Supralapsarian Discussions

The following is a series of comments on Facebook on the lapsarian debate. I affirm supralapsarianism while those who interact with me all either affirmed infralapsarianism or had infralapsarian leanings. Eventually in the course of the conversation we all discuss other issues such as compatibilism, equal ultimacy, and whether or not God is the author of sin. For the sake of space and clarity I will only provide my own comments and the quotations of what I am responding to. Comments that I responded to will be in bold and italics while my own comments are in regular text. There are at least three people that I speak with, but I will not indicate who said what.

When we talk about election and reprobation, did God do so viewing man as fallen or unfallen? This is a question I’ve had for a while.

Unfallen

But in order for God to have mercy we have to be considered as fallen

God’s action of election is not then merciful in any sense which presupposes sin.

[I quote John Gill]:

“Besides though election is not an act of mercy, yet it is far from having any tendency to lessen the mercy of God, and does, even according to the Supralapsarian scheme, abundantly provide for the glorifying of it; since, according to that, the decree of the end is, the glorifying of the grace and mercy of God, tempered with justice; The decree of the means provides for the bringing about of this end, which includes creation, the permission of sin, the mission of Christ, sanctification, and complete salvation; so that the elect of God may well be called vessels of mercy; since through such means, they are brought to eternal life and glory; though, in the decree of the end, they are considered as not yet created and fallen, than which nothing can more tend to advance the free grace and mercy of God.”

Also, not to toot my own horn, but infralapsarianism degenerates into arminianism with reference to the election and reprobation of the angel. I wrote about this recently in mah blog post.

So God electing sinners is not an act of mercy?

Not if mercy in the way that you are using it presupposes sin no

I don’t think it is close to Arminianism because both camps acknowledge that God decreed whatever comes to pass.

Actually an infralapsarian scheme with regard to the angels results in God electing the angels according to foreknowledge. I wrote a blog about it but I don’t want to post my blog unless you want me to. Let me ask you this, do you believe God has the right to make people wicked? Maybe you could give your reasons for why or why not.

Well that might be a hypothetical question you just asked. Does he have a right too? I guess. Does he? I don’t see scripture going that way. God is never responsible for the damnation of a sinner. That is always the sinners fault

Notice your language really quick though: “responsible,” “fault.” God is not responsible with reference to MORALITY, but he is responsible with reference to CAUSALITY. God makes people sin, but that does not make God morally culpable. God is not at fault for making people sin, nor is he at fault for making vessels of wrath fit for destruction.

Also, “But these, like irrational animals, creatures of instinct, born to be caught and destroyed, blaspheming about matters of which they are ignorant, will also be destroyed in their destruction” (2 Peter 2:12) seems to imply supra, since they are born/created for the prior purpose of destruction.

Lol, news flash folks, the majority of Calvinists in history, including the majority opinions at Westminster and London were at a severe risk of degenerating into Arminianism.

I realize that most people were infras. If they were consistent and applied the same infra to the angels like Francis Turretin, they would conclude, as Turretin did, that God elected the angels according to foreknowledge, which results in God’s knowledge being contingent upon creation. Just because the majority of Calvinists in the past have disagreed with me does not refute what I said.

There still has been no demonstration of how supralapsarianism is even possible.

Well who have you read on this issue?

The beings that God is electing or reprobating have no ontology if there is no decree for the world to even exist yet.

In the words of Thomas Aquinas, God creates all things according to his own divine exemplars. God knows us through his own thoughts about us. God logically first has an idea of us and then creates us according to his idea. God first regards us without reference to the fall, and then choose to create these individuals, and then causes the fall in order to achieve his prior goal of the redemption of the elect and damnation of the reprobate. I’d like you to clarify the problem. Obviously we have no actual ontological status before we are beings, but why would this disprove that God can elect without reference to the fall?

It’s not a logical progression.

It’s interesting that supras are the ones who emphasize logic. The creation and fall are the means of achieving the end, which is redemption and damnation of the elect and reprobate. The end goal is logically prior.

Before people have any being, God is damning them for a Fall that is not even set into place yet.

You’ll have to clarify because I do not know what you mean. God’s decree of reprobation means that he chooses to reject them and punish them. He accomplishes this through the means of creation and the fall. What is the problem?

There’s no rational behind this at all.

Yes you repeat this but I would like you to clarify.

“God is not responsible with reference to MORALITY, but he is responsible with reference to CAUSALITY.” This is not the exclusive domain of Supra in any way, shape, or form.

I never was arguing that it was. I was just clarifying Ben’s language.

And, since we all acknowledge that God is responsible with reference to Causality, it makes little sense to assign to God’s causality an irrational order of decree, one which damns people whose existence has not even been yet determined.

Refer to the first response, and I still need clarification on what the problem is… God must first have an exemplar of an individual in his mind before he creates.

Honestly it seems to me that the only way to consistently argue the supra position is to make God the author of sin.

God causes sin, but does not himself sin. God is the author of sin. Why do you object to God being the author of sin? This PDF may help you:
http://www.vincentcheung.com/…/The%20Author%20of%20Sin…

That’s why right now I favor the infra position because it seems more consistent

Consistent with what exactly?

Consistent with election being an act of mercy.

It is certainly merciful for God to not choose to reprobate you. It doesn’t mean that sin is the prerequisite for mercy in the context of election. Maybe the link to John Gill’s comments will help you Ben.

““he [Edwards] refutes the fundamental argument of the supralapsarians. They contend that the last thing in execution was always the first in intention. That is, the actual reprobation and salvation of some proved that this was the original intention behind the creation, fall, salvation and damnation. Edwards critiques this … MAN WAS NOT CREATED THAT HE SHOULD BE CONVERTED OR REPROBATED. … God decreed the fall of man, yet Edwards sees this as an anti-supralapsarian. As we shall show in the Edwardsian doctrine of man, the Holy Spirit was Edwards’ donum superadditum. Adam’s failure to call upon Him was the occasion of the fall. God did not first harden Adam’s heart; this wicked deed was Adam’s own doing” (2:161, 164).”

I hold this to be incorrect. This assumes that God is passive. However, God is never passive but actively controls everything. Until you can demonstrate that God is passive in reference to anything, the idea that sin was solely metaphysically “Adam’s own doing” cannot be substantiated. Verses like Isaiah 45:7 prove that God does all things. This can be called occasionalism, or “hard” determinism, which is really just theistic determinism.

