Real Varieties of Calvinism

Can there be real, recognizable varieties of Calvinism? My previous post may have suggested that there could not be such recognizable varieties. That’s not the case. There are several ways in which Calvinism could be divided. For example, with respect to the salvation of infants who die in infancy, there are four Calvinist views, namely that all, some, or none such infants are saved, the fourth position being that because Scripture does not tell us, we simply don’t know. Dordt adopted an apparent position of “some,” namely such children of believing parents. Others, out of a great tenderness of heart, have suggested that all infants (regardless of their parents) who die in infancy are saved.

Another way in which a taxonomy of Calvinism has been proposed is with respect to the logical (not temporal) order of decrees. The following chart may help, in which in addition to the two Calvinist positions, I’ve also included the Arminian and classical Amyraldian positions:

Arminian Amyraldian Infra-Lapsarian Supra-Lapsarian
Permission of Fall Permission of Fall Permission of Fall Election of Some to Glory
Death of Christ Death of Christ Election of Some to Mercy Permission of Fall
Universal Prevenient Grace Election of Some to Moral Ability Death of Christ Death of Christ
Predestination of Those who Make Good use of Grace Holy Spirit to Work Moral Ability in Elect Holy Spirit to Save the Elect Holy Spirit to Save the Elect
Sanctification of the Predestined Sanctification of the Elect Sanctification of the Elect Sanctification of the Elect

(For Warfield’s more detailed chart, click here)

It should be noted that there are Calvinists in both the “Infra” and “Supra” lapsarian camps. The descriptions Infra-Lapsarian and Supra-Lapsarian refer to the relation of the decree of Election to the decree of the fall (the “lapse” in “lapsarian”). Infra-Lapsarians believe that God elected some fallen men to Salvation/Mercy (infra = after), whereas Supra-Lapsarians believe that God elected men first to Glory (supra = before), and then decreed the fall as a means to that end. Of course, both camps are discussing the logical order, not the temporal order. There have been notable reformers in both camps.

Turretin was a notable Infra-Lapsarian. Twisse, on the other hand, was a notable Supra-Lapsarian. The Synod of Dordt seems to have favored the infra view, while the Westminster Assembly seems to have favored the supra view, while neither council addressed the issue as such in so many words (i.e.neither body specifically stated that God first in the logical order decreed the fall, or first in the logical order decreed to bring some men to glory).

It’s generally held in Calvinist circles that both views (infra and supra) are within the bounds of orthodoxy, although, of course, both views cannot be correct. Some people wishing to include Amyraldians as Calvinists have proposed a three-fold division of Calvinism, with Supra being “high,” Infra being “moderate,” and classical Amyraldianism being “low.” There are a number of problems with this view, the greatest being that the classical Amyraldian position has a fundamental error with respect to the atonement, namely that it makes the atonement, with respect to the decrees, indefinite. This error is not present in a “lesser degree” in the infra view and likewise is not mirrored by an excessively definite (is such a thing even possible?) view of the atonement in the supra view. In short, the problem can be expressed as their being no single variable that permits scaling across the three groups.

Instead, the attempted justification for the scaling lies in the fact that the decree of election is earliest in the logical order in the supra view, then the infra, then the Amyraldian, and logically latest (among evangelical groups) in the Arminian view. This justification seems rather artificial, but at least is not totally arbitrary. In any event, though it would tend to provide a way of categorizing people that does not rely simply on buzz-words.

It should be noted that there are a number of Calvinists who don’t take a particularly emphatic (or explicit) view with respect to the order of decrees. Thus, for example, Dr. White has mentioned that he has a “modified supralapsarian” position, but I haven’t seen a detailed explanation of what means by that (link to source) (I should note that the link itself is a good example of Dr. White distinguishing his own position from hyper-Calvinism long before the recent slander-fest on that topic — see also this further discussion). The reason for such lack of discussion is that this issue, whether the decree to permit the fall precedes or follows the decree of election, is a relatively minor point. It is not something that would require men to divide fellowship, at least that is my position.


6 Responses to “Real Varieties of Calvinism”

  1. natamllc Says:

