Monday, July 30, 2007

Does John 6:44 Teach Irresistible Grace?

As I stated in my last post, there is no more important question with regards to the controversy between Arminianism and Calvinism than the question of priority with regards to faith and regeneration. R.C. Sproul writes,

"A cardinal point or Reformed theology [Calvinism] is the maxim: "Regeneration precedes faith." Our nature is so corrupt, the power of sin is so great, that unless God does a supernatural work in our souls we will never choose Christ. We do not believe in order to be born again; we are born again in order to believe." [Chosen By God, pg. 72]

While many Calvinists will cringe at the charge, they are essentially saying that one does not believe until they are saved [born again]. This is the bare and necessary conclusion when the theological smoke screen of Reformed theology finally clears. I believe that I have already effectively demonstrated why such a doctrine is incompatible with God's word in my last post. We will now take some time to consider some of the "proof texts" that Calvinists have offered to support their doctrine of irresistible regeneration. We will begin where R.C. Sproul began in Chosen By God, with John 6:44,

"No one can come to Me unless the Father who sent Me draws him; and I will raise him up at the last day." [NASB]

Sproul says of this passage, "The key word here is draw." After briefly, and somewhat inaccurately, describing the Arminian view that the drawing of John 6:44 is not irresistible, he concludes,

"I am persuaded that the above explanation [that this drawing is a resistible "wooing"], which is so widespread, is incorrect. It does violence to the text of Scripture, particularly to the biblical meaning of the word draw. The Greek word used here is elko. Kittle's Theological Dictionary of the New Testament defines it to mean to compel by irresistible superiority. Linguistically and lexicographically, the word means "to compel". [ibid. pg. 69]

He then cites James 2:6, and Acts 16:19, where the same Greek word is used of forceful dragging.

Steve Witzki, a contributor for The Arminian magazine looked into Sproul's lexicographical claims and came up with some surprising results. He writes,

"After investigating "Big" Kittel's definition for myself, I was surprised to find that it did not agree with Sproul's definition of draw. Albrecht Oepke comments that in John's usage of helkuo "force or magic may be discounted, but not the supernatural element" [TDNT, 2:503]. Yet for Sproul's definition to hold up, John's usage must mean to compel or force. When I turned to find out what "Little" Kittel (the one-volume abridged edition of Kittel's massive ten volume work) had to say on "draw," I was shocked at what it had to say in comparison to Sproul's dogmatic assertions. Here is the entire comment as translated and abridged by Geoffrey Bromiley:

The basic meaning is "to draw," "tug," or, in the case of persons, "compel." It may be used for "to draw" to a place by magic, for demons being "drawn" to animal life, or for the inner influencing of the will (Plato). The Semitic world has the concept of an irresistible drawing to God (cf. 1 Sam. 10:5; 19:19ff.; Jer. 29:26; Hos. 9:7). In the OT helkein denotes a powerful impulse, as in Cant. 1:4, which is obscure but expresses the force of love. This is the point in the two important passages in Jn. 6:44; 12:32. There is no thought here of force or magic. The term figuratively expresses the supernatural power of the love of God or Christ which goes out to all (12:32) but without which no one can come (6:44). The apparent contradiction shows that both the election and the universality of grace must be taken seriously; the compulsion is not automatic [p. 227].

What? The compulsion is not automatic? But this is exactly what Sproul and other Calvinists argue that helkuo means in John 6:44 -- God literally and irresistibly compels, drags, or forces the elect to come to Christ. Yes, helkuo can literally mean drag, compel, or force in certain contexts (John 18:10; 21:6,11; Acts 16:19; 21:30; and James 2:6), but it is not the lexical meaning for the context of John 6:44, nor for that manner, John 12:32. Sproul confidently states that "linguistically and lexicographically, the word means to compel," but where is the citation of all the lexical evidence to support this statement?" [Steve Witzki, Free Grace or Forced Grace?, The Arminian, Vol. 19, issue 1] You can read the rest of Steve's article here.

I would add the description of helkuo given in Vine's Expository Dictionary of Old and New Testament Words,

"HELKUO, to draw, differs from suro as drawing does from violent dragging...This less violent significance, usually present in helko, but always absent from suro, is seen in the metaphorical use of helko, to signify drawing by inward power, by Divine impulse, John 6:44; 12:32." [328]

Here, the very connection that Calvinists often like to make [that helkuo in Jn. 6:44 has reference to violent dragging] is plainly discounted.

