BAIUS Michael—theologian, the founder of a non-orthodox theological trend called Baianism, b. 1513 in Melin (Belin), d. 1 September 1589 at Louvain.
From 1533 to 1535 he studied philosophy at Louvain and earned the degree of master of arts, and from 1536 to 1541 he studied theology. From 1541 to 1544 he held the post of rector of the college of Standonc, and from 1544 to 1550 he lectured philosophy at the University of Louvain. At the same time he worked on a licentiate (1545) and a doctorate (1550) in theology. From 1551 he was a professor of the exegesis of Sacred Scripture at the same university. With J. Hessels he opposed the use of the scholastic method in theology and rejected it as a lack of reliance on divine revelation. He wanted to construct theology based on the Sacred Scriptures and the teaching of the Fathers of the Church, and he relied especially on the theological doctrine of St. Augustine (as he did not know Greek, he passed over the eastern tradition). He wanted to purified Augustine’s theological doctrine of scholastic deformations and as a result he arrived at controversial results. Baius’ theological views evoked reservations among Franciscan theologians. As a result 18 of Baius’s theses drawn from the notes of his listeners were condemned by the Sorbonne of Paris on the 27th of June, 1560. Baius’s reply led to his condemnation by the Apostolic See, but Pope Pius IV prohibited the holding of disputes. He was invited along with Hessels in 1563 to the Council of Trent and helped to edit the Roman Catechism. After returning to Louvain, from 1563 to 1566 he wrote works including De libero arbitrio. The University of Salamanca and of Alcalá de Henares condemned this work in 1564 at the recommendation of King Philip. In those year Baius formulated his basic theses. In 1566 the University of Alcalá condemned forty statements of Baius. Then all his writings were investigated by the Apostolic See, and on October 1, 1567, Pope Pius V in the bull Ex omnibus afflictionibus condemned 76 propositions of Baius (among 200 selected by the papal commission), holding them to be opposed to the traditional teaching of the Church. The theses did not belong exclusively to Baius, but the papal bull mentions no other names. The bull contributed to disputes, especially contra pianum, which continued through the whole history of Jansenism. Those opposed to Baius’s doctrines thought that the bull recognized some of his propositions as correct, but that in the meaning intended by their author they must be rejected, while Baius and his followers gave them a false meaning. Baius appealed to the authority of St. Augustine and sent to Rome a writing in his defence, but on the 13th of April, 1569, Pius V reconfirmed the previous condemnation. The followers of Baius’s teachings (in 1575 he become the Chanceller of the University of Louvain) spread the rumor that Pius V’s bull had been falsified. From 1577 Baius led theological discussions on the Eucharist and the Church with Philip Marnix, a follower of Calvin. On January 28, 1580, the bishops of the Netherlands obtained the bull Provisionis nostrae from Pope Gregory XIII, which affirmed the condemnation of Pius V. On March 3, 1580, the bull was made public at the University of Louvain, and on March 24 Baius renounced his errors and signed a confession of faith. In 1587 he entered into theological disputes on the efficacy of divine grace and predestination, in which he represented the views of St. Augustine. In the final years of his university work Baius held discussions with the Louvain Jesuits, especially with Lessius. Baius died reconciled with the Church.
Baius’ writings from 1563 to 1566: De iustitia et iustificatione; De sacrificio; De meritis; De prima hominis iustitia; De virtutibus impiorum; De sacramentis; De baptismo; De peccato originis; De charitate; De indulgentiis; De oratione pro defunctis; De libero arbitrio (ed. under the title Michaelis B. Opera, Kö 1969).
Baianism, the theological direction started in Louvain by Baius, supports biblical doctrine as conceived by St. Augustine and is opposed to the scholastic distinction between nature and grace. In time the disputes about grace were taken up in other theological schools beyond the Louvain. Baianism arose from an attempt to reconcile the Protestant doctrine about grace with Augustinianism and Jansenism, which looked to Augustinianism. Baianism had a great influence on further theological discussions.
Baianism appropriated Plotinus’ concept of freedom. Freedom is not free choice, which is impossible after sin, but consists in spontaneous subordination to God. Free choice may refer only to morally neutral values, and therefore desire or lust, which Baianism understands as an internal determination to evil, even though it is not fully voluntary as it is rooted in the present state of human nature, has the character of a fault and man bears responsibility for it.
