Wednesday, October 31, 2007

Perseverance Of The Saints Part 3: The Ancient Olive Tree

This passage is very similar in meaning and application as the passage previously discussed from Christ’s discourse in John 15. It may well be that Paul was familiar with Christ’s teaching on the Vine and the branches, and had His discourse in mind while writing about the olive tree in Rom. 11:15-24:

[15] For if their rejection [the Jews] be the reconciliation of the world, what will their acceptance be but life from the dead? [16] And if the first piece of dough be holy, the lump is also; and if the root be holy, the branches are too. [17] But if some of the branches were broken off, and you, being a wild olive were grafted among them and became partakers with them of the rich root of the olive tree, [18] do not be arrogant toward the branches; but if you are arrogant, remember that it is not you who supports the root, but the root supports you. [19] You will say then, “Branches were broken off so that I might be grafted in.” [20] Quite right, they were broken off for their unbelief, but you stand by faith. Do not be conceited, but fear; [21] for if God did not spare the natural branches, neither will He spare you. [22] Behold then the kindness and severity of God; to those who fell, severity, but to you, God’s kindness, if you continue in His kindness; otherwise you also will be cut off. [23] And they also, if they do not continue in there unbelief, will be grafted in; for God is able to graft them in again. [24] For if you were cut from what is by nature a wild olive tree, and were grafted contrary to nature into a cultivated olive tree, how much more shall these who are natural branches be grafted into their own olive tree. [NASB]

This passage of Scripture is problematic for Calvinism on multiple levels. Paul is discussing the present state of Israel throughout chapters 9-11. Calvinists find Rom. 9:6-24 to be a primary text for their doctrines of unconditional particular election and irrevocable reprobation. It is not difficult to come to such an understanding of the text when the rest of the context of Romans 9-11 is ignored. This has been the usual practice of many Calvinist exegetes. James White completely ignores Romans 9:30-33 and 11:15-32 in his exegesis of Romans 9 in The Potter’s Freedom. This is strange behavior, especially when we consider that Rom. 9:30-33 represents Paul’s conclusion to his preliminary argument in Rom. 9:1-29. Likewise, Piper [The Justification Of God] and Schreiner [Still Sovereign] neglect to give Rom. 11:15-32 any exegetical treatment in their respective works on Rom. 9 and election.

Paul has not changed subjects in Romans 11:15-24. He is still discussing the reprobated Jews described earlier in Rom. 9:6-24. What he says concerning these Jews is troubling to the Calvinist interpretation of unconditional election and irrevocable reprobation. Paul speaks in terms of an ancient olive tree. This tree represents the true Israel of God. It is the election of God’s people in Christ. The tree cannot represent national Israel due to the fact that many of the branches [Jews] were “broken off”. Paul is speaking of the spiritual descendants of Abraham; those who have received the promise by faith. [Rom. 4:13-25].

The unbelieving Jews have been “broken off” from the true Israel and are estranged from the promise of God’s salvation in Christ. Paul, however, holds out hope for these broken off Jews. He plainly states that they can yet be grafted in again if they do not persist in their unbelief. This truth clashes with the Calvinist belief that these unbelieving Jews have been reprobated due to an eternal and irrevocable decree. If Paul had really been teaching such a concept of reprobation in Romans 9, then he could not hold out hope for these Jews in Romans 11:23 and 11:30-32.

The further difficulty this passage poses to Calvinism is Paul’s plain declaration that those who now stand by faith may yet be broken off through unbelief:

[19] You will say then, “Branches were broken off so that I might be grafted in.” [20] Quite right, they were broken off for their unbelief, but you stand by faith. Do not be conceited, but fear; [21] for if God did not spare the natural branches, neither will He spare you. [22] Behold then the kindness and severity of God; to those who fell, severity, but to you, God’s kindness, if you continue in His kindness; otherwise you also will be cut off.

Calvinists have traditionally tried to resolve the difficulty in one of two ways. The first way is to say that the branches do not represent individuals, but nations. The broken off branches represent the nation of Israel, and the engrafted branches represent the Gentiles as a people group. The problem with this interpretation is that Paul is speaking of individual branches that have been broken off and grafted in to the true Israel of God. The branches clearly represent individual Jews, for the entire nation has not been rejected. There are believing Jews [the remnant] who have remained in the olive tree. The grafted in branches represent individual Gentiles as only believing Gentiles have come to enjoy the favor and election of God. It is only believing Gentiles that can be called spiritual descendants of Abraham, and it is beyond argument that not all Gentiles have embraced Christ.

