William Birch on Supralapsarianism

‘(…) What is supralapsarianism (supra-lap-sarian-ism)? Supralapsarianism is a theory regarding God’s decrees: 1) God, logically yet primarily, decreed to save and to reprobate (i.e., to unconditionally elect to save some people and to decree the rest — by leaps and bounds the majority (cf. Matt. 7:13, 14) — to an eternal hell); 2) God decreed to create human beings in order to obtain creatures to save and to reprobate; 3) God decreed for the fall of these human beings; 4) God decreed to provide redemption for the unconditionally elect; 5) God decreed to apply Christ’s redemptive work to the unconditionally elect. (link) In such a theory, human beings are either created for heaven or created for hell, all for the alleged glory God. Their purpose for existing is to fulfill God’s decree to save or to reprobate. Does John Calvin teach this heinous theory?

Most suggest that supralapsarianism is developed and expounded upon by John Calvin’s successor Theodore Beza (1519-1605), who is mentor to Jacob Arminius (1559-1609), during his years at university. Not so. Calvin himself insists that all people are “not created on equal terms, but some are preordained to eternal life, others to eternal damnation; and, accordingly, as each has been created for one or other of these ends, we say that he has been predestinated to life or to death.”1 (emphasis added) The language of creation in Calvin’s theory places his theology in the context of supralapsarianism; i.e., that God has, from eternity past, decreed to unconditionally pre-select some unto faith and salvation, the rest (the majority, cf. Matt. 7:13, 14) unto eternal condemnation in torment, and then decreed to create human beings in order to fulfill that prior decree. Thus, for Calvin, human beings are created for one or other of these eternal ends. This is a horrid and deplorable philosophy. But this is Calvin’s theology and Calvin’s supralapsarian God.

I will make public my opinion that I am uncertain that the God of supralapsarianism is the God of the Bible, the Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, and the God that Christians are to worship. Obviously I do not view supralapsarianism as in any sense imaginable deriving from the Bible: it is a philosophy desperate for a scriptural proof-text. But the philosophy is inept even in its own right. For God to first decree to unconditionally elect unto salvation and to reprobate is illogical — even if granted a preferential place within a philosophical construct — since God had not yet decreed any objects of the prior decree. Moreover, how could God express divine anger, His holiness having been offended, in decreeing an abstract reprobation, before He had even decreed to create objects of that anger? The system is painfully baseless. Furthermore, the supralapsarian God is obliged to also decree, render certain, and ultimately bring about the fall, in order to secure the eternal state of the reprobate. These qualifications lead to baffling yet uncontested and inevitable conclusions.

The supralapsarian God is angry, at the beginning of this decree, without a cause (cf. Matt. 5:22 KJV), since no mortal has yet sinned, being not yet created; He has imagined for Himself an abstract decree of saving and reprobating prior to a decree to create objects to save and reprobate; and He then forces Himself to decree and proactively render certain that all mortals fall into sin, rebelling against Him and His commands, so that He can assume some semblance of divine anger in order to justify reprobating human beings He created in His own image. Someone may respond: And there are people who believe this atrocious philosophy? Yes, Calvin himself, among many of his followers advocate this cruel, appalling, and diabolical philosophy. They even name it “biblical.”


source: Will Birch, “Arminian Theology Superior to Calvinism Regarding God’s Decrees” (williambirch).


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