Objections To Supralapsarianism

Discussion in 'Calvinism & The Doctrines of Grace' started by JM, Jan 20, 2009.

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  1. JM

    JM Puritan Board Professor

    Dabneys: "Objections To the Supralapsarian"

    Objections To the Supralapsarian.

    But we object more particularly to the Supralapsarian scheme.

    (a) That it is erroneous in representing God as having before His mind, as the objects of predestination, men conceived in posse only; and in making creation a means of their salvation or damnation. Whereas, an object must be conceived as existing, in order to have its destiny given to it. And creation can with no propriety be called a means for effectuating a decree of predestination as to creatures. It is rather a prerequisite of such decree.

    (b.) It contradicts Scripture, which teaches us that God chose His elect "out of the world," John 15:19, and out of the "same lump" with the vessels of dishonor (Rom. 9:21). They were then regarded as being, along with the non–elect, in the common state of sin and misery.

    (c.) Our election is in Christ our Redeemer (Eph. 1:4; 3:11), which clearly shows that we are conceived as being fallen, and in need of a Redeemer, in this act. And, moreover, our election is an election to the exercise of saving graces to be wrought in us by Christ (1 Pet. 1:2; 2 Thess. 2:13). (d.) Election is declared to be an act of mercy (Rom. 9:15 16, 11:5, 6), and preterition is an act of justice (Rom. 9:22). Now as mercy and goodness imply an apprehension of guilt and misery in their object, so justice implies ill-desert. This shows that man is predestined as fallen; and is not permitted to fall because predestined. I will conclude this part, by repeating the language of Turrettin, Loc. 4, Qu. 18, 5.

    1. "By this hypothesis, the first act of God’s will towards some of His creatures is conceived to be an act of hatred, in so far as He willed to demonstrate His righteousness in their damnation, and indeed before they were considered as in sin, and consequently before they were deserving of hatred; nay, while they were conceived as still innocent, and so rather the objects of love. This does not seem compatible with God’s ineffable goodness.

    2. "It is likewise harsh that, according to this scheme, God is supposed to have imparted to them far the greatest effects of love, out of a principle of hatred, in that He determines to create them in a state of integrity to this end, that He may illustrate His righteousness in their damnation. This seems to express Him neither as supremely good nor as supremely wise and just.

    3. "It is erroneously supposed that God exercised an act of mercy and justice towards His creatures in His foreordination of their salvation and destruction, in that they are conceived as neither wretched, nor even existing as yet. But since those virtues (mercy and justice) are relative, they pre-suppose their object, do not make it.

    4. "It is also asserted without warrant, that creation and the fall are means of election and reprobation, since they are antecedent to them: else sin would be on account of damnation, whereas damnation is on account of sin; and God would be said to have created men that He might destroy them."​

    Chapter 18: Predestination

    Are Dabney's objections valid?
  2. turmeric

    turmeric Megerator

    Hmmm :popcorn:
  3. MW

    MW Puritanboard Amanuensis

    Infra objections place the same limitations on God as are a reality for man. But, Rom. 4:17, God calleth those things which be not as though they were.

    This is true, but John 15:19 obviously refers to the temporal manifestation of election. The elect are elect in that state of sin which God ordained as a means of bringing to pass His good purpose concerning them.

    Rom. 9:21 is obviously supralapsarian in its scope, because the context defends the potter's prerogative to make of men what He wills without respect to their good or evil condition; hence men are ordained to be vessels of honour or dishonour irrespective of their moral condition, and it is their moral lapse which serves the purpose of election.

    Election is in Christ, and yet Adam's disobedience leading to condemnation was a type of Christ's obedience leading to justification, Rom. 5:12-19. The Antitype is first in order. Hence the fall was ordained as a means subservient to the restoration in Christ.

    Again, the infra objection fails to account for the fact that Scripture represents election in a variety of logical relations. The fact that they are elect as given to the Redeemer does not argue against an absolute election to life, of which the fall and redemption are made means to an end. The same applies to the exercise of saving grace, which all Calvinists acknowledge is the means of applying the benefits of redemption. The appointment to exercise saving grace therefore functions in subservience to the the appointment of redemption in Christ.

    Again, true; both mercy and justice are displayed towards creatures who are considered as fallen in sin; but the sinful condition is obviously a means which serves the end of displaying God's glory in each one. The display of mercy and the display of wrath are each said to be acted upon vessels which are already ordained to their respective conditions. Hence the sinful condition was itself ordained as the means of fulfilling the purpose which God determined for each individual.
  4. discipulo

    discipulo Puritan Board Junior

    Bavinck’s Objections to Infralapsarianism

    God's justice does not explain the decree of reprobation. The ultimate ground of reprobation is God's sovereign will.

