What is the state of the lapsarian debate?

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Steve Paynter

Puritan Board Freshman
I ask this question partly because the supralapsarian vs infralapsarian issue kept coming up in the thread on double predestination, and partly because, whenever it does, my mind immediately goes to a comment John Frame makes in his "Doctrine of God".

Frame observes that both the lapsarian positions on the understanding of the order of God's decrees equivocate upon what relationship determines the order. In some places they focus on the teleological aim of the decree, and in other places on the "logically prior" relation.


In Reformed theology, the two main views of the order of the decrees are supralapsarianism and infralapsarianism. The proposed orders are:

SUPRALAPSARIAN
1. To elect some creatable people for divine blessing.
2. To create.
3. To permit the Fall.
4. To send Christ to provide atonement.
5. To send the Spirit to apply the atonement to the hearts of believers.
6. To glorify the elect.

INFRALAPSARIAN
1. To create.
2. To permit the Fall.
3. To elect some people for divine blessing.
4. Same as supra.
5. Same as supra.
6. Same as supra.

The controversy about the order of the decrees focuses on the order of the first three decrees, and on the odd supralapsarian notion of a decree to elect “creatable” people.
For defenders of the supralapsarian view, the important point is that God’s foremost concern in his decrees is to display his grace in a chosen people. Everything else is, roughly speaking, a means to that end. In order to give grace to those people, he must create them, permit the Fall, and redeem them. So decree 1 is related to the others as end to means. But decrees 2 and 3 are probably best construed as each providing the conditions necessary for the decrees after it to be accomplished. So there is no consistent pattern of order through the list. Perhaps the reason for giving priority to decree 1 over the others is that, for supralapsarians, God’s care for the elect is so much more profound than his concern for the rest of creation that the other decrees are of far lesser importance.

The infralapsarian view makes no judgment as to God’s foremost concern. It simply asks us to imagine the process as if God were thinking of the order in which events would occur. Here the governing principle is mostly what I have called condition-realization. It is therefore important to understand that the two lists have different concepts of order. (Frame, J. M. (2002). The doctrine of God. A theology of lordship (336–337). Phillipsburg, NJ: P&R Publishing.)

and

Now on neither list is there any consistent principle of “order.” The supra list begins with a decree that is prior to the others in a teleological sense. It designates the overall purpose that the other decrees bring into effect. Clearly, however, 2 and 3 on the supra list are not related teleologically nor are any other two decrees on either list. The relation between 2 and 3 on the supra list may be understood either as anticipated temporal or as presuppositional priority. The rest may be seen the same way, though it is perhaps best to see 4 as providing the moral and legal basis for 5 and 6. The infra list follows mainly a pattern of anticipated temporality, though the place of 3 represents a departure from that pattern, and, again, the relation of 4 to the others is better construed as moral-legal causality.

The whole project, then, seems rather confused, and to our modern eyes, highly speculative. (Frame, J. M. (1987). The doctrine of the knowledge of God. A theology of lordship (264). Phillipsburg, NJ: P&R Publishing.)

My question is ... are John Frames arguments here valid? And has any progress been made in coming up with a new position which sorts out this mess?
 
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MW

Puritanboard Amanuensis
My question is ... are John Frames arguments here valid? And has any progress been made in coming up with a new position which sorts out this mess?

I don't think JF's arguments are valid where the two positions are properly represented. It may be that some exponents fail to consistently distinguish between concepts but the different positions are themselves a matter of logical order which is fundamentally teleological, that is, the logical order under discussion is one of relationship of "means" to "end." The infralapsarian position, overly concerned to protect the holiness of God in relation to the fall, has effectively introduced two different ends (creation and salvation) into the discussion, but it still argues on the basis that the means serve specific ends.

Christological supralapsarianism progresses the discussion by applying the pre-eminence of Christ, the focal point of holy Scripture, to the order of the decree. It puts man back in his place as a part of the created order, unites the plan of God in creation and salvation, and rightly exalts the Lord Jesus Christ as the One by Whom and for Whom all things are made. But this cannot properly be called a new position seeing as it was taught in the 17th century by Rutherford and Goodwin.
 

Steve Paynter

Puritan Board Freshman
My question is ... are John Frames arguments here valid? And has any progress been made in coming up with a new position which sorts out this mess?

