“Examining Calvinism” – Part 3 – Bypassing John 6 (final)

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.

When the context (the first 31 verses of the chapter) are considered, it becomes clear in John 12:32 that Jesus is talking about “not just Jews” when He speaks of drawing all men. Up until the Cross, Jesus had not revealed himself to the gentiles, but now He is saying that those drawn will not include only Jews, but gentiles too.

So this passage is not really saying what Richard wants it to say; there is no implication that every last human being will receive the drawing that Jesus is talking about, Jesus is simply saying it’s not limited to just one group (the Jews). I won’t go into too much depth to demonstrate that point since there are many good resources out there that interact with this passage (John Gill’s commentary on John 12 did an especially nice job).

In my last post I demonstrated why Arminians such as Richard want to avoid the outcome of biblical exegesis on John 6; I listed off numerous quotes on this passage going back even as far as Augustine.

Richard’s system still leaves him with the burden of explaining how the drawing in John 6:44 is effectual for at least those included in his narrow view of who this passage applies to, namely the Jews prior to Christ’s resurrection. I say effectual, because the verse tells us that those drawn are raised on the last day. So in other words, regardless of what this drawing involves (teaching, learning etc.) it never fails that the person being drawn is raised on the last day.

Richard concedes this point, but he says that the reason that they (those few Jews) are drawn in the first place is that they had made God their father. Calvinists of course, recoil at this notion, since John 6 mentions nothing about anyone “making God their Father”. For scriptural support for this, Richard often jumps way over to John 8:42 (clearly out of the immediate context of our passage in John 6). Here’s an excerpt from the John 6:44 explanation page on his Examining Calvinism website:

Question: How did the Father draw them to His Son?

Answer: He presents them to His Son, just like with Nathanael, and then they recognize the Father in Him: “Nathanael answered Him, ‘Rabbi, You are the Son of God; You are the King of Israel.’” (John 1:49) How did this happen? Jesus states: “Jesus said to them, ‘If God were your Father, you would love Me, for I proceeded forth and have come from God, for I have not even come on My own initiative, but He sent Me.’” (John 8:42) Others that the Father did give (v.37) and draw (v.44), had in fact made God their Father, and naturally loved Jesus, just as He said at John 8:42. So John 6:44 starts with being the Father’s true sheep, in contrast to the false ones whom the Father hardened, and hence, were unbelieving.

As you can see from Richard’s words and his underlining (the bold is mine) that he assumes that since some did not have God as their father, then this must imply some sort of ability for man to make Him their father. But this passage says nothing like this at all. My kids have a parakeet and cat, and if I were to say to the cat “if you were a bird you too could fly“, does this imply some free will choice that the cat has – to fly or make himself a bird? No. It’s simply stating a fact about that cat. So John 8:42 is one spot where Richard is clearly reading his presuppositions into the text. I pressed him on this point, at length, in the discussion that we had, and you can read his responses on his blog.

Numerous times Richard cites Walls and Dongell’s book for help in constructing his schematic. Interestingly, he also jumps out of his modified traditional Arminian basis to quote Lawrence Vance on these passages, even though Vance is coming from an ultra-dispensational point of view. As James White pointed out, these views of John 6 are relatively new positions in church history, not known in the first 1800 years of Christianity. So when Gene Bridges challenged Richard to come up with some noteworthy commentaries to support his position, Richard only cited modern works such as these books.

Richard’s scheme for John 6 relies upon inserting man’s free will as the cause for the Father’s drawing in verse 44. To do this he’s taken us on a complicated trip around the bible and outside of the context of the passage at hand.

He has changed the natural reading of the passage in John 6, which is:

Father Draws –> Son Raises

And has inserted a new starting point that is foreign to the context:

Man makes God his father –> Father Draws –> Son Raises

He assumes that man has such an ability to make God his father, and fails to demonstrate scripturally how this comes into play prior to the Father’s drawing in John 6. Richard’s Examining Calvinism website also dismisses the whole teaching of this the passage, which is Jesus’ explanation of why there is unbelief. Nowhere does Jesus say, “but this is only why there is Jewish unbelief”, yet Richard insists on a narrow Jews-only intention for Jesus’ words.

In summary of this series of posts on John 6 as explained by Richard Coords’ anti-Calvinism, I’ll refer back to the Dividing Line program that I mentioned in my first post, and I’ll close with Dr. James White’s description of the website known as Examining Calvinism:

It’s an excellent example of utter eisegesis, how to turn the text on it’s head. I’m sure [that Richard] probably thinks that what’s he’s offering here is good solid biblical argumentation, but am I stating something that is really obvious when I say – the internet is filled with a tremendous amount of really lousy theology? At least several decades ago you had to convince somebody that you had something meaningful to say, that you had some skill and ability to handle the [biblical] text before your books would be published. Now, it takes nothing; all you need is a computer [online], and anybody who has one can demonstrate that they really don’t know what they are talking about – all across the whole world. It’s sad, and I feel the weight of this myself, every idle word will be judged. And that’s not only what is spoken, but also I think, it’s what you type, and what you post, and what you put out there.

