There is some interesting interaction going on at Roger Olson’s blog between Olson and Michael Horton concerning how Arminianism’s view of salvation should be defined.

Olson begins by taking Horton to task. Although Olson considers Horton to be one of the more gracious Calvinistic voices out there, he take issue with something he said in his book Christless Christianity.

Olson says,

“On page 44 he writes that “Arminianism still holds that salvation is a cooperative effort of God and human beings.” . . . To Mike I say: Please!  When you are saying what Arminianism holds, say what Arminians really say and don’t put words in our mouths.  Sure, you can say “This is what I think Arminianism SHOULD say even if it doesn’t.”  True, classical, historical Arminianism does NOT hold that salvation involves any “effort” of human beings–certainly not on the same level as God’s. 

[…}

It’s just as ludicrous to describe the Arminian belief about the roles of God and a repentant sinner in salvation as a “cooperative effort.”

Horton’s description of Arminianism is more generous than many Calvinists’, but it still falls short of complete honesty and violates one of my basic rules of engagement between Calvinists and Arminians: Always express the other view the way people who hold it express it and only then say what’s wrong with that.  Again, Arminians do not say that salvation is a “cooperative effort.”  What we say is that God won’t save anyone without their free consent.  But we adamantly deny that conversion involves “effort” as if the person being saved must do some (good) work to be saved.

[…]

What if I published something saying that “Calvinism holds that God is the author of sin and evil?”  Calvinists would rightly howl in protest.  Then I could say, “Well, that’s how I see it.”  Then, they would quite rightly protest that how I see it is not how they say it.  They’re right.  What I say is that Calvinism’s doctrines of providence and predestination lead to the good and necessary consequence that God is the author of sin and evil even though they (almost) all deny it. 

What Horton should have said is that “Arminians deny that salvation involves human effort, but I think their theology implies that.”  Okay.  I disagree, but I can respect that.  I would have no right to protest that even though I would argue against him.

When, oh, when are evangelicals going to stop this uncharitable and even unChristian habit of setting up straw men out of others’ theologies and then chopping them or burning them down as if they had really scored a point or two? 

Horton’s error doesn’t quite rise to the level of demagoguery, but there’s plenty of that going on and this is too much like it for Mike’s comfort.  He should correct what he said publicly.”

Horton does respond on Olson’s blog.

“Dear Roger,

On that same page I carefully distinguish Arminianism from the Pelagianism that we both agree pervades much of American Protestantism today. As you note, I refer to your Arminian Theology on that count and express appreciation for Tom Oden’s defense of the gospel.

Nevertheless, I add, “Arminianism still holds that salvation is a cooperative effort of God and human beings.” The first post responding to your critique, by an ardent Arminian, seems to justify my statement. Synergism, which you acknowledge as an Arminian tenet, means working together. If one does not cooperate with grace, one will not be regenerated and persevere. If one does cooperate with grace, one will be regenerated and persevere. Am I correct in describing the Arminian position like this? If so, then it is a cooperative effort of God and human beings. I’m not sure how saying that constitutes demogoguery, if synergism is in fact the Arminian view and a fellow Arminian could see no reason for objecting to that description.

Thanks, Roger, for your otherwise encouraging remarks!”

What do you think? Who is right? Is it legitimate for Arminians or Calvinists to say that Arminianism is cooperative?


C Michael Patton
C Michael Patton

C. Michael Patton is the primary contributor to the Parchment and Pen/Credo House Blog. He has been in ministry for nearly twenty years as a pastor, author, speaker, and blogger. Th.M. Dallas Theological Seminary (2001), president of Credo House Ministries and Credo Courses, author of Now that I'm a Christian (Crossway, 2014) Increase My Faith (Credo House, 2011), and The Theology Program (Reclaiming the Mind Ministries, 2001-2006), host of Theology Unplugged, and primary blogger here at Parchment and Pen. But, most importantly, husband to a beautiful wife and father to four awesome children. Michael is available for speaking engagements. Find him everywhere: Find him everywhere

    131 replies to "Is Arminianism Cooperative Justification?"

    • Jugulum

      Harley,

      As I understand it, historically, “Arminians” and Calvinists have the exact same doctrine of Total Depravity. (That is, apart from God’s grace, we will never truly seek God or respond positively to the gospel. God has to draw us before we will come.)

      The difference is in the nature of God’s drawing grace–does God resistably draw everyone in a way that restores their ability to repent & believe, or does he irresistably draw some in a way that guarantees they will repent & believe?

      Of course, many non-Calvinists aren’t Arminian, and may deny that view of Total Depravity.

