Thursday, December 04, 2008

Calvinism Distinguished Historically

Nomenclature is important. Generally speaking, Calvinism as distinct from Arminianism is the result of the controversy provoked by the Remonstrants and addressed by the Synod of Dordt. People seem to lose site of this important historical concept. This controversy essentially provided a definition of Calvinism as distinct from Arminianism, characterized by five points.

The "five points" were originally brought forth as the five points of the Remonstrants/Arminians, not the five points of Calvinism. Calvin (1509-64) wasn't around for the Arminian controversy, and Arminius himself (1560-1609) was not around for the Synod of Dordt (1618-19).

The Synod of Dordt took what has come to be called the "Calvinist" view. The "Canons of Dordt" (link) never make reference to Calvin, but always to Scripture.

The five main points, or "headings" of the Council of Dordt were:

1) Divine Election and Reprobation
2) Christ's Death and Human Redemption Through It
3 and 4) Human Corruption, Conversion to God, and the Way It Occurs
5) The Perseverance of the Saints

These five points or headings are popularly identified using the acronym TULIP, both because it is a beautiful flower and because it is something of a national symbol for Holland, the place where the controversy took place.

T = Total Depravity
U = Unconditional Election
L = Limited Atonement
I = Irresistible Grace
P = Perseverance of the Saints

Hopefully it is apparent that TULIP does not follow the order of the 5 headings of the Canons of Dordt. The alignment of point to point is as follows:

1 => U
2 => L
3 & 4 => T & I
5 => P

There is an historical sense in which the canons of Dordt may be said to help define what is and what is not Calvinism. This would seem to be the best for understanding the "Continental" brand of Calvinism. In Great Britain and Ireland the definition of what the Reformed view is would come to be known by means of three standards:

I) The Westminster Confession of Faith (1646) (link)
II) The Savoy Declaration (1658) (link)
III) The London Baptist Confession (1689) (link)

These three documents, which largely track one another (with issues relating to Baptism and Church Government being notable points of difference), were not addressed primarily to the Arminian controversy. Nevertheless, these documents were presented with the Arminian controversy already having occurred. Each of these documents rejects the Arminian error in favor of the Calvinistic view. None of these documents, however, specifically designates the "five points."

Nevertheless, the doctrines of total depravity, unconditional election, limited atonement, irresistible grace, and perseverance of the saints are clearly presented in the following sections:

T => WCF Chapter 6, Paragraphs 2-4
U => WCF 3:5
L => WCF 8:8
I => WCF 9:4
P => WCF 17:1

The corresponding sections of the Savoy Declaration and the London Baptist Confession have the same chapter and paragraph number, and generally present the same material, albeit sometimes in a slightly modified/expanded form.

It should be pointed out that while the "five points" are old, the acronym "TULIP" is a more modern development. The earliest reference I've seen to it is a reference in 1913 to a certain Dr. McAfee (apparently a professor of theology) using the acronym. The acronym was intended as a memory aid to recall the five points. It works.

With or without the acronym, the five points have served as a dividing line between Calvinistic monergism and Arminian Synergism. An example from 1700 can be seen in this work by Christopher Ness (link).

Not everyone is happy with this line.

A number of folks reject the doctrine of Limited Atonement, arguing that Christ died not only for the elect, but for each and every person. These folks are generally lumped into the category "Amyraldian" despite various objections as to differences among those who reject Limited Atonement. This group is the one that most dislikes the use of the five points to define Calvinism as distinct from Arminianism.

Some folks in this category have engaged in a campaign to redefine Calvinism away from the five points. Their apparent reason for doing so, is in order to be included under the Calvinistic umbrella. Whatever the reason, their approach has been to try to divide up Calvinism into various camps, from "Low" to "Moderate" and even "High" Calvinism. Worse still, they create a camp of Calvinism that they confusingly label "Hyper-Calvinism."

These divisions are rather artificial, to say the least. There is no major controversy to help make the lines bright, but, instead, the divisions tend to be drawn either along the use of certain buzz-words or minor controversies.

Worse yet, the filling of the ranks of the various divisions is done by the use of quote-mining: taking quotations from various authors and removing them from their historical context. Leading the way, of course, is the quote-mining Calvin himself. Essentially, the program is "Calvin vs. the Calvinists." Despite the fact that Arminius was mere toddler (4 years old) when Calvin died, quotations from Calvin are taken as though spoken in the context of the Arminian controversy.

