Word of the Week Wednesday: Supralapsarianism

by Max Andrews

The Word of the Week is: Supralapsarianism

Definition: From the Latin, supra (prior to, below, before), lapsis, (fall).  A term used to denote the logical moment of God’s election of the saints.  Supralapsarianism if the belief that God chose the elect logically prior to the fall of man.

More about the term: Supralapsarianism is generally held by Calvinists and a few Molinists.  Supralapsarianism places the moment of divine election logically prior to the fall of Adam as opposed to logically posterior to the fall, which is known as infralapsarianism. When God chose the elect he did so without viewing them or considering them in their fallen state.  God chose them in a pre-fallen state.  This position can create controversy and may have unsavory implications.  One of the implications is what’s known as double-predestination.  This is the idea that God chose the reprobates (the non-elect) in the same fashion in which he chose the elect.  This isn’t a necessary implication of supralapsarianism since God’s decree of reprobation may be logically posterior to the fall.

This view of soteriology is held by Alvin Plantinga, who is a Molinist with Calvinistic tendencies (there’s a wide spectrum of Molinism ranging from supralapsarianism to Wesleyan).  Plantinga uses this idea in his theodicy, ‘O Felix Culpa’ (O happy sin).  The reason why evil exists is because God first desired the cross of Christ–the means by which God would get the most glory.  In order to bring about the cross there must be sin, thus God permits sin to happen because he desires the cross (which is why evil exists–so God may be glorified by atoning for it).



4 Responses to “Word of the Week Wednesday: Supralapsarianism”

  1. I have not fully understood the molinist position, because I thought reformed epistemology and molinism were mutually exclusive. I also had not thought about the unnecessary nature relationship between supralapsarianism and double-predestination.

  2. Supralapsarianism! I hear Arminius spinning in his grave beneath the Pieterskerk of Leiden!!

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