A Biblical Case for Proof-Texting Intimately connected with Biblical Hermenuitics and Biblical Exegesis

JETS 54.3 (September 2011) 589–606
IN DEFENSE OF PROOF-TEXTING
r. michael allen and scott r. swain*
i. the indictment: proof-texting in the dock
Proof-texting has been maligned as of late, charged in the court of theological
inquiry. Many biblical scholars snicker and jeer its employment, while
many systematic theologians avoid guilt by association.
In this context, we wish to mount an argument in defense of proof-texting.
In so doing, we claim neither to defend all that goes under the name of prooftexting,
nor to dismiss its critics’ charges. Rather we argue that proof-texting
is not necessarily problematic. What is more, historically it has served a wonderful
function as a sign of disciplinary symbiosis amongst theology and exegesis.1
We believe that a revived and renewed practice of proof-texting may
well serve as a sign of lively interaction between biblical commentary and
Christian doctrine.2
Two preliminary matters should be considered. Insofar as we discuss “prooftexting”
or “proof texts,” we employ a term in need of de4nition. Traditionally,
“proof texts” (dicta probanta) were parenthetical references or footnote/
endnote references to biblical passages that undergird some doctrinal claim
made, whether in a dogmatics textbook, a catechism, or a confession of faith.
Second, we should consider the way in which “proofs” were perceived to
function in theology. What system of “warrant” underlies the practice of prooftexting?
The assumption behind proof-texting, at least in classical Protestant
theology, was not that the meaning of a cited proof-text should be self-evident
to the reader apart from the hard work of grammatical, historical, literary,
and theological exegesis. Modern criticisms notwithstanding, classical Protestant
theologians were not naïve realists.3 Rather, the assumption was that
theology is a sacred science, whose “4rst principles” are revealed by God alone
* Michael Allen is assistant professor of systematic theology at Knox Theological Seminary, 5554North Federal Highway, Fort Lauderdale, FL 33308. Scott Swain is associate professor of systematictheology at Reformed Theological Seminary, 1231 Reformation Drive, Oviedo, FL 32765. 1 It is somewhat anachronistic to speak of disciplines of theology and exegesis when dealingwith the classical theological tradition of the Western churches (say, in the time of Thomas Aquinas
or John Calvin). Disciplines as such were a later development within university culture. But therewere di5erent literary genres written by theologian-exegetes, and dogmatics and commentary wereclearly distinct genres. 2 For an earlier analysis of the perils and promise of “proof-texting,” see Daniel J. Treier, “Proof
text,” in Dictionary for Theological Interpretation of Scripture (ed. Kevin J.Vanhoozer; Grand Rapids:Baker, 2005) 622–24. 3 Carl R. Trueman, “It Ain’tNecessarily So,” WTJ 65 (2003) 311–25, esp. pp. 314–15.590 journal of the evangelical theological societyand therefore that constructive theological argumentation must proceed onthe basis of God’s revealed truth, particularly as that revealed truth is communicatedthrough individual passages of Holy Scripture, often understoodas sedes doctrinae.4
1. The prosecution’s case. Our suggestion is counter-intuitive for many or
most readers, we imagine, and we wish to acknowledge the plethora of charges
brought against proof-texting as of late. Proof-texting has been charged with
three errors.
The 2rst charge brought against the defendant is that proof texts fail to
honor the speci!c contexts of biblical texts. In his essay “Approaches to New
Testament Exegesis,” Ralph P. Martin expresses dismay at what he calls the
“dogmatic approach” to reading the Bible. 5 It does not honor the genre, historical
setting, or literary texture of biblical texts. In Martin’s words, this
approach “sees it [the NT] as an arsenal of proof-texts to be arranged, without
much regard given to their literary form, historical context, theological
purpose, or even their best translation into modern English, to form a network
of probative evidence.”6 As the old adage has it, “a text without a context is
a pretext for a proof text.” The dogmatic approach of proof-texting misunderstands
the way meaning is conveyed: “the meaning of Scripture is atomized
by being regarded as contained in key-words or key-phrases or isolated single
verses treated without respect to their neighbouring context.” By construing
meaning as linked to discrete words or phrases, “little attention is paid to the
teaching of the passage or book in which the individual texts appear.”7
Martin sees a number of problems with this approach. First, “it misuses
the text of Scripture by appealing to a truncated part (a verse) instead of the
larger, more intelligible unit (a paragraph or longer section, according to the
writer’s purpose).” Second, “it cannot escape the charge of subjectivism when
isolated verses are chosen because of their apparent suitability to ‘prove a
point.’ ” 8 Third, “it is forgetful of God’s providence in conveying his word to
men not in fragmented or situation-less dicta, but in the total context of the
historical milieu of an ancient people (Israel, the early church) and through
the medium of a set of languages which make use of non-prescriptive modes
of expression.” He suggests that “failure to recall this last point turns the New
Testament into a legal code or a set of cold facts, like a telephone directory.”9
Consider this approach indicted.
The second charge brought against the defendant is that proof texts too
easily suggest that doctrinal language is the biblical language with no sensi4
An early statement regarding this understanding of the Bible’s role in theological science maybe found in Clement of Alexandria, Str 7.16.95. See also Richard Muller, Post-Reformation ReformedDogmatics, vol. 2 (2d ed.; Grand Rapids: Baker, 2003) 518. 5 Ralph P. Martin, “Approaches to New Testament Exegesis,” in New Testament Interpretation:Essays on Principles and Methods (ed. I. Howard Marshall; Grand Rapids: Eerdmans, 1977) 220–21. 6 Ibid. 220.
7 Ibid.
8 Ibid.
9 Ibid. 221.
in defense of proof-texting 591
tivity for the horizon of the interpreter or the hermeneutical task involved in
working with the biblical language. In his essay “The Voice and the Actor: A
Dramatic Proposal about the Ministry and Minstrelsy of Theology,” Kevin
Vanhoozer considers the claims of Wayne Grudem’s ETS presidential address.
10 In that address, entitled “Do We Act as If We Really Believe that
‘the Bible Alone, and the Bible in Its Entirety, Is the Word of God Written?”
Grudem suggests that the way forward for evangelical theology is to pursue
“whole Bible exegesis.”11 What does Grudem mean by “whole Bible exegesis”?
He does not de-ne it precisely, though he gives examples (e.g. Craig Blomberg’s
Neither Poverty Nor Riches: A Biblical Theology of Possessions, Jack
Deere’s Surprised by the Power of the Spirit and Surprised by the Voice of God,
and D. A. Carson’s The Gagging of God). The closest de-nition to what such
books do, in Grudem’s words, comes earlier in the article: “Not just what one
verse says, or one book, but the whole of the Bible, interpreted and applied
rightly to the Church today.”12 Unfortunately Grudem o.ers little help here
in explaining what makes for right or proper interpretation and application,
beyond his insistence that it take in the full panorama of biblical teaching
(being not just NT or OT study, but “whole Bible” study).
To really grasp what is involved in interpreting and applying the whole of
the Bible to issues today, we must look to Grudem’s own Systematic Theology
for some methodological clarity. He o.ers a directive and then suggests three
steps to achieve that goal. First the directive: “We should study systematic
theology by collecting and understanding all the relevant passages of Scripture
on any given topic.”13 Second, he o.ers the three
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case that one can come to an appropriately theological understanding of birth
control and gun control (to cite two of Grudem’s dozen or so pressing problems)
by exegeting the relevant portions of Scripture? Studying biblical words and
concepts takes us only so far.”15 In other words, Grudem’s approach does not
honor the di2erence between biblical language and contemporary theological
and ethical debates—it seems to elide any hermeneutical distance entirely.16
Vanhoozer notes that we cannot overlook this di2erence: “It is one thing to
know how a biblical author spoke or thought about a particular issue in the
context of ancient Israel or the early church, quite another to relate those
words and thoughts about a particular issue to the message of the Bible as a
whole and to the signi3cance of the Bible’s teaching for us today.”17
More recently, Vanhoozer has stated that proof-texting 4attens the biblical
witness by overlooking the di2erences in genre and literary style.18 In his
words, “to force every biblical sentence into the same mold in a kind of ‘one
size 3ts all’ hermeneutic is to read roughshod over the diverse literary genres
of Scripture.”19 Vanhoozer also mentions that proof-texting is not helpful in
weighing biblical evidence for theological arguments: “Proof-texting assumes
a uniform propositional revelation spread evenly throughout Scripture: one
verse, one vote. Not only does this approach risk decontextualizing biblical
discourse, it also leaves unclear just how the texts cited in support actually
lend their support to the point in question.” 20 Surely employment of narrative
texts and biblical theological themes that permeate whole books or
even collections of books (e.g. exile in the Minor Prophets) should play into a
number of doctrines—yet these cannot always easily be referenced via word
study or strict citation. In addition, poetic texts, parables, and Pauline letters
all communicate in their own way, and it would be reductionistic to reduce
them all to doctrinal verbiage. Such translation mistakes biblical language for
contemporary dogmatics, when in fact they are distinct domains of discourse
(and, yes, even Paul is not writing dogmatics per se).
15 Vanhoozer, “Voice and the Actor” 62. 16 It is also worth noting that this approach fails to distinguish between topics that the Bible
directly and repeatedly speaks about (e.g. justi3cation) and topics that the Bible speaks about onlyindirectly (e.g. gun control). The distinction is important to make because it determines the relativeimportance of general revelation for thinking about a particular topic and it determines the wayin which the Bible may be employed when addressing a particular topic (i.e. Does the Bible speak
explicitly and at length to this topic, or does it sketch the lineaments of a worldview through whichwe may look at what general revelation reveals about this topic?). 17 Vanhoozer, “Voice and the Actor” 62–63. 18 Kevin J. Vanhoozer, The Drama of Doctrine: A Canonical-Linguistic Approach to ChristianTheology (Louisville: Westminster John Knox, 2005) 270–72. We should mention that Vanhoozer
himself practices, exempli3es even, the kind of proof-texting that we call for (e.g. see n. 60 or all
the parenthetical Scripture references in The Drama of Doctrine). But he consistently uses the term“proof-texting” to refer to a misuse of the Bible. We think it can be applied in a more laudatory
manner. 19 Vanhoozer, Drama of Doctrine 270–71; cf. D. A. Carson, “Systematic Theology and BiblicalTheology,” in New Dictionary of Biblical Theology (ed. T. Desmond Alexander et al.; Downers Grove:
InterVarsity, 2000) 94–95. 20 Vanhoozer, Drama of Doctrine 271.
in defense of proof-texting 593The third charge brought against the defendant is that proof texts interactwith ecclesiastical history rather than biblical history. Recent years haveseen scholars dismiss traditional readings of certain passages, claiming thattheir frequent employment in theological literature owes solely to ecclesiastical
tradition and not at all to exegetical rigor. 21 For example, a long tradition
of theological work in the West has looked to Exod 3:14 as a chief text
shaping its doctrine of God, joining with other texts to suggest the holiness,
transcendence, simplicity, and eternality of YHWH. God names himself, “I am
who I am,” and the Western theological tradition has routinely seen this to
reveal a great deal about his character. Not so in much modern biblical studies.
Martin Noth took the verse to delay naming of God.22 In his recent commentary,
Terence Fretheim argues against any metaphysical teaching in Exodus
3. 23 According to Jewish theologian Franz Rosenzweig, “all those who -nd
here notions of ‘being,’ of ‘the-one-who-is,’ of ‘the eternal,’ are all Platonizing
. . . God calls himself not ‘the-one-who-is’ but ‘the one-who-is-there,’ i.e. there
for you, there for you at this place, present to you, with you or rather coming
toward you, toward you to help you.”24 Indeed, it almost seems required now
for exegetes to comment on the “Platonizing” or “Hellenizing” or downright
“eisegetical” tendency to see Exod 3:14 teaching anything about the character
of God. 25 Exodus 3:14 has served as a proof-text for “classical theism,” but
this says far more about the Hellenizing history of the early church and later
traditionalism than it does about what God revealed at the burning bush to
his servant Moses.26
In a common version of the present charge, and closely related to the
-rst charge as well, critics accuse theologians of dislocating texts from their
native literary and historical context in order to classify them according to the
categories of dogmatic theology. 27 This anachronistic process, it is charged,
inevitably distorts the meaning of Holy Scripture. D. A. Carson is a key representativeof this criticism. According to Carson, dogmatic theology’s desire
to integrate biblical truth “into a system” determined by its own (often ahistorical
and/or confessional) categories is more likely to distort or miss the
meaning of God’s multi-faceted word than the discipline of biblical theology,
which is intrinsically more attentive to the distinctive historical and literary
21 Martin, “Approaches to New Testament Exegesis” 221. 22 Martin Noth, Exodus: A Commentary (OTL; Philadelphia: Westminster, 1962) 44–45. 23 Terence Fretheim, Exodus: A Commentary (Interpretation; Louisville: Westminster John
Knox, 1991) 62–63. 24 Franz Rosenzweig, “A Letter to Martin Goldner,” in Martin Buber and Franz Rosenzweig,
Scripture and Translation (Bloomington, IN: Indiana University Press, 1994) 191. 25 For example, see Christopher R. Seitz, Figured Out: Typology and Providence in ChristianScripture (Louisville: Westminster John Knox, 2001) 140; Richard Bauckham, God Cruci!ed: Monotheism
and Christology in the New Testament (Grand Rapids: Eerdmans, 1998) 78–79; George A. F.Knight, Theology as Narration: A Commentary on the Book of Exodus (Grand Rapids: Eerdmans,
1976) 23. 26 For further analysis of these charges and a rebuttal, see Michael Allen, “Exodus 3 after the
Hellenization Thesis,” JTI 3 (2009) 179–96; idem, “Exodus 3,” in Theological Commentary: Evangelical
Essays (ed. Michael Allen; London: T & T Clark, forthcoming 2011). 27 Brevard S. Childs, Biblical Theology of the Old and New Testaments: Theological Re”ection
on the Christian Bible (Minneapolis: Fortress, 1993) 11.
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shape of the text and to its particular illocutionary emphases.28 Indeed, for
reasons such as this, some have recently wondered whether biblical theology
might be capable of doing everything that systematic theology attempts to
do—only better.These charges amount to some major concerns: proof-texting is dogmaticcherry-picking, an eisegetical use of the Bible, or ecclesiastical imposition onancient literature.
2. The cross-examination of evidence. We must acknowledge that the critics
are on to something. All is not well in the house of systematic theology.
With regard to the Bible in theology, we can speak of sins of omission and of
commission.
a. Regarding sins of omission. Many note that the discipline has enjoyed a
renaissance or revival in the last twenty to thirty years, especially in England.
Whereas the 1960s were marked by “death of God theology” and the 1970s
were known for the “myth of God incarnate,” the last decade has been shaped
by “Radical Orthodoxy.”29 Things sound more promising. While there are many
blessings to note, no doubt, we must observe that the growth of English systematic
theology has not been stamped by and large by consistent exegetical
concern. The major lights of this time period—Colin Gunton, John Webster,
Rowan Williams, Bruce McCormack—have not (as of yet) engaged in lengthy
commentary of the biblical text.30
Many systematic theologians have gained an appreciation for the importance
of reading the Bible theologically, so much so that “theological interpretation
of Scripture” is a growing academic discipline with its own journal, book
series, dictionary, and so forth. Monographs seem to pour out with hermeneutical
re2ection on how to read the Bible. Yet one still looks in vain for books
on various doctrinal topics that really tackle the task of theological exegesis
at length. Furthermore, so many theological articles focus solely on relating
to cultural theory, philosophical trends, or some realm of historical theology
(with the Fathers, Puritans, and the post-Reformation era being among the
most frequent sources these days). Above all, however, theologians focus on
discussion of methodology—again, in conversation with philosophical, hermeneutical,
historical, even sociological resources. Many systematic theologians
need to heed the words of ethicist Je3rey Stout: “preoccupation with method
is like clearing your throat: it can go on for only so long before you lose your
audience.”3128 Carson, “Systematic Theology and Biblical Theology” 94–95, 97, 101. 29 For those seeking introduction to the “Radical Orthodoxy” movement, see Michael Allen, “PuttingSuspenders on the World: Radical Orthodoxy as a Post-Secular Theological Proposal or WhatCan Evangelicals Learn from Postmodern Christian Platonists,” Them 31 (2006) 40–53 (now availableonline: http://s3.amazonaws.com/tgc-documents/journal-issues/31.2_Allen.pdf). 30 It should be noted, though, that John Webster is currently working on a commentary on the
Epistle to the Ephesians and has prepared a number of shorter exegetical articles. 31 Je3rey Stout, Ethics after Babel: The Languages of Morals and Their Discontents (Boston:
Beacon, 1988) 163.
in defense of proof-texting 595
This tendency has not simply occurred outside the realm of evangelical
theology. Indeed, Wayne Grudem has noted this temerity to engage the Bible
in his assessment of contemporary evangelical theology. “For reasons I do not
fully understand, within our lifetimes it seems to me a change has occurred
whereby NT and OT studies seem to the outsider to be so specialized that very
few scholars outside those disciplines feel competent to interpret the Bible in
any published article. They su-er from what we might call ‘exegetophobia.’ ”32
He made this assessment after surveying years of journal articles and noting
a trend whereby evangelical theologians interacted with secular sources and
historical theology much more frequently than any biblical texts. We note his
assessment simply to point out that evangelical theologians frequently fall into
the same sin of omission that has plagued many other theological traditions—
a disuse of explicit biblical argumentation in writings on Christian doctrine.
b. Regarding sins of commission. When they do engage the Bible, many
systematic theologians have been guilty of misuse. There are narrow and wide
examples of misuse.
We can consider a narrow misuse, that is, how one particular issue can be
approached wrongly because of misunderstanding about how biblical passages
lead to Christian doctrine. For example, John Feinberg, Robert Reymond, and
Wayne Grudem express disagreement with the traditional doctrine of the
“eternal generation” of the Son.
If you analyze their arguments against eternal generation, they simply
amount to exegesis of one key word.33 Grudem is clear: “the controversy over
the term ‘only begotten’ was unnecessary because it was based on a misunderstandingof the meaning of the Greek word monogenēs (used of Jesus in
John 1:14, 18; 3:16, 18; and 1 John 4:19).”34 Recent linguistic study has argued
against the classical rendering of the word—“only begotten”—in favor of a
newer translation: “one of a kind.” Thus Jesus is called a unique son in these
verses—not the singly begotten son. This parallels the usage of the term in
Heb 11:17, wherein Isaac is monogenēs of Abraham (surely not his only son,
for Ishmael was already on the scene). Grudem expresses frustration that the
phrases “begotten of the Father before all worlds” and “begotten, not made”
appear in the Nicene-Constantinopolitan Creed. The notion of “eternal begetting”
is not necessarily contrary to the Bible, he says, but it is surely not
required by the Bible. Indeed, he goes further: “nothing in Scripture would
indicate that we should a.rm it.”35
The approach exempli/ed by Grudem suggests that doctrines must be mandated
by particular words or phrases. When a proof-text—that is, a particular
word seen to have dogmatic import—is no longer found to /ll the role, the
32 Grudem, “Do We Act As If” 11. 33 Unlike Reymond and Grudem, Feinberg also expresses some analytic concern for the idea ofwhat could be conveyed logically by the doctrine of eternal generation—his argument, thus, is more
wide ranging and less reductive (No One Like Him: The Doctrine of God [Foundations of Evangelical
Theology; Wheaton: Crossway, 2001] 489). 34 Grudem, “Appendix 6: The Monogenēs Controversy: ‘Only’ or ‘Only Begotten’?” in Systematic
Theology 1233. 35 Ibid. 1234.596 journal of the evangelical theological society
doctrine falls. In this framework, as Kevin Vanhoozer has shown, meaning is
identi2ed with terms and clauses as opposed to broader levels of communicative
action. What is more, this kind of methodology fails to note that certain
doctrines may derive from the conjoining of several biblical ideas rather than
from explicit biblical warrant. In this case, patristic writers based the notion
of eternal generation on the NT’s (especially Johannine) presentation of the
consistent pattern that characterizes the Father-Son relationship, a pattern
exhibited in their common life ad intra and in their common work ad extra, as
well as on other biblical analogies used to describe the Father-Son relationship
(e.g. God-Word [John 1:1], Glory-Radiance [Heb 1:3], etc.). 36 As another example,
the so-called “covenant of redemption” (pactum salutis) was developed
in the sixteenth and seventeenth centuries to express the eternal roots of the
plan of salvation in the common life of the Trinity, something of a conjoining
of the doctrines of election and Trinity.37 Though there is no single text that
stipulates the existence of such a covenant, various texts imply the reality to
which this covenantal language points.
We may also see wider misuse, wherein a whole theology can be justi2ed
by misleading standards about the use of the Bible in theology. Reviews of
various theology texts can make much of mere references to texts, as if the
quantity of references in and of itself demonstrates the biblical caliber of the
theology. Such reviews frequently run free of analysis of the nature of such
biblical reference, the contextual sensitivity of it, the way it makes good use
of secondary scholarship (both classical and modern), and so forth.
Taking both errors of commission into account and acknowledging the
frequent sin of omission, systematic theologians have much to which they
must plead guilty as charged. Indeed the poor use of the Bible by theologians
makes it far too easy for other charges to be brought against any and all
“proof-texting” in theology. We think this unfortunate, yet understandable.
The burden of proof has shifted upon those, like ourselves, who would suggest
that proof-texting is a valid practice.
36 In a recent paper delivered at the Annual Meeting of the Evangelical Theological Society, KeithJohnson demonstrated that Augustine’s doctrine of eternal generation does not rest simply on his
interpretation of monogenēs. For Augustine, the doctrine rests on the various ways in which the NTportrays the Father-Son relationship, including (1) the “sender-sent one” relationship (e.g. John 4:34;5:23–24; 5:30–47; 6:38–44; 6:57; 7:16; 7:28–29; 7:33; 8:16–18; 8:26–29; 8:42; 9:4; 12:44–50; 13:16;
14:24; 15:21; 16:5; 16:28; 17:3; 17:18: 20:21); (2) the relationship between the Father as “giver” andthe Son as “receiver,” a relationship that obtains both in God’s immanent life and in his externalworks (e.g. John 5:19; 5:22; 5:26; 5:27; 5:36; 10:18; 17:2, 17:8; 17:11; 17:22; 18:11); (3) the ordered
unity of the Father and the Son in their works (e.g. John 1:3; 1 Cor 8:6); (4) analogies between theSpirit’s relationship to the Father (and the Son) and the Son’s relationship to the Father (e.g. John15:26; 16:13–14). See Keith Johnson, “What Would Augustine Say to Evangelicals Who Reject theEternal Generation of the Son?” (November 17, 2010). On patristic use of biblical analogies to explicate
the Father-Son relationship, see Thomas F. Torrance, The Trinitarian Faith: The EvangelicalTheology of the Ancient Catholic Church (London: T & T Clark, 1995) 120–21. 37 Richard A. Muller, “Toward the Pactum Salutis: Locating the Origins of a Concept,” MATJ18 (2008) 11–65; Carl Trueman, “From Calvin to Gillespie on Covenant: Mythological Excess or an
Exercise in Doctrinal Development,” IJST 11 (2009) 378–97.
in defense of proof-texting 597ii. is the evidence beyond a reasonable doubt
or is there another explanation?
Before discussing two models that might aid in recovering a positive understanding
and use of proof-texts, we should take note of one important fact:
All of the charges brought against the use of proof-texts in Christian theology
could be lodged against the Bible’s own use of the Bible. With respect to the 5rst
charge: 2 Cor 6:16–18 cites and/or alludes to a litany of OT passages (including
Lev 26:12; Isa 52:11; 2 Sam 7:14) in support of the claim that “we are the
temple of the living God,” but gives no indication of the distinct literary and
historical contexts within which those passages are found. With respect to the
second charge: Gal 3:14 equates “the blessing of Abraham”—presumably the
blessings of Gen 12:3 and 15:6, which are cited in Gal 3:6 and 3:8—with “the
promised Spirit.” However, the Book of Genesis does not record any explicit
promise regarding the Spirit’s coming, a promise more clearly enunciated in
much later prophetic texts (e.g. Joel 2:28; Isa 44:3; 59:21). Here, then, we
have an example of a text being used in a doctrinally more speci5c sense than
its original context, taken by itself, allows. With respect to the third charge:
Hebrews 1 collects a series of OT texts, primarily from the Psalms, as witness
to a single doctrinal theme, the Messiah’s divine sonship. However, the deity
of God’s Son does not seem to be the main theological focus, if it is a focus at
all, in any of these texts. Is the author of Hebrews allowing his own doctrinal
interest, namely, establishing the deity of God’s Son, to drive his collection
and probative use of Scripture?
The reason for noting these examples is not to dismiss Scripture’s use of
Scripture. Nor is it to suggest that the apostles should be given a free hermeneutical
pass when it comes to the use of proof-texts because of their status
as God’s inspired spokespersons. The reason for drawing attention to these
examples is to point out something now widely acknowledged by evangelical
biblical scholars: namely, that the use of Scripture by Scripture cannot be
understood on the basis of citation techniques alone. To the contrary, if we are
to appreciate the way Scripture uses Scripture to prove a doctrinal point, then
we must appreciate the larger hermeneutical frameworks within which citations
are employed, the original (historical and literary) contexts within which
proof-texts are found, and we must also possess a certain canonical sensitivity
to how biblical motifs and themes unfold in the history of redemption, and,
perhaps most importantly, how Christ is understood to be the climax of that
unfolding historical development.38 When such factors are acknowledged, the
use of the OT in the NT is much less open to the charge of arbitrary apologetics
and appears to exhibit a more coherent hermeneutical procedure than initial
appearances would have led us to appreciate.
What is the lesson to be drawn from this point? Simply this: We must not
confuse citation techniques (e.g. proof-texting) with hermeneutical method,
whether we are considering Scripture’s use of Scripture or theology’s use of
38 A helpful collection of essays in support of this perspective, which also includes opposing views,may be found in G. K. Beale, ed., The Right Doctrine from the Wrong Texts? Essays on the Use of theOld Testament in the New (Grand Rapids: Baker, 1994).
