Barth’s reformulation of the Reformed doctrine of election, a supralapsarian account, is useful for a variety reasons. I wanted to simply read one quote, which should be sufficient, from Barth and his Christ concentrated understanding of double-predestination, and then appeal to this as a way forward for confronting two issues that seemingly are facing the evangelical churches: 1) ‘Racism’ and so called Social Justice, and relatedly, 2) Kinism and the Poway Synagogue shooting. I will only be able to touch upon these issues, but I wanted to open a trajectory for thinking a Christ concentrated doctrine of election towards some concrete and applied issues. Without further ado, here is how Barth conceives of a doctrine of election that is diffuse with Christ all the way down; from beginning to end:
This all rests on the fact that from the very first He participates in the divine election; that that election is also His election; that it is He Himself who posits this beginning of all things; that it is He Himself who executes the decision which issues in the establishment of the covenant between God and man; that He too, with the Father and the Holy Spirit, is the electing God. If this is not the case, then in respect of the election, in respect of this primal and basic decision of God, we shall have to pass by Jesus Christ, asking of God the Father, or perhaps of the Holy Spirit, how there can be any disclosure of this decision at all. For where can it ever be disclosed to us except where it is executed? The result will be, of course, that we shall be driven to speculating about a decretum absolutum instead of grasping and affirming in God’s electing the manifest grace of God. And that means that we shall not know into whose hands we are committing ourselves when we believe in the divine predestination. So much depends upon our acknowledgement of the Son, of the Son of God, as the Subject of this predestination, because it is only in the Son that it is revealed to us as the predestination of God, and therefore of the Father and the Holy Spirit, because it is only as we believe in the Son that we can also believe in the Father and the Holy Spirit, and therefore in the one divine election.
Tom Greggs provides some concise commentary on just what this understanding entails in Barth’s theology:
Election’s nature is . . . Gospel. The dialectic evident in Romans remains and can be seen between electing God and elected human in its most extreme form in terms of election and rejection. Humanity continues to need to be rescued by God in its rejection of Him. What is new is that this dialectic is now considered in a wholly Christological way which brings together the Yes and No of God in the simultaneity of the elected and rejected Christ. It is He who demonstrates salvation as its originator and archetype. It is, therefore, in the humanity of the elected Christ that one needs to consider the destiny of human nature.
In Barth’s framing, as Greggs helps us to understand further, election and reprobation are both fully found in Jesus Christ’s humanity for us. As the eternal Son elects our humanity for Himself, in this electing He assumes our reprobate status as those who need to be re-conciled with God. It is in Christ’s vicarious humanity, according to Barth (and the Bible!), where we are able to think God’s free choice to be for and with us; and to not be God without us. This is Grace!
Barth’s alternative clearly is in contradistinction to what we find in something like the Westminster Confession of Faith’s understanding of election. An understanding grounded in the decretum absolutum that is not by definition grounded in the person of the Son, but instead in God’s arbitrary decree to elect some and reprobate others (whether this is an active or passive decree, in regard to reprobation, is debated among its adherents). This is what we see Barth critiquing above; viz. the idea that we don’t have a concrete expression of God’s choice to be for us in the absolute decree, and thus we are forever turned inward wondering if God has chosen to be for me or against me. What we have in this understanding of election/reprobation is a focus on individual people, rather than on the cosmic Christ. This has consequences when we start to think this outward towards the world ‘out there.’
At a theo-psychological level we are now operating with two classes of people before God; whether we know who they are or not (that does not matter). If we adopt this sort of individualizing notion of election we have an innate belief that God looks at the world of humanity in two ways: one side as the elect who He loves with an efficacious love; and the other, those who He does not ultimately love, and instead seeks to pour out His righteous wrath upon at the Great White Throne Judgment. For the latter there is no hope. They are those who were born in their sins with no way out, and thus will exist and die in a sub-human state. Before God these people are less than human because they are not ultimately able to be united to the only life that is Life, God. We do know that in the end there will be those who will be judged by God at the Great White Throne (cf. Rev 20), but not because they didn’t have a real chance to recognize their need for the living God; it will be because they actively rejected this offer of salvation (and the humanity that is entailed by).
