Discussion in 'Calvinism & The Doctrines of Grace' started by Dan Dufek, Jan 4, 2006.

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  1. Saiph

    Saiph Puritan Board Junior

    Dan, it boils down to whether the decree to elect and reprobate came before (supra), or after (infra), the decree to ordain the fall. (logically as opposed to temporally)

    Since Paul refers to "vessels created for destruction", I take it to imply that God has no obligation to save anyone, fall or not. Therefore the fall is a logical way to introduce the plan of redemtion through history.

    But on the infra side, election seems to me like God is logically responding to the fall, as if it was an afterthought.

    [Edited on 1-5-2006 by Saiph]
  2. fredtgreco

    fredtgreco Vanilla Westminsterian Staff Member


    You could start by running a search on supralapsarian(ism) or infralapsarianism, and you would see that this is not a new topic. That does not mean that there can be no new discussions of items - quite the contrary.

    What has been unique about your raising of the issue is that you do not come within a country mile of describing the differences between supralapsarians and infralapsarians (or either position) accurately. To suggest that infralapsarians are "basically Arminian" is laughable at best. Calvin an Arminian? Owen? Thomas Boston? Dozens of Puritans? Virtually all of Princeton? Machen? Come on.

    Instead of entering into serious discussion, you through out conclusiary statements, and conclusions that no reputable theology would give the time of day:

    I thought that it was infralapsarians who penned "This effectual call is of God's free and special grace alone, not from anything at all foreseen in man"

    Well, I guess if you count chronology instead of theology (Calvin being dead). But there sure were a ton of infralapsarians at Dordt.

    Well, the difference is that between Biblical Calvinism and Arminianism. But since you see 95% of Calvinists (including Calvin) as being "almost" or "basically" Arminian, I guess you could say that. But anyone else examining the issue would not.

    See WCF 6

    So does every infra.

    So far, I have seen no interest on your part in dialog, which requires at least an understanding of the opponent's position, or at least a willingness not to have falsehood shoved down his throat.
  3. Jeff_Bartel

    Jeff_Bartel Puritan Board Graduate


    I would highly recommend Robert Reymond's treatment of the Supra/Infra discussion in his systematic.

    The modified supra position is the only way to go In my humble opinion.
  4. Me Died Blue

    Me Died Blue Puritan Board Post-Graduate

    Fred already answered most of your questions better than I could, but I'll answer the one you directed at me as well as your first statement that I think reveals confusion at the most basic heart of the issue, and thus could most likely (and hopefully) lead to a better understanding, and thus mutual discussion, if clarified.

    The infra position has always held that the Fall was actively and sovereignly (rather than passively or based on mere foreknowledge) ordained. It simply sees the election of men to life and death as ontologically (meaning in a logical sense rather than a temporal one) happening after or in light of that ordination, so that death is never planned except as the consequence of sin, even though the ordination of the latter was just as active and sovereign in God's mind as was the former.

    It does justice to the biblical place of sin because sin is the biblical cause of death (Rom. 6:23), but the supra position essentially switches that around, making sin no more than the necessary means or vehicle for God to carry out His already-existing purpose of death. So technically you could say the supra position does in a sense fulfill Romans 6:23 - since it still makes sin the means to death - but not without a significant stretch, for it says, "The wages of sin is death," not "The chosen vehicle for bringing about death will be...sin." Thus, in putting death and condemnation in their proper places in relation to sin, the infra position does justice to God's justice because He does not arbitrarily assign death apart from sin.

    This is also why you will hear people speak of the Westminster Confession as implicitly infra: In section III.V, with my emphasis, "Those of mankind that are predestinated unto life, God, before the foundation of the world was laid, according to his eternal and immutable purpose, and the secret counsel and good pleasure of his will, hath chosen in Christ, unto everlasting glory, out of his free grace and love alone, without any foresight of faith or good works, or perseverance in either of them, or any other thing in the creature, as conditions, or causes moving him thereunto; and all to the praise of his glorious grace." Here the Divines stated that God's sovereign, pre-temporal election of some people to glory was done out of his free grace, and we know that while men may be loved apart from already being in sin, men cannot be shown grace apart from already being in sin (unless of course we take the path of the Federal Vision crowd in speaking of grace apart from sin, thus distorting the Covenant of Works and thus Christ's meritorious work). Thus, since God's eternal election of some to glory was done out of grace, it must have been done in light of their already-decreed state of sin.

    Likewise, in secton VII of the same chapter, men's ordination to dishonor and wrath is never spoken of apart from their sin.
  5. Me Died Blue

    Me Died Blue Puritan Board Post-Graduate


    Of course God had no obligation to save anyone before or after He ordained the Fall - but before He ordained the Fall, what He also did not have was a reason to condemn anyone. Would you really tell an unbeliever who asked why in his current state he is on his way to hell that it was not ultimately because of his sin?