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Scripture. When it comes to the function of a proof-text in a given theological
argument, we should be willing to consider whether or not a particular
usage of a text might make more sense to us if we considered the underlying
hermeneutical rationale and the broader exegetical context which determined
that particular usage. Our belief is that, if we did so, we would in many instances
come out with a di2erent appreciation of the function of proof-texts
in Christian theology than contemporary criticisms will admit. Our plea, then,
is for consistency: let us lend the same patient and charitable attempt to
understanding theology’s use of Scripture proofs that we lend to understanding
Scripture’s use of Scripture’s proofs. And let us not commit the fallacy
of confusing a method of citation with a hermeneutical procedure. Indeed, if
there is an immediate lesson to be drawn, it is this: proof-texting (as a citation
technique) has biblical precedent and therefore should not be too hastily
dismissed.
While the charges are serious and are not without grounds, we suggest
that things may not be as they seem. While the burden of proof is upon those
who wish to employ proof texts, it can be demonstrated that this is neither
necessarily unhealthy nor easily dispensable. Though systematic theologians
nowadays may not carry a great deal of credibility with regard to their use
of the Bible, we suggest that is neither logically necessary nor traditionally
the case. In other words, things might be di2erent and, in fact, things have
frequently been di2erent. Perhaps there is another explanation for the role
of proof texts in theology, and we believe a wider perspective is needed. By
looking beyond our era of hyper-specialization, we can appreciate the way that
proof-texting served as a synthetic symbol of the coinherence of what John
Webster calls “exegetical reasoning” and “dogmatic reasoning.”39 To that end,
we will consider the role of proof texts in the theological work of two theological
giants from past centuries: Thomas Aquinas and John Calvin.
1. Thomas Aquinas. Thomas Aquinas is a hard man to characterize. He
helped mediate disputes about the legacy of Aristotle within the arts faculty
at the University of Paris, the preeminent educational institution of the day.
He wrote four di2erent systems of theology (his commentary on Peter Lombard’s
Sentences, the Summa Contra Gentiles, the Summa Theologiae, and the
Compendium Theologiae—the last two were left un3nished). He participated
in sizable ecumenical conversations with Eastern Christians on behalf of the
papacy. Yet his day job was as master sacra pagina, a professor of biblical
literature, giving lectures on various biblical books.
Thomas wrote commentaries and collected commentary. He left us commentaries
upon Isaiah, Jeremiah, Job, John, Romans, Hebrews, and numerous
other biblical texts. He collected the available patristic and medieval
commentary upon the Synoptic Gospels in his Catena Aurea, something of a
precursor to today’s Ancient Christian Commentary on Scripture released by
InterVarsity Press.
39 John Webster, “Biblical Reasoning,” ATR 90 (2008) 733–51, esp. pp. 749–50.
in defense of proof-texting 599
Thomas did not see his various tasks as separated. While his work on Aristotle
or angelology was distinguished from his thinking about Amos, it was
never separated intellectually. In fact the work on philosophical theology and
the history of doctrine was meant to shape his reading of Scripture. Of the
38,000 citations in the Summa Contra Gentiles and Summa Theologiae, over
25,000 references come from Holy Scripture.
What role do these proof-texts play in his theological argument? Thomas
believes that sacra doctrina must -ow from sacra doctrina. He bluntly states:
“When it comes to the things of God, man should not easily speak of them
otherwise than does Sacred Scripture.”40 Scripture should guide theology.41
We can see this principle shape the very form of argument in his theological
masterpiece. In the question and answer format of the Summa Theologiae,
Thomas raises a question, considers various answers from his opponents,
lodges a contrary opinion, o.ers his own perspective, and then replies to each
statement by his opponents. It is illuminating to see that the contrary opinions
(sed contra: “on the other hand”) tend to either quote Scripture or ecclesial authorities(especially Augustine). The decisive role and distinct shape of biblical
proof-texts not only points to the Bible’s authority but manifests the way that
Thomas makes use of a rich exegetical tradition in making such references.
The quotation of a biblical passage in the Summa is meant to point the reader
to a commentary written by Thomas or to an exegetical tradition of which he
and the intelligent reader would be aware.
The Summa covers a wider terrain than any one biblical commentary—in
fact, it could be characterized as a whole-Bible commentary with its very
structure being shaped by what we now call “biblical theology.” 42 The particular
biblical commentaries contain more detailed expositions of pertinent
passages that are merely referenced o.hand or quoted brie-y in the Summa.
For example, he discusses the equality of power of the Father and of the Son
in two types of texts (ST 1a.42.6 and in his Commentary on John 5:19). In the
article in the ST, Thomas mentions a number of other texts in John’s Gospel
(5:20; 5:30; 14:31), and he makes reference to no patristic sources. When you
trace those references or quotations to his commentary, however, you see extended
analysis of a deep patristic tradition. He presents Hilary of Poitier’s
anti-Arian exegesis, as well as the interpretive approaches of Augustine, Didymus
the Blind, and John Chrysostom. Gilles Emery summarizes: “one can
see that the Summa organizes and summarizes the patristic teaching of the
Catena aurea which the commentary on St. John (posterior in time) presents
in greater detail. The commentary allows one to measure the deep patristic
40 Contra errors graecorum I, i. 41 For analysis of how Thomas uses the Bible in his theological work, see Wilhelmus Valkenberg,
Words of the Living God: Place and Function of Holy Scripture in the Theology of St. Thomas Aquinas
(Publications of the Thomas Institut te Utrecht New Series 6; Leuven: Peeters, 2000); Christopher
Baglow, “Modus et Forma”: A New Approach to the Exegesis of Saint Thomas Aquinas with an Application
to the Lectura super Epistolam ad Ephesios (AnBib 149; Rome: Biblical Institute Press, 2002). 42 Baglow, “Sacred Scripture and Sacred Doctrine” 11–14.
600 journal of the evangelical theological society
roots of the Summa’s doctrine on the subject of the equality of power of the
Father and the Son.”43
Sometimes he even mentions the exegetical tradition in his quotation. For
example, he asks the question: “besides the knowledge we have of God by
natural reason is there in this life a deeper knowledge that we have through
grace?” (1a.12.13).44 Three answers are given, each of which boils down to the
same answer “no.” Then Thomas says: “On the other hand St Paul says, God
has revealed to us through his Spirit, a wisdom which none of this world’s
rulers knew and a gloss says that this refers to philosophers.” The italicized
words are biblical quotations from 1 Cor 2:8–10. Thomas not only refers to the
biblical text, but he also makes reference to its history of interpretation. He
concludes this sentence with a quotation from Jerome’s gloss on 1 Corinthians
2, that is, Jerome’s commentary upon the text as found within the lines of
his Vulgate.45 Thomas realizes that the gloss is an expansion or interpretation
of the speci2c words of St. Paul—he 2nds this to be a plausible exegesis
of the passage and references its primary or paradigmatic occurrence (in St.
Jerome’s work). Here a proof-text serves to draw in not only an authoritative
biblical passage, but its ecclesial interpretation as exempli2ed in the tradition.
Thomas does not expand on all of the reasons for understanding “this world’s
rulers” as “philosophers,” but he points to an authority who has done so. The
quotation and the reference to Jerome serve as a footnote, so that the readers
whose interest has been piqued at this point can trace the argument further
back into a vibrant interpretive tradition.
2. John Calvin. John Calvin is another representative of the healthy
relationship between exegesis and doctrine that has characterized much
of the theological tradition. The sixteenth-century Genevan Reformer is a
particularly instructive example of the positive role that proof-texts might
play in theology because of the methodological sophistication he exhibits in
distinguishing and relating the genres of biblical commentary and dogmatic
theology.
Calvin’s programmatic division of labor between exegesis and dogmatics
grew in part out of frustration with the commentaries produced by some of his
Protestant counterparts. In the dedication of his 1540 Romans commentary
to Simon Grynaeus, Calvin faulted Melanchthon’s approach to commentary
writing for focusing too exclusively upon select doctrinal points in the biblical
text to the neglect of other textual issues and themes. 46 By failing to follow
the discourse and argument of the text closely, and by focusing primarily
43 Gilles Emery, “Biblical Exegesis and the Speculative Doctrine of the Trinity in St. Thomas
Aquinas’s Commentary on St. John,” in Trinity in Aquinas (Ypsilanti, MI: Sapientia, 2003) 306–7. 44 St. Thomas Aquinas, Summa Theologiae: Latin text and English translation, Introductions,
Notes, Appendices, and Glossaries, Vol. 3: Knowing and Naming God (1a.12–13) (ed. Herbert McCabe;
New York: McGraw-Hill, 1964). 45 Jerome, Missale Mixtum: Prefatione, Notis, et Appendicibus (ed. J. P. Migne; PL 30; Paris:
1862) 752. 46 John Calvin, The Epistle of Paul The Apostle to the Romans and to the Thessalonians (Calvin’s
Commentaries; Grand Rapids: Eerdmans, 1961) 2.
in defense of proof-texting 601
upon issues of speci-c theological interest, this commentarial approach took
the unacceptable risk of distracting readers from the message and intention
of the biblical author. In the same dedicatory letter, Calvin also criticized
Bullinger and Bucer for the method they employed in writing biblical commentary.
Though their commentaries demonstrated greater commitment to
tracing the .ow of the text than did Melanchthon’s, Calvin nonetheless found
fault with their approach. In their commentaries, both theologians followed
the (long-established) practice of capping the running commentary upon the
text with long excurses on doctrinal loci which the text had either explicitly
or implicitly mentioned. 47 This (to Calvin’s mind cumbersome) practice also
distracted readers from the rhetorical shape of the biblical text and thus
represented a transgression of what he believed was the commentator’s chief
duty: to unfold with “lucid brevity” the mind of the author.48
Calvin’s criticism was not that his contemporaries sought to elucidate
dogmatic topics from the text of Scripture. For Calvin, like Aquinas before
him, Scripture provided the foundation for all legitimate theological inquiry
and was given by God to promote (among other things) speci-cally doctrinal
ends. Calvin’s criticism concerned the proper divisions which he believed
should characterize theological labor. He believed that the work of elaborating
upon the doctrinal loci revealed in Scripture, and of disputing relevant
errors related to those loci, did not belong in the genre of biblical commentary
because such discussions would distract the reader from the biblical author’s
particular argument and message. Instead, Calvin believed that the work of
dogmatic exposition and disputation belonged in the genre of the loci communes
(“common places”), a genre devoted to collecting and arranging in an
orderly manner the common themes of Holy Scripture. Beginning with the
1539 edition of his Institutes of the Christian Religion, Calvin put this genre
to great service in his theological program.49
While it is important to appreciate the distinction between biblical commentary
and loci communes in Calvin’s theological program, it is more important
for present purposes to appreciate their relationship. The collection
and orderly arrangement of topics into loci communes was a practice common
to many academic disciplines in the sixteenth and seventeenth centuries. 50
It was not an exclusively theological genre. What was distinctive about the
genre’s usage in Protestant theology was its relationship to biblical exegesis.
The loci communes, as developed by Calvin and others, was dependent
upon biblical exegesis in a number of important ways. Exegesis determined
both the speci-c topics that were treated in the loci communes and also (in
47 Richard Muller, The Unaccommodated Calvin: Studies in the Foundation of a Theological
Tradition (New York: Oxford University Press, 2000) 28–29. 48 Calvin, Romans 1. 49 See Elsie A. McKee, “Exegesis, Theology, and Development in Calvin’s Institutio: A Methodological
Suggestion,” in Probing the Reformed Tradition: Historical Studies in Honor of Edward A.
Dowey, Jr. (ed. Elsie A. McKee and Brian G. Armstrong; Louisville: Westminster/John Knox, 1989)
154–72; and especially Muller, Unaccommodated Calvin. 50 Joseph S. Freedman, “The Career and Writings of Bartholomew Keckermann (d. 1609),” Proceedings
of the America Philosophical Society 141 (1997) 305–64.
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loose and varying ways) the arrangement of those topics. With respect to
topics: the doctrinal themes treated in sixteenth and seventeenth century
“common places” were not established by asking “What does the whole Bible
say about x?” The topics treated in this genre were instead determined by
the frequency with which they appeared in Holy Scripture—their status as
truly common themes of the Bible—and also by the extent to which they were
developed in certain foundational texts or sedes doctrinae. For Calvin and his
contemporaries, the Bible had a discrete message, speaking speci2cally about
certain things and not about others, and it was the job of the loci communes to
provide a reliable summary of this discrete message. With respect to arrangement:
the topics treated in the loci communes were often arranged according
to the Bible’s unfolding historical economy of salvation,51 or else according to
some other biblically derived order. In Melanchthon and Calvin’s cases, Paul’s
Epistle to the Romans provided a key, though not exclusive, organizational
structure.52 The ordering principle of the loci communes in early Protestant
dogmatics was therefore neither “timeless” nor simply “logical,” at least not
in the senses that these terms are often used today.53 The ordering principle
in early Protestant examples of this genre re3ected the theologian’s intention
to re-present in a faithful manner not only the Bible’s distinctive content but
also the Bible’s distinctive shape in order to assist readers in understanding
the biblical text.54
It only remains to be said that, when it comes to Calvin’s Institutes, prooftexts
functioned as shorthand references to the more extended exegetical
bases for doctrinal claims that could be found in his commentaries. As Richard
Muller observes: “if one wishes to ascertain the biblical basis of Calvin’s
topical discussions and disputations, one must read the commentaries.”55
We hope to have shown the common understanding of proof texts to be
insu4cient and to have proposed an alternative theory for how they may function
in biblical and theological studies. We considered the way they serve as
short-hand references in the works of Thomas Aquinas and John Calvin, leading
readers of their dogmatic works to appropriate interpretive discussions in
their commentaries or the commentary tradition they presupposed. For these
theologians, proof texts did not subvert exegetical care—they symbolized and
represented its necessity. Understanding the way in which doctrines develop
out of and beyond the explicit statements in biblical texts is crucial for grasping
the kind of claim behind made when one gives a proof text: it does not
51 Karl Barth, Church Dogmatics, vol. 4.1 (London: T & T Clark, 1956) 55. 52 See Muller, Unaccommodated Calvin chap. 7. 53 It seems that many contemporary discussions of the di5ering organizational principles of biblical
and systematic theology have confused what Johann Gabler said should be the case with whathistorically has been the case. This is an unfortunate (and anachronistic) oversight. 54 Consider Calvin’s stated intention in writing the Institutes: “it has been my purpose in thislabor to prepare and instruct candidates in sacred theology for the reading of the divine Word, inorder that they may be able both to have easy access to it and to advance in it without stumbling.For I believe I have so embraced the sum of religion in all its parts, and have arranged it in suchan order, that if anyone rightly grasps it, it will not be di4cult for him to determine what he ought
especially to seek in Scripture, and to what end he ought to relate its contents” (Institutes of theChristian Religion [Philadelphia: Westminster, 1960] 4). 55 Muller, Unaccommodated Calvin 108.in defense of proof-texting 603
necessarily suggest that the doctrine as stated can be found there, but it does
claim that the doctrine is rooted there in principle, when viewed in its larger
canonical lens and when its implications are fully teased out.iii. closing arguments: two pleas tothe jury, one 6nal analogy
What role will proof texts play in biblical and theological studies in the
future? The jury should consider two suggestions in assessing the future role,
if any, of proof texts. We o7er these proposals whereby proof-texts need not
be found guilty, but can be rehabilitated and may function as a wonderful sign
of disciplinary symbiosis: theology and exegesis working hand in hand and
side by side. We suggest some commitments from systematic theologians and
others from biblical scholars.
First, systematic theologians must be aware of the burden of proof upon
them to show that they are using the Bible well in their theological construction.
They should seek to promote a biblically saturated culture amongst fellow
evangelical systematic theologians. We think they should realize that
suspicion will remain upon them until this has been accomplished to some
degree. But they should take cheer and remain hopeful, for history shows that
theologians have been remarkable exegetes.
There are two ways in which to promote a biblically saturated culture
amongst evangelical systematic theologians. First, engage in writing theological
commentary (whether of whole books of the Bible or simply of particular
passages in journal articles). Thankfully, a number of avenues for such work
have been birthed in recent years: commentary series, a journal, monograph
series, and conference sessions focused on theological exegesis, theological
commentary, and theological interpretation of Scripture. 56 More theologians
should commit to an ongoing practice of doing exegetical work in their lectures,
conference addresses, and their personal writing programs. Second, enrich
dogmatic arguments with a great deal of exegetical excurses and engagement
with works of exegetical and biblical-theological rigor. This is not simply to say
that theologians should use the language of the Bible more. 57 One need not
restrict oneself to using biblical terminology, but it would be surely strange
to avoid using it or to use it less than, say, the jargon modern philosophy or
cultural theory.58 More important than keeping familiar biblical terminology
in play in systematic theology is keeping faith with the duty to express the
meaning of the Bible, and faithfulness to that calling cannot exist without
lengthy, careful attention given to re8ection on the shape of the canon and
the study of particular verses.
56 For the lay of the land, see Daniel J. Treier, Introducing Theological Interpretation of Scripture:
Recovering a Christian Practice (Grand Rapids: Baker, 2008). 57 Rusty Reno, “Biblical Theology and Theological Exegesis,” in Out of Egypt: Biblical Theology
and Biblical Interpretation (ed. Craig Bartholomew et al; Scripture and Hermeneutics Series; Grand
Rapids: Zondervan, 2004) 385–405, esp. p. 397. 58 John Webster has voiced this concern in various places over the years—perhaps most forcefully
in a major review, “David F. Ford: Self and Salvation,” SJT 54 (2001) 548–59.
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Any hope of making headway in these directions will reshape the reading
program of systematic theologians. Some careful consideration should be given
to which journals are required reading, what monographs and texts must be
devoured to attain competency, and, 2nally, what ways will most likely aid
one’s development as a dogmatic and an exegetical thinker. A regular practice
of reading theologically-interested biblical commentaries (both contemporary
and classical) will likely 2t in any such program, and we recommend that this
be adopted by many theologians. There are institutional implications along
these lines. We cannot assume that doctoral programs of the past prepared
students well to do exegetically careful dogmatic theology. Too many top-notch
programs will require more reading on Zižek than Zechariah or Zephaniah,
more thinking about alterity than about the imago Dei. Without suggesting
that we retreat from cultural engagement or reading of theology beyond the
evangelical pale, we do want to insist that priorities ought to be placed on the
biblical writings and the classical dogmatic tradition of the orthodox churches.
Of course there is another danger: some may have guided students into exegetical
literature to such a degree that they have much less familiarity with
historical theology and the shape of doctrinal development, involving issues
in hermeneutics and the like.
Second, biblical scholars should expect rigorous exegesis to lie behind
such proof-texting and should engage it conversationally and not cynically.
When reading an exegetical excursus or even a parenthetical reference within
a dogmatic text, assume that it represents an attempt at teasing out valid
implications from a portion of Scripture read in proper literary and canonical
perspective. Remember that dogmatics does not merely remain within the explicit
categories, much less the idiom of the Bible. Be open to implications being
drawn from the conjoining of various biblical passages, even across literary
divides (say, Pauline and Johannine letters, let alone the Synoptic Gospels).
Belief in the divine authorship of Scripture feeds the analogy of faith (analogia
!dei)—while every text must be read within its own immediate historical
context, it cannot be restrained to that most narrow horizon but must be read
within a broader canonical framework as well. Expect theologians to show
how we move from texts and conglomerations of texts and themes eventually
to biblical-theological movements and 2nally to constructive dogmatic assertions.
Better yet aid them in the endeavor by seeking to move beyond narrow
exegetical arguments toward biblical-theological analysis in your own writing
as a technical biblical scholar. The dangers of doing big picture thinking being
what they are (and anyone, who tries or even watches carefully as others try,
knows how perilous the attempt can be), we will do well to have all hands on
board as much as is practicable.
It might be helpful to point out that systematic theologians are not the only
ones seeking to make use of organizing principles that are not always explicit
in the Bible. Biblical theology also employs certain organizing principles and
themes that function as systems or grids. 59 It is unfortunate, therefore, to
59 Biblical theology, of course, takes di4erent forms. It can operate as a narrative account of thehistory of revelation (e.g. Geerhardus Vos). It can function to o4er a theology of particular biblicalbooks or biblical authors (e.g. the New Testament Theology series published by Cambridge Univer-in defense of proof-texting 605
read some suggest that systematic theology imposes a foreign logic upon the
Bible, while biblical theology more inductively follows the narrative shape of
the Bible itself. 60 This is misleading for several reasons. The Bible itself is
not a narrative. While it does tell a story of creation, fall, and redemption,
it includes many elements and genres that cannot be classi-ed as narrative,
strictly speaking. Carson notes that biblical theology is a synthetic discipline
that does not make use of all biblical materials but works selectively.61 Even
the gospel—the best candidate for a “center” to Scripture—cannot be identi-ed
strictly with a narrative, for it includes not only the story of Jesus but also
the application of that story to the spiritual well-being of persons throughout
history (namely, Jesus’ life, death, and resurrection bring about the “forgiveness
of sins”). Furthermore, the Bible speaks about many relationships that
are not strictly historical or temporal but that are more properly causal or
“communicative” 62 (e.g. the relationship between God and the world [Rom
11:33–36], the relationship between calling and conversion [John 6:44–45],
etc.). Better to avoid claiming that either biblical theology or systematic theology
is somehow closer to the Bible.63 Instead we can distinguish them by noting
the types of organizing principles that each discipline draws from the Bible
and expands in its own idiom. Biblical theology looks to narratival elements
and construes its material in a diachronic, historically-shaped format. Systematic
theology actually makes wide use of this historical format (typically
moving from God’s life in eternity past to predestination to creation to fall to
salvation in Christ to the application of that redemption now to the last things)
and inserts other biblical concerns in various places (discussing repentance
under the application of redemption, even though repentance was necessary
both before and after the coming of Jesus, temporally considered).64 Whereas
biblical theology -xes narrowly upon the history of redemption, systematic
sity Press). It can also trace themes through the Bible (e.g. many of the studies in the New Studiesin Biblical Theology series published by InterVarsity Press, which trace the theme of the temple orrace through the whole canon). 60 Carson, “Systematic Theology and Biblical Theology” 100–101. 61 Ibid. 91. 62 Cf. Kevin Vanhoozer, Remythologizing Theology: Divine Action, Passion, and Authorship (Cambridge
Studies in Christian Doctrine; Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 2010). 63 Geerhardus Vos was careful to eschew just such a claim in his inaugural address as Professorof Biblical Theology at Princeton Theological Seminary: “The very name Biblical Theology is
frequently vaunted so as to imply a protest against the alleged un-Biblical character of Dogmatics.I desire to state most emphatically here, that there is nothing in the nature and aims of BiblicalTheology to justify such an implication. . . . DogmaticTheology is, when rightly cultivated, as trulya Biblical and as truly an inductive science as its younger sister” (“The Idea of Biblical Theology as
a Science and as a Theological Discipline,” in Redemptive History and Biblical Interpretation [ed.
Richard B. Ga.n Jr.; Phillipsburg, NJ: Presbyterian & Reformed, 1980] 23). 64 It is too frequently overlooked that systematic theologies (like ecumenical creeds) tend to be
structured based on biblical patterns or histories (whether the descent/ascent theme of NT Christologythat guides the Nicene-Constantinopolitan Creed or the exit/return motif from the OT thatshaped Thomas Aquinas’ Summa Theologiae). While systematic theology is not limited to the historical
framework, it typically begins there in its organizational principles (contra Carson, “SystematicTheology and Biblical Theology” 95).
606 journal of the evangelical theological society
theology moves beyond (though not around) this to also consider the way this
history of salvation (historia salutis) is applied to persons (ordo salutis).65
Along these lines, biblical scholars will do well to familiarize themselves
with the history of biblical interpretation. They will begin to see how dogmatics
and exegesis can function in harmony, each enriching the other with the
diverse gifts. By reading the commentaries of Calvin alongside his Institutes
or by dipping into the expository homilies of Augustine on 1 John or Genesis,
they will see how the church has always insisted on teasing out doctrinal
implications from interpretive insights.If both concerns are honored, proof texts could be a literary signal of adisciplinary symbiosis. They could serve once again to highlight the necessaryinterpenetration of exegesis and dogmatics.
65 Instructive regarding the relationship of the historia salutis and ordo salutis is Richard Ga2n,
By Faith, Not By Sight: Paul and the Order of Salvation (Milton Keynes, UK: Paternoster, 2006).

