“Examining Calvinism” – Part 1 – Bypassing John 6

It’s an impressively large book, almost 800 pages. In the early days of my encounter with Calvinism I was looking for anything and everything that would disprove what I was starting to believe, which was that salvation is “100% God”, and not 99% God and 1% man as I had heard previously from some prominent preachers. One reason that I had for reading Lawrence Vance’s thick book entitled The Other Side of Calvinism, was the thought that – maybe this would be the book that would provide the scriptural evidence to dismiss Calvinism. I knew from the start that, for me, Calvinism was going to entail a complete realignment of my thinking, and would involve parting ways with the Arminian/Pentecostal church denomination that I had been in for almost two decades. Such a change should be made carefully and slowly, was my thinking at the time, and it took me a year to solidly make up my mind on these things.

Well, Vance’s book ended up being, in my opinion, yet another grudge attack on the Doctrines of Grace, and it seemed a lot more concerned with the author’s own axe to grind than with substantive biblical exegesis. One example of this is how the book spent well over one hundred pages explaining the sinfulness of the man John Calvin, but then dedicated only a handful of pages relating to one of the most important passages for Calvinism – John chapter 6.

Fast forward a few years; my family and I are now settled in an excellent Reformed Baptist church in Milwaukee, and I run a website called Old Truth which blogs about church history, modern fads and movements, evangelism, and of course Calvinism. Recently the Arminian author of another website called Examining Calvinism, posted some challenging comments on my blog. His name is Richard Coords, and we ended up in some extended discussion, especially related to John 6:44. Richard was polite and willing to answer the questions that I directed to him, but in the end – what he expressed was one of the best examples that I have encountered of someone reading their presuppositions into the biblical text. Going even a step further, Richard has dedicated the time, effort, and funding to create a website that negatively “examines” Calvinism from his point of view.

Richard acknowledges being influenced by Lawrence Vance’s book, but perhaps even more so, by the book Why I am Not a Calvinist by Walls and Dongell. In fact, as I was getting ready to write this post, yesterday I called-in to James White’s program to pick his brain on the views of John 6 expressed in these books (and by Richard on his anti-Calvinism site). In the days and weeks ahead, I’ll be talking more about the content of Richard’s website, starting with his John 6 pages. For anyone interested in getting a head start, you can listen to James White respond to my call in the second half of this archived Dividing Line program from yesterday.

My thanks to Dr. White for his scholarly response, and as this is my introductory post, I’d also like to thank Gene Bridges and the rest of the crew of Strange Baptist Fire for inviting me to participate here. I look forward to interacting with the comments from many of you in the days that follow.

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9 Comments on ““Examining Calvinism” – Part 1 – Bypassing John 6”

  1. Douglas Says:

    Jim,

    that it is interesting.

    I was just reading this the other day; “A Kinder, Gentler Calvinism” by Dr. James N. McGuire and he mentions “The Other Side of Calvinism” (Laurence M. Vance, Vance Publications, 1991). Dr. McGuire says; “The entire book is a bitter tirade that should be read by all good Calvinists.” Dr. McGuire gives reasons why Christians’ (Calvinists) should read it in the link above. I may have to get a copy of Mr. Vance’s book and read it myself though I do not really want to, I struggle enough as it is trying to understand and come to grips with truth let alone read a 800 page negative book. Just reading that about him writing over 100 pages about John Calvin’s sins has put me off completely. I have had enough of stuff that rips John Calvin often so unfairly and so inaccurately. Mr. Vance should have written 800 pages about his own sins and what God does with them if he confesses them.

    I think I might just read these instead:

    Calvin or Wesley:
    Part 1
    Part II by Steve Hays
    Critical Book Review of “Why I am Not a Calvinist”

    Then I will listen to this:

    Why I am not an Arminian by Robert Peterson and Michael Williams MP3 I have down loaded it.

    Anyway Mr. Jim,

    I will be looking forward to your contributions here, you are a fine Christian gentleman whom God is still dealing with. Same as God is still dealing with all of His people until they are glorified. Oh! what a happy day that will be! Perfect.

    I must listen to that broadcast on James White’s program, so as when I get to glory, I will be able to recognize your voice singing the praises of God.

  2. Jim Says:

    Thank you Douglas. Great links!

  3. Tom Butler Says:

    Mr. Coords has now joined the Baptist Board debate forum and has been quite active. I thought it was interesting that his website lists Southern Baptists as an Arminian denomination. Unfortunately, he’s not far wrong.

    Fortunately, there are some able defenders of Reformed Theology there, so his views get challenged at every turn.

