Thursday, December 23, 2010

The verse that makes you Calvinist

John 6:44 - No one can come to Me unless the Father who sent Me draws him. And I will raise him up on the last day.
Some verses must be interpreted in the Arminian way or the general sense, see John 3:16, but some other verses simply won't tolerate it.  This is one of those that only allows the Calvinist understanding.

No one can come to Me
Is the universal negative. There is no man alive who can accept Christ into his heart, or bow to him as Lord, or come to Him asking for anything in any way.  Unless Jesus is wrong it is simply impossible for any man to come near to God.

unless the Father
The first person in the Trinity is the only one who has the power to break the universal negative we just read.

who sent me
Jesus is sent from the Father, to do the Fathers will. John 6:57, John 8:18, John 5:37, John 8:16, John 8:42 (among many other passages testifying to this).  He did not come of His own accord, or to do His own will, but He was sent.

draws him.
So unless the Father Himself draws the man it is impossible that he come.  Now this word ἕλκω, which means to compel or drag, is not a word that is used to mean a passive wooing but an active overpowering.  Elsewhere in the Bible it's used to speak of seizing by force Acts 16:19,  Acts 21:30, of the disciples dragging their fish ashore in a net John 21:6, John 21:11, of being dragged into court James 2:6, or of a sword yanked from it's sheath John 18:10.  It's best translated draw here because in society they used to ἕλκω water from a well.

and I will raise Him up on the last day
We may naturally think the word draw has a wooing sense, that God is gently drawing the whole word, until we finish reading this verse and see that only the believer will be drawn, for only they will be saved.  No one can come unless dragged, and everyone so effectually dragged is saved- the two thoughts are intimately connected.  Nobody wooed fails to be saved.
The only way to restore the gentle wooing sense of draw is to chop the verse in half and assert that these are two different people - one set are wooed, and another are raised to eternal life.  Alas, the and breaks that thought.  

The only way to get through this verse is to either accept the Calvinistic concepts of Perseverance of the Saints, Total Depravity, and Effectual Calling, or to skip over the verse by not believing it. 

No comments:

Arrival, Humanity, and Jesus

I recently rented Arrival (a worthy movie about aliens coming to Earth to communicate with us) and was immediately struck by the forcef...