This paper proposes a resolution to the Augustinian-Pelagian divide that dominates the anthropological and therefore soteriological discussions between the self-described Calvinist versus Arminian perspectives. Utilizing the works of Irenaeus, Athanasius, Wesley, and Bonhoeffer, we can find a way forward holds together two central theological commitments of Christian orthodoxy: the creation of human beings in the imago Dei and the doctrine of the Fall and the resultant depravity of our lives. The key to holding these together (and hopefully providing a “bridge” for deepening dialogue between the opposing evangelical perspectives mentioned above) will be a Christological recovery of the doctrine of God’s sovereign grace. This proposed “recovery” will involve acknowledging the original act of creation and therefore theological anthropology as a Christological, even Christocentric, gift. Then, the redeeming act of the Incarnation and self-giving death of Jesus on our behalf is recognized as a continuation of the grace of God at work from the beginning of humanity being made “in God’s image.”
Such a systemic grounding of our doctrine of humanity will enable a full-throated endorsement of God’s sovereign grace in the salvation of sinners while providing a theological foundation for how even saving grace can be seen as the universal gift of God to his human creatures. We need to hold neither to limited atonement nor to a “semi-pelagian” view about the destructive and deadening results of sin. Grace in Christ first at work at the creation, manifested in the Incarnation and Cross is the key to Christian theological anthropology.