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Soteriology101 Refuting and Rebuking Professor Brian Wagner for saying on Soteriology101 that the Reformed Translators of the New English Standard Version were Maybe being Disingenuous in Translating Revelation 13:8 to make it sound and look Calvinistic.

 

Wow, to think that I talked to Professor Brian Wagner in personal e-mail chat about this and he had me convinced that in the New English Standard Version the Translation was wrong and the Greek just would not allow for it.  Well after accidentally stumbling on many many many many other translations that translated Revelation 13:8 the same way I got curious and began digging.  I said to myself that Professor Wagner never told me of the many other translations that were translated the same way.  Professor Wager is completely wrong in what he has chosen to believe about Revelation 13:8 (and it it cute how he picks out the New English Standard Version To Use as his Red-Headed Step Child when there are so many many many other versions with the correct translation,) especially when he has another verse that gives support to it in Revelation 17:8.  Professor Wagner knows he is wrong about this so you know you will not hear from him, he is hoping it will just go away instead of him being humble and admitting his mistake and asking the Reformed believers/Calvinists to forgive him for implying they were being disingenuous.  But that is not the real strength of the argument but does under-gird it and make it stronger as God’s word cannot and never can contradict itself.  So I will put down the verse Professor Wagner and Dr. Flowers think is correct and then state my case.

Revelation 13:8-All who dwell on the earth will worship him, whose names have not been written in the Book of Life of the Lamb slain from the foundation of the world.

Scripture Says Christ Died Once

Scripture is perfectly clear that Christ died only once:

Hebrews 9:26-28
For then must he often have suffered since the foundation of the world: but now once in the end of the world hath he appeared to put away sin by the sacrifice of himself. And as it is appointed unto men once to die, but after this the judgment: so Christ was once offered to bear the sins of many; and unto them that look for him shall he appear the second time without sin unto salvation.

And again, we see the same clear teaching in Paul’s Epistle to the Romans:

Romans 6:8-10
Now if we be dead with Christ, we believe that we shall also live with him: knowing that Christ being raised from the dead dieth no more; death hath no more dominion over him. For in that he died, he died unto sin once: but in that he liveth, he liveth unto God.

Mr. Camping Says Christ Died Twice

Mr. Camping claims:

Later in this study, we will learn that the Lord Jesus Christ died twice in connection with the atonement. He died before the foundation of the world as the Lamb that was slain (Revelation 13:8). He also died when He was on the cross, demonstrating to us and the world how He paid for our sins. The doubling of His punishment agrees with the principle set forth in Genesis 41:32, that is, that which is doubled is established by God.

(To God be the Glory, p. 25)

Mr. Camping also claims:

Now we understand that Christ suffered once to pay for our sins, and He suffered a second time to demonstrate how He paid for our sins. Now we can understand why Pilate, the Roman governor, repeated again and again, “I find no fault in him” (Luke 23:4, 22; John 19:4, 6; also see Matthew 27:19, 24). Christ stood before him absolutely sinless. Yet He had to be punished as if He were still laden with all of the sins of those who were elected to become saved in order to demonstrate how He suffered for those sins.

(To God be the Glory, p. 34)

Exploring Camping’s View of Revelation 13:8

As to Mr. Camping’s view of Revelation 13:8, the verse states:

Revelation 13:8 And all that dwell upon the earth shall worship him, whose names are not written in the book of life of the Lamb slain from the foundation of the world.

I can understand how that verse might sound at first (and in English) as though it were saying that the Lamb was slain from the foundation of the world. It is, however, also legitimate to understand “slain” as modifying “Lamb” and “from the foundation of the world” as modifying “written.” We find confirmation of this from another discussion of this book:

Revelation 17:8 The beast that thou sawest was, and is not; and shall ascend out of the bottomless pit, and go into perdition: and they that dwell on the earth shall wonder, whose names were not written in the book of life from the foundation of the world, when they behold the beast that was, and is not, and yet is.

Notice how here, again, “from the foundation of the world” is not right next to “written” but nevertheless the reader can figure out that it does not modify “life” but “written.”

There’s another aspect that we must consider as well. The expression “the Lamb slain” is a picture that John used previously in Revelation 5:

Revelation 5:6 And I beheld, and, lo, in the midst of the throne and of the four beasts, and in the midst of the elders, stood a Lamb as it had been slain, having seven horns and seven eyes, which are the seven Spirits of God sent forth into all the earth.

Revelation 5:12 Saying with a loud voice, Worthy is the Lamb that was slain to receive power, and riches, and wisdom, and strength, and honour, and glory, and blessing.

Finally, we see a parallel expression to that in Revelation 13:8 without the reference to slaying:

Revelation 21:27 And there shall in no wise enter into it any thing that defileth, neither whatsoever worketh abomination, or maketh a lie: but they which are written in the Lamb’s book of life.

Mr. Camping, however, prefers to quote Revelation 13:8 selectively. For example:

  • “The first surprising information that we learn as we carefully study all that God teaches us in the Bible about the atonement is that it was completely finished before God created mankind. In Revelation 13:8, we read of “…the Lamb slain from the foundation of the world.”” (To God be the Glory, p. 32)
  • “Now, Jesus is the great “I AM,” God Himself, who has no beginning, and the Bible tells us in Revelation 13:8, that He is “the Lamb slain from the foundation of the world.”” (I Hope God Will Save Me, p. 8)
  • “Since Christ was “the Lamb slain from the foundation of the world” (rev. 13:8), this again shows that it has always been God’s intention to save people out of the Gentile nations as well as out of the nation of Israel.”(An Exposition of Galatians, at Galations 3:14, p. 15)

Mr. Camping doesn’t always quote the verse without context, but the many times he does tend to reinforce the reading he is insisting on, even when he occasionally provides the more complete context.

Incidentally, this ambiguity regarding the reference of “from the foundation of the world” is removed in many more recent translations: (There will be too many down below this a few other commentaries, so do not be afraid to see that the NESV is not the only one who translates Revelation 13:8 the RIGHT way.  Keep reading this argument only gets stronger as it goes)

The Amplified Bible provides a similar footnote (a): ‘Revelation 13:8 Alternate translation: “recorded from the foundation of the world in the Book of Life of the Lamb that was slain [in sacrifice].’”

My reason for pointing this out is not to try to win the battle by pointing out that more translators translate the text one way than anther way. Nor am I trying to cast negative light on the most popular edition of the KJV, a version that preserves the ambiguity in a way that I think is admirable. Instead, I’m simply pointing out that a significant number of committees and translators of the Greek have viewed the phrase “from the foundation of the world” as modifying the writing, rather than as modifying the slaying.

What if “from the foundation of the world” Modifies “slain”?

I should point out that the first edition of the KJV (like the prior printed English versions, such as the Bishops’ Bible and the Geneva Bible) punctuated the verse in a way that is different from the most popular edition of the KJV. Specifically, the KJV1611 places a comma between “Lamb” and “slain,” which tends to force the “from the foundation of the world” to modify “slain.”

So, what about my dear friends who only use KJV1611 or who strongly prefer it. Does that version support Mr. Camping’s view? Is the KJV1611 endorsing a “two deaths of Christ” view? Of course not.

Even if we are to read “from the foundation of the world” as modifying “slain,” the bigger question is why on earth anyone would interpret that literally? No one in their right mind interprets “Lamb” literally, and most people would have the sense to realize that there could be no literal book before the foundation of the world.

No, even if “from the foundation of the world” as modifying “slain,” we would still view the imagery as symbolic and not literal. We would view him as “slain from the foundation of the earth” in the sense of that being his eternal purpose, not as him actually having been slain before the world was founded. There’s no particular reason to take that kind of plainly symbolic comment literally: we don’t view Jesus as a literal lamb, we don’t view the book of Life as a literal book, and we don’t view the writing in the book as literal writing. Jesus is a lamb in that he is the sacrifice for sin. The writing in a book symbolizes the fixity of God’s decrees.

This is confirmed by, for example, the marginal note in the Geneva Bible (1599) on the word slain: “As God ordained from before all beginning, and all the sacrifices were as signs and sacraments of Christ’s death.”

In short, there is no reason to think that there was a literal slaying before the foundation of the world, even if the phrase “from the foundation of the world” as modifying “slain,” which does not appear to be the best understanding of the text.

Conclusion

Professor Wagner has put himself in direct contradiction with the plain teachings of Scripture.

-TurretinFan

 

Before the foundation of the world – Before the law was given, or any sacrifice prescribed by it. Its whole sacrificial system was appointed in reference to this fore-appointed Lamb, and consequently from him derived all its significance and virtue. The phrase καταβολη κοσμου, foundation of the world, occurs often in the New Testament, and is supposed by some learned men and good critics to signify the commencement of the Jewish state. Perhaps it may have this meaning in Matthew 13:35Luke 11:50Ephesians 1:4Hebrews 4:3Hebrews 9:26. But if we take it here in its common signification, the creation of universal nature, then it shows that God, foreseeing the fall and ruin of man, appointed the remedy that was to cure the disease. It may here have a reference to the opinion of the Jewish doctors, who maintain that seven things existed before the creation of the world, one of which was the Messiah.

The apostle then applies this truth to the Christians whom he was addressing. The Lamb had been ordained in the counsels of God before the world was made; but He was manifested in the last days for believers: and these are presented in their true character, they believe in God by Jesus by this Lamb

Praise God and glory to His Holy name for I love that last paragraph. Thank you Jesus my Lord, My Savior and my God!!!!

Who verily was foreordained before the foundation of the world, but was manifest in these last times for you,

{12} Who verily was foreordained before the {k} foundation of the world, but was manifest in these last times for you,(12) The taking away of an objection: what was done to the world, before Christ was sent into the world? was there no holiness before, and was there no Church? The apostle answers, that Christ was ordained and appointed to redeem and deliver mankind,before mankind was: much less was there any Church without him before his coming in the flesh: yet we are happiest about the rest, to whom Christ was exhibited indeed, in this that he having suffered and overcome death for us, does now most effectually work in us by the power of his Spirit, to create in us faith, hope, and charity. Bible-hub  also tackles this subject on Rev. 13:8 below and and far as I am concerned puts the final nail in the coffin so that in my opinion anyone who still clings that “from the foundation of the world modifies “slain” and not “written” they are just not being honest with themselves or before the God of light in whom there is no darkness at all.

I have 20 or more (I did not count them just guessing) that translate Revelation 13:8 the same way the New English Standard Bible does.  So I do not think the ESV was the first to translate it the way it does and probably will not be the last since it is correct.

(k) From everlasting.

The foreknowledge (as that passage would show) includes not only the knowledge and decision that Jesus should be the Christ, but that the Christ’s history should be what it was; and this seems to involve not only the doctrine that the Incarnation was no mere episode, consequent upon the Fall of man, but also the doctrine that, “before the foundation of the world,” God had foreknown, and pre-decided to allow, the Fall itself. The same doctrine seems to be involved in Revelation 13:8, but only indirectly, because there the words “from the foundation of the world,” are to be attached, not to the word “slain,” but to the word “written.   So important Professor Brian Wagner and Dr Flowers, Do not neglect to read.  I am on cloud nine.  I love when God shows me something new in His word and I am not being prideful or arrogant I give you my word as I to believe I have the Holy Ghost.  I just hope that you two will steer clear of pride and the temptation of twisting of the scriptures and just let God’s word speak for its self as Revelation 17:8 confirms this so clearly. Read below and compare:

Revelation 17:8-The beast that you saw was, and is not, and is about to rise from the bottomless pit and go to destruction. And the dwellers on earth whose names have not been written in the book of life from the foundation of the world will marvel to see the beast, because it was and is not and is to come.  Glory to His name.  The ESV is a wonderful Translation and if you believe there are other places Professor Wagner that the Calvinist Reformed Believers who translated the ESV were maybe in your own words as stated on Soteriology101 being disingenuous please let me know so I can look at it.  I have told you and Dr. Flowers both that if the Reformed Faith is wrong (and you both have failed in your efforts) I will immediately abandoned it and start renewing my mind with God’s word.

And all that dwell on the earth shall worship him, every one whose name hath not been written from the foundation of the world in the book of life of the Lamb that hath been slain. [Alford here remarks, “These last words are ambiguously placed. They may belong either to gegraptai (was written) or to sesphagmenou (was slain).”

He connects them with the latter, adducing 1 Peter 1:19-20 : “That death of Christ which was fore-ordained from the foundation of the world, is said to have taken place in the counsels of Him with whom the end and the beginning are one.”

But the habit of Scripture is to connect election with the writing rather than with the ground, of that election, the death of Christ. The passage from Peter is rather against, than for, Alford’s contention: Christ was “foreknown indeed before the foundation of the world, but was manifested at the end of the times for your sake,” etc. In Daniel 12:1, referring to the exact “time of trouble” with which Revelation 13:1-18 is concerned, we read of those being delivered who “shall be found written in the book; as also in Isaiah 4:3, the spared remnant are described as “every one that is written unto life in Jerusalem.”

Hengstenberg says, “The expression ‘from the foundation of the world’ (in Revelation 13:8Revelation 17:8) must not be referred to the slaying of the Lamb”; and quotes Bengel: “The Apocalypse often speaks of the Lamb slain; it never adds from the foundation of the world (Hebrews 9:26). They who hold Him to have been slain in the divine decree from the foundation of the world, may with equal justice speak of Him as having been also born, raised from the dead, ascended to heaven.”] Bible hub 

 

I know there is another man on Soteriology101 who makes accusations that the ESV translation is geared purposely toward the Reformed Faith but he makes nothing more but assertions (how can you let that stand Dr. Flowers, we are to believe the best until we know different and rejoice in the truth and not in iniquity and that is what this man was spouting iniquity) pure fabrication and an over-active imagination which Dr. Flowers has problems with when he leaves proper Biblical Hermenutics and Exegesis and indulges to much into allegories to interpret the Holy Scripture.  Now, both of these men are my brothers in Christ and I have told them that, I am concerned about Brian being into Open Theism but when he talks about Christ, the Cross and the Blood of the Lamb my heart gets strangely warm so I for now I believe he is just deceived and I am praying for him although he will not talk to me no more.  Brian is a very Godly man and I have told him so as Dr Flowers is very Christ-like and he demonstrated that in his recent debate.  They both have influenced me that character is more important (that being like Christ and doing the will of the Father is the most important thing) We just disagree when we discuss Anti-Calvinism or I write about it.  That is one thing you two need to understand that when Reformed believers talk or write about this stuff we are not defending Calvinism as much as we are refuting Anti-Calvinism.  So the next time Dr. Flowers you talk to Dr Sean Cole you are actually discussing the false teaching Anti-Calvinism.  We need to get things back on track here and I do respect these two men very much. Dr. Flowers I wrote you once I do not know if you get my email but the second time you spoke in the Free Will Debate was the best I have ever heard from you.  I actually lifted my head and watched you.  I had to write down questions because that was the best rebuttal you ever gave.  I knew you would be good at this and I am so glad you finally told that one so-called Calvinist to be still and let you answer the question.  So sorry for the way you two were treated.  Unacceptable!! I do think that after this has been proven and it will be Professor Wagner owes the Reformed Faith for implying that they were being disingenuous in translating the New English Standard Version.  They know Greek just like Brian Wagner and I am sure better if they are translating Bibles into English. Not saying they cannot make a mistake but they did not on Revelation 13:8. If Professor Wagner knew there were so many other translations that translated Revelation 13:8 like the New English Standard Bible either he did not know or he was being disingenuous with me in our e-mail discussion.  That I would like to know Brian.  If I do not hear from you I will know the answer.  You also Professor Wagner will need to ask for forgiveness to the Reformed faith, your brothers and sisters in Christ for implying that they may be being disingenuous in translating the New English Standard Bible.  Please humble your self Professor and do what is right in the sight of God.  I understand it is a big blow to the Anti-Calvinistic side but that is not what matters it is the truth and the love of God’s truth that matters Sir.

 

 

Revelation 17:8 New King James Version (NKJV)

The beast that you saw was, and is not, and will ascend out of the bottomless pit and go to perdition. And those who dwell on the earth will marvel, whose names are not written in the Book of Life from the foundation of the world, when they see the beast that was, and is not, and yet is.

 

1 Peter 1:20 Mounce Reverse-Interlinear New Testament (MOUNCE)

20 He was chosen in advance proginōskō, before pro the foundation katabolē of the world kosmos, but de was revealed phaneroō at epi the end eschatos of the ho times chronos 

for dia you hymeis

1 Peter 1:20- Who verily was foreordained before the foundation of the world, but was manifest in these last times for you,

 

NAS Revelation 13:8-And all who dwell on the earth will worship him, every one whose name has not been written from the foundation of the world in the book of life of the Lamb who has been slain.

I know some of the bible quoted from below are not the best but they do get Revelation 13:8 correct.

Revelation 13:8 English Standard Version Anglicised (ESVUK)

and all who dwell on earth will worship it, everyone whose name has not been written before the foundation of the world in the book of life of the Lamb who was slain.

Williams Translation

Revelation 13:8-All the inhabitants of the earth whose names,  from the foundation of the world have not been written in the slaughtered Lamb’s book of of life will worship him.

Beck Translation

Revelation 13:8-Everybody who lives on earth will worship him—-everybody whose name isn’t written in the book of life of the Lamb that was sacrificed since the world was made.

Revelation 13:8Common English Bible (CEB)

All who live on earth worshiped it, all whose names hadn’t been written—from the time the earth was made—in the scroll of life of the Lamb who was slain.

Revelation 13:8 Contemporary English Version (CEV)

The beast was worshiped by everyone whose name wasn’t written before the time of creation in the book of the Lamb who was killed.

Revelation 13:8Darby Translation (DARBY)

and all that dwell on the earth shall do it homage, [every one] whose name had not been written from [the] founding of [the] world in the book of life of the slain Lamb.

Revelation 13:8 Amplified Bible (AMP)

All the inhabitants of the earth will fall down and worship him, everyone whose name has not been written since the foundation of the world in the Book of Life of the Lamb who has been slain [as a willing sacrifice].