I don't think JF's arguments are valid where the two positions are properly represented. It may be that some exponents fail to consistently distinguish between concepts but the different positions are themselves a matter of logical order which is fundamentally teleological, that is, the logical order under discussion is one of relationship of "means" to "end." The infralapsarian position, overly concerned to protect the holiness of God in relation to the fall, has effectively introduced two different ends (creation and salvation) into the discussion, but it still argues on the basis that the means serve specific ends..

If I understand Frame's point correctly, he is saying that the infralapsarian position is constructed assuming that the ordering relation is "condition-realisation" - in other words, "earlier"
decrees are decrees that put in place circumstances that are needed for later decrees work with. If that is the case, one would expect only the final decree to introduce the "end"
of the decrees. (Or, logically, any leaf node of the tree of decrees, if they were a partial order rather than a linear one.) If that is the case, only decree 6, introduces the "end" of the
infralapsarian decrees ... the glorification of the elect. (It seems to me that there should be a 7th, the glorification of God, through the glorification of the elect. - or maybe that is not
a separate decree, but an inevitable consequence of decree 6, and of course, a consequence of the wisdom and love exhibited in constructing the entire sequence of decrees that ended in 6, the glorification of the elect.)

In any-case, I am not sure I understand why you say that the infralapsarian position "effectively introduced two different ends (creation and salvation). Creation is the result of the
first decree, but not an end in itself, only the necessary step to provide something ... human beings ... who are needed in the next decree, the decree that allows them to fall.


Christological supralapsarianism progresses the discussion by applying the pre-eminence of Christ, the focal point of holy Scripture, to the order of the decree. It puts man back in his place as a part of the created order, unites the plan of God in creation and salvation, and rightly exalts the Lord Jesus Christ as the One by Whom and for Whom all things are made. But this cannot properly be called a new position seeing as it was taught in the 17th century by Rutherford and Goodwin.

This sounds good, but I don't understand what you have just said. I am afraid I have never read any Rutherford or Goodwin. Could you unpack their position a little?
 
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Brock Organ

Puritan Board Freshman
What is the state of the lapsarian debate?

Hi Dr. Steve,

The best summary and critique of the state of this issue (that I've read) is represented by Herman Bavinck in his Reformed Dogmatics (Vol 2, Part 3, Chapter 7), section "Inadequacy of Supra- and Infralapsarianism" ... He basically notes that both positions are characterized by an unhealthy "one-sidedness"; the same section notes and talks about double predestination in a manner I think similar to, and worthy of, Sproul's treatment cited earlier ... I'd cite text but the copyright for Bavinck's Reformed Dogmatics seems really restrictive and I'm not sure if even a small cite here is permitted.

Kind Regards!
 

MW

Puritanboard Amanuensis
In any-case, I am not sure I understand why you say that the infralapsarian position "effectively introduced two different ends (creation and salvation). Creation is the result of the first decree, but not an end in itself, only the necessary step to provide something ... human beings ... who are needed in the next decree, the decree that allows them to fall.

God did not purpose to create man without respect to man's destiny. There was an original end to the creation of man. A predestination of individuals subordinate to the condition of the fall (infralapsarianism) introduces a final end which is distinct from the first end of creation. In some sense the ordination of the fall requires a new plan for human destiny. So infralapsarianism effectively leads to two final ends -- creation and salvation. In the supralapsarian position the fall is ordained subordinate to the predestination of individuals, which means there is only one final purpose for man's creation and the fall subserves that purpose.

This sounds good, but I don't understand what you have just said. I am afraid I have never read any Rutherford or Goodwin. Could you unpack their position a little?

Sorry for the confusion. To put it in traditional terms, Why the God-man? For writers like Rutherford and Goodwin, the manifestation and exaltation of the God-man is the penultimate end before the glory of God Himself. Man was created as a type of the God-man, the true Head of creation, Colossians 1; Hebrews 2. The fall of man was necessary to the manifestation of the God-man and the sons of God in conformity with Him, Romans 8. Adam was a figure of Christ to come, Romans 5; 1 Corinthians 15. Election is in Christ and a part of the salvific purpose for the gathering of all things under Him, Ephesians 1. Even reprobation is Christologically related, because all judgment has been committed to the Son, John 5, and He is the rock of offence on which unbelievers stumble, 1 Peter 2.
 

BayouHuguenot

Puritanboard Amanuensis
In any-case, I am not sure I understand why you say that the infralapsarian position "effectively introduced two different ends (creation and salvation). Creation is the result of the first decree, but not an end in itself, only the necessary step to provide something ... human beings ... who are needed in the next decree, the decree that allows them to fall.

