The Order of Divine Decrees (Decree)

Discussion in 'Baptist Theology & Bible Study' started by Alex Quackenbush, Sep 14, 2007.

  1. Alex Quackenbush

    Alex Quackenbush
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    Robert McLaughlin in his “The Doctrine of the Divine Decree” provides profound insight on the subject and deals effectively with the errors of Calvinism and others on the matter.

    McLaughlin begins with this:

    I am quite interested not only in the theological issue but the practical application and the implications (which for the believer is admittedly still quite theological if they claim to be a student of the Word). The work is encompassing of many of the facets and claims of Calvinism such as how they define predestination, election and the atonement (reducing it to a limited atonement).

    In dealing with the order of the divine decrees McLaughlin addresses Lapsarianism as a whole and covers Supra-lapsarianism, Sub-lapsarianism, Infra-lapsarianism and Arminian Lapsarianism and their order of divine decrees:
    * Walvoord and Chafer hold to the order of Infra-lapsarianism above but others view Infra-lapsariainsim as follows:
    Infra-lapsarianism
    Create
    Permit Fall
    Elect
    Provide Salvation
    Save the Elect

    McLaughlin himself then provides his insight regarding the order of decrees:

    McLaughlin identifies Supra-lapsarianism. as “Hyper-Calvinism or Beza's theory. This theory states that first there was the decree to elect some to be saved (a false position) and to reprobate all others” He refers to Sub-lapsarianism as “a form of moderate Calvinism” (no double predestination as in Hyper-Calvinism) and Infra-lapsarianism also as “a form of moderate Calvinism” but adds that though it is not correct it is “close to the correct Biblical view” with its understanding and accepting of unlimited atonement but confusion on election. And then Arminiain-Lapsarianism, which is self-identifying, McLaughlin rightly segregates and identifies as a works oriented salvation not rightly representative of election as well.

    The work goes on to deal with human volition, the directive and permissive will of God and much more. In fact one last quote is worth noting without spoiling the reading adventure for anyone interested. McLaughlin deals effectively with the realities of Divine Sovereignty and Human Volition in this statement:
     
    #1 Alex Quackenbush, Sep 14, 2007
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  2. russell55

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    He's got some things mixed up. Infralapsarianism has the decree of election directly after the decree to permit the fall. Then comes the decree to atone for the sins of those he elected.

    What he's labled infralapsarianism is really amyraldianism—the decree to redeem comes before the decree to election. Some people call this sublapsarianism, too, but sublapsarianism is used for different things by different theologians, so it's a term that's best not used as it ends up being confusing.

    Here's a chart. (I wrote a series of pieces on this subject once, and I can attest to the accuracy of this one.)

    It is also unfair and innaccurate to claim that arminian salvation is "by works". That is not arminianism, but pelagianism.

    Honestly, I didn't read much else in the OP, because if someone makes these rather elementary mistakes, I find it hard to take what he has to say on the subject seriously.
     
  3. Alex Quackenbush

    Alex Quackenbush
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    And of course this is all I read of yours. Next please!:laugh: :laugh:
     
  4. Rippon

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    Mr. A.Q. : Don't be so dismisive of what R55 has said . You do want to be made aware of factual errors , do you not ? Your author (R.b. ) got a number of things mixed up ( intentionally perhaps ) .

    He said that "Limited atonement is blasphemous." Now that is not a very astute observation . He doesn't address the fact that most Calvinists call it particular redemption . Calvinists do not limit God .

    On another anti-Calvinist website : "Sold Out At Romans 7" by Dr. Vic Reasoner he matter-of-factly stated that Theodore Beza was John Calvin's son-in-law ! When those kind of error-filled remarks are laced throughout a diatribe it's time to give it a good riddance .
     
  5. russell55

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    Okay, I had time after supper to come back and read the rest. It too, contains several factual errors and also a bit of fuzzy thinking.
    He is mistaken on this, too. Simply being a supralapsarian is not enough to qualify as a hypercalvinist. Hypercalvinism has a specific definition. It is a school of supralapsianism that
    [Source]

    Only those supralapsarians who deny the offer of the gospel and the duty of all people to believe it are hypercalvinists. All hypercalvinists are supralapsarians, but only a small minority of supralapsarians are hypercalvinists.

