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Author Topic: The Infralapsarian Or Supralapsarian Debate  (Read 8505 times)

Peng Bao

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The Infralapsarian Or Supralapsarian Debate
« on: December 10, 2003, 05:32:22 AM »
Greetings guys, I have read just about all topics discussed here, but I have yet to hear your views on the infralapsarian supralapsarian debate. I would be interested to find out which side of the fense you guys fall on, and why? I tend towards the supralapsarian view only because it does not support a "permissive will", but it's not written in stone. I'm open to your views.

Thanks for your input.

Pearson

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Re: The Infralapsarian Or Supralapsarian Debate
« Reply #1 on: December 10, 2003, 02:17:31 PM »
Most Reformed christians fall into the Infralapsarian category I do believe. I do know that the creeds have a decidedly Infralapsarian theology, and it's the position of choice for the reformed Churches. I would be interested in hearing why you, as a reformed christian, choose supralapsarianism over Infralapsarianism. What do you mean that it does not support the permissive will of God?

Gameboy

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Re: The Infralapsarian Or Supralapsarian Debate
« Reply #2 on: December 10, 2003, 02:54:01 PM »
Greetings guys, I have read just about all topics discussed here, but I have yet to hear your views on the infralapsarian supralapsarian debate.



I would first need to know what infralapsarian supralapsarian is. Is there some common way of explaining what you mean by that? In laymens' terms.

Reformer

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Re: The Infralapsarian Or Supralapsarian Debate
« Reply #3 on: December 10, 2003, 03:20:27 PM »
I would first need to know what infralapsarian supralapsarian is. Is there some common way of explaining what you mean by that? In laymens' terms.



If You want a "concise" definition, here is the best ones I've found, by Tony.

http://www.mountain-retreat.org/faq/glossary.html#infra-lapsarian


http://www.mountain-retreat.org/faq/glossary.html#supra-lapsarian


judykanova

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Re: The Infralapsarian Or Supralapsarian Debate
« Reply #4 on: December 10, 2003, 09:04:58 PM »
from glossary:
Quote
Supra-lapsarianism is from the Latin words, [supra], meaning "before," and [lapsum], meaning fall. Literally, before the fall. It is the doctrine that teaches that God chose the election for his own glory prior to the decision to let sin enter into creation, that man would fall. As opposed to Infra-lapsarianism which is the doctrine that God created the world first, and then having foreseen that His creation would fall into sin, declared an Election according to His grace. In other words, the "order" of God's decrees from the beginning.

I'm not sure what difference it makes, or what the implications are one way or the other?  I think it may be a mistake to assume either position, because it reduces God  to our limited linear thought processes.  We know God's powers greatly exceed our own, and I think it goes against Scripture to try to define God in these terms.  But perhaps I'm missing something here?

Isa 55:8-9
8 For my thoughts are not your thoughts, neither are your ways my ways, saith the LORD.
9 For as the heavens are higher than the earth, so are my ways higher than your ways, and my thoughts than your thoughts.

Rom 11:33-34
33 O the depth of the riches both of the wisdom and knowledge of God! how unsearchable are his judgments, and his ways past finding out!
34 For who hath known the mind of the Lord? or who hath been his counseller?


judy

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Tra Millwood

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Re: The Infralapsarian Or Supralapsarian Debate
« Reply #5 on: December 11, 2003, 05:16:47 AM »
Most Reformed christians fall into the Infralapsarian category I do believe. I do know that the creeds have a decidedly Infralapsarian theology, and it's the position of choice for the reformed Churches.

Actually, the infralapsarian/supralapsarian debate has been an ongoing debate among reformed and calvinistic christians for a long time. Reformed christians differ concerning the understanding of the order of God's decrees from eternity past.

It is true that the Canons of Dordrecht and the Westminster confessions are written from the infralapsarian position, but none of the reformed churches or creeds condemn the supralapsarian doctrine. And anyone who is learned and knowledgeable of reformation history is aware that the Canons and creeds were the product of, and endorsed by infralapsarians and supralapsarians alike.

