Why Some Endeavor To Bypass John 6

I’ve spent a couple of posts now examining the anti-Calvinism website known as Examining Calvinism, and Richard Coords’ STRANGE and complicated mechanism for getting around the implications of John 6:44.

I intend to continue looking at this website’s bypassing of the passage at hand, but in this post I thought I’d take a break and present this brief medley of thought related to John 6, from some well known names. If it isn’t clear already, these short excerpts should make it clear as to why this passage may be an “avoid at all costs” theology obstacle for Examining Calvinism:

  • John MacArthur: The Father has predestined those who would be saved. The absolute sovereignty of God is the basis of Jesus’ confidence in the success of His mission. The security of salvation rests in the sovereignty of God, for God is the guarantee that “all” He has chosen will come to Him for salvation. The idea of “gives me” is that every person chosen by God and drawn by God (v. 44) must be seen as a gift of the Father’s love to the Son. The Son receives each “love gift” (v. 37), holds on to each (v. 39), and will raise each to eternal glory (vv. 39, 40). No one chosen will be lost. This saving purpose is the Father’s will – which the Son will not fail to do perfectly (v. 38; cf. 4:34; 10:28, 29; 17:6, 12, 24). … The combination of John 37a and v. 44 indicate that the divine drawing activity which Jesus referred to cannot be reduced to what theologians call “prevenient grace”. –John Chapter 6 Notes from Study Bible
  • John Piper: This drawing is the sovereign work of grace without which no one can be saved from their rebellion against God. Some say, “He draws all men, not just some.” But this simply evades the clear implication of the context that the Father’s “drawing” is why some believe and not others. Specifically, John 6:64-65 says, “‘But there are some of you that do not believe.’ For Jesus knew from the first who those were that did not believe, and who it was that should betray him. And he said, ‘This is why I told you that no one can come to me unless it is granted him by the Father.'” Notice two things: First, that coming to Jesus is called a gift. It is not just an opportunity. Coming to Jesus is “given” to some and not to others. Second, notice that the reason Jesus says this, is to explain why “there are some who do not believe.” –Irresistible Grace, DesiringGod.org
  • Charles Spurgeon: [It is not based] on something which man does, but on something which God the Father does. The Father gives certain persons to His Son, and the Son says, “All that the Father giveth Me Shall come to Me.” If any do come to Jesus Christ, it is those whom the Father gave to Christ. And the reason why they come, if we search to the very bottom of things, is, that the Father puts it into their hearts to come. The reason why one man is saved, and another man is lost, is to be found in God; not in anything which the saved man did, or did not do; not in anything which he felt, or did not feel; but in something altogether irrespective of himself, it is the sovereign grace of God. –Sum and Substance of All Theology
  • Matthew Henry: No man, in this weak and helpless state, can come to Christ without [this drawing]. As we cannot do any natural action without the concurrence of common providence, so we cannot do any action morally good without the influence of special grace, in which the new man lives, and moves, and has its being, as much as the mere man has in the divine providence. In v.65 he saith, except it be given him of my Father, which shows that God draws souls by giving them grace and strength, and a heart to come, without which, such is the moral impotency of man, in his fallen state, that he cannot come. –Commentary on John Chapter 6
  • Martin Luther: Now, if he is drawn by God to Christ, he will certainly experience what the Lord here says: “He will raise him up in the last day.” … Thus you learn from the first utterance in today’s Gospel that this knowledge must come from God the Father; He must lay the first stone of the foundation in us, else we will never do anything. … Here all men must confess their incapacity and inability to do the good. Should one imagine he is able to do anything good of his own strength – he does no less than make Christ the Lord a liar; he would rudely and defiantly come to the Father and in all rashness ascend to heaven. –The sermons of Luther, vol. Iii
  • Augustine: Noble excellence of grace! No man comes unless drawn. There is whom He draws, and there is whom He draws not; why He draws one and draws not another, do not desire to judge, if thou desirest not to err. –Tractate XXV

And for some contrast and perhaps some interesting conversation in the comments below, I’ll include this commentary note on the same verse:

  • John Wesley: No man comes to me, unless my Father draw him — No man can believe in Christ, unless God give him power: he draws us first, by good desires. Not by compulsion, not by laying the will under any necessity; but by the strong and sweet, yet still resistible, motions of his heavenly grace.

In my next post, I will begin a look at how Examining Calvinism puts man in charge of God’s drawing in John 6:44. Or to use Richard Coords’ terminology, how people “make God their Father”.

