Recently tweetted with Khad Young around this podcast of his on "Grace and Atheism." He asked "Does God's grace cover Athiesm". The issue though was the place of will and belief in being saved. Though the source of the line of questioning was a book that seems to argue for a universalistic determinism. The view affirms that our will or belief can bring nothing to our salvation God accomplishes it all. Yet, it rejects a Calvinist view that says only some select few the elct are saved and the Lutheran side stepping the question, and states that since salvation is all in the hands of God, based on the work of Christ on the Cross, all are (probably) saved. In the very least, having faith or believing, or accepting Jesus doesn't save one and so not believing or not accepting Jesus doesn't mean your not saved(this is at least how I understood Khad's summary).
I got hung up I think in this line of argumentation around the meaning of salvation. For Khad in the podcast at least and the author he was sighting, salvation is a transaction between God and individuals, a transaction connected to the Cross. This of course has deep roots in Protestantism, for if salvation is simply our being declared righteous by God, Justification, than we are focused on how that transaction is applied and activated. The American Evangelical position is that it takes the action of the will to have faith in Jesus or accept Jesus as one's Lord and Savior. It is at that moment that one is saved, i.e. that the transaction of salvation is activated and one is at that moment saved.
I agree that this particular view of how we are saved is a limited view. Yet, in the podcast at least, I got the sense that Khad accepted the basic underlying premise of this idea, and was arguing for a universalism based on this premise of Salvation as transaction. The point of disagreement between Khad's line of argumentation and the American Evangelical position was the point in time of activation. Thus salvation was like having a million dollars deposited in ones bank account. It's already happened on the cross 2000 years ago. God's not waiting on our acceptance of the gift of a million dollars, but has without our knowing already accomplished it.
However, Khad puts forward an idea that actually to my mind contradicts the whole transactional metaphors, that of salvation as relationship. Though I would push further and say that salvation is cosmic, restorative and about new creation. Justification then is only one small aspect of our salvation. Sanctification, and/or theosis and the renewal of the entire cosmos, the defeat of death, and triumph over Sin and the Devil, are equally all part of what salvation means. Granted, I agree that all of this is due to God's action. However, not restricted to a singular moment but God's action in Christ through Jesus's life death resurection, ascension and parousia. through all of that God, brought the "Kingdom" to us, through Jesus Christ a new age and world and cosmos, a renewed reality, came into existence and is coming into existence. This is Salvation.
Yet the question remains what do we do with this new reality? Do we see it, do we live in it and reject it? Are we oblivious to it? What God has done makes little difference to me if either I can't see it, or don't enter into this new reality. In an abstract technical sense since salvation is cosmic all are saved, but in a concrete particular way that abstract and technicality makes little difference if I continue to live as though the old world and reality, of sin death violence are the final word. In a very real sense if I live in that world, either by ignorance or outright rejection, or some combination of the two, I am hardly saved.
I affirm with the Reformers that Salvation is that which God accomplishes in and Through Jesus Christ, but with my Pietist forbearers I must also assert that said Salvation, whether limited to God's declaring us justified, or in the cosmic sense I have outlined above, is of little use to us unless we are cognizant of the reality that this salvation creates and live according to the world and reality created through God's act of salvation. In that sense I do in a very small way share in my and others salvation. For the point of salvation is the transformation of the world and all in it bring all back into proper and whole relationship with God