I've dealt with this anachronistic nonsense in other posts already, and I don't plan to rehash all of that here. The main point to be recognized is that the Calvinism/Arminianism divide is an important one, whereas the "Hyper"/"High"/"Moderate"/"Low" classifications are neither important nor accurate. They are misleading and tend to obscure the important points.

This matter comes to a head under the use of "hyper-Calvinism."

A useful division between Calvinism and Hyper-Calvinism exists when Hyper-Calvinism is differentiated from Calvinism on a substantive line, such as:

1) fatalism;
2) refusal to evangelize;
3) denial of human responsibility; or
4) denial that men have wills or make choices.

These bright line errors are rejections of the Synod of Dordt in the opposite direction of Arminians. These errors are serious, and should be avoided.

Other definitions of "hyper-Calvinism" tend to center around buzz-words. These definitions tend to focus on things like whether or not someone is willing to say that God "loves" the reprobate in some sense or whether God gives "common grace" to the reprobate.

I do think that refusing to use the term "common grace" may be the result of a scruple rather than a legitimate objection. To call them "hyper-Calvinists" is, in my view, an unnecessary offense to the brethren. It is simply a pejorative label. The issue of "common grace" does not relate to the gospel - it does not change the way that the men preach the gospel. Furthermore, it muddies the waters.

Here's a handy way to divide up the three camps:

ArminianismCalvinismHyper-Calvinism
God's SovereigntyDeniesAffirmsAffirms
Man's ResponsibilityAffirmsAffirmsDenies


Calvinism, as illustrated, is the balanced view between Arminianism and Hyper-Calvinism. It affirms both the real sovereignty of God and the real responsibility of man.

This same chart can be provided another way:

ArminianismCalvinismHyper-Calvinism
Man's Will Compatible with Divine ForeordinationDeniesAffirmsDenies


In a nutshell, what this chart aims to show is the philosophical dividing line of compatibilism. Compatibilism is the view that both man making choices and God foreordaining what those choices will be are compatible concepts. In essence, both the Arminian and the Hyper-Calvinist agree that they are not compatible concepts. One picks man's will, the other picks divine foreordination.

The recent controversy centered around whether to label the Calvinist, Dr. White, as an "hyper-Calvinist" tends to major on the details, obscuring the larger picture. The larger picture is that Dr. White is a consistent Calvinist who affirms monergism and compatibilism. Dr. White is a Calvinist as it would be defined by the relevant sections of the London Baptist Confession of 1689, identified above.

For all but the most contentious or mischievous people, that should be enough. I can understand Amyraldians feeling excluded from such charts. With respect to the Arminian/Calvinist/Hyper-Calvinist division, Amyraldians would normally fall in the Calvinist camp. The problem with Amyraldianism is that it is internally inconsistent. Whether they feel excluded or not, however, creating confusing and unnecessary divisions of "Calvinism" using buzzwords is not productive and not conducive to edification. I would gently but firmly encourage those who have been doing so, to consider desisting.

-TurretinFan

45 comments:

GeneMBridges said...

1. Another reason to single out Amyraldianism would be the order of decrees. Infras and the 2 Supras represent Calvinism. Amyraldianism does not. It has it's own order of decrees.

2. As to the 4 criterion for hyperCalvinism, I might add the collapsing of decrees into a single decree, which is often what leads to the 4 criterion you listed. See Golding's text on Covenant Theology. I don't have the exact page number at hand, but I remember his discussion well.

Godismyjudge said...

Dear TF,

Has there ever been a group that declared themselves hyper-Calvinist?

God be with you,
Dan

Turretinfan said...

Godismyjudge,

I'm not aware of anyone who would use that label for themselves. So, it is open for the taking, if you are interested. :)

-TurretinFan

Godismyjudge said...

Dear TF,

I will pass. But I think that accounts for some of the difficulty here. We have Arminians, Amyraldians, Calvinists, but no one’s around to call themselves hyper-Calvinists.

Who gets to define that term? The person who coined the expression? The accused? How about John Calvin? If someone goes further then what big bad Johnny C had to say, they are to that degree hyper-Calvinist.

God be with you,
Dan

Turretinfan said...

