Election continues to be a point of discussion, and contention, among thinking Christians. In this short post I would like to offer a distinction between a classical understanding of election (held among classical Calvinists), and then an evangelical Calvinist understanding of election; the latter of which I hold to, of course! The evangelical Calvinist understanding, at least for me, is Karl Barth and Thomas Torrance inspired. This will be an off-the-top post where I simply try to explain things in an impromptu kind of way.
In eternity past God, by absolute decree, elected a select group of individuals throughout all of salvation history whom He would die for (in Christ), pay for by the blood of Christ, and ensure their eternal justification/sanctification/glorification by persevering grace.
In summary. The classical perspective believes that there are particularly elect individuals (and some in the classic camp believe that this applies to the reprobate as well; i.e. that God actively decreed that there would be reprobate individual people, in fact the majority of humanity [e.g. the ‘broad way’]) for whom Christ died, and that He did not die for all of humanity (so what is called limited atonement or definite atonement).
In eternity past God, by gracious interpenetrating love, elected to become human in the eternal Son (Deus incarnatus) assuming humanity for all of humanity. He chose an individual for eternal salvation in the elect humanity of the Son. In this assumption of humanity, in its execution in the incarnation (assumptio carnis), Jesus Christ by virtue of the ‘type’ of humanity He assumed–i.e. ‘fallen humanity’–became reprobate for us (cf. II Cor. 5.21; 8.9), the ‘One for the many.’ In His death, burial, and resurrection (cf. Romans 6.1-4; I Cor. 15.1-4), in His elect and exalted status, He is ‘elect humanity par excellence’ for all of humanity by virtue of the fact that He is not just fully man, but fully God.
The classic position focuses on individual people in its doctrine of election, and works primarily from a soteriological vantage point (prior to Christology). The evangelical position focuses on the individuality of Christ’s humanity in its doctrine of election, and works primarily from a Christological vantage point (prior to soteriology).
I am evangelical.