    While it may be true that some individual Arminians trust in their works for salvation, it is not, as systemitized by theologians in ordered decrees, a works oriented salvation. In an Arminian decree order, God elects those "who would believe of their own free will."

    It is also incorrect to say that in an Arminian order of decrees, the decree of election occurs in time. In an Arminian order of decrees, election is of "those whom [God] foresaw would believe of their own free will." [Source]

    In fact, it is nonsense to say that any decree occurs in time. If the decision occurs in time, it does not belong in an order of decrees. By definition, all the decrees in an order of decrees occur before time, because is the order of God's plan for salvation, drawn up by him before the foundation of the world. That's why they are called God's eternal decrees.
    This is the decree to create. All the other stuff would customarily not be included in an order of decrees. For one, part of it is obvious just from the order itself. Mankind has to be created in the status of perfection because this comes logically before the decree of the fall. Other bits of this statement may indeed be part of the theological system, but they they aren't part of the logical order of the plan of salvation, because they aren't the specific logical foundation for the next item in the order.
    This is the decree to permit the fall. Once again, the other stuff shouldn't be included for the second reason listed above.

    This is the decree to provide salvation. All the other statements are unnecesary, since the placement of this decree in the order makes it obvious that this is not particular redemption, since it comes before the decree of election.

    Customarily the decree to pass over and the decree to elect are one single decree. This would be the decree to elect those who will believe.

    So the order is:
    • Create
    • Permit fall
    • Provide salvation for all.
    • Elect those who will believe.
    It is, essentially, the same as the Arminian order of decrees.
     
    #5 russell55, Sep 14, 2007
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  6. Alex Quackenbush

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    He dismissed most of the OP so he has the problem with dismissiveness so I suggest you preach that sermon to him. Secondly, the author I was quoting was also representative of Walvoord's and Chafer's chronology in Infra-lapsarianism. While no one is infallible I believe both men are respectable company.
     
  7. Alex Quackenbush

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    Nothing like beginning with an insult to set yourself up as the one to provide illumination. Bad precedent for establishing the integrity of debate but inconsequential I suspect to the keen inquirer.
    I find the definition of a Hypercalvinist quite fluid, changing readily with each Calvinist I meet who has some theologian they are ready to quote to qualify their "special" definition.
    And why pray tell is your "SOURCE" to validate your claim that only a "small minority" of Hypercalvinists are supralapsarians? On what exhaustive statistical work are you basing this claim? Or is this a supposition you want treated as fact, something you eschew in others but possible embrace for your own arguments? But forgiving your glaring double standards, let's say you are correct, this does not make the author wrong, simply inclusive and not exclusive in his categorization. I am sure you can survive that.
    You seem to believe "Theopedia" is your answer to all things theological. I suggest you invest in sources outside of the singular claims of "Theopedia". You simply disagree with the author and believe your conclusions about a theological system you don't even hold to are superior to his. A common occurrence among Theologians and you are no exception.

    So says you of course but the end of Arminianism requires the decree of salvation to be within time since it is within time that one, "according to Arminianism" determines through their works whether they are saved or not. You missed the obvious here.

    Possibly this paragraph was typed in haste, I have been guilty of that myself. However, as it stands its construct makes an effective response very limited. I find it puzzling that you believe mankind was created in the "status of perfection". As far as your objection to the logical order of things, you can indeed object but objecting and simply saying "it isn't logical" doesn't provide any argument demonstrating its lack of reasonable logic.


    And again, this is what you believe, fine. Obviously not everyone believers what you do nor categorizes as you do. I believe you of course are wrong and misunderstand the "end" of Arminiainism, making it distinctive from other orders of lapsarianism, but hey, that's okay, that is what the board is for, debate.
     
  8. russell55

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    In common usage, yes, the word is used many different ways. But what I gave you was a definition from a theological dictionary, and I think if you consult other theological dictionaries, or even other systematic theologies, you'll find the word used in a more technical way than it is in everyday language, and the definition will be consistent with the one I gave you. And since an order of decrees is a technical theological thing, it'd be a good idea to define the words you used consistent with the technical theological usages.