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27 Comments on “Why Some Endeavor To Bypass John 6”

  1. Arthur Sido Says:

    How does Wesley deal with four chapters later when Christ speaks of Himself as the good shepherd, and how His sheep hear and recognize His voice and follow Him? There doesn’t seem to be any indication in John 10 that those given to Christ will do anything BUT follow Him when they hear His voice. I probably could look it up myself but I am too lazy!


  2. Arthur,

    Wesley has pinned himself in a corner. According to John 6:37-44, everyone given by the Father comes to Jesus and everyone drawn by the Father believes in Jesus. I understand the way Wesleyians explain it, but it forces them to have to compromise on the thrust of what these verses are saying.

    In terms of John 8:42, when Jesus says to the hardened reprobates who refused John the Baptist, “if God was your Father,” should we infer that Jesus says that they had no say in the matter? To me, the Arminian point is simply that if they had made God their Father through the Law nad hte Prophets, through John the Baptist and his ministry of repentance, then they would have come to Jesus, and not rejected them, as they do now.

    John 8:42 is also sort of like saying: If Jim was a Calvinist, then he would love MacArthur, Sproul and Piper. If you loved God, then you would love Jesus, the Son that is begotten of Him, who proceeded from Him.

    I would like to point readers to examine a couple of Blogs recently started, in order to fully understand the convictions of their Arminian brothers, and to post their convictions:

    Do Arminians deny Prevenient Grace?
    Adrian Rogers explains: http://examiningcalvinism.blogspot.com/2007/01/adrian-rogers-on-prevenient-grace.html

    Do Arminians feel that Calvinists have circumvented the cross, when they teach that they were eternally plugged in to the favor of the Father?
    Hagee explains: http://examiningcalvinism.blogspot.com/2007/01/calvinism-is-like-rotten-candy-apple.html

    What about John 17?
    http://examiningcalvinism.blogspot.com/2007/02/dialogue-on-john-17.html

    How does a person become in Christ?
    http://examiningcalvinism.blogspot.com/2007/02/sealed-in-christ.html

    If it wasn’t for Calvinism, in terms of an eternal in the Father election, and a preemptive placement in Christ prior to become sealed in Christ, then I never would have come to appreciate what beng “in Christ” means.

  3. Nathan White Says:

    ‘Examining Calvinism’,

    I’m not sure I follow your point out of John 8, and I wonder if your assertions come in light of the rest of the chapter. A little further down in John 8 Jesus says, “Whoever is of God hears the words of God. The reason why you do not hear them is that you are not of God.”

    Thus, Jesus explains to them that the reason why they refused to follow Jesus was not because they had hardened themselves, or because they loved the law, but because they were not the elect of God. Contrast this being ‘of God’ and you can infer from 1 John 5:1 that being ‘of God’ happens before confession and faith in Christ. Likewise with John chapter 1 in that being ‘born of God’ happens not of the will of man/flesh, but because of God.

  4. Gene Says:

    Actually, the mention of hardening indexed to Isa. 6 will occur in John 12. Before the raising of Lazarus, we are in the Book of Signs. In the next “book” of John, we get to the Book of Acts, where John begins pulling his comments together. In John 9, we have Jesus telling the leaders, “You are still in your sins.” This appears to be, in context, His judgment of them, for it occurs at the conclusion of a statement about His mission of judgment. Thus, their “hardening” in John 12 is to be construed as a judicial act of God.

  5. johnMark Says:

    Okay, why did I come and check on you guys? Now I read the examiningcalvinism site a little bit and…well…I certainly hope someone is grading the exame with a big red pent.

    I also want to leave you with my quick look at prevenient grace.
    http://hereiblog.wordpress.com/2006/11/16/prevenient-grace-is-irresistable/

    Thanks…uh…again,
    Mark

    🙂


  6. Nathan,

    In terms of John 8, they disbelieve because they are not Jesus’ sheep, and they are not Jesus’ sheep because they are not the Father’s sheep, whom they ultimately rejected when they rejected John’s “Baptism of Repentance.” I’m suggesting that when God reached out His arms all day long to Israel (Isaiah 65:2), that there was a point in which God’s heredescribed Prevenient Grace reached out to them, and though they had the opportunity through such grace to repent, they instead persistently refused, which resulted in being hardened, as per Isaiah 6:9-10. Therefore, this is why they were not “of God” and had they been of God, they would love the Son.


