A theological theory chiefly attributed to F. suÁrez. It places the difference between sufficient and efficacious grace not only in the free consent of the human will but also in the suitability of the grace for the needs of the individual soul in specific circumstances. The precise point in question is the reconciliation of the movement of the soul by God with the inherent freedom of the soul. Confronted with the authentically Christian character of the Protestant emphasis on personalism in religion and the need for liberation from a legalistic ethos, leading thinkers of the Counter Reformation intensified their efforts on investigating the relationship between nature and supernature; such efforts have continued down to the present day.
Lutherans and Calvinists pinpointed the problem for Catholics by their assumption of an either/or attitude toward the structuring of a good act: either God performs the good act and then it is not human, or man performs it to the exclusion of divine participation. While all theologians in the Catholic tradition hold that God moves the will by grace, various schools have arisen in disputes over the origin of the movement of efficacious grace. Among those who regard it as extrinsic to the will are Molinists, congruists, congruists of the Sorbonne, and modern congruists. Bañezians and Augustinians opt for its intrinsicality.
Suárez, a proponent of mitigated realism, plotted his course by proposing an equilibrium of liberty between Scotist voluntarism and Thomist intellectualism. With almost pedestrian practicality, he argued that God has commanded man to do certain things; He has not simply commanded him to be able to do them. Thus, man must possess a faculty that has within itself the power to act. Here is the core of the Suarezian doctrine on the extrinsicality of grace. The advance from sufficiency to efficiency in the order of grace can come about only when exterior circumstances are such that they lead to fulfillment. The circumstances of God's offering, not the isolated quality of the gift He offers, cause the movement.
In the matter of the divine influence on the human will, Bellarmine with Suárez rejected the idea of physical premotion, postulating a scientia media, that is, fore-knowledge in God that includes not merely the possible and actual free determinations of man's faculty of choice. This middle knowledge deals with futuribles, free acts that man would perform in certain circumstances. Given appropriate conditions, they would exist. Bellarmine simply concretized Molina's original contribution on this point by recognizing the validity of a knowledge in God somewhere between that of simple intelligence and that of vision.
Not so Suárez. He opposed Molina by independently asserting that God foresees free futuribles in their formal truth. Where Molina showed God bestowing grace that He knows will attain its proper end, Suárez shifted the stress to God giving the grace because He knows it will be efficacious. This attitude of Suárez indicated the healthy, if heated, polemical atmosphere generated in the Congregationes de Auxiliis, where, in the course of debates, both Jesuits and Dominicans attacked Molinism. In 1613, C. Acquaviva as general of the Jesuits gave his support to Suarezianism as "more conformable to the teaching of Augustine and Thomas."
In the ensuing years, congruists of the Sorbonne tried to harmonize all previous theories by distinguishing between two kinds of efficacious grace. Syncretists, they designated gratia ab extrinseco efficax as apt for the realization of good works that are not too difficult. For the completing of a genuinely difficult good work, however, they posited a moral predetermination of the free will through gratia ab intrinseco efficax. Cooperation with the first will inevitably lead to the second. Despite its intricacies, this school of thought initiated by N. Ysambert, I. Habert, and H. de Tournely found an eloquent sponsor in St. Alphonsus Liguori.
Theoretically the congruists of the Sorbonne discarded the Suarezian version of scientia media; they continued to use it practically, however. Such modern congruists as F. Satolli and B. Lorenzelli reject it utterly, basing their type of congruism on the fact that God unites the state of sanctifying grace with the free exercise of the human will in order to elicit a salutary act. Unless man's power of choice concurs with the will of God, grace will remain inefficacious.
See Also: grace, efficacious; grace, sufficient; grace; grace, articles on; molinism; bÁÑez and baÑezianism; free will and grace.
Bibliography: h. quilliet, Dictionnaire de théologie catholique, ed. a. vacant et al. (Paris 1903–50) 3.1:1120–38. j. van der meersh, ibid. 6.2:1671–77. r. garrigou-lagrange, ibid. 12.2: 2962–3022. x. le bachelet, ibid. 2.1:595–599. p. dumont, ibid. 14.2:2672–91. j. brodrick, Life and Work of Bl. Robert Francis Cardinal Bellarmine, 2 v. (New York 1928) v. 2. r. garrigou-lagrange, Predestination, tr. b. rose (St. Louis 1939). t. mullaney, Suárez on Human Freedom (Baltimore, Md. 1950) 170–191. h. rondet, Gratia Christi (Paris 1948) 257–345.