Friday, March 17, 2006

SJT, Rutherford, and Lapsarianism

My friend Guy Richard, Senior Minister at First Presbyterian Church, Gulfport, MS (PCA), has published a fascinating article entitled "Samuel Rutherford's supralapsarianism revealed: a key to the lapsarian position of the Westminster Confession of Faith?" in the latest Scottish Journal of Theology 59.1 (2006): 27-44. The article is clearly stated, cogently argued, and carefully researched. Here are the main points:

  • Rutherford's supralapsarianism has long been misrepresented;
  • he expressed his supralapsarianism in moderate terms, often employing the language of infralapsarianism - especially in the language of reprobation and preterition;
  • his supralapsarianism can be a helpful hermeneutic for understanding the WCF;
  • and, the WCF is best understood as an inherently supralapsarian consensus document that does not exclude infralapsarians.

Other articles of interest in this SJT include: Stephen Edmondson, "The biblical historical structure of Calvin's Institutes, " Melanie Ross, "Jonathan Edwards: Advice to Weary Theologians," and Benjamin Myers, "Predestination and freedom in Milton's Paradise Lost."

If you are interested in following up Guy's articles, let me suggest John Fesko's excellent book, Diversity within the Reformed Tradition: Supra- and Infralapsarianism in Calvin, Dordt, and Westminster (Greenville, SC: Reformed Academic Press, 2003); idem, "The Westminster Confession and Lapsarianism, " The Westminster Confession into the 21st Century, vol 2, ed. J. Ligon Duncan (Fearn: Mentor, 2004): 477-525.

Reading this article reminded me of a random annotated bibliography on the lapsarian debate I compiled several years ago when perusing William Twisse's work on predestination. Starting next week, I will give this list in several posts. So keep checking back!

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