Home » Course Material » Supra- (and Infra)lapsarianism


Supra- (and Infra)lapsarianism


Supra- (and Infra)lapsarianism




Su: The decree of election precedes the decrees of creation and fall.
The fall is decreed.  Its being decreed magnifies God’s glory, since
(i)  nothing happens apart from God’s will,
(ii) that fall which God decrees ultimately renders even more splendid the splendour of redemption.

In:  The decree of election follows creation (which God wills) and fall (which God permits.)



Comments and Criticisms

(i) puts grace at the head of all Christian knowledge and understanding,
(ii) affirms God to be utterly unconditioned, since his redeeming activity is not something brought in as if the fall had (for the moment) obstructed his plans,
(iii) accuses In. of impugning the omniscience and omnipotence of God (since something happened – the fall – that God didn’t will),
(iv) affirms that creation is the venue or theatre by which God concretises the twofold decree (election and reprobation.)   (QUESTION: Is this a biblical understanding of creation?)




(i) subordinates election/reprobation to providence (as Calvin did in 1536 Inst. but “corrected” in 1559 Inst.)
(ii) insists that God permits evil; God makes use of evil in the course of God’s glorifying himself.  But God doesn’t will evil in positing the decree of election.

Note I: Since election is subordinate to providence, (i.e., since providence precedes election), therefore the God who wills a people for himself in Jesus Christ cannot be the God with whom we have to do.  Then who is God?  I.e., who is God if God isn’t he who elects in Christ from eternity a people for himself?  Is God a deity whose nature remains unknown to us in that whatever his nature, fashioning a people for himself is tangential to his nature?  Is the heart of God something other than mercy?

Note II: Because humankind was not created as elect in Christ, infralapsarian anthropology tended not to be a predicate of Christology, and therefore degenerated into a naturalistic doctrine of humankind.
Su. was accused constantly of making God the author of sin.  I.e., Su. exalted the sovereignty of God in such a way as to demystify the mystery of evil and to make the irrational rational – all in the course of making evil a part of the divine world-order and therefore a necessity.

In. was accused of being dualist, because something exists (evil) that isn’t God-willed.

In. defended itself
(i)              evil is real as evil, not as an aspect of good.  (It would have to be an aspect of good if God (who is good) decreed it.)
(ii)            God foreordains no one to perdition, the reprobate receiving the justice of God.  They merit this on account of their fall, but their fall isn’t God-ordained.
(iii)           to say that God’s purpose includes evil for a the sake of election/reprobation is to excuse evil.


The strength of Su: God is he who elects a people for himself from all eternity in Jesus Christ.  Everything else subserves this truth.

The strength of In: God is not the author of that which contradicts him and against which his face is set.