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3 Comments on ““Examining Calvinism” – Part 3 – Bypassing John 6 (final)”

  1. Peter Says:

    “When the context (the first 31 verses of the chapter) are considered, it becomes clear in John 12:32 that Jesus is talking about “not just Jews” when He speaks of drawing all men. Up until the Cross, Jesus had not revealed himself to the gentiles, but now He is saying that those drawn will not include only Jews, but gentiles too.
    So this passage is not really saying what Richard wants it to say; there is no implication that every last human being will receive the drawing that Jesus is talking about, Jesus is simply saying it’s not limited to just one group (the Jews).”

    To respond to this statement, I will use excerpts of your own rhetoric:
    Nowhere does Jesus say, “but I am drawing all kinds of groups of men”, yet you insist on a narrow groups-only intention for Jesus’ words.
    Calvinist’s scheme for 1 Tim ch2 and ch4 (and John 12) relies upon limiting it “kinds” as the intention for the atonement. To do this they have taken us on a complicated trip around the bible and outside of the context of the passage at hand. Calvinists do this by essentially putting yellow police tape around this passage, declaring it as “off limits for anyone who does not know how to bring up the subject of *kinds* (while, for some reason, not including everyone within those kinds) in any given context”.
    The only possible way, it seems, that the Calvinist would forfeit their position would be if the Bible had a section where it listed every single human being’s name (along with birthplace and birthdate [including the minute]) as who Christ died for.

    To conclude, I will leave you with a quote by Dr. James White:
    “It’s an excellent example of utter eisegesis, how to turn the text on it’s head. I’m sure [that Jim] probably thinks that what’s he’s offering here is good solid biblical argumentation, but am I stating something that is really obvious when I say – the internet is filled with a tremendous amount of really lousy theology? At least several decades ago you had to convince somebody that you had something meaningful to say, that you had some skill and ability to handle the [biblical] text before your books would be published. Now, it takes nothing; all you need is a computer [online], and anybody who has one can demonstrate that they really don’t know what they are talking about – all across the whole world. It’s sad, and I feel the weight of this myself, every idle word will be judged. And that’s not only what is spoken, but also I think, it’s what you type, and what you post, and what you put out there.“

    As the common maxim goes: Because it explains everything, it explains nothing.

    Yes, too many polemics.

    Oh and I just have to save this one for later:
    “For scriptural support for this, *blank* often jumps way over to *blank* (clearly out of the immediate context of our passage in *blank*)”.

    But of course, to the Calvinists here, there is no possible way anyone would ever be able to use this right?