God did not purpose to create man without respect to man's destiny. There was an original end to the creation of man. A predestination of individuals subordinate to the condition of the fall (infralapsarianism) introduces a final end which is distinct from the first end of creation. In some sense the ordination of the fall requires a new plan for human destiny. So infralapsarianism effectively leads to two final ends -- creation and salvation. In the supralapsarian position the fall is ordained subordinate to the predestination of individuals, which means there is only one final purpose for man's creation and the fall subserves that purpose.

This sounds good, but I don't understand what you have just said. I am afraid I have never read any Rutherford or Goodwin. Could you unpack their position a little?

Sorry for the confusion. To put it in traditional terms, Why the God-man? For writers like Rutherford and Goodwin, the manifestation and exaltation of the God-man is the penultimate end before the glory of God Himself. Man was created as a type of the God-man, the true Head of creation, Colossians 1; Hebrews 2. The fall of man was necessary to the manifestation of the God-man and the sons of God in conformity with Him, Romans 8. Adam was a figure of Christ to come, Romans 5; 1 Corinthians 15. Election is in Christ and a part of the salvific purpose for the gathering of all things under Him, Ephesians 1. Even reprobation is Christologically related, because all judgment has been committed to the Son, John 5, and He is the rock of offence on which unbelievers stumble, 1 Peter 2.

I know where Rutherford spoke on this issue, but could you point me to where Goodwin dealt with it? Thank you.
 

MW

Puritanboard Amanuensis
I know where Rutherford spoke on this issue, but could you point me to where Goodwin dealt with it? Thank you.

It is woven into his presentation of a number of issues and places of Scripture. It may just be easier to refer to the chapter on Goodwin's Christological Supralapsarianism in Beeke/Jones' Puritan Theology.
 

au5t1n

Puritan Board Post-Graduate
In any-case, I am not sure I understand why you say that the infralapsarian position "effectively introduced two different ends (creation and salvation). Creation is the result of the first decree, but not an end in itself, only the necessary step to provide something ... human beings ... who are needed in the next decree, the decree that allows them to fall.

God did not purpose to create man without respect to man's destiny. There was an original end to the creation of man. A predestination of individuals subordinate to the condition of the fall (infralapsarianism) introduces a final end which is distinct from the first end of creation. In some sense the ordination of the fall requires a new plan for human destiny. So infralapsarianism effectively leads to two final ends -- creation and salvation. In the supralapsarian position the fall is ordained subordinate to the predestination of individuals, which means there is only one final purpose for man's creation and the fall subserves that purpose.

This sounds good, but I don't understand what you have just said. I am afraid I have never read any Rutherford or Goodwin. Could you unpack their position a little?

Sorry for the confusion. To put it in traditional terms, Why the God-man? For writers like Rutherford and Goodwin, the manifestation and exaltation of the God-man is the penultimate end before the glory of God Himself. Man was created as a type of the God-man, the true Head of creation, Colossians 1; Hebrews 2. The fall of man was necessary to the manifestation of the God-man and the sons of God in conformity with Him, Romans 8. Adam was a figure of Christ to come, Romans 5; 1 Corinthians 15. Election is in Christ and a part of the salvific purpose for the gathering of all things under Him, Ephesians 1. Even reprobation is Christologically related, because all judgment has been committed to the Son, John 5, and He is the rock of offence on which unbelievers stumble, 1 Peter 2.

Rev. Winzer, you have a gift for striking at the heart of a matter in few words.
 

Steve Paynter

Puritan Board Freshman
In any-case, I am not sure I understand why you say that the infralapsarian position "effectively introduced two different ends (creation and salvation). Creation is the result of the first decree, but not an end in itself, only the necessary step to provide something ... human beings ... who are needed in the next decree, the decree that allows them to fall.

God did not purpose to create man without respect to man's destiny. There was an original end to the creation of man. A predestination of individuals subordinate to the condition of the fall (infralapsarianism) introduces a final end which is distinct from the first end of creation. In some sense the ordination of the fall requires a new plan for human destiny. So infralapsarianism effectively leads to two final ends -- creation and salvation. In the supralapsarian position the fall is ordained subordinate to the predestination of individuals, which means there is only one final purpose for man's creation and the fall subserves that purpose.

