The 17th century Reformed Scholastic movement saw the beginning of what became known as the Lapsarian controversy, with the two main contenders being Supralapsarianism and Infralapsarianism (Amyraldianism and Arminianism being minor contenders in this fight). The controversy centers on the logical order of God's decrees, especially as it centers on whether the decree of Creation is logically antecedent (Infralapsarian) or consequent (Supralapsarian) to the decree of election and reprobation. This in-house debate has continued to this very time, although widespread apostasy, liberalism, and dead formalism and traditionalism have placed the subject in the background most of the time. Nevertheless, the debate still rages once in a while, and the debate continues on in our paper and review for today.
With the development of Neo-Orthodoxy by Karl Barth and his disciples such as T.F. Torrance and Bruce McCormack, as a "conservative" response to the Liberalism of their age , another element has entered into the Lapsarian debate. While keeping the terminology of the Reformed Evangelical faith tradition and claiming continuity to that tradition, Neo-Orthodoxy eviscerates the contents of the Reformed tradition. Without digressing, since Neo-Orthodoxy claims continuity with the Reformed tradition, it creates its own lapsariam scheme and thus join in the lapsarian debate — an alien as it is.
In this paper, Alex Tseng has written an interesting paper on this particular topic. Entited The Lapsarian Dilemna and Karl Barth's Christocentric Doctrine of Election, it interacts with both of the two main lapsarian scheme, as well as Karl Barth's unique lapsarian scheme. An excerpt:
Christianity affirms that God is sovereign and perfect. Understanding the sovereignty of God’s will and perfections of God’s being becomes a challenge when the presence of evil is taken seriously: How can there be evil in this world if God is good and almighty? In this paper, I will discuss Calvinism’s answer to the problem of evil and demonstrate an intrinsic difficulty in the Calvinist-Augustinian formulation of predestination played out in the lapsarian controversy of the 17th Century. I will discuss the strengths and weaknesses of Karl Barth’s Christological formulation of the doctrine of election and how it hints to a way out of the lapsarian dilemma. Finally, I will appeal to John Owen’s Christological treatment of the doctrine of predestination to suggest a Reformed orthodoxy solution.
Joel Tay has written a well thought out response to Alex's paper here. An excerpt:
In his paper, Alex Tseng affirms the sovereignty of God and presents the problem of evil as a launching pad for rejecting supralapsarianism. Having done so, he puts forward his own formulation based upon infralapsarian thought combined with elements of Barth’s doctrine of election, which supposedly covers the holes in traditional infralapsarian theology.
This paper and its review are now open for discussion.