There’s no sense in which people exist before God’s preponderance of their salvation in Supralapsarianism

God always considers an individual as his own or as a reprobate sure. But this seems to apply to infra too…

and that which does not exist does not have personhood

So God cannot ever conceive of an individual person as being a hypothetical person? How? Certainly God can conceive of a hypothetical person with personhood, otherwise God would not be able to think of people who will not ever exist since he has to first create them before knowing them as a person! I hope that makes sense. Essentially the argument makes it so that God has no ability to think of possible people which limits God’s knowledge which is absurd.

How can it possibly be rational for God to determine the end of persons who have no personhood.

You have not established that actual being and not merely hypothetical being is the prerequisite to personhood.

God determines persons
Mr. X is a person
God determines Mr. X 
^This is what Infra gives you

God determines persons
Mr. X does not yet have personhood
God determines Mr. X
^This is what Supra leaves you with, and it clearly doesn’t follow.

This relies on the idea that actual being is the prerequisite to personhood, which you have not shown.

Persons have the image of God, no being which lacks existence can bear God’s image

Certainly they do not bear his image in an ACTUAL way, which is really just another way of saying that they exist, but certainly a hypothetical person can bear the image of God hypothetically. There is no problem then.

ergo

Refer to the first response to realize that you haven’t proven anything against the rationality of supra.

rationality dictates that preponderance of non-existent beings cannot be dealings with persons

They are hypothetical persons hypothetically bearing the image of God when God conceives of them in his mind. You do not seriously believe that God is unable to think of hypothetical person whom he will never create do you?

so if it is truly our fate, as persons, that God is determining, there must be decreed creation prior to decreed judgment

You haven’t proven that actual existence is the prerequisite to personhood. You’re just repeating yourself. Refer back to my last response.

And, once creation has been decreed, it is further irrationality to suggest that God would bring true justice by damning those whose deserving of that justice was not equally set in stone

Why? Why can’t God cause people to sin in order to damn them? Where in the Bible does it say this? Why is it irrational? Do you believe God would be immoral to do so? Immoral according to God’s standard? Where has God commanded himself to not cause people to sin in order to punish them?

so both the decree to create and the decree of the Fall must logically precede the decree of any judgment

No, you have merely repeated the unsubstantiated claim that sin is the prerequisite to God’s decree of reprobation. Prove it. Stating it does not demonstrate it. Stating it is begging the question because I reject it. You also cannot prove your personhood argument since it limits God’s knowledge.

The end result is Infra, not Supra

Refer to previous comments.

“The end goal is logically prior.” To infer Supra from this would be like saying that my end goal is to bake a cake, so I must take the cake out of the oven before I create and mix the batter.

No it’s literally the opposite of what you said. A baked cake is the end goal, so it is the prior idea in your mind. In order to achieve the goal of having a baked cake, you accomplish what is in your mind to the reverse. So here’s the order in your mind:
1. Baked cake
2. The ingredients for the cake
3. I need to go to the store for these ingredients

You accomplish these in time in the reverse order:
1. Go to store
2. Organize ingredients
3. Have a baked cake

This is about exactly what Gordon Clark has said:

https://douglasdouma.wordpress.com/2014/06/02/the-supralapsarianism-of-gordon-h-clark/

Your comment about its order seems to be empty ridicule of supra, without any actual justification or explanation for how supra makes us take the cake out before having the ingredient. As conceived of IN THE MIND, it is this order since our primary goal is the baked cake, but we accomplish these IN TIME in the reverse order.

The end goal doesn’t open a door to non-rational processes

You keep saying irrational, but you never seem to explain yourself. Your assessment above is incorrect and I have clarified it for you.

An exemplar of a person presupposes that this person is one who is already part of a fallen world set, which again results in Infra

No… As Aquinas categorized it, there are different types of exemplars. The exemplars of things that now, have, and will exist are distinct from the other exemplars by merit of God’s will, but this says nothing of the fall or conceiving of us as already created.

“the end goal is logically prior” What if the end goal is not people in hell and new h/earth but rather His own glory in redemptive history and communion here and there?

Then you have Robert Reymond’s modified of Supralapsarianism. But God gets glory from punishing the wicked and saving his elect, so the two are not at odds.

No, you don’t, because there are no wicked. There are no persons. There’s no actual content to the people being condemned because their is no decreed world in which it is set that will deserve punishment.

God decrees to create these individuals and causes them to sin in order to redeem the elect and damn the non elect. These individuals are hypothetical persons. You have not demonstrated that God has no capacity to think about hypothetical persons.

You’re just repeating the infra assumption that sin is the prerequisite for reprobation which supra such as myself reject, and so you are begging the question. God planned to punish a specific set of hypothetical individuals prior to their sin, so that he can accomplish his goal of punishing them through the means of the creation and fall. God causes them to deserve punishment in order so that he can punish them. Infras are left without a purpose for the fall. God decreed creation and the fall, but what was the purpose for the fall? It was not to plunge humanity into sin in order to redeem the elect and punish the reprobate? Then what was the purpose of God’s decree of the fall? The infra position degenerates into God merely foreknowing the fall of the angels apart from his determinative plan, and causes the fall to accomplish no prior purpose. You liked to throw around the word “irrational,” and I contend that this word may be applied to the infra position, which posits a fall which accomplished nothing.

It’s humorously ironic that you talk about infra leading to Arminianism

In reference to the reprobation and election of the angels, if the angels are chosen according to an infra scheme, then, just as Francis Turretin says, God conceives of the angels as unequal, and chooses them based on his foreknowledge of their obedience or disobedience. I write all about it in my blog post here:

https://dealoftheology.wordpress.com/2015/05/12/francis-turretin-an-infralapsarian-account-of-the-reprobation-of-the-angels-2/

That will explain my assertion that infra degenerates into Arminianism in the context of the angels. I’m not a wild eyed supra calling errbody Arminian. I have a specific reason.

when it is your own theory that follows the Arminian in separating God’s foreknowledge from God’s decree.

Where and how do I do this? Please explain. See the last comment. The infra does this when they posit an infra account of the angels. Supras actually do the opposite of what you state.

This is again the point of Edwards. Since for God to foreknow is for God to decree, then for God to foreknow the end result is for God to have decreed everything that brings him to such a result.