I can accept that "God did not purpose to create man without respect to man's destiny". However, I don't think the infralapsarian order says that he did, or that making the decree to elect the third decree, follow the decree to permit the fall, introduces a final end which is distinct from the "first end of creation". Remember, following Frame, the infralapsarian ordering relation is not to do with "ends" but with logically prior orders. One can only read "ends" off the infralapsarian scheme from the "leaf nodes" of the decrees, which given that the order of the decrees is a linear total order, means that only decree 6 reveals the "end" of the infralapsarian scheme. The fact that creation comes before the fall, which in turn comes before the decree to elect, does not mean that creation had a different end, but that to elect someone to salvation implies that they needs electing (i.e. that they had fallen), which in turn presupposes that they had been created in order that they might be in existence, and be available for falling.

If you applied your reasoning to the decrees which the two schemes have in common (i.e. 4, 5 and 6), wouldn't you have to argue that the application of salvation by the Spirit, and the glorification of the elect are two separate ends. It seems to me that on these decrees, both schemes have adopted the logically prior ordering. Christ must save, before the salvation can be applied by the Spirit, and the Spirit must apply salvation, before the elect can be glorified. In other words, if the infralapsarians are not wrong on these decrees, why are they wrong on the earlier?


This sounds good, but I don't understand what you have just said. I am afraid I have never read any Rutherford or Goodwin. Could you unpack their position a little?

Sorry for the confusion. To put it in traditional terms, Why the God-man? For writers like Rutherford and Goodwin, the manifestation and exaltation of the God-man is the penultimate end before the glory of God Himself. Man was created as a type of the God-man, the true Head of creation, Colossians 1; Hebrews 2. The fall of man was necessary to the manifestation of the God-man and the sons of God in conformity with Him, Romans 8. Adam was a figure of Christ to come, Romans 5; 1 Corinthians 15. Election is in Christ and a part of the salvific purpose for the gathering of all things under Him, Ephesians 1. Even reprobation is Christologically related, because all judgment has been committed to the Son, John 5, and He is the rock of offence on which unbelievers stumble, 1 Peter 2.

This all sounds biblical. If I was an infralapsarian, would I disagree with any of that, and why?
 
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MW

Puritanboard Amanuensis
According to the infra- scheme, creation and the fall logically precede election. This means there is no "election" of unfallen men. Yet Scripture teaches there was an Adamic administration prior to the fall. Whatever one thinks about the Adamic administration, it is impossible to think of it floating about with no end in view. On the infra- scheme, whatever the purpose of the Adamic administration, it is bound to serve an end in itself, and cannot serve the end of election because election only takes place in relation to fallen human beings. On the other side we have the supra-scheme which places election logically prior to creation and the fall, including the Adamic administration, which means creation and the fall are serving the single end of election.
 

Steve Paynter

Puritan Board Freshman
According to the infra- scheme, creation and the fall logically precede election.

It is that the decree of creation and the decree of the fall that logically precede the decree of election. The decrees as I understand it, are not necessarily separated in time, and are all "in eternity past". The decree to glorify the elect is made before the decree to create is enacted.

... This means there is no "election" of unfallen men. Yet Scripture teaches there was an Adamic administration prior to the fall. Whatever one thinks about the Adamic administration, it is impossible to think of it floating about with no end in view. On the infra- scheme, whatever the purpose of the Adamic administration, it is bound to serve an end in itself, and cannot serve the end of election because election only takes place in relation to fallen human beings.

As regards to the Adamic administration ... or covenant of works ... again as I understand it, it is not generally considered to be salvific (for there was no sin to save from), and did not serve the end of election ... other than to the extent to which it was the covenant of works (perhaps republished in the Mosaic covenant) that Christ fulfilled in his active obedience, and which was imputed to the elect for their justification.

I think the covenant of works can serve the "end" of election because it is not enacted until after the decree to glorify the elect has been made, and the logical ordering of the infra scheme does not refer to ends apart from the last decree.


On the other side we have the supra-scheme which places election logically prior to creation and the fall, including the Adamic administration, which means creation and the fall are serving the single end of election.

But by this reasoning, doesn't the Supra- scheme have Christ providing atonement prior to the end of the Spirit applying it? Doesn't this argument about the ends of a
decree having to come first, mean that Christ's atonement must have been to some other end than the regeneration and glorification of the elect? How is the supra- order internally consistent?

I know you started by saying that you thought Frame's analysis was wrong, but I wonder. I have been trying to respond to your points as if he were right, and ... it seems to me ... that what he says makes a lot of sense of the Infra position, and undermines most (all?) of the Supra- criticisms of it. And also, of course, raises questions about the consistency of the supra- position.
 

