Covenant Protestant Reformed Church
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Supralapsarianism Preferable

Herman Hoeksema


We place ourselves without reservation on the standpoint of supralapsarianism and maintain that it is the scriptural and the only consistent presentation of the decree of God's predestination. But we would like to modify this supralapsarian view in such a way that it is in harmony with our organic conception of things. We must emphasize not so much what is first or last in the decree of God, but rather place ourselves before the questions: What in those decrees is conceived as purpose and what as means? What is the main object in those decrees, and what is subordinate and subservient to that main object?

In this way we escape the danger of leaving the impression that there is a temporal order in the decrees of God. In addition, according to our way of presenting the doctrine of predestination, we may open the way to find an answer to the question, Why is there a reprobation? It is true that supralapsarians give a partial answer to this question when they assert that God also has willed the ungodly for his own name's sake and for the manifestation of his righteousness, justice, power, and wrath. But this is by no means the final answer that may be given to this question, nor does it satisfy us, because in this way we still cannot escape the impression that there is arbitrariness in God. The reprobate are evidently not necessary to reveal God's power, wrath, and righteousness, for these virtues certainly never came to a clearer, more definite revelation than at the cross of Jesus Christ. He certainly satisfied the justice and the righteousness of God and bore all his wrath. 

Therefore, we would like to present the matter of God's counsel of predestination as follows: God conceived and willed all things in his eternal decree for his own name's sake, that is, to the glory of his name and the reflection of his divine, infinite virtues and life. As the highest in God is his own covenant life, he willed to establish and to reveal his covenant in Christ, and all other things in the counsel of God are related to that main purpose of God as means. Hence we obtain the following order of the decrees: 

  1. God wants to reveal his own eternal glory in the establishment of his covenant. 

  2. For the realization of this purpose, the Son becomes the Christ, the image of the invisible God, the firstborn of every creature, that in him as the first begotten of the dead all the fullness of God might dwell.

  3. For that Christ and the revelation of all his fullness, the church is decreed, and all the elect. In the decree of God, Christ is not designed for the church, but the church for Christ. The church is his body and serves the purpose of revealing the fullness there is in him.

  4. For the purpose of realizing this church of Christ and, therefore, the glory of Christ, the reprobate are determined as vessels of wrath. Reprobation serves the purpose of election as the chaff serves the ripening of the wheat. This is in harmony with the current thought of Scripture. We find it expressed literally in Isaiah 43:3-4: "For I am the Lord thy God, the Holy One of Israel, thy Saviour: I gave Egypt for thy ransom, Ethiopia and Seba for thee. Since thou wast precious in my sight, thou hast been honourable, and I have loved thee: therefore will I give men for thee, and people for thy life."

  5. Finally, in the counsel of God, all other things in heaven and on earth are designed as means to the realization of both election and reprobation and, therefore, of the glory of Christ and his church. Because in the decree of God all things are conceived in this manner, all things must work together for good to them that love God, to them that are the called according to his purpose. In this light we can also understand Scripture when it teaches that "all things are yours; Whether Paul or Apollos, or Cephas, or the world, or life, or death, or things present, or things to come; all are yours; And ye are Christ's; and Christ is God's" (I Cor. 3:21-23).

Source: Reformed Dogmatics (Grandville, MI: RFPA, 2004), vol. 1, pp. 236-237.