    • Mike

      The Bible states that men do not seek God, but God does indeed seek men. The Bible does not say that men cannot respond to God’s call. Why do Calvinists insist on saying this. Jesus mourned that Israel would not respond to God’s call. Why would He mourn over them if they had no choice? God told Cain that unless he chose to do right then sin would rule over him. He gave him a choice; was He lying? Jesus was utterly impressed by the faith of the centurion in the Gospels. Why would He be impressed if a choice was not involved? If I gave someone faith and they excerised that faith would I be impressed? The bible never says salvation is unconditional. It says that it is conditioned upon faith. Accepting God’s offer of salvation is in no way helping Jesus pay for our sins. Jesus work is finished, but man must accept the offer of salvation. Paul’s point in Romans was that man cannot earn salvation by works, ie, by following the Law. Man cannot earn salvation by moral goodness. He must trust God for salvation. Faith is the opposite of works at least from the Bibles viewpoint. Judgment is based on weather or not we accpet the Gospel. If there is no choice then the Bible is a charade. By that I mean it is filled with commands that no one can adhere to and yet we will be judged for disobeying. Why were some of the lame healed by Jesus? He said it was because of their faith. Why were others not healed? Perhaps they did not think he could heal. Regardless, if I came to jesus and said please give my blind eyes sight and he did so would I claim that he and I cooperatively restored my sight? I don’t think so. Cavinist really go way to far in interpreting the biblical definition of a work. In John 6 they ask Jesus if there is work God wants them to do to be saved and Jesus simply says that if you want to do the work that God would have you do then simply have faith. Why do we make things so hard? Sinful men have the ability to respond to God, but…

    • HarleyVol

      Ryan, Romans 3 does not include Paul because he is writing as a Christian. If you continue in Romans 3, Paul says that “for all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God, 24 and are justified by his grace as a gift, through the redemption that is in Christ Jesus”. Justification is a gift, which is something that is given not taken. This whole question really goes to one’s view of the Atonement – who did Christ die for and what exactly did He accomplish, if anything. If Christ died for the whole world then He did not accomplish anything because we all agree that the whole world will not be saved. If He only died to provide a way of salvation, then no one will be saved, because, whether in Ps 14 or Romans 3, no one seeks God and in fact until salvation are enemies of God. If He died for His people, those whom the Father gave Him, then His death really did accomplish salvation for them. One question – if Jesus was sent to die for all, then why in His high priestly prayer (John 17) does He say “9 I am praying for them. I am not praying for the world but for those whom you have given me, for they are yours. “?

    • jim

      Ryan:

      Sorry about that….what I meant to say was that I don’t agree that Isaiah 55:6 to be just for the elected. So I guess we are in agreement. Trying to participate while on the phone just isn’t working too well. (LOL)

      Jugulum:

      I think suggesting of a general call in this verse is somewhat streching….and I have never mentined anything about it being a pointless act but rather I don’t see a general call in this text. Sorry I must log off will check back later this evening.

      Thanks,

    • HarleyVol

      Jugulum, historically the Arminians, while the Remonstrance did claim to believe in total depravity they turned around and diluted it with the idea of a “prevenient grace” which restores man’s free will. I would say that God’s drawing grace is irresistible (see John 6:31). In accord with Rom 9, the creator has the authority to with His creation as He wills. God works all things according to the counsel of His will.

    • Jugulum

      Harley,

      Right–in case it wasn’t clear, that’s exactly what I was saying.

      P.S. Did you mean to say John 6:37, not John 6:31?

    • HarleyVol

      Jugulum,
      Sorry, I misunderstood. yeah it was supposed to be John 6:37. Thanks

    • Ryan Schatz

      HarleyVol wrote:

      If Christ died for the whole world then He did not accomplish anything because we all agree that the whole world will not be saved. If He only died to provide a way of salvation, then no one will be saved, because, whether in Ps 14 or Romans 3, no one seeks God and in fact until salvation are enemies of God.

      If Christ died for the whole world knowing that some would repent and believe, then He accomplished exactly what He intended. Your theory seems to rest on the idea that the Bible says that no human ever created seeks God without God first regenerating them. I don’t think that is what Rom 3 and Ps 14 are suggesting. Unless one is willing to acknowledge God and his sin, he cannot please God. But if he sees his plight, its likely because of the evidence of creation, the conscience and the working of the Holy Spirit to bring conviction to all people. And the promise is that all who seek Him, God will allow Himself to be found by them, and further, to all who repent and believe, God will regenerate them and give them new life and free them from bondage to sin and death.

      One question – if Jesus was sent to die for all, then why in His high priestly prayer (John 17) does He say “9 I am praying for them. I am not praying for the world but for those whom you have given me, for they are yours. “?

      Good question. I believe that Jesus is praying here for all who believe and all who will come to believe. Jesus has something to request specifically for believers and those who will come to believe. He prays for their protection and unity. Jesus is not praying for protection and unity over those who refuse to believe and will not believe. The reason for their unbelief is not due to inaction by God, but due to their unwillingness to acknowledge their sin and seek after God and his mercy.

    • cherylu

      Harley,

      Justification is a gift, which is something that is given not taken.

      I can give someone a gift for sure, but if they don’t take the gift I give, are willing to receive it for the purpose I gave it, it will do them no good.

      I could give someone something they really needed–food to a starving man for example. But if he doesn’t take the gift and eat it, he is still going to starve.

      My point is simple–a gift is both given and taken.

    • HarleyVol

      Ryan wrote,
      But if he sees his plight, its likely because of the evidence of creation, the conscience and the working of the Holy Spirit to bring conviction to all people.

