Does Jesus Teach Unconditional Eternal Security in John 6:37-65?

John 6:37, 44, 65

All that the Father gives Me will come to Me, and the one who comes to Me I will certainly not cast out…No one can come to Me unless the Father who sent Me draws him; and I will raise him up at the last day…And He was saying, ‘For this reason I have said to you, that no one can come to Me unless it has been granted by My Father.

We dealt briefly with the context of this passage above when discussing John 10:27-29.  Jesus is speaking to Jews whose hearts are not right with God.  They are not faithful Jews and do not know the Father.  Because they are not in right covenant relationship with the Father, they cannot recognize the perfect expression of the Father in the Son.  Since they are not willing to do the Father’s will they cannot properly discern the truth of Christ’s words (John 7:17).  Those who know the Father will recognize the truth of Christ’s words and be “drawn” to Him (6:44, 45, cf. John 3:21).   They will be given to the Son and come to faith in Him as a result (6:37).  To them alone has the Father granted access to the Son (6:65).

The passage has to do with the Father giving the faithful Jews to their long awaited Messiah.  It has nothing to do with a pre-temporal unconditional election of certain sinners to come to faith in Christ.  This is a conclusion that many have read into this passage according to a prior commitment to a theological system without any contextual warrant.

Jesus assures anyone who would come to Christ in faith that they will not be rejected.  They will be accepted in the Beloved One of God (6:37).  The Father will not fail to give all the faithful Jews to Christ and Christ will not fail to receive them to Himself.  Christ will “raise them up at the last day.”  These Jews can be sure that their destiny is secure in Christ.  However, the promise is only for those who are presently and continually “eating”, “drinking”, “believing”, “coming”, “listening”, “following”, and “beholding.”   Only those who persevere in saving faith will be raised up at the last day (6:40).  There is no promise here for those who stop believing and no guarantee that those who begin to believe will inevitably endure in that faith.  The “all that” in verse 39 is the sum total of believers.  It is the corporate body of Christ and that body will certainly be “raised up at the last day” because that body is comprised of those who are presently and continually “believing” in the Son (vs. 40).

From: Perseverance of the Saints Part 12: Examining Passages Commonly Appealed to by the Advocates of Unconditional Eternal Security

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32 Responses

  1. Good post. Thanks for the clear defense for conditional perseverance.

  2. Matt,

    I appreciate your thoughts, but this combox is not the place to leave a long overview of why you think Calvinism (and even certain aspects of Pentecostalism) is in error. Comments need to relate to the post specifically and be concise enough for fruitful interactions. Are you a former Calvinist? If so, you could tweak this a little and leave at my X-Calvinist Corner page. Unfortunately, I cannot leave these comments here as they stand, even though they do make several good points against Calvinism.

    God Bless,
    Ben

  3. I’m wrestling with the description you have here of the “drawing” in the passage.

    You said “Those who know the Father will recognize the truth of Christ’s words and be “drawn” to Him (6:44, 45, cf. John 3:21). They will be given to the Son and come to faith in Him as a result (6:37). To them alone has the Father granted access to the Son (6:65). The passage has to do with the Father giving the faithful Jews to their long awaited Messiah. It has nothing to do with a pre-temporal unconditional election of certain sinners to come to faith in Christ. This is a conclusion that many have read into this passage according to a prior commitment to a theological system without any contextual warrant”

    Jesus uses a lot of all inclusive language throughout this passage: everyone (v.40); No one (v.44,46); whoever (v.51,56). I understand he is talking to the Jews but with the exception of a few instances, his whole ministry is to the Jews, so I’m not sure how you can isolate this passage to them. Is John 3:16 not applicable to me or a wider audience because he spoke it to a Jewish leader? I think the burden may be to demonstrate that these words are exclusively for the Jews or the day.

    Also, I am struggling to understand your description of the Fathers drawing work. Jesus seems to want to emphasis a special work the Father must do and I’m not grasping it here. It seems like it is just a matter of the word resonating with some, but the word will always resonate with some and not with others. How then is the Father drawing?

    Thank you for your understanding as I plod through these issues!