Of course God knows the means to baking a cake. He knows that it contains ingredients, and if he so wished, he knows that in order to get the ingredients, we go to the store. That doesn’t mean that God first decrees to go to the store, because we have no purpose for going to the store without the prior idea of baking the cake. Likewise getting ingredients without the prior goal of baking the cake in mind is meaningless, sine we wouldn’t know what the ingredients were for. Thus, obviously God knows these other factors, but their logical order begins with the end goal, and then the means to the end. God obviously knows that punishment requires sin as a prerequisite, but he first chooses who to punish and then decrees the sin in order to accomplish his goal of punishing them; same with election and redemption. God obviously knows that the method of redeeming the elect is the fall, but God decrees the fall according to his prior plan of redemption, otherwise God’s decree of the fall is meaningless. Election and reprobation give a context to the fall. What does the fall accomplish in the infra view? What was its purpose?

Thus, for him to determine people’s destinies with the knowledge that he will create is for him to have already decreed creation

That like saying baking a cake requires knowledge of all of its ingredients. False. The goal of baking the cake provides the context for these ingredients. Likewise, these hypothetical individuals and God’s prior purpose of election, reprobation, and God glorifying himself, provide the context for God’s decree of creation. Otherwise, creation is absolutely superfluous. If creation and the fall had no goal then what is there purpose? If infras want to argue teleology, I contend that the supra position is simply superior and can make sense of its order.

for him to decide on the fate of men that he knows will be fallen

Once again, baking a cake that he knows will have certain ingredients. You’re saying that you get the ingredients before you have the idea to bake the cake. However, in your view, you give no context for the ingredients? Ingredients for what? Why? For what prior reason? Likewise, creation and fall for what? Why? For what prior reason? For no reason in the infra position.

is for him to have already decreed the Fall

So we think about cake ingredients before knowing that they are for a cake. This makes no sense to me.

To suggest that this is not true is to suggest that the Arminian is right when he says that God’s simple foreknowledge can exist while man still has libertarian freedom

See my blog post. Turretin separated foreknowledge from decree in the context of the angels. I do not follow your reasoning. God foreknows everything because he decrees everything that comes to pass, but there is an order to God’s foreknowledge, and that foreknowledge begins with the end goal of his glory, election and reprobation, and the means to it. If you cannot tell me what the purpose of the fall was in the mind of God, then why would infra be superior?

and you must then stake the doctrine of Calvinism on your ‘certainty’ that you are right about the order of God’s decree and they are not.

My Arminian comment stems from infras basing God’s knowledge upon creation in the context of the election of the angels. Please explain how supra does this. See my blog post above.

The Infra, by contrast, can be more rational

Even though you give no reason or context for the creation and fall in the mind of God and you think about ingredient before knowing what the ingredients are for?

and hold that for God to know the end goal is for him to have decreed everything that leads up to it, and simultaneously

So according to the infra position, first a person thinks about going to the store for ingredients he hasn’t thought of yet, then he buys ingredients for a dish that he hasn’t thought of yet, and only after all that he thinks of the cake. No. Quite the opposite.

rationally declare that because God’s foreknowledge is God’s foreordination he can properly show the Arminian the impossibility of the libertarian premise

See previous comments and my blog post. Infra makes the Angels libertarian free in election.

and can put forth a theory of his own where God’s determinations of justice deal with actual persons, not speculative notions with no determined content and no decreed wrongdoing.

But then, once again this renders the creation and fall meaningless since there is no prior purpose for them.

Blake said: //God decrees to create these individuals and causes them to sin in order to redeem the elect and damn the non elect.//

Such an “equal ultimacy” position simply doesn’t do the scriptural data justice … the scriptural context for reprobation is that of God’s judicial response to sin, reprobation is a consequence of sin, not its cause.

I would say equal ultimacy is inescapable in Romans 9 and the rest of scripture. God actively hardens hearts. I do not see this myth of “passive” in God accomplishing his decrees. Romans 9:18 says he hardens hearts and other places say that he blinds. How is this passive? How does Romans 9 not teach equal ultimacy as you call it? I will read on.

the scriptural context for reprobation is that of God’s judicial response to sin

But this is just begging the question since supras like myself deny this. What was the purpose or cause of sin in the first place? So God responded to himself decreeing the fall? How is this coherent? Why did God choose to decree the fall with no prior intention? How is this rational?

reprobation is a consequence of sin, not its cause

I address this extensively in my blog post above. This is begging the question, and in my post I reply to Turretin’s only two reasons for it. By definition I reject it, so restating a position I reject gets us nowhere.

See, for example, the word translated in the KJV as reprobate in Romans 1:28:

Is this word truly relevant?

And even as they did not like to retain God in their knowledge, God gave them over to a reprobate mind”

http://biblehub.com/greek/96.htm

The Greek adjective adokimon (reprobate) means “failing to pass the tests” so that it is incorrect to offer the passage as reading:

Oh but you are confusing God’s decrees happening in time with the logical order of God’s eternal decrees. God has eternally decreed to give these over to this degenerate mindset, that’s just predestination 101, but he decrees their disobedience in the first place, and then responds to this disobedience, which he has eternally decreed, by giving them over. I believe you are confusing the order in time with our discussion of the logical order of God’s decrees, as Turretin also did as I showed in my blog.

Single ultimacy (“Equally, God elects and God damns”) just doesn’t fit scriptural data like this.

See the comment above. You are confusing categories. This verse is about the outworking of events that happen in time. Since the verse is irrelevant to the discussion, we can certainly fit this in to supra, since the verse does not enter the discussion of the logical order of God’s eternal decrees.

// I’m not a wild eyed supra calling errbody Arminian. I have a specific reason. // There’s too much heat behind the accusations, and they are simply not true and not welcome.

What heat? Which accusations? I’m not certain what you are talking about. I’m being heated? Where and how? I have responded to Zach in a far less “heated” way than he has spoken to me.

“Infra =/= arminian.”

Oh I see. That’s what you think is heated. Well I have not stated this. I have made sure to qualify my statements to the context of the infra account of the election of the ANGELS which I write about in my blog post above. With reference to humans, infra is not Arminian, but with reference to angels, infra makes God’s knowledge contingent on creation and not himself, which is an Arminians version of foreknowledge. This is what I mean. And how are my comments not welcome when that is what this post is about? Are only infras allowed to respond? I didn’t realize that discussion was not allowed.

