Tuesday, November 27, 2007

Gordan Gives Me Props And Rebukes At Reformed Mafia

Gordan from Reformed Mafia has been kind enough to devote an entire post to some comments I made in a combox at Triablogue. I thought I would return the favor by devoting a post to addressing his concerns. Gordan’s comments are in quotations. I made some spelling corrections in my original comments that Gordan quotes.

"I lifted this from the meta of a post over at Triablogue. Our sometime commenter/fomenter of dischord, Kangeroodort, a/k/a Ben left it there. I don't know that they'll answer it (although I may already be wrong about that) because it is off-topic, so I thought I'd interact with it a bit. The blue font below is all Ben's stuff."

I asked the following comment which has so far been ignored directly, but answered indirectly by saint and sinner:

In the meantime, I have a quick question for you regarding John 6:44. Do you believe that one can "come" prior to regeneration? If not, then I suspect you see the drawing of John 6:44 as a reference to irresistible regeneration. Is that the case?

Would you object to an interpretive translation along these lines:"No one can come to me unless the Father who sent me first regenerates them [gives them life]"?

S&S later said [concerning the contention that John 6:44 had reference to resistible prevenient grac]: "This is a basic exegetical error in interpreting John 6. The problem with this interpretation is that Jesus is quoting the Prophet Isaiah. The quote comes from Is. 54:13, which is in the midst of a passage on the renewed creation and covenant. Like other passages in the prophets (Jeremiah 31:33-34 and Ezekiel 36:26-27), it is thus speaking about regeneration, not a preaching of the gospel which we must then decide upon. Thus, those who are "taught of God" are the regenerate."

So it would seem that the drawing of John 6:44 refers to regeneration in the Calvinist scheme. To say it refers to something less is to concede prevenient grace, which the Calvinist will not do. So it is quite reasonable to understand Jn. 6:44, in Calvinism, as saying: No one can come to be unless the Father who sent Me regenerates them [i.e. first gives them life].

I assume that S&S would also equate "come" with "believe" as most Calvinists do. So we could further define the passage as:No one can believe in Me unless the Father who sent Me regenerates them [i.e. first gives them life]. We could then simplify the teaching by saying, "no one can come unless the Father first gives them life."Therefore, the giving of life, according to Calvinism, must precede coming or believing. I dare say that no Calvinist would object at this point.

What then did Jesus mean when He said in John 5:40:"...you are unwilling to come to Me so that you may have life. "Here Jesus plainly says that "coming" precedes the giving of life. This flatly contradicts the Calvinists interpretation of John 6:44 and renders such an interpretation impossible. In view of John 5:40, the drawing of John 6:44 can have no reference to regeneration.

God Bless,
Ben

"First, let me give Ben some props here for having a grasp on the Calvinist interpretation he seeks to argue with. I would state things a little differently than he has above, but not all that much. So, yes, it is the standard Calvinist interpretation of John 6:44, that it teaches that regeneration precedes faith."

Thanks for the concession and the “props”!

"See what a nice Calvinist I am, Ben. I gave you some props. In fact, I'll go ahead and give you some more. You have proven to me that you are a thoughtful Christian man who is zealous in the pursuit of truth."

I get props and I get called a thoughtful Christian man. Thanks Gordan, now I know you care.

"But, sadly, those last props come in spite of what you've written in this comment, and not because of it. After reading what you've written, I stubbornly refuse to believe that this is really how you go about studying the Scripture. I choose to believe better of you, in spite of the current lack of evidence. (I'm a hopeless fideist...)"

Oh, so much for the good feelings.

"1. It looks like what you've done here is this: recognized that the Calvinistic take on John 6 is all about who comes to Jesus and why, and you've seen it has something to do with the new life of regeneration. Then, you took some of those key words, specifically "come" and "life" and you've looked with your concordance for other places where the two terms occur in close proximity."

Actually I noticed this while studying all the relevant passages in John 5, 6, 8, and 10 where Jesus has similar discussions with the Jews. Believe it or not, I actually read the chapters. During this study I found some very interesting parallels which I believe render the standard Calvinist interpretation of these passages untenable [as proof texts for unconditional election, etc.]. I appreciate the attempt at mind reading though. What am I thinking now?

"Having found a place like that (John 5:40,) you've compared the way that place speaks of life and coming to Jesus and the way John 6 speaks of life and coming to Jesus. And, lo and behold, we see that you prefer the way that John 5 puts it, and have thus determined that the view you don't like, from John 6, must be wrong."

