The Differences between Pelagians, semi-Pelagians, Arminians, Sub-lapsarians and Supra-lapsarians

, posted by Godismyjudge

Ever wonder what the differences between Pelagians, semi-Pelagians, Arminians, Sub-lapsarians and Supra-lapsarians are? These terms often get thrown around, and people sometimes get mad when they are labeled in one group or another. The best way I can explain these differences is through a little analogy. Imagine two guys, George and Matt, are in a boat. George represents God, and Matt represents man.

(Some people may have figured out that I used “G” & “M”, because my memory is bad.)

Pelagians
George & Matt are rowing along. Matt falls out and goes under for a bit. He comes up and thrashes around, confused and scared. George calls out, I am over here. Matt sees George, swims over to the boat, and climbs in.

In Pelagianism, all that man needs in order to be saved is for God to call them through the Gospel. Then man is able on his own to respond and save himself.

Semi-Pelagians
George & Matt are rowing along. Matt falls out and goes under for a bit. He comes up and thrashes around, confused and scared. George calls out, I am over here. Matt sees George, calls for help and reaches out his hand. George grabs Matt’s hand and they both struggle to get Matt into the boat.

The best catch phrase for semi-Pelagianism is that God helps those who help themselves. Unlike the Pelagians, semi-Pelagians realize that man needs God’s help for salvation. But they think we start the process and God meets us half way in order to help. Then God and man work together for salvation.

Arminians
There’s a little bit of variety in the Arminian view, so I will give two analogies.

George & Matt are rowing along. Matt falls out and goes under. Matt hits his head and falls unconscious. George dives in and gets Matt off the bottom. As Matt comes to the surface he gains consciousness, starts thrashing around, and sees George pulling him back into the boat. Matt grabs a hold of George, as George pulls Matt into the boat.

A different Arminian analogy:

George & Matt are rowing along. Matt falls out and goes under. Matt hits his head and falls unconscious. George dives in and gets Matt off the bottom. As Matt comes to the surface he gains consciousness, starts thrashing around, and sees George pulling him back into the boat. George pulls Matt onto the boat and Matt lets him.

Both Arminian views are different than the semi-Pelagian view, in that man is completely helpless and cannot initiate their salvation. But in the one view, man does something helpful. He works together with God, by grabbing hold. In the second view however, man doesn’t do anything. Man can resist, but does not. Thus, man’s role in salvation is non-action rather than action; all the work is done by God.

Calvinist Sub-Lapsarianism
George & Matt are rowing along. Matt falls out and goes under. Matt hits his head and falls unconscious. George dives in and gets Matt off the bottom. As Matt comes to the surface he gains consciousness, starts thrashing around, and sees George pulling him back into the boat. If Matt starts to resist, George gives Matt a morphine shot to calm him down. George pulls Matt onto the boat.

The difference between Calvinism and Arminianism is that man can’t resist God’s saving them. If they start to put up a struggle, God causes them to change internally in such a way that they cannot resist.

Calvinist Supra-Lapsarianism
George is in the boat by himself. He says to himself, I want to rescue someone today. He goes to the shore and picks up Matt. George & Matt are rowing along. George pushes Matt out of the boat. Matt falls out of the boat, sinks to the bottom, hits his head on a rock and falls unconscious. George dives in and gets Matt off the bottom. As Matt comes to the surface he gains consciousness, starts thrashing around, and sees George pulling him back into the boat. If Matt starts to resist, George gives Matt a morphine shot to calm him down. George pulls Matt onto the boat.

The difference between supra and sub-lapsarians is that in the supra-lapsarian viewpoint, God chooses some people first, before He decrees the fall. Thus, some people were chosen for destruction, without having first been considered by God as sinners. The fall becomes just a means that God uses to accomplish His goal of saving some people. Sub-lapsarians on the other hand say God first permits the fall before He chooses who He will save. Thus God is choosing some people for salvation out of fallen and sinful mankind.

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