I agree with Forlines' assessment in responding to a similar argument put forth by Calvinist Robert W. Yarbrough,

"I think the evidence Yarbrough presents does suggest that the drawing of John 6:44 is strong. I have no problem with the idea that the drawing spoken of in John 6:44 is a "strong drawing". But I do have a problem with speaking of it as a "forceful attraction". A word used literally may have a causal force when dealing with physical relationships. However, we cannot require that that word have the same causal force when it is used metaphorically with reference to an influence and response relationship. John 6:44 speaks of a personal influence and response relationship." [F. Leroy Forlines, The Quest for Truth, pg. 386- emphasis his]

It is quite clear from Sproul's comments and those of other Reformed theologians, that they see the drawing in Jn. 6:44 to refer to irresistible regeneration. In other words, "draw" is synonymous with "give life". Therefore an accurate paraphrase of Jn 6:44 from a Calvinist view point would be,

"No one can come to Me unless the Father who sent Me first gives him life."

So, according to Reformed doctrine, no one can "come" unless they are first regenerated [i.e. given life]. Only those who have first been given spiritual life can "come" to Christ. While this interpretation may line up with the teachings of Calvinism, it renders nonsensical two related passages in the gospel of John. Consider John 5:40,

"And you are unwilling to come to Me so that you may have life" [NASB-emphasis mine]

Jesus tells these Jews that having life is the result of coming to Him. Calvinism teaches that coming to Jesus is the result of already having life! If the Calvinist interpretation of Jn. 6:44 is accurate then Jesus should have said,

"And you are unwilling to come to Me because you have not been given life."

When dealing with John 6, Calvinists are quick to point out that "come" is a synonym for faith. They come to this conclusion by comparing the parallelism in John 6:35. They then read this conclusion into John 6:37, 44, 45, and 65. They would likely agree that when Jesus speaks of "eating" His flesh and "drinking" his blood, He is also speaking about faith, for nobody can have such a relationship with God except by faith. John 6:51-58 would seem to confirm this.

"I am the living bread that came down from heaven. If anyone eats of this bread, he will live forever. This bread is my flesh, which I will give for the life of the world...I tell you the truth, unless you eat the flesh of the Son of Man and drink his blood, you have no life in you. Whoever eats my flesh and drinks my blood has eternal life, and I will raise him up at the last day...Whoever eats my flesh and drinks my blood remains in me, and I in him. Just as the living Father sent me and I live because of the Father, so the one who feeds on me will live because of me. This is the bread that came down from heaven. Your fathers ate manna and died, but he who feeds on this bread will live forever." [NIV]

It is clear from these passages that one must first eat and drink [by faith] the flesh and blood of Christ before they can experience life. The life resides in Christ and flows into those who partake of him by faith. If the Calvinist concept of regeneration preceding faith were accurate, then we would again expect to see Jesus saying something more like,

"If anyone eats this bread [by faith] it is proof that he was already living. This bread is my flesh which I will give only to those who I have unconditionally elected and irresistibly regenerated in the world...I tell you the truth, unless you have been made alive you cannot eat the flesh of the Son of Man or drink his blood. Whoever has been given eternal life will eat my flesh and drink my blood, and I will raise him up at the last day...so the one who is living will feed on me...Your fathers ate manna and died, but he who already lives forever will feed on this bread.

The record is plain. Eternal life resides in Christ (Jn 1:4; 5:26; 6:35; 11:25; 14:6; 1Jn. 1:2; 5:11; Col. 3:4), and only those who come to Christ in faith will experience this life. The Reformed doctrine that one must first experience life, before he or she can come, is out of harmony with the testimony of God's word.

The context of John 6 and the theological emphasis of the gospel of John forbids the Calvinist interpretation of John 6:44. The Arminian understanding of prevenient grace, however, does justice to the context of Jn. 6 and the overall tenor of John's gospel. Steve Witzki said it well when he concluded,

"Let us review the last few comments on the word draw from "little" Kittel:

There is no thought here of force or magic. The term figuratively expresses the supernatural power of the love of God or Christ which goes out to all (12:32) but without which no one can come (6:44). The apparent contradiction shows that both the election and the universality of grace must be taken seriously; the compulsion is not automatic.