    Kevin

  4. Kevin,

    I do think this passage has a primary reference to the rebellious Jews Jesus is addressing. I also believe there are secondary applications as I mentioned in the post I linked to in this post (https://arminianperspectives.wordpress.com/2012/04/27/does-jesus-teach-unconditional-eternal-security-in-john-1027-29/).

    However, I do think the issue of why the Jews specifically rejected Jesus is a main concern for John. John’s gospel was written very late at a time when the church was shifting heavily to being primarily a Gentile church. I think John is addressing a major concern taking place at the time of his writing. The concern for the Jews would be to help them see why the Jews who knew Jesus rejected Him, which also explains why many Jews at the time of John’s writing were still rejecting Christ as their Messiah. No doubt many Jews were wondering why, if Jesus was the Messiah, did the Jewish leaders largely reject Him? Likewise, Gentiles would also be wondering why, if Jesus is the Jewish Messiah, did the Jewish leaders reject Him, and why are so many Jews still rejecting Him? Is their rejection an indictment on Christ’s claims?

    If that is the case, then John is very focused on showing that the Jewish leaders and many of the Jews who encountered Christ rejected Him, not because He wasn’t from God, but because they (the Jews) were not “of God.” They pointed the finger at Christ saying that He was not of God, but the reality was that Christ was of God (one with Him, in fact), and the reason they didn’t recognize it was because they didn’t know God (were not in right covenant relationship with God). I believe that is the primary issue being addressed in Jesus confrontations with the Jews in John (chapters 5, 6, 8, and 10 especially). Look at this verse,

    “For everyone who does evil hates the Light, and does not come to the Light for fear that his deeds will be exposed. But he who practices the truth comes to the Light, so that his deeds may be manifested as having been wrought in God.” (John 3:20, 21, NASB)

    If we interpret this as Calvinists (and some Arminians) do as a simple passage on depravity, we run into a serious problem. The text says that “whoever does what is true comes to the light”. Coming to the light, in this context, is coming to Christ, i.e., putting faith in Christ. So this text is saying that those who “practice truth” come to Christ. That doesn’t sound like a biblical description of someone who is depraved. Someone who is totally depraved in the Calvinist sense is not someone who can be characterized as “practicing truth.” But if John’s point is the same as being described in John 10 (as well as in John 5, 6, and 8) that those who know the Father come to Christ, and those who do not know the Father reject Christ, then this passage makes perfect sense.

    But if we universalize this passage to all people we run into the same difficulty. How is it that Gentiles who know nothing of God can be characterized as “practicing truth” prior to coming to Christ? It doesn’t really fit with that paradigm. But it does fit with the idea of faithful Jews submitting to the claims of Christ because they already know God (have a relationship with Him). It could, however, extend to Gentiles like Cornelius who knew God as well, prior to hearing the message preached by Peter. But his faith was based on his knowledge of God from the Jews. He was one of those “other sheep” who already knew God and would automatically recognize the Shepherd and His voice (which is the voice of the Father as well).

    The secondary application is simply that those who are willing to hear from the Father (however He may teach them) will be drawn by the Father to Christ. In our situation, this happens by the conviction of the Holy Spirit and the preaching of the gospel. The principle is similar, but it is a different time and a different situation. We come to the Father through the Son, while in a very real sense the Jews of Jesus’ time came to the Son through the Father and were then able to take part in the new dispensation when only those joined to the Son can remain in right relationship with the Father. Here are a few things I wrote on drawing that might help shed light on what I am saying (how there is both a primary and secondary application),

