Can we extricate ourselves from Molinism?
My comments are in bold face
(08-04-2011, 06:16 PM)INPEFESS Wrote: 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.


From the Catholic Encyclopedia on Sanctifying grace

Since the end and aim of all efficacious grace is directed to the production of sanctifying grace where it does not already exist, or to retain and increase it where it is already present, its excellence, dignity, and importance become immediately apparent; for holiness and the sonship of God depend solely upon the possession of sanctifying grace, wherefore it is frequently called simply grace without any qualifying word to accompany it as, for instance, in the phrases "to live in grace" or "to fall from grace".


Efficacious grace isn't given only once for salvation; a man doesn't necessarily preserve to the end with it. Mortal sin removes all grace. After it man is no longer justified and not in the state of grace. God may give the man actual efficacious grace to go to confession, where sanctifying grace is restored.  Those who are saved (the elect) are those who die in the state of grace, no matter how many times they fell.


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."

The elect are those who are saved (or will be saved), not those who receive the fruit of efficacious grace at some point in their life

I think everyone agrees up to this point. (Oh well)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.

[b]Saints on earth have enjoyed something like what you speak of above and further below (faintly analogous to the Beatific Vision on earth), for example St. Augustine in his conversion.  But I don't think we (or the elect) all do. I think efficacious and Sanctifying Grace can leave at least our  mind still seeing God very faintly, struggling through temptation,  tempted by the world.  Our soul is another matter, but our will and mind are still weak and we  can fall. 

I seem to recall Gregory speaking of a similar overwhelming and irresistible spiritual experience in the elect.  Perhaps you both have had such an experience. I don't think it is essential for salvation although it is momentous and desirable and may imply or cause great holiness

I think that it is not God's irresistible goodness beheld by us that "moves" our will in every instance of efficacious grace in our soul, but God Himself who moves it in its natural way, freely, not in any way forcing it.  Of course he moves it (and we do, with Him) TO Himself who IS irresistible goodness if  only we could see it.  God's will is the primary cause of our will's moving freely; we are the secondary cause.  God causes all things down to the least detail, even when we or some other creature or series of creatures cause it down to the least detail. He is primary cause, we are the secondary cause.  This is hard enough to understand (never in full) for most things.  When it comes to God's moving our will it becomes a true mystery.  It seems that God is ultimately forcing our will.  Melkite's view is more than understandable.  (See previous post of mine, I think 260, for a quote from St. Thomas)

But accepting efficacious grace IS OUR WILLING too, our act of love for God. God does not remove the goodness or freedom in OUR will  when He causes that goodness.

To me the heart of the matter is TWO seemingly contradictory TRUTHS that are BOTH UNDENIABLY TRUE:  We do have free will and God has absolute power and is the primary cause of all things, including our willing.  The result is a MYSTERY.  Accept both sides of the mystery, and don't think you can ever explain them with complete satisfaction in this life.. not that we can't try to understand better.
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Re: Can we extricate ourselves from Molinism? - by Doce Me - 08-04-2011, 11:19 PM



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