      Ryan,
      How does a man who is dead see his plight? It certainly is not because of creation, even though creation proclaims God’s glory. Not the conscience because that is totally depraved. It is the work of the Holy Spirit who draws us to God. Once the Spirit is at work in a man then he sees the creation as the work of God and his conscience condemns him as a sinner. That is regeneration at work. Christ came to seek and save, not beg.

      Ryan wrote,
      If Christ died for the whole world knowing that some would repent and believe, then He accomplished exactly what He intended.

      Ryan,
      You are saying that Christ looked into the future, saw who would believe, and then the Father chose them to be in Christ. This is philosophically convoluted. Either God is sovereign (in the ordinary meaning of the word) or not. Either He works all things according to the counsel of His will or not. Look at Deut 7:6ff, God’s choosing Abraham, Noah,etc. It is all God’s doing – Rom 9:10ff.
      There are mysteries in God (Deut 29:29) and the doctrines of man’s responsibility and God’s sovereignty, while seemingly contradictory, are both true and should be accepted as such. All men everywhere are commanded to repent and believe, yet without God taking away the stone heart and giving us a heart of flesh not one of us will.
      Grace and Peace,
      HV
      p.s. I don’t know how to insert other posts, like that. sorry

    • cherylu

      Harley,

      Please believe me when I say I am not trying to pick on you! It just seems that you are the one making the statements at this time that I want to reply to. (And I really don’t have a whole lot of time for this so I probably won’t get into it too deeply as I have in the past with this type of discussion. I may not always have time to answer any replies you make to me. I will likely just have to make any points I do as I see them and let them stand as is.)

      But I don’t read Romans 1 as you do at all. It seems to me there that God is saying that His creation has made Him known to people. It is not that they don’t know, it is that they have outright refused to worship Him.

      Romans 1:21 says they knew God but refused to worship Him. That doesn’t sound to me at all the same as what you said above that they only know that the creation is the work of God after the Spirit has been at work in them.

    • Jugulum

      Harley,

      In the ordinary sense of the word “sovereign”, does it mean “exhaustively predetermining the details of what will occur within one’s domain”? AFAIK, it doesn’t.

      As your fellow Calvinist, I’m leery of that approach, i.e. arguing from the word “sovereign”. The more direct question is, what does Scripture say about God predetermining things?

      Keep in mind: Demonstrating that Scripture teaches predestination doesn’t demonstrate that sovereignty is connected to predestination. (In other words, demonstrating that Calvinism is true doesn’t demonstrate that “sovereignty” refers anything more than “God has the right to issue commands and the right to punish lawbreakers”.)

    • HarleyVol

      cherylu,
      I agree that all know that there is a god even though they suppress that knowledge. Men will worship anything as god. My point was that man will not come to a true knowledge of God without the Holy Spirit working first. The creation will not bring men to Christ.
      I’m having a slow day at work so have more time than usual:)

    • cherylu

      This is an edit of my last comment that I didn’t get done before the time to correct it ran out.

      I made this statement, “And I really don’t have a whole lot of time for this so I probably won’t get into it too deeply as I have in the past with this type of discussion. I may not always have time to answer any replies you make to me. I will likely just have to make any points I do as I see them and let them stand as is.

      I really want to edit that to read, “And I really don’t have a whole lot of time for this so I probably won’t get into it a lot as I have in the past with this type of discussion. (Some of you know what I mean!) I might have to just make any points I do as I see them without getting into it any further and let any one reading decide if they make sense to them or if I am way off base in what I said and it should just be ignored.”

    • Ryan Schatz

      Jugulum #12 wrote:

      As your fellow Calvinist, I’m leery of that approach, i.e. arguing from the word “sovereign”. The more direct question is, what does Scripture say about God predetermining things?

      The question is not whether or not God predetermined things, but what He predetermines. Does He predetermine who has faith or is it only the end rewards or punishment. There is no doubt that the Spirit must work to draw people to Himself, but not all whom He draws and convicts respond appropriately.

      HarleyVol #10 writes:

      Ryan, How does a man who is dead see his plight? It certainly is not because of creation, even though creation proclaims God’s glory. Not the conscience because that is totally depraved. It is the work of the Holy Spirit who draws us to God. Once the Spirit is at work in a man then he sees the creation as the work of God and his conscience condemns him as a sinner. That is regeneration at work. Christ came to seek and save, not beg.

      They are not dead, but as good as dead. That is a key misunderstanding of Calvinists. Rom 1:18-19 says that these actively suppress the truth, and that the things that are evident about God have been made evident to them by God. God actively made Himself known to them in such a way that they are without excuse for not admitting their guilt, acknowledging God and drawing near to Him in repentance. They won’t be able to use the excuse that they couldn’t see the truth because they were dead and God did not first revive them. If would seem to me that if this was the case, then they have a perfectly valid excuse, and the God characterized by Calvinism will have to defend Himself.

      The conscience isn’t totally seared in all unbelievers. I know a lot of unbelievers who have a very strong sense of right and wrong. Yes, the Holy Spirit must convict and draw – but it doesn’t say that He must first convert and then only convict the chosen regenerated ones.

