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Thursday, 1 January 2015

Slavery of the Will; Freedom of the Will Part Six

So, what does a theory on God's "conditioned Predestination" and the almost libertarian interpretation of the will have to do with the Synod in Rome? By the way, the Catholic Encyclopedia was written in great part by Molinists, (as well as modernists), so take care when reading the slanted commentaries in that source.

Molinism, outside of the Jesuits, seems to be more popular with certain Protestants, who want to ameliorate the hard teaching of Calvin regarding "double predestination". So, why bring this up in connection with the Semis in Rome?

Four points:

One, if one looks at works and so-called merits rather than grace, one does not need the authority of the Church to be so "disciplined" regarding those in sin. In other words, the exterior disposition of a person lessens in importance. This is a dangerous ideal of our age when we keep hearing from some clerics, that we cannot judge. But, we can judge actions and always have, otherwise there would be no legal systems in the West.

The undermining of Church discipline mirrors this subjective, almost libertarian view that the will is equal to grace.

Two, the Molinists almost deny grace entirely, thus aligning themselves with the Pelagians and Semi-Pelagians. Like the Lutherans, Pelagius taught only an external grace, the grace of conversion from hearing the Gospels and not internal, efficacious or sufficient graces.  Pelagius finally admitted to an internal grace, but said it was connected only with the intellect , with is not gratuitous, a gift from God, by from the natural strivings or the person himself. This overlaps somewhat with Molina's idea of the free will being equal to grace in efficaciousness.

The Semis denied the first grace of conversion and the last grace of perseverance. In those at the Synod who hold gradualism as a good idea, which it is not, and which was attacked by the Pope Emeritus, one can see this denial of the first grace of conversion. The Molinist would emphasize free will as bringing one to that conversion moment, in equality with grace, thus denying Providence and Predestination.

The reason why this follows is simply a logical conclusion which now is seen in pastoral attempts to deny conversion as a necessity for Church reception of the sacraments. Cheap grace...indeed. That people cannot be excluded from the sacramental life of the Church because of a lifestyle of sin would be a pastoral interpretation of these points.

By the way, Garrigou-Lagrange reminds us that Pelagianism was condemned by 24 councils. It may have to be condemned in the modern context, along with Semi-Pelagianism, again. I hope the boldface parts convince readers of the flaws in pastoral care which would follow.

Three, that Molinism differs from both Pelagianism and Semi-Pelagianism is clear, but the dangers of interpretation still remain. Let me use Garrigou-Lagrange from Grace, Chapter One, on these points. I highlight the dangers and the opposing ideas from Thomas Aquinas.

Molinism differs from Semi-Pelagianism in three respects: 1. In regard to prevenient grace; 2. in regard to the covenant entered into between God and Christ the Redeemer; 3. in regard to the circumstances of the life of the predestinate. Cf. Molina, Concordia.

1. Molina admits prevenient grace inclining to the initial movement to salvation, or consent to good, but he says: the distinction between the will consenting to this grace offered and the will rejecting it depends on man’s liberty alone. Cf. Molina, op. cit., pp. 230, 459.

The Thomists object that before this distinction, there is not yet any initial step toward salvation, because it is not found in those who resist first grace, as in Lessius,De gratia efficaci, chap. 18, no. 7.

2. Molina maintains that, if anyone does whatever he can by means of mere natural powers, God does not refuse grace; but he avoids Semi-Pelagianism by saying: God does not confer grace on account of this good natural disposition, but because of the covenant entered into between Himself and Christ the Redeemer. Cf. infra, q. 109, a. 6; q. 112, a. 3; Molina, op. cit., pp. 1543, 564; Index, “Faciens quod in se est.”

Molina says (pp. 51, 565): help being equal, it is possible for one of those called to be converted and another not converted. With less assistance from grace it is possible for the one assisted to make progress, while another, with greater help, does not improve, and hardly perseveres. They are not aids established as efficacious in themselves which distinguish between the predestinate and the nonpredestinate.

