We have received the following difficult question about predestination: "Supralapsarians claim that their theory does justice to the logical symmetry of the decree of God. Opponents reply that it comes perilously close to making God the Author of sin. They would further emphasize the historical fact that both the Westminster Confession and the Synod of Dort adopted the infra-lapsarian position. Were these synods correct in adopting the milder infra theory?" We will be answering this question in several issues. Some explanation is required. Many will not even have heard the words, supra- or infra-lapsarianism, or if they have, will not have remembered what they mean. Nor should they worry. The subject here is one about which Scripture says nothing. In general, these two words have to do with the logical order of God's decrees. More particularly, they have to do with the relationship between predestination and the fall of mankind in God's decrees. The question is: When God chose some and not others, did He choose them as those whom He had already foreseen as fallen (infra-lapsarianism), or did He choose them solely for His own glory and then "afterward" decree their fall and redemption as the way in which He would use them for His glory (supra-lapsarianism). This involves the further question of where Christ comes in the decree. Did God foresee the fall first, then choose some to salvation, and only then decree Christ and His work as the answer to sin, so that Christ comes last in God's decree? Then the order would be: (1) creation and the fall, (2) election, (3) Christ (= infra-lapsarianism). Or did God first decree Christ as the One through whom He would glorify Himself, then choose some "in Christ" and finally decree the fall and redemption as the way in which He would glorify Himself in Christ and His people? Then the order of God's decrees would be: (1) Christ, (2) election, (3) creation and the fall. Then Christ is first in God's decrees (supralapsarianism). "Infra-lapsarian" means "under" or "after" the "fall" (infra = under, lapsus = fall) and is the other teaching that the decree of predestination was after the decree of the fall. According to this scheme God first saw His people as fallen and then determined to save them, choosing some only to be saved. The word "supra-lapsarian" means "above" or "before" the "fall" and refers to the teaching that the decree of predestination was before the decree of the fall. According to this scheme, God first planned to save some for the glory of His Name and then planned what He would save them from. Infra-lapsarianism, then, teaches that the logical order of God's decrees is the same as the order of things in history - the fall first and Christ last. Supra-lapsarianism says that the order is the opposite of history, Christ first and the fall last, that is, that we must think of things in God's decree in order of their importance. Perhaps we can now see the difficulty. When we ask the first question above the infra-lapsarian order seems preferable in light of Romans 8:29 and Ephesians 2:4 (i.e., when God chose us He saw us as already fallen, NOT conformed to the image of Christ and NOT holy). When we ask the second question the supra-lapsarian order perhaps seems preferable especially in light of Colossians 1:16-18 (i.e., that Christ is before everything else, also in God's decrees. Which, if either, is correct?
- Volume: 5
- Issue: 10
Rev. Ronald Hanko (Wife: Nancy)
Ordained: November 1979
Pastorates: Wyckoff, NJ - 1979; Trinity, Houston, TX - 1986; Missionary to N.Ireland - 1993; Lynden, WA - 2002Website: www.lyndenprc.org/sermons/
Address317 North Park St.
State or ProvinceWA