MW

Puritanboard Amanuensis
It is that the decree of creation and the decree of the fall that logically precede the decree of election. The decrees as I understand it, are not necessarily separated in time, and are all "in eternity past". The decree to glorify the elect is made before the decree to create is enacted.

I thought it was already established that we are speaking about the logical order of the decrees. The things themselves which are decreed have a logical connection of means to an end. It is irrelevant to say that the decree precedes its execution in time; as this is true of everything there is nothing unique in this instance that can be made of it.

The fact is, in the infra- scheme, there is no election of created, unfallen men, and yet man was made with a purpose. This means election after the fall will introduce a second end. Whether one likes to accept it or not, one plus one equals two.

As regards to the Adamic administration ... or covenant of works ... again as I understand it, it is not generally considered to be salvific

This is beside the point. It sets forth an end of human existence prior to the fall and thus an alternate end to election according to the infra- scheme. The infra- scheme necessarily entails a plan A and plan B structure.
 

Steve Paynter

Puritan Board Freshman
I thought it was already established that we are speaking about the logical order of the decrees. The things themselves which are decreed have a logical connection of means to an end. It is irrelevant to say that the decree precedes its execution in time; as this is true of everything there is nothing unique in this instance that can be made of it.

The fact is, in the infra- scheme, there is no election of created, unfallen men, and yet man was made with a purpose. This means election after the fall will introduce a second end. Whether one likes to accept it or not, one plus one equals two.

There is an interplay between the temporal ordering and logical ordering that seems to be at the crux of why we are failing to convince each other. For me, if the decrees are all made before they are executed, then the end of the last decree can be in "end" that was intended for the first decree when it was executed. This, for me, is what it means to say that the infra- ordering relation is concerned with the logical order of "logically prior".

You are saying that man was made with a purpose, but that it cannot have been for the purpose of being glorified because the decree to elect was logically after the decree to create ... on the infra scheme.

I am saying that man was made with a purpose, but it can have been for the purpose of being glorified, as all the decrees were made before man was created, and hence the end of the decrees ... read as the last one in the infra- understanding of the logical ordering relation ... can have been the end of the first decree.

I am sorry that I cannot grasp your "one plus one equals two". Part of Frame's point is that the two schemes work with different relations, and as a result of a failure on both sides to understand the implications of this, there has been a lot of talking past each other and mutual incomprehension.

Your comments here read a little as if you are exasperated with me. If you like we can bring this thread to a close; we don't seem to have encouraged many others to join us in discussions.
 

py3ak

They're stalling and plotting against me
Staff member
I am saying that man was made with a purpose, but it can have been for the purpose of being glorified, as all the decrees were made before man was created, and hence the end of the decrees ... read as the last one in the infra- understanding of the logical ordering relation ... can have been the end of the first decree.

Steve, I think this is the crux of the matter, though hopefully Mr. Winzer will correct me if I've misunderstood. If the decree to glorify man is logically prior to the decree to create, then it is also logically prior to the decree to permit the fall. So when it comes to election and reprobation, man is not considered as fallen. But if the decree to glorify man is logically posterior to the decree to permit the fall, then the fall isn't a means to the end of glorification.
 

Steve Paynter

Puritan Board Freshman
I am saying that man was made with a purpose, but it can have been for the purpose of being glorified, as all the decrees were made before man was created, and hence the end of the decrees ... read as the last one in the infra- understanding of the logical ordering relation ... can have been the end of the first decree.

Steve, I think this is the crux of the matter, though hopefully Mr. Winzer will correct me if I've misunderstood. If the decree to glorify man is logically prior to the decree to create, then it is also logically prior to the decree to permit the fall. So when it comes to election and reprobation, man is not considered as fallen. But if the decree to glorify man is logically posterior to the decree to permit the fall, then the fall isn't a means to the end of glorification.

I am beginning to get a glimmer about what the supra-lapsarians are saying. I am increasingly coming to the view that both are right, but that the supralapsarian scheme is inconsistent. Sorry, I know how irritating illogical statements like that can be in other contexts, so I will try to unpack what I am saying.

Note first, that the decree to glorify the elect is decree 6 in both schemes. In the infra scheme, it acts as the "end" ... the telos of the logically prior decrees, as that is the nature of the infra ordering scheme, which has this condition-realisation feature. In other words, the earlier conditions are set up by the logically prior decrees in order to reach the end of the sequence ... the glorification of the elect (and hence the glorification of God).

