How to be a Consistent Infralapsarian

by Max Andrews

A few years ago Ken Keathley, Professor of Theology at Southeastern Baptist Theological Seminary, presented a paper at the SBC’s Building Bridges Conference.  Keathley is a Molinist and the title of his paper [on election] was “How to be a Consistent Infralapsarian.”  This paper was the primary content in the chapter on election in his book Salvation and Sovereignty: A Molinist Approach. There is an audio version of his presentation but all the links I found online were broken.  Be sure to download the draft of the paper in the link above and read through it.  He outlines a very robust model of election and reprobation. (As a Molinist I, of course, affirm much of what he argues.)  Nonetheless, you cannot deny that he is being biblical and consistent in his model of election.

I had a review of Salvation and Sovereignty published in the Midwestern Journal of Theology you can read.  Concerning Keathley’s chapter on election, his paper, this is what I had to say:

Keathley’s understanding of sovereign election, which he calls “consistent infralapsarianism,” follows from his understanding of overcoming grace.  Under this view, God elects all individuals who would freely cease to resist his saving grace.  God will so arrange the world, via strong and weak actualizations, to bring about a person’s experiences and circumstances in which they would freely refrain from rejecting him.  With this understanding of election, God is both sovereign in actualizing salvation and permissive in allowing the reprobates to go their own way.  Keathley’s interpretation of Romans 9 is a historical rendition with little to no attention to the particular and individual aspect of the chapter.  Though it is not necessary for Molinism to explain why God created this world, Keathley argues that Molinism is consistent with the existence of the elect and the reprobate.  A particular shortfall of Keathley in this chapter on election is his response to the question, “Why does the reprobate exist?” In his attempt to distance himself from a theodicy he responds by resting it comfortably at “God’s sovereign will.”  Though that is true, it would have been beneficial to focus more attention on that question.

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