Godismyjudge,

Since Calvinism as distinct from Arminianism was originally defined by the Synod of Dordt ... no, John Calvin's own personal theology would not be the standard (as strange as that sounds to some people who think that Calvin invented "Calvinism").

-TurretinFan

Godismyjudge said...

Dear TF,

The confessions you cite tend to be infra-lapsarian. Is supra-lasarianism hyper-Calvinism?

God be with you,
Dan

Turretinfan said...

Actually, the confessions I cited don't express an opinion about the order of decrees. They do not enshrine either supra- or infra-lapsarianism.

The order of decrees is an interesting issue, and it is one where Calvinism can be distinguished from classical Amyraldianism.

Gene has pointed out above how hyper-Calvinism relates to the issue of the order of decrees, by seemingly collapsing them into one. I haven't thought his point there, through.

-TurretinFan

Godismyjudge said...

Dear TF,

From Dort:

Before the foundation of the world, by sheer grace, according to the free good pleasure of his will, he chose in Christ to salvation a definite number of particular people out of the entire human race, which had fallen by its own fault from its original innocence into sin and ruin.

I had always taken this statement as infra-lapsarian. Do you think it can be reconciled with supra-lapsarianism, and if so how?

God be with you,
Dan

Turretinfan said...

Godismyjudge,

You spoke previously about the "confessions" cited. The only confessions cited were the WCF and the LBCF. Your quotation is not from them, obviously.

The most literal reading of the phrase you provided, as presented in the English translation, would seem to be infralapsarian. I think it would probably be a fallacy of emphasis to read a statement as to the order of decrees into that phrase, though. In other words, I don't think the issue of the order of decrees was on their mind, and consequently I wouldn't put too much stock in the way that sentence is phrased. I could be mistaken, though, as I have not carefully studied the historical documentation to see if there was discussion on the order, or whether that phraseology was at all debated. I'd want to consider that, before finalizing my comment above.

-TurretinFan

Godismyjudge said...

Dear TF,

Here's a bit from Bavinck on the topic:

The churches, however, always objected to this supralapsarian view. As a result, there is not a single Reformed confession that offers this representation. At the Synod of Dort there were a few adherents of this view, esp. Gomarus and Maccovius; moreover, the delegates of South Holland, Overisel, and Friesland preferred to leave the question undecided and to use an expression that would satisfy both parties. But although the “opinions” of the Dutch and of the foreign delegates, also of those from Geneva, were definitely Reformed in character, nevertheless, they were without exception infralapsarian and clothed in mild and moderate terms. And the Synod at length defined election as “the unchangeable purpose of God whereby, before the foundation of the world, he hath out of mere grace, according to the sovereign good pleasure of his own will, chosen from the whole human race, which had fallen through their own fault from their primitive state of rectitude, into sin and destruction, a certain number of persons to salvation in Christ, whom he from eternity appointed the Mediator and Head of the elect, and the foundation of salvation.” Nevertheless, the Synod purposely refused to condemn supralapsarianism; for, various theologians, among whom were Calvin, Beza, Piscator, Perkins, Hommins, Bogerman, etc., had at times used strong expression; e.g., “that some men are created in order that they may be damned; that men viewed as innocent are reprobated or damned; that God hates men irrespective of sin; that men were predestinated unto sin; that God has need of man as a sinner; that God willed and brought about the fact that men sinned; that God acted insincerely in the calling of certain persons,” etc. At the conference held in the Hague the Remonstrants had made ready use of these expressions and of the difference between infra- and supralapsarianism; consequently, the members of the synod were intent on avoiding such “phrases that were too harsh.” But when the delegates from England, Bremen, and Hesse insisted that these expressions be condemned, the Synod refused to grant this request. In defence of this refusal Synod stated that Scripture also uses very strong expressions at times, that such phrases may have a much milder meaning when examined in their context than they appear to have when considered apart from their context, and that the responsibility for them rests with the respective authors. In addition, Synod admonished against the use of immoderate phrases without mentioning any specifically and against “many other things of the same kind,” and at a later session administered a severe rebuke to Maccovius because of the manner in which he had conducted himself. Accordingly, although the supralapsarian view was not embodied in the confession, neither was it condemned.

link

As for Dort, I thought you were advocating Dort as a definer of Calvinism (as opposed to Calvin). If it is, then going beyond Dort is hyper-Calvinistic.

God be with you,
Dan

Turretinfan said...