Actually, I was trying to harmonize the passages and not discard one in favor of the other. Thanks again for trying to read my mind. It is not about what view I like or dislike, but what view is accurate. I suppose Gordan would deny that Calvinists bring a lot of theological bias to the text of John 6.

"2. Let me illustrate why this is a truly horrible way to study the Bible. Let's say, as a Calvinist, I don't like the insistence that John 3:16 shows that God loves every individual in the world. And so, I hunt around in my Bible for other places that speak of the world, until I come to 1 John 2:15, where it says, "If anyone loves the world, the love of the Father is not in him.""Eureka!" I shout. "Now I've got all those synergists dead to rights! They'll never overcome this challenge from Scriptural fact, for I have proven that love for the world is really the opposite of God's attitude!"Does it not immediately occur to you why that would be really dumb?"

It is as dumb as it is irrelevant to the passages in John referring to coming to Christ, as we shall soon see.

"I'm sure it does, Ben, but for our readers let me spell it out: To do that would be to ignore simple considerations of context. Any synergist would be totally correct to then come and rebuke me for being too stupid to see immediately that the passages are not talking about the same things. And that's true, even though John 3:16 and 1 John 2:15 use the same key words, like "God" and "love.""

Back to the snide remarks about me thumbing through the concordance.

"A very simple, surface reading would show me, if I had bothered enough to check, that different things are in view. Again, that's true even though the same author uses the same key words: He's still talking about different things. The only reason I would possibly fail to see that is if I was so ideologically blinded that I was willing to deal fast-and-loose with the Word of God so long as I got to prove my point with it. And shame on me."

All this is very interesting. I agree that the context is very important as well as the meaning of words. I appreciate your illustration.

"3. Apprapos 1 and 2, you try to make your point here by citing a place where the same author uses the same key words, and you've simply assumed that the two different discussions are talking about the same thing."

Actually, I paid attention to context and the meaning of words just like you have so kindly recommended.

"4. But is the assumption of 3 above warranted? The discussion in John 6 is about why some come to Jesus in faith and are saved, and some do not. The matter at hand in John 5 is the sin of the Jewish leaders, who had refused to listen to any of the witnesses that God sent to them. Though they both have in common the presence of sinful unbelief, they really are two different conversations. In John 6, Jesus is explaining to His disciples the "why" of faith, and in John 5, Jesus is rebuking the Jews for the fact of their unbelief."

This is where it might have helped Gordan to carefully read the accounts. Oops, I should be careful not to engage in the same mind reading tactics that Gordan seems so fond of, so I will assume that he did read the accounts but just came to different conclusions. Since I am the one on trial here, I guess it is up to me to demonstrate that I did pay attention to context and the meaning of words.

Gordan is quite right that these are two different conversations. That does not mean that there are not important parallels. In John 5 Jesus is in dialogue with unbelieving Jews. The same is true in John 6. In John 5 Jesus is addressing the unbelief of these Jews. The same is true of John 6. In John 5:33 Jesus tells these unbelieving Jews that His words are intended to save them. This is an important part of the conversation:

“But the testimony that I receive is not from man, but I say these things so that you may be saved.”

Jesus actually desires the salvation of these unbelieving Jews. He wants them to have life in Him. This is the beginning of the dialogue which will eventually lead us to the passage in question. He tells them in verse 38:

“You do not have His word abiding in you, for you do not believe Him whom He sent.”

The reason these Jews will not accept Jesus is because they are not in right relationship with the Father. They have not accepted the testimony of Scripture and are, therefore, unable to accept the living Word. Because they have rejected the Father, they cannot recognize the perfect revelation of the Father in Christ. Jesus further explains this in verses 44-47. The passage in dispute, however, is John 5:40:

“…and you are unwilling to come to me so that you may have life.”

Gordan will admit that “come” in this passage is synonymous with “believe” but takes issue with “life” having any reference to regeneration [see his comments below].

The passage in its immediate context reads:

“You do not have His word abiding in you, for you do not believe Him whom He sent. You search the Scriptures because you think that in them you have eternal life; it is these that testify about Me; and you are unwilling to come to Me so that you may have life.” [John 5:38-40]

It is clear from verse 38 that these Jews are in a state of rejection and unbelief. They must, therefore, be spiritually dead. Jesus then tells them that the Scriptures they study will not give them the eternal life they desire and need because they refuse to come to the One of whom those Scriptures testify. The “life” of verse 40 must be the “eternal life” of verse 39. These Jews are dead in their sins and in need of life. Jesus is telling them that in order for them to have life they must come to [believe in] Him.