    You got it backwards. It's only a small minority of supralapsarians who are hypercalvinist. All hypercalvinists are supralapsarians, but not that many supralapsarians are hypercalvinists. I've read that several places, and it's a common sense conclusion. True hypercalvinists are a pretty rare breed. Supralapsarians, not so much so. I can give you a fairly long list of well-known supralapsarians, and none of them would deny the indiscriminate offer of the gospel.

    It means he's using not using the technical definition of the word, and for someone who is proposing a theologically technical list, it's a pretty major shortcoming.

    Not really. I've actually done a lot of research on this subject and read pretty widely on it. I linked to the chart at theopedia because, in this case, is pretty consistent with what I found out and it's simple. The definitive work in the issue is B. B. Warfield's, The Plan of Salvation, but it's pretty long and the language is difficult, so I chose to link to the chart instead.

    I'm not a theologian; I've simply read up on this issue. I found it interesting because it's a logical exercise.

    By definition, eternal decrees cannot be made in time. If God only actually decides something in time, then it isn't an eternal decree, and therefore can't be included on a list of eternal decrees. But Arminians would say that God decides based on his foreknowledge of events in time, but he makes the decisions before the foundation of the world. In that way, they are still eternal decrees and not decrees made in time.

    Why? Which theological system doesn't have man created in the status of perfection?
    I don't know how I can explain it better than I did. Ordering the decrees is a logical exercise. Each decree builds logically on the previous one, kind of like doing a proof in geometry. If a statement isn't necessary in order to build a logical foundation for the next item on the list, then conventionally, it isn't included in the order of decrees.

    God decreeing to permit the fall assumes the presence of creation. It doesn't necessarily assume the reasons given in that decree. That doesn't mean they aren't true, or aren't part of the theological system. They just wouldn't be included in the ordered list of decrees because they aren't the specific building blocks supporting the following decree. I don't know how to explain it better than that.

    Furthermore, if the decrees are in logical order, how can you have mention of salvation before the decree to permit the fall? God's decision to save people has to be logically grounded in his decision to allow humankind to fall, so any mention of salvation in the ordered list of decrees has to come after the decree to permit the fall.
     
    #8 russell55, Sep 15, 2007
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  9. npetreley

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    Russell55, have my babies. No, seriously, here they are. Take them. ;)

    Translation: Very well said.
     
  10. russell55

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    The words supralapsarianism and infralapsarianism themselves were chosen because they communicate precisely the order of the decrees within the system. The prefix of each word has to do with where the decree of election is in relation to the decree of the fall (laps). Supra means "above", and in a supralapsarian scheme, the decree of election is directly above the decree to permit the fall. Infra means "below", so in infralapsarianism, the decree of election is directly below the decree to permit the fall. The rest of the orders aren't really lapsarian at all, since the decree of election is not directly related to the decree of the fall. Hence their more traditional names are amyraldianism and arminianism.

    I'm not sure why Walvoord and Chafer don't get it right, since those particular names for those particular systems were worked out in the 17th century. And yes, they are respectable, but even respectable people have areas in which they aren't expert.
     
  11. ReformedBaptist

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    Ain't nobody gettin my babies. lol
     
  12. russell55

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    Oh boy! :rolleyes:
     
  13. npetreley

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    Yeah, I wouldn't part with my kids for anything. But I couldn't resist the joke.
     
  14. Alex Quackenbush

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    Good, glad you understand that.

    When "Theopedia" is considered and employed by in large within the community of Protestant Evangelicals as an academically and theologically body of credible work and research then we can talk about its definitions and terms. Until then it doesn't cut it.

    I find Hypercalvinists to be quite common. Now I do realize that some Calvinists are Hypers but avoid the use of that name in identifying themselves because of the ridiculousness of the teaching of double predestination bothers their conscience and that might be why you believe they are rare but my experience tells me otherwise.


    He is using what you have already admitted is a definition that is fluid in its common use. But suppose there is a "technical" definition. The technical definition to which you refer is that made by Calvinists for Calvinists as if all other theologians are ineligible from challenging your self-defining terms (a rather convenient and self-serving position) with their own theological conclusions. I find McLaughlin's acceptable and quite applicable.