In his teaching concerning freedom of the will, Baius distinguishes two forms: necessary freedom and servile freedom. Necessary freedom occurs when he who desires a thing is equally capable of not wanting it. This freedom refers only to biological goods (eating, drinking, cultivating land, etc.), but not to moral goods. By slavery Baius understands an undesired necessity and a depraved inclination of the will from which man cannot free himself. Before sin he was free and so he was able to fall into the slavery of sin.
In connection with his doctrine of human freedom, Baius in De charitate presented a doctrine of human love and man’s justification. Love in a rational nature is either vitiosa cupiditas directed to the world and as such was condemned by St. John, or laudabilis caritas with which we love God. By Christ’s salvific action man can be rejustified, can do good things, and merit eternal life. The gifts man receives by the merits of Christ belong to man only by grace.
Baius states that for a correct concept of justification we must establish the nature of justice. This can only be done on the base of the concept of perfect love. Justice in essence is identical to love, or it is something internally connected with love so that neither can exist without the other. He conceives this love as a motus animae. Whether we must still accept habitual love is a further question. This love is infused by the Holy Spirit and is preceded by the forgiveness of sins, and it begins when God changed man’s evil will to good will. Henceforth it gradually increases to ever greater perfection.
Justice consists in following commands, while love is the fulfillment of the law. For fallen man, a sinner, justice also means the forgiveness of sins, as justice contains two parts: the forgiveness of sins and the renewal of life, i.e., the performance of the acts of the virtues. In its proper meaning, justice is obedience to law. The forgiveness of sins is called justice only in an improper sense, insofar as it removes an obstacle to eternal life. Because the sinner possesses love already before the forgiveness of his sins, he already possesses justice in a certain way, but until he attains a definite degree of justice he cannot unreservedly be called iustus. Thus justice is a continual process consisting in the performance of the acts of the virtues and the forgiveness of sins.
F. X. Jansen, Baius et baianisme; H. de Lubac, Deux augustiniens fourvoyes. Baius et Jansenius, RSR 21 (1931), 422–443, 513–540; M. le Bachelet, DThC II 38–111; M. Grabmann, Geschichte der katholischen Theologie seit dem Ausgang der Vaeterzeit, Fr 1933; F. Litt, La question des rapports entre la nature et la grâce de Baius au Synode de Pistoie, Fontaine-l’Evêque 1934; J. Grisar, Die Universität Loewen zur Zeit der Gesandschaft des P. F. Toletus (1580), Lv 1946, II 941–968; M. Roca, Documentos inéditos en torno a Michael Baius, Anual de la Iglesia Nacional Española I (1953), 303–476; E. van Eljil, Les censures des universités d’Alcalá et de Salamanque et la censure du pape Pie V contre Michael Baius, 1565–1567, RHE 48 (1953), 719–776; F. Clayes Bouwaert, La soumission de Michael Baius, fut-elle sincère, Ephemerides theologicae lovanienses 30 (1954), 457–464; E. Boissard, Note sur le sens “proper et rigoureux” de certaines propositions de Baius, RevSR 36 (1962), 140–153; A. Kaiser, Natur und Gnade im Urstand. Die Kontroverse zwischen Baius und Johannes Martinez de Ripalda, Mn 1965; V. Grossi, Due interpreti di san Agostino nella questione del soprannaturale. Michael Baius—Roberto Bellarmino, Augustinianum 6 (1966), 203–226, 424–459; G. Colombo, Bellarmino contra Baius sulla questione del soprannaturale, Scuola cattolica 95 (1967), 307–338; V. Grossi, L’antropologia di Baius. La ratio meriti della vita eterna, Augustinianum 7 (1967), 26–63; idem, Peccato e grazia nell’antropologia di Baius, ibidem 8 (1968), 69–113; W. Eborowicz, Baius o sprawiedliwości Bożej [Baius on divine justice], in: W służbie Ludu Bożego diecezji chelmińskiej [In service of the People of God of Chelm diocese], Pi 1973, 61–67; J. L. Illianes, J. I. Saranyana, Historia de la teologia, Ma 19962 (Historia teologii [History of theology], Kr 1997).