Dear Godismyjudge,

Dordt defines Calvinism with respect to the five points, certainly. As I was trying to indicate in the original article, I'd tend to view the comments of Dordt as somewhat moderated by the later confessions in Great Britain, although with the same essential five points maintained.

Assuming, for the moment, that I've understood Bavinck correctly (not always a safe assumption with Bavinck's meaty style) Bavinck seems to hold that Dordt endorsed the infra view.

If so, the supra view would be taking a position different from that of Dordt. While one could conceivably arrange it such that "supra" is "beyond infra" (it is to the left of "infra" in Warfield's famous chart), and further assuming that every detail of Dordt goes into defining Calvinism (and not merely the five points), then in some sense the supra position would remarkably be considered "hyper" (though such a claim is not ordinarily made by even these Amyraldian trouble-makers, as far as I've seen).

The issue of infants dying in infancy is also an interesting one. I'm not sure whether denying that dying infants of believers are necessarily saved would be "hyper" or "hupo" with respect to the appropriate scale, but Dordt's comment on that issue also might not be fully accepted by the English, Welsh, Irish, and Scottish Calvinists.

I'm sure if we dug in deeper, we could find a few more such topics, beyond the order of decrees and the issue of believers' infants dying in infancy.

Given Arminius' own paedo-baptistic views, it would be interesting to see how that would properly latter case would properly be scaled.

-TurretinFan

acd said...

I like the charts--I think the second one in particular highlights the reality that (as Van Til noted) Arminianism and Hyper-Calvinism share a common foundation; that is, they both are largely rationalistic. Neither can rationally conceive of divine sovereignty co-existing with human responsibility, so each simply denies one of the terms (Arminianism throws sovereignty overboard; Hyper-Calvinism throws human responsibility overboard). Calvinism simply lives with a bit of tension between sovereignty and responsibility, tension which is 'allowed' to be there because the Creator/creature distinction implies an epistemological distinction between archtypal/ectypal theology, and ectypal theology will never be entirely 'tidy' by the rationalist's terms.

The Puritan said...

>It should be pointed out that while the "five points" are old, the acronym "TULIP" is a more modern development. The earliest reference I've seen to it is a reference in 1913 to a certain Dr. McAfee (apparently a professor of theology) using the acronym.

A while back on the PuritanBoard the forum owner, MacMahon (I forget his first name), was offering some kind of prize to the first person who could find the earliest reference to TULIP. To my memory nobody won. I think the earliest found or speculated was Lorraine Boettner. I don't follow that forum every day, so maybe somebody eventually won the prize. I don't recall this McAfee being mentioned. FYI.

Godismyjudge said...

Dear TF,

I don’t follow regarding Arminius…

As for the Amyraldians, I suspect not too many “popular Calvinists” (JP, JW, JM, RCS) make strong statements regarding infant damnation or supra-lapsarianism. But if one of them were to respond to a question regarding the death of an infant with: “it’s possible God reprobated them without respect to sin, original or actual, to the praise of the glory of His justice”, I suspect the Amyraldians would react. Not that any of them would say such a thing. But if the deniers of common grace are fair game, I suspect the Amyraldians would be inclement concerning such statements.

God be with you,
Dan

Godismyjudge said...

BTW, for the record, I am sticking with John Calvin (not Dort) as the standard for Calvinism. Using Dort as the standard runs the risk of the odd consequence that Calvin was hyper-Calvinist.

God be with you,
Dan

Turretinfan said...

Dear Godismyjudge,

Dordt's position on infants relates to its view of the covenant. This view would probably not be shared by modern Reformed Baptists (and, I presume, was not shared by 17th century RBs either).

Although I like John Calvin, I really think one needs to stick with the five points as presented by Dordt and affirmed by the WCF as being the best metric of "Calvinism," since Calvinism never got to react with Arminians.

Meanwhile, of course, Amyraldians claim that Calvin agreed with them - making Dordt hyper-Calvinistic.

-TurretinFan

Turretinfan said...

The Puritan,

Thanks for the tip - maybe I should ask McMahon for some kind of prize! :)

-TurretinFan

steve said...

Of course, Bavinck was critical of infralapsarianism. However, Vos was a supra, and when Vos reviewed Bavinck, he was critical of Bavinck's objections to supralapsarianism.