I think conscientious participants should abstain from the association, whether express or implied.

Well I mean to qualify my statement. Sorry that it was not clear. With reference to the election of the angels, infra becomes Arminian-like.

Equal ultimacy does make God the author of sin. There’s no way around it if you affirm equal ultimacy.

No one is denying it. God is the author of sin and does not himself sin. There is no problem with God being the author of sin. Scripture teaches it. It doesn’t make God evil, it merely restates the fact that God controls and creates all evil. Read Vincent Cheung’s book, I already posted it. Did you see it? I thought I already gave the link.

http://www.vincentcheung.com/books/The%20Author%20of%20Sin%20(2014).pdf

When God hardens someone’s hearts all he has to do is give them up to their sinful desires and their hearts will be hard.

The problem is that you are inventing passivity in order to circumvent a problem (God being the author of sin) which is not a problem. Essentially you are denying the teaching of scripture in order to avoid concluding with a conclusion that you do not like. But the bible teaches both. How do you justify the idea that God hardens hearts passively? The verse makes no such suggestion.

Ok that would be hyper Calvinism or anti Calvinism my friend.

Giving it a label is not the same as refuting my position. If this is hyper Calvinism then the bible teaches hyper Calvinism. However, I reject your application of the label. I consider hypercalvinism not evangelizing because of predestination. That’s hyper. My position is simply the consistent application of scripture. Cheung is brilliant in his articulation in his book. Please refute it or clarify your understanding of it before you reject my position merely because of your tradition.

Reformed theology does not teach that.

Classic reformed theology is wrong in this point. Refute it before you reject it merely according to your tradition.

God is the creator of the wicked but he is not the infuser of their sin as AW Pink put it.

But this is exactly what john 11 teaches when it says that he gave Caiaphas the idea to crucify Jesus. A myriad of other texts can be cited. Everywhere where it says God hardened a heart so that someone disobeys affirms my position and refute your passive theory.

Il read it when I have time. I’m not rejecting it based in tradition but based on the fact that the Bible doesn’t teach that. Even Calvin didn’t go that far

Actually there is evidence that Calvin did go that far. Saying the bible doesn’t teach it is begging the question and not a refutation. Here some more resources for you:

“Who are you, O Calvinist, to say that God cannot be the author of sin, and the one who directly creates and hardens wicked men? Who are you to say that God merely passes by the reprobates, when Scripture states that he forms them by his own hands as a potter molds clay into trash cans and toilets? You hypocrite! You pretend to defend the justice and holiness of God, when the matter arises only because you have judged him by the standard of man. With one hand you rob God of his divine sovereignty, and with another you repay him in human righteousness. Who are you, O man, to think that you can get away with this? You are nobody. You are nothing.”

http://www.vincentcheung.com/…/14/but-who-are-you-o-man/

I take tremendous exception to this blatant twisting of Scriptures very words to make an argument.

You have yet to demonstrate that this is a twisting. Until you refute it, this is just an assertion.

The text of the Word of God was changed and added to in order to serve your purposes. Frankly, I find it disgusting and I’m not going to continue this conversation with someone supports the use of that tactic.

Well if you paid attention you would know that I was quoting a blog post that I didn’t write in order to summarize the message of the post. And using this language is not inherently wrong unless you can refute it. Until you refute active reprobation then there is no reason that this is “twisting” anything. He was merely applying the same language to make a point, after proving his position.

I’d be embarrassed if someone supported my position with such a tactic.

It was a single blurb in an entire blog post which helped to summarize the point of the blog post. He wrote more than that.

Frankly, I find it disgusting

Why? You find it disgusting cuz you think that the doctrine I am articulating is wrong, but until you disprove it, you have no right to be disgusted. Saying that you feel nauseous is not a refutation.

and I’ not going to continue this conversation with someone supports the use of that tactic.

I was quoting a blog so that you would know what the blog is about. You’re being arbitrary and do not respond to any of my posts. I realize if you do not have enough time, but you haven’t refuted me or given any specific responses to my responses when I have responded to you nearly line by line. But if this is too tedious then I understand. That’s totally fine. I just have a lot of free time at work with little to no customers which is why I am able to type out all of this.

Do you are do you not agree with these statements:

“God has decreed in Himself from all eternity, by the most wise and holy counsel of His own will, freely and unchangeably, all things which shall ever come to pass.
– Yet in such a way that God is neither the author of sin nor does He have fellowship with any in the committing of sins, nor is violence offered to the will of the creature , nor yet is the liberty or contingency of second causes taken away, but rather established.

Depend what your view of this is. I reject compatibilism. If “second causes” means God is not the one sinning but that I am the one sinning then sure. If no violence against my will is offered means that I do what is according to my will and not against it then sure. But if you are talking about compatibilism and that this irrelevant version of freedom is necessary for human moral responsibility then no. So you first have to define what you think this means when it says secondary causes, free will, and author of sin. If this sentence denies that God sins then of course, but if this sentence means that God doesn’t directly cause people to sin, then I reject it.

– In all this God’s wisdom is displayed, disposing all things, and also His power and faithfulness in accomplishing His decree.

Yep. God directly controls errthing.

By the decree of God, for the manifestation of His glory, some men and angels are predestinated or foreordained to eternal life through Jesus Christ, to the praise of His glorious grace.

Jah.

Others are left to act in their sin to their just condemnation, to the praise of His glorious justice.”

Yupp.

When the Bible talks about God having mercy it never says that God has mercy from reprobation

And I don’t know who you think said that. We were talking about mercy in the context of election not reprobation.

I’m just going to say that that is a silly argument.

What is a silly argument? No one was saying that God has special mercy on the reprobate.

Rather Gods glory shines because he has shown mercy to sinners.

So God’s glory doesn’t shine when he punishes sin? Again I’m not sure what you are talking about.

If Gods glory is his main goal than infra is the only logical conclusion

How so? Can you write out a syllogism so that I can examine the premises that lead to that conclusion?

Blake, I’m sorry the Romans 1:28 position didn’t convince you. There is no legitimate way to read it as if the text indicates that first God hardened the heart, then the sinner was compelled to sin. That is simply not what the text says. In fact, it indicates precisely the opposing point: because of the sinner’s sin, (or “failing to pass the test”) God as a judicial consequence gave them over to reprobation.

