Okay -- so Bill S. is an infralapsarian who would like to defend infralapsarianism on the True Gospel List. Good! Let's really see what a confessing infralapsarian believes.
Bill S. got off on the wrong foot, quoting the heretical well-meant-offer Southern Presbyterians.
Here's a Thornwell quote: "There is a difference between them [election and reprobation], however; election finds the objects of mercy unfit for eternal life, and puts forth a positive agency in preparing them for glory; reprobation finds the objects of wrath already fitted for destruction, and only withholds that influence which alone can transform them. ... reprobation is strictly an act of sovereignty in which God refuses to save, and leaves the sinner to the free course of the law. ... Our Standards afford no sort of shelter to the Hopkinsian error that the decree of reprobation consists in God's determining to fit a certain number of mankind for eternal damnation, and that the Divine agency is as positively employed in man's bad volitions and actions as in their good." (from Collected Writings II)
Here Thornwell shows that he believes in conditional reprobation, contrary to the Scriptures which say that Esau was reprobated before he had done anything evil. Thornwell is also saying that God's agency is not positively employed in man's bad volitions! So God just "lets them go their own way" without any intervention in their lives. This is a form of semi-deism, and it is totally contrary to the Scripture (see Deut. 2:30; 2 Sam. 17:14; 1 Kings 22:20-23; 2 Chr. 18:22; 2 Chr. 25:17-23; Ps. 105:25; Prov. 16:4; Prov. 21:1; Isa. 6:9-10; Isa. 19:14; Isa. 45:7; Acts 4:27-28).
Opposed to the clear teaching of Scripture, Dabney says: "The decree of reprobation is then, in its essence, a simple preterition. ... Yet objectively this act is only negative, because God does nothing to those thus passed by, to make their case any worse, or to give any additional momentum, to their downward course. He leaves them as they are." (from Theology)
Even Berkhof could see the foolishness of Dabney's position: "The positive side of reprobation is so clearly taught in Scripture as the opposite of election that we cannot regard it as something purely negative Rom. 9:21,22; Jude 4" (from Systematic Theology).
In Morton Smith's book, "Studies in Southern Presbyterian Theology," he says this of Southern Presbyterian James Benjamin Green: "Actually, he seems to have been troubled with the doctrine of reprobation. At least he appears to have found the language of the Confession on this subject to be too strong. He comments: 'Section 3 and 4 of this chapter of the Confession offend some by the baldness of their statements.'"
Here is a quote from Southern Presbyterian Clement Read Vaughn: "The reprobation of Esau was simply the purpose of God to leave him without restraint upon his own personal traits and inclinations to do as he pleased to do: it was a permission to sin -- to grow up and develop according to his own preferred lines of conduct. This was the whole decree of reprobation as it took effect before he was born, and was the expression of Divine Sovereignty concerning him. ... It was in reference to this part of the Decree, to permit Esau to develop without restraint, that Paul pronounces the reprobation to take effect before Esau had done any evil. It simply opened the way for his sinful career, and logically anteceded it, and made it possible. But it did not create or compel that career. The decree which took effect before the children had done either good or evil was confined, so far as Esau was concerned, to this permission to do as his own heart suggested." (from Lecture 21)
Southern Presbyterian Givens Brown Strickler said this: "But in this determining to leave them to the consequences of their own sins, he, of course, thereby determined their fate -- not in the sense, that he intended by his own agency and, by any sort of force himself to bring about their destruction, but in the sense that he intended to allow them in the exercise of their own free agency and in their preferred course of sin to bring about of themselves, as he foresaw they would persist in doing, in spite of all means employed to prevent them; and in thus determining their fate, he did what our book means and all that it means, when it says he ordained it." (from Reprobation)
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