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De Moor IV:38: Advocates of the Doctrine of Middle Knowledge

Luis de Molina

That, in addition, some of God’s Knowledge is Middle or Conditioned, the Jesuits contrive, but quarreling among themselves over the glory of this invention, while they claim it sometimes for Fonseca,[1] sometimes for Lessius,[2] sometimes for Molina:[3] see VOETIUS’ Disputationum theologicarum, part I, pages 254-256, 264, 265; BUDDEUS’ Institutiones Theologiæ dogmaticæ, tome I, book II, chapter I, § 22, pages 295, 296. Resting upon this principle, Molina published his book de Concordia Liberi Arbitrii cum Donis gratiæ: which the remaining Jesuits in every place followed thereafter. But with the Dominicans and Thomists standing in opposition, both at Leuven and elsewhere, and objecting against the Jesuitical doctrine, in addition to Pelagianism, manifest novelty.

The Scope/Goal of the Jesuits was to reconcile rightly God’s Prescience with the Contingency and Liberty of Things and Actions, which they contrive for themselves; and to uphold the Pelagian heresy concerning faith and good works foreseen in Election against the Dominicans, who reject such Foreknowledge by this argument especially, that, since the Knowledge of God is either Natural, which is of Possible Things, or Free, which is of Future Things, all Foreknowledge of faith and of the good use of free Will must depend upon the Decree, not precede it.

This invention has pleased the more moderate Socinians, and especially the Arminians, who, so that they might place Free Will in a defensive stronghold, stenuously guard this fabrication: see VOETIUS’ Disputationum theologicarum, part I, pages 256, 257, 265, 266; SPANHEIM’S Elenchum Controversiarum cum Remonstrantibus, § VII, opera, tome 3, column 859, in which he relates the several πρῶτα ψεύδη, fundamental errors, of the Remonstrant on this topic, but which at the same time concisely refutes. But the Lutherans also join in support of Middle Knowledge and approve the same in a sound sense and legitimate use, with Jesuitical abuse of the same to defend the errors of the Pelagians and Semi-pelagians excluded, as BUDDEUS speaks, whom see in his Institutionibus Theologiæ dogmaticæ, tome I, book II, chapter I, § 22, pages 291-299.

[1] Pedro da Fonseca (1528-1599) was a Spanish Jesuit Theologian and Philosopher. He appears to have been the first to devise the doctrine of Middle Knowledge.

[2] Leonardus Lessius (1554-1623) was a French Jesuit Theologian. He studied under Suarez and Bellarmine, and later served as Professor of Theology at the University of Leuven. In the theological debate over Baianism, he adopted Molina’s doctrine of Middle Knowledge.

[3] Luis de Molina (1535-1600) was a Spanish Jesuit Priest and Theologian. The doctrine of Middle Knowledge is so closely associated with Molina that it is frequently called Molinism.

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