What is rather ironic in all of this discussion is that the above definition coincides beautifully with the Wesleyan-Arminian doctrine of prevenient grace -- a doctrine that R.C. Sproul denies that the Bible teaches [pp. 123-125]. Wesleyan-Arminians believe that divine grace works in the hearts and wills of every person to elicit a faith response or as Thomas Oden states so well, "God's love enables precisely that response in the sinner which God's holiness demands: trust in God's own self-giving" [The Transforming Power of Grace, p. 45].

God's prevenient or assisting grace is morally drawing all people to Himself (John 12:32). This gracious working of God does not compel or force anyone to believe but enables all to respond to God's commands to turn away from sin in repentance, and towards the Savior Jesus Christ in faith. Thus, with all the strength of Calvinism, salvation can be ascribed completely to God, but without denying genuine human responsibility that Calvinism does." [Witzki, Free Grace or Forced Grace?]

We conclude with the plain declaration of John 20:31,

"But these are written that you may believe that Jesus is the Christ, the Son of God, and that believing you may have life in his name."

22 comments:

Classical Arminianism said...

And you thought you would have nothing to add . . . pshaw!

I especially liked your focus on the Greek word for "draw." Way to expose Sproul for not accurately quoting Kittel!

I love the way in which you communicate also. I look forward to it daily.

See ya bro.

Billy

www.examiningcalvinism.com said...

In "Debating Calvinism," James White responds to Dave Have by suggesting that "born again" does not necessarily equal salvation. White states that first one is regenerated and only when he believes, does he become "saved."

However, regeneration as the new creature is "in Christ" (2Cor 5:17), and hence the Calvinist is forced to conclude that a person who is "in Christ," remains unsaved/lost until he believes. Yet, Romans 8:1 states that anyone in Christ is no longer under condemnation, which essentially means saved.

Despite what Sproul says, not all Calvinists believe in preemptive regeneration, as Calvinist, D. James Kennedy, states: “Our faith and our repentance are the work of God’s grace in our hearts. Our contribution is simply the sin for which Jesus Christ suffered and died. Would you be born anew? There has never been a person who sought for that who did not find it. Even the seeking is created by the Spirit of God. Would you know that new life? Are you tired of the emptiness and purposelessness of your life? Are you tired of the filthy rags of your own righteousness? Would you trust in someone else other than yourself? Then look to the cross of Christ. Place your trust in him. Ask him to come in and be born in you today. For Jesus came into the world from glory to give us second birth because we must--we MUST--be born again.” (Why I Believe, p.140, emphasis mine)

D. James Kennedy clearly indicates a belief that one can pray to be made born again, which means that an unregenerate person, by the Prevenient Grace of God, is divinely enabled to respond to the Gospel. Surely Kennedy believes in Irresistible Grace, but by his admission, he reveals that he does not believe that such alleged, Irresistible Grace, stems from the new birth. My brother in law, a bull dog Calvinist, also does not accept Calvinistic preemptive new birth, since he believes that God merely pops faith on "the elect," which upon belief in Christ, are then "saved." This is why discussing anything with a Calvinist can be so tricky, because there is such a tremendous variance in beliefs amongst Calvinists. Even Calvinist, Phil Johnson, once admitted that if you had a room full of Calvinists, you'd be hard-pressed to find merely two that believed everything about the Bible the same way. Within Calvinism, you have Single Predestinationists and Double Predestination, as well as Supra, Infra and Sublapsarians, together with 4-Points and 5-Pointers, together with combinations of each, such as 4-Double Predestinationist, Supralapsarians. And then they accuse Arminians of misrepresenting them. Heck, it's hard to keep up with them. And it is Calvinists themselves who frequently charge that the other is "not truly reformed" if they believe slightly differently about any one issue.

kangeroodort said...

Hello "examiningcalvinism",

I know that James White doesn't think being born again is necessarily synonymous with salvation. I think he is just inconsistent about that one, and as you pointed out, at odds with the testimony of God's word.

You are quite right that Calvinists are hard to pin down theologically. They are very slippery to debate with. I do think, however, that the belief that irresistible regeneration precedes faith is what most Calvinists have historically believed. I think guys like Kennedy and your Calvinist friend are anomalies with respect to that doctrine.

I would also be innclined to believe that anything less than a five point Calvinist is that much less than a true Calvinist, and most certianly theologically inconsistent.

MICKY said...