So how does this apply to the two issues I noted at the outset? With reference to Social Justice and Racism, if we adopt Barth’s doctrine of election we will not view the world as a mass of damnation; or as two sets of people. We will not have the notion in mind that some people just are elect and others reprobate. As such, at a psychological level, we will approach the world of humanity as if every person we see and bump into are people who God gave His very life for; and continues to. In this ‘Barthian’ frame we will see people in the way God sees people, as people who are ‘peoplized’ or humanized in and from the humanity of Christ; whether they recognize this or not. If we view the world this way we will not see it as segregated into classes of people. In other words, classism will melt away because we will recognize that there is only one class of human being; the class that is grounded in the only real human who has ever lived: Jesus Christ. We won’t see people in terms of ‘race,’ but instead in terms of God’s gracious love to be their brother, and as such their ‘kin’ (Heb 2–3). We will understand that the Jew of Nazareth has a transcendent ground for His humanity, just as sure as that ground is the eternal Logos of God (cf. anhypostasis/enhypostasis, homoousious). We will recognize from this that all of humanity, just as humanity is derived from Christ’s, is precious in God’s sight whether they are red and yellow, black and white.
The second issue I noted earlier, in regard to Kinism, never gets off the ground in Barth’s reformulated doctrine of election; for some of the reasons we just noted. If the Poway Synagogue shooter had been catechized in Barth’s understanding of election, one where all of humanity is understood as ‘elect’ in and from Christ’s humanity, he would never had the thought that some people are more precious to God than others. If this shooter had been formed with the idea that God gave His life, as a Jew by the way, for the Jew first and then the Gentile, he would have understood that the particularity of anyone’s humanity has a transcendent ground and thus value before God. Presumably under these ideational pressures the shooter never would have had the theological trajectory open to him that he claimed to be thinking from. If the shooter had recognized, at a theological level, that all of humanity are equally ‘kin,’ because we equally derive (whether actively or potentially) our value and humanity from the Kinsman Redeemer of God, Jesus Christ, he may well have never taken the path he did.
There is much more to be said and developed, but maybe this might spark some thinking for you that you may not have had before. There are direct lines between the theologies we adopt, and what they produce in our daily practices and ethics. I do not want to suggest, with particular reference to the Poway shooter, that his understanding of election was the only thing going on in his head. But I do want to draw attention to the idea that he himself declared that he thought he was doing God’s work by killing the reprobate Jews. Is this a misapplication of a well-ordered and articulated doctrine of election from the Westminster perspective? Yes, in a way. But all that I am suggesting is that the doctrine itself asserts that there are some who are eternally special and loved by God, and others who are not. From this, I am further suggesting that at a psychological level, as that then gets cashed out ethically, a person will subconsciously view the world as divided up, at an efficacious level, into two classes of people; but Holy Scripture knows of no such division. If the shooter hadn’t had this notion inculcated into his young mind he never would have viewed the Jewish people he shot as sub-human reprobate individuals for whom Christ did not die. But this is a hard needle to thread. I recognize there were most certainly other problematic ideas informing this guy’s thinking. But I still think that if we don’t consider the real life ramifications this ‘classical’ doctrine of election might have at a psychological-ethical level that we might be missing something very significant. As an aside: One more example we might attach to this is the Apartheid that took place in South Africa under the aegis of Reformed theology and its doctrine of individualized election.
If we think from Christ towards all of humanity we will not be prone to think in dualistic terms about humanity; we will think humanity in unitive ways. If this serves as the psychological-ethical basis from whence we operate in the world, and with others, this will affect our behavior in certain ways. As corollary, as we just noted, if we think of humanity in binary ways (i.e. elect versus reprobate), we will automatically have a category in our thinking that operates with the idea that some humans are lesser than and even sub to others. If we ground what it means to be ‘genuinely human’ in individual people, rather than in God’s humanity in Christ, then we will have a propensity and way to think humanity that does not actualistically see people as ultimately valuable before God; we can only do so hypothetically from our own intellectual resources.
 Barth, CD II/2:111.
 Tom Greggs, Barth, Origen, And Universal Salvation (Oxford: Oxford University Press,