    • Ryan Schatz

      HarleyVol #10 writes:

      Ryan,
      You are saying that Christ looked into the future, saw who would believe, and then the Father chose them to be in Christ. This is philosophically convoluted. Either God is sovereign (in the ordinary meaning of the word) or not.

      I think that you are misunderstanding somewhat. Persons become part of the elect through faith; they are not first elected to obtain faith and then later exercise it. God is sovereign! In fact, it is Calvinism that limits God’s sovereignty! Calvinism insists that God in His sovereignty cannot chose to allow man the freedom to choose God or walk his own way. The God who can achieve His ends while allowing man sovereign choice to serve or reject Him is a far more powerful God than one who has to flip a switch in man to make him irresistibly drawn and if the switch is the other way, irresistibly repulsed. Think about it.

    • Ryan Schatz

      HarleyVol #10 writes:

      There are mysteries in God (Deut 29:29) and the doctrines of man’s responsibility and God’s sovereignty, while seemingly contradictory, are both true and should be accepted as such.

      This is the typical response of the Calvinist. They have to acknowledge that it is a mystery because they know that if God must first raise up the dead man before he can repent and believe, then the dead man cannot be held responsible. So it is a mystery. I spoke personally with John Piper and asked him if God does not show favoritism, then upon what basis does He choose? John Piper was angry that I insisted that he ought to have an answer to this question. John insisted that this was a mystery, but the Bible clearly states that the basis of His choice is the one who repents and believes. This, after all is GOOD NEWS! What good news is it to tell a bunch of drowning people that God will not save them all even though He has the means to do so! The good news is for all and is a true offer to all, an offer they can freely chose to accept if they are willing.

    • Hodge

      “I got my interpretation from the context itself and I used a more literal translation for the English. The work that God does is not injecting select people with faith (and not others) so that certain ones (but not others) will certainly believe Him, but rather saying and doing the things that prove that Jesus is the Messiah so that “whosoever believes” might be saved.”

      So you’re taking touto to refer to the feeding of the crowd? That’s a rather odd referent when you have an immediate explanation of touto right there: this = you believe on Him whom He has sent. They then ask for a sign so that they can believe. He then proceeds to tell them that no one can come to Him unless the Father draws him, etc. I also think it makes little sense when the Jews are asking him what THEY might do to work the works of God. Why would Christ answer them by telling them that the work of God is doing miracles so that they believe? That wasn’t the question. The question is what they might do to work God’s works, and the response is that the work of God is believing in Christ.
      I would also object to your interpretation from the larger theology of John. People don’t believe because of miracles, which is what Christ is telling them even in this very passage (which is why it’s curious you would take it that way). They believe because the Father draws them through words of eternal life. Those who get the signs only and are just there for those signs/food, walk away. So signs don’t get people to believe, and this alone negates your interpretation that says the work of God in signs is to get people to believe.

    • Hodge

      “There is no doubt that the Spirit must work to draw people to Himself, but not all whom He draws and convicts respond appropriately.”

      “And this is the will of Him who sent Me, that of all that He has given Me I lose nothing, but raise it up on the last day. “For this is the will of My Father, that everyone who beholds the Son and believes in Him, may have eternal life; and I Myself will raise him up on the last day . . . “No one can come to Me, unless the Father who sent Me draws him; and I will raise him up on the last day. “It is written in the prophets, ‘And they shall all be taught of God.’ Everyone who has heard and learned from the Father, comes to Me.” (John 6:38-40, 44)

      Where are the people who reject the drawing?

    • Hodge

      “They are not dead, but as good as dead. That is a key misunderstanding of Calvinists.”

      “2:1 And you were dead in your trespasses and sins, in which you formerly walked according to the course of this world, according to the prince of the power of the air, of the spirit that is now working in the sons of disobedience. Among them we too all formerly lived in the lusts of our flesh, indulging the desires of the flesh and of the mind, and were by nature children of wrath, even as the rest. But God, being rich in mercy, because of His great love with which He loved us, even when we were dead in our transgressions, made us alive together with Christ” (Eph 2:1-4).

      Does it say as good as dead or dead?

    • Hodge

      I think what’s missed in the whole cooperate effort debate is that people aren’t just floating along on the water, as though they’re inactive. They are actively rebelling against God. Hence, the must, with effort, stop themselves from actively rebelling against God. They’re actively swimming away from the rescuer. The Arminian can then bring in the idea of prevenient grace here, but the question remains that if prevenient grace causes a man to stop actively rebelling, why does not everyone accept the gospel? Or if prevenient grace needs further cooperation for the man to stop actively rebelling then are not those who do put in the effort to stop actively rebelling putting in cooperative effort toward their salvation?

    • Hodge

      “Persons become part of the elect through faith; they are not first elected to obtain faith and then later exercise it.”

      What is the purpose of a second party election if one elects himself already? So you believe that God said at the beginning of time, “OK, I choose you to be saved who will already be saved even if I don’t choose you”? What’s the purpose of choosing a destiny for someone who already has that destiny and how does that fit into someone being pre-determined/appointed?