    I tend to lean towards Francis, seeing I receive so much more when I am involving myself in the debates provided in here, TF!However, I want to look to Scripture.For my basis of reasoning then will be based on two Kings, Saul and David.First I posit the mindset most readily available and more prolific than Saul's view, David's:Psa 71:4 Rescue me, O my God, from the hand of the wicked, from the grasp of the unjust and cruel man. Psa 71:5 For you, O Lord, are my hope, my trust, O LORD, from my youth. Psa 71:6 Upon you I have leaned from before my birth; you are he who took me from my mother's womb. My praise is continually of you. Psa 71:7 I have been as a portent to many, but you are my strong refuge. Psa 71:8 My mouth is filled with your praise, and with your glory all the day. Psa 71:9 Do not cast me off in the time of old age; forsake me not when my strength is spent. Psa 71:10 For my enemies speak concerning me; those who watch for my life consult together Psa 71:11 and say, "God has forsaken him; pursue and seize him, for there is none to deliver him." Psa 71:12 O God, be not far from me; O my God, make haste to help me! David concludes this Psalm this way:::>Psa 71:24 And my tongue will talk of your righteous help all the day long, for they have been put to shame and disappointed who sought to do me hurt. I would say that David was not talking specifically about King Saul and the obvious "hurt" he intended to bring down on David. Those hurts were minor in light of the harm the wicked and cruel wanted to bring down on David, or even you and me!Why do I say that?Well, here is my assertion, that is, both Saul and David are "true Believers". And both, after death ended up in the same place all end up in when they died covered by the Blood of Christ, before, while, the Thief on the Cross with Jesus, and after, all of us who remain even til today and this writing.Both were sinful and disobeyed God.Saul disobeyed on an association level and so lost his crown. David simply was having moral problems which we all have. He didn't fall to that level Saul did and therefore did not lose the Crown's association that Saul and his sons lost; Saul and his sons:::>1Ch 10:13 So Saul died for his breach of faith. He broke faith with the LORD in that he did not keep the command of the LORD, and also consulted a medium, seeking guidance. 1Ch 10:14 He did not seek guidance from the LORD. Therefore the LORD put him to death and turned the kingdom over to David the son of Jesse. The "house" of Saul made it in by no merit of their own! We should all rejoice in our Calling and Election too, then!There are consequences for us when we break "Faith" with the Lord as Saul did.A good example of this with a view to the New Testament, a view to which I believe Francis Turrentin had in mind as the Lord developed his furtile mind as a resource for us today; the view is one of Judas who betrayed Jesus and Peter who betrayed Jesus. Judas betrayed Jesus over to that hard to understand "predetermined" Will and plan of Salvation for those called and elected.They both betrayed Jesus.Here's the story, succinctly put:Mat 16:13 Now when Jesus came into the district of Caesarea Philippi, he asked his disciples, "Who do people say that the Son of Man is?" We all know the story well or at least we "think" we do.We answer, of course, like everybody who "knows" Him: "Jesus, You are the Christ, the Son of the Living God". It seems that is a badge of honor in some circles. It isn't so with the devils who "know" Him!In my circle and I suppose in Francis Turrentin's own mind and circle of souls and comrades in arms, it isn't either.Why? Well consider a couple of revealed truths lacking Peter and Judas at the time of the confession of "who He is". These lacking truths do not, in and of themself, disqualify you from your belief, either supra or infra. It is just that they might be lacking in you. What was lacking in revealed Truth, then? Two things, the ability to submit to the Law of Righteousness and futility at the Hands of Our Creator before the foundation of the world.Paul gives us a glimpse of it and why I believe Judas lost it and Peter found it. Judas didn't go on to face the "Truth". Peter "did". The glimpse is found here at two places in one chapter in Romans:The two places are::::>one: Rom 8:6 For to set the mind on the flesh is death, but to set the mind on the Spirit is life and peace. 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 two: Rom 8:20 For the creation was subjected to futility, not willingly, but because of him who subjected it, in hope Rom 8:21 that the creation itself will be set free from its bondage to corruption and obtain the freedom of the glory of the children of God. So with those two cited places in mind, let me ask you to go back in time in your own imagination to that moment when Jesus posed the question and Peter answered it blessedly correctly, of course.Here is what Peter answered that Jesus called a "blessed" answer:Mat 16:16 Simon Peter replied, "You are the Christ, the Son of the living God." Now after a bit of gloating on Peter's part, I suppose, not so much on Judas' part or any of those there who heard those famous words, which, by the way, we all like to trumpet forth to show that we too are just as blessed by God as our loud mouth friend Peter, [what we mean mostly is self defensive, "don't press me, so back off"], Jesus finally got to the "heart" of Peter's anger towards God because Jesus challenged his own "world view" of the God of Abraham, Isaac and Jacob!Yes, the Romans were not only coming to get Jesus, they were occupying town and defiling the "holy" city saying Ceasar is god and that just was not acceptable to any Jew at any time, past, present or to come. Peter saw his hope diminish greatly when Jesus said this, and by the way, all of our hopes diminish and ultimately die when we hear the same Words of Jesus, for the first time and every time thereafter:::>Mat 16:21 From that time Jesus began to show his disciples that he must go to Jerusalem and suffer many things from the elders and chief priests and scribes, and be killed, and on the third day be raised. Mat 16:22 And Peter took him aside and began to rebuke him, saying, "Far be it from you, Lord! This shall never happen to you." Think for a moment how Peter viewed his plight. He must have been thinking:::> "Oh no, not my Jesus, He would not "kill" my own hopes and dreams for the future outcome of God's Kingdom on earth! That simply is not the mission of the Christ sent to establish the Kingdom of God on earth, "again", the Messiah, or my Santa Claus, ah, ooops, I meant to say, my Jesus!" Was that a freudian slip of the type? No, of course not, Freud wasn't alive as yet. :)No, what Peter should have said and answered was the revelation that Paul did, and by the way, Peter, you know Peter, the guy who wrote this later on near the end of his short lived "Jesus" life, he finally did answer the call, as an elected of God, beginning with the confession of sin of course:::>2Pe 3:15 And count the patience of our Lord as salvation, just as our beloved brother Paul also wrote to you according to the wisdom given him, 2Pe 3:16 as he does in all his letters when he speaks in them of these matters. There are some things in them that are hard to understand, which the ignorant and unstable twist to their own destruction, as they do the other Scriptures. 2Pe 3:17 You therefore, beloved, knowing this beforehand, take care that you are not carried away with the error of lawless people and lose your own stability. 2Pe 3:18 But grow in the grace and knowledge of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ. To him be the glory both now and to the day of eternity. Amen. And by the way, History has it, Peter was executed just like Jesus but upside down, just as Jesus was "teaching" them back then, some time after those words were penned about Paul. If Jesus was teaching them that back then, and He is the same Jesus, yesterday, today and forever, what do you suppose Jesus is teaching today?He was teaching them that God's Kingdom is all about decrees and who is on first and what is on second! :)No, no, when you confess that Christ is the Son of the Living God, you have as well, sealed your own deadly fate! The question is, will it be like Judas or Peter, James and Paul, as John got to live our his days writing about life on a prison Island, Patmos! That's not fair, why does John get to live out to a natural end and we have to be put to death? I duhno?The question is, which is it then for you, supra or infra?Hmmmmm, as I said earlier, I lean towards Turrentin's thinking and reasoning. I don't know for sure. I am coming to that.I do know that I don't have a mind that submits to the Law of God naturally and it wasn't made to do so! That cuts into the reasonableness of the Arminian story. I was subjected to futility of mind, not my will, mind you and I suppose that cuts into the Amyraldian position too? Anyone care to say?I simply have come to believe TULIP is as good as it is going to get for me the rest of my lifetime here on earth. I am now crucified with Christ as that is what one created to be totally depraved gets in losing my life. What is paradoxical is once I have lost my life, I scream "EUREKA", I found it, that that I lost. Of course, I give all the Glory and Dominion for being found by Christ to God the Father, Christ Jesus and the Holy Ghost, seeing no dead man ever led anyone to their dead self! They were found dead in their sins or witnessed being crucified, put to death that they too might live His Resurrection Life thereafter!

