Luis de Molina

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Luis Molina (born 1535 in Cuenca, Spain; died October 12, 1600 in Madrid) was a Spanish Jesuit theologian and philosopher who devised the theological system known as Molinism, which endeavored to confirm that man's will remains free under the action of divine grace. Molina developed a concept of scientia media (middle knowledge), whereby God knows in advance how any rational creature will choose, by its own free will, to act in any possible circumstances. By means of this power of knowing future contingent events, God, foresees how we shall employ our own free will and treat His proffered grace, and upon this foreknowledge He can found his predestinating decrees. Molina's ideas were incorporated into the doctrine of the Jesuit order.

One of the most controversial thinkers in the history of Catholic thought, Molina was a leading figure in the sixteenth-century revival of scholasticism on the Iberian peninsula that also produced thinkers like Peter Fonseca, Domingo de Soto, Domingo Bañez, and Francisco Suárez. Molina’s most famous work, Liberi arbitrii cum gratiae donis, divina praescientia, providentia, praedestinatione et reprobatione concordia ("A Reconciliation of Free Choice with the Gifts of Grace, Divine Foreknowledge, Providence, Predestination and Reprobation"), popularly known as the Concordia, was published in 1588 and provoked a fierce controversy between members of the young Jesuit order and Dominican theologians. When the dispute began to jeopardize civil as well as ecclesiastical harmony, the pope Clement VIII intervened (1594), and in 1598, he appointed the Congregatio de auxillis Gratiae (Commission on Grace) in Rome for the settlement of the dispute. Ten years of intense investigation, including 85 hearings and 47 debates, made the Concordia one of the most carefully scrutinized books in Western intellectual history.

Contents

In addition to his work in dogmatic theology, Molina was also an accomplished moral and political philosopher who wrote extensive and empirically well-informed tracts on political authority, slavery, war, and economics.

Life

Luis de Molina, S.J. was born in Cuenca, Spain in 1535. At the age of 18 he became a member of the Society of Jesus at Alcala and studied theology at Coimbra. He was installed as a professor of philosophy at Coimbra, and later became professor in the university of Évora, Portugal, where he expounded the "Summa" of Saint Thomas for twenty years. In 1952, he was called from this post to the chair of moral theology at the Jesuit school in Madrid.

In 1588, his most famous work, Liberi arbitrii cum gratiae donis, divina praescientia, providentia, praedestinatione et reprobatione concordia ("A Reconciliation of Free Choice with the Gifts of Grace, Divine Foreknowledge, Providence, Predestination and Reprobation"), popularly known as the Concordia, was published in Lisbon. It provoked a fierce controversy over the question of grace and human freedom, a discussion which had been taking place for two decades between the young Society of Jesus (founded in 1540) and it theological opponents. Already the Jesuit Leonard Lessius had been attacked by the followers of Michael Baius at Louvain for allegedly harboring views on grace and freedom contrary to those of St. Augustine. In Spain and Portugal, the Dominicans, led by Bañez, were accusing the Jesuits of doctrinal novelty. The Concordia was an attempt to reconcile, in words at least, the Augustinian doctrines of predestination and grace with the teachings of Baius, recently condemned by the Roman Catholic Church. Assuming that man is free to perform or not to perform any act whatever, Molina maintained that this circumstance renders the grace of God neither unnecessary nor impossible: not impossible, for God never fails to bestow grace upon those who ask it with sincerity; and not unnecessary, for grace, although not an "efficient," is still a sufficient cause of salvation.

These doctrines, although in harmony with the prevailing feeling of the Roman Catholic Church of the period, and in marked opposition to the teachings of Martin Luther and John Calvin, excited violent controversy in some quarters, especially on the part of the Dominican order. When the dispute began to jeopardize civil as well as ecclesiastical harmony, political and religious leaders in Iberia implored the Vatican to intervene. At first (1594), Pope Clement VIII simply enjoined silence on both parties so far as Spain was concerned; but ultimately, in 1598, he appointed the Congregatio de auxillis Gratiae (Commission on Grace) in Rome for the settlement of the dispute, which was becoming increasingly factionalized. This was the start of a 10-year period of intense investigation, including 85 hearings and 47 debates, that rendered the Concordia one of the most carefully scrutinized books in Western intellectual history. Molina died in 1600 in Madrid, amid rumors that he was being burned in effigy in Rome. Due to the efforts of Cardinals Robert Bellarmine and Jacques du Perron, in 1607, Pope Paul V issued a decree allowing both parties to defend their own positions but enjoining them not to call one another's views heretical, and its meetings were suspended. In 1611, Pope Paul V prohibited all further discussion of the question de auxiliis, and studious efforts were made to control the publication even of commentaries on Aquinas. Molina's views emerged intact, and the Molinist subsequently passed into the Jansenist controversy.