This is the same theme being discussed in John 6:44. The one’s who come to Christ are those who have learned from the teaching of the Father [John 6:45]. The Jews in John 6 had not learned from God and were therefore not in right relation to Him. Just like the Jews in John 5 who had read the Scriptures but not submitted to them, they were unable to recognize Christ. Had they been in right relation with the Father, they would have responded to the drawing of Christ’s words and came to Him in faith. They could not hear Christ’s words because they had not listened to the Father [compare John 8 and 10]. They rejected the Son because they first rejected the Father who sent Him. Had they known the Father, they would have known the Son and been given to Him.

Gordan continues:

"In addition, I would grant that the "coming" of both passages is a metaphor for faith in Christ. But it is truly a stretch to assume that the "life" the Jews were actively refusing in John 5 is the new spiritual life of regeneration. Can you not see in the passage itself that there are different sorts of "life?" I mean, the Jews were certainly "alive" in one sense, and yet had refused another sort of life. How you conclude that they were refusing regeneration specifically, and neither the spirit-life of faith in Christ (as in Romans 8) nor eternal life with Him in heaven is beyond me. Regeneration is certainly not the focus in John 5: faith in Christ is."

I admit that I have difficulty understanding what Gordan is trying to say here. He is quite right that the Jews were alive in some sense [physically], but because they were spiritually dead, it was spiritual life that they needed. Theologians are in general agreement in calling the beginning of this spiritual life “regeneration”. Gordan seems to think that there is a spiritual life that one can have without first being regenerated. He refers us to Rom. 8 for clarification, apparently forgetting his previous stern rebuke concerning comparing unrelated passages. As He himself admits, Rom. 8 is dealing with the Spirit walk of the believer, and not the topic of conversion from death to life. John 5 is dealing with the need for conversion and the life that comes from an initial faith response. I wonder when Gordan believes the spirit life of Rom. 8 begins? How about the eternal life of John 5:39? Should we not assume that it begins at regeneration? Does not regeneration have reference to the beginning of new life? This is exactly what Jesus is addressing in John chapter 5. The unbelieving Jews cannot begin to experience life until they put faith in [come to] Jesus Christ.

Despite all of this, Gordan then makes the very bold claim: “Regeneration is certainly not the focus in John 5: faith in Christ is.” Gordan is right that faith is part of the focus of this passage, but it is just as true that the result of that faith is in focus as well. All one has to do is read the words Jesus uses and the context of the passage to see this. No concordance necessary.

While I appreciate Gordan trying to educate me in proper exegesis, I think I will stick to the my own method.

Gordan concludes his thoughtful treatment with the following:

"5. And many such things you (synergists, generally) do. Use a passage that isn't about why some believe and some don't in order to argue with the grammatical-historical exegesis of a passage that plainly is. Another example of this sort of argumentation is the resort to John 12 to blunt the force of John 6. (Hey, they both mention a drawing of men to Christ: It has to be the same...except that it's obviously different. But still, the one in John 12 is more likeable, so let's go with that one.)"

I would invite Gordan to read the post I wrote concerning the drawing of John 12:32 compared with the drawing of John 6:44. I would especially like to see him grapple with the theological absurdities I exposed in his position that regeneration precedes faith in my post “Does Regeneration Precede Faith?”.

Till then…

12 comments:

Nick Norelli said...

Well done Ben. It seems as if Gordan begins with his conclusion and then filters everything he reads accordingly. Since in his mind regeneration precedes faith then any passage that refers to faith preceding regeneration simply can't be talking about regeneration -- it must be talking about the weather!

Classical Arminianism said...

Nick,

Hahaha . . . so true man, so true.

Kangeroo guys,

Your humor hits the spot. And so does your exegesis.

You know, the one thing I have noticed is how some of these Calvinist bloggers try to come off as Rhetoricians in an effort to make the Arminian seem stupid. The embarrassing aspect is that they are rather poor Rhetoricians.

Way to go guys. Whether it's Ben or Josh, job well done. Keep the Faith.

Billy

Paul G said...

Nick;
Every believer argues his point from his perspective!
It is not easy to look from another persons perspective without always falling back to their own understanding.

Ben;
How do you see ‘libertarian free will’ in the case of Pharaoh in Rom. 9 where the Lord chooses and prepared some for destruction and some for glory?