Joseph R. Dongell provides an excellent summary:

Paul distinguishes the irrevocable call of the nation of Israel as a whole from the fate of individual Israelites. While the final destination of the people of God is absolutely certain, the future of any given individual is determined by his or her continued faith and trust in God. Gentiles who believe are grafted into the ancient tree, whereas Jews who fall into unbelief are broken off. Since faith is the sole condition for remaining engrafted, Paul issues both warning and hope. On the one hand, those Gentiles who have recently been grafted into the ancient tree through faith must humbly guard against falling into unbelief, since they too would then be severed from the tree. On the other hand, the natural branches lying on the ground can “be grafted into their own olive tree” if “they do not persist in unbelief” (Rom. 11:23-24). In other words, the destiny of God’s people as a whole is unchanged throughout the ages, though each individual branch participates in this salvation only if he or she remains engrafted by faith (cf. Jn.15:5-6). As Paul Achtemeier explains, Paul teaches destiny without teaching individual determinism. [Walls and Dongell, Why I Am Not A Calvinist, page 87]

It would seem that the interpretation of the text that would rule out the individuality of the branches is very difficult to sustain.

The second Calvinist explanation is the usual explanation that the broken off branches could only represent false converts and hypocrites who never had saving faith to begin with. This interpretation is impossible to sustain due to the fact that Paul speaks of these branches as presently standing by faith. If it is a faith that makes them “stand” then it must be genuine. It is because of their present faith that they can be said to be in the elect olive tree. Paul further confirms this when he threatens these Gentiles, who have been grafted in by faith, that they can yet be broken off from this tree if they do not “continue in His kindness”. They remain among the elect body so long as they continue in faith. If they should not continue, then God will treat them the same as the unbelieving Jews who were broken off before them. They too will be cut off “for there is no partiality with God”. If the branches that Paul threatens represented false converts, then they would have never been in the tree in the first place. How then could they be broken off?

Perhaps we should add a third interpretation. Perhaps some will say that Paul is merely presenting a hypothetical construct and threatening these branches with impossibilities. What possible effect could such a threat carry for those who could not possibly fall prey to the consequences of it? If the branches stand by faith, and those who begin in faith will inevitably continue in faith [according to Calvinism], then why warn them to continue with the threat of being cut off? If God causes believers to continue in saving faith, then to warn believers to continue is nonsensical. If God infallibly preserves the believer, and faith is a gift that we cannot help but to continue in; then to warn someone to continue in the faith would be as useless as warning someone who is hooked to a respirator to “keep breathing”.

Some will say that the warnings are God’s means by which He ensures the perseverance of His saints. Where then is the doctrine of eternal security? Can we truly be convinced that we are eternally secure, and also take the warnings of falling away seriously? If we are eternally secure then there is no danger of being cut off from the true Israel of God. If the danger is real, then there is no unconditional security. If we went to our mailbox and found a note on the door that read, “Do not open this mailbox, else a 600 pound tiger will emerge and devour you”, would we take such a warning seriously? Would such an impossible consequence truly worry us and prevent us from getting our mail?

It would seem then, that Calvinism fails to offer a valid solution to the clear teaching of Rom. 11:15-24 that those who stand by faith may yet be broken off to their own eternal ruin. Let us heed Paul’s emphatic warning: “Do not be conceited, but fear; for if God did not spare the natural branches, neither will He spare you. Behold then the kindness and severity of God; to those who fell, severity, but to you, God’s kindness, if you continue in His kindness; otherwise you also will be cut off.

Thursday, October 25, 2007

Answering Greg Elmquist's "Four Unanswerable Questions"

I came across a writing some time back by Pastor Greg Elmquist called, 'Four Unanswerable Questions,' which I've seen copied and pasted by Calvinists on forums as evidence that the doctrines espoused in Arminianism could not possibly be true. I decided to examine each of these supposed unsolvable Calvinist conundrums for myself and find out if there was a scriptural and logical answer to them. I'll be going over his essay, which will be in italics, and my thoughts and commentary will be in normal type.

Greg starts out,

"There are four lies being told in Orlando today."

I've been to Orlando, I'm pretty sure I counted more than that; but Greg is about to add a few more to the list.

"Modern, man-centered, Christ dethroning religionist would have us believe..."

At least he's not poinsoning the well....he then goes on to tell what those lies are:

"God loves everyone;"

Oh! How awful!

