Synopsis Purioris Theologiae:

20 At this point we should see whether sins, too, fall under divine providence. We assert that it is wrong to say God provides sins in the sense that to provide means to attend and to care for. But we do not doubt that it may, and indeed should be said that God exercises providence concerning sins. For He foresees sins in advance, and wills to permit them; and as they are seen beforehand, He destines them to some universal or particular good, whether for a display of his mercy or justice, or for some other good. And so it is rightly said that He exercises providence regarding them, since He disposes to do well regarding them. But if one considers only that which is real in sin and ‘positive,’ as they say, what others call ‘the matter’ of sin, namely, as an entity or as an action, in this sense sins can be said even to be provided by God, but only in a relative sense and not in itself. That is because the formal structure of sin exists in the absence of being and of good, in a certain deformity and disorderliness, which does not come from God and so cannot have been provided for by Him.

21 Here is a place for a distinction in the ways God handles providence when He implements it—it is either effective, or permitting. The first is the one whereby God works effectually, and in all things generally and individually perfects his work (namely all things both general and specific in nature), not only the essential good—the substances, motions, actions and completions of things—but also the moral good, such as all civic and spiritual virtues. Because, as the highest good, He is also the author and source of all good.

Read the rest of this entry »

Leiden Synopsis:

Moreover, the end, object, and “for whom” (? or cui) of satisfaction is only the Elect and true believers of both the Old and the New Testament. For although with respect to the magnitude, dignity, and sufficiency of the price, considered in itself, it may be extended to all people, yet it is particularly a payment for those whom the Father has chosen and given to the Son, who by the gift of God will believe in God and his Son. Wherefore Scripture everywhere says that he spent himself “for his own,” and “for us,” “for the sheep,” and “the Church.” Matthew 20:28, 26:28; 1 John 3:16; Acts 20:28 etc.

Johannes Polyander, Antonius Walaeus, Antonius Thysius, and André Rivet, Synopsis Purioris Theologiae (Leiden, 1642 [1625]). 356. [Some reformatting of the translation; and Underlining mine.]

[Notes: This work was originally published in 1625, and co-written by three Dort delegates; Rivet was invited to Dort but prevented from attending by the King of France. The common English name for this work was the Leidin Synopsis. This was a very popular work in Scotland in the 17th century and among the Continental Reformed.  The Synopsis expresses the revised version of the sufficiency-efficiency formula; while the satisfaction is of infinite value,  the sufficiency of the price may be extended to all people. Thus, it is not actually sufficient for all people, for this sufficiency for all is is properly hypothetical only.]

[Credit to Lee Gatiss for bringing this to my attention, and for the translation. Gatiss also has a blog here.]


Geerhardus Vos (1862-1949) on Infra- and Supralapsarianism

   Posted by: CalvinandCalvinism   in God who Covenants


65. Indicate beforehand what is not at issue in the difference between the two parties.

a) The question in the first place is not whether there is a temporal sequence in God’s decrees. With Scripture everyone Reformed confesses the absolute eternity of God’s being. It is an eternity elevated above all temporal duration, in which a thousand years are as yesterday when it has passed and as a watch in the night (Psa 90 :4). In this eternity everything is present that is hidden in the depths of the divine mind or has ever passed over from it into time as a work of His creative omnipotence. What will happen at the consummation of the ages is in that respect not sooner than that which took place at the dawn of creation. Every conception as if the differing parts of God’s decree arise by stages of His observation must be rejected as incompatible with this eternity. That there would have first been a decree of creation, then of the fall, and then of predestination, or that these parts would have followed one another in reverse temporal order-both are in conflict with Scripture. It may be impossible for our thinking, bound by time, to grasp this eternity of divine life, nevertheless we must acknowledge it and may maintain nothing that is in conflict with it. To express it as briefly as possible: There are in God not many decrees, but it is one, single, completely present decree.