    Not of God” [in John 8] simply means that these Jews were not in right covenant relationship with the Father when they encountered Christ and His claims. Since they didn’t know the Father they naturally would not recognize the perfect expression of the Father in the Son, nor would they recognize the Father’s teaching in the Son’s words (John 8:19, 20, 42, 54, 55, cf. John 5:37-40; 7:16, 17 12:44, 45). As long as they reject the Father and refuse His teaching, they will reject the Son and His teaching (which is also the Father’s teaching, John 12:49, 50) and will not be given to the Son (John 6:37, 44, 45). None of these passages say anything about an unconditional eternal election being behind the description of these Jews as “not of God.” Such an idea is only read into these passages by Calvinists…. Second, as mentioned above, their inability to hear was not because God wasn’t working, but because they were resisting that working. Clearly, Jesus is still trying to reach them (8:27-31, 36, cf. John 5:44; 10:37, 38), which would be senseless if He viewed them as hopeless reprobates. This is especially evident in Christ’s statement to the same sort of resistant Jews in John 5 where Christ both declares their inability and yet tells them, “…not that I accept human testimony, but I mention it that you may be saved”, vs. 34. This is especially relevant to my point since the “testimony” Christ refers to is the prior testimony of John the Baptist. Christ then points them to other “testimonies” like His miracles, the Scriptures in general, and Moses, obviously implying that through the acceptance of these testimonies they may yet be enabled to “come to” Him and be “saved”, cf. vss. 39, 40.

    Jesus’ method of discourse is actually a rather common teaching technique used for the purpose of admonishment in order for the “students” to fully realize their situation with the hope that in realizing it (coming to grips with this important revelation) they will be spurred on to change (i.e. repentance). I work in schools daily and see this type of teaching technique used all the time. It is similar to a Math teacher saying, “how can you expect to do division when you haven’t even learned your times tables? You can’t do division while you remain ignorant of multiplication.” Such instruction is not meant to highlight a hopeless state. It is not meant to express that the student can never do division. Rather, it is intended to get the student to re-examine the reality of their current state and how it makes further progress impossible, with the hope that they will learn what is required in order to move forward (e.g. John 5:41-45).

    Likewise, Jesus is actually using much of what He says for the purpose of getting those who are listening to re-examine their present relationship to the Father and thereby realize that they are not in a proper position to be making such judgments about Christ and His claims, with the hope that they will yet “learn” from the Father so that they can come to a place where acceptance of Christ and His words is possible (e.g. John 5:33-47; 10:34-39, cf. John 6:45, etc). Had they already learned from the Father (been receptive to God’s grace and leading through the Scriptures, the prophets, the ministry of John the Baptist, the miracles of Christ, etc.), they would have immediately recognized that Jesus was the Son of God, the promised Messiah, Shepherd and King of God’s people, and been given to Him. Yet, not all hope is gone, for they may yet learn if they stop resisting the Father’s leading.

    Christ’s teaching on drawing in John 6:44, 45, therefore, is not just descriptive, but for the purpose of admonishment, that they might be careful not to spurn and resist this drawing and miss eternal life and the promise of resurrection. God’s working in prevenient grace and drawing can be complex and operate in different ways depending on the person and the situation. God approaches us from a variety of angles. These passages illustrate that. Yet, we dare not assume that because the operation of prevenient grace on the human heart and mind doesn’t necessarily reduce to a simple equation or formula, God is not still working. Indeed, God is always working (John 5:17). There is much more that could be said on this, but this alone is sufficient to overturn your objection to prevenient grace based on these various passages in John.

    From: https://arminianperspectives.wordpress.com/2011/05/16/%e2%80%9csaved-by-grace%e2%80%9d-through-faith/

    Hope that helps.

    God Bless,
    Ben

  5. I’m not sure the term “unconditional eternal security” is accurate. Calvinists believe that salvation is conditioned upon continued faith and perseverance, which are kept by the Holy Spirit.

  6. But since that continuance in faith and perseverance are granted from unconditional election, it may legitimately be said that the security of the salvation of the elect is likewise unconditional. If God chooses someone unconditionally to save, and then ensures that the person is saved and does everything necessary for salvation, the security of that salvation is ultimately unconditional.

    Indeed, it is questionable if those things can really be called conditions if God decides to do them unconditionally. In fact, they can’t legitimately be considered conditions. If someone unconditionally decides to give his child an ice cream cone, but that he will only give the child the cone on the “condition” that his child raises his hand, and then the parent irresistibly causes the child to raise his hand followed by giving the child the ice cream cone, the child raising his hand is not a true condition for receiving the ice cream cone. It is determined by the parent’s unconditional choice of the child for receiving the cone.