    In order to maintain reprobation as an act of God's JUSTICE infra places reprobation after the FALL as if in the decree of reprobation God figured only with ORIGINAL sin and not also with ACTUAL sins.

    In the debate between Infra and Supra (my personal beliefs are closer to a Supra interpretation of Scripture), it is very interesting to see the nuances offered by Herman Bavinck.

    Specially so since in 1902 Bavinck succeeded as Professor of Dogmatics to Abraham Kuyper, who was openly Supralasarian.

    Quote from Supralapsarianism and Infralapsarianism by Herman Bavinck - link to the complete article below

    Accordingly, neither supra- nor infralapsarianism has succeeded in its attempt to solve this problem and to do justice to the many-sidedness of Scripture. To a certain extent this failure is due to the one-sidedness that characterizes both views. In the first place it is incorrect, as we stated before, to define the “final goal” of all things as the revelation of God's mercy in the elect, and of his justice in the reprobate. God's glory and the manifestation of his excellencies is, to be sure, the final goal of all things; but the double state of salvation and damnation is not included in that final goal, but is related to it as a means. No one is able to prove that this double state must of necessity constitute an element in the final goal of God's glory. In all his “outgoing works” God always has in view his own glory; but that he seeks to establish this glory in this and in no other way is to be ascribed to his sovereignty and to nothing else.

    Supralapsarianism and Infralapsarianism by Herman Bavinck
  5. Mushroom

    Mushroom Puritan Board Doctor

    :amen::agree: Thank you, Cesar! A pointless controversy that assumes the mind of God is limited in similar fashion to man's. The hubris of men thinking they can comprehend these things is akin to thinking a squirrel can comprehend particle theory. Striving about words to no profit.
  6. JM

    JM Puritan Board Professor

    Both John Gill and Herman Bavinck offer solid criticisms of the issue, and I believe Rev. Winzer made some good points about Dabney's objections...
  7. Hippo

    Hippo Puritan Board Junior

    The same could be said about nearly any aspect of theology, there is absolutely nothing wrong with the discussion, only with the approach that we sometimes take to it as fallen men.

    The whole plan of redemption is there to glorify God and our highest duty is to wonder at the glory of God exhibited in this plan.
  8. shackleton

    shackleton Puritan Board Junior

    Charles Hodge similiary opposes this view

    Charles Hodge Sys. Theo. Soteriology
    Objections to Supralapsarianism.
    The most obvious objections to the supralapsarian theory are,
    (1.) That it seems to involve a contradiction. The purpose to save or condemn, of
    necessity must, in the order of thought, follow the purpose to create. The
    latter is presupposed in the former.

    (2.) It is a clearly revealed Scriptural principle that where there is no sin
    there is no condemnation. Therefore there can be no foreordination to
    death which does not contemplate its objects as already sinful.

    (3.) It seems plain from the whole argument of the Apostle in Romans
    9:9-21, that the “mass” out of which some are chosen and others left, is the
    mass of fallen men. The design of the sacred writer is to vindicate the
    sovereignty of God in the dispensation of his grace. He has mercy upon
    one and not on another, according to his own good pleasure, because all
    are equally unworthy and guilty. The vindication is drawn, not only from
    the relation of God to his creatures as their Creator, but also from his
    relation to them as a sovereign whose laws they have violated. This
    representation pervades the whole Scriptures. Believers are said to be
    chosen “out of the world;” that is, out of the mass of fallen men. And
    everywhere, as in Romans 1:24, 26, 28, reprobation is declared to be
    judicial, founded upon the sinfulness of its objects. Otherwise it could not
    be a manifestation of the justice of God.

    (4.) Creation is never in the Bible represented as a means of executing the
    purpose of election and reprobation.
    And, therefore, creation is not a means to execute the purpose of
    predestination, for the end must precede the means; and, according to Paul,
    the purpose to create precedes the purpose to redeem, and therefore
    cannot be a means to that end.

    (5.) It is a further objection to the supralapsarian scheme that it is not
    consistent with the Scriptural exhibition of the character of God. He is
    declared to be a God of mercy and justice. But it is not compatible with
    these divine attributes that men should be foreordained to misery and
    eternal death as innocent, that is, before they had apostatized from God. If
    passed by and foreordained to death for their sins, it must be that in
    predestination they are contemplated as guilty and fallen creatures.
  9. JM

    JM Puritan Board Professor

    Should reprobation be included under the heading of predesination?
  10. CovenantalBaptist

    CovenantalBaptist Puritan Board Freshman

    Whichever position you hold in this never-ending debate, I always found this side comment by Dabney to be most instructive:
  11. Mushroom

    Mushroom Puritan Board Doctor

    Not so brother. There are things that are pointless and non-productive to banter about, and this is one in my view . The Lord would not have advised us through His servants Paul and Peter to avoid pointless disputations if there were no subjects that fall within that category.

