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Luis de Molina

Leben und Werk

Nach Molina bedingt das Zusammenwirken von göttlicher Gnade und freiem Willen die Rechtfertigung und auch die sittlichen Akte (concursus divinus). Durch die Vorstellung von einer scientia media versucht Molina die göttliche Allwissenheit mit der Willensfreiheit zu vereinen: Gott weiß vorher, wie seine freigeschaffenen Geschöpfe sich unter den vorgegebenen Bedingungen entscheiden werden; darum kann Gott die Verhältnisse so schaffen, dass sich die Menschen frei nach seinem Ratschluss entscheiden (dagegen die praemotio-physica-Lehre der Thomisten).

In seinem Buch Liberi arbitrii cum gratiae donis, divina praescientia, providentia, praedestinatione et reprobatione concordia lehrte er die Bedingtheit der göttlichen Heilsabsichten durch die Rücksicht auf den vorausgewussten Willen des Menschen. Diese Ansicht wurde von den Dominikanern als antithomistisch bestritten, dagegen von vielen Jesuiten (Molinisten) verteidigt, wodurch ein Gnadenstreit entstand, der sich nachmals in den jansenistischen Streitigkeiten fortsetzte.

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One of the most learned and renown theologians of the Society of Jesus, b. of noble parentage at Cuenca, New Castle, Spain, in 1535; d. at Madrid, 12 October, 1600. At the age of eighteen, he entered the Society of Jesus at Alcalá, and, on finishing his novitiate, was sent up to take his philosophical and theological studies at Coimbra in Portugal. So successful was he in his studies that, at the close of his course, he was installed as professor of philosophy at Coimbra, and promoted a few years later to the chair of theology at the flourishing University of Evora. For twenty years, marked by untiring labour and devotion, he expounded with great success the "Summa" of St. Thomas to eager students. In 1590 he retired to his native city of Cuenca to devote himself exclusively to writing and preparing for print the results of his long continued studies. Two years later, however, the Society of Jesus opened a special school for the science of moral philosophy at Madrid, and the renowned professor was called from his solitude and appointed to the newly established chair. Here death overtook him before he had held his new post for half a year. By a strange coincidence on the same day (12 Oct., 1600), the "Congregatio de auxiliis", which had been instituted at Rome to investigate Molina's new system of grace, after a second examination of his "Concordia", reported adversely on its contents to Clement VIII. Molina was not only a tireless student, but a profound and original thinker. To him we are indebted for important contributions in speculative, dogmatic, and moral theology as well as in jurisprudence. The originality of his mind is shown quite as much by his novel treatment of the old scholastic subjects as by his labours along new lines of theological inquiry. Molina's chief contribution to the science of theology is the "Concordia", on which he spent thirty years of the most assiduous labour. The publication of this work was facilitated by the valuable assistance of Cardinal Albert, Grand Inquisitor of Portugal and brother of emperor Rudolph II. The full title of the now famous work reads: "Concordia liberi arbitrii cum gratiæ donis, divina præscientia, providentia, prædestinatione et reprobatione" (Lisbon, 1588). As the title indicates, the work is primarily concerned with the difficult problem of reconciling grace and free will. In view of its purpose and principal contents, the work may also be regarded as a scientific vindication of the Tridentine doctrine on the permanence of man's free will under the influence of efficacious grace (Sess. VI., cap v-vi; can iv-v). It is also the first attempt to offer a strictly logical explanation of the great problems of grace and free will, foreknowledge and providence, and predestination to glory or reprobation, upon an entirely new basis, while meeting fairly all possible objections. This new basis, on which the entire Molinistic system rests, is the Divine scientia media. To make clear its intrinsic connection with the traditional teachings, the work takes the form of a commentary on several portions of the "Summa" of St. Thomas (I. Q. xiv, a. 13; Q. xix, a. 16; QQ. xxii-iii). Thus Molina is the first Jesuit to write a commentary upon the "Summa". As to style, the work has little to recommend it. The Latinity is heavy, the sentences are long and involved, and the prolix exposition and frequent repetition of the same ideas are fatiguing; in short, "Concordia" is neither easy nor agreeable reading. Even though much of the obscurity of the book may be attributed to the subject matter itself, it may be safely said that the dispute concerning Molina's doctrine would never have attained such violence and bitterness, had the style been more simple and the expressions less ambiguous. And yet Molina was of the opinion that the older heresies concerning grace would never have arisen, or would have soon passed away, if the Catholic doctrine of grace had been treated according to the principles which he followed for the first time in his "Concordia" and with the minuteness and accuracy which characterized that work. But he was greatly mistaken. For not only was his doctrine powerless to check the teachings of Baius, which began to spread soon after the publication of his work, and to prevent the rise of Jansenism, which sprang from early Protestant ideas, but it was itself the cause of that historic controversy which has raged for centuries between Thomists and Molinists, and which has not wholly subsided even to this day. Thus, the "Concordia" became a bone of contention in the schools, and brought on a deplorable discord among the theologians, especially those of the Dominican and Jesuit orders.

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