The Object Of Salvation

Discussing the purpose of special revelation, Bavinck says that God’s intention

is none other than to redeem human beings in their totality of body and soul with all their capacities and powers; to redeem not only individual, isolated human beings but humanity as an organic whole. Finally, the goal is to redeem not just humanity apart from all other creatures but along with humanity to wrest heaven and earth, in a word, the whole world in its organic interconnectedness, from the power of sin and again to cause the glory of God to shine forth from every creature. Sin has spoiled and destroyed everything: the intellect and the will, the ethical and the physical world. Accordingly, it is the whole person and the whole cosmos at whose salvation and restoration God is aiming his revelation. God’s revelation, therefore, is certainly soteriological, but the object of that salvation… is the cosmos, and not only the ethical or the will to the exclusion of the intellect, and not only the psychological to the exclusion of the somatic and physical, but everything in conjunction. For God has consigned all human beings under sin that he might have mercy upon all (Rom. 5:15f; 11:32; Gal. 3:22). (Reformed Dogmatics, 1:346.)

It is worth noting that Bavinck was a clear minded non-universalist when it came to salvation. Yet he was able to use language such as the above when he felt it appropriate. He affirmed, wholeheartedly, that as a species the human creature would be saved, and not just in part, but in all of its faculties. And, further, that the whole creation would be saved. This is a doctrine, I think, that the Reformed tradition can (or should) be proud to have affirmed. It is a teaching that has led to activism (rather than passivity) in many fields of life, and continues to inspire such an attitude today.