Tra Millwood

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Re: The Infralapsarian Or Supralapsarian Debate
« Reply #6 on: December 11, 2003, 05:27:36 AM »
I'm not sure what difference it makes, or what the implications are one way or the other?  I think it may be a mistake to assume either position, because it reduces God  to our limited linear thought processes.  We know God's powers greatly exceed our own, and I think it goes against Scripture to try to define God in these terms.  But perhaps I'm missing something here?

judy


Judy, I don't know that it's an assumption, I think people make their decision which view they take based upon scriptures. I myself am infralapsarian, because I believe that the scriptures teach that God wouldn't ordain sin, even though He foreknew that sin would take place. I don't see that as trying to define God, but trying to follow the scriptures as faithfully as possible.

But I also understand what you are saying, and agree with your premise, if not the implications. I don't think that it is a doctrine which anyone has to understand, and good Christians are both Infralapsarian and Supralapsarian. It can be a point of discussion, but should never be a bone of contention.

 1 Corinthians 8:9 But take heed lest by any means this liberty of yours become a stumblingblock to them that are weak.


John

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Re: The Infralapsarian Or Supralapsarian Debate
« Reply #7 on: December 11, 2003, 09:31:03 PM »
Here is something I wrote a few years back, perhaps it will be fodder to stimulate thought on this subject.  If your head hurts and is spinning when done reading, then you did it right.

Originally, the difference between Supralapsarianism and Infralapsarianism was over the fall of man—--was it decreed by God.  Was the sin of Adam predestined by God (Supra) or did God merely allow it and use it for His benefit (Infra)?    Calvin held the Supra position.

After Calvin’s era the dispute changed emphasis.  Many Infras agreed that the fall was part of the decree and many Supras admitted that God weighed men’s sin into His decree.  

Both camps understand that God’s decrees as eternal, without temporal succession.  The original dispute over whether God decreed the fall has passed; if you are Reformed (not Arminian) then God decreed the fall; both Supra and Infras agree God planned the fall in His decree.  Both reject the idea that God is, or could be, the author of sin.  

The debate narrowed.  Supras allow God to permit sin, admitting Adam could not have not sinned.  Infras say God decreed Adam’s fall into sin, yet the decree only permitted sin rather than mandated it.    

Supras emphasize the positive decree for sin--—thus heading in the direction of making God the author of sin.  Infra’s emphasize God as permitting or allowing sin--—thus heading toward the error of Arminianism (free-agents).  

However, Infras and Supras deny equally that God is the author of sin.  Even in God's permission or allowance of Adam's sin, both agree sin was a certainty.  

Supra’s position is misstated by some, in which the Supra become guilty of God predestining men for eternal destruction, simply by His will, like a tyrant, without regard to men’s sin.  In this error God simply destroys His creatures to show His attributes.  Supras actually are careful to add that the damnation by God of the wicked is an act of His will.  This act of condemnation results from God’s Divine Justice before men’s sin.  

According to Supras, man is predestinated to be created and then to fall.  According to Infras man is predestined by God while created and while fallen.  

Supras follow this decree of redemption:  God decrees the salvation of some and the damnation of the rest, in His mind, prior to creation.  In time, God creates His elect and the reprobate.  God allows the fall.   God justifies the elect and condemns the non-elect.

Infras follow this decree of redemption:  God decrees to make men holy and blessed.  God allows men to fall by their own self-determination of will.  God then decrees to save some of the guilty.  God permits the rest to continue in their sin and will punish them as their sin deserves.

According to Supras, God always planned from eternity past to act upon His elect whom He foreknew; there was never a moment that God did not recognize their special status--—the elect were always God’s beloved.

According to Infras, this personal attention toward the elect did not occur until after the fall, when God decreed who the elect were and decreed to save them.  

Supralapsarian position is aided by: Ps 115:3, Prov 16:4, Isa 10:15, 45:9, Jer 18:6, Matt 11:25-26, 20:15, Rom 9:17,19-21.  The Supras use the potter as a picture of God’s sovereignty over His creation—--to make a vessel for glory and others for damnation--—all prior to creation ("Why didst Thou make me thus?").  The emphasis shows God as decreeing to save prior to creation.  Example:  Jesus says, "I will utter things hidden from the foundation of the world" (Matt 13:35).  