    I thought I was pretty up to date on what Arminians believe, but he espouses some stuff I never heard before.

    Looking forward to Part 2.

  4. Gomarus Says:

    I look forward to your analysis. Thanks for taking the time to put it together for your readers here.

  5. Fred Says:

    Why do so many Arminians read their presuppostions into texts? A couple of weeks ago, I finished Frank Page’s book, “Trouble with the TULIP.” His interpretation of Acts 13:48 made me go out and buy the product HEAD-ON! I wrote about this in my blog: firedwithdesire.blogspot.com (Twisting the TULIP) and showed how Spurgeon responded to similar interpretations of Scripture. Why are learned men misinterpreting Scripture, and misrepresenting Calvinism? A friend of mine was recently in a conversation with a very influential Pastor in the SBC. This Pastor boasted that he had studied Reformed Theology throughout his long and extensive ministry. Yet simple questions to him proved he had no understanding at all of the Doctrines of Grace. Can someone tell me why this is?

  6. Douglas Says:

    Yet simple questions to him proved he had no understanding at all of the Doctrines of Grace. Can someone tell me why this is?

    Because of SIN.

  7. Gayla Says:

    Hi Jim~ Welcome to Strange BaptistFire. I list both this and Old Truth in my blogroll and read you most every day. I, too, look forward to following your series here.

    Fred, it truly is a matter of God opening our eyes to the truth of His sovereignty. I think it’s got to be much, much more than being ‘learned.’ As recently as a little over 2 years ago, I was arguing ‘Arminian’ thought and Scripture verses with the best of ’em! Fully convinced of my stance, too, I might add. Possibly worse than reading my own presuppositions into biblical text was the fact that I simply swallowed what was coming from the pulpit. Thankfully God led my husband and me to a different church, and in going thru the material in our new members class, He mercifully opened my eyes. My life hasn’t been the same. It’s a process and I’m still learning, still wrestling – but now studying the Word thru the filter of our Sovereign God. It has been and continues to be an amazing transformation!


  8. Jim,

    Thanks for bringing this to the attention of James White. I particularly enjoyed listening to his commentary, and have linked his program comments to the John 6:44 writeup. He was obviously well aware of this interpretation and had much insight to offer. While I do not feel that he hit any home runs, I do feel that he posed one question that warrants further debate: If this passage is about a transfer of sheep, from the Father’s hand to the Son’s, how then did they become the Father’s sheep in the first place? Was it because of their autonomous free will? White obviously answers in the negative. Instead, White offers:

    White writes: “If this giving does not involve sovereign predestination, what does it involve? Jesus Himself says it results in eternal life. If that is not election unto salvation, what is?” (Debating Calvinism, p.137, emphasis mine)

    So he is reading eternal decrees into the passage, as he elsewhere states:

    White adds: “I just also believe the undisputed and unrefuted fact that I come to Christ daily because the Father, on the sole basis of His mercy and grace, gave me to the Son in eternity past.” (Debating Calvinism, p.306, emphasis mine)

    Obviously, we disagreed over John 8:42, nevertheless, I see what Jesus is saying. He is saying that the hardened Jews who rejected John and who now reject Christ, did not have God as their father. Jesus says, IF God was your Father, then you would love Me. Is He talking about irresistible grace? Doubt it. It seems more like, if you love R.C. Sproul, you will love James White too. That wouldn’t require Irresistible Grace, now would it? In other words, if you truly loved the Father, then you will love His Son. (John 8:42) Clearly, Jesus is speaking about the separation that these men had from God, discussed in John 5, John 6 and also in John 8. But going back to the original question, how did they make God their Father? By submitting to John’s baptism of repentance. How were they able to do this? God’s prevenient grace, when He reached out to His people, Israel, all day long. (see Isaiah 65:2) That, of course, leads into a discussion on Prevenient Grace, and I would take that straight to Jeremiah 18:1-13.

    While James White feels that internet publishers are harmful to Christianity, Calvinistic or Arminian or what have you, I think that God is very pleased that people are searching His word in order to learn more about Him.


  9. […] In my first and second posts in this series which examines the anti-Calvinism website known as Examining Calvinism, we took a look at Richard Coords’ method of getting around the Father’s drawing in John 6:44. He does this by essentially putting yellow police tape around this passage, declaring it as “off limits for today’s humans”. More specifically he tells us that the drawing in John 6:44 related only to the Jews of that time, but now there is a universal drawing in John 12:32, which he believes to be a non-effectual drawing of every human being who lives after Christ’s resurrection. […]


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