As a matter of fact, all this is already contained in the names of supra- and infralapsarianism. If it was a matter of a temporal order it should have been called ante- and postlapsarianism. The question would then have to be, “Do you believe in predestination before or after the decree of the fall?” Now, however, not a time but a space image has been chosen, apparently to avoid every trace of a temporal conception in conflict wi th God’s eternity.

b) Nor is the question whether creation and the fall of man fall under the decree of God. With respect to creation, nobody doubts that. But whoever would deny that for the fall would become un-Reformed instead of infralapsarian since he would abandon one of most momentous turning points in world history, on which the work of redemption is entirely dependent and with that the course of well nigh all things, to chance. Almost all the Reformed confess unanimously with Calvin, “Man falls according to God’s decree, but he falls by his own guilt.” In His decree God has not only known of and reckoned with the fall, but since all things must have their certainty and fixity in His counsel, if we do not wish to posit a second ground of things beside God, then it also cannot be otherwise for the fearful fact of sin. That, too, must receive its certainty from God’s decree. However great and however insurmountable the difficulties that follow closely on this position, still nothing may diminish it. Whoever begins to doubt here stands on the edge of a bottomless dualism. Only in the beginning, when theological perception was not entirely clear, could one remove the fall from the absolute decree of God. Augustine did this, who thought that for the events following the fall, God’s foreknowledge rested on His decree while, conversely, for the fall the decree was dependent on a foreseeing. This and the other point {the apostasy of the saints} were the two weak points in Augustine’s soteriology. Among truly Reformed theologians, only a few spoke of a foreseeing. Walaeus (Leiden Synopsis, xxiv, 23) says, “God, foreseeing with the infinite light of His knowledge how it would happen that man created after His image stood, together with his entire posterity, to misuse his free will, has deemed that it better accorded with His omnipotent goodness to show beneficence to the wicked, rather than not to allow there would be evil, as Augustine rightly reminds us.”

Read the rest of this entry »

Sandomierz Consensus:

1) Thus our Lord and Savior Christ Jesus, by His suffering and death and His complete obedience, which He fulfilled for us after His birth here in the body, reconciled His Father with all believers, cleansed our sin, overcame death, defeated damnation and hell, and by His resurrection He returned eternal life and restored immortality to mankind. For He is our righteousness, life, and resurrection; in Him alone all believers have the forgiveness of their sins and the perfection of their lacks; in Him is salvation and all abundance of God’s gifts, as the apostle wrote to the Colossians, in chapters 1 and 2. "The Father was pleased that all completeness be in Him, and in Him you are made complete:’ Therefore, we believe that Christ is the only and eternal Savior of mankind and of the whole world, in whom all are saved by faith, all who were saved before the law, under the law, and under the gospel, and all who are yet to be saved until the end of the world. For the Lord Himself said in the gospel, ”The one who does not enter the sheep pen through the door but from somewhere else is a thief and a criminal; I am the door to the sheep" (John 10:1, 7). Likewise, "Abraham saw my day and was glad" (John 8:56). And St. Peter also said, "There is no other salvation except in Christ, nor was any other name given to people under heaven in which we could attain salvation apart from this one" (Acts 4:12). We firmly believe that we will be saved by the grace of God through Christ, just as our ancestors in the faith were; for thus St. Paul wrote regarding this–that "all those ancient fathers shared one spiritual food with us and drank one spiritual drink. They drank (he says) from that spiritual Rock, which was following after them from the wilderness, and that Rock was Christ" (1 Cor. 10:3-4). Also, St.John the Evangelist calls Christ "the Lamb slain from the beginning of the world" (Rev. 13:8) and "the Lamb who takes away the sins of the world" (John 1:29). Thus, in a full confession, we proclaim that Christ is the only Savior, Redeemer, King, and highest Bishop of the world, the true, holy, and blessed Messiah whom all the faithful awaited from of old, whom all the rites and ceremonies of the law presented and exhibited, whom the Father, according to His oath, gave and sent into the world so that it is unnecessary to wait for another. For there is no other hope; and we need to give this glory to Christ alone, believe in Him, and stop at Him alone, rejecting all other helpers and mediators, because all who seek salvation in something other than Christ alone fall away from the grace of God and cannot be sharers in Christ. “Sandomierz Consensus (1570)” in, Reformed Confessions of the 16th and 17th Centuries in English Translation, ed., James T. Dennison, (Grand Rapids, Michigan: Reformation Heritage Books, 2010), 3: 201-202.

