. Then man can impede or not impede (§342); if he does not impede, the second moment follows in which man under grace becomes active and cooperates in making positive consent (§343).

C. Detailed study of the various elements of the solution: In the first moment, since God moves the will as author of nature so that the movement is the man’s movement, the man can cease from his movement without a further divine movement: he can drop out of act. This begins to remove the good specification. Then God will move man’s will to order the intellect to cease attention to moral goodness, and then will move to resistance, and to sin (§§344-45). Non-resistance is an ontological zero, doing nothing against grace in the first logical moment, without any act of the will moving itself: it is morally neither good nor bad (§§346-48); even a positive decision to do nothing, if within first moment, would probably be indifferent (§349); the good specification is in the grace itself (§350). Every grace is intrinsically efficacious (§351). There are not two graces, sufficient and efficacious (§352). In every grace there is a true motion or premotion that is physical (§353).

D. There is an infrustrable grace (§354), but it is given only extraordinarily (§355). Transcendence alone accounts for it (§356). Frustrable motions that are vehement relative to the recipient are extraordinary (§357).

E. Confirmation from other passages of St. Thomas: He has two series of texts (§§358-60).

IX. Added confirmations from Fathers, Doctors, and Theologians

Fathers (§§362-63); Doctors (§§364-65); Theologians (§§366-68).

X. Conclusions

XI. Objections

Not to impede is to initiate (§380); God becomes passive (§371); not to resist is to consent (§372); St. Thomas says we cannot not resist (§373); will acts under appearance of good (§374); concrete acts are not indifferent (§375); non-resistance is meritorious (§376); weakness from original sin (§377); Rom 9:19 (§378); no distinctions within God (§379); an impedible motion would do nothing (§380); an impedible motion is indifferent (§381); liberty can coexist with infrustrable motions (§383); man cannot prepare for grace (§383); God refuses as He wills (§384).


CHAPTER XIX: The opinions of the principal schools

I. Preliminary observations on divine transcendence

Molinists refuse to apply transcendence to infrustrable motions, but do apply it to foreknowledge; the older Thomists do the converse (§§385-8 6); many forget that even though divine causality is needed for being, it is not needed for non-beings as such, including the evil specification of resistance, and non-resistance; and that causality can be a prerequisite for the existence of beings without being the sole means of foreknowledge (§§387-89); importance of strict method (§§390-93).

II. The opinions of the principal schools

Older Thomism: exposition of system (§394); difficulties (§395). Molinism: exposition of system (§396); difficulties (§397). Scotism: exposition of system (§398); difficulties (§399). System of Marín-Sola and Muñiz: exposition (§400); difficulties (§401).

CHAPTER XX: The teaching of Sacred Scripture on foreknowledge

Scripture teaches that God knows the future (§402) and futuribles (§403); comments on texts about futuribles (§404).

CHAPTER XXI: The teaching of Tradition on divine foreknowledge

I. Preliminary observations on the views of some pagan philosophers

The errors of Aristotle (§406) and Plotinus (§407) show the weakness of human reasoning in this matter (§408).

II. Note on a principle of interpretation of some Patristic texts

The connection between their views on predestination and on foreknowledge (§409).

III. The tradition of the Greek and Latin Fathers, the Latin Doctors, and theologians and philosophers before St. Thomas

Without one dissenting voice, the Greek Fathers who wrote on this matter (§§410-24) and the Latin Fathers (§§425-28), including St. Augustine (§§429-37) and the later Doctors and scholastics before St. Thomas teach, speaking as witnesses of revelation, that God can foreknow by His transcendent intellect without the use of decrees as means of knowledge; a few spoke also of foreknowledge of beings (not of non-beings, such as non-resistance and evil specification of resistance) through causality (§§438- 56). Conclusions (§457).

CHAPTER XXII: The opinion of St. Thomas on divine foreknowledge

Like earlier witnesses of tradition, St. Thomas has several texts on divine causality, comparing God’s knowledge to that of an artisan (§458), but, like previous tradition, he does not thereby exclude foreknowledge through the transcendent intellect, without the use of decrees as means of knowing (§§459-62). This interpretation is confirmed and proved by his ex professo treatments of foreknowledge (§463) in which he always solves the problem in only one way: recourse to eternity, which is not a medium of knowledge, but a condition of knowability: the transcendent intellect is considered able to know whatever is present. He considers only two alternatives: proximate causes (rejected), and eternity (accepted) (§§464-68). The third alternative, knowledge by the older Thomists’ system of infrustrable decrees is not accepted since he rejects their system in general (§469), and since he always has recourse to eternity (§470) and never to decrees, not even in ST I.14.13 (§§471-72) nor in 1 Sent. 38.1.5 (§473). Confirmation from his summaries on foreknowledge (§474), from his way of answering objections (§475), and from his way of speaking of the transcendence of the divine will (§476) and from interpretations of early Thomists before Bañez (§477). Conclusions (§§478-79).

CHAPTER XXIII: Synthesis of conclusions on divine foreknowledge

I. Foreknowledge of futures

God foresees the first effects of the divine motion in the creature through causality, since the motion is physical, and foresees also through His transcendent intellect (§481); He foresees the resistance of creatures, because He knows, within the present of eternity, that He is no longer causing the effects in man: He knows the same through His transcendent intellect: in neither way is He passive (§482); He knows non-resistance in the same two ways (§483). He knows the positive determination of the creature both through His causality and through His transcendent intellect: in both ways without passivity (§484). No truth is logically prior to God's knowledge, though the negative determination (which is non-being) is prior (§§485-86). God’s knowledge does not grow (§487).

II. Foreknowledge of futuribles

Scripture shows that God knows the futuribles, but does not explain how (§488). This knowledge cannot be explained by a system of infrustrable decrees, but through the transcendent intellect (§489). The Aristotelian principle that future contingents as future are unknowable seems to prove too much, for it would prove God cannot know the futuribles (§§49S91). Perhaps this is why St. Thomas was silent on futuribles (§§492-93). Relation of futuribles to divine causality (§494). Scholion on recourse to eternity (§§495-98). Objections: Dilemma: God either determines or is determined (§499); nothing is present in eternity except by causality (§500); from De veritate 3.6 (§501).




APPENDIX I: The order of the universe

St. Thomas has two series of texts: The first: Seems to consider the individual man as only a part of the whole, whom God does not care for if it does not the good of the whole; the second: The greatest created perfection is in salvation (§508). Principal texts of first series (§509); of second series (§510). The seeming discrepancy is very large (§511). It is explained in part by the fact that St. Thomas used two fonts: Aristotelian doctrine, which knows nothing of Christian finality, and Christian doctrine (§512); it is also explained partly by the distinctions he makes or supposes: about the class of good (§513) about the first and the ultimate perfection (§514) and about extensive vs. intensive likeness (§515). Synthesis of the thought of St. Thomas (§§516-22). The "necessity" of reprobates (§§523-30). Affections: From CG 2.46 (§531); From ST I.23.5 ad 3 (§532); from ST I.48.2 ad 3 (§533); from CG 1:96 (§534); God does everything for His glory (§535).

APPENDIX II: The universal salvific will and subjective redemption

The salvation of pagans and their relationship to the Church (§§535a-542). On the reduction of culpability for sin (§543).

Scriptural Index

Thomistic Index

Index of Popes, Councils, Fathers and Doctors of the Church, and other Authors