Thursday, January 16, 2014

Supralapsarianism - Common Objections 1

There are 4 common objections which are raised against the Supralapsarian position.

The 1st objection is this: The elect and Christ are chosen in one decree.

The 2nd objection is this: Supralapsarianism makes God the author of sin.

The 3rd objection is that it is unfair.

The 4th is that it is illogical because it conceives of a decree made in reference to nonentities.

I do not presume to suggest that these are the only objections ever raised against Supralapsarianism. But I do know that they are the most common. I would like to look at each one of them and explain why they either fail to reach the level of a legitimate objection, or raise questions which argue against the opposing view with at least as much force.

1 Because Supralapsarianism places election before the fall (before the necessity of the Mediator and Savior) it hereby separates the election of Christ from that of all the elect.

With regard to the first objection G.H. Kersten writes, “Although the election of Christ and of the elect is one decree, yet the chosen Mediator must be considered in two respects: as the Head of His elect, and as a representative Covenant Head. In election Christ is the Head of the Church that God has decreed to create in order to accomplish His sovereign predestination, and to save it through the depth of Adam’s fall, and therefore in predestination it must be considered as not yet created, nor fallen. In the Covenant of Redemption the elect are indeed seen is already created and fallen, for Christ represents them to satisfy all the requirements of the Covenant in their place, and to place them in covenant relationship to God unto salvation. He is able to represent them as their covenant Head because they are comprehended in Him by virtue of election just as Adam could place all his posterity into covenant relationship with God, because they were all in him because of creation. The Infralapsarian also makes a distinction in the one decree, although they do it in another order, separating creation and the fall from election and reprobation. But then the objection that the Supralapsarians separates the election of Christ from that of all the elect also falls away because predestination occurs out of sovereignty, and is not an act of mercy and of justice. It determines who shall and shall not be saved. The Covenant of Redemption teaches us how the elect shall be saved. Establishing this covenant brings the suretyship which is demanded from Christ to satisfy the violated righteousness of God. Neither do the Supralapsarians thus make a separation between the election of Christ and out of all the other elect.”-Reformed Dogmatics, Volume 1, Part 1, Chapter 8.

Kersten is arguing that this is an unfair, if not specious, objection. Supralapsarianism is accused of inserting a separation into God’s singular decree. If this is a valid objection, Infralapsarianism must fall by the same sword, since it makes a distinction in the one decree as well. Supralapsarianism views Christ, first as Head of the Church, which is comprised of those whom elected unto salvation, and secondly as a representative Covenant Head. Viewing Christ in these 2 respects allows us to make a distinction without making a separation between the election of Christ and that of all the other elect.

The objection is therefore not a valid one. But as we already mentioned, it appears to be an unfair argument as well. If Supralapsarianism is false because it makes a distinction in the one decree, Infralapsarianism must be false too, because it makes a distinction in the one decree. If it’s good enough for the goose, it should be good enough for the gander. Not to make too fine a point of it, but if that argument is unfair, then it’s unfair no matter who is used against.

This objection falls apart as soon as we realize that what is under discussion is the logical conception of the thing not its historical execution. Infralapsarianism, it seems to me, makes this mistake.


  1. Andy, I could care less about the Lapsarian debate as a Lutheran. But, the strongest argument I ever heard against Supralapsarianism is that God is electing non-sinners, and non-sinners don't need to be saved. So, God is electing persons in view of them not being sinful. I think this is what your 4th point is getting at, if I am not mistaken.

    1. That's not exactly what I was getting at, but it's in the ballpark, so to speak, I guess I would have an issue with the presupposition of the objection. It seems to confuse conception with historical execution (a phrase I will use repeatedly in upcoming posts in the series).

  2. Thanks for this. As a Supralapsarian, it is nice to see others thinking and considering this subject as well.

    1. Thanks for reading and commenting. It is encouraging to know that folks enjoy the material here. Blessings.


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