    • Constantine

      Kyle Dillon #11 writes,

      “2) In Arminianism, God’s grace is a necessary first cause, but it is NOT sufficient; a free choice (in the incompatibilist libertarian sense) is required of the individual to receive salvation.”

      One of the things Dr. Olson does in his book is set the record straight about this very common misnomer. If Arminians believed that their choice is required to receive salvation they would not be able to refute the charge of Pelagianism. Olson is very sensitive about that.

      What Olson maintains is that Classical Arminianism teaches that salvation is “all of God” as in Calvinism. HOWEVER, Arminians believe they are free to REJECT God’s grace.
      So the real difference – according to Dr. Olson – is not that Arminians choose God but that they may ultimately reject Him. In other words, His grace is not irresistible to them.

      I am guilty of having confused Arminians with Pelagians and hope to save the dear reader some of the embarrassment I experienced having done so.

      Peace.

    • Ryan Schatz

      Hodge #18 writes:

      I would also object to your interpretation from the larger theology of John. People don’t believe because of miracles, which is what Christ is telling them even in this very passage (which is why it’s curious you would take it that way).

      I don’t believe that your objection can be sustained, though I believe I said that it was what God said and did (which included Jesus’ miracles and words and even the Father speaking from heaven). In the immediate context Jesus pointed out the fact that they were not following the signs but physical provision: “Truly, truly, I say to you, you seek Me, not because you saw signs, but because you ate of the loaves and were filled.”

      John 14:11 “Believe Me that I am in the Father and the Father in Me, or else believe Me for the sake of the works themselves.”

      Out of time for now…back later

    • Ryan Schatz

      Ok…one more quick reply. Hodge writes:

      What is the purpose of a second party election if one elects himself already?

      We are not elect to faith, we are elect to an inheritance with Christ, to salvation, judging angels, etc. Where does the Bible say that God has elected certain people TO SAVING FAITH? The point is that God didn’t just let us go and not be condemned; He chose to do much more, to actually make us His sons and daughters to inherit all things together with Christ. This is the nature of His election.

    • Hodge

      I know they weren’t following the signs, which is why touto cannot refer to signs; but my point is that you seem to be equating miracles/signs with the feeding of the crowd. Neither of these causes individuals to believe according to John. Only the Father’s giving/drawing to the Son via His teaching/words of eternal life does that. So the context does not teach that one is caused to believe by the work of God in terms of miracles, but by the work of God in terms of His drawing. Hence, faith is a work that God performs in us.

      “We are not elect to faith, we are elect to an inheritance with Christ, to salvation, judging angels, etc.”

      So you’re arguing that we’re elect to receive what we had faith to receive in the first place? How exactly were we receiving X first and then elected to receive X. I don’t think divorcing faith from its object answers the objection. We’re still being elected to receive what we already elected ourselves to receive.

    • Brian Roden

      Harley,

      Regarding your questions in post 39, have you not heard of prevenient grace?

    • Ryan Schatz

      Hodge writes:

      I know they weren’t following the signs, which is why touto cannot refer to signs; but my point is that you seem to be equating miracles/signs with the feeding of the crowd. Neither of these causes individuals to believe according to John. Only the Father’s giving/drawing to the Son via His teaching/words of eternal life does that. So the context does not teach that one is caused to believe by the work of God in terms of miracles, but by the work of God in terms of His drawing. Hence, faith is a work that God performs in us.

      They weren’t following the signs, but neither were they believing on account of His words, so if your point holds because of their lack of belief regarding the signs, then that would disqualify touto from referring to His words also, never mind that His words themselves were also a sign. Not only this, but in John 5:36, Jesus even appeals to the works He does as a witness:

      “But I have a greater witness than John’s; for the works which the Father has given Me to finish—the very works that I do—bear witness of Me, that the Father has sent Me.”

      Perhaps the word translated “that” (hina) in John 6:29 should indicate purpose. Strong’s concordance reads, “That, so that, for the purpose of, construed usually with a subjunctive, seldom with the opt., often with the indic. marking the end, purpose. Also used to indicate the cause for, or on account of which anything is done. Can be translated, ‘to the end that,’ ‘in order that it might [or may] be.'”

      So if we use one of these phrases, perhaps it is clearer: “This is the work of God, so that (or in order that) you believe on Him whom He has sent.” But I’m not a Greek expert, so maybe someone can prove how this cannot be the case.

    • Ryan Schatz

      Hodge #26 writes:

      So you’re arguing that we’re elect to receive what we had faith to receive in the first place? How exactly were we receiving X first and then elected to receive X. I don’t think divorcing faith from its object answers the objection. We’re still being elected to receive what we already elected ourselves to receive.

      You seem to be trying to make an issue something which is not an issue. God decided beforehand what He would do for those who would believe. Trusting God at His word qualifies you for the promise which He predetermined from the beginning of time. I’ll let others read your argument and my reply and see which makes more sense.

    • Ryan Schatz

      Hodge #20 writes:

      Does it say as good as dead or dead?

      Keep reading… Eph 2:5 “even when we were dead in our transgressions, made us alive together with Christ (by grace you have been saved)”.

