The story of how Karl and Emily Crisler met and fell in love is a moving one. They were both in their first year at Reformed Theological Seminary in Jackson. She was fresh into her studies in Marriage and Family Therapy, he a Master of Divinity student struggling through Greek and Hebrew. They met in Theological Foundations, a three-hour-long Monday night class, and became fast friends.
"We started out just chatting some during the break time." Said Emily. "At first I thought he was just the typical MDiver, trying to impress me with how intelligent he thought he was. I just tried to be polite. But soon I really begin to notice him more and more. He was different, humble in many ways. We became good friends."
"I knew I wanted to marry her the moment I laid eyes on her!" Said Karl. "She didn't know it then, but I did. We were going to get married some day."
And, indeed they did. By the time they entered their second year at RTS they were husband and wife.
It would be great if the story ended with "and they lived happily ever after," but, unfortunately, that is not what happened. While the Crisler's faced many of the struggles common to newlyweds, one in particular caused significant problems in their marriage.
"It was a typical evening at home." Said Karl. "Emily had cooked a wonderful meal, and we were just having some dinner conversation. I began telling her about what we'd been studying in my Systematic Theology class on Infralapsarianism and Supralapsarianism."
Infra & Supralapsarianism are two views known commonly within reformed doctrine. Infralapsarianism argues that God's disposition towards the reprobate in his eternal decree is somewhat more "passive," that God determined that the fall would happen before he predestined some to salvation, thus "passing over" those who would not be saved. Supralapsarianism places God's decree to predestine some to salvation ahead of his decree of the fall. Thus reprobation occurs in a more "active" sense.
"As our conversation continued it suddenly became clear that Emily and I weren't on the same page." Said Karl. "When I was describing Supralapsarianism to her she said 'Well, that's what I believe.' and I asked her "How in the world can you believe that?"
"It was a big mess." Said Emily. "We argued for almost two hours about the whole thing."
In the days and weeks that followed tensions began to mount in the Crisler's marriage. Finally, they decided to get some counseling to help them through this trial.
"I really think things are beginning to get worked out now." Said Emily. "Even if we have this major theological difference between us, I know we can work it out and learn to live and work together."
"I still think she's wrong, but I love her." Said Karl. "And I know we've committed to stay together 'for better or for worse.' That's what I intended to do. I know we're not the only ones dealing with these things though. I have a friend out at Westminster Seminary, and he and his wife are going through some struggles over some major theological issues. His wife actually believes that flowers in the sanctuary are an acceptable thing, even in light of the regulative principle of worship. I don't know how it's going to work out for them, but we're committed."