However, if the ordering relation sets up the ultimate aim first, as in the Supra scheme, one would expect the glorification of the elect to be first. Strangely, it is not, but sixth in the supra scheme too. One would also expect the subordinate aims to follow later ... but the last 3 decrees follow the infra scheme ... hence the apparent (to me) inconsistency in the supra ordering.

But ... if I am right in that the infra scheme is set up so that the end of the sequence is the glorification of the elect, then the infralapsarians are not in disagreement with the supralapsarians over the ultimate end of God's creative and salvific plan. The disagreement is merely over how best to articulate this using the idea of logically ordered pre-temporal decrees.


So when it comes to election and reprobation, man is not considered as fallen. But if the decree to glorify man is logically posterior to the decree to permit the fall, then the fall isn't a means to the end of glorification.

That only follows on the supra lapsarian understanding of order, not on the infra.

Gosh, this supra-/infralapsarian debate deserves its reputation for being rather arcane, doesn't it!
 

MW

Puritanboard Amanuensis
There was no exasperation in my comment; it was merely plain speaking for the sake of getting the point across.

I am not sure what is meant by saying "the purpose of being glorified" is absent from my view. One must conflate "salvation" with "glory" in order to arrive at this idea. But according to the the Adamic administration glory was not by means of "salvation" but by "personal obedience."

When the infra-scheme claims there is only an election of fallen men it effectively introduces an ordained end that is different to the ordained end of creation. Election becomes an ordination relative to the destiny of man which contrasts with the ordination to create. This can only be overcome if the election of man is logically prior to the ordination of his creation, which is effected by the supra- scheme.
 

py3ak

They're stalling and plotting against me
Staff member
Steve, first of all, let me post a number of links. You will probably not be surprised to discover that this has been discussed before, and it is quite possible that one of the previous discussions will do a better job of explaining things than I can do.

Replies to objections:
http://www.puritanboard.com/f48/objections-supralapsarianism-42846/

Valuable discussion on a related topic, with exegetical support:
http://www.puritanboard.com/f31/reward-covenant-works-35420/

A thread on whether this affects anything in practice:
http://www.puritanboard.com/f15/infralapsarianism-supralapsarianism-practical-implications-52597/

Good argumentation on the confessional logic:
http://www.puritanboard.com/f48/you-supra-infra-why-67895/

A good overview by Prufrock:
http://www.puritanboard.com/f15/lapsarianism-39025/

A short thread on the topic!
http://www.puritanboard.com/f15/correct-66368/

Good work in basic defitions from Mr. Winzer and Mr. Greco:
http://www.puritanboard.com/f15/infralapsarian-vs-supralapsarian-14455/

A recent discussion:
http://www.puritanboard.com/f15/supralapsarianism-infralapsarianism-73299/

A poll which shows the spiritual health of board members:
http://www.puritanboard.com/f15/supralapsarianism-infralapsarianism-57835/

Second, let's see if Turretin (certainly among the best theologian of the infralapsarian persuasion, if not absolutely nonpareil) can shed any light on the subject.

With regard to the order of decrees, Turretin says that the supra position is:
1. The manifestation of God's glory in the exercise of mercy and justice through the salvation and damnation of men;
2. Creation;
3. Permission of the fall;
4. Sending of Christ for the salvation of those whom he had decreed to save.

The infralapsarian position is:
1. The creation of man;
2. Permission of the fall, with the ruin of all posterity;
3. Election to salvation of certain ones from the fallen human race, and the leaving of others in their native corruption and misery;
4. The sending of Christ into the world as the Mediator and surety of the elect;
5. Effectual calling of the elect, justification, sanctification, and glorification.

When I type it out like that, it seems quite clear that Mr. Winzer is correct in saying that the infralapsarian scheme has two ends, not one. And, lo and behold, Turretin says: "The third opinion, therefore, being dismissed, we embrace the fourth, which is the common one among the Reformed. It holds a twofold decree according to a twofold order of the works of God: the one of providence, the other of predestination."

But the Biblical data on Adam as a type, of creation itself being set up under Christ as head and for the purpose of his exaltation, requires us to relate providence and predestination, and indeed to subordinate providence to predestination.