    To simplify: if someone unconditionally chooses someone for a benefit which entails the doing of certain actions, and then irresistibly causes the person to do those actions, those actions can’t really be considered conditions. They are entailed in the unconditional election, which makes them inevitable.

  7. Well said Arminian. To call something (faith) that the Holy Spirit does infallibly for us, as Jon suggests, a “condition” in the sense that the post speaks of faith as a condition is nonsense. If the Holy Spirit keeps our faith for us, then we do not keep it. Therefore, for us there is no condition. The condition is performed for us by someone else; so for us it is plainly “unconditional.”

  8. Arminian,

    You are wrong on two levels.

    First, whoever does the action has nothing to do with whether it is conditional. If God decides to condition something on an action that is ultimately secured by the HS, that doesn’t make it any less conditional. You might not LIKE the condition. But it is a condition nonetheless.

    Secondly, your entire argument assumes the validity of libertarian freewill. Of course, I do not hold to LFW (a concept derived from pagan Greek philosophy and NOT Scripture) so I won’t agree with your conclusions.

  9. Kangaroo,

    Why does the Holy Spirit ensuring our faith preclude us from having any part in it? Why is synergism allowed in regeneration (as you hold) but not in sanctification (as I hold)? Are you saying that you are 100% responsible for keeping your own faith in Christ?

  10. Jon,

    Not at all. But if we cannot stop believing, then how do we have any real part in continuing to believe? As for synergism in sanctification, I suppose that means you hold to sanctification by works. Is that correct?

    https://arminianperspectives.wordpress.com/2009/10/19/sanctification-by-works/

    Synergism in Arminianism means that we freely cooperate with God in both regeneration and sanctification. Inherent in that free cooperation is the ability to resist what God is doing in us. Are you saying that you can resist God’s work to keep you believing? If so, you must then hold that you can fall away from the faith. Is that what you believe?

  11. Secondly, your entire argument assumes the validity of libertarian freewill. Of course, I do not hold to LFW (a concept derived from pagan Greek philosophy and NOT Scripture) so I won’t agree with your conclusions.

    No, it assumes the normal meaning of words like “conditional”. If God fulfills the condition for us, then for us it is unconditional. We do not meet the condition, God does. It is really not that complicated. Arminian’s illustrations made that point very well. You may not like the normal meaning of “conditional” but that doesn’t mean you can ignore its normal meaning.

    And for someone who doesn’t like assertions, you sure like to make wild ones, like the claim that LFW is derived from pagan Greek philosophy and not from Scripture. What? Many Greeks held to fatalism. In fact, I would venture to say that fatalism was far more prevalent than any sort of LFW in Greek pagan philosophy. Yet, the earliest Christian writers held to LFW. In fact, they used many of the same Scriptures and arguments that Arminians use to argue against the deterministic Gnostic sects (https://arminianperspectives.wordpress.com/2009/08/11/the-five-dilemmas-of-calvinism-part-4-a-litany-of-inaccuracies-and-misrepresentations/, be sure to read the footnotes as well). In reading their arguments against the Gnostics, you would think they were arguing against present day Calvinists. That may cause you to want to think twice about labeling belief in LFW as pagan.

    Likewise, inevitable perseverance was virtually unheard of in the church until Calvin (even Augustine held that the regenerate could fall away and perish). So that is 1500+ years of church history against a major tenet of Calvinism that many Calvinists see as a test for orthodoxy. Appeals to history are best left alone if you are a Calvinist.

  12. Jon,

    Ben answered your response to me well, so I point you back to his responses. Let me just underscore that you don’t seem to be facing reality on the question of conditionality, as Ben pointed out. We might have to agree to disagree.

