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Sunday, April 6, 2008

The Roman Catholic system of thought compared to Calvinism & Arminianism

A commenter from Australia once asked me what school of thought was Rome closer to in regards to Calvinism and Arminianism.

The Truth is Rome is not a monolith. She has many different schools of thought within herself. If I am wrong I'm sure a Roman Catholic will correct me.

But as far as I know she has four different schools of thought.

1.) The Augustinian school of thought:

The Augustinian school of thought has been diminished eversince the Protestants & Jansenists were weeded out of the Roman Communion.

Now she is a minority within the RC schools of thought.

2.) The Thomas Aquinas school of thought or Thomism:

The Thomistic school of thought is the official Roman Catholic system of thought. It is alot closer to Calvinism than Arminianism.......which is odd because Arminius did follow the thinking of Aquinas on alot of issues. Like Calvinism, it believes in irresistible grace, however, it prefers to use the term "Efficacious" grace instead. R.C. sproul....a Calvinist is accused of being Thomistic. I heard that there were some evengelicals that called themselves "Thomistic evangelicals".

3.) The Congruent school of thought:

The congruent school of thought is a hybrid or middle ground between Thomism and Molinism. If one thinks of the mainstream American Protestant hybrid of Arminianism and Calvinism...which is sometimes called "Calminianism.......then it is easier to understand what is going on with the Congruent school of thought. I don't know much else about this school I'm going to move on.

4.) The Molinistic school of thought:

Molina was asked by the Jesuits to teach their Society theology, and thus the theology of the Jesuits became Molinistic.
The Molinistic school of thought is opposed to Thomism in the same way Arminianism is opposed to Calvinism. Molinism is very similar to Arminianism. There is alot of overlap between the two schools of thought. There are some modern evangelicals that embrace Molinism. One of which is "William Lane Craig". Just like Arminianism, Molinism is accused by the Thomists of being semi-pelagian. The Molinists deny this charge and a possible rift or Roman Catholic schizm over this issue was stopped by a Pope. I forgot the Pope's name. But a type of truce was formed to stop the possible split. Molinism tends to be the most popular view in Roman Catholicism.

So I would say that #' 1 & 2 are closer to Calvinism while numbers 3 & 4 are closer to Arminianism. Well....I'm not really sure about # 3. but number 4 is most definately close to Arminianism.

And in the areas of grace. Rome has what is called "Actual grace" and "Sanctifying grace".

I may be wrong, but it seems as if Rome's ussage of "Actual grace" is similar to the way Arminians use the words "Prevenient grace".

And her ussage of the words "Sanctifying grace" is similar to the Arminian ussage of "Saving grace"......except for the nonAnglo-catholic(Anglican) Arminian, most other Arminians would see it as being "sacramentless".....void of sacraments.

I may be wrong, but it seems as if the Calvinist's ussage of saving grace is what Rome would call "Actual grace".....except the Calvinists would see it as "Saving" it would have the power of what Rome would call "Sanctifying", but it would be void of the sacraments.

In the Molinistic scheme of things....actual grace is seen as "sufficient" to make the person able to choose. Alot of Calvinists accuse Rome of not believing in "total inability" but she does believe it.
The only difference is she believes that "actual grace" enables a person to have the ability to choose.

So depending on what school of thought the Roman Catholic is in, will decide what "interpretation" or slant you will get from them in the area of "grace and free will".

A Roman Catholic that is a Molinist will sound alot like an Arminian.

While a Roman Catholic that is a Thomist will sound alot like a Calvinist.

a good molinist Roman catholic blog to go too that talks about some of these same issues is:



Godismyjudge said...


Thought I would comment on Congruism. Here's an exerpt from an article on Molinism about congruism:

The second dispute concerns the reason for the efficaciousness of the grace whereby God cooperates with supernaturally salvific acts of free choice. Suppose that in circumstances C, influenced by grace G, Peter freely elicits salvific act A. All Molinists agree that God places Peter in C with G knowing full well that Peter will freely elicit A; and they also agree that G is not intrinsically efficacious and hence does not causally predetermine A. However, there is strong disagreement about whether or not it is Peter's free consent alone that "extrinsically" renders G efficacious in C with respect to A.

One possible scenario is that God first resolves absolutely that Peter should freely elicit A in C and then, as it were, consults his middle knowledge to see just which particular graces would, if bestowed on Peter in C, obtain his free consent and thus issue in A. It follows that, given his antecedent resolution, God would have conferred some grace other than G if he had known by his middle knowledge that G would turn out to be "merely sufficient" with respect to A, i.e., that Peter would not freely consent to G in C. So G is rendered efficacious not only by Peter's free consent but also, and indeed more principally, by God's antecedent predetermination to confer a "congruous" grace that will guarantee Peter's acting well in C. This model, which brings Molinism more into line with Bañezianism, is known as Congruism and was worked out in detail by Robert Bellarmine and Francisco Suárez. In 1613 Congruism was mandated for all Jesuit theologians by the Father General Claude Aquiviva.

Freddoso on Molinism

The general idea is that God first unconditionally elects individuals then choses to put them in the circumstances and provide them with the grace that He knows, via middle knowledge, that they would accept His grace.

God be with you,

Jnorm said...


I guess Molinism is way more deterministic than I thought.


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