[[[At this point I was not able to respond to all of the points over Facebook since I was at work and it was tedious for me to go back to the thread later to pick up the discussion again. Let me here take the time to respond to these comments. Let me first remind the reader that I have already dealt with this comment on Romans 1. In the lapsarian debate there are a few necessary things to keep in mind. We are talking about the LOGICAL order of God’s eternal decrees in the mind of God and not the TEMPORAL EXECUTION of these decrees. Romans 1 is speaking of God giving these individuals over to a darkened mind with relates to the execution of God’s decrees in time, and not the logical order of God’s decrees. Thus, this is obviously and irrelevant text to the subject at hand. The author of the above quotation is incredibly confused when he says that God “gave them over to reprobation.” Reprobation is the eternal decree of God to punish a specific group of individuals whom God will never give faith in Christ. Reprobation is accomplished in time, but the eternal decree of reprobation by definition is not decided in time, as the author seems to imply.

Furthermore, not only is Romans 1:28 irrelevant to the logical order of God’s decrees, but the decrees relating to the lapsarian debate are not even discussed. Election, reprobation, creation, and the fall are not mentioned. Obviously we can be confident that these individuals that God hands over to a darkened mind are the reprobate, but this text does not specifically mention any one of these, much less does it mention that God considered the elect and reprobate as fallen as the infralapsarians maintain.

The author states: “There is no legitimate way to read it as if the text indicates that first God hardened the heart, then the sinner was compelled to sin.” In response to this I say that God is the immediate cause of all things and nothing happens passively. As Calvinists, we believe that God predestines and works all things after the counsel of his own will. If something happened, it is because God caused it. It is true that Romans 1 does not enter into this discussion, but is taught elsewhere such as Isaiah 45:7 and Ephesians 1:11. However, Romans 1 does not indicate what the cause of the people’s sin is in the first place either, so neither can he conclude that these individuals sinned outside of God’s control. Consider the verse:

And since they did not see fit to acknowledge God, God gave them up to a debased mind to do what ought not to be done.”

Why didn’t they see fit to acknowledge God? Obviously the scriptural answer is that God is the metaphysical cause of all things, and that those who do not acknowledge God and who die in their rebellion are vessels of wrath fitted for destruction as Romans 9:22-23 states. God does not decide who the reprobates are based upon their works, which is what the author implies when he argues that God reprobates people in response to their evil actions: “because of the sinner’s sin, (or “failing to pass the test”) God as a judicial consequence gave them over to reprobation.” This is outrageous and absurd. Romans 9:11-13 teaches that God hates and loves those whom he chooses before they are born and before they do anything good or evil. This is election and reprobation. To say that God makes his choice due to foreknowledge is Arminianism. Calvinists need to stop flip-flopping between Arminianism and Calvinism, which is what the infralapsarian position helps to inspire. The reason that God gives these people over is in response to the sin that he himself caused them to commit. This is what predestination teaches, and this is what Romans 9 teaches. This is Calvinism. This is the truth of God, and individuals such as the ones above are either incredibly ignorant, or incredibly confused pseudo Calvinists.]]]

There is another example in Jeremiah 6:27-30. Judicial hardening, or reprobation occurs not before the sinner sins, as its cause, but instead after sin, as a judicial response.

“They are all grievous revolters, walking with slanders: they are brass and iron; they are all corrupters. The bellows are burned, the lead is consumed of the fire; the founder melteth in vain: for the wicked are not plucked away. Reprobate silver shall men call them, because the LORD hath rejected them.”

[[[This man simply does not know what reprobation is, since he thinks that reprobation is a response to temporal actions rather than an eternal decree of God that takes place without reference to an individuals works (Romans 9:11-13). He uses the term “reprobation” in a manner that is completely incorrect and irrelevant to the discussion. Reprobation is not the temporal punishment of sinners in this world, but is an eternal decree of God whereby he decides to make vessels of wrath and fit them for destruction. He most likely makes this mistake because of the KJV translation. This verse translated in the KJV uses “reprobate” differently from how we use it in our lapsarian discussions.

And, once again, what is the metaphysical cause of these individuals’ rebellion? The verse itself does not say. Therefore this verse, even if it was relevant to the discussion, would not be able to support my position, nor his position that God reacts to people as if he does not control their actions. The reason that they are corrupters in the first place is the determinative will of God. To deny this is to deny predestination and to deny Calvinism. This individual is clearly not a Calvinist if he thinks that God chooses and rejects individuals based upon their works. The Bible, Calvinist, and myself state that the opposite is true, namely that the actions of these individuals is determined by God’s prior acceptance or rejection of them. This is Supralapsarianism. God first decides who to save or condemn, and next God decrees the actions that lead these individuals to either be redeemed or to be condemned. Infralapsarians, I am noticing, have an annoying tendency to bring up irrelevant scriptural passages, and then boast about how they have proven their position, much like how Arminians and Pelagians quote passages that speak of individuals’ “choice” and then conclude that they have proven free will.]]]

//Yep. God directly controls errthing. // Well, that is just the sort fatalistic Christian pantheism good reformed folks must reject, I spoke about the topic previously here:

http://a1689fellowship.podbean.com/e/44-gods-secret-ways/

See the third section “Against a Fatalistic Reformed Pantheism” …

I think your view (and Cheung’s) is nothing short of a causal form of pantheism, in which God is the sole, single, dominating, immediate cause, to the minimizing of all other participating agencies. More wholesomely, the 2nd LBCF authors were careful in their wording in Chapter 3 so as to eliminate such a pantheism from reformed orthodoxy.

[[[He must first indicate how God must be identified with things he directly controls. Saying that my position is pantheistic is pure slander, and has been answered by Cheung himself, who I reference previously in this discussion. This individual believes that in order for distinct identities to exist, it is necessary for there to be distinct metaphysical causal agents as well. This is false. I am not God, and God directly controls all of my actions. There is no pantheism to this; until he proves that distinct causal principles are necessary to produce distinctions in identity, his assertion is pure slander.

As for fatalism, fatalism is the doctrine that teaches that events will happen regardless of the means, and that all events are controlled by blind, impersonal forces. I deny that an event will happen regardless of means, and I deny that these events are controlled by blind, impersonal causal forces. God is the personal and direct cause of all things, and he uses means to accomplish ends. There is no substance behind these accusations.

Vincent Cheung has a section specifically devoted to this; Chapter 7: Determinism, Fatalism, and Pantheism.]]]

