Christian Relaunch


Supralapsarianism is the belief that God decreed that man should defect so that God would have someone to restore.

"[It] were the will of God that Adam should fall by his permission, so to make way for Gods glorious ends, to wit, the manifestation of his glory, in the incarnation of the Sonne of God, as also in the way of mercy, in the salvation of some; and in the way of justice, in the condemnation of others."

William Twisse, The Riches of Gods Love (1653).

This is a form of Lapsofatalism, the belief that man was bound to defect. It undermines the seriousness of creation, treating it as a mere preliminary to God's real plan which is regarded as involving defection and restoration. The focus is on the process of restoration, with no coherent notion of creation in itself.

Infralapsarianism is the belief that God's intention to restore followed his knowledge of man's defection.

"Before the foundation of the world, by sheer grace, according to the free good pleasure of his will, [God] chose in Christ to salvation a definite number of particular people out of the entire human race which had fallen by its own fault from its original innocence into sin and ruin."

Canons of Dort, First Point of Doctrine, Article 7 (1618).

Theodore Beza (1519-1605) was, I gather, the first to promote supralapsarianism explicitly, but I am not familiar with his writings, and have found no passage specific enough to quote.

Supralapsarianism is the belief that God first decreed that he would glorify himself by restoring man, and consequently decreed man's creation and defection as means to this end. All these decrees occurred in eternity past, so the order is not chronological but "logical"; the belief is not that the restoration decree preceded the other decrees, only that it motivated them, that they were consequent though not subsequent.

Supralapsarianism regards the question of what God would have done if man had not defected as meaningless rather than false, since man's defection was so integral to God's eternal purpose that to suppose the contrary is empty.

The historic Supralapsarianism controversy seems to have focussed on restoration's relationship with reprobation rather than with creation. But the deeper issue is the relationship between restoration and creation; Suprapsarianism regards the former as a means to the latter, necessitated by God's deepest, most original, and inflexible purpose, so has no room for any notion of a purely creational plan; hence its thoroughgoing rejection of the "what if" question.

The Twisse and Dort passages focus on reprobation, in keeping with the above-mentioned focus, so are not altogether satisfactory for present purposes. I hope at some point to find early passages on each side focussing on creation, but meanwhile these must suffice.

Although the early Infralapsarians agreed with the Supralapsarians that "God from all eternity did ... ordain whatsoever comes to pass" (as the 1643 Westminster Confession puts it), they were not Lapsofatalists for present purposes because they implied that creation makes sense, at least to some degree, in its own right, denial of which is the essence of Lapsofatalism. Incidentally, most of them probably were (Restitutional) Atheanthroposialists, with theanthroposis absent from the "antecedant" plan they postulated. They also had no answer to the question "What was God's motive in decreeing the defection?" except "it's a mystery". But all that is irrelevant here; I cite them as early opponents of this heresy, not as paragons.

Back to Atheanthroposialism.