    But remember that infralapsarians understand the Fall to be actively and sovereignly ordained by God alone just as much as supralapsarians. But on the supra side, sin seems to me like God is logically responding to His desire for death, as if sin was a mere afterthought to that desire - as opposed to the most natural reading of Romans 6:23 as well as Westminster's chapter on election, particularly in light of it being done in grace, and grace being impossible without sin, as I discussed above.
  6. Saiph

    Saiph Puritan Board Junior

    Chris, was Job being punished ? Yet it pleased God to cause him to suffer for some higher purpose. Now, of course, in a sublapsarian state we are under condemnation.
  7. Me Died Blue

    Me Died Blue Puritan Board Post-Graduate

    I would say your last sentence essentially holds the answer to your question. God using suffering and death in an already-fallen, sublapsarian world to accomplish secondary purposes along the way in addition to its ultimate purpose of judgment on sin is quite a different thing from death and condemnation existing without any notion of this thing called sin or its existence at all.
  8. Saiph

    Saiph Puritan Board Junior

    Romans implies to me that God could create a vessel for destruction, without disclosing to us the reason, and we would have no right to question it.
  9. Me Died Blue

    Me Died Blue Puritan Board Post-Graduate

    But the more relevant question is whether or not He has in fact disclosed it in any sense - which infralapsarians would answer in the affirmative, especially because of Romans 6:23 and God's election of us to glory being done in grace.
  10. ChristopherPaul

    ChristopherPaul Puritan Board Senior


    Reymond convinced me.
  11. Saiph

    Saiph Puritan Board Junior

    So what is the modified
    supra position ?
  12. Jeff_Bartel

    Jeff_Bartel Puritan Board Graduate

    A post of mine from the previous thread (listed by Fred above):

  13. fredtgreco

    fredtgreco Vanilla Westminsterian Staff Member

    As I said before, Reymond's "modification" makes no sense at all, unless it is viewed as infra. How can one elect men who are sinful, without sin in view? The decree to permit the Fall is #4, logically consequent to the decree to elect. It is logically impossible then, to view men as "sinful," because there has been no sin.

    It might make some of you more comfortable - but Reymond is logically inconsistent to the point of incoherency here. I think that the classic supra scheme has much more validity. (And I think that the supra scheme has a great deal of respected adherents). Why I would want to abandon that for mish-mash is beyond me.
  14. Puritan Sailor

    Puritan Sailor Puritan Board Doctor

    This is the point which convinced me to abandon supra for infra. God cannot justly condemn someone without sin. The Scriptures are clear that His wrath is a holy response to sin. Sin is a violation of His law. If reprobation occurs logically before the fall, then God has condemned holy creatures to hell. With the infra scheme, God's soveriegn choice from sinful humanity is in complete harmony with His just wrath against sin or free grace in Christ. There can be no wrath logically before the Fall against men.
  15. Jeff_Bartel

    Jeff_Bartel Puritan Board Graduate


    Have you read Reymond for yourself?
  16. fredtgreco

    fredtgreco Vanilla Westminsterian Staff Member

    I have, and I am completely unconvinced by his arguments.

    Here is the problem for me: Reymond has a couple of odd views (this one, Eternal Sonship being two), but the vast bulk of his Systematic is extremely good, very helpful and a welcome modern edition.

    I have to say that I am a bit annoyed with myself for always seeming to be so critical of Reymond because of these points that always come up. I find him usually careful and good and would recommend his Systematic with those cautions.
  17. Saiph

    Saiph Puritan Board Junior

  18. Saiph

    Saiph Puritan Board Junior

    hmmm.. . . . very good.

    I must admit, this idea makes my view of supra questionable, and God out to be a transcendent Vlad Tepes who would make human torches to light His table feast for mere utility, and not reserve wrath for just condemnation.
  19. Puritan Sailor

    Puritan Sailor Puritan Board Doctor

    Actually I must give credit to Fred for my "conversion." His simple question "reprobated to what?" forced me to change.

    [Edited on 1-6-2006 by puritansailor]
  20. Jeff_Bartel

    Jeff_Bartel Puritan Board Graduate

    I typed out a portion of Robert Reymond\'s treatment for this thread:

  21. Jeff_Bartel

    Jeff_Bartel Puritan Board Graduate


    I agree with your cautions for Reymond. However, I believe he is right on with his view of supra.

    Interestingly enough, he states that others in history have adopted this modified view:

    Jermoe Zanchius (possibly)
    Johannes Piscator
    Herman Hoeksema
    Gordon H. Clark

    I wouldn't generally put too much stock in material from Hoeksema, but he wasn't all bad!

    Good discussion all. :handshake:
  22. Saiph

    Saiph Puritan Board Junior


    Temporally, God did not create anything evil, He created all things Good, and ordained the fall. So, now that I have thought about this more, why would that order be different logically ?

    If He purposed to create sinful men first, regardless of the fall, then that is condemnation before and without disobedience to His law. All the reprobate are indeed human torches to light His feast. And the fall seems like God is covering His tracks to make it seem excusable to us . .. .

    Even Satan was created good.