"it is God's will for everyone to be saved;"


"Christ died for everyone;"

The horror! The horror!

"and the Holy Spirit draws the saved and condemned alike."

Eeeeeeek!!! Hide the children (at least the condemned ones)!

"These are well established suppositions, rarely questioned for their truthfulness."

For rather obvious reasons.

"To call them into question is to unmask the faulty foundation of a false gospel and kindle the wrath of those desperate to protect their traditions."

Or possibly reveal the terrible logic Elmquist employs in trying to harass other Christians with his bizarre doctrine and incite widespread laughter as it is refuted without any difficulty. He then gets to the questions:

1) "What sayeth the Scripture?" "The Lord is righteous, He loves righteousness" (Ps. 11:7). "Jacob I have loved, but Esau I have hated" (Rom. 9:13). God's love is a holy love. He can no more love unrighteousness than He can cease to be holy. God's love is for Christ, in Christ, and through Christ. Everything outside of Christ is under the condemnation and wrath of God. He has loved His elect with an everlasting love, having chosen them in Him before the foundation of the world.
Question #1: If God loves all men, those who receive eternal life as well as those who suffer eternal damnation, what does the love of God have to do with anyone's salvation?

Answer: Everything, for without the love of God no one could be saved, but God's love for men does not preclude the fact that He requires sinners to receive Jesus Christ to be saved.

Additional problems with Elmquist's logic: God does hate unrighteousness, yet still does have love for sinners, else He could not love the elect while they were yet sinners (Romans 5:8).

2) What does the Bible say about God's will and salvation? "Having predestined us according to the good pleasure of His Will" (Eph. 1:5). "Having made known to us the mystery of His Will according to His good pleasure which He purposed in Himself." "I will have mercy upon whomever I will have mercy, and I will have compassion upon whomever I will have compassion. So then it is not of him who wills, or of him who runs, but of God who shows mercy. Therefore, He has mercy on whom He wills, and whom He wills He hardens" (Rom 9:15-18). "For as the Father raises the dead and gives them life, so also the Son gives life to whom He wills" (Jn. 5:21).
Question #2: If God wills for all men to be saved, what does the will of God have to do with anyone's salvation?

Answer: Everything, for no one can come to Christ apart from the will of God. Yes God is willing that all be saved, yet is not willing to do so apart from Christ; and so He, foreknowing that not all would believe, did not choose everyone.

3) What do the Scriptures say about the purpose of Jesus' death on the cross? Did He die for all men? "I am the Good Shepherd, the Good Shepherd gives His life for the sheep" (Jn. 10:11). "Who gave Himself for us, that He might redeem us from every lawless deed and purify for Himself His own special people" (Titus 2:14). "who gave Himself for our sins, that He might deliver us from this present evil age, according to the will of our God and Father" (Gal. 1:4). If Christ purposed to die for all men, did He not have the power to accomplish His purpose? God forbid! Did He die to make men savable or did He die to accomplish the salvation of a chosen people?
Question #3: If Christ shed His precious blood for all men, what does the work of Christ on the cross have to do with anyone's salvation?

Answer: Everything, for Christ's is the only way to receive forgiveness of sins, but receiving pardon by it is conditioned on faith.

Additional problems with Elmquist's logic: He cites scriptures that say that Christ died for the elect (which is obviously true), yet none of them say that Christ died for only the elect and none else. In his disgustingly biased proof-texting frenzy, he simultaneously ignores numerous passages that testify to the fact that Christ died for all men (1 John 2:2, 1 Timothy 2:5-6, Romans 5:6, Hebrews 2:9). He also raises the old canard about Christ only making men savable, not factoring in foreknowledge.

Do the math: men now savable by the grace of God + foreknowledge that they will believe = accomplished salvation

4) What does God say about the work of the Holy Spirit in redemption? Are sinners dead (Eph. 2:1) in need of regeneration, or just sick in need of a little reformation? "He saved us, not because of deeds done by us in righteousness, but in virtue of His own mercy, by the washing of regeneration and renewal in the Holy Spirit" (Titus 3:5). "The written code kills, but the Spirit gives life" (II Cor. 3:6).
Question #4: If the Holy Spirit draws the saved and the condemned alike, what does the Holy Spirit have to do with anyone's salvation?

Answer: *SIGH* Everything, since no one can come to God otherwise. This has no bearing on the fact that some men resist the Spirit (Acts 7:51) and refuse to believe.