  13. Gents,

    The problem arises in your view of causality. An Arminian takes an essentially philosophical view of causality, which forces them into an all or nothing proposition. You say that the Greek philosophers were fatalists. Well, some were fatalists (i.e., atomists), but some were indeterminists (i.e., epicureans). This is the determinist/indeterminist dialectic that results whenever autonomous man attempts to reason about metaphysics apart from God. The Calvinist builds his metaphysic upon Scripture. Scripture is neither deterministic nor indeterministic, but posits a whole other notion, what theologians call providence. Providence is the term that describes how God can ultimately arrange for events to happen, while man still controls them proximately. The exact workings of this are shrouded in mystery, but we believe it because the Bible says so. We don’t come to the Bible with preconceived notions of what does or doesn’t make sense or seem fair. Rather we let the Bible define our terms for us, such as freedom, justice, goodness, love, etc. One thing for sure is that Calvinists don’t believe that God directs humans through direct causality (like one billiard ball striking another). We can’t say exactly how it works, but we know it must because the Bible makes it abundantly clear in almost every chapter. (Read Robert Reymond’s section of his Systematic Theology on Providence. He lists literally 11 single spaced pages of direct Scripture quotes dealing with God’s complete sovereignty that simply can’t be answered from an Arminian worldview.)

    One analogy for God’s providence is the incarnation. Jesus is fully God and fully man. One doesn’t take away from the other. We can’t explain how this union is formed, it is shrouded in mystery. We simply accept it as Biblical.

  14. Jon I noticed you did not appeal to Ben’s comment on the early church fathers both pre and post Nicene. Ben said:
    “And for someone who doesn’t like assertions, you sure like to make wild ones, like the claim that LFW is derived from pagan Greek philosophy and not from Scripture. What? Many Greeks held to fatalism. In fact, I would venture to say that fatalism was far more prevalent than any sort of LFW in Greek pagan philosophy. Yet, the earliest Christian writers held to LFW. In fact, they used many of the same Scriptures and arguments that Arminians use to argue against the deterministic Gnostic sects (https://arminianperspectives.wordpress.com/2009/08/11/the-five-dilemmas-of-calvinism-part-4-a-litany-of-inaccuracies-and-misrepresentations/, be sure to read the footnotes as well). In reading their arguments against the Gnostics, you would think they were arguing against present day Calvinists. That may cause you to want to think twice about labeling belief in LFW as pagan.

    Likewise, inevitable perseverance was virtually unheard of in the church until Calvin (even Augustine held that the regenerate could fall away and perish). So that is 1500+ years of church history against a major tenet of Calvinism that many Calvinists see as a test for orthodoxy. Appeals to history are best left alone if you are a Calvinist.”

    Where did you come up with LFW coming from Greek pagans, when LFW was preached for the first 1500 years by the church fathers and continues to be preached today by biblical preachers, theologians, etc??

    Russ

  15. Russ,

    I “came up” with the fact that LFW comes from Greek pagan philosophy because I know the history of philosophy. I read the link supposedly “proving” that the early church fathers all held to LFW and it proves nothing. The early church fathers were all over the board on most issues. That’s part of the reason we have creed and councils – to correct their heresies.

    If you derive LFW from the Bible, can you please show me where?

    Also, theology develops over time as later theologians stand on the shoulders of their forefathers. Calvin didn’t work out everything we have today, either. Augustine believed strongly in the sovereignty of God and set the groundwork for later theologians.

    The real question is how does libertarian free will support moral responsibility? I would argue it destroys it. Here are some good links on the subject:

    http://www.monergism.com/thethreshold/articles/onsite/libertarian.html

    http://www.thirdmill.org/files/english/html/th/TH.h.Frame.FreeWill.MoralResp.html

  16. Kangaroo,

    When you say “Appeals to history are best left alone if you are a Calvinist.” Do you keep in mind your views on baptism, which was not held by anyone during the first 1600 years of church history? Or your dispensationalism (I assume you are dispensational) that didn’t come about until the 1800’s?

    What do Arminians do with the fact that the vast majority of serious conservative Christian scholars are Calvinist? And the ones that Arminians look up to, like Roger Olson, end up going “post-conservative” (liberal), denying inerrancy, and postmodern? I don’t ask these questions to be mean, but it should be seriously contemplated by Arminians. Also, why are all the whacky denominations Arminian or at least Libertarian freewillers? Oness Pentacostals, Charismatics, Roman Catholics, etc. Not company that I would want to keep. . . .