Greetings Benjamin
How are you FEELING, "young man"? I imagine you have been stirred up with all the INTIMACY you have been having. Whatever you are FEELING, Benny, your process is not about me, but unprocessed STUFF from your childhood. Did you ever find that POST (Why did you delete it) [WINK] [WINK]. You are such a CONTROL FREAK, Ben? Do you think that Jesus was a CONTROL FREAK, Benny? Why did Jesus speak in PARABLES? I LOVE you, Benjamin! Do you LOVE me? How do you FEEL, Ben? Are you feeling, FEAR?
1 John 4:18
There is no fear in love. But perfect love drives out fear, because fear has to do with punishment. The one who fears is not made perfect in love. (NIV)
PEACE BE WITH YOU
MICKY

kangeroodort said...

Micky,

This is the last time I will speak to you. Yes, I am feeling fear. I fear for your mental health and loose grasp on reality. Yes I did find that post you deleted. JC did a "google cache" search and sent it to my e-mail. I noticed you deleted my comment before you decided to delete the post. Bravo.
Any more comments you leave will be deleted. I suggest you take JC's advice and get some help.

Ben

MICKY said...
This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.
Jordan (w.m.s.n.b.s.) said...

Sensorship!

kangeroodort said...

I assume you mean "Censorship". Unless you are referring to shaving?

Anonymous said...

You write that the term draw figuratively expresses the supernatural power of the love of God or Christ which goes out to all (John 12:32) but without which no one can come (John 6:44).

The problem in your interpretation does not lie in draw, but in all. You assume that all in John 12:32 means all people, but this is where your exegis falls short. If you look at the context of the preceding verses you will see that all here means all types of men. Your view can not stand since all men have not nor will not be drawn unto Him.

kangeroodort said...

Hello Anonymous,

You wrote:

You assume that all in John 12:32 means all people, but this is where your exegis falls short. If you look at the context of the preceding verses you will see that all here means all types of men.

Thanks for stopping by. I am familiar with this Calvinist "exegesis" and address it in my post "Is The Drawing Of John 12:32 Universal Or Particular?" You might want to check it out.

God Bless,
Ben

Anonymous said...

You did not answer it, all you said is that they are wrong. LOL

If Jesus were to draw all men to him as you claim then would you say that all people throughout time have been drawn to Jesus? Even the ones that never hear of Him? If that is not the case then all men can not mean what you say. Otherwise you would have the Lord not speak the truth when He said that He will draw all men to Himself.

I fear that it is your Arminian perspective that has lead you astray. I doubt that this will convince you as well, but keep studying and learning. May God Himself one day teach you.

kangeroodort said...

Anonymous,

You wrote:

You did not answer it, all you said is that they are wrong.

Actually I did more than just say they were wrong, I demonstrated why their argument does not follow, and why the Arminian interpretation better fits the context and grammar. Sorry you found it unconvincing. Of course, I am not surprised.

If Jesus were to draw all men to him as you claim then would you say that all people throughout time have been drawn to Jesus?

I would not say all people throughout time have been drawn to Jesus in the same way. Christ makes it clear that it is not until He is "lifted up" that He will draw all men to Himself. Jesus seems to be speaking of the specific drawing which accompanies the gospel message, which Paul calls: "Christ and Him crucified".

Even the ones that never hear of Him?

As for those who never hear the gospel, they are not initially drawn in this way, but can still be drawn by the revelation of God in creation. God will hold us accountable for the way that we respond to whatever revelation we are given. It may also be that God will make sure those who respond to the small measure of revelation and grace God gives them, will eventually have an opportunity to respond to the gospel. This could be through visions [as is the case with many Muslims, etc.] or through missionary activity.

I fear that it is your Arminian perspective that has lead you astray.

That is quite possible, just as it is possible that your Calvinist perspective has led you astray. All I can do is try to be as honest with God's word as possible. I believe that Arminian theology best comports with what I see as the overall testimony of Scripture. You are welcomed to believe otherwise. We will both be judged accordingly.

May God Himself one day teach you.

I believe He teaches me every day.

Thanks for your input,
Ben

Anonymous said...

You are not being consistent in your thinking. On the one hand you say that all here means that Christ draws ALL men and then you say that ALL here means of hearing the Gospel. Then you go of on another tangent and say that man can be saved by the revelation that everyone has been given.

So if all means ALL as you say it does then why would Jesus say that He will draw all men to Him? If you say that it is the Gospel being preached then you would have Jesus say something that is not true when He said that HE WILL DRAW ALL, it amazes me that you hold to such ridiculous reasoning.

kangeroodort said...

anonymous,

You wrote:

You are not being consistent in your thinking. On the one hand you say that all here means that Christ draws ALL men and then you say that ALL here means of hearing the Gospel.