Hoeksema was another supra in the Dutch Reformed tradition who wrote, if memory serves, a 3-volume commentary on Dordt.

As we know, Twisse was a paradigmatic supra. It seems unlikely that the Westminster Assembly would rule out of bounds the view of its own moderator. There's also a supra strain to Rutherford, another Westminster Divine.

Finally, it's always seemed to me that WCF 6.1 implies a supra theodicy when it says that God purposed the Fall "to order it to his own glory."

Godismyjudge said...

Dear Steve,

Thanks for the info on Hoeksema. I normally limit my reading about councils that rejected Arminianism to two volumes, but perhaps I can make an exception. As for the WCF, it does seem open to either supra or infra, though I don’t think the section you quoted implies supra. I suspect that both supras and infras would view the decree of the fall as glorifying God. The question is if the fall is decreed as a means of election/reprobation, or not.

God be with you,
Dan

steve said...

Godismyjudge said...

"As for the WCF, it does seem open to either supra or infra, though I don’t think the section you quoted implies supra. I suspect that both supras and infras would view the decree of the fall as glorifying God."

No, the Confessional language is stronger than that. There's a difference between saying the glorification of God is an incidental consequence of the Fall, and saying that God purposed the fall as a means of glorification.

"The question is if the fall is decreed as a means of election/reprobation, or not."

No, that's not the only question. In back of that question is whether the fall (as well as election/reprobation) is instrumental to the glory of God.

PuritanReformed said...

Godismyjudge:

the supra/infra debate is concerned with the logical order of God's decree rather than the teporal outworking of that order. I thus do not see Dordt taking a infra position, since the description seems to be one of what God does in time rather than the purpose why God does any one action.

Turretinfan said...

PR: Thanks for your comment. I would agree that the temporal order is the primary emphasis of the comment, "Before the foundation of the world, by sheer grace, according to the free good pleasure of his will, he chose in Christ to salvation a definite number of particular people out of the entire human race, which had fallen by its own fault from its original innocence into sin and ruin."

Nevertheless, the way it is presented in English (which is not the language in which it was written), God is selecting people from an already-fallen race - which suggests (at least to GIMJ) that in the logical order God decided that the race would fall, then that he would elect some.

Obviously, it is not the main point that is made, and I'm not totally convinced that the particular wording was intentionally intending to talk about the order of decrees (which is a logical order, not a temporal order, as you correctly indicated), in the original.

-TurretinFan

natamllc said...

It strikes me to say first off that I have not read a better, simply put, very succinct flyover of Calvinism distinguished historically, TF.

You should do this more often? Oh, I digress to selfish thinking again!

It also strikes me that History seems to be the nut needing to be cracked when one is developing nomenclatures.

I go back to the beginning and to the end, whichever came first in thought to the reader, these things should be utmost in the forefront of one's mind:::>

One, at Genesis, chapters one and two, one gets the sense of some preexisting "order" before humanity, as in six and one half days before and even before the creation of the present heavens and earth, mankind came out of already existing matter. God made man for a purpose, male and female He made them after Their Self Existence.

And two, when you read the "purpose" for all known creatures as recorded for posterity that God gave Jesus to give to "His" servants to understand the things that shortly will take place or as ESV records:

"....the things that must soon take place."

I as a human seem to not be nearly as important to God as I like to think myself being to God! "God is God", one blogger has at the top of his blog, "get use to it"!

Here is what it seems to me some of those who pride themselves in making sound distinctions "historically" miss, which I am saying here and now, you haven't TF, which Christ made sure John did not miss either,:::>

Rev 4:11 "Worthy are you, our Lord and God, to receive glory and honor and power, for you created all things, and by your will they existed and were created."

Do you see the "turn around" there?

Some, I include myself here, sadly, have made God "my" butler, baker, and Light maker, for "my" benefit, instead of existing and created for the "glory", "honor" and "power", of Our Lord and God.

So again, I maintain that what John Calvin was so anointed to understand, he did and then wrote about and taught this Life. It was simply that, that point and so his life so reflected that he faithfully lived such a life before both God and man.

And, as has been noted, there would have to be some superhuman ability working in James Arminius at 4 years old and up to have comprehended that about John Calvin. It can be readily understood when you see the issues laid out and why there has been, and I suppose, will be until the end of time, this divide between these distinctions after the fact, that that international crowd who gathered at Dordt gathered there to deal with the prime issue of existence and order and why we were created.

