Sunday, July 27, 2008

John 6:44, Total Depravity and Irresistible Grace

I have heard many Calvinists say that John 6:44 is proof of irresistible grace because “those that are drawn are the ones who are raised”. From this verse is also included the Calvinist’ own view of total depravity (which equals “inability”).

I will agree that one has to be drawn, that much is plain; however, it is not as plain to me the conclusion that the Calvinists come to with this verse.

Let’s quickly review the verse:

John 6:44
No man can come to me, except the Father which hath sent me draw him: and I will raise him up at the last day.

It is agreed that no one can come unless the Father draws that person unto Christ (via the Holy Spirit). It is also agreed that apart from the sharing of the Gospel no one would ever turn to God. In other words, apart from one hearing the Gospel it is impossible for them to be saved (thus the importance of obeying the call to preach the Gospel to every creature). No one apart from the Gospel just up and decides one day that, “hey, I think I’ll serve God”. However, this and John 6:44 do not exclude the possibility that one has a real choice at the moment of the Holy Spirit’s drawing. And this is the thrust of my argument… that at the moment of the Holy Spirit’s drawing man has a real choice to decide whether or not he will rebel or repent and believe the Gospel.

I do not interpret this verse as saying, “the ones that are drawn are the ones that are raised” or “being drawn equals being raised”. I believe that the proper interpretation of this verse is that, “the one that is raised is the one that comes… and that one can only come if he is drawn”. My question to the Calvinist is; how am I misinterpreting this verse? Is there some grammatical reason in the Greek that I should not come to this conclusion? It is my opinion that if one does not come to this verse with a preconceived idea of what it has to mean (in light of a certain set of presuppositions such as TULIP), I believe that one would come to the same conclusion I have reached. Of course I reserve the right to be wrong, so if anyone can show me OBJECTIVELY from reason and context how I am misinterpreting this verse I will concede the point.

Working with the interpretation that, “the one that is raised is the one that comes… and that one can only come if he is drawn”… we can see that the verse does not exclude the possibility (logically) that one could, at the moment he is drawn, refuse repentance (thus refuting, if I am right, the Calvinist’ view of Irresistible Grace and that Total Depravity equals total inability). Now at this point some have sought to misrepresent this view as a sort of “deal” that God makes with man. For example, one straw man in this line of thinking said that our view is like someone buying a car. God offers a price, a “good deal” if you will, and the man then decides whether or not the price is right. This analogy is flawed and if you’re going to bring me to your side you’ve got to deal with what I believe.

At the moment a person is convicted of sin, a bargaining table is hardly the scene that represents the situation. When a person is being drawn he is being shown that he is a sinner in need of Jesus’ sacrifice. He is dealing with the Holiness of God, the penalty of sin, the weakness of himself, et al. This is a serious issue and at that moment the person is hardly “cutting a deal”. He is being presented with the truth of all truths, believe and repent or refuse and rebel. An atmosphere of the conviction of sin is the picture here, hardly two making a “deal”.



Blogger a helmet said...


I think that the verse must be considered together with verses 37,39,45 and 65. Ultimately I agree with the Calvinists that those and only those who are drawn/given/taught by the Father come to Christ in faith.

Where I disagree with Calvinism is however, when it comes to explaining what this "drawing" actually is. How does any one know whether they have been drawn? What's going on there when a person is drawn?

I have talked to many Calvinists, asking just that question. I've never got an answer yet.

Note, verse 6:45 says "everyone who learns from God comes to Christ".

Now, what is this teaching, this learning here? Since it is intrinsically linked to verse 44, it would be most interesting.
Calvinsts are remarkably silent about this. While they talk so frequently about verse 6:44 they almost never mention the following v.45. Well, I just started another blog dedicated to combating TULIP that starts with the passage of John 6:37-45. You might check out!

12:23 PM  

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