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Thread: Article: In Defense of SEA TULIP Gospel Predestination : Introduction and Part 1

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    Article: In Defense of SEA TULIP Gospel Predestination : Introduction and Part 1

    An eight part series defending each point of SEA TULIP.

    Introduction and Part 1: Supralapsarianism

    Introduction


    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 God’s 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-points attempt 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.


    Supralapsarianism


    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. O’Brien, 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 God’s 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 evil’s 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 predestination—infralapsarianism—that promotes an unexplainable synthesis of God’s foreordination and man’s 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.
    I got four things to live by: don't say nothin' that will hurt anybody; don't give advice--no one will take it anyway; don't complain; don't explain. Walter Scott

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    Article: In Defense of SEA TULIP Gospel Predestination : Introduction and Part 1: Sup

    I got four things to live by: don't say nothin' that will hurt anybody; don't give advice--no one will take it anyway; don't complain; don't explain. Walter Scott

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    Your series is greatly appreciated and much needed in defense for the truth of the Gospel, and God's purposed plan in ALL things.

    Nicholas.

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    Re: Article: In Defense of SEA TULIP Gospel Predestination : Introduction and Part 1

    Quote Originally Posted by Robert R. Higby View Post
    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.
    I really liked the differentiation you made here between "satisfaction" and "propitiation". This is such a HUGE difference between mainline christianity and true predestinarian thought that simply is never touched upon or discussed anywhere as far as I can tell. God did not send Christ into the world because he "HAD" to in order to satisfy some "eternal bar of justice"; but He did because this is what He determined would be pleasing to Himself. It's amazing to see how Anselm's eternal law philosophy really is driving infralapsarian/arminian/ pelagian reactionary so-called christian doctrine! :-)
    This is my signature.

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    Re: Article: In Defense of SEA TULIP Gospel Predestination : Introduction and Part 1

    Quote Originally Posted by Robert R. Higby View Post
    The satisfaction theory teaches that God owes the atonement of Christ to a law external to Himself for which He must satisfy its demands.

    If there is a law external to God, is there a God external to God?

    Quote Originally Posted by Robert R. Higby View Post
    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.

    How are the sins of the fallen angels, non-elect, and other creatures of God propitiated?

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    Bob, I'm really pleased that you've written part one of this study.
    I anxiously await the following parts to come.

    I believe this series will set a new point of contention within reformed circles, one in which I will be happy to debate the
    opposition.

    Greg

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    Thanks to all for your responses! I will do my best to post more in the series as soon as possible.

    Dan: If there is a law external to God, is there a God external to God?

    The atonement doctrine of Gus & other 'church fathers' would make the devil a god external to God, since God is proposed to owe the atonement to the devil. The atonement doctrine of Anselm would make the law a god external to God, since God is proposed to owe the atonement to the law (which STANDS AGAINST God's own wishes and pleasure). But the answer is OF COURSE no (Isa. 43:11; 44:6,8; 45:5,6,21; Hos. 13:4; Zeph. 2:15).

    How are the sins of the fallen angels, non-elect, and other creatures of God propitiated?

    What other creatures besides non-elect angels (don't agree with 'fallen') and non-elect humans commit sin? There are none. But the sins of all non-elect are propitiated by God's wrath executed upon the persons of the same non-elect in the final judgment. Since the atonement of Christ was not purposed for them, they experience God's wrath to the fullest for their own rebellion.

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    Thank you Bob!

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    Re: Article: In Defense of SEA TULIP Gospel Predestination : Introduction and Part 1

    Quote Originally Posted by Robert R. Higby View Post
    What other creatures besides non-elect angels (don't agree with 'fallen') and non-elect humans commit sin?
    The Serpent (Gen. 3:1). Lucifer is described as "fallen from heaven" (Is. 14:12).

    Quote Originally Posted by Robert R. Higby View Post
    But the sins of all non-elect are propitiated by God's wrath executed upon the persons of the same non-elect in the final judgment. Since the atonement of Christ was not purposed for them, they experience God's wrath to the fullest for their own rebellion.
    Is God's wrath executed on the non-elect angels and humans (and The Serpent) sufficient to fully propitiate their rebellion? What creature can bear infinite wrath? Christ alone, because of the hypostatic union, can bear the infinite wrath of God.