Calvin, it seems to me, got it right and Arminius didn't. So it seems to me that to each their own and those that embraced the cause of existence and order with the Word of God and the Spirit of God as their guide, as Calvin did, will come down on the side of "historical" Calvinism or as is so wonderfully understood by this article in particular, the five points "set" in order by the Synod of Dordt, in an order because of the controversy swirling around the other five points as time marched along and people began living as creatures created for the Glory, the Honor and the Power of God and not for themselves or the disputed five points aforementioned.

I would say, get the order right, and everything else becomes easier and clearer and one then settles in for a Life in dispute with the god of this the world, born again thus now living and existing as a Pre-known Creature as is described here by the Apostle Paul:

Eph 1:3 Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, who has blessed us in Christ with every spiritual blessing in the heavenly places,
Eph 1:4 even as he chose us in him before the foundation of the world, that we should be holy and blameless before him. In love
Eph 1:5 he predestined us for adoption as sons through Jesus Christ, according to the purpose of his will,
Eph 1:6 to the praise of his glorious grace, with which he has blessed us in the Beloved.


And Peter too:

1Pe 1:3 Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ! According to his great mercy, he has caused us to be born again to a living hope through the resurrection of Jesus Christ from the dead,
1Pe 1:4 to an inheritance that is imperishable, undefiled, and unfading, kept in heaven for you,
1Pe 1:5 who by God's power are being guarded through faith for a salvation ready to be revealed in the last time.

TF, you make this statement:

"....Compatibilism is the view that both man making choices and God foreordaining what those choices will be are compatible concepts....". Yep!

No one can understand that unless the Spirit of God gives them the understanding of what that is all about!

I don't know what else to point to other than to another interesting writing of Paul's:

1Co 1:3 Grace to you and peace from God our Father and the Lord Jesus Christ.
1Co 1:4 I give thanks to my God always for you because of the grace of God that was given you in Christ Jesus,
1Co 1:5 that in every way you were enriched in him in all speech and all knowledge--
1Co 1:6 even as the testimony about Christ was confirmed among you--
1Co 1:7 so that you are not lacking in any spiritual gift, as you wait for the revealing of our Lord Jesus Christ,
1Co 1:8 who will sustain you to the end, guiltless in the day of our Lord Jesus Christ.
1Co 1:9 God is faithful, by whom you were called into the fellowship of his Son, Jesus Christ our Lord.
1Co 1:10 I appeal to you, brothers, by the name of our Lord Jesus Christ, that all of you agree, and that there be no divisions among you, but that you be united in the same mind and the same judgment.

As I read this article I also had the sense the Corinthians certainly had when reading Paul's epistle to them, "enriched" in Him in all knowledge and speech!

thanks

Godismyjudge said...

Dear Steve,

You seem to be saying "no" to things I didn't say. But infra's do hold that God purposed the fall as a means of glorification. For example, Turretin states God decreed the fall to communicate his power, wisdom and goodness, and later in the logical order He decrees election/reprobation to communicate His justice/mercy. (Turretin, IoET, V1 p 347)


God be with you,
Dan

Godismyjudge said...

Dear PuritanReformed,

Article 6 may be even more clear:

The fact that some receive from God the gift of faith within time, and that others do not, stems from his eternal decision. For all his works are known to God from eternity (Acts 15:18; Eph. 1:11). In accordance with this decision he graciously softens the hearts, however hard, of his chosen ones and inclines them to believe, but by his just judgment he leaves in their wickedness and hardness of heart those who have not been chosen. And in this especially is disclosed to us his act--unfathomable, and as merciful as it is just--of distinguishing between people equally lost. This is the well-known decision of election and reprobation revealed in God's Word. This decision the wicked, impure, and unstable distort to their own ruin, but it provides holy and godly souls with comfort beyond words.

link


It places the decision in eternity, not time, and states the object is equally lost people.

God be with you,
Dan

Godismyjudge said...

Dear TF,

Do you have access to the original?

God be with you,
Dan

PuritanReformed said...

Godismyjudge:

I don't think that would help you. The quote seems to be mentioning what God decrees in eternal time. In other words, this seems to be mentioning the order of God decrees in their execution. Dr. Reymond's modified supralapsarian position as seen in his New Systematic Theology does seem to answer this objection well.

salt said...