Revelation 13:8 Easy-to-Read Version (ERV)

Everyone living on earth would worship the beast. These are all the people since the beginning of the world whose names are not written in the Lamb’s book of life. The Lamb is the one who was killed.

Revelation 13:8 Evangelical Heritage Version (EHV)

All those who make their home on the earth will worship the beast—those whose names have[a] not been written from the beginning of the world in the Book of Life, which belongs to the Lamb that was slain.[b]

Revelation 13:8English Standard Version (ESV)

and all who dwell on earth will worship it, everyone whose name has not been written before the foundation of the world in the book of life of the Lamb who was slain.

Revelation 13:8 Expanded Bible (EXB)

And all who live on earth will worship ·the beast [L it; or him]—all the people since the ·beginning [foundation] of the world whose names are not written in the Lamb’s book [scroll] of life [3:517:8Ex. 32:32–33]. ·The Lamb is the One who was killed [or The Lamb who was killed/slaughtered before the creation/foundation of the earth]. [C Some commentators link the phrase “since the beginning/foundation of the world” with “all who live on the earth”; others link it with “written in the Lamb’s book of life”; and still others with “the Lamb who was slain.”]

Revelation 13:8Good News Translation (GNT)

All people living on earth will worship it, except those whose names were written before the creation of the world in the book of the living which belongs to the Lamb that was killed.

Revelation 13:8Holman Christian Standard Bible (HCSB)

All those who live on the earth will worship him, everyone whose name was not written from the foundation of the world in the book[a] of life of the Lamb who was slaughtered.[b]

Revelation 13:8 International Children’s Bible (ICB)

All who live on earth will worship the beast. These are all the people since the beginning of the world whose names are not written in the Lamb’s book of life. The Lamb is the One who was killed.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Revelation 13:8International Standard Version (ISV)

All those who had become settled down and at home, living on the earth, will worship it, everyone whose name had not been written in the Book of Life belonging to the lamb that had been slaughtered since the foundation of the world.

Revelation 13:8Lexham English Bible (LEB)

And all those who live on the earth will worship him, everyone whose name is not written[a] from the foundation of the world in the book of life of the Lamb who was slaughtered.

Revelation 13:8 Living Bible (TLB)

And all mankind—whose names were not written down before the founding of the world in the slain Lamb’s Book of Life[a] —worshiped the evil Creature.

Everyone on earth whose name was not written from the world’s foundation in the slaughtered Lamb’s Book of Life will worship the Beast.

Revelation 13:8New American Bible (Revised Edition) (NABRE)

All the inhabitants of the earth will worship it, all whose names were not written from the foundation of the world in the book of life, which belongs to the Lamb who was slain.

Revelation 13:8 New Century Version (NCV)

And all who live on earth will worship the beast—all the people since the beginning of the world whose names are not written in the Lamb’s book of life. The Lamb is the One who was killed.

Revelation 13:8New English Translation (NET Bible)

and all those who live on the earth will worship the beast, everyone whose name has not been written since the foundation of the world in the book of life belonging to the Lamb who was killed.

Revelation 13:8New Life Version (NLV)

Every person on the earth from the beginning of the world whose name has not been written in the book of life of the Lamb Who was killed will worship this animal.

Revelation 13:8 New Matthew Bible (NMB)

And all who dwell upon the earth worshiped him, whose names are not written in the book of life of the Lamb, who was killed from the beginning of the world.

Revelation 13:8New Revised Standard Version (NRSV)

and all the inhabitants of the earth will worship it, everyone whose name has not been written from the foundation of the world in the book of life of the Lamb that was slaughtered.

Revelation 13:8 New Revised Standard Version, Anglicised (NRSVA)

and all the inhabitants of the earth will worship it, everyone whose name has not been written from the foundation of the world in the book of life of the Lamb that was slaughtered.

Revelation 13:8 New Revised Standard Version, Anglicized Catholic Edition (NRSVACE)

and all the inhabitants of the earth will worship it, everyone whose name has not been written from the foundation of the world in the book of life of the Lamb that was slaughtered.

Revelation 13:8New Testament for Everyone (NTE)

So everyone who lived on earth worshiped it – everyone, that is, whose name has not been written from the foundation of the world in the book of life belonging to the lamb who was slaughtered.

Revelation 13:8The Passion Translation (TPT)

Everyone on earth will worship the wild beast—those who names have not been written from the foundation[a] of the world in the Book of Life of the Lamb who was slain.

Revelation 13:8Revised Standard Version (RSV)

and all who dwell on earth will worship it, every one whose name has not been written before the foundation of the world in the book of life of the Lamb that was slain.

Revelation 13:8Revised Standard Version Catholic Edition (RSVCE)

and all who dwell on earth will worship it, every one whose name has not been written before the foundation of the world in the book of life of the Lamb that was slain.

Revelation 13:8Tree of Life Version (TLV)

All who dwell on the earth shall worship him—everyone whose name has not been written from the foundation of the world in the Book of Life of the Lamb who was slain.

Revelation 13:8The Voice (VOICE)

The inhabitants of the earth will worship it, that is, all those whose names have not been recorded before the foundation of the world in the book of life of the Lamb who was slaughtered.

Revelation 13:8World English Bible (WEB)

All who dwell on the earth will worship him, everyone whose name has not been written from the foundation of the world in the book of life of the Lamb who has been killed.

Revelation 13:8Worldwide English (New Testament) (WE)

Everyone on earth will worship the beast, if they do not have their names in the book of life. The book of life belongs to the Lamb who was killed. That was God’s plan since the world was made.

Revelation 13:8Wycliffe Bible (WYC)

And all men worshiped it, that dwell in earth, whose names be not written in the book of life of the lamb, that was slain from the beginning of the world.

Berean Study Bible-And all who dwell on the earth will worship the beast–all whose names have not been written from the foundation of the world in the book of life of the Lamb who was slain.

Berean Literal Bible

And all dwelling on the earth will worship it, of whom their names have not been written from the founding of the world in the book of life of the Lamb having been slain.

THE BIBLE CANNOT CONTRADICT ITSELF, THE BIBLE IS ACTUALLY SELF-AUTHENTICATING.

New American Standard Bible

Revelation 13:8-All who dwell on the earth will worship him, everyone whose name has not been written from the foundation of the world in the book of life of the Lamb who has been slain.

Holman Standard Christian Bible

All those who live on the earth will worship him, everyone whose name was not written from the foundation of the world in the book of life of the Lamb who was slaughtered. 

New Heart English Bible

Revelation 13:8- All those who live on the earth will worship him, everyone whose name was not written from the foundation of the world in the book of life of the Lamb who was slaughtered. 

New American Standard Bible 1977

And all who dwell on the earth will worship him, everyone whose name has not been written from the foundation of the world in the book of life of the Lamb who has been slain.

English Revised Version

And all that dwell on the earth shall worship him, every one whose name hath not been written in the book of life of the Lamb that hath been slain from the foundation of the world.

World English Bible

All who dwell on the earth will worship him, everyone whose name has not been written from the foundation of the world in the book of life of the Lamb who has been killed.

Common English Bible

All who live on earth worshiped it, all whose names hadn’t been written—from the time the earth was made—in the scroll of life of the Lamb who was slain.

The Complete Jewish Bible

All those who live on the earth will worship him, everyone whose name was not written from the foundation of the world in the book of life of the Lamb who was slaughtered.

Hebrews Names Version

All who dwell on the eretz will worship him, everyone whose name has not been written from the foundation of the world in the book of life of the Lamb who has been killed.

Lexham English Bible

And all those who live on the earth will worship him, {everyone whose name is not written} from the foundation of the world in the book of life of the Lamb who was slaughtered.

The Message Bible

Everyone on earth whose name was not written from the world’s foundation in the slaughtered Lamb’s Book of Life will worship the Beast.

And all that dwell upon the earth shall worship him,…. The inhabitants of the Roman empire, the idolatrous part of it, the men of the world, earthly minded men; who are as they came into the world, and are of the earth, earthly, and seek only after earthly honors, pleasures, and profits; these are the admirers and adorers of the beast:

 

Revelation 5:6-And between the throne and the four living creatures and among the elders I saw a Lamb standing, as though it had been slain, with seven horns and with seven eyes, which are the seven spirits of God sent out into all the earth.

Cambridge Bible for Schools and Colleges

from the foundation of the world] Perhaps in Greek, as in English, it is most natural to connect these words with “slain:” and 1 Peter 1:19-20 works out what, on this view, would be the sense. But the similar clause Revelation 17:8seems to prove that the words are to be taken with “written:” it is God’s purpose of individual election, not of universal redemption, that is here dated “from the foundation of the world.”

 

Revelation 13:8Προσκυνήσουσινshall worship) The verb in ordinary use, when the ceremonies about the Pope are treated of, is adoration(worship); and connected with this by derivation is a kiss, that is, of his feet, just as προσκυνεῖνκυνεῖνκύειν, is to kiss; whence נשק, LXX. 1 Kings 19:18, and Symmachus, Psalm 2:12προσκυνεῖν.—ἀπὸἀπὸ is here equivalent to before, as Matthew 25:34, note, and is plainly construed with οὐ γέγραπται [not as Engl. With ἐσφαγμένου], and that so easily, that it is not even to be called an instance of Hyperbaton (See Append.). All doubt is removed by a passage strictly parallel, ch. Revelation 17:8. The Apocalypse often makes mention of the Lamb slain: it never adds, from the foundation of the world; nor indeed was He slain from the foundation of the world: Hebrews 9:26. They who allege that He was thus slain in the Divine decree, in a like sense will say that He was born, raised from the dead, and ascended into heaven, from the foundation of the world.

Those who are not Christians have not their name in the “book of life,” but worship the beast, that is, pay allegiance to him. It is “the book of life of the Lamb,” because it is through “the Lamb” that there exists a “book of life” for men.

The latter course has been followed by Bengel, Dusterdieck, De Wette, Ewald, Hengstenberg, and others, and in the margin of the Revised Version, and is in accordance with Revelation 17:8, “Whose names were not written in the book of life from the foundation of the world” (see also Matthew 25:34Ephesians 1:4). “The Lamb hath been slain from the foundation of the world,” because from “the foundation of the world” (cf. Hebrews 9:26) his death has been efficacious for the salvation of men; and because his death “was foreordained before the foundation of the world,” although manifest only in the last times (1 Peter 1:20). What was foreknown to and ordained by God is spoken of as having taken place. This latter sense must be the meaning if we adopt the alternative reading.

1 Peter 1:20- New International Version
He was chosen before the creation of the world, but was revealed in these last times for your sake.

English Standard Version
He was foreknown before the foundation of the world but was made manifest in the last times for the sake of you

King James Bible 1 Peter 1:20
Who verily was foreordained before the foundation of the world, but was manifest in these last times for you,

Holman Christian Standard Bible 1 Peter1:20
He was chosen before the foundation of the world but was revealed at the end of the times for you

Aramaic Bible in Plain English 1 Peter 1:20
He was appointed beforehand to this before the foundation of the world and was manifested at the end of times for you;

Jubilee Bible 2000  1 Peter 1:20
already ordained from before the foundation of the world, but was manifest in these last times for love of you,

American King James Version
Who truly was foreordained before the foundation of the world, but was manifest in these last times for you,

Webster’s Bible Translation 1 Peter 1:20
Who verily was fore-ordained before the foundation of the world, but was manifested in these last times for you,

Weymouth New Testament 1 Peter 1:20
He was pre-destined indeed to this work, even before the creation of the world, but has been plainly manifested in these last days for the sake of you who, through Him, 

 

English Standard Version 1 Peter 1:20
Hebrews 9:25 —-
Nor was it to offer himself repeatedly, as the high priest enters the holy places every year with blood not his own

26. for then he would have had to suffer repeatedly since the foundation of the world. But as it is, he has appeared once for all at the end of the ages to put away sin by the sacrifice of himself.

 

 

2 Timothy 1:9New King James Version (NKJV)

who has saved us and called us with a holy calling, not according to our works, but according to His own purpose and grace which was given to us in Christ Jesus before time began,

New International Version Rev. 17:8
The beast, which you saw, once was, now is not, and yet will come up out of the Abyss and go to its destruction. The inhabitants of the earth whose names have not been written in the book of life from the creation of the world will be astonished when they see the beast, because it once was, now is not, and yet will come.

English Standard Version  Rev. 17:8
The beast that you saw was, and is not, and is about to rise from the bottomless pit and go to destruction. And the dwellers on earth whose names have not been written in the book of life from the foundation of the world will marvel to see the beast, because it was and is not and is to come.

Berean Study Bible  Rev. 17:8
The beast that you saw was, and now is no more, but is about to come up out of the abyss and go to its destruction. And those who dwell on the earth whose names were not written in the book of life from the foundation of the world will be astonished when they see the beast that was, and is not, and yet will be.

Berean Literal Bible Rev. 17:8
The beast that you saw was, and is not, and is about to come up out of the abyss and go into destruction; and those dwelling on the earth whose names are not written in the book of life from the foundation of the world will wonder, seeing the beast which was, and is not, and yet will be.

New American Standard Bible  Rev. 17:8
The beast that you saw was, and is not, and is about to come up out of the abyss and go to destruction. And those who dwell on the earth, whose name has not been written in the book of life from the foundation of the world, will wonder when they see the beast, that he was and is not and will come.

King James Bible Rev. 17:8
The beast that thou sawest was, and is not; and shall ascend out of the bottomless pit, and go into perdition: and they that dwell on the earth shall wonder, whose names were not written in the book of life from the foundation of the world, when they behold the beast that was, and is not, and yet is.

Holman Christian Standard BibleRev 17:8
The beast that you saw was, and is not, and is about to come up from the abyss and go to destruction. Those who live on the earth whose names have not been written in the book of life from the foundation of the world will be astonished when they see the beast that was, and is not, and will be present again.”

International Standard Version Rev. 17:8
The beast that you saw existed once, but is no longer, and is going to crawl out of the bottomless pit and then proceed to its destruction. Those living on earth, whose names were not written in the Book of Life from the foundation of the world, will be surprised when they see the beast because it was, is no longer, and will come again.

NET Bible Rev.17:8
The beast you saw was, and is not, but is about to come up from the abyss and then go to destruction. The inhabitants of the earth–all those whose names have not been written in the book of life since the foundation of the world–will be astounded when they see that the beast was, and is not, but is to come.

New Heart English Bible Rev. 17:8
The beast that you saw was, and is not; and is about to come up out of the abyss and is going to destruction. Those who dwell on the earth and whose names have not been written in the book of life from the foundation of the world will marvel when they see that the beast was, and is not, but is to come.

Aramaic Bible in Plain English Rev. 17:8
“The Beast which you saw, existed and is not, and is about to come up from the Sea, and is going to destruction. And the inhabitants on Earth will marvel, whose names are not written in The Book of Life from the foundation of the world, when they see The Beast which was, and is not, and is approaching.”

GOD’S WORD® Translation Rev. 17:8
“You saw the beast which once was, is no longer, and will come from the bottomless pit and go to its destruction. Those living on earth, whose names were not written in the Book of Life when the world was created, will be surprised when they see the beast because it was, is no longer, and will come again.

New American Standard 1977  Rev. 17:8
“The beast that you saw was and is not, and is about to come up out of the abyss and to go to destruction. And those who dwell on the earth will wonder, whose name has not been written in the book of life from the foundation of the world, when they see the beast, that he was and is not and will come.

Jubilee Bible 2000 Rev.17:8
The beast that thou sawest was, and is not, and shall ascend out of the bottomless pit, and shall go into perdition; and those that dwell on the earth shall wonder (whose names are not written in the book of life from the foundation of the world) when they behold the beast that was, and is not, and yet is.

King James 2000 Bible Rev. 17:8
The beast that you saw was, and is not; and shall ascend out of the bottomless pit, and go into perdition: and they that dwell on the earth shall wonder, whose names were not written in the book of life from the foundation of the world, when they behold the beast that was, and is not, and yet is.

American King James Version Rev. 17:8
The beast that you saw was, and is not; and shall ascend out of the bottomless pit, and go into perdition: and they that dwell on the earth shall wonder, whose names were not written in the book of life from the foundation of the world, when they behold the beast that was, and is not, and yet is.

American Standard Version Rev. 17:8
The beast that thou sawest was, and is not; and is about to come up out of the abyss, and to go into perdition. And they that dwell on the earth shall wonder, they whose name hath not been written in the book of life from the foundation of the world, when they behold the beast, how that he was, and is not, and shall come.

Douay-Rheims Bible Rev. 17:8
The beast, which thou sawest, was, and is not, and shall come up out of the bottomless pit, and go into destruction: and the inhabitants on the earth (whose names are not written in the book of life from the foundation of the world) shall wonder, seeing the beast that was, and is not.

Darby Bible Translation Rev.17:8
The beast which thou sawest was, and is not, and is about to come up out of the abyss and go into destruction: and they who dwell on the earth, whose names are not written from the founding of the world in the book of life, shall wonder, seeing the beast, that it was, and is not, and shall be present.

English Revised Version Rev. 17:8
The beast that thou sawest was, and is not; and is about to come up out of the abyss, and to go into perdition. And they that dwell on the earth shall wonder, they whose name hath not been written in the book of life from the foundation of the world, when they behold the beast, how that he was, and is not, and shall come.

Webster’s Bible Translation Rev. 17:8
The beast that thou sawest, was, and is not; and shall ascend out of the bottomless pit, and go into perdition: and they that dwell on the earth shall wonder, whose names were not written in the book of life from the foundation of the world, when they behold the beast that was, and is not, and yet is.

Weymouth New Testament Rev. 17:8
“The Wild Beast which you have seen was, and is not, and yet is destined to re-ascend, before long, out of the bottomless pit and go his way into perdition. And the inhabitants of the earth will be filled with amazement–all whose names are not in the Book of Life, having been recorded there ever since the creation of the world–when they see the Wild Beast: because he was, and is not, and yet is to come.

World English Bible Rev. 17:8
The beast that you saw was, and is not; and is about to come up out of the abyss and to go into destruction. Those who dwell on the earth and whose names have not been written in the book of life from the foundation of the world will marvel when they see that the beast was, and is not, and shall be present.

Young’s Literal Translation Rev. 17:8
The beast that thou didst see: it was, and it is not; and it is about to come up out of the abyss, and to go away to destruction, and wonder shall those dwelling upon the earth, whose names have not been written upon the scroll of the life from the foundation of the world, beholding the beast that was, and is not, although it is.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

John 6:44- The Misunderstanding or possible Twisting of Scripture by Dr. Flowers just to Prove the Reformed Faith is Wrong. PART 1

Part 1

I want to start off with the true and correct definition of the word “draw” in John 6:44″  This may be said a couple more times so the reader will not forget. Below is the powerful definition of God’s power and Sovereignty

 

I answer with scholar ALBRECHT OEPKE

who says, ” “THE WORD DRAW IN GREEK IS ELKO, WHICH MEANS TO COMPEL BY IRRESISTIBLE SUPERIORITY.

Though the Arminian rejects such a notion, the word linguistically and lexicographically means to “compel.”

Therefore, Jesus cannot be saying  that the drawing of the Father is a mere wooing or persuasion that can be resisted. Rather, this drawing is an indefectible, invincible, unconquerable, indomitable, insuperable, and unassailable summons. As John Frame explains, the word “summons”captures the efficacy of this call well. “That word summons brings out God’s sovereignty.

Does not the “Love of Christ compel us constrains us or control or overmasters us in 2 Corinthians 5:14?

Constrains – compel or force (someone) toward a particular course of action God’s love does this metaphorically. God does not force us but we become willing in the day of His power (Psalms 110:3) and God draws us or compels us by His lovingkindness, for he has loved us with an everlasting love. (Jeremiah 31:3)

Before I began dismantling Dr. Flowers on John 6:44, I have to insert this because it seems no one has challenged Flowers on this as of yet and  it does great damage to his belief system.

Dr. Flowers has said over and over that when a wicked man does that which sinful and evil he is only doing what The Sovereign God predestined him to do so the sinner has no choice to do other wise, Then comes along Acts chapter 4 not to mention Joseph and his bothers who sold him into slavery,  But we will use Acts chapter 4 only as I feel the murder of Christ is the greatest crime in history and in Dr. Flowers way of explaining it I am sure makes it him nervous as he creates a double standard and conflates what the Reformed believer and the anti-Reformer believer both believe as identical on this passage of scripture. If I understand Dr Flowers position right if not he can correct me and we can go from there.

 

Prayer for Boldness Acts 4

23 And being let go, they went to their own companions and reported all that the chief priests and elders had said to them. 24 So when they heard that, they raised their voice to God with one accord and said: “Lord, You are God, who made heaven and earth and the sea, and all that is in them, 25 who by the mouth of Your servant David[b] have said:

‘Why did the nations rage,
And the people plot vain things?
26 The kings of the earth took their stand,`
And the rulers were gathered together
Against the Lord and against His Christ.’[c]

27 “For truly against Your holy Servant Jesus, whom You anointed, both Herod and Pontius Pilate, with the Gentiles and the people of Israel, were gathered together 28 to do whatever Your hand and Your purpose determined before to be done. 29 Now, Lord, look on their threats, and grant to Your servants that with all boldness they may speak Your word, 30 by stretching out Your hand to heal, and that signs and wonders may be done through the name of Your holy Servant Jesus.”

31 And when they had prayed, the place where they were assembled together was shaken; and they were all filled with the Holy Spirit, and they spoke the word of God with boldness.

When this verse is brought up to show Dr. Flowers that God does predetermine what the sinner and believer will do, but freely and joyfully.  Flowers says this makes God the AUTHOR OF SIN, ( LET’S FORGET ABOUT CALVIN HERE I ONLY WANT WHAT DR. FLOWERS HAS SAID ABOUT THE TOPIC.) 

Dr Flowers says of Acts chapter 4 verses 23-31 and other passages of scripture that he allows for God to break into history and do things that ordinarily would not do.  Dr Flowers does not seem according to his logic he is still making God THE AUTHOR OF SIN by predetermining actions.  This is a Double Standard and hypocritical stance if I ever saw one.  Just because God does it from time to time according to Dr. Flowers it still makes God according to Flowers the AUTHOR OF SIN. Although he may deny this and eloquently this his fallacious logic make it seem otherwise.  Does Flowers think just because he believes God only does in from time to time and not very often this changes things up considering all that he has accused the Reformed community of. There is no getting around this, although Dr Flowers with his over active imagination will give it his best shot,

Now on to Dr. Flowers false and misrepresentation of John 6:44.

First we got to get the Birds Eye View according to Dr. Flowers.  That I have done more than once and I have listened to Flowers birds eye view more than once and let me just say I really do not like listening to his podcast, they are so riddled with twisting, mistakes and misrepresentations that you can only take so much.  I still stand by what I say about Dr. Flowers character.  He seems to be a godly and holy man.  I cannot say he loves the word I can only say he say desperately wants to disprove or pull a view deceived out of its clutches as I have heard said. He really has it bad for Dr. James White whom he debated and lost on Romans 9. Which should be no big deal to whom because Dr White has lost a few himself.  Although he seems overly consumed with Dr White they both have been Unchristlike to each other at the time. Dr White has took the route of living peacefully with Flowers by not engage Him.  Dr. FLowers seems to engage every chance he gets considering the Romans 9 debate was a long time ago he still found consuming desire to re-visit it verbally on his podcast and in writing.  Man Dr White has some serious patience and love for God’s word.