The source in Turretin is, Institutes of Elenctic Theology, v.1, pp. 418 (supralapsarianism), 428,429 (infralapsarianism), otherwise known as Topic Four, Question XVIII, paragraphs 4,22, and 21.
 

Steve Paynter

Puritan Board Freshman
There was no exasperation in my comment; it was merely plain speaking for the sake of getting the point across.

Super.


I am not sure what is meant by saying "the purpose of being glorified" is absent from my view. One must conflate "salvation" with "glory" in order to arrive at this idea. But according to the the Adamic administration glory was not by means of "salvation" but by "personal obedience."

I wasn't saying "the purpose of being glorified" was absent from your view, but that it seemed to be your view that it was absent from the infra position - i.e. that the end of creation could not have been the glorification of the elect - because the elect are not elected until a logically later decree.

You are correct, however, I was conflating "salvation" with "glory" ... for I was thinking of the "end" of salvation (glory), rather than the fact that it salvation starts somewhere different ... in sin.



When the infra-scheme claims there is only an election of fallen men it effectively introduces an ordained end that is different to the ordained end of creation. Election becomes an ordination relative to the destiny of man which contrasts with the ordination to create. This can only be overcome if the election of man is logically prior to the ordination of his creation, which is effected by the supra- scheme.


My understanding of the infra scheme is as follows.

God decrees to create people. Why? So that he may "subsequently" (and permissively) decree that they fall? Why? So that he may elect those upon whom his favour rests? Why? Ultimately, so that they may be saved, and hence eventually glorified, and that God may be glorified through his manifest grace. The "end" of the first decree is read off the "result" of the last decree.

The "ordained end of creation" is the same as the "ordained end of election". There is no "contrast with the ordination to create".

The problem of "two ends" is overcome on the infra scheme by understanding "logically prior" differently than it is understood in the supra scheme. In the supralapsarian understanding of "logically prior" I agree that there would be two ends. But the supra scheme doesn't appear to follow its idea of "logically prior" through every step. Frame's observation on the supra scheme is that it equivocates on what "logically prior" means. I personally can't quite work out what a consistent supra ordering of the decrees would look like ... I think the whole idea of ordering may collapse ... either that, or it would look like the infra scheme in reverse.
 
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Steve Paynter

Puritan Board Freshman
Steve, first of all, let me post a number of links. You will probably not be surprised to discover that this has been discussed before, and it is quite possible that one of the previous discussions will do a better job of explaining things than I can do.

Thank you ... I think! ... for the links. I will try to follow them up ... I have followed a few. It is a little daunting being faced with so many.

I believe that my understanding is correct, and that ... as John Frame has argued ... there has been confusion in the historical debate. I am willing to be proven wrong (I really have no strong commitment to infralapsarianism), but only if I can be convinced that the supralapsarian scheme is not inconsistent, and that the supralapsarian rejection of the infralapsarian scheme is not based on a misunderstanding of the different concept of "logically prior" that the infralapsarian scheme uses.
 

MW

Puritanboard Amanuensis
God decrees to create people. Why? So that he may "subsequently" (and permissively) decree that they fall?

Do you believe that God made one decree after another in chronological sequence? If so, that will certainly confuse the issue.
 

py3ak

They're stalling and plotting against me
Staff member
Thank you ... I think! ... for the links. I will try to follow them up ... I have followed a few. It is a little daunting being faced with so many.

I believe that my understanding is correct, and that ... as John Frame has argued ... there has been confusion in the historical debate. I am willing to be proven wrong (I really have no strong commitment to infralapsarianism), but only if I can be convinced that the supralapsarian scheme is not inconsistent, and that the supralapsarian rejection of the infralapsarian scheme is not based on a misunderstanding of the different concept of "logically prior" that the infralapsarian scheme uses.

I think I could agree that John Frame appears to be confused about the historical debate. We know of Christ that it pleased that the Father that in him all fulness should dwell, and that in all things he should have the preeminence. Creation, the fall, and redemption are all subservient to that: they are means to that end.
 

Steve Paynter

Puritan Board Freshman
I believe that my understanding is correct, and that ... as John Frame has argued ... there has been confusion in the historical debate. I am willing to be proven wrong (I really have no strong commitment to infralapsarianism), but only if I can be convinced that the supralapsarian scheme is not inconsistent, and that the supralapsarian rejection of the infralapsarian scheme is not based on a misunderstanding of the different concept of "logically prior" that the infralapsarian scheme uses.

I think I could agree that John Frame appears to be confused about the historical debate.