Conclusion

I did not find a satisfactory answer to my challenges, and I am still convinced that supralapsarianism is the Biblical position. It is unfortunate that many of these individuals made unjustified assertions, and this gentleman at the end who accused me of pantheism and fatalism slandered me, but still these discussion were fun. I hope you benefitted by reading.

Francis Turretin: An Infralapsarian Account of the Reprobation of the Angels

Francis Turretin (1623-1687) was a Reformed Scholastic theologian who was born and raised in Geneva Switzerland, the capital of the Christian Reformation in the 16th and 17th centuries. Turretin wrote a work that is now published in three separate volumes called Institutes of Elenctic Theology. What this work essentially is, is not only the positive affirmation of true doctrine, but also affirmation of true doctrine in light of the refutation of false doctrine. Consequently this work is highly polemical, examining and refuting the perspectives of papists, Socinians, Arminians, etc.

I decided to read Turretin’s account of infralapsarianism and his reasons for denying the supralapsarian position (a summary of which can be found here). Since I have recently become a supralapsarian, I decided to examine my position in light of his criticisms. The first section that I will be interacting with is his account of the reprobation of the angels. I will address the rest of his arguments against supralapsarianism itself in another post.

Election And Reprobation Of The Angels

1. Turretin’s Position

Turretin and I both agree that scripture teaches the election of not only people, but also of angels. This teaching comes from 1 Timothy 5:21, where Paul charged Timothy in the presence of God and in the presence of “the elect angels.” Since scripture elsewhere speaks of the punishment of certain angels that have disobeyed God (2 Peter 2:4), this means that scripture likewise indicates that not only did God decree the election of some angels, but also the reprobation of some angels as well. Turretin, having granted these things, next seeks to determine the logical order of God’s decrees, whether or not God considered the reprobate angels in reference to the fall, or without reference to the fall.

Turretin asserts that God reprobated some angels on account of their fall, not that some angels fell in order to fulfill God’s decree of reprobation. This means that the elect angels were elected on account of their obedience, while the reprobate angels were reprobated on account of their fall. Turretin asserts this because he contends that only the fall makes an angel reprobable:

“the angels cannot here be considered only as pure but liable to fall (as in the case of the elect), but as fallen. First, because the creature’s liability to fall does not make him reprobable; rather the fall itself does…Again, all reprobation absolutely considered is an act of justice and wrath…Third, because the predestination of men also presupposes sin…Therefore the angelic reprobation also presupposes sin” (Giger 336).

This quotation demonstrates that Turretin believed that the fall (i.e. sin) is the necessary prerequisite for reprobation. However, these points merely beg the question, since supralapsarians reject all three of them. The supralapsarian position directly denies that only the fall makes an individual reprobable, that reprobation presupposes sin, and that the decree of reprobation is one of justice (not that supralapsarians say reprobation is unjust, but Turretin uses justice to mean judgment for sin, which simply reasserts that reprobation presupposes sin, which we deny). Turretin acknowledges that he must justify these infralapsarian assertions in order to disprove supralapsarianism, so next he gives some reasons for why reprobation must presuppose sin.

2. Reasons Why Reprobation Presupposes Sin

From what I see, Turretin gives only one argument for why reprobation must presuppose sin, and therefore his entire infralapsarian account of the reprobation of the angels hinges solely upon the validity of the following reason:

“The Scripture seems to lead us to this – making reprobation the consequent of sin – when it says that ‘God spared not the angels that sinned, but delivered them when cast down, into chains of darkness, to be reserved unto judgment’ (2 Pet. 2:4). And Jd. 6 says that he ‘has reserved unto the judgment of the great day the angels which kept not their first estate.’ Therefore they are conceived to have sinned and left their first estate before they could be conceived as reprobated (since the first degree of reprobation is placed in dereliction in the fall and in rejection from the face of God). Therefore he did not reprobate and devote to eternal punishment those whom he would permit to fall; but those whom he had permitted to fall by their own fault” (336).

This entire argument is pure equivocation. The texts he cites above prove thatpunishment presupposes sin, but he has not proven that reprobation presupposes sin. Therefore, Turretin equivocates God’s eternal decree of reprobation to mean punishment in Hell. This is unacceptable. Both infralapsarians and supralapsarians believe that God’s judgment of sending a person to Hell presupposes sin. Thus, these texts do not prove the infralapsarian position, since they have nothing to do with God’s eternal decree of reprobation or the logical order of God’s decrees, but only the fact that God punished some of the disobedient angels.

Much of Turretin’s confusion arises especially in 2 Peter 2:4, where it says some angels were “reserved unto judgment” after they had sinned. Turretin argues that this reservation unto judgment (which he incorrectly equivocates to mean reprobation) occurred only after the angels had sinned and therefore this reservation unto judgment comes as a result of sin. Therefore, punishment (equivocated to mean reprobation) presupposes sin. However, Turretin bases this reasoning upon a temporal order and not a logical order. All lapsarian positions articulate the logical order of God’s decrees. Since Turretin uses a verse which only describes a temporal order (i.e. punishment in Hell takes place in time after a person sins), Turretin not only misuses a verse that has nothing do to with the topic, but also makes an argument that has nothing to do with the topic. Neither this verse nor Turretin’s argument discusses the logical order of God’s decrees, which renders both of these as completely irrelevant, since the lapsarian debate is solely about the logical order of God’s decrees and not the temporal execution of them.

To summarize this section, Turretin fails to establish the proposition that reprobation presupposes sin. He commits the fallacy of equivocation by equating punishment to reprobation, he cites two verses which only discuss the temporal execution of God’s decrees and not their logical order, and likewise derives an argument from these verses which relate only to the temporal execution of God’s decrees and not their logical order. It is safe to say that Turretin has not come close to proving that reprobation presupposes sin, and by implication he has not proven infralapsarianism, neither has he disproven the possibility of surpralapsarianism.

3. Implications

Now that I have refuted Turretin’s faulty reasoning for why reprobation must presuppose sin, I want to articulate some of the troubling implications of his doctrine. First, I will clarify what Turretin’s position is. Next, I will explain how this position is nothing short of Arminianism. Lastly, I will demonstrate how this is an attack upon God’s self-sufficiency.

