Luis De Molina

(1535-1600), Spanish Jesuit theologian and counter-reformer


September of 1535
October 12, 1600
Related topics
Suarez, Francisco,--1548-1617, Free will and determinism, Soto, Domingo de,--1494-1560, Early works, Spain,


Having at the age of eighteen become a member of the Society of Jesus, Molina studied theology at Coimbra, and afterward became professor in the university of Evora, Portugal. From this post he was called, at the end of twenty years, to the chair of moral theology in Madrid, where he died.

Molina tried to resolve the apparent contradiction between the doctrines of grace and free will by holding that God has a "middle knowledge" (scientia media). In his writings Molina wanted to affirm that God has foreknowledge of human affairs, without lapsing into determinism. In his On the Agreement of God's Grace and Free Willl, published in 1588, he argued that there is a cooperation of man's will with divine grace. This view contrasts with the Thomist view that God predetermines man's will to act freely. Molina saw in the Thomist view a disguised determinism.

The key element in Molina's solution of the problem is his account of God's "middle knowledge." This knowledge receives its name from the fact that it falls between two kinds of knowledge that Thomas Aquinas(1224-1274) described. Aquinas held that God's knowledge may be one of "vision," which is a knowledge of that which has existed, does exist, and will exist. This is knowledge of what follows from the absolute divine decree. Aquinas also held that God has a knowledge of the purely possible, which is a knowledge of "simple understanding" of things and events that have not existed, do not exist, and will not exist. This knowledge supposes no divine decrees. Molina's "middle knowledge", which falls between these two kinds of knowledge, is the knowledge that God has of conditional future events. God knows what an individual will do in certain circumstances if grace is offered, and so he decrees the circumstances and the grace necessary to effect the cooperative action of the individual. In the conditional order then, God's grace is efficacious entirely from man's free futurable consent.

Thomists opposed Molina's position, for they saw in Molina's "middle knowledge" a denial of God's universal causality. Debate on this view continued for over three centuries. In the Roman Catholic Church this remains one of the accepted solutions of the problem of grace and free will. Molina's position was adopted by Francisco Suarez (1548-1617), whose thought came to dominate Roman Catholic and many Protestant universities during the seventeenth and eighteenth centuries. Consequently Molina's views have been far more influential in Protestant discussions of grace and free will than is usually recognized.

Works About Luis De Molina

Influence of Luis De Molina

Works published by Luis De Molina

Works published about Luis De Molina

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