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Does Paul Have an 'Ordo Salutis'? How Does Union With Christ Relate? Constantine Campbell Explains

Categories Theology

Union with christ
Last week we reintroduced Constantine R. Campbell's new Paul and Union with Christ with a video that outlined some of the key influences on Campbell's research into Paul's central theological concern of union with Christ. 

If you've read this book or watched the video, or even if you've considered the topic of union with Christ for yourself, you probably have wondered what many other people wonder. I know I did when I read his book. Campbell explains that some people want to explore whether Paul has an ordo salutis and how union with Christ relates to that ordo salutis.

In other words, where in the "order of salvation" does union with Christ come into action? Is it after justification or before? Perhaps somewhere during sanctification or maybe after glorification? In his book, Campbell explains how two contemporary theologians consider the question:

In relation to the ordo salutis, [Richard B.] Gaffin argues that union with Christ does away with any sense of temporal ordering between the elements of salvation. Teachings such as justification, sanctification, and glorification all occur for the believer as one inclusive act through becoming united to Christ. (62)


In contrast to Gaffin, the all-embracing nature of union with Christ does not, for [Michael S.] Horton, obliterate an ordo salutis. Rather, an ordo salutis is descriptive of the incorporation of believers through mystical union...individual believers are included in this history of redemption through mystical union—it is this aspect that Horton labels the ordo salutis. (56)

So here are two perspectives on how the elements of salvation are ordered, and how union with Christ relates. In the video below, Campbell gives an explanation that, I believe, brings clarity to how union with Christ relates to the chain of events in salvation.

—Jeremy Bouma, ThM (@bouma)

PS: Mounce is taking a short break for the rest of the summer and will return Sept. 16 with our regularly scheduled "Mondays with Mounce" program.

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