  17. Jon:

    1 – There are very little evidence about your claim that freewillism is a ‘pagan teaching’. In fact, the Christian philosopher William Lane Craig arguments that Theistic Fatalism is a pagan teaching (do you have read about Manicheans?)

    Read it: http://indeathorlife.wordpress.com/2012/01/19/the-transfer-of-nonsense-principle/

    2 – Even if that is the case, I will charge you of applying Ad Hominem and Genetic Fallacy.

    And even so, theistic fatalism wasn’t accepted until Augustine. Read again.

    3 – “If you derive LFW from the Bible, can you please show me where?”

    Deuteronomy 29-30, Mattew 23:37 and 1Corintihan 10:13 can be a good starting point? Read it: https://arminianperspectives.wordpress.com/2009/04/01/the-reality-of-choice-and-the-testimony-of-scripture/

    4 – “Augustine believed strongly in the sovereignty of God and set the groundwork for later theologians.”

    Divine sovereignty is not the same thing of theistic determinism. And it is very interesting you citing the Roman Church as a ‘freewillist’, when it is Augustine-Thomistic (Molinism is not so spread inside Roman circles)…

    5 – “The real question is how does libertarian free will support moral responsibility? I would argue it destroys it. Here are some good links on the subject:”

    Nice joke. Easily refutable – in fact, Joshua Thibodaux made some good arguments about libertarian freedom here: https://arminianperspectives.wordpress.com/category/fallacies-of-calvinist-apologetics/.

    Read it, too: http://books.google.com/books?id=HwtVAAAAMAAJ

    “What do Arminians do with the fact that the vast majority of serious conservative Christian scholars are Calvinist?”

    The Synod of Dort has made a good difamatory job. Just a wacky ad hominem.
    What about Vincent Cheung? Huh?

  18. I can’t leave to note this text-block:

    “Adam before the Fall acted according to his desires, which then were godly. After the fall, sinners still act according to their desires, but those desires are sinful”.

    If disobeying God is a godly thing, they can’t be punished – discarded hypothesis.

    If disobeying God is a ungodly thing, and they are ungodly, it contradicts Genesis 1:26,31.

    If disobeying God is a ungodly thing, and they are godly, so they can’t disobey (because they are free to acting to this desires).

    The transition from godly to ungodly, it is godly or ungodly?

  19. Jon you wrote:

    “I “came up” with the fact that LFW comes from Greek pagan philosophy because I know the history of philosophy. I read the link supposedly “proving” that the early church fathers all held to LFW and it proves nothing. The early church fathers were all over the board on most issues. “

    The problem with your statement is that the early church fathers were essentially unanimous on teaching a LFW position. When you state they were all over the map on most issues, not on LFW. I would agree with you on other issues, but not LFW. So are we just supposed to ignore church history altogether? Could you provide some support for us here for you Greek Pagan Philosophy theory?

    Secondly you stated:
    “Also, theology develops over time as later theologians stand on the shoulders of their forefathers. “

    I agree, but again the first 1500 years LFW was pretty much exclusively taught.

  20. Among the eleven reasons, the best is ‘extrabiblical intuition’. But the fatalistic foreknowledge argument is just pure intuition! Read ‘Thge Transfer of Nonsense Principle’ by Thibodaux…

  21. Russ,

    Please provide evidence for your claim that Augustine believed in LFW.

    Also, you conveniently avoided my point about the church’s stance on baptism that you reject after 2000 years. Or your dispensationalism that popped up a little over a hundred years ago.

  22. Um, so why do you choose early Augustine vs late Augustine? Why not go even earlier to his neo-platonic days? More arbitrariness.

  23. Nope. Augustine does not negate freewill, just put some more ‘God’s Sovereignty’ on your writings.

    Also, the Roman Church is Augustinian in your theology. Deal with it, and stop crying aloud.

    Once more: your evidence was posted. Stop crying aloud and please put Matthew 23:37 in a determinist Calvinistic theology.

    P.S.: and what about your freewill Greek philosophers?

