Tom Holland: Universal Atonement


There are those who view salvation as universally applied to the whole of mankind and such would see no problem. They would no doubt accept the corporate reading with enthusiasm. Such euphoria over having found a solution to their own problems of inclusion is however ill-founded. It will become clear that Paul insists that there is a fundamental division in the human race. It is no longer Jew and Gentile but a new division has come into existence. There are those who are in Adam and those who are in Christ.

It is of course true that in Christ there are no ultimate divisions of status, but it is abuse of Paul’s argument to say that he claims that this truth applies to all humanity. To ignore this fundamental premise of two separate communities under their respective heads so clearly found in Pauline theology, is to destroy the very basis of his arguments. Whatever the doctrine of salvation that is developed, what can be certain is, if this fundamental division is ignored, then it is not corresponding accurately to the realities that the apostle taught.

Holland, Tom. Contours of Pauline Theology. London, UK: Christian Focus Publications, 2004. 42 (paragraphing mine).

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