Ok let us now begin looking at John 6:44. Dr Flowers starts out:

 

“NO ONE CAN COME TO ME UNLESS THE FATHER WHO SENT ME DRAWS THEM, AND I WILL RAISE THEM UP AT THE LAST DAY.”  – JOHN 6:44

There are two basic ways to interpret this passage and it hinges on the words “draws” and “them.” Let’s look at the two renderings side by side:

Calvinists: “No one can come to me unless the Father who sent me *drags* them, and I will raise up *those who were dragged* at the last day.”  (Dr Flowers poisons the well here as if all Calvinists read John 6:44 as the Father “dragging sinners against their will kicking and screaming to salvation in Christ.)  This is disingenuous Dr Flowers and you know it.  The Majority of the Reformed faith use the word “draw” and if they do say “drag” they qualify it by saying they only mean the Sovereign Almighty Power of God that cannot ultimately be resisted. Yes I do admit there are some who do use the word drag to the extreme but this is not typical of Reformed Scholars, Pastors and believers.  They do not mean God drags people Salvation against their will.  I have never seen (as my own experience) anyone come to Christ in repentance and faith but with Godly sorrow and willingly as God The Great Might Spiritual Physician performs his spiritual operation of bringing people while they are in there in there hate of Christ (John 3:18-20)  God takes out that stoney heart  where people are hard-hearted and hates the God of Heaven and loves sin and is rebellious and unrepentant, and puts in a heart of  flesh that is willing , believing and pliable and ready to come to Christ.

So Dr Flowers let God be true and every man a liar.  You came up with So-Called-Calvinist understanding of John 6:44 to POISON THE WELL as you well know the majority of Reformed Believers believe sinners repent of their sins toward God and have faith and embrace Christ because that is what they want to do.  Yes Salvation is of the Lord and the work of the Lord and Jesus said without me you can do “Nothing and nothing does not mean a little something like humbling yourself” God from beginning to the end and everything in between has and is saving me and not in a Pelagian way as you sometimes seem to be admitting very clearly.  Don’ t need to read your “boogy-,man article on this subject as I already have and found it shallow, superficial and lacking the truth of Holy Scripture.

Remember when Christ called His disciples, they came efficaciously, without hesitation, they left everything immediately, If not why did they come so willingly when all Christ said was “follow me” (The divine decree of predestination is being emphasized as it is carried out in history, John 6: 37-48 The word “draw ” indicates that more than moral influence is being indicated. The Heavenly Sovereign Omnipotent Father does more than beckon HE DRAWS and quite successfully every time. The same verb occurs in 12:32, where the drawing activity is ascribed to the Son; and further,

18;10, 21:6, 11, Acts 16:19, 21:30; and James 2:6.

John 18:10 -Then Simon Peter, having a sword, drew it and struck the high priest’s servant and cut off his right ear. (The servant’s name was Malchus.)

Notice Peter “drew” his sword, which is talking about physically ability he had.  He did not “WOO WOO”  His sword out of it’s sheath.  It took some innate ability that Peter had because he was biology alive he had physically ability to do this.

John 21:6 – And He said to them, “Cast the net on the right side of the boat, and you will find some. So they cast, and now they were not able to draw it in because of the multitude of fish.

Here in John 21:6 the fisherman were not able to “draw or pull” the fish in because the quantity was too much.  Just like John 18:6, John 21:6 is the exact identical Greek verb in John 6:44 and the fisherman did not start trying to “woo Woo the fish into the boat.  They had to draw the net and pull on it just like God draws the sinner to repentance and faith in Christ and raises the same sinner up on the last day John 6:44.  His power Sovereign Almighty Omnipotent Power accomplishes everything for God’s glory.

Romans 11: 36 – For from him and through him and to him are all things. To him be glory forever. Amen.

The Reformed Faith do not try and prove to much with the verse above, all you have to do is read out of it (exegesis) and it plainly says all things are from God and to him are all things and to Our God be the Glory.

Ephesians 1:11-12-11 In Him also we have obtained an inheritance, being predestined according to the purpose of Him who works all things according to the counsel of His will, 12 that we who first trusted in Christ should be to the praise of His glory.

Dr Flowers would promote more highly the free will of man (Whoever commits sin is a slave of Sin John 8) or he would at least say God’s power needs man’s permission to accomplish his purposes here on the earth but that is not what God’s word says.  God works all things after the counsel of His own (not man’s) will.

Job 42:1-2 – 

Job’s Repentance and Restoration

42 Then Job answered the Lord and said:

“I know that You can do everything,
And that no purpose of Yours can be withheld from You

Danial 4:35-all the inhabitants of the earth are accounted as nothing, and he does according to his will among the host of heaven and among the inhabitants of the earth; and none can stay his hand or say to him, “What have you done?”

 

You see Dr Flowers, God is free and all powerful and almighty, nothing can stop what he has purposed in the history of mankind, Man weak and in bondage in His sin and desperately needs this powerful merciful Christ to save Him. And the wicked sinner in rebellion to God who hates the light and loves the darkness is not trying to desperately break the chains of his bondage to sins so he can get to Christ.  No HE LOVES HIS SIN AND THE WORLD, THE LUST OF THE FLESH, THE LUST OF THE EYES AND THE PRIDE OF LIFE. William Hendriksen

William Hendriksen says the drawing of which these passages speak  indicates a very powerful-we may even say, an irresistible-activity. To be sure, man resists, but his resistance is ineffective and overcome by the loving almighty effectual power of God.  All things become knew.  Where he hated he know has a godly sorrow for his sins and begins to desire heavenly things where Christ is above.

The net full of big fishes is actually drawn or dragged ashore 21:6,11. In Salvation, God powerfully influences the mind, will, heart, the entire personality. These, too begin to function in their own right, so that Christ is accepted by a living faith. But both at the beginning and throughout the entire process of being saved, THE POWER IS EVER ABOVE; IT IS VERY REAL STRONG, AND EFFECTIVE; AND IT IS WIELDED BY GOD HIMSELF. ( WiLLIAM HENDRIKSEN) 

By Arthur W Pink

“Fallen man (including Dr Flowers before he was saved) only wills now according to the  the desires and dictates of his evil heart. It has been well said that the will of the sinner is like a manacled, fettered prisoner in a cell His movements are hampered by his chains, and his is hindered by the walls that confine him. His is free to walk, but in such a constrained way and within such a limited space that his freedom is bondage— bondage of sin. A. W. Pink

 

I don’t want to stray away from the main subject which John 6:44 by teaching flowers the truth and his misunderstandings of Total Depravity and Inability at this time but I do want to make something clear he DEFINITELY DOES NOT SEEM TO RECOGNIZE ON THIS POINT!~!

Flowers when he starts to sound Pelagian he says the sinner can keep the commandments of God just like the Christian.  How he can he says this blows my mind when Jesus said in John 15 “without me you can do nothing” And as I have said before nothing does not mean a little something like a dead in sin wicked sinner keeping the commandments of God and pleasing Him. That includes humbling which would be pleasing to God, the Father through the Holy Spirit and Word of God takes the initiative and begins to draw the sinner and in that drawing processing there is godly sorrow. Those in the flesh can do nothing pleasing to God, NOTHING DR FLOWERS, NOTHING DOES NOT MEAN A LITTLE SOMETHING LIKE HUMBLING YOURSELF. YOU KNOW GOD’S WORD HELPS US TO REPLACE THE LIES OF THE DEVIL, THE SINS OF FLESH THAT GROW CORRUPT ACCORDING TO THE DECEITFUL LUST AND THE WORLD.  WE RENEW OUR MINDS WITH THE TRUTH OF GOD’S WORD LETTING HIS WORD DWELL RICHLY WITHIN US BY THE POWER OF THE HOLY SPIRIT.  We cannot keep the law and we can do NOTHING BECAUSE WE ARE NOT IN CHRIST BUT IN THE FLESH AND YOU KNOW THIS IS IN ROMANS 8.  Once again we are not trying to prove to much, we are just reading what God’s word says.  I feel the phrase “trying to prove to much” may be being using in a disingenuous way, If I am wrong please forgive me. 

So what is going on here.  Sinners don’t kill or steal or commit adultery seemingly like Christians but it is not the same.  One who is not in Christ, being not a Christian their Righteousness is as filthy rags that stink like dung in the nostrils or God.  Sinners have minds according to Romans 8 that enmity to God, that being hostile and hatred toward him.  It goes on to say in Romans 8:7 that sinners  cannot keep the law in a way that is pleasing to God, because those who are in the flesh cannot 8:8 please God Romans 1.  The sin or evil of the sinner keeping God’s commandments is one of defect.  He lacks the proper motive and that is to glorify God and be Godly in all he or she does.  Dr Flowers needs to understand that but is pelagianism is blinding him to this fact.  That God that sinners are still good mothers fathers husbands and wives due to the image of God that is in great defect from sin.

 

Romans 8:7-10-

Because the carnal mind is enmity against God; for it is not subject to the law of God, nor indeed can be. So then, those who are in the flesh cannot please God.

But you are not in the flesh but in the Spirit, if indeed the Spirit of God dwells in you. Now if anyone does not have the Spirit of Christ, he is not His. 10 And if Christ is in you, the body is dead because of sin, but the Spirit is life because of righteousness.

 

John 6:44- No man can come to me unless the Father who sent me draws Him and I will raise Him up on the last day.

This verse plainly shows that moral impotence consists of turpitude and baseness, of inveterate of person he loathes: before he does so he must be given an entirely new disposition. If any man be made a new creation, old things have passed away and all things have become new. Arthur W Pink

John 6:44- No man can come to me unless the Father draws Him and I will raise Him up on last day.

And why is it that man cannot come to Christ by  his own natural powers? Because not only has he no inclination to do so, but the Saviour repels him, His yoke is unwelcome, His scepter repulsive

Flowers talks about sinners being so moral, God’s word says emphatically ‘ the soul of the wicked desires evil.” Which is nothing more than spitting in the face of God.

“A miracle of grace must be effected within them before they will choose what is so contrary to fallen human nature. That wonderful change from unwillingness to willingness is not the result of creature effort, but of divine operation; it is not of self-improvement, but the effect of God’s work in the Soul. Thus we read of “the exceeding greatness of His power to us-word who believe, according to the working of His mighty power” (EPH. 1:19) That putting of His power does not violate man’s  constitution or responsibility, Instead of destroying the freedom of his will, it liberates it from its native bandage. GOD’S PEOPLE ARE NOT DRAGGED TO CHRIST, BUT DRAWN, (JOHN 6:44)BY BANDS OF LOVE (hOSEA 11:4) That action of His power has reference to that blessed timed when effectual in-working  of the Spirit delivers the soul from the dominion of sin and Satan, when the influences of grace prevail over the heart to receive His Word (Acts 16:14), when the affections are turned from the world to Christ and the soul gladly gives up itself to Him.. This Power is life-giving and liberating (John 6:44), and delivers from sin. It communicates a new disposition which convicts the individual of his wickedness, wretchedness and need. God’s power works in him “both to will and to do of his good pleasure, (Phil 2:13) “Whomever He wills”

“No man can come to me, unless the Father draws him, and I will raise him up on the last day. Notice the same “HIM” the Father draws, Jesus raises up on the last day.  He loses none Dr Flowers as I do believe but could be wrong you believe in loss of salvation.  John 6:38- This is my Father’s will, that all He has given me I should lose none.

Can Jesus fail to do the Father’s will Dr Flowers?  You say well they can walk away on their own.  Can Jesus who is a perfect Savior not save them from the sin of walking away on their own or rejecting him in unbelief.  If this is what you believe I say to you, God forbid, away with such a thought and may such a thing never be!!!!!!  THat man is stronger than the Savior, he did not come to make “possibility salvation” but Jesus is the actual Savior who really came to save His people from their sins, even the sin of unbelief and unrepentance and pride!!!

Christ own disciples would never have obeyed and followed Him had not a gracious divine influence (John6:44) been exercised on them.

A man can receive nothing unless it has been given to him from heaven (John 3:27)

The very (I WILL USE YOUR WORD FLOWERS) ENABLING ABILITY TO COME TO CHRIST IS COMPLETELY OUT OF REACH OF THE SINNER WHO HATES THE LIGHT OF CHRIST AND LOVES THE DARKNESS OF HIS SIN UNLESS IT  IS GIVEN TO HIM FROM HEAVEN.

jOHN 3:27 -And he said, “This is why I told you that no one can come to me unless it is granted him by the Father.”

That the gift to which  he here  refers must be understood  not of ordinary natural gifts, but of special illumination, appears from this that he had said to them in commendation of Christ.  “I SEE, SAYS HE (jOHN THE BAPTIST EXPOSITION OF jOHN3:27 ), THAT MY WORDS ARE OF NO EFFECT IN IMBUING THE MINDS OF MEN WITH DIVINE THINGS, UNLESS THE LORD ENLIGHTENS THEIR  UNDERSTANDING BY HIS SPIRIT. John Calvin

Jeremiah 24:7 – I will give them a heart to know that I am the LORD, and they shall be my people and I will be their God, for they shall return to me with their whole heart.  God implies here that in spiritual things the human mind is wise only in so far as God Himself enlightens it.

And from the words of John 6:44 he infers it to be an in controvertible fact, that they follow with undeviating affection. Whoever is born of God does not commit sin; for his seed remaineth in him (1 John 3:9)

and let’s make this clear why we are on the subject of John 6:44.  Not all are going to come, not all are going to drawn but those given to Jesus by the Father (John 6:37) because as John 6:37 says “no one or man can come, UNLESS THE FATHER DRAWS” and it is easy to see in everyday life and at church the Father does not draw every single individual without exception.  Period!!!

in John 6 especially 44, the drawing  of the Father NECESSARILY RESULTS IN A COMING TO CHRIST. In other words, contrary  to Arminianism, this is not a drawing that merely makes possible a coming to Christ but rather is a drawing that inevitably and irresistibly leads to Christ. Or as Hendriksen says, “The Father does not merely  beckon or advise, he draws!!!!! all those drawn do in fact believe.

Arminians fail at this verse in two ways, One, “they ignore the fact that no one can come to Christ in their own power and two, They fail to finish the verse, Jesus promises to raise the one who was drawn up on the last day.  Exceptional eisegesis. 

Flowers said at the beginning of his article: The Greek sentence structure allows for the author to be referencing “them” who come, not necessarily all those drawn. For instance if the sentence translated in English were structured in this manner the intention might be more obvious:

I answer with scholar ALBRECHT OEPKE

who says, ” “THE WORD DRAW IN GREEK IS ELKO, WHICH MEANS TO COMPEL BY IRRESISTIBLE SUPERIORITY.

Though the Arminian rejects such a notion, the word linguistically and lexicographically means to “compel.”

Therefore, Jesus cannot be saying  that the drawing of the Father is a mere wooing or persuasion that can be resisted. Rather, this drawing is an indefectible, invincible, unconquerable, indomitable, insuperable, and unassailable summons. As John Frame explains, the word “summons”captures the efficacy of this call well. “That word summons brings out God’s sovereignty. YOu might be able to refuse an invitation, but you can’t refuse a summons.  A summons is a offer you cannon refuse. IN Short this summons does not fail to accomplish what God intended. Elko is also used in James 2:6 which says, “But you have dishonored the Poor man. are not the rich ones who oppress you and the ones who drag (elko) you into court. Also (elko) is used Acts 16:9  R C Spoul observes to substitute”woo” in the place of drag in these passages would sound ludicrous.  Same Greek word as used in John 6:44.

Basically John 6:44 is an internal compelling that cannot be thwarted. The Father’s drawing will result in final salvation.

D. A. Carson  observes, “the combination of verse 37a and verse 44 of John 6 prove that this drawing activity of the Father cannot be reduced to what theologians sometimes call “prevenient grace” dispensed to every  individual, for this drawing is selective, or else the negative note in v 44 is meaningless. In other words Jesus is referring only to those whom the Father has given Him and these only will Jesus give eternal life and the resurrection to glory. Here we see once again that the Father’s givinf of the elect to the Son invincibly leads to final salvation. Therefore, the drawing Jesus speaks of must be effectual.

The Father’s drawing precedes any belief on the sinner’s part. The reason a sinner believes is because he has been drawn by the Father to Christ, not vice versa. “Whomever He Wills” Timothy George

I had to add this passage from John 10:

John 10:26 But you do not believe, because you are not of My sheep, as I said to you.[b] 27 My sheep hear My voice, and I know them, and they follow Me. 28 And I give them eternal life, and they shall never perish; neither shall anyone snatch them out of My hand. 29 My Father, who has given them to Me, is greater than all; and no one is able to snatch them out of My Father’s hand. 30 I and My Father are one.”

Jesus plainly says you do not believe because you are not of my sheep. 

John 6:37- All that the Father gives to me will come to me and I will in no wise cast them out.

Notice Jesus says that His Father gave the sheep to Him which speaks of the same thing in John 6:37. Then we have Jesus saying His sheep hear His voice and he knows them, (thats not every single person in the world without exception) and he goes on to say that his sheep follow him as when he called his disciples, “come follow me and they left everything immediately and followed Christ.  That is the power of Christ in effectual calling and drawing.  Just like those given in John 6:37 Jesus guarantees they will come to Him and He will raise Him up on the last day.  Can Jesus Lie?  God forbid!!!  Away with such a thought!!!!

John 17:2-as You have given Him authority over all flesh, that He should[a] give eternal life to as many as You have given Him.

Notice who Jesus gives eternal life to in John 17:2, only those the Father has given Him. Compare with previous verses.

The reason a sinner does not believe is because he has not been drawn by the Father  to Christ,, not vice versa. The Father’s drawing is effectual because (a)elko “to compel by irresistible superiority and (b) Jesus ensures us that those drawn will be raised up on the last day, something not true of all people who receive the gospel call. There, the drawing does not make belief a possibility but an inevitable reality. The efficacy of the drawing precludes that it is universal. Rather the drawing particular, limited to the elect. “Whomever He Wills” Timothy George

It is crucial to observe how the narrative ends, namely, with everyone leaving jesus because such a teaching is so offensive and difficult to understand (John 6:60-65) “It is the Spirit who gives life, the flesh is no help at all. The words that I have spoken to you are spirit and life.  But there are some of you who do not believe……This is why I told you that no one can come to me unless it is granted him by the Father” (John 6:63-65). Two observations are relevant.  First , Jesus once again emphasizes the inability of the sinner when he says it is “the Spirit  who gives life; the flesh is no help at all. “Such inability is affirmed again in John 14:17 when  Jesus says, “the world cannot cannot accept him [the Holy Spirit] because it neither sees him nor knows him. “Second if the Arminian or Anti-Calvinist believes, all are drawn, why does Jesus stress his point concerning  their persistence in unbelief? Jesus shows in John 6:65 that once again their unbelief serves as evidence that they have not been drawn by the Father. But none of this makes sense if Jesus is talking about a universal call that only makes salvation possible.  A calling common to all people is not offensive and surely would not lead his hearers to be angered, eventually abandoning Jesus. To the contrary, the reason His reaching is so offensive is because He explains their unbelief by appealing to the Father’s sovereign choice, not man’s free will. Those not drawn by the Father and selected remain in their unbelief.

Before concluding our discussion, it is necessary to briefly look at three other passages, namely, John 12:37-40, 17:24, and 10:14ff. In John 12 :37-40 we see the most outstanding instance of all of John’s gospel where emphasis is placed on divine sovereignty. Through Jesus Jesus had accomplished many miraculous signs, still the people did not believe in him (12:37; cf. Deuteronomy 29:2-4) What exactly did they not believe? John answers,

Though he had done so many signs before them, they still did not believe in him, so that  the word spoken by the prophet Isaiah  might by fulfilled: Lord, who has believed what he  heard from us, and to whom has the arm of the Lord been revealed? ” Therefore they could not believe. For again Isaiah said, “He has blinded their eyes and hardened their heart lest they see with their eyes, and understand with their their heart,  and turn and I would heal them. n

This I really want you Dr Flowers take note of what Jesus is saying: in response to others: ” So the Jews gathered around Him (Jesus) and said to Him, “How long will you keep us in suspense? If you are the Christ, tell us plainly,” Jesus answered them, “I told you and you do not believe, The works that I do in my Father’s name bear witness about me, but you do not believe because you are not part of my flock (John 10) My Sheep hear my voice, and I know them and they follow me, I GIVE THEM ETERNAL LIFE, AND THEY WILL NEVER PERISH. AND NO ONE WILL SNATCH THEM OF MY HAND.  My Father , who has given them to me is greater than all, and no one is able to snatch them of the Father’s hand, I and my Father are one.

Jesus was not hiding or speaking parables to hide his identity. The parables only hardened even more those who were already blind and would never come to salvation but to those to whom it was given to know the Father open their eyes so they could see and understand.  Those he would heal in secret he told them not to say anything because it was not time for his ministry to come into full power.  But Dr Flowers we both know that they all ran and told every one what Jesus did for them so it did not hide Jesus very good did it now. “

a discussion of regeneration flows naturally from effectual calling. Those whom God effectually calls to Himself are made alive: (Ephesians 2:1.5; Colossians 2: 11-14; Titus 3:5, James 1:18, 1 Peter 1:3-5, 1 John 2:29 3:9, 4:7; 5:1, 4. That said, it is appropriate to precisely define regeneration in this narrow sense. I provide the following definition. 

Regeneration is the work of the Holy Spirit to unite the elect sinner to Christ by breathing new life  into that dead and depraved sinner so as to raise him from spiritual death to spiritual life, removing his heart of stone and giving him a heart of flesh, so that he is washed, born from above and now able to repent and trust in Christ as a new creation. Moreover regeneration is the act of God alone and therefore it is monergistic in nature accomplished by the sovereign act of the Spirit apart from and unconditioned upon man’s will to believe, In short, man’s faith does not cause regeneration causes man’s faith. “Whomever He Wills”

“Indeed, no one is even able to come to the Son unless the Father COMPELLINGLY DRAWS HIM (JOHN 6:44)

Jesus was under no delusions about the bondage of the human will to sin. H said to a crowd that followed Him, “No man can come to unless the Father who sent me draws him” (John 6:44, 65) He uses a word of ability , “can” )dunamai) to make His point that the natural man does not possess the ability in and of himself to come to Christ for Salvation.  “Whomever He Wills”

John 6:37 all the Father gives me will come to me and I will in no wise cast them out.

