Báñez and Bañezianism

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Domingo Báñez (originally Bañes or Vañez) was a Spanish Dominican theologian of major stature. The son of Juan Báñez of Mondragon, he was born on Feb. 29, 1528, in Valladolid. He moved with his family to Medina del Campo, at an early age, in what was then Old Castile and died there on Oct. 22, 1604. He began his studies in the arts and philosophy at Salamanca at the age of 15; and there, three years later, in the spring of 1546, he received the Dominican habit at San Esteban's, where, on May 3, 1547, he made his religious profession. He studied under such renowned theologians as Bartolomé de Medina and Melchior Cano at Salamanca; was for a time master of students and began his teaching career under Domingo de Soto as prior and regent. From 1561 to 1566 Báñez taught at Avila; in 1567 he occupied the chair of theology at Alcalá. He returned to Salamanca during 157273 and was regent of San Gregorio's at Valladolid from 1573 until 1577. When De Medina advanced to chief professorship, he assumed the so-called Durandus chair of theology at Salamanca from 1577 to 1580; on De Medina's death in 1580, Báñez was appointed his successor, a position he held for 20 years.

Relationship with St. Teresa of Avila. Of major significance in the life of Báñez is the influence he exerted upon St. teresa of avila. He first came in contact with her in 1562, and thenceforward, until her death in 1582, he served as her confessor and spiritual director. How meaningful this relationship was, St. Teresa suggests in her own words, saying of Báñez that " it is with him that she has held, and still holds, the most frequent communication" [The Spiritual Relations 4, in The Complete Works of St. Teresa of Avila, 3 v., tr. E. A. Peers (New York 1946) 1:323324]. Even before actually meeting the saint, Báñez alone defended her first reform foundation, that of San José in Avila, when civil and ecclesiastical authorities had summoned a junta, which was on the verge of recommending dissolution of the new convent. Teresa herself writes, "There was only one of them, a Presentado of the Order of St. Dominic, who was not opposed to the convent, though he objected to its poverty: he said that there was no reason for dissolving it" (Life of the Holy Mother Teresa of Jesus by Herself, in op. cit. 1:254). Báñez's own words are quoted from the Cronica carmelitana by F. Martin, OP [Santa Teresa y la Orden de Predicadores (Ávila 1909) 2752771].

Nearly all the correspondence between them has been lost; only four letters of the saint to Báñez and one of his letters to her are extant. He did carefully read over her Vida, or autobiography; and when years after its completion it was denounced to the Holy Office in Madrid in 1574, Báñez sent his own copy to the Holy Office with a vigorous vindication appended to the blank pages at the end of the volume, which judgment the Holy Office made its own. It was also at Báñez's suggestion that the saint wrote her Way of Perfection. He also gave deposition to the preparatory commission for Teresa's canonization. This holy association most probably accounts for a Thomistic cast of mind that underlies her spirituality. At any rate, Báñez did discern the work of God in her in spite of her exaggerated accounts of her own sins and his own acknowledged suspicions concerning her mystical visions and locutions. The image of him that emerges from St. Teresa's writings is of a learned man who was at the same time discreet and judicious, inclined to be firm and unbending with her and counseling above all patience and charity toward those who persecuted her.

Disputes on grace. The late 15th and the 16th centuries saw a revival of scholasticism, especially in Spain, where Renaissance culture and the religious ferment of the Reformation were not strongly felt. The revival was dominated for the most part by illustrious Dominican theologians such as F. de Vitoria, M. Cano, D. de Soto, B. de Medina and finally Báñez. It received further impetus from the Council of Trent, summoned in 1545. In 1540 the Society of Jesus was founded, and after officially adopting the theological system of St. Thomas, the society soon entered into the academic life of the period. The first phase of an unrivaled theological controversy occurred in Salamanca in 1582. In a public disputation conducted by the Mercederian priest Francisco Zumel, Prudentius Montemayor, a Jesuit, defended the proposition that Christ, acting in obedience to His Father's command, died neither freely nor meritoriously. Supporting him on this was an Augustinian, Louis of León. This occasioned a strong reaction from the faculty at Salamanca, in particular from Báñez. Further debate resulted, culminating in the matter's being brought before the Inquisition, where on Feb. 3, 1584, judgment was pronounced against Montemayor and León. By this time the area of disagreement had broadened and 16 distinct propositions were condemned, among which were the following:

6. "God is not the cause of the free operation but only causes the cause to be."