The Supras have an answer as to why God created the world and permitted the fall, while the Infra’s are unsure.  The Supras give full justice to God.  The Infra’s must ultimately say too, that God decreed the fall by God’s Sovereign good pleasure.  

Supras, however, by stating God did not mandate sin, but decreed it to happen, fail to find a solution to the problem of sin.  They cannot say that God decreed to bring sin into the world by His own direct means.  Supras cannot go beyond this:  That God willed to permit sin.  Man is certain to be created and certain to fall (creabilis et labilis).  

Supras do not allow God to decree both election and damnation equally.  Infras state that Christ as Mediator of the covenant of grace can only be thought of as Infra—--that is, there can only be a mediator after the entrance of sin (something to mediate).  

Infralapsarian position is aided by:  Matt 11:25-26, John 15:19, Rom 8:28,30; 9:15-16; Eph 1:4-12; 2Tim 1:9.  These passages imply the fall of man came before God’s election unto salvation.  The Reformed Churches in their official standards have always adopted the Infra position (Synod of Dort, Westminster Assembly).  

Objections to the Infra position are:  It does not solve the sin problem (neither does the Supra position). They avoid God willing sin, making God to only permit sin.  

Does this mean that sin was permitted but unaccounted for?  Did sin frustrate God’s plan?  To say yes is to join the Arminians.  Infras make sin God’s permissive decree -- permitted yet definite to occur.  If asked why God would decree to permit sin, they must state it is God’s good pleasure to do so, and come into agreement with the Supra camp.  

Is the reprobation of the wicked also God’s good pleasure then?  The Infra will say no, making the decree of God toward the reprobate conditional--—which leads again toward Arminianism.  Sin is common to all fallen men, and cannot be the cause of reprobation by God.  Why did God pass by those who are not elect?  Not because they sin, we all sin... but by His own good pleasure--—thus, Infras ultimately join the Supra camp when pushed.  

The Supra and Infra positions are not antithetical; they are an examination of a problem from differing points of view.  Both can find support in Scripture—--Supras in the Sovereignty of God and Infras in the mercy and justice of God.  

Both views, when dealing with the question of sin, make sin a permissive decree (unless God be the author of sin).  The Supra position finds merit because it has God’s decrees as a unit--—there is one final aim in view, that God willed sin (in some sense) and it was used by God accordingly to reach His objectives according to His pre-creation plan.  The Infra position finds merit in that Adam’s sin cannot be viewed as merely a means to an end!  Sin is not an element of progress, but rather as a disturbance of God’s prefect order.  

The Reformed standards hold to the Infras position, BUT do not condemn the Supra.  

The two positions, as I understand it, are dancing around a fundamental problem:  How did sin come into the human race without making God guilty of authoring it?  Neither camp would dream of God being guilty of forcing Adam into sin.  Yet, ultimately both must say God's will is done.  One camp says God "permitted" sin to occur for His divine purpose.  But really, what does it mean when we say "permitted"?  We cannot really escape God's sovereignty by hedging.  Neither can we say God mandated Adam to sin, for then we are close to alleviating Adam of sin - for who can resist God.  

In my mind (a bit too fertile some would say) I will seek a solution to the origin of sin!  Man was going to sin precisely as he did because God decreed it BUT also because we are by design ready (even as perfect beings) to reject God.   Adam, by design, would have NEVER sinned in a stable, uninfluenced environment. But give him an opportunity to choose between God and something else --and the something else wins.  No test, no sin -- provide a Law and sin is revealed.  

So in this the Supra position is correct -- God decreed all events -- and by design God exploited His own design to manifest rebellion.  God did not force Adam into it; He merely gave Adam a test to exploit him.