Here in John 6:37 Jesus assures us that all the elect given to Jesus from the Father cannot ultimately refuse to come but will come willingly and knowingly that Christ has saved them from their sins “The ALL IN THIS VERSE GOD IS SPEAKING OF EVERY SINGLE INDIVIDUAL ELECT PERSON IN CHRIST BEFORE THE FOUNDATION OF THE WORLD

“No man can come to me unless the Father who sent Me draws him” THe good news is that there is an “unless” in John 6:44, just as there is a “But God” in Ephesians 2:4. In both instances it is not the free wioll of man that comes to the rescue, but the free will of God!! “The Potter’s Freedom” Dr James White. All men would be left in the hopeless position of “unable to come” unless God acts , and He does by drawing men unto Christ. Outside of this divine enablement (cf. 65) no man can come to Christ. (MIne, He does not have the willingness or the enabling power) No man can “will” to come to Christ. No man outside of this divine drawing. “The Potter’s Freedom” Dr. James White

I am now going to begin closing out part 1 of this mostly positive response to Dr. Flowers.  I have used my own words to rebut him positively and others  Part 2 will consist of me directly engaging with Dr. Flowers allegory way of of understanding and teaching scripture.  This is false and silly nonsense.  I want to end with the what one of the great giants said on John 6:44:

“To come to Christ being here used metaphorically for believing, The Evangelist, in order to carry out the metaphor in the apposite clause, says that those persons are drawn whose understandings God enlightens, and whose hearts he bends and forms to the obedience of Christ. The statement amounts to this, that we ought not to wonder if many refuse to embrace the Gospel; because no man will ever of himself be able to come to Christ, but God must first approach him by his Spirit; and hence it follows that all are not drawn but that God bestows this grace on those whom he has elected. True. indeed, as to the kind of drawing, it is not violent, so as to drag men by external force; but still it is a powerful impulse of the Holy Spirit, which makes men willing who formerly were unwilling and reluctant. It is a false and profane assertion, therefore that none are drawn but those who are willing to be drawn, as if man made himself obedient to god by his own efforts; for the willingness with  which men follow God is what they already have from himself, who has formed their hearts to obey him.  John Calvin, Dr James White, The Potter’s Freedom

 

Below are just commentaries on the subject of John 6:44, what some fo the great minds of the present and past have said of this verse, not understanding it by using allegory but proper biblical hermeneutics and exegesis.

The Divine Decree of Predestina-continues today.

37 All that the Father gives Me will come to Me, and the one who comes to Me I will by no means cast out. 38 For I have come down from heaven, not to do My own will, but the will of Him who sent Me. 39 This is the will of the Father who sent Me, that of all He has given Me I should lose nothing, but should raise it up at the last day. 40 And this is the will of Him who sent Me, that everyone who sees the Son and believes in Him may have everlasting life; and I will raise him up at the last day.”

 

Rejected by His Own

41 The Jews then complained about Him, because He said, “I am the bread which came down from heaven.” 42 And they said, “Is not this Jesus, the son of Joseph, whose father and mother we know? How is it then that He says, ‘I have come down from heaven’?”

43 Jesus therefore answered and said to them, “Do not murmur among yourselves. 44 No one can come to Me unless the Father who sent Me draws him; and I will raise him up at the last day. 45 It is written in the prophets, ‘And they shall all be taught by God.’[e] Therefore everyone who has heard and learned[f] from the Father comes to Me. 46 Not that anyone has seen the Father, except He who is from God; He has seen the Father. 47 Most assuredly, I say to you, he who believes in Me[g] has everlasting life. 48 I am the bread of life. 

Those who belong to God “before the foundation of the world (Ephesians 1:4) come willingly in the day of God’s power.  There may resist at first but ultimately the Word of God coupled with the power of the Holy Spirit overcome the obstacles of sinful human resistance.

Traditionalists: “No one can come to me unless the Father who sent me *enables* them, and I will raise up *those who come* at the last day.”

Ok The Traditionalist understanding of John 6:44.  First the words “No one can come”  This cannot be twisted or read into but only to let it says what it says.  “Can” is a word of ability.  Just like the old school example when you raise your hand and ask the teacher, “can I go to the bathroom?  The teacher would use this as teaching experience.  The teacher would say to the student, ” I don’t know, CAN YOU!!  Meaning she was asking the student if he had the ability to walk to the bathroom.  Then she would explain the proper way of asking was to say,” May I go to the bathroom.

So the words above beside the Traditionalists, “No one can come” mean the same as the reformed believer that “NO ONE OR NO MAN (SAME IN THE GREEK) HAS THE ABILITY TO COME TO CHRIST ON THEIR OWN OR BY A DECISION OF THEIR WILL period!!!

So they only way a siful wicked man who hates Christ who is the light (John 3:18-20) and gospel is the next words in John 6:44.

 

Only those drawn by the Father may come, and I will raise up them (those that come) at the last day.”

 

Quick Commentary – 

John 6:36-46

The discovery of their guilt, danger, and remedy, by the teaching of the Holy Spirit, makes men willing and glad to come, and to give up every thing which hinders applying to him for salvation. The Father’s will is, that not one of those who were given to the Son, should be rejected or lost by him. No one will come, till Divine grace has subdued, and in part changed his heart; therefore no one who comes will ever be cast out. The gospel finds none willing to be saved in the humbling, holy manner, made known therein; but God draws with his word and the Holy Ghost; and man’s duty is to hear and learn; that is to say, to receive the grace offered, and consent to the promise. None had seen the Father but his beloved Son; and the Jews must expect to be taught by his inward power upon their minds, and by his word, and the ministers whom he sent among them. MHCC Commentary

First of all Dr. Flowers once again does not do his exegesis of the chapter which absolutely necessary to get the flow of thought of what is being said.  He did not even have to do an entire exegesis from beginning to end.  He could have gave a strong summary and then when he got to the verse that seems to change the flow some what that is where is exegesis should have begun,  I may do an exegesis just to show Dr. Flowers how it is done because I am not sure if he knows how to do it or if he sees if he does it right and biblically it will not say what he wants it to say, so he comes up with own way of explaining and understanding the verse,

Dr. Flowers says there are two ways to interpret the verse so he wants to look at them side by side.

Calvinists: “No one can come to me unless the Father who sent me *drags* them, and I will raise up *those who were dragged* at the last day.”

Traditionalists: “No one can come to me unless the Father who sent me *enables* them, and I will raise up *those who come* at the last day.”

The word “draw” here 

By a merciful violence, violence drags here is figurative and not literal.  PROFESSOR FLOWERS HERE GIVES THE REFORMED RENDERING AS DRAGS WHICH IS TO SET THE TONE THAT MOST REFORMED BELIEVERS TAKE THIS VERSE THAT GOD BRINGS SINNERS TO SALVATION KICKING AND SCREAMING TO SALVATION AGAINST THEIR WILL.  THIS IS NOT WHAT THE MAJORITY OF REFORMED BELIEVERS BELIEVE OF THIS VERSE FLOWERS AND YOU KNOW. THIS IS JUST DOWN RIGHT DISINGENUOUS OF YOU AND AS A PASTOR AND PROFESSOR YOU ARE TO HELD TO A HIGHER STANDARD.  YOU CAN EITHER MAKE AN EXCUSE FOR THIS SINFUL LIE OR HUMBLE YOURSELF UNDER THE MIGHTY HAND OF GOD WILLINGLY, EITHER WAY YOU ARE GOING TO BE HUMBLED BECAUSE IT IS THE HAND OF GOD THAT IS ACTIVELY DOING THE HUMBLING. MAN IS INCAPABLE OF HUMBLING HIMSELF APART FROM CHRIST DR. FLOWERS, DID NOT JESUS SAY WITHOUT ME YOU CAN DO NOTHING.  NOTHING IS NOT A LITTLE SOMETHING LIKE HUMBLING. 

Professor Flowers then says his own system of belief for John 6:44 is lead which Thayer says is also a metaphorical word. Something else we are not told from Dr Flowers.

These are the definitions that Thayer gives and I wonder how Dr. Flowers picked out one for the Reformed Faith and one for the Traditional Faith?   He does not tell us how,

Thayer Definition:
1) to draw, drag off
2) metaphorically, to draw by inward power, lead, impel

 

2. metaphorically, to draw by inward power, lead, impel: Joh_6:44

Not to “lead”  I have a huge Library and none of them say draw in John 6:44 means to lead but to draw by inward power.

I think it has something to do with the fact that “no one can come/believe” Notice below that “No one can come it is powerful negating speaking of an ability that one does not have.

No one can come- it is a powerful negating

This why John 6:44 goes on to say “UNLESS THE FATHER DRAWS HIM”

I just love when God’s word teaches things like (But God: Ephesians 2)  (Unless the Father John 6 44, 65)  (Jesus said to them without me you can do NOTHING, Nothing does not mean a little something, It means you can do nothing to add anything toward your salvation, John 15)  God will have mercy upon whom He will have mercy. Ephesians 2:1-While we were still dead in tresspasses and sins, GOD QUICKENED US AND MADE US ALIVE IN THE LORD JESUS CHRIST/

Ephesians 2:in which you once walked according to the course of this world, according to the prince of the power of the air, the spirit who now works in the sons of disobedience, among whom also we all once conducted ourselves in the lusts of our flesh, fulfilling the desires of the flesh and of the mind, and were by nature children of wrath, just as the others.

Above explains the condition most and the majority of sinners our in when we can say “BUT GOD”. Ephesians 2:4                                                                                      ‘

Not while we were seeking Christ or humbling ourselves before God but while we were still dead and tresspasses and sins God had saving mercY on us

But God, who is rich in mercy, because of His great love with which He loved us, even when we were dead in trespasses, made us alive together with Christ (by grace you have been saved)

Notice we were dead in sin. in which you once walked according to the course of this world (the lust of the eyes, the lust of flesh and the pride of life)  according to the prince of the power of the air, the spirit who now works in the sons of disobedience.  among whom also we all once conducted ourselves in the lusts of our flesh, fulfilling the desires of the flesh and of the mind, and were by nature children of wrath, just as the others.

But because of Christ death on the Cross, the wrath of God was appeased, the demands of the law satisfied ( The soul that sins shall die) and by Christ carrying our sins in His own body blood and water flowed and now there is legally forgiveness of sins and Jesus said “all that the Father gives will come to me, and I will in no will cast them out.(John 6:37)  No man can come to me unless the Father through work of the Holy Spirit draws that man and I will raise that man up on the last day(John 6:44)

Read it all slowly in context Dr. Fl;owers.

35 And Jesus said to them, “I am the bread of life. He who comes to Me shall never hunger, and he who believes in Me shall never thirst. 36 But I said to you that you have seen Me and yet do not believe. 37 All that the Father gives Me will come to Me, and the one who comes to Me I will by no means cast out. 38 For I have come down from heaven, not to do My own will, but the will of Him who sent Me. 39 This is the will of the Father who sent Me, that of all He has given Me I should lose nothing, but should raise it up at the last day. 40 And this is the will of Him who sent Me, that everyone who sees the Son and believes in Him may have everlasting life; and I will raise him up at the last day.”

Rejected by His Own

41 The Jews then complained about Him, because He said, “I am the bread which came down from heaven.” 42 And they said, “Is not this Jesus, the son of Joseph, whose father and mother we know? How is it then that He says, ‘I have come down from heaven’?”

43 Jesus therefore answered and said to them, “Do not murmur among yourselves. 44 No one can come to Me unless the Father who sent Me draws him; and I will raise him up at the last day. 45 It is written in the prophets, ‘And they shall all be taught by God.’[e] Therefore everyone who has heard and learned[f] from the Father comes to Me. 46 Not that anyone has seen the Father, except He who is from God; He has seen the Father. 47 Most assuredly, I say to you, he who believes in Me[g] has everlasting life. 48 I am the bread of life.

The Father speaking to Jesus His Son

Ask of Me, and I will give You
The nations for Your inheritance,
And the ends of the earth for Your possession. Compare with John 6:37 and John 10

 

Songs 1:4 Draw me, we will run after you: the king has brought me into his chambers

In other words, no man can believe in Christ to the saving of his soul, unless God give him power: God draws us first by good desires, not by compulsion, not by laying the will under any necessity; Benson

Joh_12:32; If I be lifted up from the earth I will draw all men unto me; that is, being put to death on the cross, and raised from the dead, and exalted into heaven, and preached through the world, I will, by my word and Spirit, persuade many to follow me to heaven. Thus also, Hos_11:4, God says, he drew Israel with the cords of a man, with bands of love. Wherefore, by the Father’s drawing men to Christ we may understand his persuading them to believe on him, by the several proofs wherewith he has supported his mission, by the doctrine of his gospel, and by those influences of his grace, which are necessary to give men a right discernment of the evidences of religion, and of the certainty and importance of the great truths of it, and to impress these things deeply on their minds. Accordingly, in the following verse, the effect which the Father’s drawing hath upon men, is described by their hearing and learning of him. It is written in the prophets, (see the margin,) they shall be all taught of God — Namely, not merely by his word, but also and especially by his Spirit, termed therefore, (Eph_1:17,) the Spirit of wisdom and revelation. The Jews resisted the drawing of God. Only those accept Jesus whom God draws to him. The word which John uses for to draw is helkuein (G1670) he word used in the Greek translation of the Hebrew when Jeremiah hears God say as the King James Version has it: “With loving-kindness have I drawn thee therefore I have continued my faithfulness to you” (Jer_31:3)  Benson

44.] The connexion seems to be this: They were not to murmur among themselves because He had said this; for the right understanding of what He had said is only to be gained by being taught of God, by being drawn by the Father, who alone can give the desire to come to Christ, and bring a man to Him. 44.] The connexion seems to be this: They were not to murmur among themselves because He had said this; for the right understanding of what He had said is only to be gained by being taught of God, by being drawn by the Father, who alone can give the desire to come to Christ, and bring a man to Him. That this ‘drawing is not irresistible grace, is confessed even by Augustine himself, in his Tractatus on this passage. “Si trahitur, ait aliquis, invitus venit. Si invitus venit, nec credit: si non credit, nec venit. Non enim ad Christum ambulando currimus, sed credendo; nec motu corporis sed oluntate cordis accedimus, … Noli te cogitare invitum trahi; trahitur animus et amore.” And just before; “Intrare quisquam ecclesiam potest nolens, accedere ad altare potest nolens, accipere sacramentum potest nolens:—credere non potest, nisi volens.” He quotes, “trahit sua quemque voluptas” (Virg. Ecl. ii. 65), to shew that the drawing is that of delight and choice, not of obligation and necessity. Alford Commentary

44.No man can come to me, unless the Father, who hath sent me, draw him. He does not merely accuse them of wickedness, but likewise reminds them, that it is a peculiar gift of God to embrace the doctrine which is exhibited by him; which he does, that their unbelief may not disturb weak minds. For many are so foolish that, in the things of God, they depend on the opinions of men; in consequence of which, they entertain suspicions about the Gospel, as soon as they see that it is not received by the world. Unbelievers, on the other hand, flattering themselves in their obstinacy, have the hardihood to condemn the Gospel because it does not please them. On the contrary, therefore, Christ declares that the doctrine of the Gospel, though it is preached to all without exception, cannot be embraced by all, but that a new understanding and a new perception are requisite; and, therefore, that faith does not depend on the will of men, but that it is God who gives it.
Unless the Father draw him. To come to Christ being here used metaphorically for believing, the Evangelist, in order to carry out the metaphor in the apposite clause, says that those persons are drawn whose understandings God enlightens, and whose hearts he bends and forms to the obedience of Christ. The statement amounts to this, that we ought not to wonder if many refuse to embrace the Gospel; because no man will ever of himself be able to come to Christ, but God must first approach him by his Spirit; and hence it follows that all are not drawn, but that God bestows this grace on those whom he has elected. True, indeed, as to the kind of drawing, it is not violent, so as to compel men by external force; but still it is a powerful impulse of the Holy Spirit, which makes men willing who formerly were unwilling and reluctant. It is a false and profane assertion, therefore, that none are drawn but those who are willing to be drawn, (153) as if man made himself obedient to God by his own efforts; for the willingness with which men follow God is what they already have from himself, who has formed their hearts to obey him. John Calvin Chapter 6 Commentary

In which words we have something necessarily implied, and something positively expressed. The misery of man in his natural and unsanctified state is here implied; he is far distant from Christ, and unable of himself to come unto him. By nature we are strangers, yea, enemies, unto God; enemies to the holiness of his nature, and to the righteousness of his laws; and as the state of unregeneracy is a state of enmity, so consequently must it be a state of impotency; Without me, therefore says Christ, ye can do nothing, that is, without interest in me, and influences of grace derived from me. Joh_15:5
Again, the truth we have expressed are these:
1. That all those who come unto Christ are drawn unto him.
2. That the drawing of sinful souls unto Jesus Christ is the special and peculiar work of God. This drawing is a powerful act, but not a compulsory act; God doth not draw any against their wills to Christ, but he inclines the wills of sinners to come unto him. He draws by effectual persuasion, and not by violent compulsion.
3. That all those who are drawn to Christ here, shall be raised up gloriously by him hereafter: I will raise him up at the last day. Such as are brought to Christ by the Father, Christ shall never abandon them, till he has raised them up at the last day, and presented them blameless and complete before his Father; where they shall ever be with the Lord. Burkitt Commentary

Except the Father – draw him – But how is a man drawn? St. Augustin answers from the poet, Trahit sua quemque voluptas; a man is attracted by that which he delights in. Show green herbage to a sheep, he is drawn by it: show nuts to a child, and he is drawn by them. They run wherever the person runs who shows these things: they run after him, but they are not forced to follow; they run, through the desire they feel to get the things they delight in. So God draws man: he shows him his wants – he shows the Savior whom he has provided for him: the man feels himself a lost sinner; and, through the desire which he finds to escape hell, and get to heaven, he comes unto Christ, that he may be justified by his blood. Unless God thus draw, no man will ever come to Christ; because none could, without this drawing, ever feel the need of a Savior. See August. Tract. 26, in Joan. and Calmet.
Drawing, or alluring, not dragging is here to be understood. “He,” say the rabbins, “who desires to cleave to the holy and blessed God, God lays hold of him, and will not cast him off.” Synops. Sohar. p. 87. The best Greek writers use the verb in the same sense of alluring, inciting, etc. Clarke Commentary

John 6:43-46
43–46. Digression on the difficulty of coming to Christ as a believer,John 6:44
44. οὐδεὶς δύναται. It is a moral impossibility: comp. Joh_3:3; Joh_3:5, Joh_5:44, Joh_8:43, Joh_12:39, Joh_14:17, Joh_15:4-5. The οὐδείς corresponds to the πᾶν in Joh_6:37, as ἑλκύσῃ to δίδωσιν: all that are given shall reach Christ; none but those who are drawn are able to come to Him. The aor. ἐλθεῖν expresses the result, rather than the process, as in τὸν ἐρχόμενον (Joh_6:37), and ἔρχεται (Joh_6:45). ἑλκύσῃ. Comp. Joh_12:32, πάντας ἑλκύσω πρὸς ἐμαυτόν. Unlike σύρειν, ‘to drag’ (Act_8:3; Act_14:19; Act_17:6), ἑλκύειν does not necessarily imply force, but mere attraction of some kind, some inducement to come. Comp. Jer_31:3, ‘with lovingkindness have I drawn thee’ (εἵλκυσά σε), and Virgil’s trahit sua quemque voluptas. Ἑλκίσῃ expresses the internal process, δίδωσιν (Joh_6:37) the result.κἀγώ. The Father begins the work of salvation, the Son completes it. The Father draws and gives; the Son receives, preserves, and raises up to eternal life.CambridgeGreek

THE JEWS’ CONTENTION AGAINST HIS WORDS
(vs.41-58)
After such words that should have awakened interest and concern, the questioning of the Jews turns to murmuring. They resisted His claim to be the Bread sent down from heaven (v.41). People want what He can give, but they do not want Him personally. They think of Him as merely Joseph’s son: their eyes can see nothing more that what is natural, despite every spiritual evidence of His glory. But though their murmuring was among themselves, the Lord reproved it, an evidence in itself of His divine omniscience He goes further, to declare the impossibility of one coming to Him apart from the drawing of the Father (v.44). This refers to the Father’s working by the Spirit to exercise people as regards their need of Christ. For human beings will never; of their own voluntary will, seek the Lord: the movement to produce this must be the work of God. Indeed, the Gospel itself comes from God: it is He Himself who sends the message of entreaty by His servants: it is He who produces by grace a response in hearts. All mankind needs to be reminded of this, that they may learn to depend, not on their own wisdom or ability, but on the grace of God. Notice that those spoken of three times as being raised up at the last day are those who (1) are given by the Father; (2) believe on the Son; and (3) are drawn by the Father (vs.37,40,44).L M Grant Commentary

The reason you cannot accept My claims is because of your trust in human knowledge and wisdom, for no one is able to come to Me unless the Father Who sent Me draws him; and those drawn to Me by My Father I will raise up in the last day. Collegepress

John 6:44
No man can come to me,…. That is, by faith, as in Joh_6:35; for otherwise they could corporeally come to him, but not spiritually; because they had neither power nor will of themselves; being dead in trespasses and sins, and impotent to everything that is spiritual: and whilst men are in a state of unregenerate, blindness, and darkness, they see no need of coming to Christ, nor anything in him worth coming for; they are prejudiced against him, and their hearts are set on other things; and besides, coming to Christ and believing in Christ being the same thing, it is certain faith is not of a man’s self, it is the gift of God, and the operation of his Spirit; and therefore efficacious grace must be exerted to enable a soul to come to Christ; which is expressed in the following words, except the Father which hath sent me, draw him: which is not to be understood of moral persuasion, or a being persuaded and prevailed upon to come to Christ by the consideration of the mighty works which God had done to justify that he was the true Messiah, but of the internal and powerful influence of the grace of God; for this act of drawing is something distinct from, and superior to, both doctrine and miracles. The Capernaites had heard the doctrine of Christ, which was taught with authority, and had seen his miracles, which were full proofs of his being the Messiah, and yet believed not, but murmured at his person and parentage. This gave occasion to Christ to observe to them, that something more than these was necessary to their coming to him, or savingly believing in him; even the powerful and efficacious grace of the Father in drawing: and if it be considered what men in conversion are drawn off “from” and “to”, from their beloved lusts and darling righteousness; to look unto, and rely upon Christ alone for salvation; from that which was before so very agreeable, to that which, previous to this work, was so very disagreeable; to what else can this be ascribed, but to unfrustrable and insuperable grace? but though this act of drawing is an act of power, yet not of force; God in drawing of unwilling, makes willing in the day of his power: he enlightens the understanding, bends the will, gives an heart of flesh, sweetly allures by the power of his grace, and engages the soul to come to Christ, and give up itself to him; he draws with the bands of love. Drawing, though it supposes power and influence, yet not always coaction and force: music draws the ear, love the heart, and pleasure the mind. “Trahit sua quemque voluptas”, says the poet. The Jews have a saying (t), that the proselytes, in the days of the Messiah, shall be all of them, גרים גרורים, “proselytes drawn”: that is, such as shall freely and voluntarily become proselytes, as those who are drawn by the Father are. And I will raise him at the last day; See Gill on Joh_6:40; compare with this verse Joh_6:40. John Gill Commentary

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.
No man can come to me (in the sense of Joh_6:35), except the Father which hath sent me – that is, except the Father as the Sender of Me, and to carry out the design of My mission.
Draw him – by an internal and efficacious operation; though by all the means of rational conviction, and in a way altogether consonant to their moral nature. (Son_1:4; Jer_31:3; Hos_11:3-4.)
And I will raise him up at the last day. See the note at Joh_6:54. Thus this weighty statement mounts to the following: ‘Be not either startled or stumbled at these sayings; because it needs divine teaching to understand them, divine drawing to submit to them.’JFB-U Commentary

MAN’S INABILITY TO COME TO CHRIST
Joh_6:44. No man can come to me, except the Father which hath sent me draw him.
THERE are in the Holy Scriptures many doctrines which prove an offence and a stumbling-block to the world: but the reason of their exciting disgust and aversion, must be looked for, not so much in the doctrines themselves, as in the depravity of the human heart. To a humble and contrite spirit every truth in the Bible will appear reasonable and worthy of God: it is the pride of man that takes offence at the sacred records, and that renders him unable to receive the declarations of God. Our blessed Lord had told the Jews repeatedly, that he came down from heaven: they knowing his mother and his reputed father, could not endure that he should arrogate to himself such high honour: but he informed them, that the ground of the offence was within themselves; they were blinded by their own prejudices, and fettered by their own lusts, so that nothing but the almighty grace of God could ever draw them to him in a becoming manner.

