Samuel Rutherford (1600–61) has long been assumed to be an advocate of a harsh supralapsarian predestinarianism. Such an assumption, however, cannot be substantiated by the claims that he makes in his writings. New evidence from his writings suggests that while Rutherford was supralapsarian, he expressed his supralapsarianism only in the most moderate of terms. In fact, he consistently employed infralapsarian language to express his thinking in regard to predestination. This essay will seek to demonstrate this in Rutherford and then to explore whether such an expression of supralapsarian predestinarianism can help us in determining the lapsarian position of the Westminster Confession of Faith. While some scholars have claimed that the Confession is an infralapsarian document, this essay will show that, by using Rutherford's supralapsarianism as a hermeneutic, it is perhaps better understood as a supralapsarian document that is phrased in such a way so as to facilitate consensus on the lapsarian issue.
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