Additional problems with Elmquist's logic: He makes an indirect appeal for the need to be regenerated before one believes, which is simply absurd. Grace is needed before one believes, yes, I believe that, but spiritual life comes by faith through the name of Christ.

But these are written, that ye might believe that Jesus is the Christ, the Son of God; and that believing ye might have life through his name. (John 20:31)

"The Truth: Salvation is of the Lord!"

Thanks...I don't think anyone is arguing that point.

"Don't believe a lie, it will damn your soul."

It can also make you into a ranting, paranoid dogmatist with awful critical thinking skills and no discernment for sound doctrine.

Elmquist's supposed Gordian Knot is easily sliced with the sword of the Spirit. The logical fallacy that he consistently employs is assuming that if some salvific operation of God (His love, His will, the death of Christ, and the ministry of the Holy Spirit) does not irresistibly produce salvation, then it can have nothing to do with salvation at all, which is simply begging the question of irresistible grace coupled with extreme all-or-nothing thinking. His reasoning here is akin saying, "If suicide prevention counseling ever fails to prevent a suicide, then the counseling can have nothing to do at all with preventing suicides." Such painfully oversimplified logic and excessively dichomatic thinking is the hallmark of cults everywhere, said mentality showing itself further in pastor Elmquist's other teachings, such as that if you believe that you were saved as an Arminian (even if you're a Calvinist now), then you aren't really saved at all (What is the Gospel?, para. 4).

Thursday, October 18, 2007

Perseverance Of The Saints Part 2: The Vine And The Branches

Before we examine John 15, I want to give a general outline of how I envision this series unfolding. We will begin by examining what I consider to be the five passages of Scripture which I believe to most clearly teach that true believers can commit apostasy [Jn. 15:1-6; Rom. 11:18-23; Heb. 6:4-8; 10:26-39; 2 Pet. 2:20-22]. We will then look at the passages that are most prominently used by the advocates of inevitable perseverance to see if they truly teach that doctrine. Lastly, we will look to discover which understanding of perseverance best conforms to what the Bible teaches regarding assurance of salvation.

[All quotes are from the NASB unless otherwise stated]

John 15:1-6 reads as follows:

[1] I am the true vine, and my Father is the vinedresser. [2] Every branch in Me that does not bear fruit, He takes away; and every branch that bears fruit, He prunes so that it may bear more fruit. [3] You are already clean because of the word I have spoken to you. [4] Abide in Me and I in you. As a branch cannot bear fruit of itself unless it abides in the vine, so neither can you unless you abide in Me. [5] I Am the vine, you are the branches; he who abides in Me and I in him, he bears much fruit, for apart from Me you can do nothing. [6] If anyone does not abide in Me, he is thrown away as a branch and dries up; and they gather them, and cast them into the fire and they are burned.

Jesus is speaking directly to His disciples who are already “in Him”. They are “clean” [pruned]. Their present status is not in question. They are branches attached to the true vine [verse 5]. It is very important to understand that Jesus is speaking to saved individuals. They have life because they are attached to the source of life. Jesus is not talking about how one comes to be in Him [get saved]. He is speaking of the importance of abiding in Him. Young’s Literal Translation renders “abide” as “remain”. It can also be understood as “continue”. The branches in the true vine must remain in Him in order to continue to enjoy the life that flows from Him. No one can have life outside of Christ. The believer remains in Christ through faith and will continue to produce the fruits of faith and life for as long a he or she remains in Christ. When a branch ceases to remain [through faith], as indicated by fruitlessness, it is cut off. Here is a vivid and concise picture of the nature of apostasy. The apostate is not someone who was never in the vine, but someone who did not remain in the vine. Only true believers can be said to have genuinely been in the vine. No unbeliever can be said to be “in Christ”.

This passage undercuts the Calvinist definition of apostasy. Jesus is not speaking of those who had never been in Him. He is not speaking about the visible church. He is speaking about those who are in the true vine, which is Christ Himself: “I am the true vine”. The branches in the true vine can only be true believers. False professors can never be said to be in the true vine.