Now this subject is difficult; we shall therefore explain it: it is deemed objectionable; and therefore we shall assign the reasons of it: it is liable to abuse; and therefore we shall guard it. I. It is difficult, and therefore we shall explain it—
To “come to Christ” is to believe on him for salvation—
[It cannot refer to a mere bodily approach; because in that sense the assertion would not be true. Our Lord himself explains his meaning, and informs us, that to come to him is of the same import with believing in him [Note: ver. 35.]. Our coming to him has respect to the characters which he sustains. Is he a Prophet? we must come to him for instruction: is he a Priest? we must come to him to make atonement for us: is he a King? we must come to him to deliver us from all our spiritual enemies. In whatever view he is represented in the Scriptures, whether as a sun to enlighten, a fountain to cleanse, a physician to heal, or as bread to support our lives, we should come to him, feeling our need of him under that very character, and relying on him to supply our every want.]

In order to this, we should experience the drawings of the Father— [When we speak of “the Father drawing us,” we appear to some as if we ascribed to him an irresistible agency, and considered men as mere machines. But we entertain no such absurd unscriptural notions. It is not with the cords of a beast, or with force and violence, that God draws us, but, as the prophet well expresses it, “with the cords of a man, and with the bands of love [Note: Hos_11:4.],” that is, by rational considerations, and by the sweet attractions of his love. Perhaps this subject will be best understood by a familiar illustration. How was it that Jacob was drawn into Egypt? He was made to feel the pressure of a very grievous famine: he was informed that there was plenty of corn in Egypt; and that his dearly-beloved of the good was the Lord of all that land, and that he disposed of the good things thereof to whomsoever he would: he was told, moreover, that Joseph had expressly invited him; and had sent waggons for the conveyance of his family, together with abundance of provisions by the way: and finally, he was assured that, at the end of his journey, all the good of the land of Egypt should be his. Did he need after this, to have a rope or chain fastened round him, and to be dragged into Egypt? No: all that he needed was faith, to believe the tidings; and when once he was fully persuaded of the truth of these things, he was willing of himself to go into that good land. It is thus that God draws his people: he causes us to feel our need of mercy; he informs us that our beloved Jesus has all heaven at his disposal; that he has sent to invite us to him, assuring us of whatever is needful by the way, and promising us all the glory of heaven at the end: and finally, he gives us faith to believe his testimony. Thus “he makes us willing in the day of his power [Note: Psa_110:3.];” and a thorough belief of these truths will bend the most stubborn heart, and overcome the most reluctant mind.]

Without these drawings we cannot come to Christ—

1. On our indisposition to come to Christ—
[Consider what the coming to Christ implies: First it implies a sense of our lost state without him: and do men like to feel themselves guilty and undone? do they feel no backwardness to confess that they are justly exposed to everlasting misery? Next, it implies a renunciation of all dependence on ourselves: and is this pleasing to corrupt nature? Are we willing to believe ourselves so utterly destitute of wisdom, righteousness, and strength, that we must be altogether dependent on Christ, as much as a new-born infant is on its parent? Next, it implies a turning from every thing that is displeasing to Christ: but have we no reluctance to mortify our besetting sins, and to forsake the habits, maxims, company, and interests of a polluted world? Lastly, it implies that we give ourselves entirely up to Christ, to walk in a state of holy communion with him, and unreserved obedience to his will: but does man naturally affect such a life as this? Is there nothing irksome to him in such restraints; nothing painful in such exertions?

Here then is one reason why we need the drawings of the Father in order to come to Christ. Our coming to Christ is altogether against the current of our corrupt nature [Note: Rom_8:7. 1Co_2:14.]: and as a river flowing to the ocean cannot turn back again to its source without the attractive influence of the heavenly bodies, so neither can we reverse all our natural habits and propensities, without the drawings of our heavenly Father.]

2. On our impotency—
[The impotency of man to do what is good is certainly rather of a moral than a natural kind: his inability is not like that which incapacitates him to stop the sun in the firmament: it consists principally in a want of inclination: yet, together with that, there is a positive weakness; there is even in a regenerate man “the flesh lusting against the Spirit, so that he cannot do the things that he would [Note: Gal_5:17.].” St. Paul himself complained, that “to will was present with him; but how to perform that which was good, he found not:” that “the good which he would, he did not; and that the evil which he would not, that he did: that when he would do good, evil was present with him [Note: Rom_7:18-19; Rom_7:21.].” And who amongst us has not found the same? Who has not felt wanderings of mind, yea, and lamentable obduracy of heart, in those seasons when he has earnestly desired to maintain communion with his Lord and Saviour? Who has not been made sensible that he is like a becalmed vessel; and that he spreads the sails in vain, until the wind arise to bear him onward in his voyage?

We need not then to inquire after any other reasons for the doctrine in the text: our own experience, together with that of the saints in all ages, amounts to a demonstration of the point; more especially because it is confirmed by the strongest declarations of Holy Writ. God himself has told us, that without Christ we can do nothing [Note: Joh_15:5.]; that we cannot, of ourselves, even speak a good word [Note: Mat_12:34 and 1Co_12:3.]; nay, that we have not sufficiency even to think a good thought [Note: 2Co_3:5.]: that “God must give us both to will and to do [Note: Php_2:13.].” If then “our sufficiency even for these things must be of God,” how much more must a Divine influence be necessary in order to our coming fully and habitually to Christ, as the life and strength of our souls!]

We must not however be satisfied with establishing this doctrine; for,
III. It is liable to abuse; and therefore we will guard it—
It is abused as much as any doctrine whatever;

1. By the ignorant and ungodly—
[When we tell them how they must come to Christ, and devote themselves to his service, they excuse themselves by saying that they cannot: and thus, in fact, they cast all the blame of their condemnation upon God, instead of taking it to themselves. But the impotency of which they complain is no excuse for them. Before they conclude themselves to be blameless, let them inquire, whether they do all that they can; whether they read, and meditate, and pray, and watch, and strive as much as they can? If they do not improve aright the strength they have, what reason have they to complain that God has not given them more? They will not so much as “frame their doings to turn unto the Lord:” and therefore they are as deserving of punishment, as if they had had all the power in their own hands: if they be not faithful in the few things which they have, there is no reason to think that they would have been faithful in more, if more had been committed to them. With this accords our Lord’s own interpretation of such excuses, and the sentence he will pronounce on those who offer them [Note: Mat_25:24-30.]: instead of standing excused before God, they will be condemned as wicked and unprofitable servants.

But such excuses are indeed the greatest aggravation of their guilt: for they amount only to this; “I love sin so much, that I cannot renounce it; and hate God so much, that I cannot bring my mind to love and serve him.” And how would such an excuse sound in a court of judicature on behalf of a murderer? This man hates his fellow-creatures to such a degree, that he cannot help murdering them whenever he can get them within his reach? Would the people say, ‘Poor man, he ought not to be punished, for he cannot help it?’ Would they not rather think, that the wickedness of his disposition was the greatest aggravation of his guilt, and that it would be the height of injustice to let him pass unpunished? The cases are altogether parallel: the conduct of each proceeds from his own depravity: and in either case increases, rather than diminishes, their desert of condemnation.]

2. By many professors of religion—
[Strange as it may seem, we must confess that there are many professors of religion who abuse most shamefully the doctrine of the text: I allude to Antinomian professors, who, when warned of their state, will plead their weakness in extenuation of their guilt, and will cast the blame on God, just as the ungodly themselves are wont to do. But if there be any people under heaven more offensive to God than others, surely these must be they. The ignorant and ungodly are quite innocent, when compared with these. Truly the excuses of an Antinomian professor are little short of blasphemy. O that all of that description might consider the fallacy and impiety of their pleas! But we would hope that no such professor is in this place: if however there should be one, we must declare unto him, that, whatever excuse he may make for his sinful practices or neglects, “he deceiveth his own soul, and his religion is vain.” If God indeed were unwilling to help him, there might be some justice in his pleas. But who will dare to cast such a reflection upon him? The fault is only in the depraved wills of men: “Ye will not come unto me, that ye might have life.” Let none then presume to charge God foolishly: if ever we would be right in his sight, we must trace all good to him, all evil to ourselves.]

1. To the self-confident—
[If you be not yet convinced of your need of Divine influences, go home, and try to perform some spiritual acts in your own strength: try to go to Christ with contrition; to cast yourself upon him with humble confidence; and to devote yourself to him in unreserved obedience. Do this, do it really, and with your whole heart, and we will retract all we have spoken, and confess either that the Bible is false, or that we have mistaken its true import. But we fear not the issue of such a trial: we are persuaded it would tend, more than any thing, to your conviction. Having within your own power the means of ascertaining the truth or falsehood of what you have heard, you will be utterly inexcusable if you neglect to do it.]

2. To the timid—
[Let it not be a source of discouragement to you that you feel your weakness: for “when you are weak, then are you strong.” Can you do nothing of yourselves? then live the more dependent upon God: and “he will perfect his strength in your weakness.” He has said, “Fear not, thou worm Jacob, thou shalt thresh the mountains.” What a labour is this to be performed by a worm! yet it shall be done. Trust then in him, and be of good courage: and He who “seat Christ to you,” will draw you to him, and he who draws you to him, will accomplish in you all his good pleasure, till you are “raised at last” to a full enjoyment of his presence and glory.] Homileticae Commentary

Vers. 43, 44. “Jesus therefore answered and said unto them. Murmur not among yourselves. No man can come to Me, except the Father, who hath sent Me, draw him: and I will raise him up at the last day.”
The Jews thought that Jesus had given them offence by His intolerable assumption; but Jesus points out that the offence which they had taken, rests on an entirely different ground, viz., that they have not been drawn by the Father to Him, and have thus remained in their corrupt state of nature, in the stupidity and blindness of the flesh, which is incapable of perceiving Divine things, or of entering into relation to them. (Calvin: “ideo non sapit, quia insipidura vobis est palatum.”) Where there is not this drawing of the Father, there arise of themselves various erroneous conceptions and offences. Would that, instead of murmuring, they would rather open their hearts (Augustine: “nondum traheris? ora ut traharis”), that the Father may draw them to the Son, and thus render them partakers of eternal life!

The drawing of the Father is connected with subjective conditions; for if it were not so, this conversation with the Jews would have no object. The desire of the soul must meet the attractive influence, the feeling of one’s own misery, the desire for redemption, the beseeching hand stretched out upwards. It is the fault of the Jews that they are not drawn, just as in Deu_29:4 it is said, “Yet the Lord hath not given you any heart to perceive, and eyes to see, and ears to hear, unto this day,” not to excuse, but to accuse the Jews. With the heart as it is by nature, swollen with conceit and pride, they cannot draw near to Christ, (Calvin: “opus esse nova mente et novo sensu”); it must be their aim to obtain a new heart, which can come only by the gift of God.

Lampe supposes, if it is certain that he who is drawn by the Father will attain to the resurrection, none can fall from grace. But if the commencement of the drawing is subjectively conditioned, its continuance also may be endangered by the ceasing of the subjective conditions.

It is said in Joh_12:32, “And I, if I be lifted up from the earth, will draw all men unto Me,” according to which, the drawing is also the work of the Son; and this is confirmed by ver. 46, here, according to which, there is no relation to the Father but that which is mediated by the Son. Even in the Old Testament passage, of which we are to speak presently, the drawing is attributed to the Messiah. It is attributed to the Father here, as the highest cause, for the reason that the Jews acknowledged the Father, and were labouring to raise a partition-wall between Christ and the Father.

The drawing is here, and in Joh_12:32, taken from Son_1:4 : cf. my Commentary on the passage. There also the drawing designates an internal influence on the mind. There also the following is made absolutely dependent on the drawing: “Draw me, so will we run after Thee.” The two passages are further based on those dependent on the original passage, Jer_31:3, Hos_11:4.

The words, ὁ πέμψας με, intimate the ground of the drawing: He who has sent Christ, must also lead susceptible hearts to Him.

The words, ὁ πέμψας με, intimate the ground of the drawing: He who has sent Christ, must also lead susceptible hearts to Him.

 

John 6:36-46

The discovery of their guilt, danger, and remedy, by the teaching of the Holy Spirit, makes men willing and glad to come, and to give up every thing which hinders applying to him for salvation. The Father’s will is, that not one of those who were given to the Son, should be rejected or lost by him. No one will come, till Divine grace has subdued, and in part changed his heart; therefore no one who comes will ever be cast out. The gospel finds none willing to be saved in the humbling, holy manner, made known therein; but God draws with his word and the Holy Ghost; and man’s duty is to hear and learn; that is to say, to receive the grace offered, and consent to the promise. None had seen the Father but his beloved Son; and the Jews must expect to be taught by his inward power upon their minds, and by his word, and the ministers whom he sent among them. MHCC Commentary

 

John 6:44

Draw (ἑλκύση)
Two words for drawing are found in the New Testament, σύρω and ἑλκύω. The distinction is not habitually observed, and the meanings often overlap. Σύρω is originally to drag or trail along, as a garment or torn slippers. Both words are used of haling to justice. (See Act_8:3; Act_17:6; Act_16:19) In Act_14:19, συ.ρω, of dragging Paul’s senseless body out of the city at Lystra. In Joh_21:6, Joh_21:8, Joh_21:11, both words of drawing the net. In Joh_18:10, ἑλκύω, of drawing Peter’s sword. One distinction, however, is observed: σύρω is never used of Christ’s attraction of men. See Joh_6:44; Joh_12:32. Ἑλκύω occurs only once outside of John’s writings (Act_16:19). Luther says on this passage: “The drawing is not like that of the executioner, who draws the thief up the ladder to the gallows; but it is a gracious allurement, such as that of the man whom everybody loves, and to whom everybody willingly goes.” VWS

God the Father draw him] By a merciful violence, ex nolentibus volentes facit. {See Trapp on “Son_1:4”} The Father draweth, and the man cometh; that notes the efficacy of grace, and this the sweetness of grace. Grace works strongly, and therefore God is said to draw; and it works sweetly too, and therefore man is said to come. Trapp

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Soteriology101—– Brian H. Wagner—-Freewill as Taught in Scripture

Brian is an old friend of mine who I have not talked to in a while. Here he tackles the subject of FREEWILL as he believes it is taught in the Bible. Brian is a true gentleman expect lately I have noticed he has grown a little more nasty in his assertions against those in the Reformed Faith. Brian Wagner is a consistent arminian since he serves the humanist heretical god of open theism. I have warm feeling for Brian and always will. I learned from him in our interaction back and forth. I know interact with his false error filled article “Freewill as Taught in Scripture.” My response to Brian will be in the color of Orange.

Freewill AS TAUGHT IN SCRIPTURE

by Brian H. Wagner, Ph.D.,
instructor of church history,
theology and biblical languages
at Virginia Baptist College

How often have I read in various Facebook theological discussions the declaration of a Calvinist – “Freewill is not taught in Scriptures”?

I am sure Brian has read many Reformed Believers who have said– “Freewill is not taught in the Scriptures”?  But Brian should know that there are different definitions for the term “freewill”  Like I am sure his understanding which is probably the same as Flowers is to have the innate ability to abstain from something or go after it willingly. So when the Reformed Believer says “freewill” is not taught in the Bible he is talking about it in the sense that Brian and flowers is talking about it but only in a spiritual sense, that is having the ability or freewill to do anything to save himself, when within himself his strongest desire is to hate God and to spit in God’s Face.

John 3:19 – 19 And this is the condemnation, that the light has come into the world, and men loved darkness rather than light, because their deeds were evil. 

20 For everyone practicing evil hates the light and does not come to the light, lest his deeds should be exposed.

I ask my friend Brian where is freewill in the passage of Holy Scripture above?  Listen to what John says again my friend Brian, “MEN LOVED DARKNESS RATHER THAN LIGHT, BECAUSE THEIR DEEDS WERE EVIL.”

There is no “freewill” in John 3:19 only “CONDEMNATION” as John plainly tells us in the first four works of verse 19.  Are these evil, wicked men who hate the light of Christ and love the darkness of sin able to choose between the two?

I do not think so.  Verse 19 plainly tells us that these Wicked men under the wrath and condemnation of God love the darkness.  Think about how you love God and desire to escape to that secret place to be with him and experience His holy love and intimate presence.

That they chose darkness was the act of their own will, and this act of the will was determined by the evil of their deeds. This was their habit and character that they practiced daily freely according to the will of their nature that was dark, wicked and unholy.

It is the same with the wicked men under the wrath and condemnation of God, THEY LOVE THE DARKNESS OF THEIR SIN, they hasten to indulge in it with love and pleasure.  There is no freewill only the greatest desire within these wicked men who take great love and pleasure in their sin.  They do according to their greatest desire and strongest nature within that they love.   They hasten to their sin.

In Verse 20 we read that :everyone practicing evil.”  Notice the dominance of sin in their lives.  They were so deceived by this dominating sin, loving it, taking great pleasure in it, they were not in any way trying to make a decision not to do it.  They loved it and hated Christ.  Notice verse 20 does not say they were daily making freewill choices whether to sin or not, not it plainly and with clarity says “THEY WERE PRACTICING EVIL.”  There is not freewill to choose or not to choose they were in love with their sin and it brought them great pleasure to practice it daily.  The word “PRACTICE”  speaks of something “ongoing without interruption.

They we read in verse 20 that “EVERYONE PRACTICING EVIL HATES THE LIGHT AND WILL NOT COME TO THE LIGHT OF CHRIST.

I ask Brian, where is freewill in these passages.  I could actually stop here because these words actually come from the lips of our Lord Jesus, Let God be true and every man a liar.

Why cannot the Non-Calvinist see this in the passages I Quoted instead of twisting them and reading into it that which is not even there!!!!!  This is disingenuous. 

 

Of course, the freedom of will to go against one’s nature, even for God, is not possible. It is impossible for God to lie or to deny Himself (Titus 1:2, Heb 6:18, 2 Tim 2:13).

I must say maybe I should have read this a little closer because Brain sounds like Reformed Believer (but that I highly doubt)  I understand what Brian means when he says it is “not possible for God to go against his will or Holy Nature.  God’s nature is absolutely in every way Holy so it is impossible for Him to Sin,  

But what does Brian mean for the sinner or the Believer (if he is talking about the Believer) to be unable to go against his/her nature.

I believe completely that a sinner as shown in John 3:19-20 is unable choose against his strongest nature or disposition at any given time.  Unless God regenerates the sinners and takes out the heart of stone and puts in a heart of flesh a sinner will do as we read in John 3:19-20, Love, practice sin and will not come to the light of Christ.  When regenerated the “FINISHED WORK OF CHRIST, THE ATONEMENT” is applied to the believing sinner. Unless this happens through the sovereignty of God’s saving Grace in Christ.  A sinner will keep loving and practicing sin and hating the light and will never make a freewill choice to come to the light of Christ to receive atonement for sins.

 

And it is impossible for me to fly by just flapping my arms.

But the ability to freely make decisions commensurate with the limits of one’s nature and with the opportunities provided for such decision making is logically part of God’s and man’s nature and experience.

In this statement here above Brian is partly right.  God is the only Being who has Freewill.  You say, well he cannot lie.  Exactly!!  The less hold sin has on a person the more free he is.  Sin’s dominion has been broken over the believer.  But he still has remaining remnants of sin that he must kill the deeds of the body you will live. Romans 8:13.

God is the most free being in all the universe.  The sinner as we read in John 3:19-20 is in bondage to the sin he loves and takes great pleasure.  God must deliver us from the love and pleasure even as Christians if we are to become more like His son.

 

The exercise of that ability by God and by man is also well documented in Scripture. And I can fly… if I decide to get on an airplane and allow its power to transport me through the air! Always loved Brian’s sense of humor

The following is an attempt at a rather thorough study of words used in the OT and NT that teach aspects and examples of the exercise of freewill.

 

The reader will hopefully become convinced, contrary to Calvinistic dramatic false statements in opposition, that freewill is clearly taught in the Scriptures –

Brian, who is taking just a portion of scripture to prove his point is making a big mistake.  How does he compare with what he now is going to say with what I said in John 3:19-20  This is how the Non-Calvinist is deceived into twisting the Scriptures by the father of lies.  I pray that Brain, a man so intelligent God will open his eyes and save him from his sins.

The Hebrew word [verb] נדב naw-dab’ is a primitive root that means – to impel; hence, to volunteer (as a soldier), to present spontaneously…primarily translated as an adverb “willingly” which indicates free motivation or voluntary decision. It is used 17 times in 15 verses throughout OT Scripture [also 3 times in 3 verses using the same root in Aramaic – Ezra 7:13, 15, 16]. (Most of definitions for this paper are adapted from Strong’s Concordance lexical definitions.)

Brian seems to miss who makes people willing and to give free will offerings.  He has taken it out of context,

Ezra 1:1- In the first year of Cyrus king of Persia, that the word of the LORD by the mouth of Jeremiah might be fulfilled, the LORD stirred up the spirit of Cyrus king of Persia, so that he made a proclamation throughout all his kingdom and also put it in writing

Look what happens in verse one, THE LORD STIRS UP THE SPIRIT OF CYRUS KING OF PERSIA, SO THAT HE MADE A PROCLAMATION THROUGHOUT ALL HIS KINGDOM AND ALSO PUT IT IN WRITING

The Lord stirred up the spirit,(heart, will) of Cyrus king of Persia, so that he would do exactly what the Lord wanted him to do. 