You wrote, "With or without the acronym, the five points have served as a dividing line between Calvinistic monergism and Arminian Synergism."

I have read conflicting statements regarding whether sanctification (from a Reformed perspective) is synergistic or monergistic. Do you have an opinion on the matter? Thanks.

Turretinfan said...

Reymond's view on the order of decrees seems to be unique to Reymond, in my opinion. I cannot recall any earlier theologian having the same order as he does.

-TurretinFan

Turretinfan said...

Salt,

The Reformed position is that sanctification is monergistic:

"Sanctification is a work of God's grace, whereby they whom God has, before the foundation of the world, chosen to be holy, are in time, through the powerful operation of his Spirit applying the death and resurrection of Christ unto them, renewed in their whole man after the image of God; having the seeds of repentance unto life, and all other saving graces, put into their hearts, and those graces so stirred up, increased, and strengthened, as that they more and more die unto sin, and rise unto newness of life." (WLC Answer 75)

and again

"Although sanctification be inseparably joined with justification, yet they differ, in that God in justification imputes the righteousness of Christ;in sanctification his Spirit infuses grace, and enables to the exercise thereof; in the former, sin is pardoned; in the other, it is subdued:the one does equally free all believers from the revenging wrath of God, and that perfectly in this life, that they never fall into condemnation; the other is neither equal in all, nor in this life perfect in any, but growing up to perfection." (WLC Answer 77)

-TurretinFan

Godismyjudge said...

Dear PuritanReformed,

In other words, this seems to be mentioning the order of God decrees in their execution.

God’s act, in the statement in bold, is election, not the execution of election. It's clearly saying that the object of God's election is fallen mankind (not that the execution of God's election impacts fallen men).

God be with you,
Dan

salt said...

Thank you for the reply. R.C. Sproul writes in Grace Unknown, "As part of the process of our sanctification, perseverance is a synergistic work. This means it is a cooperative effort between God and us. We persevere as he preserves." (p. 212)

Do you think Sproul's statement can be reconciled with your view? Do you differ with Sproul in this regard?

Thanks.

Turretinfan said...

Salt,

Probably the easiest explanation is that R.C. Sproul was speaking loosely, not precisely.

In any event, as you can see from the quotations I provided, this is not just my view - it is the view of the Reformed churches, including the church of which R.C. is a member.

I would expect that R.C.'s comments were aimed at countering "easy believism" in which people "get saved" and then sit on their laurels, waiting to be sanctified. Such an attitude is improper for a Christian, although the entire progress in sanctification is the work of God in our life.

-TurretinFan

steve said...

It may be that Sproul is using "synergism" and "cooperation" as synonyms: Greek and Latin derivatives respectively.

That may be correct in terms of pure etymology, but, of course, synergism is a loaded word, a term of art with a technical meaning in theology.

In dogmatic usage, it means far more than merely to "work with." Rather, it involves a Catholic view of man's will as well as our capacity for congruent merit.

Turretinfan said...

Here's a link to the original Latin with English translation (link, from Schaff.

-TurretinFan

Turretinfan said...

Dan wrote: "But infra's do hold that God purposed the fall as a means of glorification."

Only in the sense of the glorification of God, not the glorification of the elect.

Supras hold that God purposed the fall as a means of glorification of the elect.

-TurretinFan

Godismyjudge said...

Dear TF,

I agree, but the WCF that Steve cited was about the glory of God, not the elect... so my comment was relevant.

God be with you,
Dan

salt said...

TF/Steve, Would you mind further explaning what was meant by: "Rather, [synergsim] involves a Catholic view of man's will as well as our capacity for congruent merit."

Thanks.

Godismyjudge said...

Dear TF,

Here’s one of the primary phrases in question from Article 6:

Latin:

Atque hic potissimum sese nobis aperit profunda, misericors pariter et justa hominum æqualiter perditorum discretio; sive decretum illud electionis et reprobationis in verbo Dei revelatum.

Translation on Reformed.org:

And in this especially is disclosed to us his act--unfathomable, and as merciful as it is just--of distinguishing between people equally lost. This is the well-known decision of election and reprobation revealed in God's Word.

Schaff’s translation:

And herein is especially displayed the profound, the merciful, and at the same time the righteous discrimination between men, equally involved in ruin; or that decree of election and reprobation, revealed in the Word of God…

Me:

Moreover, here, principally by Himself He discloses to us the profound, the equally merciful and just separation of men just as ruined; or that decree of election and of reprobation revealed in the word of God.