  2. TheoJunkie Says:

    TF, I somehow had you pegged for a Supra (though I may be wrong on that)… so I am surprised to read that Turretin was an Infra.Speaking of which, I wonder if Toyota will ever come out with the Toyota “Infra” as a counterpart to the “Supra”. Might have the same success as the Chevy Nova did in Mexico (no va… no go).

  3. Anonymous Says:

    So in the Supra-/Infra -view, the two events 1)”Permission of Fall – guilt, corruption and total inability”and 2)”Election of some to Glory and eternal life”are in different logical order and that’s it, right? Does “permission” here mean predestination? If so, how does the guilt come about in that view?If permission only means allowance, then the order of the events still doesn’t make any difference, does it?Seems there is no difference at all between these views.

  4. Glenn Hendrickson Says:

    That Warfield chart rocks

  5. Turretinfan Says:

    Vox Veritas ( link ) should receive all the credit for that chart.-TurretinFan

  6. Turretinfan Says:

    Anonymous wrote: “So in the Supra-/Infra -view, the two events 1) “Permission of Fall – guilt, corruption and total inability” and 2) “Election of some to Glory and eternal life” are in different logical order and that’s it, right?”I answer: That’s it. Although, you should notice that Infras would tend to view election as being to “mercy” and Supras would tend to view election as being to “glory.”Anonymous wrote: “Does “permission” here mean predestination? If so, how does the guilt come about in that view?”I answer: If you are asking that question that way, you may have something different in mind by “predestination” than we do. God decreed that man would fall by man’s own volition. The guilt is based on the act – man disobeyed God’s command, therefore man is guilty. In the case of Adam, this was intentional disobedience: he was not tricked like his wife.Anonymous wrote: “If permission only means allowance, then the order of the events still doesn’t make any difference, does it?”I answer: It is a logical order, not a temporal order. We are not talking about an order of events here. I don’t think the difference between the Infra and Supra views is very big, though both cannot be correct.Anonymous wrote: “Seems there is no difference at all between these views.”I answer: From certain standpoints, there isn’t. For example, both reject the errors of Amyraldianism and Arminianism. To folks in both those categories, the Infra and Supra views may be practically indistinguishable.-TurretinFan

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