    But banter away to your heart's delight. And while you determine precisely in which logical order you presume God, who is eternally omniscient, to have decided this or that to defend a pet doctrine, try not to forget that fields are white to harvest, and that perhaps this type of navel-gazing is not labouring in it.
  12. Mushroom

    Mushroom Puritan Board Doctor

    Yea, brother, hence the qualification "in my view". I was addressing the assertion that all of theology could be categorized as non-essential, with which I heartily disagree.

    I'm striving, mostly failingly, to get to the place where I can say with Paul...

    I digress and depart the thread. You fellows enjoy.
  13. Mushroom

    Mushroom Puritan Board Doctor

    Not leaving for reasons of offense, beloved brother, only because I know I don't have anything constructive to contribute. Whether or not it is so of anyone else I know not, but this is definitely knowledge too high for me to attain to. I am brutally aware of my vast limitations. :p

    Blessings upon you and all present, and my apologies for any offense given.

    Carry on, brothers.
  14. TheFleshProfitethNothing

    TheFleshProfitethNothing Puritan Board Freshman

    If God elected His elect BEFORE the foundation of the world, then He purposed NOT to elect the others, KNOWING (foreknowing) that He was in effect, damning the rest, how is it that that, is NOT double predestinating in one declaration?

    Whoever's name is NOT written in the Lamb's book of life...this book is sealed until the final judgment, along with the sealed books of works etc. There is a reason they have to be opened and yet there is a reason why they were sealed also. It's interesting all these things have been known, declared, written and sealed before the world began. We must believe they were written before the foundation of the world, because we know it was through other scriptures testifying to God's will and declaring all things from the beginning...

    So, I don't go for Dabney's objections...I'll just take the Bible as True, as God (at least to me) plainly states that He declares the end from the beginning... and that the elect were elected in Christ, before the foundation of the world, and the rest were not. By the election of some, the other's are in fact, not elected. Christ will one day say, "Get away from me, I NEVER knew you" which means what?...God knows all, and must in fact have made some declaration, NOT to know them... It's God's creation, and whether you agree or understand why He would elect some and damn the other's, really doesn't change anything, it still happens.
  15. VictorBravo

    VictorBravo Administrator Staff Member

    A side note merely, but I always attributed this quote to Melanchthon. Phillip Schaff thought it was someone else altogether:

    Phillip Schaff, Saint Augustin, Melanchthon, Neander, Three Biographies, (1886) p. 89-90
  16. MW

    MW Puritanboard Amanuensis

    The Calvinist debate with Arminianism is not a meaningless contention, and yet it basically comes down to the same question as to the priority of means and end in the purpose of God.
  17. shackleton

    shackleton Puritan Board Junior

    It seems almost impossible to get around the fact that however you look at it God decided not to save all men. If he knew who he was going to save before the foundations of the world and Christ was seen as their payment for sin he must have known who he was gong to save, he chose them and by choosing them he chose to not save the others, making them reprobate.

    If he chose some and did not chose others then it does tend towards double election. The problem with this is that it is mostly logic the bible nowhere talks of anything even remotely resembling this.
  18. MW

    MW Puritanboard Amanuensis

    I think it would be fair to say that the Bible touches on the double-sidedness of the eternal purpose of God without delving too deeply into it. There should always be a sense of biblical proportion in preaching the whole counsel of God.
  19. cih1355

    cih1355 Puritan Board Junior

    God chose to elect some people to receive salvation, but not others. Some people would not say that there is a double election because they believe that God does not elect people in the same way that He reprobates people.
  20. MW

    MW Puritanboard Amanuensis

    If so, they would be delving into things too high for them. The Scriptures make no such distinction, but ascribe all things to the counself of His own will.
  21. shackleton

    shackleton Puritan Board Junior

    One could say that God chose from the mass of fallen humanity this way he does not chose who will be reprobate but leave them in reprobation but this is Infra. The Supra side does tend to be more logical. It puts election first, then they are created, then they are fallen and creation therefore is for the purpose of fulfilling God's design in election.

    There is something refreshingly personal about this but how can one ascribe to this and not make it all about the elect but rather about God and his glory?
  22. kalawine

    kalawine Puritan Board Junior

    Whew! This thread makes me happy and relieved! I was beginning to wonder if I was the only supralapsarian in the world!

    I will never forget finally accepting Calvinism myself in the first place (the 5 points). I saw and read about so many people who could believe in the "4 points" but Limited Atonement was too much for them. To me, I accepted Limited Atonement when I accepted the other four. To me, if I accepted the other points, then LA just followed suit.