      “when we were dead” is the present, active verb form. “made us alive” is in the aorist active. Are you dead and alive at the same time? As I read it, we are dead on account of our transgressions – our sentence is firm. However, on the account of Jesus and His work accomplished at the cross, we are alive. The second cancels out the first. For this reason, I do not believe that “dead” means unable to repent and believe.

    • Hodge

      “then that would disqualify touto from referring to His words also, never mind that His words themselves were also a sign.”

      1. The crowd didn’t believe because they were not drawn. That seems to be the point of the passage. So what I said holds. The crowd didn’t believe him, but the disciples did. And why did the disciples believe Him? Because He alone had words of eternal life. We’re told that those who follow Christ do so because they are taught of God, not because God performs signs and miracles. This is the whole point as to why the people who are there to eat do not follow Christ, i.e., because they are not drawn by His words of eternal life.

      2. The words aren’t signs. Signs point to the words. If words were the signs, then when Jesus states that a wicked generation seeks for a sign, then He would be saying that a wicked generation seeks the Word of Christ. Of course, that is absurd. Signs point to something, and they exist to point to Christ’s words.

      The fact that Jesus’ works testify as a witness to who He is has nothing to do with what we’re discussing. We’re discussing whether these witnesses cause one to believe. They are not presented to us as such, which is why a wicked generation seeks for a sign (i.e., because belief is to be placed in what is spoken). John is continually contrasting real faith, one based on Christ’s words, with superficial or insufficient faith, one based on signs. Hence, your interpretation would have John flip his own theology on its head.

      hina + subj. in Koine is closer to an infinitive idea. It is not necessarily a purpose conjunction. Hence, it is better to see it this way: “This is the work of God, to believe on Him whom He has sent.” In other words, put the first clause in a question and the second clause answers it: “What is the work of God? To believe on Him whom He has sent.” Now, if you had an action performed, and could ask a “Why” question, then you may have a result or purpose clause, but…

    • Hodge

      but it may help in determining what’s what for you.

      “God decided beforehand what He would do for those who would believe.”

      I think it’s a bigger issue for your argument then you realize. You’re divorcing faith from an object and then saying that God just elects us to receive the object, not to have the faith in receiving the object. One cannot have faith to receive X and not have a faith that he will receive X at the same time. If you want to say that faith is a general decision to follow God with no understanding of what it means or what is gained by following God, that’s fine; but that’s not really the biblical definition. Faith in God includes the reward. It is not absent from it.

    • Hodge

      ““when we were dead” is the present, active verb form. “made us alive” is in the aorist active. Are you dead and alive at the same time? As I read it, we are dead on account of our transgressions – our sentence is firm. However, on the account of Jesus and His work accomplished at the cross, we are alive. The second cancels out the first. For this reason, I do not believe that “dead” means unable to repent and believe.”

      I’m not sure what you’re arguing here. Are you under the impression that Greek verbs function off of a tense based system? I’m not sure what you’re point is even if it were. Are you saying that Christ made us alive during the time that we were dead, so we were both simultaneously under a death penalty but had been made alive by Christ? I don’t get how this advances your argument that we weren’t dead. It is while we were still dead that Christ made us alive (i.e., resurrected us from the dead). The point seems to be that we could not have done anything to make ourselves alive, including believing and repenting, which is a gift from God.

    • Hodge

      I realized one of my posts was continued at the wrong place. I basically said that you don’t have a “why” question here, and putting the first clause in a question like format may be an oversimplification, but it may be helpful for you to determine what’s what in regard to the hina + subj. clauses.

    • Ryan Schatz

      Hodge, do you understand ‘drawing’ as referred to in John 6 to be the same as regeneration?

    • Ryan Schatz

      Hodge writes:

      2. The words aren’t signs. Signs point to the words. If words were the signs, then when Jesus states that a wicked generation seeks for a sign, then He would be saying that a wicked generation seeks the Word of Christ. Of course, that is absurd. Signs point to something, and they exist to point to Christ’s words.

      Words are not MIRACULOUS signs as is the sense of the passage you are referring to. Those people were looking for miracles, but interestingly blind to the ones already being performed around them. However, the words that Jesus spoke are in fulfillment of prophecies made about Him and are therefore signs. No point belaboring this one as we have a real miracle in John 6.

    • HarleyVol

      Ryan wrote,
      Keep reading… Eph 2:5 “even when we were dead in our transgressions, made us alive together with Christ (by grace you have been saved)”.
      “when we were dead” is the present, active verb form. “made us alive” is in the aorist active. Are you dead and alive at the same time? As I read it, we are dead on account of our transgressions – our sentence is firm. However, on the account of Jesus and His work accomplished at the cross, we are alive. The second cancels out the first. For this reason, I do not believe that “dead” means unable to repent and believe.

      Ryan, this is a letter to a church of believers. We are discussing unbelievers. Paul tells the believers that they were dead in trespasses and sin and then God made them alive in Christ. It is fine if your belief system won’t let you believe dead is dead, but other than unable to do anything I really don’t know what dead (in its normal meaning) could mean. You are either dead or alive. Trust me, I’m a doctor.