  7. Mark,

    In terms of Prevenient Grace, I had responded to your comment on the Adrian Rogers Blog post, and also invited you to comment on the Blog, “Sealed in Christ.”

    http://examiningcalvinism.blogspot.com/2007/02/sealed-in-christ.html

    Let me give you a quote from James White:

    James White: “When the time comes in God’s sovereign providence to bring to spiritual life each of those for whom Christ died, the Spirit of God will not only effectively accomplish that work of regeneration but that new creature in Christ will, unfailingly, believe in Jesus Christ (‘all that the Father gives Me will come to Me’).” (Debating Calvinism, p.191)

    I wanted to take up a discussion on how a condemned unbeliever, as per John 3:18, can be made preemptively in Christ, where there is NO condemnation, as per Romans 8:1, and especially how someone can be in Christ, prior to being sealed in Christ, as per Ephesians 1:13. I see the Calvinist situation of preemptive regeneration, or better yet, preemptive placement of unbelievers “in Christ” to be completely unworkable, and look forward to your thoughts on that Blog.

  8. Nathan White Says:

    EC,

    Try as you may to explain away the obvious, your position is directly contradicting the sacred word. Jesus explains to us in clear terms why it is that these don’t believe, and yet you simply ignore it. Among your oversights are words such as:

    because I tell the truth, you do not believe me.” -which clearly shows that these men had no capacity whatsover to believe the truth.

    Was this their own doing, or were they like that from birth? Jesus clearly says:

    “Why do you not understand what I say?…You are of your father the devil”

    In addition to this, Jesus futher explains their inablity to believe the truth by showing that, from birth, they have been enslaved, with no help for deliverence unless the Son sets them free (not them choosing to allow the Son of the Almighty God to set them free) :

    “everyone who commits sin is a slave to sin. The slave does not remain in the house forever; the son remains forever. So if the Son sets you free, you will be free indeed.”

    This goes right along with the accounts in Mattew and Luke:

    “All things have been handed over to me by my Father, and no one knows the Son except the Father, and no one knows the Father except the Son and anyone to whom the Son chooses to reveal him.” -Matt 11:27

    “All things have been handed over to me by my Father, and no one knows who the Son is except the Father, or who the Father is except the Son and anyone to whom the Son chooses to reveal him.” – Luke 10:22


  9. You wrote: “Among your oversights are words such as: ‘because I tell the truth, you do not believe me.’ -which clearly shows that these men had no capacity whatsover to believe the truth.”

    Indeed they had no capacity, at that point in which they find themselves in John 8, because they have been hardened and blinded by God for having persistently rejected His grace. Isaiah 65:2 states: “I have spread out My hands all day long to a rebellious people, who walk in the way which is not good, following their own thoughts, a people who continually provoke Me to My face.” This is the Prevenient Grace of God that I was speaking of.

  10. Garrett Says:

    EC said:

    “Indeed they had no capacity, at that point in which they find themselves in John 8, because they have been hardened and blinded by God for having persistently rejected His grace. Isaiah 65:2 states: “I have spread out My hands all day long to a rebellious people, who walk in the way which is not good, following their own thoughts, a people who continually provoke Me to My face.” This is the Prevenient Grace of God that I was speaking of.”

    But this just seems to move the question back a step, for why did they “persistently reject His grace”? Why do some persistently reject His grace and others do not?

    Thanks for your time.

    gh

  11. Peter Says:

    It would be very interesting to see the reaction of Calvinists if someone put up the possibility that the word “All” in “all that the father gives me” means “amongst all kinds of men that the father gives me”.
    just a little humor.

    =) cheers,
    Peter

  12. Nathan White Says:

    Peter says: “It would be very interesting to see the reaction of Calvinists if someone put up the possibility that the word “All” in “all that the father gives me” means “amongst all kinds of men that the father gives me”.”

    That’s actually a great point, Peter, as we know from many other passages that ‘all’ is defined by its context, and only a fool would interpret the ‘alls’ in scripture the exact same way.

    Unfortunately, however, when we come to this passage, your attempt to get around this clear statement fails. For in v39 Jesus says ‘And this is the will of him who sent me, that I should lose nothing of all that he has given me, but raise it up on the last day.

    So, that leaves the Arminian in a tough position, once again, in that they must decide between universalism or open theism to have a rational position on the salvation of man.

  13. Peter Says:

    Hi Nathan,

    Just to let you know my “attempt” was a joke, see smiley face.

    The bigger point I was making was that the insistence on “further clarification”, “further interpretation”, and “literal plain meaning”, is almost always a choice determined on whether or not the verse is plainly Arminian or Calvinistic, coupled with the stance of the reader.
    Watch what can be done using your statement as a template for arguing for unlimited atonment in Romans 5:18

    “That’s actually a great point, Nathan, as we know from many other passages that ‘all’ is defined by its context, and only a fool would interpret the ‘alls’ in scripture the exact same way.