A. Turretin’s Position Restated

Turretin, by asserting that reprobation presupposes sin, applies the same infralapsarianism to angels as he does to humanity. Infralapsarianism is possible for humanity since all of humanity is fallen, and therefore God may consider the object of humanity as already fallen logically prior to election and reprobation. However, the angels are different from humanity since not all angels are fallen. Therefore, God does not elect the angels from a fallen mass of angels. Since there is no fallen mass of angels for God to elect and reprobate, this means that God elects and reprobates angels without reference to sin, and therefore reprobation does not presuppose sin, but rather supralapsarianism is established. Louis Berkhof states this exactly in his systematic theology:

“There are points of difference between the predestination of men and that of the angels: (1) While the predestination of men may be conceived of as infralapsarian, the predestination of the angels can only be understood as supralapsarian. God did not choose a certain number out of the fallen mass of angels” (123).

Berkhof and I assert that the election of the angels can only be regarded as supralapsarian. If the election of the angels may be considered supralapsarian, then there is no problem with regarding the election of humanity as being supralapsarian as well. However, Turretin rejects this argumentation. He says that in the same way that reprobation presupposes sin for humanity, “the angelic reprobation also presupposes sin” (Giger 336). Thus, Turretin argues that the cause of the reprobation of the reprobate angels is their sin and not the sovereign purpose of God. Since these angels who fell away did so according to their own autonomous choice and not according to a prior purpose of God, these angels were inherently worse than the obedient angels. Given that Turretin regards some angels as better and others as worse, he states, “angels were considered by God as unequal” (337). For those who were better, God elected. For those who were worse, God reprobated.

B. Arminianism

Turretin’s account of the election of the angels is indistinguishable from Arminianism. Essentially this means that God predestined the angels according to his foreknowledge of what they would do, rather than foreknowing according to his eternal decree of predestination. Here is Turretin’s reasoning:

“For those of them who were elected were regarded as standing by the grace of God. On the contrary, the reprobate were regarded as having fallen by their own fault. Liability to fall was indeed common to all, but they could not be reprobated on account of it. Otherwise all would have been reprobated because this was a state of pure nature; but they were reprobated on account of the fall…and so justly reprobable” (337).

Turretin struggles with non sequiturs in his reasoning. No one argues that the cause of the reprobation of the angels is their liability to fall. This is irrelevant. We argue that the sole cause of reprobation is the will of God. Since Turretin thinks that he has countered a major objection, he feels justified in concluding that the cause of reprobation is the fall. This means that God did not predestine the fall of these particular angels, but that these particular angels fell away by chance. God would not be justified in purposing some to fall and not others, since his purpose for some to fall away would be according to a decree of reprobation, but a decree of reprobation is not possible without presupposing sin, and therefore God did not purpose the sin of the reprobate angels, but sin’s occurrence was purely coincidental. God could not have decreed the reprobation of any angel in particular before the fall, since “they were reprobated on account of [the fall],” and thus, God had to base his knowledge and election upon the autonomous acts of his own creatures. The reprobation of the angels was not on account of God’s eternal purpose, but based upon events over which God had no control.

As Berkhof points out, this cannot be considered predestination, election, or reprobation at all:

“According to some [the predestination of the angels] simply means that God determined in general that the angels which remained holy would be confirmed in a state of bliss, while the others would be lost. But this is not at all in harmony with the Scriptural idea of predestination. [Predestination] rather means that God decreed, for reasons sufficient unto Himself, to give some angels, in addition to the grace with which they were endowed by creation and which included ample power to remain holy, a special grace of perseverance; and to withhold this from others” (122-123).

Whereas Berkhof correctly explains the Biblical concept of predestination as being God’s particular choosing of some individuals rather than others, Turretin explains the predestination of the angels as God’s general decree of saving the good and damning the disobedient. This is Arminian corporate election, which is not election at all. The proper understanding of predestination is that God specifically chooses who will be saved and who will be punished in the first place according to the counsel of his own will; predestination does not refer to a general decree that God will consign a faceless mass of angels to salvation or punishment based upon free actions which God does not determine.

C. God’s Self-Sufficiency Denied

Turretin asserts that God regarded the angels as unequal logically prior to his election and reprobation of them. This is outrageous. This would mean that the cause of the angel’s inequality was not God. But if it was not God who decided which angels would fall and which would not, what is the deciding factor? The deciding factor of the inequality of the angels depended upon events over which God passively foreknew, and did not control. This means that God was forced by nonexistent beings and events to create a world which would result in the reprobation of particular angels and the election of others. God had no real choice in the matter. God had to play cards with the hand he had been dealt, as the molinists say. The rhetorical question remains, who is the god that dealt God these limited options?

In addition to the fact that Turretin’s infralapsarian scheme devolves into a type of Arminianism, it has pernicious consequences to our understanding of the knowledge of God. If God makes decisions according to his passive foreknowledge and not according to the counsel of his own will, then this would mean that God’s knowledge is partially contingent on creation. Indeed, Turretin makes God’s knowledge and choice of reprobation contingent upon the angels’ autonomous decision to fall away. However, this is not the case, since it would deny God’s self-sufficiency, that all knowledge comes from God, that God himself is truth, and would deny that God does not take counsel outside of himself. Consider the following verses:

“The God who made the world and everything in it, being Lord of heaven and earth, does not live in temples made by man, nor is he served by human hands, as though he needed anything, since he himself gives to all mankind life and breath and everything. And he made from one man every nation of mankind to live on all the face of the earth, having determined allotted periods and the boundaries of their dwelling place…” (Acts 17:24-26)

“For who has known the mind of the Lord, or who has been his counselor?” (Romans 11:34)

“In him we have obtained an inheritance, having been predestined according to the purpose of him who works all things according to the counsel of his will” (Ephesians 1:11)

“…to reach all the riches of full assurance of understanding and the knowledge of God’s mystery, which is Christ, in whom are hidden all the treasures of wisdom and knowledge” (Colossians 2:2-3)

Acts 17 declares God’s absolute self-sufficiency. Not only does God not need anything from creation, but creation itself wholly relies upon God. God is the one who gives life and being to all things; it is God who determines the boundaries of our dwelling places and who determines and controls everything. Romans 11:34 is a quotation from Isaiah 40:13, explaining that God does not take counsel with his creation. He is not informed by creation, he does not learn anything knew from it, and he never reconsiders his plans in light of peoples petitions, for we pray to God according to God’s determination in the first place. For Ephesians, this proves that God controls everything, and that he controls everything upon the basis of his own will and nothing else. God’s will never changes or varies, and God never makes plans based upon anything other than his will. Colossians proves that all knowledge is hidden in Christ, meaning that all knowledge comes from God himself. Since also Christ says that he is the truth (John 14:6), all reality is defined by him, and all true knowledge submits to his rule.