They all seem to teach infra-lapsarianism. Why do think the original doesn’t support infra-lapsarianism?

God be with you,
Dan

Turretinfan said...

I think you are confusing me and Steve. Nevertheless, that paragraph is not necessarily in conflict with the supralapsarian view.

After all, the supralapsarian view does teach that it is only the sovereign decree of God that distinguishes between equally lost people.

That is an expression of its present effect. If the context were a debate over the order of decrees, it would sound like it leaned infra to me. That doesn't seem to be the case here, though, so I wouldn't read the order of decrees into that paragraph.

-TurretinFan

salt said...

TF,

While I wait for a reply to my previous question from you and/or Steve … I noticed that a monergism.com piece argues that sanctification is synergistic. See HERE.

I believe that the piece was written by John Hendryx, Director of monergism.com. Is it possible that the WLC Answers you cited do not exclude synergism in sanctification?

natamllc said...

TF, thanks for the link to Dordt in Latin and English at Ethereal!

I would ask Dan a question?

As I am reading the English version, I am not familiar with Latin and cannot read it, although a disgression, my School training our children are teaching Latin to the youngest grades now, a new development in the last couple of years, I came to this phrase at Art. 13:

"....or from sinking men into carnal security...."

Dan, do you see yourself sinking into carnal security as you develop, by upholding the 5 points of the Remonstrats, the protesters, opposed to the way the Reformed Dutch rose up against them?

Is there a clear distinction in your mind between the 2 "sets" of five points addressed at Dordt?

natamllc said...

Thanks TF for letting me ask Dan that question!

I have posted over at Dan's blog and asked him a question regarding Point 5 of the 5 points of the Opposers of Dutch Reformed Theology at the time, causing the convening of the Synod of Dordt and their judgment, a judgment quite like the judgment from James at Act 15. I am waiting his reply.

I have just reviewed again the 5 ppposing points and at the end of the articles is this disclaimer::::>

"These Articles, thus set forth and taught, the Remonstrants deem agreeable to the Word of God, tending to edification, and, as regards this argument, sufficient for salvation, so that it is not necessary or edifying to rise higher or to descend deeper."

That seems to me to be a quite dangerous disclaimer? Especially this assertion qualifying the five points: "sufficient for salvation". Does that not raise an eyebrow for you as well or is it just me?

Why I bring that up is because of my comments earlier on this or another blog?? In my comments I was pointing to Jesus' rebuke of Peter after Peter answered correctly Jesus' question about Himself and who "they" say He is, to them? Jesus then promptly rebuked Peter for setting "his carnal mind" on the things of man not on the Mind of God.

That struck me odd for many years as I have struggled to "maintain" a sinless life before both God and man. My efforts have been found to be in vain!

I have simply come to "agree" passively with Scripture now and by so yielding to God's active Faith upon me, receiving it gladly, I have so much more peace within and in the real world I find myself living in. I am not detached anymore from either God or man. I am having so much more fun serving God and man, it is bordering on being "unspeakable".

The verses that "killed" me are these:::>

Rom 8:7 For the mind that is set on the flesh is hostile to God, for it does not submit to God's law; indeed, it cannot.


and

Rom 8:20 For the creation was subjected to futility, not willingly, but because of him who subjected it, in hope

Now, as I ponder these verses "full of the Holy Ghost", I realize that before this "predestination", the second one of the "double" ones, I was sinking into subtle carnality! And that sinking feeling was destroying me as it weakens my carnal security, which, sadly I have to say and charge against the Arminian theology, was driving me into and not showing me by, thought, word or deed, the only way out of carnal security! It was Christ 'and' me, not Christ 'in' me saving me from the world, the flesh and the devil.

Does all this make sense?

thanks again!!

salt said...

TF/Steve,

While I wait for a reply from my previous question…

I noticed that there is a piece on monergism.com that argues that sanctification is synergistic. See here :

I believe the piece is written by John Hendryx, Director of monergism.com. Is it possible that the WLC Answers you cite above can be interpreted to allow synergism is sanctification?

Turretinfan said...

Salt,

Quite possibly the answer lies in the difference between a strict sense of "sanctification" and a more broad sense of "sanctification."

-TurretinFan