9. "The providence of God does not determine the human will or any other particular cause to operate well, but rather the particular cause determines the act of divine providence."

13. "The impious man in his justification determines the sufficient help of God to actual use by his own will."

The second phase of the controversy occurred in 1588 with the publication in Lisbon of the first edition of the Concordia liberi arbitrii cum gratiae donis, divina praescientia, providentia, praedestinatione et reprobatione of Luis de molina, SJ. The Inquisitor General of Portugal, Cardinal Albert of Austria, withheld distribution of the book pending the theological evaluation of Báñez, whom he had appointed as censor. It was the latter's opinion that Molina was giving restatement to six of the already condemned propositions of the pre Molinists. Presented with these objections, Molina wrote a defense of himself and in August 1589 the Concordia was given an imprimatur and published with the defense as an appendix. The resulting agitations grew to alarming proportions, especially in the public debates between the Jesuits and Dominicans in March and May of 1594 in Valladolid, until in August of that year the papal nuncio at Madrid imposed silence on the disputants and related the matter to Rome. Molina sought to defend himself by denouncing Báñez to the Inquisition at Castile. Báñez replied with the publication in 1595 of Apologia fratrum praedicatorum in provincia hispaniae sacrae theologiae professorum, adversus novas quasdam assertions cuiusdam doctoris Ludovici Molinae nuncupati, in joint authorship with P. Herrera and D. A1varez, both Dominicans. This was followed by the Libellus supplex in October of 1597, a letter (for text see De Meyer) addressed by Báñez to Pope Clement VIII seeking dissolution of the silence imposed in 1594. Cardinal C. Madruzzi writing on behalf of the pope to the nuncio granted this in a letter in February of 1598. Báñez's active participation ceased at this point; the congregatio de auxiliis, begun in Rome in 1598, extended over two pontificates until 1607, three years after Báñez's death. It failed to resolve the dispute, choosing not to define either position as the true doctrine of the Church and granting each side freedom to teach in accord with its own interpretation.

The charge of Bañezianism. Molina's central doctrinal assertion was that God's graces are rendered efficacious (see grace, efficacious) by the actual consent of the human will. God's infallible foreknowledge is safeguarded by recourse to a hypothesis, admittedly original with himself, namely, that there is in God a scienti media, or intermediate knowledge, whereby God fore-knows what every man will choose in varying circumstances, before the will determines itself and independently of any divine predetermination. Primary among the conclusions flowing from this is that God predestines those whom He foresees as consenting to His grace.

Báñez took immediate exception to this, seeing therein a rejection of the traditional teaching, founded in St. Augustine and St. Thomas, wherein grace is intrinsically efficacious as itself effecting the will's free consent, so that predestination is ultimately gratuitous rather than dependent upon foreseen merits. [see predestination (in catholic theology)].

Historically, the countercharge was made that Báñez himself was an innovator; that such concepts as physical premotion, intrinsically efficacious grace and predestination completely apart from foreseen merits represent but one interpretation of St. Thomas; and that such Thomism is in reality Bañezianism [cf, G. Schneemann, SJ, Controversiarum de divinae gratiae liberique arbitrii concordia initia et progressus (Freiburg 1881) and t. de rÉgnon, SJ, Báñez et Molina (Paris 1883)]. This allegation has been rigorously refuted [cf. A. M. Dummermuth, OP, Defensio doctrinae s. Thomae (Louvain and Paris, 1895) and Cardinal T. Zigliara, OP, Summa philosophica (Paris 1898) 2:525]. The attribution to Báñez even among authors of the Molinist school is by no means universal;F. Suárez points rather to De Medina as the author of physical premotion (De auxiliis 7.2; Vivès 11:183), even at one point assigning the doctrine to St. Thomas (De concursu Dei cum voluntate 11.6; Vivès 11:50); Victor Frins, SJ, in his reply to Dummermuth traces the teaching back to F. de Vitoria.