Dawn said...

Great post! Gordan was really, really, really grasping at straws.

Nick Norelli said...

Paul,

Easy? Maybe not... Possible? Absolutely.

kangeroodort said...

Paul g,

You wrote:

How do you see ‘libertarian free will’ in the case of Pharaoh in Rom. 9 where the Lord chooses and prepared some for destruction and some for glory?

This is a complex question which requires more than a few comments to address. I will address both the hardening of Pharaoh and the hardening of Israel in a furture post. I would welcome your interaction at that time.

In the meantime, there are plenty of Arminians who have addressed this issue. I could give you recources if you like.

God Bless,
Ben

gordan said...

Well, Ben, here I am. Ah, the echoing chorus is a pleasant thing, is it not, my friend?

I did actually write at the beginning that it seemed to me that here is what you had done. So, I can see how it looked like I thought I was reading your mind, but I did in fact say this is how it seems to me. I thought that would make it clear I had surmised a guess as to your methodology. Just to clarify. Happy to see I was wrong by the way. Mea culpa.

Anyway, my point is that if you're going to try and use the John 5 passage to argue against regeneration-prior-to-faith, then don't you have to be fairly certain that's what the text has in mind when it mentions the "life" the Jews were refusing?

Your first commenter there seems to take it as a given that regeneration is in view in John 5:40. I am not sure how one gets there from the text.

You showed that Christ was speaking to them of eternal life. That is the life they refused through unbelief.

I don't see how you can argue that they consciously refused regeneration specifically, when there's no indication that any of them knew what regeneration was or why it might be needed: Jesus had never said anything to them about it (except for Nicodemus, I'd submit, in John 3.)

The fact that Jesus knows that regeneration precedes faith doesn't let the Jews off the hook: the reason for their lack of faith is still their own sin.

I think John 6 teaches these two things, and I see you trying to set them at odds with each other.

1. No one comes unless they are drawn/savingly taught/regenerated.

2. When one doesn't come, it's his own fault.

Maybe I'm wrong, but it looks like you're saying that since John 5:40 is in line with 2 above, that somehow negates 1 above. I affirm that both are true, and that both are taught in John 6 and elsewhere.

I'm truly sorry for the length of this. Gosh, from how much I write, you'd maybe guess I thought it might do some good.

kangeroodort said...

Hello Gordan,

Sorry it took me a while to respond.

You wrote:

Anyway, my point is that if you're going to try and use the John 5 passage to argue against regeneration-prior-to-faith, then don't you have to be fairly certain that's what the text has in mind when it mentions the "life" the Jews were refusing?

I am "fairly certain" based on the context of the passage and the way "life" is being consistently used throughout the chapter.

Look at John 5:24:

"Truly, truly, I say to you, he who hears My word and belives Him who sent Me, has eternal life, and does not come into judgment, but has passed out of death into life."

Passing from death to life sounds a lot like regeneration to me.

In John 5:25:

"Truly, truly, I say to you, an hour is coming and now is, when the dead will hear the voice of the Son of God, and those who hear will live."

Here Jesus equates the life He gives with a spiritual resurrection. That agian sounds very much like regeneration to me. Jesus says that his hearers should not marvel that He has the power to give life to those who are dead in sin, since a time will come when He will resurrect all the dead from their graves [verses 28, and 29]

Your first commenter there seems to take it as a given that regeneration is in view in John 5:40. I am not sure how one gets there from the text.

Maybe he got it from reading the text. Maybe he also finds it quite obvious, as I do, that eternal life must begin at regeneration.

I don't see how you can argue that they consciously refused regeneration specifically, when there's no indication that any of them knew what regeneration was or why it might be needed: Jesus had never said anything to them about it (except for Nicodemus, I'd submit, in John 3.)

If they could not have life until they came to Christ in faith, then it should be quite clear that they also could not be regenerated until they came to Christ in faith. You can't have life without first being regenerated since regeneration is the beginning of life [i.e. regeneration must be included in "life" and "eternal life"].

I believe that this is clear even in Jesus' conversation with Nicodemus in John 3. See my post on that passage for details:

http://arminianperspectives.blogspot.com/2007/08/does-jesus-teach-that-regeneration_20.html

I think John 6 teaches these two things, and I see you trying to set them at odds with each other.

I am not trying to set them at odds. Since I believe that the drawing of John 6:44 has reference to resistible prevenient grace, I find that there is harmony between the two passages. However, if I were to accept your understanding of John 6:44 then I believe it would be "at odds" with John 5 as well as other passages in John and the NT as a whole. That was my point.