Adam had no thought to rebel until the idea was implanted and grew.  Satan had no thought to rebel (for how long who knows) but God implanted the idea and it grew.  I say, as all John-lapsarians do, that the fall of Satan was coincident with the creation of Adam -- Satan's testing program.  Just as Adam fell by design, Satan by design fell.  Again, there was no sin in Adam or Satan originally, no design flaw (so to speak)--they were perfect in all there ways -- until sin was found.  All it took was a test to bring it forth.  Certainly God is not guilty of sin for testing His own creation (knowing that it would bring forth sin).  Something may be in harmony in one environment, but introduce a new element (man) and the harmony is disrupted.  I see no reason why God should walk on eggshells (so to speak) to avoid tripping up His creation.  

Is God guilty for designing Adam such?  I say no.  God is not required to design a man who cannot rebel.  Yet, I reject free will -- Adam was in bondage to God (until something blocked his view of God).  His bondage merely altered -- his allegiance changed and he was found inexplicably in bondage to Satan.  

This is not Infra- or Supra-lapsarianism, it is John-lapsarianism and has at most one adherent.  I see then, both God decreeing the fall and God absolved from being guilty of forcing His will upon Adam.

john
Si hoc signum legere potes, operis boni in rebus Latinus alacribus et fructuosis potiri potes!

Deuce Johnson

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Re: The Infralapsarian Or Supralapsarian Debate
« Reply #8 on: December 12, 2003, 04:38:11 PM »
Very interesting John. But still, I'll remain infralapsarian. I think it best fits the Bible's image of God. Sovereign, but permissible. He created Adam perfect, yet able to sin, not perfect that he would sin. That just doesn't seem to make sense to me. Thinking about supralapsarianuism gives me a headache trying to figure out how God authored sin without authoring sin. I don't think the scriptures were meant to be that complicated.



Peng Bao

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Re: The Infralapsarian Or Supralapsarian Debate
« Reply #9 on: December 14, 2003, 11:10:21 AM »
Thanks for the replies. Those are certainly some interesting things to consider. Some of you seem to fall into the "I don't know and I don't care" category, but still, I think there's room for discussion of the issue. True, it's not a real do or die issue, but I think it's good to have a sound basis for any belief we hold, whether it's earth shattering or not.

I would like to know if the creeds really support infra? As I said, one reason that I tend towards supra is that I believe that infra speaks of God as having a permissive will, and I'm uncomfortable with that.

Proverb 16:4 "The LORD hath made all things for himself: yea, even the wicked for the day of evil."

I believe reprobation is subordinate to election. Being chosen by God, and being in reprobation, are not simultaneous, nor from coordinate beginnings. There is a distinct order to their intended purpose. That is to say, reprobation follows God's chosing us unto salvation in the divine order of God's decrees. If you disagree, why?

Your comments?

Kenneth White

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Re: The Infralapsarian Or Supralapsarian Debate
« Reply #10 on: December 15, 2003, 04:07:39 AM »
I don't think that there is any question but that the Canons possess a very clear infralapsarian teaching. The four standards of the reformed churches (Belgic Confession, Westminster confessions, Heidelberg Catechism, Canons of Dort) all have infralapsarian assumptions. I think that most reformed theologians would agree with that. Even Hoeksema (who bucks this trend of holding to the infralapsarian doctrine, and believes in supralapsarianism) reluctantly agrees with that. The canons teach that those whom God unconditionally elects, are not only God's sovereign creation, but God's fallen creations. Infralapsarianism is therefore, the unofficial, official doctrine of reformed Churches. We believe that man was chosen before the foundation of the world in God's foreknowledge of events, and after Adam fell, his purposes put into action. I believe that is the biblical order of the decree, and most reformed theologians agree based upon scripture. And what's more important than it being in the creeds, is that we believe it's the scriptural view.

As to why I disagree with your position, it is because I think that the very fact that the creature was perfect, and then fell, strongly points to an infralapsarian view of the divine decree. Likewise, the "covenant of redemption" was made after the fall. And I know the arguments against, but the fact that God had foreknowledge of all this before, doesn't prove he either wanted, it was his will, or that he predestinated that people would fall. It doesn't prove supralapsarianism at all. Foreknowledge is not predestination, but this is what many reformed christians I think believe. Doesn't arminianism also teach that foreknowledge is what predestination is? I am not saying that the two doctrines are alike, but the logic is the same.