    Unfortunately, however, when we come to this passage, your attempt to get around this clear statement fails. For in v18 Paul writes ‘Consequently, just as the result of one trespass was condemnation for all men, so also the result of one act of righteousness was justification that brings life for all men”

    and on and on and on it goes….*sigh*

  14. Peter Says:

    Oh and I forgot to add that last part of the borrowed template applied to Rom 5:18:

    “So, that leaves the Calvinist in a tough position, once again, in that they must decide between denying the universal inheritence of sin or an unlimited atonement to have a rational position on the salvation of man.”

    Then again…I guess you can decide that the second all doesn’t have the same reference as the first all. “all kinds of men”, “all of the elect men”.

  15. Peter Says:

    Of course this “endeavour to bypass” would break the antecedent pattern shown in the surrounding context of verses 12, 15, 16, 17, 19, 20, 21

  16. Gene Says:

    Actually, resolving “all” isn’t that difficult in any given passage. The universality of kinds is derived from the cues within the text of John 12. In Romans 5, the extension is derived from the covenantal language.

    Each word (no matter what word it is) has it’s own intension and extension. That is, its own “raw definition” and its own extension (the set to which it refers). Suppose I say, “I want everybody to stand up” in a meeting room at my place of employment. Do I mean everybody in the world, everybody in the building, everybody in the company, everybody on our floor, or everybody in the room?” “Everybody” means “a lot of people.” That’s the intention. The extension would be the range of meaning I meant.

    So, in relation to “all” the intension is fixed, but the extension is variable. “All” is thus only meaningful in relation to something. “All of what?” “Everybody of what?” “Every who or what?” etc. The context, of course, determines the referent.

  17. Peter Says:

    Thus, the significance of verse 18. that referent is answered in the antecedent. =)

  18. Gene Says:

    Correct, for Paul is construing Adam and Christ as two “covenant heads.” One heads all mankind and plunges them into sin; the other heads the justified (those who receive the abundance of grace) and redeems them (that same group) from sin. I’ve always found the most helpful thing to do when you read “all” or a word like it to stop and say, “All of what?” or “Every which?” etc. Just that one step can save a lot of headaches.

  19. Douglas Says:

    Romans 5:18Therefore, as one trespass[e] led to condemnation for all men, so one act of righteousness[f] leads to justification and life for all men.
    e. Or the trespass of one
    f. Or the act of righteousness of one

    Peter,

    I would say in my opinion as a Christian that, “….as one tresspass led to condemnation for all men,” that this is condemnation for “all” without exception, and “….so one act of righteousness leads to justification and life for “all” men,” is “all” without distinction, not “all” without exception but “all” without distinction, Jew and Greek, slave and free, male and female, white and black and every colour inbetween, “all” those who believe. After all, Romans was written to the saints in Rome (Romans 1:7To all those in Rome who are loved by God and called to be saints: Grace to you and peace from God our Father and the Lord Jesus Christ.), to the believers in Rome and for all Christians ever since. Romans was not written to the pagans and heathens and non-believers. It is our responsibility to preach the full-orbed biblical gospel to the lost.

    If you are going to go on and on and on about the “ALL” there in Romans 5:18 and elswhere, well then you would have to say that the “ALL” mentioned there are “only men” and no one else. It does not say “all” women or “all” children or “all” babies or anyone else does it? But in context, along with the rest of Scripture, the “all men” there means all of the human race who believe, who are saints, who are born again. “There is neither Jew nor Greek, there is neither slave nor free, there is neither male nor female, for you are all one in Christ Jesus.” Galatians 3:28 True? All believers are “one” in Christ. True? Not every single human being that has lived, lives or dies. True? Will there be any unrepentant non-believers in heaven? There are plenty of tares amongst the wheat these days. True? Tares look like wheat. Not everyone dies a believer do they?

    “The church is made up of repenting saints, not rebelling sinners (see 1 Cor. 5).” – Southern Baptists, an Unregenerate Denomination by Jim Elliff

    I believe the church today is riddled with unrepenting, rebelling, unbelieving, degenerate sinners. Why? Because the true gospel is not being preached, inside the church and outside the church. In the majority of professing churches today, a synergistic, man-centered, another gospel is being preached. Even by well meaning people, but that is just not good enough. There is no excuse whatsoever for preaching falsehood.

    “…all the calls to “reclaim America for Christ” leave me cold. Our real need is to reclaim the church for Christ. When Christ is exalted in His church, when He is loved and revered and cherised with passion by those who bear His Name–in other words, when the church starts living like the church–then His body cannot help but make an impact on culture.” – TOM ASCOL

    Have we lost the Gospel?