With the waning of the controversy, there seems little doubt on the point of Báñez's fidelity to St. Thomas. His own intentions were very clear as is evident from his autobiographical prologue to his commentary on the Prima pars. The judgment of Cardinal Madruzzi corroborates this: "His teaching seems to be deduced from the principles of St. Thomas and to flow wholly from St. Thomas's doctrine, though he differs somewhat in his mode of speaking" (J. H. Serry, appendix 89). The equivalent of what he taught can be found in St. Thomas, as, for example, the intrinsic efficacy of grace (De ver. 6.2 ad 11). The very difficulties raised by the Molinist position and the new doctrines of the reformers, as well as Báñez's polemical intentions, account for the variations in language. Contemporary Thomistic thought does tend to mitigate somewhat the rigidity of his vocabulary [for example, F. Marín-Sola, OP, Concordia tomista entre la mocion divina y la libertad creada, 3 v. (Salamanca 1958) and F. P. Muñiz, OP, "Es posible una predestinación gratuita post praevisa merita?" La ciencia tomista, 73 (1947) 105115], but this is a matter of emphasis and development, not rejection. Doctrinally, he stands in the main stream of Thomism linked both to his predecessors and to his successors.

Viewed from the vantage point of 400 years of history, two reflections suggest themselves: (1) that the disputes were excessively negative and partisan, perhaps hindering intellectual effort of a more positive nature; and (2) that, on the other hand, questions of great import and urgency were raised that had to be dealt with and that were profoundly clarified, if not resolved.

Báñez's writings. Báñez's depth and clarity earn him a deserved place in the forefront of St. Thomas's great commentators, a reputation that rests largely upon the following works. Scholastic commentaries: ln lam Partem divi Thomae, qq. 164 (Salamanca 1584); qq. 65119 (1588); In 2am2ae Partem, qq. 146 (1584); qq. 47189 (1594). The following commentaries have been newly translated by V. Beltrán de Heredia, OP: In lam2ae PartemDe fine ultimo et de actibus humanis, De vitiis et peccatis, De gratia (Salamanca 194248); In 3am Partem De Verbo incarnato, De sacramentis (Salamanca 195153). Other works: Relectio de merito et augmento caritatis (Salamanca 1590); Institutiones minoris dialecticae (Salamanca 1599); Comment, in Libros de generatione et corruptione (Salamanca 1585).

See Also: congruism; free will and grace; free will and providence; futurible; grace, articles on; grace, controversies on; molinism; omniscience; perseverance, final; predefinition; reprobation, will of god.

Bibliography: p. mandonnet, Dictionnaire de théologie catholique, ed. a. vacant et al., 15 v. (Paris 190350) 2.1:140145. a. duval, Catholicisme, 1:120204. c. velecky, A Catholic Dictionary of Theology (London 1962) 1:227228. l. de meyer, Historia controversiarum de divinae gratiae auxiliis (Venice 1742). n. del prado, De gratia et libero arbitrio, 3 v. (Fribourg 1907). r. garrigou-lagrange, God: His Existence and His Nature, tr., b. rose, 2 v. (St. Louis 193436), see app. t. de lemos, Panoplia gratiae, 4 v. in 2 (Liège 1676). m. lÉpÉe, Báñez et Ste. Thérèse (Paris 1947). j. quÉtif and j. Échard, Scriptores Ordinis Praedicatorum, 5 v. (Paris 171923) 2.1:352353. j. h. serry, Historia congregationum de auxiliis divinae gratiae (Venice 1740). d. bÁÑez, Scholastica commentaria in primam partem (Madrid 1934), prologue to 4 v. ed. of l. urbano. v. beltrÁn de heredia, Lexikon für Theologie und Kirche, ed. j. hofer and k. rahner, 10v. (2d, new ed. Freiburg 195765) 1:121920; in La ciencia tomista, 2528 (192223); 3739 (192829); 47 (1933).

[w. j. hill]