2) Yet because we were all, without a doubt, born in sin, and we are guilty of crime and of death before the majesty of God, it is certain that we are justified by the Highest Judge, that is, we are made free of sin and of death, by the grace and merit of Christ, not with respect to our own persons or merits. For nothing clearer can be said than the words of St. Paul which he wrote to the Romans: “All have sinned and do not have the glory of God in themselves, but they are justified freely through His grace, through the redemption which is in Christ Jesus" (Rom. 3:23-24).

Read the rest of this entry »


(d) With respect to children no less than for adults, it is clear from the above that besides the two elements of the offer of the covenant and the obligation of the covenant, there is still a third element present. This consists of the expectation that covenant children will enter into the fellowship of the covenant. This expectation is based on the promise of God to believers that He desires to be their God and the God of their seed and that He also desires to continue His covenant in their seed and to make it a living reality. This does not merely hold true for some promises under certain restrictions, but also for the promises of the covenant, as they span all of life and include every gift of grace. It is, we think, striking how strongly just in this respect the comprehensive character of the covenant is applied by Reformed churches. All of them assume it to be a totality and do not hesitate to unfold it in all its fullness in their liturgical writings. As a promissory covenant its total content is brought into contact with the individual already as an infant. When that infant later enters into covenantal consciousness by active faith, this faith sums up al1 that is included in the covenant, so that the wide, rich world of God’s works of grace is opened up to his sight, a perspective looking backwards and forward. It is just this beautiful outlook which leads one to call the idea of the covenant of grace a "mother-idea." The covenant is a mother because it spiritually bears sons and daughters by the power of divine grace and the promises, a mother because its children have received everything from it, because it has given birth to them, sustains them, feeds, and blesses them. Reformed theology has certainly realized that the church has two sides, and that besides being the assembly of believers and the revelation of the body of Christ, she must also be the means by which new believers are added. But it has not separated these two sides; rather it has kept them in organic connection. Just because the promises of God have been given to the assembly of believers, in its entirety, including their seed, this assembly is also a mother who conceives sons and daughters and is made to rejoice in her children by the Lord. The name "mother" signifies this truly Reformed point of view in distinction from other terms such as "institution of salvation."

As far as we can discover, the leading spokesmen of Reformed theology are completely agreed on this. They all recognize that the church has received such promises for her offspring. They equally recognize that the consideration of these promises is the heart of the fruit of comfort which her view of the covenant offers. And they insist that remembrance of the promise must function as an urgent reason for rousing the seed of the church to embrace the covenant in faith. On both sides, parents and children, this conviction provides strength. Strength was provided in the days of old, in the golden age of the churches, a glorious comfort, finding its most beautiful fruition in the doctrine of the salvation of the children of covenant who die in infancy. Only in the working out of these principles did the theologians diverge to a greater or lesser degree. One could not but expect that a conscious appropriation, an entering into the relation of the covenant by faith and conversion, would be revealed in each member of the covenant who comes to the age of responsibility. The whole tendency of the doctrine of the covenant, as we have tried to present it, led to that demand. One could hardly be satisfied with the thought that a nonrejection of the covenant, where all expression of life was missing, would be sufficient. Here they collided with the discovery, as they also knew from the Scriptures, that not all belong to the seed of the promise. In comparing the statements of theologians at this point, it is clear that the older theologians generally proceeded more fearlessly than the later ones in the individualization and general application of the promises. Beza writes:

The situation of children who are born of believing parents is a special one. They do not have in themselves that quality of faith which is in the adult believer. Yet it cannot be the case that those who have been sanctified by birth and have been separated from the children of unbelievers, do not have the seed and germ of faith. The promise, accepted by the parents in faith, also includes their children to a thousand generations. . . . If it is objected that not all of them who are born of believing parents are elect, seeing that God did not choose all the children of Abraham and Isaac, we do not lack an answer. Though we do not deny that this is the case, still we say that this hidden judgment must be left to God and that normally, by virtue of the promise, all who have been born of believing parents, or if one of the parents believes, are sanctified (Confessio Christianae Fidei, IV, 48).

Read the rest of this entry »