The Calvinist is correct to say that the branch which is cut off represents an unbeliever. The relevant question is not whether or not the branch that is cut off is an unbeliever, but whether or not the unbeliever had previously been a believer in the “true vine”. It is impossible to conclude otherwise when we allow Christ to define His own terms.
The Calvinist objection cannot be sustained for the following reasons:

1) Jesus defines Himself as the true vine and the branches as being “in Me”. Robert Shank well points out the absurdity of insisting that Jesus is only speaking of Himself as the visible church:

“Unable to deny that ‘branches’ defect and are cast forth, the proponents of unconditional security find themselves under the necessity of ‘defining’ the branches. Bishop Ryle therefore contends that “…it cannot be shown that a ‘branch in Me’ must mean a believer in Me. It means nothing more than ‘a professing member of My Church, a man joined to the company of My people, but not joined to me.’” Such a contention is necessary, of course, if one is to defend the doctrine of unconditional security. But some of us find it difficult to conceive of Jesus as saying to His Apostles, ‘I am the vine, and all who are professing members of my Church and joined to the company of my people though not necessarily joined to Me, are the branches in Me.’” [Life In The Son, pg.45]

He then quotes another such “definition” of the branches:

“Similarly, Hengstenberg quotes Lampe as saying, ‘In a certain sense, even hypocrites may be said to be in Christ, partly because, in the external fellowship of the Church, they partake of the sacrament of union with Christ, and therefore boast themselves of being in Christ; partly because they are esteemed by others to be such as belong to the mystical body, or at least are tolerated in the external communion of the disciples.’ But again, it is difficult to conceive of Jesus as saying, ‘I am the vine, and all who partake of the sacrament in the external fellowship of the Church and who therefore boast themselves of being in Me and are esteemed by others to be such as belong to the mystical body, or at least are tolerated in the external communion of the disciples, are the branches.’” [ibid. 45 emphasis his]

He finishes by quoting John Calvin:

“Similarly, in an attempt to reconcile the passage with his theology, Calvin declares that ‘…many are supposed to be in the vine, according to the opinion of men, who actually have no root in the vine.’ True; but irrelevant. For Jesus was not speaking about the opinions of men, but about solemn realities- about things as they are, not as men may imagine them to be. We protest that any definition of the branches that cannot easily be inserted into the Saviour’s discourse without a sense of glaring incongruity is obviously inadmissible. And again, it is unthinkable that Christ should say, ‘I am the vine, and all who are supposed to be in the vine according to the opinion of men, some of whom do not actually have root in the vine, are the branches.’[ibid. 45, 46]

I am in full agreement with Shank’s conclusion:

“Such arbitrary definitions of the branches, ridiculous as they are, are nevertheless unavoidable for all who deny that Jesus taught that men who are true believers can ultimately abandon the faith and fail to abide in Him, thus to be cast forth and withered and, in the end, burned.” [ibid. 46]

2) Jesus is speaking of those who cease to “remain” in Him, and not those who were never in Him in the first place. It is absurd to think that a branch can be cut off from or cast away from a vine that it was never in.

3) Jesus is directly addressing His disciples who were truly saved.

4) The branch that is “cast forth” from the vine is said to “wither” or “dry up” before being cast into the fire. It is meaningless to speak of an already dead and withered branch [such as would be the case of a hypocrite or false convert] drying up or withering. Such things are only spoken of branches that once possessed life. The fact that the branch withers is a clear indication that it once possessed life. The only way that the branch could have once lived was through being attached to the vine [Jesus Christ- the only source of spiritual life].

Conclusion: It would seem then that if we allow the text to speak for itself, we must submit to the reality of apostasy. We must also conclude that the apostasy spoken of in this passage has reference to true believers abandoning the faith and being removed from the vine. The Calvinist conception of apostasy [leaving something that you were never truly a part of] is incompatible with the plain language of Jesus’ discourse. Robert Shank has well said, “Let us accept at face value our Saviour’s grave and loving warning that it is indeed possible for us to forfeit eternal life by failing to abide in Him ‘who is our life.’” [ibid. 46]

Monday, October 8, 2007

Perseverance Of The Saints Part 1: Definitions

My next several posts will be dealing with the topic of perseverance. Perseverance of the saints is represented in Calvinism by the P in TULIP. Most Calvinists rest their understanding of perseverance on the certainty of unconditional eternal election. Those who have been elected from all eternity to salvation cannot fail to persevere to the end and reach the destiny of eternal life that God decreed for them. Some Calvinists also rest this doctrine on the nature of the atonement. This foundation is problematic and I intend to explore it in future posts.

A distinction is necessary with regards to the different ways in which perseverance is understood among various doctrinal viewpoints. I believe that these viewpoints fall into three main categories as follows:

Perseverance in Arminianism: Arminians believe that it is necessary for the redeemed to persevere in saving faith in order to attain to eternal life in the age to come [final salvation]. We maintain that true believers who have experienced genuine regeneration can yet fall away from the faith and perish everlastingly. We take Jesus’ words in Matt. 10:22 both literally and seriously: “The one who endures till the end shall be saved”. We maintain that it is the believer’s responsibility to continue in saving faith, while acknowledging dependence on God’s grace and power to do so.