Please remember your initial argument that I was addressing:

If you look at the context of the preceding verses you will see that all here means all types of men.

This is the argument I was addressing. I do not concede that "all" means "all kinds of men" as in "some [elect] men among all men". That is an unjustified and forced reading of the text.

What I was saying was that "all men" means "all men without exception", without reference to any eternal decree that would prohibit most men from being drawn. This does not mean, however, that "all men" are necessarily granted the same opportunity to respond.

All men are drawn through the gospel, but not all men receive the gospel. However, like I said before, I do believe that God can draw even those who have not received the gospel [through God's revelation in creation], and depending on their response, make the gospel available to them.

What you want this verse to do is limit the "all" to the "elect among all". What you are trying to say is that even those who hear the gospel are unable to respond because God will not draw them. That is the position that I was addressing; and that is the position that cannot be accurately "drawn" from these passages.

...it amazes me that you hold to such ridiculous reasoning.

It is nice to know that you find me so amazing.

God Bless,
Ben

Anonymous said...

Why not take this from the top. We are told that no one can come to Jesus unless the Father draws him. We are told that all that come will be raised up. We are also told, and apparently you agree, that all manner of men will be drawn to Him. Not just Jews, but all types of men.

Now we can go to the meat of it. Who will come? Answer: all that are drawn. How can they come? Answer: the must be drawn. Are all men drawn? We both say no to this. So that leaves us with the elect are drawn and come to Christ. Notice it does not say maybe, should, or could come. It says ALL will come and be raised up.

How you think you have disproved Calvinism is what amazes me. In fact if you actually take the time to look at your argument and reasoning you would be more in line with Calvinism than any Arminian. I take it that you are still in school? Might I recommend that you at least finish your learning before you embark on this quest of yours. It might help you to understand the entirety of Scripture, not just your supposed Arminian proof texts

kangeroodort said...

Dear WhoeverYouAre,

You seem to be confused.

You wrote:

Why not take this from the top. We are told that no one can come to Jesus unless the Father draws him.

I agree so far.

We are told that all that come will be raised up.

Agreed. The one who comes in response to the Father's drawing will be raised up.

We are also told, and apparently you agree, that all manner of men will be drawn to Him.

According to John 12:32 all men who hear the gospel, without exception, will be drawn. I thought it was obvious from what I previously wrote that I deny that "all men" means "all manner of men", so I am not sure why you think we are in agreement there.

Not just Jews, but all types of men.

That is true according to John 12:32, but again, the drawing is not limited to "all types of men" in the sense that you have described it [some men among all types of men].

Now we can go to the meat of it.

OK

Who will come? Answer: all that are drawn.

That may be the answer the Calvinist reads into the text, but the text nowhere affirms this.

How can they come? Answer: the must be drawn

Agreed

Are all men drawn? We both say no to this.

Actually, I do not say "no" to this. I affirm that all who hear the gospel are drawn by it according to John 12:32. You believe that only those elected by some secret eternal decree are drawn. Big difference.

So that leaves us with the elect are drawn and come to Christ.

Since your premises are in error, your conclusion is as well.

Notice it does not say maybe, should, or could come. It says ALL will come and be raised up.

Which verse says "All will come and be raised up"?

How you think you have disproved Calvinism is what amazes me.

Again, I am flattered that you think I am so amazing.

In fact if you actually take the time to look at your argument and reasoning you would be more in line with Calvinism than any Arminian.

How so?

I take it that you are still in school?

That would be a wrong assumption on your part. I graduated from Bible College in 1996. How is any of this relevant?

Might I recommend that you at least finish your learning before you embark on this quest of yours.

That might be difficult considering I have been out of school for going on 12 years now. I am still learning though. Are you?

It might help you to understand the entirety of Scripture, not just your supposed Arminian proof texts

Thank you. I only hope you are careful not to have a plank in your eye when making statements like that.

OK...I appreciate your little James White cross examination imitation, but I have a few questions for you now.

Do you see the "drawing" of John 6:44 and 12:32 as regeneration?

Do you believe that regeneration precedes faith? If so, I would love for you to read my post "Does Regeneration Precede Faith?" Since you are obviously a very intelligent person, who is amazed at my ineptitude, I would love your opinion on that post. I am anxious to hear how my reasoning is flawed.