    Peter,

    if you honestly want to know the true gospel go to the link below and study as if your very life, your very soul, depended upon it:

    Gospel
    Multimedia | Essays

  20. Peter Says:

    Douglas, thank you for your zeal, but do you mean to say that I am unsaved because I am an Arminian? Thats a statement few Calvinists would touch with a ten foot pole.

    Gene, Yes! I understand the Calvinistic standpoint on this verse, the first all refers to all of humanity, and the second means the “all of the elect men”. Can you show me where it is from the context that you derive this? Or is it based on the fact that this would go against limited atonement, thus making my interpretation impossible? I agree with the fact that we see two covenental heads, but we cannot delimit the comparison that Paul is making in order to independently import separate scopes in Paul’s wording here. Paul states in verse 14 “as did Adam, who was a pattern of the one to come”. What is this pattern? It certainly is a comparison of the covenental heads, but the content of that comparison is what tells us that all men, means all men. That content being the scope of the individual’s act (Adam and his sin, Christ and his suffering). This is why verse 15 states:

    15But the gift is not like the trespass. For if the many died by the trespass of the one man, how much more did God’s grace and the gift that came by the grace of the one man, Jesus Christ, overflow to the many!

    Again, verse 18 and verse 19 emphasizes the different effects that the two had on the same group. This then shows us the identified scope (the words, “just as” should be taken into account here in both verses):

    “18Consequently, just as the result of one trespass was condemnation for all men, so also the result of one act of righteousness was justification that brings life for all men.
    19For just as through the disobedience of the one man the many were made sinners, so also through the obedience of the one man the many will be made righteous.”

    This obvious rhetorical technique Paul uses leaves the Calvinist in a sticky situation concerning the interpretation of these verses.
    Of course, the Calvinist will collapse everything I just said on the impossibility that every individual is justified. Good thing Paul wrote in verses 1 and 2 of this chapter that we are justified by faith in Jesus Christ.
    This is the same reason why Calvin commented on these verse saying:
    “He makes this favor common to all, because it is propounded to all, and not because it is in reality extended to all; for though Christ suffered for the sins of the whole world, and is offered through God’s benignity indiscriminately to all, yet all do not receive him.”
    Concerning verse 15: “But observe, that a larger number (plures) are not here contrasted with many (multis,) for he speaks not of the number of men: but as the sin of Adam has destroyed many, he draws this conclusion, — that the righteousness of Christ will be no less efficacious to save many”

  21. Gene Says:

    A. The text is about imputation of righteousness, not atonement per se.

    B. Adam stands as the covenant head of all humanity. The text indicates that his sin plunged all into sin; the verb for “There resulted” is not in the text. it is supplied. For whom is Christ the covenant head in the sense of this passage? All humanity? Are all humans justified by Christ?

    C. You said: again, verse 18 and verse 19 emphasizes the different effects that the two had on the same group. This then shows us the identified scope (the words, “just as” should be taken into account here in both verses):

    Agreed, and you would say, of course that the fall of Adam really did result in all of humanity being imputed with his sin and falling into sin and death, correct? Ergo, it is inconsistent for you to say that this is not also the case with Christ. The argument here isn’t between Calvinism and Arminianism, it is between Calvinism and universalism. In order for you to render this verse in a universal scope, you have to either saying something like, “Adam’s fall into sin potentially plunged all mankind into sin,” or “Adam’s sin actually plunged all mankind into sin and Christ’s death potentially justified mankind,” and then appeal to general atonement to ground it. I don’t need appeal to limited redemption at all, since the text isn’t about limited redemption, but such an interpretation is not disharmonious with the concept of limited atonement, since the universal offer is not alien to limited atonement.

    Just as through one man sin entered the world
    (and death through sin)
    and death spread to all who are in Adam
    and his sin was imputed to them (v.13 takes up this notion of imputation)
    so also through one man, Jesus Christ, righteousness entered the world
    (and life through righteousness)
    and life spread to all who are in Christ
    because all were righteous in him
    and his righteousness is imputed to them.
    V. 15 says, “By the transgression (singular) of the one (Adam) many died.”

    Adam’s sin is the judicial ground for the condemnation of all humanity. This is real and actual. Vs. 15 continues, “much more did the grace of God and the gift by the grace of the one man Jesus Christ abound to the many.” Who are the many? Those who are justified.

    Vs. 12 delimits the scope of Adam’s fall. This was efficacious. The language of the gift is parallel. For “the many” they will be made righteous.

    Let’s also not forget that Paul has already delimited the scope of justification and of Christ’s act (vs. 6,8, 10, cf. 7,9). In addition, salvation itself is for believers and only them (1:16, 17; 3:21-25), and the parallel in states very clearly that “as in Adam all die, so in Christ all will be made alive.” Here, the “all” in the apodasis is referring to those in Christ only.