    I see Supralapsarianism in much the same way. Mind you, I'm not formally educated in Theology as many of you are, so please bear with me. But doesn't it just make sense that God makes ALL His plans in advance? And (this is the question that I've really been leading up to and would really like an answer to) is it just me or does it seem like some doctrines (like one, two, three or four-point Calvinism and/or Infralapsarianism) are just ways for us to "make excuses" for God's sovereignty, choice and election?

    Now, before anyone gets irrate with me, please remember that I already made a disclaimer for my lack of formal education on the subject and I plead ignorance ahead of time and willingness to listen and learn.
  23. Prufrock

    Prufrock Arbitrary Moderation

    Hey Kevin,

    From one supra to another, it's important to keep in mind that this isn't about a chronological order of decrees or decisions. No infralapsarian is going to assert or even suggest that God didn't make his plans in advance. It has to do with means and ends, logical orders, and under what relation the creature is considered. Infralapsarians don't think that God made new plans after the fall.

    It is hard for us to think apart from chronology, but for these discussions to bear any fruit we have to do so.

  24. kalawine

    kalawine Puritan Board Junior

    Yea, I have learned that before and forgot about it. Sad isn't it? It really is hard for us (Western) humans to escape chronology.

    Anyway, (and thanks for the correction) I believe that the reprobate were ordained to be reprobate "before" (how else can I say it?) Adam fell. Is that more acurate?
  25. shackleton

    shackleton Puritan Board Junior

    I remember Robert Reymond in his Sys Theo saying that God planed the end first, that is whom he wanted to spend eternity with and then logically planned all events backwards from that event all the way back to creation. So under this scheme, since he planned backwards, the fall would have happened before election.

    It also places what Christ did on the Cross logically before anything else and that way it can be seen by God as already happening.
  26. MW

    MW Puritanboard Amanuensis

    Then one could say anything, because leaving and reprobating are two different things. If the other side of predestination is simply leaving "others" in reprobation, how did they come to be considered reprobate in the first place? If reprobation is to be used in any meaningful way we are thrown back to the supra method of explaining the matter, namely, that God chose each one for their personal destiny and made the fall a means of fulfilling it.
  27. kalawine

    kalawine Puritan Board Junior

    Y'know... I don't think you're going to get any (or at least many) opposers to this statement. Supralapsarianism just seems to be the logical choice all the way around.
  28. shackleton

    shackleton Puritan Board Junior

    Maybe reprobation is a bad term then since it is not used in the bible. Is it wrong for us to condemn when it is not our calling to do so?
  29. MW

    MW Puritanboard Amanuensis

    I'm not sure I understand the question; any doctrine of reprobation maintains that it is God who condemns, not man.
  30. discipulo

    discipulo Puritan Board Junior

    Personally, I have in mind Bavinck’s formulation of that problematic.

    He starts with the premise which is a sound postulate we can derive from Scripture, quote.

    Now Reformed theologians all agree that the entrance of sin and punishment was willed and determined by God. It is perfectly true that words like “permission” and “foreknowledge” do not solve anything.

    Yet he also questions that dangerous leap to link the Predestination to Reprobation as the Cause of Sin, by imposing a necessary restriction on Predestination to Reprobation.

    Namely that the Election and Reprobation placed before the Fall, if it properly portrays God’s Sovereignty, must not imply Predestination as the cause of sin, since God is never the Author of sin.

    So if God's justice is manifest in the Decree of Reprobation, it has to be made clear that Reprobation is only the “Accidental cause” of sin, and that only sin in its origin, the Fall, and actual sins by independent moral agents, first Adam and all on Adams loins subsequently, are the “Sufficient cause” of Reprobation. quote:

    Nearly all of them (n.a. Supralapsarians mentioned: Beza, Zanchius, Gomarus, et al) hesitate to place the decree of reprobation in its entirety and without any restriction before the decree to permit sin.

    In that sense Infralapsarianism, placing Election after the Fall, seems to be more consistent with that restriction.

    Bavinck considers that both Ectypal formulations, for the sake of the Archetypal Reality, must make concessions, Infralapsarians must convey some reason to the Supra for the sake of correctly realizing God’s Sovereignty and Glory on all things, while Supra must concede that reprobation is of a different nature of election unto salvation, to refrain from adding any moral cause of Sin to God, Who cannot Sin neither is the cause of Sin.

    Considering the all-comprehensive and immutable character of God's counsel, it is not wrong to speak of a “twofold predestination” (gemina praedestinatio); nevertheless, on the other hand, we must be careful to keep in mind that in the one case predestination is of a different nature than in the other.

    And in contrast to Reprobation, correctly prioritize the moral gracious nature of Election unto Salvation in God's Attributes and Character, to the Glory of His Grace.

    Would you consider Herman Bavink’s objections on this matter reasonable?
    Last edited: Jan 23, 2009
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