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    Re: Article: In Defense of SEA TULIP Gospel Predestination : Introduction and Part 1

    The Serpent (Gen. 3:1). Lucifer is described as "fallen from heaven" (Is. 14:12).

    Gus, not scripture. Isaiah does not equate Lucifer with the serpent in Eden, but with the KING OF BABYLON and that is exactly who Lucifer is! Nothing less, nothing more.

    Is God's wrath executed on the non-elect angels and humans (and The Serpent) sufficient to fully propitiate their rebellion? What creature can bear infinite wrath? Christ alone, because of the hypostatic union, can bear the infinite wrath of God.

    Anselmic logic, however, where is this in scripture? The concept of 'infinite wrath' is based on the faulty logic of 'infinite law' that an 'infinite God' must provide 'infinite propitiation' to satisfy! There is no biblical basis for this.
    I got four things to live by: don't say nothin' that will hurt anybody; don't give advice--no one will take it anyway; don't complain; don't explain. Walter Scott

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    Robert R. Higby stated, "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." Is the wrath executed upon Himself in the person of Jesus Christ the ransom described in Ps. 49:7-9? If so, wouldn't the value of the propitiation of even one elect be infinite? And, if so, would not the value of the propitiation of one non-elect also be infinite? I know that's rationalism but it seems logical to me.

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    Gerhard, good questions!

    Is the wrath executed upon Himself in the person of Jesus Christ the ransom described in Ps. 49:7-9?

    Absolutely! The ransom is paid to GOD who demands it according to His sovereign will, not the devil or the law.

    If so, wouldn't the value of the propitiation of even one elect be infinite? Yes! This infinite value is related to the infinite PERSON (God) who provided the atonement, it is NOT based on a quantitative comparison of Christ's sufferings owed to an 'infinite, eternal law'.

    And, if so, would not the value of the propitiation of one non-elect also be infinite? I know that's rationalism but it seems logical to me.

    1. Christ did not propitiate the sins of the non-elect. God did not plan to save them in the atonement of Christ and has no desire to provide a ransom for their persons, so there is no infinite propitiation on their behalf.

    2. An infinite propitiation is not required for the non-elect. There is an infinite propitiation for the elect because CHRIST IS GOD and the value of the atonement He provided is in measure to His Divine personhood. There is no LAW independent of God requiring infinite propitiation.

    3. When God decides in His sovereignty that the wages of sin is death for the non-elect, we can rest assured that His purpose in this regard is fair and just. No law can dictate that God must demand 'infinite' propitiation for the reprobate.

    --Bob

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    Is the suffering of the non-elect constant and without end? If yes, is the total value of their propitiation infinite (i.e., suffering times duration)? If yes, is it a paradox that, at any point in real time, the value of their propitiation would be finite?

    God may not use the suffering times duration formula to calculate non-elect propitiation. Suffering could be everlasting and propitiation finite.

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    Re: Article: In Defense of SEA TULIP Gospel Predestination : Introduction and Part 1

    Dan: Is the suffering of the non-elect constant and without end? If yes, is the total value of their propitiation infinite (i.e., suffering times duration)?

    Suffering at WHAT LEVEL? Until this question is answered, if one is determined to analyze this issue based on the pound-for-pound logic of Anselm, no progress can be made. If the wicked only suffer one day every thousand years (lack of CONSTANT), suffer only millions of centillions of years in contrast to eternity (lack of WITHOUT END), or suffer less than THE GREATEST LEVEL OF TORTURE A CREATURE CAN BE ASSIGNED TO at every moment (lack of SEVERITY), then the whole logic falls apart beyond repair.

    If yes, is it a paradox that, at any point in real time, the value of their propitiation would be finite?

    Not if you reject the whole notion of infinite propitiation in terms of creature payment, which I propose scripture does not teach.

    God may not use the suffering times duration formula to calculate non-elect propitiation. Suffering could be everlasting and propitiation finite

    Not true if what I stated in answer to the first two questions is true! But God uses no formulas; He consults no law of logic except His own.
    I got four things to live by: don't say nothin' that will hurt anybody; don't give advice--no one will take it anyway; don't complain; don't explain. Walter Scott

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