    The term “all men” is a reference to all humanity Jew and Gentile alike in vs. 18. Believers in particular are in view in the explicatory verses around it. Throughout the letter, Paul has been combating the Jews exclusivity over the Gentiles. Vs. 19 takes this and refines it further into the many who will be made righteous. Not all persons are made righteous.

    This is the parallel portion from v.18

    So, therefore, as through one offense, into all men into condemnation, (protasis)
    so, also, through one righteous deed, into all men into justification of life. (apodosis)

    1) The structure of the first and the second parts of the verse are the same: adverb(s), preposition, noun, (verb place), noun, and object. The offense of Adam resulted in condemnation to all men–no one disputes that. Adam represented all his people (everybody) in the garden. When he sinned, we fell with him. There was a result, an actual result to his sin: condemnation. The protasis is universal. The apodosis carries not universal presumption.

    2) Adam’s sin (resulted in) condemnation to all
    Jesus’ sacrifice (resulted in) justification to all

    Where the first Adam brought condemnation to all, the second Adam (Jesus is called the second Adam in ) brought justification to all. If the second group (apodosis) is identical in every way to the first, then the result is universalism. The righteousness of Christ is imputed not to all men, but to those in Christ (v.17). You are laying emphasis on numerical extent, when that is not the point of the passage. Verse 19 speaks of “the many” who will be made righteous. Vs. 19 is a confirmation and explication of vs. 18. This is identical to the scope of the apodosis in vs. 18 and “those who receive the abundance of grace…” in vs. 17. Paul’s concern here is not the scope of the atonement per se, but justification, the imputation of righteousness to those “in Christ.” The numerical extent of those in Adam differs from those in Christ, since not all those in Adam receive that which comes by way of being in Christ, eg. justification – righteousness. All people are condemned in Adam by one transgression. All people are not justified by the one act of righteousness – that is the righteousness of Christ himself. The ground of justification is His righteousness, and only those who believe are in view, since only they are justified.

    You quoted Calvin: “He makes this favor common to all, because it is propounded to all, and not because it is in reality extended to all; for though Christ suffered for the sins of the whole world, and is offered through God’s benignity indiscriminately to all, yet all do not receive him. Concerning verse 15: “But observe, that a larger number (plures) are not here contrasted with many (multis,) for he speaks not of the number of men: but as the sin of Adam has destroyed many, he draws this conclusion, — that the righteousness of Christ will be no less efficacious to save many”

    I gather you’re trying to paint Calvin as general redemptionist? If so, it would be helpful for you to take a tour of the way Calvin employs “the whole world.” The comment on Romans is the first of his treatments of this issue, but he isn’t using “the whole world” to refer to every human being with relation to the atonement’s intention. His exegesis of “the many” appears in Hebrews 9:28 ;Matthew 20:28; and Mark 14:42. In his comments on Hebrews 9:28 , he refers back to this first treatment. He rejected the approach in which “many” was contrasted with a larger number, not because he operated with a doctrine of general atonement, but because the issue of numbers is not germane to the passage. Paul, he said, is simply making the point that both Adam and Christ represent others, not themselves. For Hebrews 9:28, he wrote, “The apostle is not speaking of the few or of the many to whom the death of Christ may be available; but he simply means that he died for others and not for himself, and therefore opposes many to one. In his comment on , he wrote that “the world many is not put definitely for a fixed number, but for more, for he contrasts himself with all others.” Ditto with Mark 24:24. The effect is to broaden the scope of Christ’s death from himself to others and make him a public, representative figure. His comments on reflect Bucer’s interpretation, and nobody has ever argued Bucer was anything less than a limited redemptionist. He spoke of the use of “all” in which “something takes place or is given only through one person, so all who want to have such a thing must receive it from this one person.” In , Bucer spoke of those who die in Adam being “all,” and likewise the “many” who are made righteous in Christ are “all.” He explained that this is an “exclusive universalism,” and “it is fitting to interpret this ‘many’ as ‘all,’ since no one can obtain the mercy of God except through Christ.” So “many” means “all,” but “all” is not equivalent to “every.”