    Warfield is of course a...Calvinist. Right and Theopedia is...well you've read my comments on both self-serving references and definitions and "Theopedia" as a theological source of weight.


    Well I am sure you are aware that you aren't the only person who has of course.


    Again, because salvation in the Arminian view is not certain it is by default placed as an eternal decree made in time. Obviously McLaughlin disagrees with the Arminian view, he simply is pointing out the end, i.e. the prescription of their theology and its relationship to Divine Decrees.


    I know of none that teach that. I do know of many that teach man was created "morally perfect in knowledge, righteousness, and holiness" or any other relevant qualifiers but I don't know of one that simply leaves open the declaration that man was created "in the status of perfection" without qualifiers. Even McLaughlin qualifies the status of perfection of that being accompanied with free-will.

    You don't have to explain it. I understand it I simply don't agree with YOUR view on the order. You believe YOURS is the preeminent view and the ONLY LOGICAL choice. While logic is a legitimate source for evaluation and consideration, ultimately if the Scriptures present something contrary to your stated logic, then the obligation is to give way to the authority of Scriptures. In this case I believe the Scriptures teach the order reflected by McLaughlin.

    Go ask the Supra-lapsarians that, this is what they believe.
     
    #14 Alex Quackenbush, Sep 15, 2007
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  15. Alex Quackenbush

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    I guess they, Seminary Presidents and notable theologians. were waiting for you, an admitted non-theologian, to come and declare their ignorance. Look, you have the same Spirit of God they had and are quite capable of being illuminated as they were but your attitude is as condescending as it gets regarding these men of serious academic, theological and spiritual maturity. Maybe it is YOU that has it wrong...alas but it couldn't be right? Because you found some others that agree with you that must make YOU right and them wrong...right? Yeah...sure.

    In the meantime I have yet to discover any succinct or reasonable debate regarding McLaughlin's presentation of the order of Divine decrees but hey, I'm listening:

     
    #15 Alex Quackenbush, Sep 15, 2007
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  16. russell55

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    I didn't get the definition from theopedia. I sourced it to the New Dictionary of Theology (Leicester: IVP, 1988). But go ahead and check the definition of hypercalvinism in any other theological dictionary, if you like.

    Once again, hypercalvinism is not defined as a belief in double predestination. It's defined as the denial of the indiscriminate offer of the gospel and the denial of the duty of all sinners to believe in Christ. How many of those do you know?

    I don't know if it's made by Calvinists or not. I do know that it is the definition included in almost any theological dictionary, and if you are working in the area of theology, you usually take pains to use the theological definitions of the words or things get confusing pretty fast.

    Yes, but nonetheless, theologians of all stripes consider his a definitive work in describing the different viewpoints. You won't get much argument from a conservative arminian or lutheran scholar, for instance, about the way he represents their viewpoint.

    Read it and I think you'll understand why this is so.


    Again, an eternal decree can't be decreed in time. A order of eternal decrees is a list giving the logical order of the items in the plan for salvation that God made before the foundation of the world. If something is only decreed in time, then it doesn't belong on a list of eternal decrees. It can't be in the plan if it is decided subsequent to the plan.
    Those aren't qualifiers, since they aren't meant to exclusive, but rather explanatory.

    No. I believe all the orders are logical. Some are more scriptural than others, but they are all logical.

    No, it isn't. That's why the supra scheme is worded as it is, with no mention of salvation in the decree of election and reprobation. People are elected to eternal life, they'll say, and eternal separation, but they won't use the word salvation, because that would presuppose a fall, and you can't presuppose what comes later in the logical order. If an item on the list presupposes something, then the thing it presupposes has to go before it on the list of the logical order of the eternal decrees.
     
  17. russell55

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    If I'd suggested they are wrong because they disagree with me, you might have a point. But I didn't. I suggested they are wrong because they disagree with
    • B. B. Warfield in what is widely considered an authoritative work on the subject.
    • Most theological dictionaries.
    Me? I've simply read a whole lot on it so that I have a pretty good idea what the best sources for info on this subject are.
     

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