You seem to believe that the presence of some native who has never heard the gospel falsifies my claim that the gospel draws all men. Could you explain how that is so? If the text actually refers to "all kinds of men" wouldn't that include unreached natives? Aren't they a "kind" of man?

It should be noted that you and I have a very different idea of what is being taught in John 6. I do not have the time to give a detailed exegesis. I will, however, refer you to a link which gives an Arminian interpretation of the passage that I agree with. If you take the time to read it, you will discover why I find most of your objections to be based on a misreading of the text, and a misunderstanding of the unique cultural and historical setting in which this important dialogue took place.

Thanks again for stopping by.

Here is the link:

http://www.geocities.com/bobesay/electionjohn1.html

God Bless,
Ben

BTW, How about a name?

Reformed Servant said...

Dear Kangaroodort,

I would like to take some time to explain why I believe you are inconsistent. I think "anonymous" made a good attempt, but did not finish the job.

You seem to be able to "debunk" Sproul's citation, but you do not explain what "draw" means. Does it mean to woo or entice? Please give your lexicographical citation please.

Next I would like to look at your understanding of John 5:40. Do you think that when Jesus refers to "life" he is referring to eternal life, or spiritual regeneration? I think from the context of what Jesus said is clear that he is referring to "eternal life, abundant life" Or "of the absolute fullness of life, both essential and ethical". Is it possible to say that Jesus was saying in essence "You refuse to come to me so that you will receive eternal life (not regeneration). Meaning, that anyone who is regenerated and then repents and trust will be granted eternal life. I think you understanding of eternal life and regeneration are flawed. A person is regenerated and then granted eternal life, these terms cannot be synonymous. I think the NLT has a good translation surprisingly.

39 “You search the Scriptures because you think they give you eternal life. But the Scriptures point to me! 40 Yet you refuse to come to me to receive this life.

Notice how it says, "this life". I think that is referring to what Jesus said in verse 39.

All of your citations of verses where Jesus speaks of eating his flesh have to do with you're understanding of the above verses.

Lastly, your interpretation of John 6:44 is not consistent and "anonymous" attempted to point out. In John 6:44 Jesus claims that everyone who is drawn will in fact be raised to eternal life. So in you're interpretation of John 6:44 everyone(every single human) is drawn by God. If every human is drawn by God, then you must remain consistent to say that if every human is drawn, then every human is raised to eternal life.

Fact: Everyone who is drawn by the father is raised by the father.
Fact: Everyone who is raised by the father, has eternal life. "40For my Father's will is that everyone who looks to the Son and believes in him shall have eternal life, and I will raise him up at the last day.""
Fact: Everyone who has been raised by the father was given to the Son. "39And this is the will of him who sent me, that I shall lose none of all that he has given me, but raise them up at the last day."

Now I turn it back over to you. Please give me lexicographical citations proving your use of helkuo. Also, please explain your use of helkuo, does it mean to woo or entice? Lastly, please answer: If every man is drawn by God, then every man is raised by God how is that not universalism?

PS I do not choose to be rude, or throw stones at you for you're theological beliefs. Thank you for being open, using your time and seeking to be consistent.

In Christ
Mitch

kangaroodort said...

Mitch,

Thanks for stopping by. I do believe my position is inconsistent, but only with Calvinism. Calvinism, to me, is one of the most inconsistent theological positions that one could possibly hold. That is, of course, just my opinion. In the end it will not matter what you or I think, but only what the word of God truly teaches. I trust that both of us are doing our best to discover that without being hung up on what must fit into our particular systematic.

The lexicographical evidence is right in the post. Kittel, for instance, sates:

“There is no thought here of force or magic. The term figuratively expresses the supernatural power of the love of God or Christ which goes out to all (12:32) but without which no one can come (6:44). The apparent contradiction shows that both the election and the universality of grace must be taken seriously; the compulsion is not automatic.”

There is nothing in the word itself that can conclusively tell us how the word should be used in this context. The context must determine this. I know that you feel the context favors your position, but I disagree. You have also stated that all who are drawn are raised. I just can’t find that in my Bible. Where does it say that? My Bible says that all who come will be raised, and that no one can come unless they are first drawn. That is quite a different thing than “all who are drawn will be raised”.

My time is very limited right now, so I can’t address all of your points, and I just don’t have time to get into an endless debate with someone whose mind is made up. I assure you that my mind is made up as well, and I have already read the best Calvinists on John 6, so I can’t imagine that you will bring something new to the table.

