Can we extricate ourselves from Molinism?
(08-04-2011, 03:30 PM)Vetus Ordo Wrote:
(08-04-2011, 02:41 PM)Norbert Wrote: Yes, but saying "Aquinas says this" and expecting that to settle it while igniring molinist thinkers is a specious form of an argument from authority...leaving aside the "evidence" for a second, why is it that you feel that Thomism is the only acceptable way to view God?

How do you expect to settle any issue at all if not by citing authoritative texts? If people have cited St. Augustine, St. Thomas, the Council of Orange, Popes, etc., it's precisely to drive home an important point with the back up of renowned authorities, it's not just to "flash a badge" so to speak.

I believe that Augustinian and Thomist views on predestination are more in line with Scripture and the concepts of divine omnipotence, sovereignty, justice and mercy. Certainly, this is not an easy topic and there's an inherent mystery in how free will and God's immutable decrees work together that can never be fully explained. Nevertheless, some key concepts must be held by necessity of revelation and logic. In this thread alone, Gregory has expounded abundantly on this issue, as well as Walty and INPEFESS.

I think the matter has been well presented.

I agree that it has been well presented (though it would be unfair to Doce Me, Gregory I, and yourself were I to take any credit for this).

I have been pondering this issue and trying to pin-point the exact discrepancy with the so-called Molinists. I have never tried to explain this before, but there is much to be gleaned from the the sources already quoted. I will take a stab at addressing the issue that I believe to be the "sticking point" (as it were) for the Molinists* (though I can't guarantee I won't confuse things even more).

I think that, in order to begin, we need to have a working definition for sufficient grace. Let's try this: Sufficient grace is not grace that, of itself, is sufficient for salvation; rather, sufficient grace is that grace which is always potentially sufficient (like the flower) for efficacious grace (the fruit).

Efficacious grace, by contrast, is that grace which is always effectual for salvation.

These two graces must work together in order to effect salvation. By this it is meant that sufficient grace is only sufficient for salvation when it has been complemented by efficacious grace via the free co-operation of the will with sufficient grace. In this way, efficacious grace proceeds from sufficient grace as the fruit proceeds from the flower.

Thus it can be said that sufficient grace yields the fruit of efficacious grace only after the potentiality of sufficient grace has been actualized by the will’s free co-operation with this sufficient grace. A person whose free co-operation with sufficient grace has yielded efficacious grace is considered “elected” by God’s will. So, as Bossuet says, "one of these graces leaves the will without excuse before God, and the other does not permit the will to glory in itself."

I think everyone agrees up to this point. The tricky part is when we start talking about the role one's will plays in this process, because at this point in the understanding, the Molinist objects: 'But if this election through efficacious grace were contingent upon the will's free co-operation with sufficient grace, then the will is still the principal saving agent because the will freely chose to co-operate with sufficient grace, which inevitably yields election. In this way, it is principally the activity of the free will--not God's will--that saves the soul.'

This appears to be a valid objection, but it is much more complex than that; and this complexity is further complicated by the fact that, based on the nature of this particular grace, there is nothing in the material universe that is perfectly analogous to efficacious grace. But I will try to explain it and then use an imperfect analogy which, though it fails given certain conditions, nevertheless should get the point across to the Molinist.

The objection of the Molinist fails to take something essential into account: that efficacious grace and free will are not mutually exclusive; in fact, they function together in perfect harmony. It must be understood that efficacious grace requires the will to freely co-operate with it in order for it be effectual. So, the free will always retains the power to resist this efficacious grace (calling by God), but, because of the compelling nature of this grace, there are none who will choose to resist it. For once their free co-operation has attracted (as a condition of their free co-operation with sufficient grace) the attention of the will of God to save them, He will see to it that they do not perish.

But why is it said that there are none who will choose to resist it? It is said that there are none who will choose to resist it because, once a soul has beheld the overwhelming goodness of God, there are none who would prefer the world to His infinite goodness. Nevertheless, each soul retains its own power to resist at any time, but, similar to the teaching that the free will is unwilling to offend God once the soul has enjoyed the Beatific Vision (for to do so would be a contradiction), there is no soul that can prefer evil over the supreme goodness of God enjoyed by the effects of efficacious grace.

The lack of a perfect analogy becomes a problem when the Molinist objects that, even though one can prefer something, he still has the power to resist it, so, theoretically, a soul could do so. This could be true, but only theoretically so. In the practical order, a soul that has experienced this efficacious grace (and beheld the goodness of God) is compelled to persevere to the end, for it is the free co-operation of the soul that Fr. Garrigou-Lagrange says is 'gently and mightily stirred up in us and confirmed.' Theoretically, a soul could resist, but it won't. The soul is compelled to comply because it is made in the image and likeness of God and sees Him in its own reflection made by the light of efficacious grace. Though the soul retains the power to resist this beautiful grace, it is useless for the soul to resist its own image and likeness. The soul has beheld good, and it has loved it; it now feels compelled to follow this goodness to the end.

Now for a less-than-adequate analogy of the reciprocal of efficacious grace to try to make it more comprehensive . . .

Suppose, for example, that a healthy man wakes to find himself laid upon a gridiron by Roman soldiers. The Roman soldiers ignite the fire beneath the gridiron before fleeing their post to save themselves from an approaching ambush. Provided that the man is not restrained to the gridiron, has a properly functioning nervous system, has no intention of killing himself, and is not severely depressed, what man would not be compelled to remove himself from the growing heat of the gridiron lest he should be cooked alive? It is true that he retains his free will to remain upon the gridiron (and I'm sure that it is impossible to completely reject the very small possibility that a man might do so if for no other reason than to prove that he has the free will to do so), but every fiber of his being is compelled to escape the danger. If we assume that there is no threat to his life or well-being for doing so, he will remove himself from the gridiron every time.

It is at the conclusion of the analogy that we have two seemingly-dichotomous propositions: He is compelled to remove himself from the gridiron. But no-one forces him to do so; he does so of his own free will.

They are reconciled in the understanding of the source of his being compelled to remove himself. It is not by his own will that the instinct to remove himself from the fire beneath the gridiron is stirred up in him. He has no control over this instinct, but it is efficacious nonetheless in compelling him to remove himself from the fire. The only role he plays is that the fails to employ his free will to resist this overwhelming instinct. Thus, it is the instinct that saves him; his free simply fails to resist the instinct. Hence, it is the instinct stirred up within him by God that is the primary cause of his safety and his free will that is the secondary (compliant) cause.

As it concerns efficacious grace, then, it is God who actually saves us; His will is the primary cause. For though it was by man’s free will that he attracted God’s almighty will to elect Him to salvation, it is God's almighty will—not man's—that numbers a soul among the elect.  

(If I have spoken erroneously or in any way misrepresented the Thomistic understanding of this concept, then please correct me. I am only trying to help; I do not want to confuse the issue.)

* Please note that I am not intending to use this label condescendingly. Anyone here is free to refer to label me with the label that most appropriately corresponds with the Thomistic/Augustinian approach. (Please avoid accusations of Calvinism, though.)

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Re: Can we extricate ourselves from Molinism? - by INPEFESS - 08-04-2011, 06:16 PM

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