I didn't actually say that Frame was confused ... but that Frame thought that the debate was confused. Although, I think the Rev Matthew Winzer expressed the opinion that Frame was mistaken in his analysis in his first post.

We know of Christ that it pleased that the Father that in him all fulness should dwell, and that in all things he should have the preeminence. Creation, the fall, and redemption are all subservient to that: they are means to that end.

I couldn't agree more! I have expressed earlier in the thread, that I think neither scheme as presented in the OP, fully captured the fact that God's glory is the ultimate "end". As I understand it, Christ pre-eminence is the penultimate end to that end. However, both schemes stop at the glorification of the elect ... a pen-pen-ultimate end, to coin a phrase.

The debate is over how best to articulate these "ends" using the idea of "logically ordered" atemporal decrees, where it is understood that there might be different kinds of "logical order" to choose from.

My understanding is that the infralapsarian scheme - understood correctly - affirms everything that the supralapsarian scheme wants to affirm, and does so without equivocating on what the "logical order relation" means.
 
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Steve Paynter

Puritan Board Freshman
I replied to this post once, but lost it. I don't have the heart to re-write it in full. This is a short version.

God decrees to create people. Why? So that he may "subsequently" (and permissively) decree that they fall?

Do you believe that God made one decree after another in chronological sequence? If so, that will certainly confuse the issue.

No, the "subsequently" was in quotation marks, as I only meant later in the sequence of decrees. The infralapsarian understanding of the ordering relation is that decrees earlier in the sequence provide the concepts needed later in the sequence. The reason that the earlier decrees are needed is so that the final decree can be made. In this way the "end" of the earlier decrees is read off the result of the final decree.

Consider the last three decrees, ordered the same in both the infra and supra schemes.

4. The decree that Christ would redeem the elect.
5. The decree that the Holy Spirit would apply redemption to the elect - regenerating them
6. The decree that the redeemed-regenerated-elect would be glorified.

This order works on the infra scheme, as there needs to be a redemption to apply in 5, and the end of 4 and 5, is 6.

This order doesn't work if it is assumed that the end of decree must be stated in an earlier decree. The fact that the supra scheme follows the infra order here is why the supra scheme (as expressed) equivocates on its understanding of the logical order used to order the decrees.
 

py3ak

They're stalling and plotting against me
Staff member
I was teasing, Steve, not trying to say you'd said that Frame was confused. I think I understand where you're coming from, and perhaps even why you think there's equivocation in the supralapsarian position. The first decree listed is what is accomplished last; but then it jumps to what is accomplished first. Thus from the glorification of the elect, you pass to creation as a necessary precondition. Is that more or less what you're thinking?
 

Steve Paynter

Puritan Board Freshman
I was teasing, Steve, not trying to say you'd said that Frame was confused. I think I understand where you're coming from, and perhaps even why you think there's equivocation in the supralapsarian position. The first decree listed is what is accomplished last; but then it jumps to what is accomplished first. Thus from the glorification of the elect, you pass to creation as a necessary precondition. Is that more or less what you're thinking?

Yes. Am I wrong to think this? I can't believe supralapsarians haven't got an answer to this. When I started this thread, I was assuming that I would quickly find someone who would point me to it.
 

MW

Puritanboard Amanuensis
The infralapsarian understanding of the ordering relation is that decrees earlier in the sequence provide the concepts needed later in the sequence. The reason that the earlier decrees are needed is so that the final decree can be made. In this way the "end" of the earlier decrees is read off the result of the final decree.

The idea that the infra- scheme is doing something unique is confusing of itself. If the discussion does not concern means to end in the logical arrangement of the things decreed the two views will consistently talk past each other.
 

py3ak

They're stalling and plotting against me
Staff member
I think I understand where you're coming from, and perhaps even why you think there's equivocation in the supralapsarian position. The first decree listed is what is accomplished last; but then it jumps to what is accomplished first. Thus from the glorification of the elect, you pass to creation as a necessary precondition. Is that more or less what you're thinking?

Yes. Am I wrong to think this? I can't believe supralapsarians haven't got an answer to this. When I started this thread, I was assuming that I would quickly find someone who would point me to it.

I don't believe I'd heard that idea brought up before. But it seems perfectly natural for the ultimate end to headline - what is first in intention, is last in execution. Creation is related to the ultimate end; but it is also related to the proximate end of existence and the fall. It is Turretin's twofold end idea that I can't accept in infralapsarianism.
 
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