Introduction and Part 1: Supralapsarianism
This article will defend the necessity of a broader confessional basis for gospel predestination than what is commonly defined in the five points of Calvinism. TULIP Calvinism was formulated in response to the 1610 five articles of the Remonstrants, who were followers of Jacob Arminius. At the time of its assembly, when the Synod of Dort formulated TULIP, the issue of counteracting the five articles was paramount to continuing any semblance of a Reformation. Though the Synod of Dort resulted in a major advance in gospel truth at the time of its occurrence, the pertinence of those gains was later destroyed through the rise of evangelicalism under the immensely popular teaching of Andrew Fuller. A tongue-in-cheek confession of the 5 points still remains today. But for centuries Reformed Calvinists have shunned any doctrine of absolute, positive, double, and causative predestination. Arminians are embraced as full brethren in Christ and fellow evangelicals. There is a common teaching of passive, non-causative predestination of evil among both. Both the 'Calvinistic' and 'Arminian' strains of evangelicalism cherish and promote a doctrine of Gods general love, common grace, bare foreknowledge of rebellion that is permissive but not caused, and the free offer of the gospel to reprobates.
The position that will be enumerated here is being called 8-point Gospel Predestination, not 8-point Calvinism. It is high time that the present truth (2 Pet. 1:12) be defended on the authority of God's revelation in the apostolic gospel, not on the writings of any past expositor who embraced a predestinarian teaching. Some use the label Augustinianism for tagging professed Christian notions of predestination. How prepared are we to have our convictions stated in the name of Gus? Neither should we have them stated in the name of Calvin or any other teacher who espoused many schismatic anti-gospel teachings.
The 5-pointsattempt to clarify the plan of salvation as it occurs existentially within time. But these confessional statements are weak on the broader issue of how salvation and reprobation are purposed and carried out from the Divine perspective transcendent of time. So we need an expansion of past fundamentals to include the greater reality of how God personally relates to the determination of redemptive history--from the inception of time to eternity future. Adding the points of Supralapsarianism, Eternal Justification, and Active Decree to the historic five points of TULIP will provide a new and comprehensive basis for defending the truth of the gospel in future generations. These articles will provide a confession of gospel redestination that will permanently reject and stand against evangelical Fullerism and its anti-Reformation heresies.
For centuries the teachers of 'Calvinism' have joined the Arminian choir in singing that the difference between supralapsarian and infralapsarian is rocket science. It is alleged to be something that can't be understood by the man or woman in the pew. There is only one possible explanation for this phenomenon: Reformed teachers hate supralapsarian teaching and don't want the essence of it to be known or embraced. The difference is simple etymology. Supralapsarian means 'superior to' the lapse; infralapsarian means 'inferior to' the lapse. The lapse refers to the great sin of Adam (mankind) in the garden of Eden. The issue is whether God's purpose to redeem or condemn any descendent of Adam must contemplate and assume the lapse and the associated guilt of mankind unto damnation as an already established reality. If the answer is YES, then God's purpose of Grace is infralapsarian. If it is NO, then God's purpose of Grace is supralapsarian.
The infralapsarian position is based on the Augustinian view of the 'fall' of angels and mankind from a state of perfection and autonomous free-will (The City of God, The Enchiridion). Though many infralapsarians state that the fall was in some manner determined by God, they are unanimous in the assertion that: 1) Adam was created absolutely free from an impulse of rebellion, and 2) Adam of his own autonomous free will chose to rebel against God, in spite of having absolutely no tendency or desire to rebel. Augustine in The City of God also expounds with great length on his doctrine of a Satan created originally in sinless perfection that rebelled with absolutely no proclivity to do so. This interpretation has gone mostly unchallenged by Roman Catholics and Protestants to this day. John Milton in Paradise Lost gave us a whole novel based on the speculations of Gus. It is important to note that contemporary scholars cannot find these doctrines in Second Temple Judaism. In the context of discussing the Qumran teachings on the universality of human sin, Daniel Falk observes:
. . . in the Hodayot there is no speculation about the origin of the human sinful nature. Rather, the point of such statements in hymnic contexts is to stress human nothingness before God. [Editors D.A. Carson, Peter T. OBrien, Mark A. Seifrid, Justification and Variegated Nomism, Vol. 1: The Complexities of Second Temple Judaism, Baker Academic, Grand Rapids, 2001, p. 28.]Such a conclusion only illustrates the unquestioned assumption of the Augustinian doctrine of original sin--as the only possible conclusion any student of Gods revelation could possibly support, now or at any time in the past. But the doctrine in any systematic exposition was unknown before Gus; there are only snippets of a few similarities to it in various sectarian writings. Falk clearly sees an absence of it in the Qumran manuscripts and refuses to admit the alternate doctrine of evils origin that is clearly taught in them. In 1QH Col. 6-Col. 12 and 1QS Col. 3-Col. 4, the origin of sin in every spirit (whether angel or human, elect or non-elect) is clearly attributed to the direct creation of God with the end of magnifying His glory.
A doctrine that angels and man fell from an original state of sinless perfection is hopelessly paradoxical. It cannot be rationally explained, so the contradictions inherent in it are exhorted to be a mystery that no human being is permitted to inquire into. The conclusion is a resultant paradox theology of predestinationinfralapsarianismthat promotes an unexplainable synthesis of Gods foreordination and mans autonomous free will.
Another teaching that steers institutional Christianity into the infralapsarian camp is the 'satisfaction' view of the atonement taught by Anselm. It is fully embraced by both Roman Catholics and Protestants. The difference between 'satisfaction' and 'propitiation' is crucial to understand in the context of infra vs. supra lapsarianism. The satisfaction theory teaches that God owes the atonement of Christ to a law external to Himself for which He must satisfy its demands. In contrast, propitiation (Rom. 3:25; 1 John 2:2, 4:10) in the New Testament simply means that God purposes to appease His own deserved wrath against the rebellion and sin of His elect by executing such wrath upon Himself in the person of Jesus Christ. God's purposes are not directed toward satisfying an eternal law governing His actions; they are instead directed to the exercise of Grace in Christ toward those whom He purposes to create unworthy-- so that His Grace will be magnified! In God's eternal purposes,Grace is in every way superior to law. Law is created by God within time to increase the knowledge of sin and intense guilt associated with rebellion against Him (Rom. 5:20). It is not something that God owes any of His actions to.
Infralapsarianism is a slippery slope that logically yields to Arminian free-will theory and ultimately ends in pure skepticism. If God purposed the origin of sin to magnify His grace in the redemption of His elect and His wrath in the damnation of the reprobate, the infralapsarian doctrine falls along with teachings on a fall of a perfectly righteous Adam and the satisfaction theory of the atonement. The supralapsarian teaching on the absolute sovereignty of God in both His dispensation of grace and wrath--transcendent of any foreseen good or bad in the creature (Rom. 9:6-24)--is the only possible conclusion for those who love the truth of the gospel.