    • HarleyVol

      Brian Roden,
      yes I have heard of prevenient grace – Christians down through the ages have referred to a type of grace they call prevenient. Simply put, prevenient grace is the grace of God given to individuals that releases them from their bondage to sin and enables them to come to Christ in faith but does not guarantee that the sinner will actually do so. Thus, the efficacy of the enabling grace of God is determined not by God but by man. I am saying that when God extends grace to a person it produces regeneration, no matter how long it takes that person to come to that knowledge of salvation. Romans 9 makes it very clear that God, as Creator, deals with His creation as He sees fit -“I will have mercy on whom I have mercy, and I will have compassion on whom I have compassion.” 16 So then it depends not on human will or exertion, [2] but on God, who has mercy.”

    • Hodge

      Well, we need to belabor the point because your argument hinges upon it (and a few other things that I don’t think can be substantiated).

      “However, the words that Jesus spoke are in fulfillment of prophecies made about Him and are therefore signs.”

      No, they aren’t. If you look at all of the uses of the word semeion, you’ll see that it’s something peformed or that which points to something, but is never spoken. It is a sight, i.e., something seen that points to something else. Words are not seen, nor ever the term’s referent. The signs point to Christ’s words, but are not the words themselves. Please cite an example of where it is used in terms of prophecy being fulfilled. Otherwise, your definition is idiosyncratic and does not hold up under the weight of the biblical evidence.

      “Hodge, do you understand ‘drawing’ as referred to in John 6 to be the same as regeneration?”

      No. The drawing is God teaching effectively those He has chosen to give to Christ. By “effectively” I mean that He accomplishes what He wishes through His teaching, i.e., bringing about faith. I believe God regenerates an individual in that process, but I don’t believe this is necessarily talking about that aspect here. Note that all the Father has taught come to Christ. Hence, He does not teach/draw/give everyone, but only those He chooses.

      “But you do not believe, because you are not of My sheep. “My sheep hear My voice, and I know them, and they follow Me; and I give eternal life to them, and they shall never perish; and no one shall snatch them out of My hand” (John 10:27-28).

      Why do they not believe?

    • Ryan Schatz

      Hodge writes:

      No, they aren’t. If you look at all of the uses of the word semeion, you’ll see that it’s something peformed or that which points to something, but is never spoken. It is a sight, i.e., something seen that points to something else. Words are not seen, nor ever the term’s referent. The signs point to Christ’s words, but are not the words themselves. Please cite an example of where it is used in terms of prophecy being fulfilled. Otherwise, your definition is idiosyncratic and does not hold up under the weight of the biblical evidence.

      It would seem that you are correct. I have looked at every use of semeion and every one seems to be referring to a physical act or event, whether natural or supernatural (ie. rainbow, red sky at night, Jonah in the belly of the whale). However, Jesus Himself – His mere physical existence (virgin birth) – is declared to be a sign.

      Hodge writes:

      No. The drawing is God teaching effectively those He has chosen to give to Christ.

      Can you explain how you can effectively teach someone who is dead?

    • Hodge

      “Can you explain how you can effectively teach someone who is dead?”

      LOL. I mentioned that I believe that God regenerates in this act, but that the act of teaching is not regeneration itself. I’m just trying to make a clear distinction between regeneration and the means through which God does it. I believe God speaks and makes alive through that speaking, but the speaking itself is not the making alive itself. This may be splitting hairs, but I think it’s important to stay true to the text. The text is only talking about drawing/learning from God. The act of regeneration is not mentioned. When and how it comes in regard to this act of drawing is something theological we can work out, but it’s not the emphasis of the text here. So I believe God speaks His teaching and makes alive through it, but that the speaking His teaching is not the regeneration that occurs itself. Does that make sense?

    • HarleyVol

      Ryan,
      #17 – I was trying to be gracious. Read Romans 9, Eph 1. God chooses according to His good pleasure because we are the clay and He is the Potter. Does God need a basis to do what He does? Really?

    • Ryan Schatz

      Harley, I appreciate your graciousness. I will look at Rom 9 soon. There’s a lot there, but the short answer is that if God creates a man who has no ability to repent and believe on Christ and therefore, due SOLELY to the fact that God refuses to enable him to believe, he is damned for all eternity, you better believe God needs a basis for that kind of thing.

      I want to keep on John 6 for a while longer as I noticed something and I’m wondering about.

      1. For those of you who subscribe to Calvinism, how do you understand John 6:27? Who is Jesus speaking to, and who does the Son of Man give the “food which endures to everlasting life” to?

      2. In John 6:29, it says “This is the work of God, that YOU believe in Him whom He sent.” Who is Jesus speaking to here? The work of God is that WHO believe?

      3. In John 6:32, Jesus says, “…but My Father gives YOU the true bread from heaven.” Who is the “you” referring to? Who does the Father give the true bread from heaven to?

    • Ryan Schatz

      Hodge #39 wrote:

      The drawing is God teaching effectively those He has chosen to give to Christ. By “effectively” I mean that He accomplishes what He wishes through His teaching, i.e., bringing about faith. … Note that all the Father has taught come to Christ. Hence, He does not teach/draw/give everyone, but only those He chooses.

