Grace, Predestination, and the Permission of Sin seeks to analyze a revisionist movement within Thomism in the 20th century over and against the traditional or classical Thomistic commentatorial treatment of physical premotion, grace, and the permission of sin, especially as these relate to the mysteries of predestination and reprobation.
The over-arching critique leveled by the revisionists against the classic treatment is that Bañezian scholasticism had disregarded the dissymmetry between the line of good (God's causation of salutary acts) and the line of evil (God's permission of defect and sin).
The teaching of St. Thomas is explored via intimate consideration of his texts. The thought of St. Thomas is then compared with the work of Domingo Bañez and the foremost 'Bañezian' of the 20th century, Reginald Garrigou-Lagrange.
The work then shifts to a consideration of the major players of the revisionist treatment, including Francisco Marín-Sola, Jacques Maritain, and Bernard Lonergan. Jean-Herve Nicolas is also taken up as one who had held both accounts during his lifetime.
The work analyzes and critiques the revisionist theories according to the fundamental tenets of the classical account. Upon final analysis, it seeks to show that the classical account sufficiently distances God's causal role in regard to free salutary acts and His non-causal role in regard to free sinful acts. Moreover, the revisionist account presents significant metaphysical problems and challenges major tenets of classical theism, such as the divine omnipotence, simplicity, and the exhaustive nature of divine providence.
Finally, the implications of the traditional view are considered in light of the spiritual life. It is argued that the classical account is the only one which provides an adequate theological foundation for the Church's robust mystical and spiritual tradition, and in particular, the abandonment to divine providence.
"No previous work has so admirably integrated so many major figures in a treatise that does not shrink before the complexity of their historical and speculative particularities. This book will be a required acquisition for all college and university libraries, and students of the history of theology in the twentieth century will find it invaluable."~Romanus Cessario, OP, St. John's Seminary, Brighton, MA
"If God accounts for there being something rather than nothing, what is God’s causal relation to the ways in which we choose to behave? Does God compel us to act as we do? Can God stand back and allow us to go our own way independently of his creative activity? O’Neill notes how Thomas Aquinas and some of his readers have answered these questions. He also offers answers of his own. His book is an excellent introduction to a longstanding debate and should be of particular interest to anyone concerned with the philosophy and theology of Aquinas."~Brian Davies, Fordham University
"Taylor O’Neill’s work splendidly articulates the teaching of St. Thomas Aquinas and corrects misreadings of the antecedent Thomistic commentatorial tradition. Grace, Predestination, and the Permission of Sin shows why and how the revisionist approaches undertaken by authors such as Marín Sola, Maritain, and Lonergan, fall short of the splendor and profundity of St. Thomas’s synthesis. O’Neill’s work constitutes a remarkable achievement and marks a new epoch in the engagement with Thomas’s vision of sacra doctrina."~Steven Long, Ordinary member, Pontifical Academy of St. Thomas Aquinas
"A wonderfully detailed account of a fascinating debate within historic and more recent Thomism.... O’Neill’s account should be of interest to Catholic and Reformed theologians and has a wealth of detail and careful thinking. We should look forward to further studies of comparable care and detail from an exceptional exegete of classic Thomistic concepts."~Reviews in Religion and Theology
"Readable and stimulating, ultimately focused on explicating theological truth, and not shying away from theoretical arguments. It is a work of scholarship and research, well organized and thought through, with ample footnotes and quotations. Grace, Predestination, and the Permission of Sin is a vigorous and intelligent treatment of a perplexing mystery of faith."~American Catholic Philosophical Quarterly