Perseverance in Calvinism: Calvinists, like Arminians, believe that it is necessary for the redeemed to persevere in saving faith in order to attain to eternal life in the age to come [final salvation]. They believe that one who is truly saved cannot fail to persevere in saving faith. God is solely responsible in preserving His elect and ensuring that they reach their final destination. They do not deny that some appear to fall away, but maintain that the truly regenerate will never finally fall away from faith and salvation. They would say that apostasy only proves that one’s profession of faith was not genuine and that the “apostate” had never truly been regenerated in the first place. The “apostate’s” defection simply reveals that his or her initial conversion was spurious. The Calvinist, then, would understand Matt.10:22 as meaning: “Those who are [truly] saved will [of necessity] endure to the end”. For this reason I prefer to call the Calvinist understanding of perseverance: “inevitable perseverance”.

Perseverance among “moderate” Calvinists: I am here referring to those who essentially discount the need for perseverance of any kind with regards to final salvation. This position is held by a wide spectrum of evangelical Christians today. It is hard to say what they should be called. While many call themselves moderate Calvinists, many others would likely object to that label. It is generally held by those who would consider themselves Arminian in every other significant area of soteriology. We could call them 1 point Calvinists [holding only to P] or 4 point Arminians. This view is especially prominent among Southern Baptists and is heavily promoted by well known teachers such as Charles Stanley, Chuck Swindoll, and Tony Evans. This understanding of perseverance teaches that once a person puts saving faith in Jesus Christ, nothing can change that person’s eternal destiny. It maintains that a true believer can return to a life of wickedness, die in a state of unrepentance, and still be saved in the end. This view even maintains that a true believer can later repudiate the faith, die in unbelief, and still be guaranteed entrance into God’s eternal Kingdom [with considerably less or no heavenly rewards]. This view of perseverance coined the phrase “Carnal Christian” which is defined as Christians whose lifestyles cannot in any way be distinguished from the wicked lifestyles of the unregenerate.

In my next several posts I will be examining important Scriptures to determine which of the above definitions of perseverance best fits the Biblical record.

Thursday, October 4, 2007

John 6 Part 1 and Done

I have decided not to engage John 6 at Arminian Perspectives. The Calvinist exegesis is just too strong, and I cannot figure out how to deal with it.

Just kidding :)

The real reason I have decided not to engage the text is because I have been directed to a four part essay written by Robert L. Hamilton that presents the best and most detailed Arminian exegesis of the passage that I have ever read. I cannot improve on his work and would rather begin to focus on the subject of inevitable perseverance. His essay is especially useful as it deals with all of the difficult passages in John that might seem to support Calvinism, as well as passages in Acts regarding Gentile believers [Acts 13:48]. Please take the time to read this essay. We can use this post to discuss his essay for those who take the time to read it. I highly recommend it to both Arminians who have struggled with these texts, and Calvinists who are convinced that there are no viable Arminian alternative interpretations for the key passages in John 6, 8, 10, and 17.

I have not looked at the entire site yet but have also read most of Mr. Hamilton's essay on Rom. 9 which I also highly recommend. I am indebted to Dr. Brian Abasciano for directing me to these essays.

The Order Of Faith And Election In John's Gospel: You Do Not Believe Because You Are Not My Sheep


Monday, October 1, 2007

John 6 Series

I will be doing a series on John 6 as it has become the favorite Calvinist proof text for the doctrines of unconditional election, irresistible grace, and inevitable perseverance. For some Calvinists it is the answer to every Arminian objection to "Reformed" theology. For this reason I want to take a close look at this chapter.

I will begin by explaining the Calvinist interpretation of the passage in such a way that I hope every Calvinist who reads it will nod his or her head in hearty agreement. I will then spend some time dissecting the "Reformed" interpretation to see if it conforms to sound exegesis. My third post will describe and discuss the presuppositions that will control my exegesis of the text. The final post in the series will be a detailed exegesis of the entire chapter from an Arminian perspective.

Please be patient with me as I work my way through this series. It is just in the early stages at present. I am excited about this series and hope that both my Arminian and Calvinist friends will benefit from it. If nothing else, it should generate some interesting discussions. Till then....