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Dangerous Topic

In response to:

The Last Puritan from the June 10, 1982 issue

To the Editors:

Noel Annan’s description of Muggeridge as a supralapsarian and his disparagement of the Synod of Dort made a nice introduction [NYR, June 10], but the proper distinctions must still be observed. Canons of Dort is not sublapsarian but infralapsarian. The issue in decretal theology was not history and eternity but the orders of eternity. Infralapsarians held that God’s decree of election and reprobation took account of the decree of permission for the Fall; supralapsarians held that God’s decree of election and reprobation necessitated the Fall. Canons does not rule on this controversy but favors the infralapsarian side.

Clayton Libolt

River Terrace Church, East Lansing, Michigan

Noel Annan replies:

I would not wish to break a lance with Mr. Libolt on so dangerous a topic, though since the Synod of Dort the less rigid interpretation of predestination has usually found favor among Calvinists. The Oxford Dictionary of the Christian Church—a far from authoritative source, I fear—declares that the terms “infralapsarian” and “sublapsarian” are interchangeable and favors the latter.

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