      John 6:45 says, “It is written in the prophets, ‘And they shall all be taught by God.’ Therefore everyone who has heard and learned from the Father comes to Me.”

      1. Who does the ‘all’ refer to in this verse?

      2. Who comes to Jesus?
      a) All those who hear what the Father says, or
      b) All those who hear what the Father says and learn from it.

    • Hodge

      “Who does He say will be taught by God?”

      I don’t know, who? Are you suggesting that “they all” refers to all people everywhere? What does Christ say here? Everyone, i.e., “all” who has heard and has learned from the Father come to Me. Are you really suggesting that Christ, in the midst of explaining why the Jews do not believe, and that not everyone can come to Him, is now saying that everyone is taught by the Father? And you’re saying this even though the very ones taught are the very ones who come (all who hear and learn come to Me)? Context is king here, so I would definitely take “they all” to refer to “all who are drawn by the Father and come to Christ,” not everyone who exists.
      Notice that Jesus parallels His statement with the prophet’s, so “they all who are taught” are the same group as “those who have heard and learned from the Father.” They’re not two different groups.

    • Scott

      Interesting dialog guys ,

      Pertaining to your discussion on Romans 9 please read this Arminian perspective from the Society of Evangelical Arminians – I think all would benefit greatly:

      http://evangelicalarminians.org/node/286

      Also for your consideration per John 6:

      http://evangelicalarminians.org/node/282

    • Ryan Schatz

      I don’t know, who? Are you suggesting that “they all” refers to all people everywhere?

      Notice that it says “they shall all be taught” – it does not say, “…and they all shall learn.”

      What does Christ say here? Everyone, i.e., “all” who has heard and has learned from the Father come to Me. Are you really suggesting that Christ, in the midst of explaining why the Jews do not believe, and that not everyone can come to Him, is now saying that everyone is taught by the Father?

      Yes.

      And you’re saying this even though the very ones taught are the very ones who come (all who hear and learn come to Me)?

      No, where does it say that the very ones taught are exactly the same in number as the ones who learn?

      Context is king here, so I would definitely take “they all” to refer to “all who are drawn by the Father and come to Christ,” not everyone who exists.

      If you are right that context is king, then why don’t you take a stab at answering my questions from post #43?

    • Hodge

      Ryan,

      The passage that Christ quotes is parallel to what He says next, so He is saying that the Father’s teaching is effectual because the parallel is that they all hear and learn it. You are divorcing the context and interpreting the two statements as two different things, but why does Jesus quote this verse in support of what He says next if it is not effectual?

      “If you are right that context is king, then why don’t you take a stab at answering my questions from post #43?”

      I don’t think your questions here are relevant and possibly reflect a misunderstanding of Calvinist doctrine. The gospel is spoken to the general group. The manna is given to anyone who would believe. Christ weaves this in and out of His explanations that the reasons why someone believes. So we have both appeals for the crowd to believe and an explanation as to why or why not someone believes. I don’t see, therefore, what you seek to prove with these?

    • Ryan Schatz

      You are divorcing the context and interpreting the two statements as two different things, but why does Jesus quote this verse in support of what He says next if it is not effectual?

      The teaching they heard from the Father was not effectual because they did not learn from it. Being hearers only, they rejected the prior revelation. Because of this, they were not one of the sheep and so the Father did not give them to the Son. It was not due to some arbitrary choice of the Father, but due to the fact that they did not learn from His teaching. Jesus rebukes His hearers not for something that the Father didn’t give them, but for their failure to learn.

      I don’t think your questions here are relevant and possibly reflect a misunderstanding of Calvinist doctrine. The gospel is spoken to the general group. The manna is given to anyone who would believe. Christ weaves this in and out of His explanations that the reasons why someone believes. So we have both appeals for the crowd to believe and an explanation as to why or why not someone believes. I don’t see, therefore, what you seek to prove with these?

      I don’t misunderstand Calvinist doctrine. It teaches that there is the general call and the specific call, but this is not scriptural.

      In John 6:27 we have Jesus giving ‘the food that endures to eternal life’ to those that are not believing Him and they are rejecting it.

      In John 6:29, Jesus says that it was the work of God that they (the whole crowd) believe on the Messiah. Why was the work of God ineffectual? Because He didn’t flip the switch of their hearts so that they would accept Him? No, we are told it is because they rejected the Father’s prior teaching. This is the one whom the Father spoke of, but they didn’t believe John. When He makes physical bread, all they can think of is escaping the oppression of Rome and filling their bellies.

    • Ryan Schatz

      In John 6:32, the Father is doing His teaching… He is giving the ones Jesus is speaking with (unregenerate people) the ‘true bread from heaven,’ but they are not accepting it and so they are excluding themselves from the Kingdom of God.

      So there is not a general call and a specific call, there is only a general call, and all who listen and learn from the Father and eat of the manna from heaven grow thereby.

      This to me is strong and consistent testimony which contradicts Calvinism.

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