Another point I'd like to address is your understanding of permissive will. I think we all must know that it does exist. For example, God foreknew that Hitler would gas millions of Jews. No christian would argue against that, we all agree. And having foreknowledge, God could have stopped that. But God permitted it to happen. Now here's where we have to be careful, because he didn't will it, cause it, or desire it, but by his permissive will, allowed it anyway. That could be called permissive will only in the sense that he could have stopped it, but (for his own purposes) it wasn't his will to do so. So I have no problem with my understanding of permissive will. We see it at work every day of our lives, because God could stop any horrible thing that he wants, but for his own purposes, he permits it.

And let me also say with regards to my arminian comments, so there's no misunderstanding, both the infralapsarian, and the supralapsarian positions are consistent with the required rejection of any type of false Arminian theology. Neither position is suggesting that the election was chosen after Adam fell, but differ only in the logical order of God's eternal decree. So there really is no dispute on necessary christian doctrine, only difference of opinion on the order of the divine decree.
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inspector

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Re: The Infralapsarian Or Supralapsarian Debate
« Reply #11 on: January 22, 2004, 03:22:22 PM »
It helped me to see it laid out like this:

Supralapsarinism
1.   Elect some, reprobate the rest
2.   Create
3.   Permit the fall of man
4.   Provide salvation for the elect
5.   Call the elect to salvation

Infralapsarianism
1.   Create
2.   Permit the fall of man
3.   Elect a number of people (quantity unknown)
4.   Provide salvation for the elect
5.   Call the elect to salvation

Amyraldism – Four point Calvinist position?
1.   Create
2.   Permit the fall of man
3.   Provide salvation sufficient for all
4.   Elect a number of people (quantity unknown)
5.   Call the elect to salvation

Arminianism
1.   Create
2.   Permit the fall of man
3.   Provide salvation for all
4.   Call all men to salvation
5.   Elect those who God knew would believe

Reformer

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Re: The Infralapsarian Or Supralapsarian Debate
« Reply #12 on: January 23, 2004, 06:01:02 AM »
It helped me to see it laid out like this:

Supralapsarinism
1.   Elect some, reprobate the rest
2.   Create
3.   Permit the fall of man
4.   Provide salvation for the elect
5.   Call the elect to salvation

Infralapsarianism
1.   Create
2.   Permit the fall of man
3.   Elect a number of people (quantity unknown)
4.   Provide salvation for the elect
5.   Call the elect to salvation



These are the only two positions which hold any merit. The others just serve to cloud the issue with unbiblical fodder.

Personally, I think that the infralapsarian view is the one which is most justifiable by the preponderance of scriptures. I don't think this chart truly does justice to either view. Because both sides believe that we were chosen (elect) from before the foundation of the world, and this chart doesn't really convey that. It could be misunderstood.

 Eph 1:4 According as he hath chosen us in him before the foundation of the world, that we should be holy and without blame before him in love:


inspector

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Re: The Infralapsarian Or Supralapsarian Debate
« Reply #13 on: January 23, 2004, 07:44:00 AM »
Sorry Reformer, I was not trying to cloud the issue at all. I agree that Supra and Infra are the only two of merit. I am Infra.

Steps 1-5, the way I show it here, should be understood in light of Eph. 1:4. :P

Reformer

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Re: The Infralapsarian Or Supralapsarian Debate
« Reply #14 on: January 23, 2004, 01:17:41 PM »
Sorry Reformer, I was not trying to cloud the issue at all. I agree that Supra and Infra are the only two of merit. I am Infra.

Steps 1-5, the way I show it here, should be understood in light of Eph. 1:4. :P

Oh there's no need to apologize, I understand you were pointing out the different views, and I get what you were saying. I was just pointing out that on the infralapsarian listing, it might be misconstrued that they don't believe that we were elect or chosen from before the foundation of the world by the placement of election at number 3 on the list(after the fall). I just didn't want anyone to think we believe that election was positionally after the fall. I'll be the first to admit that it can be confusing and is a difficult concept to grasp.


 


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