    As for his references to “the whole world,” that alone is insufficient to establish “the whole human race.” That was R.T. Kendall’s mistake, and Armstrong’s as well. Armstrong assumed Amyraut was correct, but did not interact with Calvin himself. Kendall relied on Armstrong. Christ suffering for the sins of the whole world is again a reference to the universal offer of the gospel, not the scope of the atonement, but, as I pointed out above, this does not refer to “every person who ever lived.” Christ as “redemptor mundi” is a frequent theme in Calvin. For Calvin, Christ suffering “for the whole world” is not a statement about the scope of the atonement here; rather it is a statement about the singularity of Christ as the one and only sacrifice for sins that can avail anybody. Here he is discussing the universal offer of the gospel. Elsewhere, he uses this same terminology to refer to “the whole world” as those who are “collected from every quarter would be collected the children of Abraham, so that the whole world would be the Israel of God.” In his commentary on , he speaks of the elect as a new humanity, which is the theological, not the numerical, counterpart to Adam’s children. For Calvin, the gathering of the elect in Christ is equivalent to the gathering of the whole human race. Rather than attempting “historical theology by prooftext” you may want to actually attempt to trace the full trajectory of Calvin’s thinking with respect to the concept of “redemptor mundi.”

  22. Dustin Says:

    I already addressed some of what was written earlier in this combox here: http://strangebaptistfire.com/2006/10/08/if-they-are-unable-to-believe-why-the-parables/

  23. Peter Says:

    Hi Gene,

    The scope of the atonement follows from the final impact that Christ’s act brings. So just as Adam brought sin to every single man, Christ’s death can bring every single man to justification. The conditionality of justification is shown in verse 17, as well as verse 1-2. Thus the so-called ungrounded inconsistancy is only because you are limiting the argument to verse 18.

    1Therefore, since we have been justified through faith, we[a]have peace with God through our Lord Jesus Christ, 2through whom we have gained access by faith into this grace in which we now stand. And we[b] rejoice in the hope of the glory of God.

    Verses 17 and 18 clearly shows that the end effect of justification are to all those who receive it.
    17For if, by the trespass of the one man, death reigned through that one man, how much more will those who receive God’s abundant provision of grace and of the gift of righteousness reign in life through the one man, Jesus Christ.
    When we speak of intentionality in the atonement, we can see that verse 18 accepts the same scope as the first half of the statement. It differentiates itself from verse 17 in this respect. Hence, “Consequently…” NIV.

    Also, notice that I did not call Calvin a general redemptionist, nor did I even quote any of RT Kendall’s material.

    Calvin’s commentary in Romans 5 and Hebrews 9 all clarify that a portion of that “all” does not receive Him. However, the first part referencing “all” clearly and plainly states a universal scope, it is the second portion that distinguishes those reprobates from that all:

    First Portion:
    “He makes this favor common to all, because it is propounded to all, and not because it is in reality extended to all; for though Christ suffered for the sins of the whole world, and is offered through God’s benignity indiscriminately to all,

    Second Portion:
    yet all do not receive him. ”

    Concerning Hebrews 9:28, Calvin does believe that Paul was contrasting one to many, however that is a separate issue that Calvin was making. Just before that statement, Calvin writes:

    “He says the sins of many, that is, of all, as in Romans 5:15. It is yet certain that all receive no benefit from the death of Christ; but this happens, because their unbelief prevents them.”

    Notice that again, Calvin differentiates a universal all, whom he is not certain that they receive no benefits from the death of Christ, and this occurs not because Christ limited his death, but rather because their unbelief prevents them. The differentiation can only occur if Calvin is talking about a the whole, and then the portion (reprobate, unbelievers).
    Unless of course all meant “all of the elect”, and then a portion within “all of the elect”?

    Secondly, his commentary, even with the “all men” interpretation that you uphold of Calvin on this text, does not coincide with your given interpretation of Romans 5:12-21.

    My point here is that Calvin did not attempt to get around this text.


  24. Garrett,

    Sorry for being away for awhile. I’d be glad to jump back into this discussion. You raise the question of “why” did some reject the Father’s grace, as per Isaiah 65:2, whereas others did not. You ask to go back to this, but I ask you to go back even further. Go back to Adam and Eve, and ask yourself why morally pure individuals rejected God in the Garden of Eden? You cannot pin it on Total Inability. Their inclination to sin was assisted by the motivation of the Devil, just as it is today, since the Devil is described as the lion who roams about, seeking whom he may devour.

    The Bible sometimes speaks of man hardening his heart. We read in Exodus that Pharoah is said to have [specifically] hardened his own heart, and then afterwards, that God [specifically] hardened his heart. But how did Pharoah harden his heart? Well, God warns, “Harden not your heart.” (Psalm 95:8) Every time we say “no” to God, without realizing it, we have hardened our own heart, as thus it becomes that much easier to say “no” the next time, as our heart hardens further.