  24. I want to thankyou for writing these articles. God has gifted you with a great gift of teaching and I thank you for sharing it with the body. You can tell a tree by its fruit and the fruit I see Calvinists most often bearing is that of pride, arrogance, arguments and self righteouness. This alone tells me their teaching is of mans wisdom as the hallmark symbol of abiding in Christ is humility. People claiming they are of divine election specified by God with no choice of their own seem to tend to get a big head thinking while they accuse freewill believers of stealing God honor. They seem to think if they are sinning in pride or whatever else… oh, well it must be the will of God because it is coming to pass. It minimizes the conscience effect of sin in their own life, lightens their cross, because they can simply blame it on Gods soverignty.

  25. Jon, maybe u should specify what kind of calvinist you are. The ones I know of dont believe in free will. How can calvinists still claim calvinism when they pick and choose what to believe out of it?

  26. And get off this guys back about Augestine. Who cares what the man thought neways he is flesh like the rest of us.. his word is not the divinely inspired Word of God. It has nothing to do with proper scriptiual interpretation. Truth is when we get to heaven we all are going to find we were right about somethings in life and wrong about others but we will find we were all right about the actuality of salvation and grace. They exsist, they heal, and it is by Christ we recieve them as a payment for our sins.

  27. Jon,

    You really need to demonstrate that LFW originated in pagan Greek philosophy. Until you do that with some serious documentation, you are simply making wild assertions. To say that many Greeks held to LFW does not mean it originated there and the church got it from the Greeks. Indeed, LFW is plainly implied all over the Bible. I don’t know where you heard this stuff from, but you really need to do some more research before making such unfounded claims. The burden of proof is on you.

  28. Jon,

    As has been pointed out, the earliest Christian writers all held to LFW and also believed that true believers could fall away. Likewise, they held to universal atonement. None of them held to anything like Calvinism. So as I said, history is not on your side. It wasn’t until Augustine (in his later writings) that things began to change. Even then, Augustine was largely rejected. It wasn’t until Calvin that the church was introduced to inevitable perseverance. You say the early Christian writers were all over the map, but on the issues of free will, the possibility of apostasy, and universal atonement, they were all on the same page. Why do you think that is?

    You say we needed councils to correct their heresies. Which heresies? Why do you assume Augustine and Calvin got it right? Since their views were so alien to the church for so long (directly contradicting what the church believed in numerous ways), why should we assume they suddenly got things right? Augustine didn’t even know Greek. Augustine also introduced many heresies into the church that were foundational to the Reformation’s rebuke of Rome. So how can you be so sure he was right about your pet doctrines while so wrong about the rest? And what councils specifically? What about the councils that stood against Calvinism and Augustinianism (even the Council of Orange, which many Calvinists like to reference, condemned key tenets of Calvinism, and strongly upheld synergism)? What about the Councils that condemned the Reformation? Do they count? Did they correct heresies? And you call our accounting of history arbitrary? Really?

    The bottom line is that the main features of Calvinism have been rejected by the church for most of church history. Be sure to check out this post: http://evangelicalarminians.org/Church-history-and-calvinism.henshaw You will see that even Calvinist scholars admit to this. So this makes your appeal to history all the more problematic and “arbitrary”. Try to remember who first interjected history into this conversation.

    As for the rest, I am not a dispensationalist. The early church fathers were not in agreement on the mode of baptism, but many certainly held to adult baptism by immersion. Is that what you were referring to, or is it baptismal regeneration? You need to be more specific if you really want to discuss it. But in the end, it is just a red herring, just like your wild assertion that LFW is pagan Greek philosophy.

    In the end, it is a matter of what Scripture says. History can be helpful in keeping us on the right track and giving us valuable guidance, but exegesis must be the deciding factor. I am fine with that. That is why I felt no need to bring up history, but I do grow tired of Calvinists making false historical claims in order to try to bolster their position. That is unacceptable to me. But then when the tables are turned we get the usual “Oh, those guys didn’t know what they were talking about; they needed Calvin to finally straighten them out.” And if the vast majority of church history is against your most fundamental tenets, that should at least give you pause. If nothing else, it should steer you away from appeals to history to support Calvinism, or wild accusations of heresy against those who hold to the same basic beliefs that the church has held throughout the majority of its history. Again, prior to Augustine, the church universally rejected every major feature of what would later be called Calvinism. It amazes me that that seems to mean nothing at all to you. Yet, you can claim that LFW is Greek pagan philosophy without even flinching. Truly wild.