    SDG

  2. Gene Says:

    >>>Calvinist’s scheme for 1 Tim ch2 and ch4 (and John 12) relies upon limiting it “kinds” as the intention for the atonement.< << So you say, but who are you citing? Please tell us which commentaries say that these texts should be limited to the universality of kinds specifically because the atonement itself is limited rather than the context of the text itself. I know of one, John Gill, and the atonement's scope is mentioned descriptively not prescriptively as if that is the reason qua reason the text should be limited to the universality of kinds for John 12. In fact, we can find that language of kinds much earlier than Gill, several centuries earlier, and it is by no means limited to Augustinians. Let's take 1 Tim 2:4. Tell us, is money a root of all evil in 6:10- every single evil that ever has existed or simply every kind of evil or many kinds of evil? No, the Arminian resorts to the universality of kinds for that, and he does not list every evil that has ever existed under that term. The logic is no different. How is it working around the context to limit this to "all kinds of men" since the delimiters in the text do that for us? If we take your view to its logical end, then we'd commit the intension-extension fallacy every time we came across such terms. We need not leave the text of 1 Timothy to exegete it that way either. for the text of 1 Timothy refers to Jewish myths and endless genealogies. Which commentaries revert to long winding paths from other texts to arrive at this conclusion? No, we must understand the content of those myths in order to understand what Paul is saying. These myths were probably from the Midrash and anti-Gentile in tenor and were specifically designed to exclude some from salvation. They would form the basis of Jewish Gnosticism, which was designed to create a special class of persons who possessed the “gnosis.” Thus, to counter this, Paul’s usage focuses on the universal offer of the gospel and prayer for kings and other, not to Jews only, not to a specific class of Jews, but to all classes of men, and all ethnicities. In point of fact, in John 12:32, there is no need for going to other texts or appealing to the atonement for anything to speak of the universality of kinds here at all, since the text gives us the delimiters. The Arminian must limit this as well. First, the word here is pantas or panta; there's a variant here. That's 3rd person plural accusative neuter or masculine for pan/pas. So we need to ask: Is that all things or all men? It's worth noting that the word "men" is absent. If all things, then are the devil and his angels included? If all men then is that all without exception - every man who ever lived or will live? If so, then all men must be saved per John 6:44 - 45 since those drawn are raised on the last day. So, we're left with all kinds of men or all kinds of things. Jesus is telling us about those sheep of another flock, whom He will also draw to Himself, just as He draws sheep from the Jewish flock (John 10), and makes them into a single flock. If we go elsewhere to deal with John 12, it is only because John has a theology of drawing and a theology of Gentile relations that are germane to the trajectory of the text of the gospel as a whole, and it fits quite well here. By "all men" (pantav) Jesus does not mean every individual man, for some, as Simeon said (Luke 2:34) are repelled by Christ, but this is the way that Greeks (verse 12:22) can and will come to Christ, by the way of the Cross, the only way to the Father (14:6). (A.T. Robertson). Dr. Dale Moody, the renowned and vocal 5 Point Arminian from SBTS used to invoke Robertson all the time saying he supported his Arminianism. I disagree, but, if Moody was right about Robertson, then here's an Arminian disagreeing with you and agreeing with us. Is this solely a Calvinist exegesis of this text? Not at all. No less a semi-Pelagian than John Chrysostom said this exegesis meant "all the nations." "I will draw all men - Gentiles as well as Jews. And those who follow my drawings, Satan shall not be able to keep." No less an Arminian than John Wesley wrote that. Richard Bauckum in 2 Peter 3:9, says that the text is about God withholding the 2nd coming for the sake of the covenant community, a typical Calvinist exegesis. He is no Calvinist. Here's Adam Clarke, also an Arminian, speaking of John 12:32, "After I shall have died and risen again, by the preaching of my word and the influence of my Spirit, I shall attract and illuminate both Jews and Gentiles. It was one of the peculiar characteristics of the Messiah, that unto him should the gathering of the people be, Genesis xlix. 10. And probably our Lord refers to the prophecy, Isaiah xi. 10, which peculiarly belonged to the Gentiles: "There shall be a root of Jesse which shall stand for an ENSIGN of the people, to it shall the GENTILES seek, and his rest shall be glorious." There is an allusion here to the ensigns or colours of commanders of regiments, elevated on high places, on long poles, that the people might see where the pavilion of their general was, and so flock to his standard." On 1 Timothy 4:10 and "all men, esp. believers" I. Howard Marshall says, "“Adoption of the traditional translation of malista as ‘especially’ leads to some strained exegesis…These problems disappear if we accept the other possible translation, ‘to be precise, namely, I mean.’ ‘All’ is thus limited here to believers,” I. H. Marshall & P. H. Towner, The Pastoral Epistles (T&T Clark 1999), 556 Isn't it time Arminians/non-Calvinists actually pay attention to their own exegetes? --And, yes, I know Marshall's view on 1 Tim. 2:4, and I will simply say that it seems to me that if you'd like to freight 1 Tim. 2:4 with issues related to the antecedent and consequent or decretal and moral wills of God, then it is not I who is running off to other texts or looking to the Schoolmen of old to render that exegesis of that text. I agree with the idea, but it is simply freighting that text with material that is not present in those texts and the universality of kinds makes more sense there, and I'd say that to John Murray and John Piper. But let's play with all men without exception to see the absurdities pile up. Are those men in China living at the time Jesus walked the earth included? Are they drawn too? What about those living in South America? Brittania? India? The ones in hell? It is simply untrue that every man who has ever lived since the time of Christ has been drawn in a manner that fits John's theology of drawing. What you'd have to do is insert universal prevenient grace into the equation, but where is that in this text? No, you have to trot off elsewhere to find that, don't you, the same way you'd have to trot off to other texts to talk about general atonement for 1 Timothy 4:10. Let's take another text. The Pharisees, says Jesus, tithed all herbs. Tell us, is this every single herb in Israel? The world? Every herb without exception? No, it's certain kinds of herbs to which they had access in a certain place and time. Paul says he tries to please all men, did this mean every man without exception too or all kinds of men? Did he strive to please his persecutors? Moses was educated in all the learning of the Egyptians, and he was a man of power in words and deeds." Did Moses receive training in every possible fact that could be known in Egypt of his day? You who are full of all deceit and fraud, you son of the devil, you enemy of all righteousness, will you not cease to make crooked the straight ways of the Lord? Does this mean that every instance of deceit and fraud that ever existed was in Elymas? Matthew 4:23, they went about curing every disease. That's the literal rendering of the Greek text. Really? Is this every disease that has ever existed? No, and that's why the NASB translates it "every kind of disease." Now there were Jews living in Jerusalem, devout men from every nation under heaven. Here the text speaks of every nation under heaven, but the context of course tells us which nations. Many in the known world of the day were not in view. Certainly China and the Americas and Australia were not in view were they. >>>…it as “off limits for anyone who does not know how to bring up the subject of *kinds* (while, for some reason, not including everyone within those kinds) in any given context”…. <<< That would be illogical. If I said, God drew every kind of animal into the ark for Noah would that mean that every animal of every kind or some of every kind or a multiplicity of kinds represented by particular animals within each kind? There is nothing illogical or illicit about not including everyone or everything within those kinds. The issue is the usage of the Greek word/s for all, not the common English meaning. In Greek pas/pasa/pav can indicate the universality of kinds; and it is not simply a Calvinist view. This is an example of synechdoche.

  3. David Hewitt Says:

    Gene:

    As usual, your excellent explanations prove to be helpful! Thanks for taking the time to write it. May God bless you, brother.

    SDG,
    dbh


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