I would recommend that you read the following link which gives an exegesis of John 6 (as well as similar passages in John 5, 8, and 10) which I think is superior to the standard Calvinist interpretation. It is a long essay, but I think you will benefit from it.

http://www.geocities.com/bobesay/electionjohn1.html

As far as John 5, I think the context speaks of regeneration (verses 24, and 25 speak of a spiritual resurrection which is the language of regeneration), and that the full and abundant life you speak of must begin at regeneration (that’s what regeneration means: the beginning of new life). This life can only come through union with Christ which Scripture plainly teaches is by faith (Eph. 1:13 says we are sealed in Christ through faith, etc.).

Like I said, we will just have to agree to disagree. I don’t have time for endless debates.

Thanks for stopping by and for taking the time to read my post. May God bless you as you continue to seek Him.

Ben

Reformed Servant said...

It is true my mind is made up, but I dont see how you can fit another meaning of "draw".

No mean can come to the son unless the father "entices him"?

What do you think helkuo means? I think my position is very consistent, I am still looking for areas of inconsistancy. Please show me when you have more time how my exegesis of John 6 is inconsistent.

From what you have written, that does not seem to be fair. The only way an arminian can exegete John 6 is to leave the context of John 6 and grab some verse out of context for help. I don't see that as being consistent.

What does helkuo mean?

kangaroodort said...

I encourage you to read the essay I directed you. I think it would be very helpful to you.

Draw means "draw". The meaning is not that complicated. The question has only to do with whether or not this drawing is irresistible or not.

For instance, that a former Alcoholic is drawn to alcohol does not mean that he must submit to that drawing. All of us are drawn to things at certain times in our life, but I hope you would agree that being drawn to something does not mean that we must positively act on that drawing.

God Bless,
Ben

J.C. Thibodaux said...

J.P. Holding also made an excellent observation about the Calvinist view of John 6:44:

I respect Sproul as a teacher immensely, yet it is clear he has not worked in a prison. Even the poor, even Paul and Silas, though "compelled" had options to get out of the situation. They could have bitten and scratched their "draggers" or gouged their eyes out. They could have run or fought. Of course that may well have cost them their lives, but then that matches just as well with the sinner fighting off prevenient grace. You do so at the cost of your eternal life.

Even if the word were to imply sheer apprehension, an authority apprehending another (e.g. Philippians 3:12) does not make the apprehension irresistible, but it's generally in you best interests to comply.

Scripture teaches both concepts really; there is a sense in which we are apprehended by God (cited above), but also a sense in which we are wooed.

“Therefore I am now going to allure her; I will lead her into the desert and speak tenderly to her." (Hosea 2:14)

We are therefore Christ's ambassadors, as though God were making his appeal through us. We implore you on Christ's behalf: Be reconciled to God. (2 Corinthians 5:20)

And even drawing people by making them envious, desiring His goodness,

...if somehow I might move to jealousy my fellow countrymen and save some of them. (Romans 11:14)

God is clearly the one who brings sinners to Himself, though there isn't really any scriptural indication of irresistibility to His grace.

Clif Olson said...

My concern on the postings I have read above is the arrogance that is exhibited. Each side has the attitude of "I am right, you are wrong." Where is the grace? It's missing. To claim you have it all figured out really is rather an arrogant attitude to have. I think everyone who has posted on this blog is going to be shocked when they see who is in heaven. Take a second and picture in your mind Arminius and Calvin talking together in heaven. Your doctrine will not save you. I can't agree with either the Arminians nor the Calvinists. But what I have discovered after 30 years of studying the Scriptures that we are saved by grace. The church in America is going down the tubes because we have spent more time building buildings and arguing with our brothers and sisters in Christ over doctrinal issues as though we have cornered the market on God's mind. Some posting here probably don't even know the Greek language yet they are making claims of knowing so much. And some may know Greek well, but either way we are 2000 years removed from the Greek language and Hebrew thought. Yes, we should study and do so daily. But never have the attitude that I have arrived. I have all the arguments figured out. I have read so much from both sides and each one has its own set of arguments to the point they don't even hear what the other side is saying. That is no different than talking to a Mormon or Jehovah witness. So where is the grace as you argue amongst yourselves? What do people outside the church think of us as we battle over things we can never know 100%?

I fear we have lost the battle in the US because we were fighting the wrong wars.