Brian Abasciano addresses this oft repeated Calvinist argument against conditional salvation here:
You can find the beginning of his interaction with James White here
Ironically, it is White who argues regarding 1 John 5:1 as the JW’s do regarding 2 Peter 1:1. For they point to minor syntactical differences in 2 Peter 1:1 from the other uses of the Granville Sharp construction in 2 Peter to argue that 1:1 does not refer to Jesus as God. Compare White arguing that the minor syntactical differences in 1 John 2:29, 4:7, and 5:1 from other instances in John involving an articular present participle combined with a perfect indicative make 2:29, 4:7, and 5:1 a special Johannine usage that differs from normal Greek grammar. Take this example of JW apologist Greg Strafford arguing the JW position on 2 Peter 1:1.
“We can see that four out of the five articulated nouns are the same; one is significantly different. In 2 Peter 1:1 we have θεός and in the other four Peter uses κύριος. The question we ask is, Why would Peter call Christ “God” in verse 1, but in 1:11, 2:20, 3:2, and 3:18 use “Lord”? . . . he uses “Lord” for Jesus in a number of instances. . . However, when referring to the Father, Peter uses θεός 45 times, excluding 2 Peter 1:1” (Greg Stafford,Jehovah’s Witnesses Defended: An Answer to Scholars and Critics (2nd edn.; Huntington Beach: Elihu Books, 2000, 404).
Notice how similarly the JW apologist argues to White. He argues that a minor difference in Peter’s use of the construction in 2 Peter 1:1 means it does not carry the same import as the construction normally does in 2 Peter—and though he does not mention it specifically, generally in Greek grammar. And his numbers are much more impressive than White’s. Rather than 2 instances White can cite in 1 John, Stafford points to 4 in 2 Peter (admittedly there are only 4 instances of the present participle/perfect indicative construction in John outside of 1 John 5:1, two that White can point to and two that go against him). And then he points out that Peter uses θεός of the Father a whopping 45 times excluding 2 Peter 1:1. Talk about a consistent pattern! Of course, we know that Stafford is wrong here in his conclusions, and so is White in regard to 1 John 5:1. In the former case, normal Greek grammar identifies Jesus with God and minor syntactical difference does not change that. In the latter case, normal Greek grammar portrays the action of the present participle and perfect indicative as roughly simultaneous (or the present participle preceding the perfect indicative) allowing for logical order but not indicating it, and minor syntactical differences do not change that.
You can find the link to the podcast and some brief supplemental comments from Dr. Abasciano at SEA:
Of course, the main translation issue has to do with the translation of tetagmenoi, which the NIV translates (together with esan) as “were appointed”. This is such an important text theologically because it gives the impression that the people referred to believed because God first appointed them to eternal life. Some consider this a slam dunk proof for Calvinism/unconditional election. Indeed, some consider this to be the most powerful text in favor of Calvinism.
Concerning the hardening of Pharaoh, after a note of agreement, you just assert positions opposite to mine without substantiation. So I’ll take the opportunity to share something merely anecdotal. Before publishing the book, I submitted my chapter on the hardening of Pharaoh to a distinguished Reformed scholar who is writing a major commentary on Exodus, asking for feedback. I was expecting some serious pushback or criticism of my reading. But to my surprise, the scholar largely agreed with my reading and, if anything, seems to think the divine hardening even less deterministic than I do and plans to cite my work. It is not as if it should be obvious that the divine hardening of Pharaoh was deterministic or irreversible.
Brian Abasciano, Paul’s Use of the Old Testament in Romans 9:1-9: An Intertextual and Theological Exegesis (This is Dr. Abasciano’s doctoral dissertation and the basis for his first book on Romans 9. It is essentially the same as his first book on Romans 9, but longer)
While Calvinists like to play with flowers (or MUPPETS?), Arminians prefer to deal with the FACTS. For an excellent and detailed summary of what Arminians believe and why, be sure to check out The FACTS of Salvation: A summary of Arminian Theology/the Biblical Doctrines of Grace!!
I just wanted to share some brief notes about my article, “The FACTS of Salvation: A Summary of Arminian Theology/the Biblical Doctrines of Grace,” recently published here at the website of the Society of Evangelical Arminians. It comes to about 25 pages and is a summary of Arminian theology with substantial scriptural support using the acronym FACTS. It is meant to be a positive presentation of the Arminian position and so does not typically get into debate over the various Scriptures appealed to, but mostly assumes a particular interpretation of them.
We occasionally get requests for Scripture citations to support our statement of faith. We have never felt it necessary to add Scripture references to our statement of faith since the website is largely dedicated to giving scriptural support for the distinctive elements of Arminian theology. But this FACTS article now provides that in a substantial way in one article. May the Lord use it to bless his church and advance his truth. [link]
Filed under: apostasy, atonement, Brian Abasciano, corporate election, dead in sin, election, eternal security, faith, foreknowledge, free will, God's glory, irresistible grace, ordo salutis, penal satisfaction, perseverance, predestination, prevenient grace, regeneration, sovereignty, synergism, unlimited atonement | Leave a comment »
Update: Unfortunately, the PDF link to Abasciano’s article no longer works. The Journal does not want to allow public access to the article. It won’t even allow the author of the article to post his own article, which seems absurd. Hopefully, things will change and the article will become available again soon. In the meantime, If anyone wants a copy of the PDF article, I can send it to them via email. Just let me know in the comments section. You don’t need to leave your email address in the actual comment, since it should already be in the system for me to view when you leave a comment. That way nobody else will see your email address.
John Piper recently made the following Tweet:
“Everyone who believes has been born of God” (1 John 5:1). So faith does not cause the new birth; the new birth causes faith.
— John Piper (@JohnPiper) July 25, 2013
Unfortunately for Piper, this erroneous argument has been soundly refuted. John Piper and all Calvinists still making this false claim regarding 1 John 5:1 should save themselves some unnecessary embarrassment by reading Brian Abasciano’s article: “Does Regeneration Precede Faith? The Use of 1 John 5:1 as a Proof Text”
Here is the author’s abstract of the article:
A number of scholars have appealed to the Greek tenses of 1 John 5:1 as definitive proof that the verse teaches that regeneration precedes faith. But this argument is untenable. The purposes of the present article are (1) to draw attention to the falsity of the argument and to explain why it is invalid, and (2) to counter the contention that the underlying concern of the grammatical argument (i.e., that 1 John 5:1 implies that regeneration precedes faith) can be rescued by appeal to a pattern in 1 John of indicating the results of regeneration. It is questionable whether the tenses in 1 John 5:1 suggest any chronological or causal relationship between faith and regeneration since some grammarians deny that Greek tenses grammaticalize time, and more importantly, one of the tenses in the passage occurs in a substantival participle, which can be devoid of time significance. If the tenses are temporally related, as seems most probable, then Greek grammar suggests either that believing and being begotten of God are portrayed as contemporaneous, or perhaps more likely, that believing logically precedes being begotten of God. Invocation of statements elsewhere in 1 John indicating the results of regeneration does not rescue 1 John 5:1 as a proof text for regeneration preceding faith because of, inter alia, the distinctive and crucial role of faith in the epistle and Johannine theology.