Thanks for stopping by and trying to clarify your position.

God Bless,
Ben

gordan said...

Ben, I do think I finally understand what your argument is here.

"Life" has to be all-inclusive, encompassing regeneration through glorification, it that about right?

I would just point out though, that the verses you just referenced in the comment above do not speak to the relationship between life and faith. I mean, you've quoted two and merely assumed (or so it looks to me: don't want to be accused of mind-reading here)that one causes the other. That cause and effect relationship is just not there. I think this thought also has bearing on John 5:40. Cause and effect isn't necessarily implied: their culpability is merely declared.

It might help my understanding of what you are saying if you explained to me why two Jews could experience the same prevenient grace and one is saved while the other is hardened. Do you buy into any notion that is comparable to Total Depravity? I am thinking you must not, is that right? Because the God-hating rebel would always resist grace if he could, right, being contrary to all righteousness? I'm just wondering what it is that you believe makes the ultimate difference between one who is saved and one who isn't.

kangeroodort said...

Gordan,

Ben, I do think I finally understand what your argument is here.

"Life" has to be all-inclusive, encompassing regeneration through glorification, it that about right?


That is not all of it. In the context Jesus is speaking to spiritually dead Jews and explaining to them that they need to come to Him to have life. Life results from coming.

Jesus had already explained that He was speaking of a transition from death to life in the verses I cited above. Therefore, the context demonstrates that life, which includes the initial passing from death to life, is given to those who "come" to Him in faith.

I would just point out though, that the verses you just referenced in the comment above do not speak to the relationship between life and faith.

Unless one correlates "hear" with faith, which seems to be a common use of the word in John's gospel. Even so, the passages I cited do speak to the nature of life that Jesus is describing which includes regeneration [i.e. spiritual resurrection, passing from death to life].

As for cause and effect, we only need to return to John 5:40:

"...and you are unwilling to come to Me so that you may have life."

come --> life

I think this thought also has bearing on John 5:40. Cause and effect isn't necessarily implied: their culpability is merely declared.

This is grasping at straws. On what authority do you say that a cause and effect relationship isn't necessarily implied, and that culpability is merely declared? Is that really the best you can do? If the order was reversed and the passage read, "you will not come to me because you have not been given life"; don't you think you would be all over that as a Calvinist and insist on the cause and effect relationship of the passage?

It might help my understanding of what you are saying if you explained to me why two Jews could experience the same prevenient grace and one is saved while the other is hardened.

Because one would choose to surrender to that grace while the other one would not. In the context of John 5, 6, 7, 8, 10, Jesus is specifically addressing Jews who had already resisted the grace of God in their lives prior to encountering Jesus. They were not in a right relationship with the Father, and were therefore hardened in their unbelief and unable to come to Christ, the perfect revelation of the Father.

Do you buy into any notion that is comparable to Total Depravity?

Yes, I adhere to Total Depravity. I also adhere to the power of God's grace to overcome that depravity.

Because the God-hating rebel would always resist grace if he could, right, being contrary to all righteousness?

That is true until the grace of God intervenes.

I'm just wondering what it is that you believe makes the ultimate difference between one who is saved and one who isn't.

Their God given ability to choose under the influence of God's grace. You beg the question that we are but passive creatures who can only moved as moved upon. You assume that man has no ability to respond to God when enabled.

Next you will try to say that if one surrenders to God's will, there must be something of merit in him that was not in the other. Since the response is faith, and faith is relying on the merit of another, then that is not the case. We could also ask why two believers respond differently to the sanctifying grace of God? What makes the difference? Why aren't all Christians the same? Can the Christian who better resists temptation and better overcomes sin in his life rightly boast over the one who does not? What do think?

The fact is, Gordan, that there is no evidence for regeneration preceding faith in all of Scripture. Can you point me to a single passage which says that life [any life] comes before faith? The best you can do is John 6:44, which does not say this and would be at odds with John 5:40, or John 3:3, 6 which I have already dealt with in a post I referred you to. Put these up against the numerous passages that say that life, salvation, and justification [which must logically precede regeneration], are given in response to faith, believing, coming, or repenting.

The Calvinist, IMO, is guilty of proof texting in order to desperately support an unbiblical theological system. You will, of course, think otherwise, but the burden of proof rests with you.