However, according to Molina, the predestinate receives greater help than the reprobate from the standpoint of the situation in which he is placed by the divine good pleasure, for indeed he is placed in circumstances in which God foresees by mediate knowledge that he will consent to grace.
Hence, from the viewpoint of circumstances, the gift of final perseverance depends solely on the divine good pleasure; thus, to a certain extent at least, the gratuity of predestination, denied by the Semi-Pelagians, is preserved; but, as the Thomists declare, this is seen to be gratuity of predestination only in regard to the circumstances which are more or less appropriate or suitable. 

Four, and this last point might be the most important one pushing the agendas in Rome.

There is a certain type of false supernaturalism, or immanentism, in Molinism, as noted by Garrigou-Lagrange.

That the Jesuits, who are Molinists, fall into the heresies of Teilhard de Chardin regarding immanentism, that there is a spiritual transformation which can take place outside of grace. Immanentism holds that one can be spiritual without religion, and that one can become holy without the Church and community.

The Pope actually wrote about this, and I want to quote part of his work here, from Evangelii gaudium, and no offense, but I think the Pope is looking at the wrong circles of influence regarding immanentism. He is, and partly rightly so, hitting the modern culture of subjectivism and relativism, but he seems not to go far enough in seeing or defining these tendencies in the Church disciplines regarding marriage and same-sex relationships. Those people in sin are self-enclosed, and the Synod did not address this as far as I could see. To extrapolate, certain Catholics would think that if they are spiritual inside, they do not need to convert to the radical Gospel and to the Teaching Magisterium of the Church. I think Molinism leads to this. Maybe this Jesuit Pope needs to apply his good ideas here to more pastoral concerns regarding the selfishness of those who rebel against Church teaching, which is the teaching of Christ.

To be self-enclosed is to taste the bitter poison of
immanence, and humanity will be worse for every
selfish choice we make. The Christian ideal will
always be a summons to overcome suspicion,
habitual mistrust, fear of losing our privacy, all
the defensive attitudes which today’s world
imposes on us. Many try to escape from others
and take refuge in the comfort of their privacy or
in a small circle of close friends, renouncing the
realism of the social aspect of the Gospel. For just
as some people want a purely spiritual Christ,
without flesh and without the cross, they also want
their interpersonal relationships provided by
sophisticated equipment, by screens and systems
which can be turned on and off on command . . .
Isolation, which is a version of immanentism, can
find expression in a false autonomy which has no
place for God. But in the realm of religion, it can
also take the form of a spiritual consumerism
tailored to one’s own unhealthy individualism.

I could write more on all of this, but six section is enough for a New Year's Day. Readers can tell I am not a Molinist, but a Thomist, and if one wants more pros and cons on Molinism, read Garrigou-Lagrange's book Grace, which is on line, and Ludwig Ott, Fundamentals of Catholic Dogma, which I have in a box in Silvis.

Most of the Molinists, and also St. Francis de Sales (+1622), teach a conditioned Predestination (ad gloriam tantum), that is, post and propter praevisa merita. According to them, God by His scientia media [middle knowledge], sees beforehand how men would freely react to various orders of grace. In the light of this knowledge He chooses, according to His free pleasure a fixed and definite order of grace. Now by His scientia visionis, He knows infallibly in advance what use the individual man will make of the grace bestowed on him. He elects for eternal bliss those who by virtue of their foreseen merits perseveringly cooperate with grace, while He determines for eternal punishment of hell, those who, on account of their foreseen demerits, deny their cooperation. The ordo intentionisand the ordo executionis coincide (grace-glory; grace-glory).

( Ludwig Ott, Fundamentals of Catholic Dogma, Rockford, IL: TAN Books, 1974; originally 1952, 242-245)

I want to personally thank a friend of mine who started this conversation with me but does not have the time to write what he and I discussed on these matters. He knows who he is...