Thought and Works

Molina was a leading figure in the sixteenth-century revival of scholasticism on the Iberian peninsula that also produced thinkers like Peter Fonseca, Domingo de Soto, Domingo Bañez and Francisco Suárez.

Molina’s most famous work was the Liberi arbitrii cum gratiae donis, divina praescientia, providentia, praedestinatione et reprobatione concordia ("A Reconciliation of Free Choice with the Gifts of Grace, Divine Foreknowledge, Providence, Predestination and Reprobation") (first edition, Lisbon 1588; second edition, Antwerp 1595). The Concordia was largely an extract from the Commentaria in primam divi Thomae partem (Commentaries on the First Part of St Thomas's Summa Theologiae), which was subsequently published at Cuenca in 1592. Molina also wrote a five-volume work on political philosophy, De Justitia et Jure (On Justice and Law), the first complete edition of which appeared posthumously in Venice in 1614.

Molina was an accomplished moral and political philosopher who wrote extensive and well-informed tracts on political authority, slavery, war, and economics. Although there are also modern editions of a few unpublished pieces, most of Molina's shorter tracts and commentaries survive only in manuscript form.

Molinism

The concept of grace first developed by Molina was adopted by the Society of Jesus as part of their doctrine. Molina defended the unrestrained freedom of the will, while explaining how it was consistent with the infallible efficacy and priority of God’s grace. Catholic theologians were obliged to uphold two principles: the supremacy and causality of grace (against Pelagianism and Semipelagianism), and the unimpaired freedom of consent in the human will (against early Protestantism and Jansenism). In “Concordia,” Molina affirmed that “efficacious grace,” (the grace of God which brings about salutary acts), which includes in its concept the free consent of the human will, is not intrinsically different in nature from merely “sufficient grace,” grace which is sufficient to enable the human will to carry out a salutary act, if the will consents to God's grace and cooperates with it.

Molina held that God's causal influence on free human acts does not by its intrinsic nature uniquely determine what those acts will be or whether they will be good or evil, but he accounted for predestination with the concept of scientia media. (middle knowledge). In addition to God’s “natural” knowledge of metaphysically necessary truths, and His supernatural “free” knowledge of causal influence (grace), Molina posited a “middle” knowledge, whereby God knows in advance how any rational creature will choose, by its own free will, to act in any possible circumstances. By means of this scientia media (the phrase is Molina's invention, though the idea is also to be found in his older contemporary Fonseca), or power of knowing future contingent events, God, by foresees how we shall employ our own free will and treat His proffered grace, and upon this foreknowledge He can found his predestinating decrees.

Molina’s theological opponents, the most important of whom was the Dominican theologian Domingo Bañez, accused Molina of making the power of divine grace subordinate to the human will. The Thomists emphasized the infallible efficacy of grace (gratia efficax), without denying the existence and necessity of the free cooperation of the will, arguing that God is the cause of all salutary acts, and that God’s knowledge and activity must be prior to, and independent of, any free act of the human will. Molinists thought that this idea of a divine concurrence, which is prior to a free act and which infallibly brings about that act, made God responsible for sin.

Molinism was modified by Jesuit theologians like Ballarmine and Suarez, who introduced the idea of “cogruism.”

A full account of Molina's theology can be found in Schneeman's Entstehung der thomistisch-molinistischen Controverse, published in the Appendices (Nos. 9, 13, 14) to the Jesuit periodical, Stimmen aus Maria-Laach. To the lay reader may be recommended Ernest Renan's article, Les congregations de auxiis in his Nouvelles etudes d'histoire religieuse.

References

  • De Molina, Luis, and Alfred J. Freddoso (trans.). On Divine Foreknowledge (Cornell Classics in Philosophy, "Concordia"). Cornell University Press: Reprint edition, 2004. ISBN 0801489350 ISBN 9780801489358
  • Flint, Thomas P. Divine Providence: The Molinist Account (Cornell Studies in the Philosophy of Religion). Cornell University Press: New Ed edition, 2006. ISBN 0801473365 ISBN 9780801473364
  • Goldie, Mark, and J. H. Burns (ed.). The Cambridge History of Political Thought 1450-1700 (The Cambridge History of Political Thought). Cambridge University Press: 1 Pbk ed edition, 1995. ISBN 0521477727 ISBN 9780521477727
  • Zagzebski, Linda Trinkaus. Dilemma of Freedom and Foreknowledge. Oxford University Press: Reprint edition, 1996. ISBN 0195107632. ISBN 9780195107630

External links

All links retrieved July 27, 2013.

General Philosophy Sources

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  • This article incorporates text from the Encyclopædia Britannica Eleventh Edition, a publication now in the public domain.
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