    I am seriously considering Infra now unless you can answer this.

    [Edited on 1-6-2006 by Saiph]
  23. Jeff_Bartel

    Jeff_Bartel Puritan Board Graduate

    It seems (correct me if I'm wrong) that you are confusing decree with creation here. God did not ordaing the fall after he created, he ordained them both before the foundation of the world.

    In the supra/infra debate, we must be extremely careful to remain the the "decree" and not confuse the execution of that decree.

    Because a logical mind plans in a strictly logical fashion. We must be able to place a purpose behind the end, a reason for the madness (so to speak).

    If we were to do this with the infra scheme, it would look something like this:

    to create;
    but in order to do that, God must
    to permit the fall;
    but in order to do that, God must
    elect to eternal life and blessedness a great multitude out of this mass of fallen men, and to leave the others, as He left the Devil and the fallen angels, to suffer the just punishment of their sins;
    but in order to do that, God must
    to give His Son, Jesus Christ, for the redemption of the elect;
    but in order to do that, God must
    to send the Holy Spirit to apply to the elect the redemption which was purchased by Christ.

    There seems to be no logical fashion for why God creates in this scheme, a topic the Bible is very clear on.

    This is a valid critique of the original version of supralapsarianism, but not the modified version as supported by Clark, Hoeksema, and Reymond. Again, the modified version looks like this:

    1: The election of some sinful men to salvation in Christ (and the reprobation of the rest of sinful mankind in order to make known the riches of God gracious mercy to the elect)
    2: The Decree to apply Christ's redemptive benefits to the elect sinners
    3: The decree to redeem the elect sinners by the cross work of Christ
    4: The decree that men should fall
    5: The decree to create the world and men.

    Again, we cannot view this in time (which I think the old supra form is guilty of), but STRICTLY a logical form. God's thoughts are not chronological, they are ONLY logical. To put God's plan in a chronological form destroys God's immutability.

    A logical form is based upon "In order to do that, I must do this, and in order to do that, I must do this...and on and on" Only when we use this method do we take the decree of God out of a chronological order and place it in the logical order.

    I understand your concerns, but I truely believe that all of the infralapsarians critiques are answered in the modified supra form, not to mention that it does something that both supralapsarians and infralapsarians all admit needs to be done, and that is look at the decree of Godwithout respect to chronology, but only logically.

    Reymond also gives some devestating critiques of the infra form, but I have already spent a good deal of time typing out the previous section from his systematic.

    Before changing views, I would recommend reading his treatment, and others. I have read most treatments I can get my hands on, and still think that the modified version is the only one that stands up to scrutiny.

    As a side note, I long to purchase
    Twisse, William. The Riches of God´s Love unto the Vessells of Mercy, Consistent with His Absolute Hatred or Reprobation of the Vessells of Wrath. 1653. 2 vols: 300, 262 large pp. Moderator of the Westminster Assembly. The largest presentation of Supralapsarianism. 1748. $75.

    It is available form Curt Daniel's bookstore called Scholarly Reprints.
  24. Puritan Sailor

    Puritan Sailor Puritan Board Doctor

    How can you logically have condemnation and wrath before sin?
  25. fredtgreco

    fredtgreco Vanilla Westminsterian Staff Member

    How can you logically have sin and sinners before the Fall is even contemplated/decreed?

    Answer: you can't!

    Before God decreed the Fall, the concept of sin was not even in existence.

    [Edited on 1/6/2006 by fredtgreco]
  26. VanVos

    VanVos Puritan Board Sophomore

    Hmmm I think Jeff is right at this point. We mustn't confuse how God works out His purposes *in time* with His decrees of *eternity past*. In other words when looking at this issue from the perspective of time we have infra. But looking at God's decrees before time we have supra. That why I opt for revised supra. God decrees all that will come to pass for the purpose of His self-glorfication. This included the plan of sin occuring *in time* so that His mercy and grace could be revealed through His Son.

  27. Puritan Sailor

    Puritan Sailor Puritan Board Doctor

    I'm not refering to time at all but logical order. Logically, you cannot have condemnation/wrath before sin. It's completely contrary to the holy nature of God. And as Fred pointed out, sin isn't even a factor until God decrees the Fall. Logically, there can be no decree of wrath against sin before a decree to allow sin to have wrath against.
  28. Saiph

    Saiph Puritan Board Junior

    infralapsarians would affirm the bolded statement as well.

    And honestly, thinking too hard about atemporal logical order unhinges my mind . . . cause I only know linear thought (discursive).

    Wheels withis wheels.
  29. VanVos

    VanVos Puritan Board Sophomore

    Yes when viewed as sequential *events*. But in God's mind He can plan to create such a situation, Yes?
  30. VanVos

    VanVos Puritan Board Sophomore

    Yes, and as long as both sides keep affirming that statement there's not too much to worry about. I guess in my understanding the revised supra position best safeguards that statement. But I don't want to get too dogmatic about it.

    [Edited on 1-6-2006 by VanVos]
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