 

Cyrus King of Persia, still under the influence of the Holy Spirit says in Ezra 1:4

Ezra 1:4 – And let each survivor, in whatever place he sojourns, be assisted by the men of his place with silver and gold, with goods and with beasts, besides freewill offerings for the house of God that is in Jerusalem.”

Proverbs 21:1 – The king’s heart is a stream of water in the hand of the LORD; he turns it wherever he will.

Notice in Proverbs 21:1 that the king’s heart (mind, will, emotions) is in the hand of the Lord, and he sovereignly turns it wherever her will.

The king is just a man and the Lord can sovereignly use the king for His holy purposes.  Since the king is just a man, the Lord can use any man this way.

Here are all the verses that translate this word, נדב naw-dab’, with the translation of it underlined. The ESV translation for each verse was chosen to accommodate Calvinist readers, so they won’t have to keep running back to their favorite translation, which is deterministically flavored. 😉  Yes we love this Bible too.  Brain before making sweeping assertions to sinfully influence others, show the evidence when this is a Reformed Bible to accommodate Reformed Believers.  I know of know Bible that is perfect.  Do you????

Exod 25:2 ESV “… From every man whose heart moves him you shall receive the contribution for me.

Exod 35:21 ESV And they came, everyone whose heart stirred him, and everyone whose spirit moved him….

Exod 35:29 ESV All the men and women, the people of Israel, whose heart moved them to bring anything for the work that the LORD had commanded by Moses to be done brought it as a freewill offering to the LORD.

Judg 5:2 ESV …that the leaders took the lead in Israel, that the people offered themselves willingly, bless the LORD!

—-[The verbal form in this last verse is an infinitive, on the Hithpael stem, which is reflexive in meaning, thus the word “themselves” is added. This Hithpael verbal stem is used 16 other times in the same reflexive way – Jg 5:9; 1Ch 29:5, 6, 9(2x), 14, 17(2x); 2Ch 17:16; Ezr 1:6, 2:68, 3:5, 7:13, 15, 16; Neh 11:2]. The reflexive action only helps to emphasize the non-compulsory action of the person’s will in the decision made in each context—-

The noun נדבה ned-aw-baw’ is used 26 times in 25 verses, mostly in connection with a voluntary – “freewill” – offering to God. With all these verses one cannot help but ask “How can you have a freewill offering without a freewill?” Calvinists reject its normal meaning, but the Bible literally uses the word 26 times. Even the Calvinist translators of the KJV and ESV freely chose “freewill” as a suitable translation. Their translation choice is telling of what they believed this original word meant.

Here are the verses in which this noun is used:

Exod 35:29 ESV All the men and women, the people of Israel, whose heart moved them to bring anything for the work that the LORD had commanded by Moses to be done brought it as a freewill offering to the LORD. —-[The idea in this verse of a sacrifice made as a free-will offering, one not commanded as an obligation, is also found in – Ex 36:3; Le 7:16; 22:18, 21, 23; 23:38; Nu 15:3; 29:39; De 12:6, 17; 16:10; 2Ch 31:14; Ezr 1:4; 3:5; 8:28; Ps 54:6; 119:108; Eze 46:12(2x); Am 4:5]

Deut 23:23 ESV You shall be careful to do what has passed your lips, for you have voluntarily vowed to the LORD your God what you have promised with your mouth.

2Ch 35:8 ESV And his officials contributed willingly to the people, to the priests, and to the Levites….

Ps 68:9 ESV ​Rain in abundance, O God, you shed abroad; you restored your inheritance as it languished;

Ps 110:3 ESV ​Your people will offer themselves freely on the day of your power, in holy garments; from the womb of the morning, the dew of your youth will be yours.

Hos 14:4 ESV I will heal their apostasy; I will love them freely, for my anger has turned from them.

—All these OT verses clearly confirm that man, even an unregenerate man, can exercise a free-will in a manner pleasing to God. Even God is said to exercise His freewill in Hos 14:4. The translation in Ps 68:9 was obviously determined with some subjectivity. It could easily be translated – “A shower of freewill gifts, O God, you have shed abroad…”

Here are some NT words and verses to consider that also speak to the issue of the freedom of the will. A Calvinist may try to attribute all of the following examples as a result of regeneration, but that does not seem to fit this first example –

Acts 17:11-12 ESV Now these Jews were more noble than those in Thessalonica; they received the word with all eagerness, examining the Scriptures daily to see if these things were so. Many of them therefore believed, with not a few Greek women of high standing as well as men.

—-[from προθυμια proth-oo-mee’-ah, meaning predisposition. See also – 2Co 8:11, 12, 19, 9:2;] The Calvinist may endeavor to suggest this willing predisposition of the Bereans was a result of regeneration, which they think is before faith is expressed. It is very difficult to convince them otherwise when their loyalty to Calvinism is so strong that they refuse to see the gospel of John clearly teaches light is freely received before faith which is before new birth life is given. See John 1:4-13, 12:35-36, 20:30-31.

Other NT verses to consider that speak to the issue of freewill are these –

1Cor 7:37 ESV But whoever is firmly established in his heart, being under no necessity but having his desire under control, and has determined this in his heart, to keep her as his betrothed, he will do well. —-from μη ἔχων ἀνάγκην , literally – “not having a necessity”, which would be impossible if everything was predetermined eternally and immutably, making every event a necessary result of God’s decree. Notice also the verse says this man “having his desire under control, and has determined this in his heart.”

1Cor 9:17 ESV For if I do this of my own will, I have a reward, but if not of my own will, I am still entrusted with a stewardship. —- from εχων hek-own’ meaning willingly.

2Cor 8:3 ESV For they gave according to their means, as I can testify, and beyond their means, of their own accord, and 2Cor 8:17 ESV For he not only accepted our appeal, but being himself very earnest he is going to you of his own accord. —-from αυθαιρετος ow-thah’-ee-ret-os – meaning self-chosen, and by implication – voluntary.

2Cor 9:7 ESV Each one must give as he has decided in his heart, not reluctantly or under compulsion, for God loves a cheerful giver. —- from προαιρεομαι pro-ahee-reh’-om-ahee – meaning to choose for oneself before another thing, to prefer and by implication, to intend.

Phlm 1:14 ESV but I preferred to do nothing without your consent in order that your goodness might not be by compulsion but of your own accord. —- from εκουσιος hek-oo’-see-on – meaning willingness.

1Pet 5:2 ESV shepherd the flock of God that is among you, exercising oversight, not under compulsion, but willingly, as God would have you; not for shameful gain, but eagerly; —-from εκουσιον hek-oo-see’-ose – meaning willingly.

The existence of a free will, even post regeneration, runs counter to the idea of an eternally immutable divine will that had completely determined everything forever into the future before creation began.

Brian makes an assertion here that is untruthful.  He knows that there are a couple of verses that say otherwise.  Others say on the day of Creation.  “the Lamb of God slain before the foundation of the world.”

Before the foundation of the World–in the mind of God from all eternity

Ephesians Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, who has blessed us with every spiritual blessing in the heavenly places in Christ, just as He chose us in Him before the foundation of the world, that we should be holy and without blame before Him

It is a shame how Brian as other non-Calvinist do twist and put a spin on the passage of scripture above instead of just plainly reading it like they would anything else.  

2 Timothy 1: He has saved us and called us to a holy life—not because of anything we have done but because of his own purpose and grace. This grace was given us in Christ Jesus before the beginning of time,

Brian also abuses and is disingenuous about this verse also.  I love this verse so much, it brings such comfort and joy.

 

Calvinism is based upon that philosophical premise, making the exercise of any free-will for God or man impossible, before creation and especially after it.

 

Do you know Brian that even as sinners we always chose according to our strongest desire at any given moment,  Our will is never in neutral.  Hopefully you do not believe that.  I once ask a man what his favorite ice cream was.  This man was a sinner.  He told me chocolate.  I told him because he will always choose according to his greatest desire at any given moment he could not reach out and take the vanilla cone I had instead of chocolate.  You know what he did.  He took the vanilla cone and laughed and said that he had proved me wrong.  I explained to him he had actually proved me right.  I told him a stronger desire that chocolate had dictated his will.  It was to prove me wrong.  

you see Brian we never really have free will, we do according to the strongest desires of our nature or disposition.

 

 

That premise makes a falsehood out of these clear Scriptures shared here. These Scriptures and many others clearly show that free will does exist and is being exercised by God and man.

How many times do we read the “hand of God was on them”

Ezra:

27 Blessed be the Lord God of our fathers, who has put such a thing as this in the king’s heart, to beautify the house of the Lord which is in Jerusalem, 

28 and has extended mercy to me before the king and his counselors, and before all the king’s mighty princes.

So I was encouraged, as the hand of the Lord my God was upon me; and I gathered leading men of Israel to go up with me.

From the beginning of Ezra to the end there was the blessing, favor, loving kindness upon the house of Israel. God moved the hearts of all to be willing in the day of His power. 

Psalms 110:3 – Thy people shall be willing in the day of your power


, in the beauties of holiness from the womb of the morning: thou hast the dew of thy youth.

 

Yes they made free will offerings, all do to the hand of God and the Lord stirring their hearts!!!!

Radio Free Geneva: A Nearly Three Hour Examination of “Traditional” Anthropology

Just avoided going for a full three hours, but we reviewed Dr. Leighton Flowers’ podcast from September 26, 2016, which was ostensibly about those who never hear, but was much more about how Calvinism is a bad theology. In any case, it gave us the foundation for looking very carefully at Flowers’ views, as they are being presented to a wide audience of Southern Baptists. We likewise touched upon some of his attempted response to Romans 8:5-7 as well.

http://www.aomin.org/aoblog/index.php/2017/02/21/radio-free-geneva-nearly-three-hour-examination-traditional-anthropology/

Leighton Flowers’Hypocrisy Exposed by Dr. White ! Author: Dr. James White

Yes folks, for your daily accusation of “hypocrisy” today we do not have a Mormon, a Jehovah’s Witness, an Arian, an atheist, a Unitarian, a Roman Catholic, a KJVO Cultist, or a Muslim! No, today we have a non-Arminian Traditionalist Synergistic Biblicist Southern Baptist allegedly former Reformed Baptist Youth leader—Dr. Leighton Flowers! Yes, Dr. Flowers has laid me bare in a Facebook post published just today.
Now the first thing I note is, I did not even know the Unbelievable program we did a few weeks ago, the “Grill James White” program, had appeared. But Leighton Flowers did. I must confess, I have so many things to be doing, so many projects to be working on, so much in my life, that I cannot conceive of taking the time to be hunting for ammo to use in pursuing a personal vendetta against someone. It speaks volumes to me, anyway.
So why am I charged with hypocrisy? Well, here’s the story. Justin Brierley lined up a few folks to call into the program to “ask questions.” OK, one of them seriously had a question, which I addressed. The other folks were looking for a chance to promote their personal agenda/theology (a lot like Flowers himself, I might note). One of them was an odd, one-off guy who denies the deity of Christ, and seems to base his entire argument upon a single book of Scripture, the book of Acts. His argument was that if the Apostles taught the deity of Christ, it should be the subject of, I guess, every sermon recorded in Acts.
Now, this was not a debate. It was a phone call that might have lasted ten—fifteen minutes? And my response to the caller was obvious: Acts is the second of two books (Luke/Acts). You do not isolate it from the Gospels, or from the epistles written by men like Paul, who are being quoted in the book itself! Hence, to define “Son of God” or “Lord” etc., as used in Acts, without reference to those other sources, is to create a complete mess of the New Testament as a whole, which was exactly what he was doing. For example, he insisted that “Son of God” was ONLY a Messianic title and has no relevance to the issue of the deity of Christ. Such a position is, of course, untenable in light of passages outside of the book of Acts.
So, how does this make me a hypocrite? Well, let’s let Dr. Flowers explain:
James White was on the Unbelievable? Podcast debating the divinity of Christ with an Unitarian. The Unitarian wanted to limit the discussion to the book of Acts alone and, with respect, I found White’s response quite hypocritical as it relates to his dealings with my hermeneutic.
White argued that our hermeneutic cannot be limited to just one section of the NT but that we must look at the entire context of scripture to establish our doctrines (sound familiar?). If you recall that in our debate Dr. White questioned my hermeneutic of going to the entire New Testament to establish the context (of Gods judicial hardening etc). He accused me of not doing exegesis properly because I appealed to passages outside of one single chapter (Romans 9). He even went so far as to argue that my approach would not work when defending the deity of Christ and other foundational doctrines, yet when he was debating this Unitarian he clearly had to go outside the one book the Unitarian wanted to limit the discussion to. I agreed with White in his debate against the Unitarian but his answers reveal exactly the point I was attempting to argue.
As you listen to White defend his hermeneutic against this Unitarian, I challenge you to apply his exact argument to our debate, I think the parallel will be astonishingly clear and White’s hypocrisy revealed.
There you go, folks! You know, when our debate ended, I felt sorry for Dr. Flowers. It was so obvious to everyone who had engaged the debate directly, who had presented the text, and who had consistently dealt with the debate thesis. The fact that Flowers was preaching rather than debating, that his statements were pre-written and he was simply reading them, even at the end of the debate, was not lost on the serious listener. Just last week I listened to a portion of the debate for the first time (since I was scheduled to do the same topic yesterday—a debate we will reschedule for either June or August, depending on how things go for me on the medical scheduling front), and heard Flowers admit that his presentation was not, in fact, consistent with how he would defend the deity of Christ, etc. I really don’t think Flowers knew then, and it is plainly clear that to this day he still doesn’t get it, that his answer concluded the debate. He is just so wedded to his task as the “Calvinist slayer” for a segment of the “Traditionalist” movement that he cannot understand the necessity of consistency, the necessity of using proper hermeneutics and exegesis. It also illustrates the danger that comes with mono-vision, a focus upon one topic, one theme, one issue. Flowers has, sadly, become a one-string banjo, and that one string is fraying (and out of tune).
As the fair-thinking person can see, the attempted parallel to our debate is—untenable. There was no debate on Unbelievable: it was a phone call with a clearly imbalanced unitarian who had a hobby-horse to ride that isn’t even representative of any serious scholarly position. We had not announced a debate on “The Deity of Christ in the Book of Acts.” A strong presentation could be made on that thesis, but that was not the case on the radio program. It is wide-eyed desperation to even attempt to parallel such a phone call with a specifically titled, moderated, public debate, wherein both sides had equal time to demonstrate the teaching of Romans 9. Dr. Flowers demonstrated then, and now, that his “synergistic traditionalism” or whatever he wishes to call it is a synthetic system of man’s traditions, not the result of serious, consistent biblical exegesis. He demonstrated that you cannot derive his position from Romans 9; you must begin elsewhere, cobble together passages, introduce external philosophical issues, and then apply the resultant theological goo liberally to the text to cover over the problems. And as long as he remains happily ignorant of how obvious his procedure is, he will continue to make more committed Calvinists, as his mentors at SWBTS have been doing for decades now.
Flowers wishes to now pretend that the debate parameters were, well, as wide as he wanted to make them. He knows he cannot walk through Romans 9 *in the presence of knowledgeable opposition* without first brewing up his a-contextual soup so as to provide the proper spin to the text. And this is the parallel he wishes to improperly assert (and use as a pretext of accusation of hypocrisy on my part): he wants to try to parallel the demand on a caller’s part to limit the data in the issue of the deity of Christ to the book of Acts to his expanding the parameters of a debate on Romans 9 to that of total inability or the entire NT’s teaching on this matter or that. And if that is the parallel he wants to attempt to use—I leave him to it. His recent desperation is only demonstrating he has a dangerously imbalanced view of the issue. I noted a few days ago that he sent an open letter in which he promised to contact all my future debate opponents to “warn them” about how they will be so badly mistreated! Combine that with this post alleging hypocrisy based upon a phone call with a Unitarian in London, and you really start to understand why I, and not a few others, are thinking the term “stalker” is becoming more and more appropriate in describing Dr. Flowers’ behavior.

Soteriology101 Brian Wagner Says No One Could Have Been Elected From Eternity Because No One Existed. Is He Right? Let’s Check His Theory and See if it is Correct or Man-Made to Escape the Truth of Reformed Soteriology

I soon hope to talk about “LEIGHTON FREE WILL.  But it looks like I am going to continue with Mr. Wagner for a while exposing his total dislike for the Reformed Faith.  Now he would never call it the Reformed Faith, to him, it has to be caaaalllviiinnnnsssmmmm.  That old dirty curse word full of false doctrine.  I read what Brian writes on soteriology101 about reformed believers and it comes out a pretty rough and straight forward oftentimes.  He simply does not like the Reformed Faith but must believe we are preaching the gospel if he is calling us brother and sisters in Christ.  But then after I read what he writes about the reformed faith I want to say, “Brian, why don’t you tell us how you really feel.

First of all, I must always remind people that while Brian is refuting the Reformed faith while he himself is in great deception by Satan himself worshiping the diminished humanistic heretical god of Open Theism.  (I am sure this why he will not talk with me any more which is OK with me he has given me plenty of Anti-Calvinism stuff of His understanding to talk about.)  I explained to Brian that when I discuss these issues I am not discussing  Calvinism or what I call the Reformed Faith I am really just discussing the false teaching of man called Anti-Calvinism. This is very troubling in itself and I have tried to engage this issue with him but he is very sensitive about it. (Open Theism that is)  Brian did not even wanted to discuss it on Soteriology101 but wanted to move the conversation to private email.

Ephesians 1:4 -even as he chose us in him before the foundation of the world, that we should be holy and blameless before him.

2 Timothy 1:9 -who saved us and called us to a holy calling, not because of our works but because of his own purpose and grace, which he gave us in Christ Jesus before the ages began,

Brian has a very ambiguous and confusing understanding of these two verses that I or Dr. Sean Cole who did emphatically did refute Brian Wagner soundly (and Brian does not seem to be able to respond or refute Sean) have ever seen. I do not think he wants to tangle with Dr. Sean Cole he would rather stay on Soteriology101 in his comfort zone where he can sound intelligent (I see right through it, though) and condescending to those interacts with.  No, I do not mean Brian is wicked or evil. He is very Christlike but uses wordplay and word games to confuse. I have always told him is intelligence is his greatest weakness maybe that was a mistake. I will not take the time to exegete these verses as I have done and Dr. Sean Cole has done but Brian although presented with the truth the Holy Spirit has not opened his eyes to that truth so he remains stubborn with his own personal understanding of these verses although Dr. Sean Cole said his Greek is terrible when it came to Ephesians 1:4.  Is Brian maybe being disingenuous as he accused Calvinists of maybe being disingenuous on the translation of Revelation 13:8 on Soteriology101? I admit the traditional translation is more reliable, but I have found many scholars argue for the other translation although they are more than likely wrong but Revelation 17:8 pretty much covers it.

Ok, in a nutshell, this is what Brian’s says about individual’s or a particular people being elected in Christ from eternity, before the world began, before the foundation of the earth.  He says this because “no one existed in eternity to be elected in Christ so it is an impossibility”

Now I personally think Brian forgets who we are talking about, the God whom nothing is impossible for but remember Brian worship a diminished humanistic heretical god of Open Theism.  He tries to make Omniscient, Omnipotent, Omnipotent infinite whose understanding is infinite and that implies his knowledge is exhaustive without limits, in Christ in whom is all wisdom and knowledge, Brian seems to try and make a god in man’s own image, to make the High and lofty one altogether like one of us, just much more intelligent than us.

Professor Brian Wagner forgets that God thoughts are not our thoughts and His ways are much much higher than our ways.  We are just poor pitiful creatures of the Almighty Creator.

Above is not my defense, I just wanted to celebrate the True and Living God of heaven and my Salvation and remind Brian that nothing is impossible with God but Brian’s rejects that Statement when he says no one could have been elected before the foundation of the world because they did not exist.  Brian Limits the Holy one of Israel with his understanding that is absolute nonsense.  Now for my two examples as to why Brian is wrong, one is positive and the other is negative the way Brian would see things.

Jeremiah 1:5 -“Before I formed you in the womb I knew you, before you were born I set you apart; I appointed you as a prophet to the nations.”

Now I am sure Brian will try and find away to twist this text as he often does to avoid Calvinism but it is as plain as the nose on your face.

God says of Jeremiah BEFORE I FORMED YOU IN THE WOMB I KNEW YOU. THAT IS BEFORE JEREMIAH EVEN EXISTED GOD WAS INTIMATELY AQUAITED WITH THIS PROPHET TO BE WHICH SAYS HE WAS INTIMATELY AQUAITED WITH ALL THOSE ELECTED IN CHRIST BEFORE THE FOUNDATION OF THE WORLD, EPHESIANS 1:4 2 TIMOTHY 1:9 DR. SEAN COLE!!!!!!

Before I formed thee in the belly I knew thee,…. Not merely by his omniscience, so he knows all men before their conception and birth; but with such a knowledge as had special love and affection joined with it; in which sense the Lord knows them that are his, as he does not others, and predestinates them unto eternal life; and which is not only before their formation in the womb but before the foundation of the world, even from all eternity. The forming of the human fetus is God’s act, and a curious piece of workmanship it is; see Psalm 139:15

Now for the reverse way of refuting Brian, in a sense of being on his side but showing him that his way is just irrational ridiculous and nonsense and nothing but his mere man-made philosophical idolatry of Open Theism.

Revelation 13:8 -All those who had become settled down and at home, living on the earth, will worship it, everyone whose name had not been written in the Book of Life belonging to the lamb that had been slaughtered since the foundation of the world.

Speaking as Brian would on the latter half of this verse I have come to the conclusion that this verse is faulty and should not be in the scriptures.

It says “that the Lamb had been slain or slaughtered since the foundation of the world or before time began, or from all eternity.  This is impossible, according to Brian Wagner.  This verse does not say it is a prophecy or a prediction.  But it just cannot be because Christ was still pure spirit. The incarnation had not happened yet.  No cross, no Roman soldiers, No Pharisees, No Judas, No reason to die.  But it was in the mind of God before the foundation of the world has had already happened.  Look at it again.  THE LAMB THAT HAD BEEN SLAUGHTERED SINCE THE FOUNDATION OF THE WORLD.  WAS THE LAMB SLAIN WHEN THE WORLD WAS MADE?  I DON’T THINK SO, BUT IT WAS IN THE MIND OF GOD SINCE THE FOUNDATION OF THE WORLD AND I BELIEVE FROM ALL ETERNITY.  BUT IT SAYS IT IS ALREADY DONE.  HOW IS THIS POSSIBLE BRIAN?

I will leave you with this Brian, GOD’S THOUGHTS ARE NOT OUR THOUGHTS AND HIS WAYS ARE SO MUCH HIGHER THAN OUR WAYS, WHY DO YOU LIMIT THE HOLY ONE WHO CREATED YOU?????