The Biblical evidence is not in your favor. The best you can do is cite passages that you believe imply the need for regeneration preceding faith, or compare passages that you think imply the concept. Do you think it is wise to discard plain declarations in favor of vague implications? Does that seem like a sound hermeneutic to you?

God Bless,
Ben

gordan said...

Hey, Ben, I'm LOL at the mockery (Is that the best you can do?) Laughing, because I deserve it, at least partly. That last comment about John 5:40 and the causal relationship...I beg your forgiveness. All mockery is deserved for that one. My only plea is that I had one sort of argument in my head and my fingers went another direction...or something like that. (My fingers think they have libertarian free will, and sometimes I wonder :)

I still think that if John consistently uses "life" as a synonym for salvation (which is my contention)then the force of any of this with regard to regeneration (a separate thing, as I see it, though connect) is nill.

I know we'll continue to disagree about how "life" is used.

However, you point out some areas of agreement, I think. I'm looking for correction if wrong.

1. You and I agree that, due to Total Depravity, there must be some prior work of God's grace on an individual before he can believe.

2. I think you also see the same dilemma you accuse me of wanting to solve with Regeneration, therefore. You just solve it differently, with Prevenient Grace.

3. Prevenient Grace prior to the decision to believe is just as absent any specific Scriptural statement as Regeneration-prior-to-Faith. Hey, at least Regeneration is actually a Bible word! :) Both doctrines arise because the Bible speaks in other places plainly of the natural inability of fallen man to obey the terms of the Gospel.

4. We both therefore agree that the spiritually dead man must have God act upon him in such a way (through the preached Word?)that he is enabled to believe.

And, no, I don't believe it's grasping at straws to see the verses you've mentioned in a manner other than causal. They are descriptive, and answer the question, Who has eternal life? They don't answer, What caused this condition to arise?

The same John repeatedly uses this sort of descriptive language in phrases that some mistake as causal, in 1 John.

Thanks for interacting with me on this, and invecting against me when you need to.

Yours in due humiliation, but still thinking he's right,

Gordan

kangeroodort said...

Hey Gordan,

Sorry this response is late. I am not sure you will be checking in again, but I wanted to address some things you wrote:

Hey, Ben, I'm LOL at the mockery (Is that the best you can do?) Laughing, because I deserve it, at least partly.

I didn't mean this as mockery. I only meant that I have come to expect more from you. I appreciate the humility though.

However, you point out some areas of agreement, I think. I'm looking for correction if wrong.

1. You and I agree that, due to Total Depravity, there must be some prior work of God's grace on an individual before he can believe.


I absolutely agree.

2. I think you also see the same dilemma you accuse me of wanting to solve with Regeneration, therefore. You just solve it differently, with Prevenient Grace.

Again, I do see a need for a prior work of God, not so much because of a certain view of what it means to be "dead in sins" but because the Bible plainly teaches it [e.g. John 6:44, etc.]. You are quite right that we disagree over the nature of that prior work.

4. We both therefore agree that the spiritually dead man must have God act upon him in such a way (through the preached Word?)that he is enabled to believe.

Yes. Through the power of the gospel and the conviction, drawing, enabling, of the Holy Spirit.

And, no, I don't believe it's grasping at straws to see the verses you've mentioned in a manner other than causal.

So you think that when Jesus says that coming to him results in life in light of context that describe spritual resurrection and the passing of death from life, it is more proper to understand him as meaning: "since you do not have spiritual life, you will not come to me to have life"? You are free to see it that way, but I see that as eisegesis. Such an understanding is in no way implied in the text. It must rather be "read into it".

They are descriptive, and answer the question, Who has eternal life? They don't answer, What caused this condition to arise?

I can agree with the first part of this, but the second sentence is mere assertion despite context, rather than a thoughtful response to context. We have every reason to believe that Jesus is also describing what causes the condition of life to arise. As I noted before: come --> life. There is no contextual warrent for life --> come --> life. That is a reading into the text.

The same John repeatedly uses this sort of descriptive language in phrases that some mistake as causal, in 1 John.

That may well be the case depending on the context of those passages. That has no bearing on whether or not the context of John 5:40 implies that faith must precede regeneration.

Thanks for interacting with me on this, and invecting against me when you need to.

Yours in due humiliation, but still thinking he's right,


I appreciate the interaction as well and believe that you are quite entitled to your wrong opinion. If you feel like you need to make something up to me I would be satisfied with a copy of your book for Christmas :)

God Bless,
Ben