Divine Causality and Human Free Choice

Domingo Báñez, Physical Premotion and the Controversy de Auxiliis Revisited


In Divine Causality and Human Free Choice, R.J. Matava explains the idea of physical premotion defended by Domingo Báñez, whose position in the Controversy de Auxiliis has been typically ignored in contemporary discussions of providence and freewill. Through a close engagement with untranslated primary texts, Matava shows Báñez’s relevance to recent debates about middle knowledge. Finding the mutual critiques of Báñez and Molina convincing, Matava argues that common presuppositions led both parties into an insoluble dilemma. However, Matava also challenges the informal consensus that Lonergan definitively resolved the controversy. Developing a position independently advanced by several recent scholars, Matava explains how the doctrine of creation entails a position that is more satisfactory both philosophically and as a reading of Aquinas.

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R.J. Matava, Ph. D. (2010), St. Andrews, is Assistant Professor of Theology at Christendom College. He was a research fellow at the Center for Medieval Philosophy, Georgetown University and the Liddon Fellow in Theology at Keble College, University of Oxford.
"Matava effectively shows how introducing the creative causality of God into the discussion of God’s action and human freedom can at once preserve divine transcendence, show that God is unlike creatures, and ground the doctrine of primary and secondary causality. He clearly reveals the fundamental mistakes of Bañez and Molina in the Controversy de Auxiliis. Matava also suggests how the issues surrounding the Controversy may have significant implications for fostering ecumenism, deepening Christian spirituality, addressing modern atheism, and understanding more general contemporary conundrums about causality. His work will be of great value not only for those concerned with the question of God and human freedom but for all who are interested in the nature of divine action."

Michael J. Dodds OP, Dominican School of Philosophy and Theology inAmerican Catholic Philosophical Quarterly Vol. 92 (2018), No. 4 pp. 714–717. (doi: 10.5840/acpq2018924163)

[The reader] “is masterfully guided through the “battlefield” of one of theology’s most exciting controversies. After reading this book, one better understands why the controversies on grace were the last time Catholic theology held the center stage in a worldwide intellectual debate.”
Ulrich L. Lehner, Marquette University. In: Theological Studies, Vol. 78, No. 3 (2017), p. 789.


1. Framing the question
2. The aim and scope of this study
3. Rationale
4. The form of this study

An Historical Introduction to the Controversy de Auxiliis
1. The first period: Open scholarly engagement (1582-1594)
2. The second period: Papal intervention and the Congregatio de Auxiliis (1594-1607)
3. Resurgences

Domingo Báñez on Divine Causality and Human Free Choice
1. Divine art: The idea of physical premotion
2. Báñez on free choice
3. Human freedom, physical premotion and sin
4. Conclusion

Domingo Báñez’s Critique of Molina
1. Molina’s teaching on free choice, divine causality and providence
2. A survey and condensation of Báñez’s critique of Molinism
3. Báñez’s critique of Molina’s doctrine of free choice and divine causality
4. Báñez’s critique of middle knowledge

Do the limitations of correspondence-type truth theories undermine the grounding objection?
1. The position of Trenton Merricks
2. Does Merricks’s position undercut the grounding objection?

Luis de Molina’s Critique of Báñez
1. The historical context of Molina’s condemnation of Báñez
2. The central issue of dispute: Báñez’s view on the efficacy of divine causality
3. Three problematic outworkings of Báñez’s view on the efficacy of divine causality
4. The root of the problem: God predetermines all human actions
5. Conclusion

Physical Premotion or Aristotelian Premotion? The Proposal of Bernard Lonergan
1. Lonergan’s critique of Báñez
2. Lonergan’s interpretation of Aquinas
3. A constructive critique of Lonergan’s interpretation
4. Conclusion

Creation, Causal Priority and Human Freedom: Revisiting Thomas Aquinas
1. The thesis that Aquinas understands God’s motion of the human will as an exercise of God’s creative causality
2. A textual argument for understanding God’s motion of the human will as an exercise of his creative causality
3. Aquinas on the status of God’s creative action: An exposition of ST I q. 45 a. 3
4. Conclusion

God Creates Human Free Choices: An Explanation and Defense
1. Literary origins of the view
2. What it means to say human acts of free choice are created by God
3. Five potential objections briefly considered
4. A Suarezian objection and counterproposal: Divine concurrence revisited
5. Conclusion



Academic libraries, institutes of medieval or early-modern scholasticism, anyone concerned with de Auxiliis, Báñez, Molina, Suárez, Aquinas, Lonergan, Molinism, predestination, grace, freedom, justification, merit, providence, creation, divine simplicity or causality.
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