D.W. Congdon is a PhD student at Princeton Theological Seminary. He has written an article for Testamentum Imperium: An International Theological Journal titled “The Problem With Double Predestination and the Case for Christocentric-Missional Universalism”. In this article he argues that the debate amongst Protestants between Calvinism and Arminianism is wrongheaded. Against Armnianism he affirms Calvinism’s critique of so-called “human freedom” (p. 4). Against Calvinism he critiques “instrumental soteriology” where “Jesus Christ is not himself constitutive of what salvation is or who is saved; he merely fulfills a divine decision regarding salvation that is made apart from him in eternity (p. 7).”

Instead, Congdon suggests the Barthian “revision of the supralapsarian position”. Namely, that God elected Jesus Christ (and humanity in Jesus) before the creation of the world and the fall of humanity (p. 9). He goes on to argue that Christ is the revelation of God. Therefore, to be truly Christocentric we cannot search for Godness outside of God’s revelation through Christ, even the Trinity is known through Christ (pp. 9-11). Since God was in Christ reconciling the world to Himself (and the created order) we must understand the Pauline Christ-Adam juxtaposition in such a way that Christ is not simply a response to sin and death; he is the victor! What occurs in the history of Christ is infinitely more significant than the sin that affects human existence. The consequence of this view is clear: to say that some will finally remain outside the scope of Christ’s reconciling death and resurrection is to make the sin of Adam more significant and more universal than the obedience of Jesus. The result is, again, a failure to take Jesus Christ with full seriousness (p. 11).”

If God elected all of humanity in Jesus before the creation/fall what is the purpose of the mission of the church? Congdon proposes that in Rom. 5:8-11 Paul separated “reconciliation” from “salvation”. He states, “Reconciliation—and justification, I would argue, in light of Rom. 5:9—occurred in the death of Jesus Christ, while salvation will occur in the eschaton. Reconciliation is past-tense in nature, while salvation is in the future tense. Both, however, are grounded in the one mediator between God and humanity, Jesus Christ: his death reconciles us to God, while his new life in the resurrection ensures our salvation (p. 12).” What is the difference? [F]or Paul, our salvation is an existential and eschatological actuality. It is existential in that it concerns our lived existence before God; but it is eschatological in that God alone confirms our salvation when we encounter God “face to face.” Salvation, as Paul defines it, is both present-tense and future-tense. We both “work out [our] salvation with fear and trembling” (Phil. 2:12) and await our salvation in the final parousia of God.” While reconciliation is something God did through Christ for humanity whether or not we have faith in Christ or not (p. 13).

To summarize, we “experience” salvation here and now and at the eschaton. But just because someone does not experience salvation does not mean that they will not experience reconciliation. Those who experience salvation get the best of both worlds knowing God now and at the eschaton. Those who only experience reconciliation are still reunited with God. Congdon states, “This reading of Paul’s letters allows one to simultaneously affirm that salvation is by faith alone and that all people are reconciled to God apart from their faith (p. 14).”

My summary does not do the article justice. Even though I do not agree with his conclusions, nor his exegesis, I think it is a worthwhile read. To read his full article access it here. Once you have done so I’d enjoy hearing your thoughts here via comment.