There is no true knowledge external to God. God does not depends upon creation for his knowledge of creation, but rather creation conforms to God. This contradicts Turretin’s Arminian account of the infralapsarian reprobation of the angels. Whereas scripture states that God is totally self-sufficient, that God does not take counsel with creation, and that all knowledge is hidden in God and defined by God, Turretin portrays God as receiving counsel from creation, that God’s knowledge depends upon creation, and that God is not wholly self-sufficient. To put it bluntly, Turretin’s account of God’s passive foreknowledge turns God into a creature. The consequences of Turretin’s arguments are not only anti-Calvinist, but anti-Christian, and ought to be an embarrassment to any person who calls themselves a reformed theologian.

Conclusion

Infralapsarianism is based upon unjustifiable assumptions. The only argument Turretin gives in support of the idea that sin is the necessary prerequisite of reprobation has been shown to be invalid. When this infralapsarian assumption is applied to the reprobation of the angels, Turretin’s theology degenerates into Arminianism, claiming that God’s election of the angels is based upon passive foreknowledge as opposed to God’s sovereign choice.

Works Cited

Giger, George Musgrave, trans. Volume One: First Through Ten Topics.
Phillipsburg: Presbyterian and Reformed Publishing Company, 1992. Print.
Vol. 1 of Institutes of Elenctic Theology. 3 vols.

A Common Objection To Supralapsarianism

The lapsarian debate revolves around the logical order of God’s decrees. All Reformed Christians believe that God has decreed whatsoever to come to pass from eternity, so that all things are predestined and controlled according to God’s will and good pleasure. All Reformed Christians likewise believe in election and reprobation, that is, God has chosen from eternity to save a specific group of people from their sins, and has also chosen to not save the rest from their sins, but that they may be condemned, all to the glory of God. The lapsarian debate hinges upon the logical order of God’s decrees. There is no temporal order to God’s decree of election, reprobation, Creation, or the Fall since they have all been decreed from eternity, but most agree that there is a logical order to each of these decrees. The question is, what is the correct order? First I will define lapsarianism, infralapsarianism and supralapsarianism, and then I will reply to a common objection against supralapsarianism. I myself favor supralapsarianism.

Lapsarianism

The reason this debate is lapsarian has to do with the Fall. Genesis 3 gives us an account of Adam’s transgression, where Adam disobeyed God by eating the fruit that God told him not to eat. As a result of Adam’s sin, the whole human race fell into a state of sin, depravity, and misery. Adam was our representative in the garden, so when he sinned, all of humanity sinned in him, resulting in the condemnation of the whole human race, just as it says in Romans 5:19, “For as by the one man’s disobedience the many were made sinners…” Lapsarianism comes from the Latin “lapsus” which means to slip or Fall. This term has been applied to Adam in Genesis 3, since Adam fell away from his original righteousness into sin and corruption. Even in English we have remnants of the original meaning, since to relapse means to fall back into a former condition. The lapsarian debate hinges upon whether God’s decree of election and reprobation logically precede or proceed God’s decree of the Fall.

Infralapsarianism

Infralapsarianism means infra or below the Fall. Infralapsarians hold that the logical order of God’s decrees are first Creation and the Fall, while election and reprobation logically follow. Therefore, infralapsarians believe that God elected his people in view of the Fall; that God chose who to save and who to condemn out of an already fallen mass of humanity, as the Canons of Dort affirm in the first main point in Article 10:

“But the cause of this undeserved election is exclusively the good pleasure of God. This does not involve God’s choosing certain human qualities or actions from among all those possible as a condition of salvation, but rather involves adopting certain particular persons from among the common mass of sinners as God’s own possession.”

All who were chosen or rejected were considered as fallen and condemned already. Therefore election is decreed by God to save his elect out of this condemnation, while the reprobate are left in their fallen state to be condemned.

Supralapsarianism

Supralapsarianism is the opposite of infralapsarianism; it means supra or above the Fall. Although their are various modifications, supralapsarians hold that God’s decree of election and reprobation logically precede God’s decree of the Fall. This means that, contrary to infralapsarianism, God elects and reprobates irrespective of the Fall, and therefore does not view people as already fallen during this decision. To the contrary, God decreed the Fall in order to accomplish his decree of reprobation.

Summary

1. This is the logical order of Infralapsarianism: (1) Creation, (2) Fall, (3) Election and Reprobation

2. This is the logical order of Supralapsarianism: (1) Election and Reprobation, (2) Creation, (3) Fall

A Common Objection To Supralapsarianism

Infralapsarians are keen to object to supralapsarianism upon the basis that it is contrary to God’s nature. How can God choose to condemn an individual when they have done nothing worthy of condemnation? Infralapsarians assert that sin must be the precondition of reprobation in order for us to protect God’s character. To say that God decrees the Fall in order to accomplish reprobation is totally against God’s loving character they would say, and therefore we must believe that God chooses to condemn or to save only in light of the fact that humanity is already condemned.

Answer

Infralapsarians level this challenge against supralapsarians without realizing that they face the same false predicament. Through their own reasoning, how do infralapsarians face the difficulty of believing God decreed the Fall? If sin is a prerequisite to reprobation, then how is God justified in decreeing sin in the first place? If there is no precondition needed to justify God decreeing the Fall, then why would there need to be a precondition justifying God’s decree of reprobation? Since God decreed the Fall that would originally condemn all of humanity in the first place, there is no reason to think that God’s decree of reprobation must presuppose sin. The supralapsarian scheme is more logical because the Fall serves the purpose of accomplishing God’s decree of reprobation, whereas in the infralapsarian scheme the Fall does not appear to serve as the means to any specific end.

Conclusion

While the debate is much more complex than this single objection against supralapsarianism, this particular objection seems to be the most popular. If infralapsarians use the argument above to oppose supralapsarianism, then they are shooting themselves in the foot, since the same standard applies to them. So, in summary, I have defined lapsarianism, infralapsarianism, and supralapsarianism, and although I have not given a positive defense of supralapsarianism here, I have defended the supralapsarian position against a common attack. God willing I will have more to say on these issues in the future.