  25. Gene,

    What happened to point Z??? Merely A,B, C…you’re slacking these days (justing of course)

    A) John Calvin writes: “That Christ, the redeemer of the whole world, commands the Gospel to be preached promiscuously to all does not seem congruent with special Election. … But the solution of the difficulty lies in seeing how the doctrine of the Gospel offers salvation to all. That it is salvific for all I do not deny. But the question is whether the Lord in His counsel here destines salvation equally for all.” (Concerning the Eternal Predestination of God, pp.102, 103, emphasis mine)

    B) Calvin explains: “Therefore Christ intends that the benefit of his death should extend to everyone; so people who exclude anyone from that hope of salvation are doing Christ a disservice.” (1 & 2 Timothy & Titus: Calvin, The Crossway Classic Commentaries, p.40, emphasis mine)

    C) Calvin adds: “It is incontestable that Christ came for the expiation of the sins of the whole world.” (Concerning the Eternal Predestination of God, p.148, emphasis mine)

    D) Having covered Calvin’s views, I would like to enter into a simply dialogue with you concerning John 3:14-15, as it relates to Numbes 21:6-9. Many analogies are raised in connection to the scope of the atonement, but what could be better than an analogy that Jesus raised, in order to make a comparison of the Cross of Calvary. Tell me, without going to point Z, but just a couple of simple thoughts, what do you feel that Numbers 21:6-9 is telling us about the scope of the healing power of the bronze serpent? Do you think that God and Moses would be a “failure” if any of the snake-bitten Israelites failed to look upon the standard and live?

  26. Dembie Says:

    Did not the Israelites get bitten because of sin? Therefore, if they would have looked at the serpent on the staff they would have been looking at their sin and recognizing why they were suffering. The hardest thing is to look at our personal sin and admit it even to ourselves.

    Jesus was lifted up on a pole like that bronze serpent. If we look at the sin and repent of our daily sin there is healing.

    I never read here of anyone reading Martin Luther’s book, “Of the Bondage of the Will”. He’s the actual beginning of the Reformation. And he like most Primitive Baptist say eternal salvation is not offered to anyone. The only offering that was done was Jesus on the cross offered up to God the Father His sacrifice.

    Paul said the gospel had been preached to the whole world. Either that scripture is not inspired or our God did not know that the American continents lay out of reach for almost 2000 years. The gospel gives earthly salvation to those Jesus has already bought with His blood.

    Everybody is not told to go helter/skelter to preach the gospel. Jesus said the harvest was His but needed to be gathered. Many are called to the ministry; but after observing is done, few out of the many are called to work in the ministry.

    Could a man pay a million dollars for a fine estate and never get what he paid for? No! And not one drop of Jesus’ blood was in vain. He got what He paid for. Now it is up to the gospel to give light on that life they already have but don’t realize it. (II Tim 1:10)

  27. Caleb Says:

    Examining Calvinism says:

    ~ Indeed they had no capacity, at that point in which they find themselves in John 8, because they have been hardened and blinded by God for having persistently rejected His grace. Isaiah 65:2 states: “I have spread out My hands all day long to a rebellious people, who walk in the way which is not good, following their own thoughts, a people who continually provoke Me to My face.” This is the Prevenient Grace of God that I was speaking of. ~

    EC, are you even aware of the ramifications that go along with what you said right there? In order to justify your unbiblical “prevenient grace” idea, what you are doing is suggesting God “loses” patience with spiritually dead sinners while WAITING on them to repent and believe. Again, you say –>> “Indeed they had no capacity, at that point in which they find themselves in John 8, because they have been hardened and blinded by God for having persistently rejected His grace.”

    Oh ok, so how long does a person have under prevenient grace to repent and believe before God loses patience and moves to “harden and blind” them for rejecting His grace? One month? One year? 5 years? What is fair? What is just? Is it longer for some than it is for others? Do you see the silliness that your system brings to the discussion here? You complain that Calvinism has issues, but you won’t even acknowledge your own systems’ man-centered flaws.

    This is the problem with man-centered arminianism. First of all they make God out to be some kind of Divine Cheerleader, with Him sitting on His throne hoping and wishing that His “prevenient” grace will be sufficient for people to utilize in believing on His Son. Which of course makes it POSSIBLE that NO ONE would ever believe, so quite possibly, in the Arminian system, Christ could have died in vain. It makes man the sovereign of his salvation though, with the final choice resting with him. Instead of with God.

    And you guys buy into it because it gives you all the right to say that you “chose” Christ and then God RESPONDED to YOU by granting you the new birth. Of course, how can John 3:27 be true then with this concept? Or 1 Cor 4:7?

    Anyways, great blog and I enjoy reading the comments.

    Blessings,


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