  29. Jon,

    You wrote,

    What do Arminians do with the fact that the vast majority of serious conservative Christian scholars are Calvinist? And the ones that Arminians look up to, like Roger Olson, end up going “post-conservative” (liberal), denying inerrancy, and postmodern? I don’t ask these questions to be mean, but it should be seriously contemplated by Arminians. Also, why are all the whacky denominations Arminian or at least Libertarian freewillers? Oness Pentacostals, Charismatics, Roman Catholics, etc. Not company that I would want to keep. . . .

    Really? Is that your defense now? There are plenty of Arminian and non-Calvinist scholars. If Olson is the only one you can come up with, then that shows how out of touch you are with this debate. To name a few: Grant Osborne, Ben Witherington III, Joseph Dongell, Jerry Walls, Robert Picirilli, F. Leroy Forlines, Matthew J. Pinson, Brian Abasciano, William Klein, I. Howard Marshell, Gordon Fee, Paul Copan, Scot Mcknight, Thomas McCall, etc. But I suppose you will say that they aren’t really all that scholarly, or aren’t as good as your favorite Calvinist scholars, because, afterall, they aren’t Calvinists. Is that right?

    Since you mentioned Olson, you may want to read up his research about the beginnings of liberalism. You may be surprised to find out where it really sprang from (hint: it wasn’t Arminians). But all of this is silly. There are great thinkers on both sides of the aisle. Even Sproul admitted that counting theological noses doesn’t prove anything (right after he counted theological noses and right before he tried to tie signficance to it immediately after discounting it). Hey, if Calvinist arguments were so good, they would never need to say things like, “What do Arminians do with the fact that the vast majority of serious conservative Christian scholars are Calvinist?”

    I will get to some of your other comments later this week. I am on vacation right now and have very little time.

    God Bless,
    Ben

  30. Kangaroo,

    The question on Calvinist scholars is not one of my primary arguments, it’s just a side question that I was curious about.

    You are right that the argument must be made by exegesis. The problem is that I have never heard an Arminian give a detailed exegetical case for Arminianism. (All the ones I have ever encountered simply reason like this: God couldn’t POSSIBLY do “X”, therefore, “X” must not be true.)

    Let’s narrow it down to two huge tenets of Arminianism that do not pass the exegetical test:

    1) Election being based on foreseen faith.
    2) Prevenient grace.

    Neither one has adequate Biblical support. Prove me wrong and I’ll recant.

  31. Jon,

    I only have time for a quick response and then I need to go to bed.

    First, I don’t really care if you recant. If you haven’t heard an Arminian give a detailed exegetical case for Arminianism, then you have not read much outside of your own Calvinist circles. That makes me feel like I am wasting my time a little (as was further illustrated by your comment about the Arminian scholars- do you recant that one?).

    Second, I don’t personally hold to election by foreseen faith. But even saying election based on foreseen faith isn’t really accurate for those who hold that view. Rather, it is an election of believers who are in Christ Jesus. It is more about God foreknowing believers joined to Christ than God foreknowing faith. But I hold to corporate election, which really doesn’t rely on foreseen faith as the basis of election (though election is conditioned on faith in a secondary sense).

    Prevenient grace can be found in numerous passages, but the easiest way to demonstrate it is to just show you how any passage you bring forth as teaching irresistible grace actually teaches resistible prevenient grace instead.

    Lastly, if anything doesn’t pass the exegetical test, it is the main Calvinist tenets of exhaustive determinism, irresistible grace (especially the claim that regeneration precedes faith), and limited atonement. I suppose you won’t be surprised to hear me say that I have never heard a Calvinist make a convincing exegetical case for any of those doctrines. At least with unconditional election I can see how certain passages could be misconstrued to teach it. Not so with the others.

    Jon, not to be lazy, but I really am short on time. I have written so much at my site already on these topics and there are so many artilces linked to at this site dealing specifically with these issues. Please take some time to look around.

    God Bless,
    Ben

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