To a certain degree, the problems that confront us as we seek to understand and elucidate the mystery of the salvation we have in Christ remain much the same from one age to another. Christians have always believed that there is a sharp distinction between the transcendent triune God and the creatures he has made, yet we have also sensed that in some way, redemption spans this gulf. In Christ we are (or, some would say, 'will be') children of God, partakers of the divine nature, fellow heirs with Christ of the Father's kingdom. But to what degree and in what way is the gap between creature and Creator bridged? Where do the similarity and the distinction between the Redeemer and the redeemed lie? How does God (or how do we) span the gulf? It is one thing to be convinced from Scripture and the Spirit's witness that we are God's children in Christ; it is quite another to be able to explain what we know to be the case. This explanatory task is, in large measure, the unfinished vocation of Christian theology.
Of course, the path to a more complete understanding of the mystery of salvation is full of pitfalls, and Christian history exposes many occasions when we have distorted the truth of redemption or settled for inadequate explanations of what God has given us in Christ. We have often sought to explain the bridging of the Creator-creature gap in ways that are too impersonal to resonate with what we know of God and of ourselves. To turn Christian salvation into an absorption of the soul into the divine being forces one at least to depersonalize the saved one and perhaps also to depersonalize God as well. To see salvation exclusively as incorruption and immortality is to view the purpose of human life in terms that are too physical, as if only the body is fallen and needs redemption. To speak of salvation merely as a matter of legal status before God or as forgiveness of sins alone is to skirt the truth that neither God nor human beings