And Here’s to You, Mrs. Robinson Regarding John 6:37 – It Doesn’t Infer Unconditional Election

You wrote in the Facebook Soteriology 101 Discussion group, “There are so many crystal-clear passages declaring God’s sovereignty over men and their salvation that as A.W. pink says, These Scriptures are so sweeping, and so dogmatic that all controversy concerning the subject ought to be forever at an end. Yet rather than receive them at their face value, every device of carnal ingenuity is resorted to as to neutralize their force.” You further add that if God had purposed the salvation of all men, then all men would be saved and reference John 6:37 – All that the Father gives me will come to me, and whomever comes to me I will never drive away.

The first obvious things to be noted is that the passage says nothing about regeneration. I’ve seen before where Calvinists begin to analyze a verse or passage with their Reformed theological presuppositions and thereafter develop an interpretation from that basis.

The second thing to note from Pink’s quote – it’s a non-sequitur. God has provided a way of salvation. Faith in Christ. That God has left the decision to accept this free gift to individuals in no way means that God has failed. God calls all. But not all respond.

I’ll grant you – at first glance, John 6:37 seems to offer an appearance of what you’d refer to as unconditional election. But with so many verses stating that God loves all and wants none to perish, then perhaps there’s another interpretation that is more in-line with all that is within the Bible.

Please forgive the extended quoting from the website Examining Calvinism. But they offer up an interpretation of John 6:37 which seems more in line with the Bible.

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The error of the Calvinists is in thinking that this passage is about the drawing of elect-unbelievers, all for the purpose of unbelievers to believe. Instead, this passage is about unbelievers not coming to Christ, whereas real believers were (that is, those believing Jews who were in covenant relationship with God, whom He was drawing to His Son). Jesus says, “Everyone who has heard and learned from the Father, comes to Me.” (John 6:45) Since they were not coming to Christ, that was evidence, in and of itself, that they had not heard and learned from the Father (like these others), and thus were not counted among God’s covenant people. Jesus is not mocking them about a non-election. Far from it. Rather, Jesus was helping them to understand their true problem, that is, their true disconnect with the Father, and we know that Jesus was helping them, because He elsewhere shows them what they needed to do, in order to straighten out their thinking, as per John 10:37-38, regarding the weighty evidence of the miracles. There, Jesus was addressing people that He said were not His sheep, and yet encourages them to believe, thus indicating that they could become His sheep. Their situation was not uncorrectable.

The Father would have gladly given and drawn them to His Son, as evidenced by how long God had been reaching out to them, as per Isaiah 65:2, if only they had belonged to the Father as His people. The problem was not with God; the problem was with them, and their whole history of unrepentance. Calvinists make this passage out to be a matter of God not wanting, viz. unconditional reprobation and non-election, and that’s not it at all.

There is no mystery at John 6:37. Where the Calvinists have gone wrong at John 6:37 and John 6:44 is that this was not the giving and drawing of unbelievers, but the giving and drawing of believers, that is, those who were in covenant relationship with the Father, and yes, there were plenty in Israel who longed for the reconciliation of Israel, and plenty who submitted to the baptism of John the Baptist, and these rejoiced over the coming of Jesus. The concept of the Father turning His own, over to His Son, is essentially the same thing as when Jesus turned His own over to the Holy Spirit upon His ascension. (John 16:13-15) When Jesus said that He was the “Bread of Life” (John 6:35), the Jews who claimed to be right with God (but were not) were offended by these words and left (John 6:66), but those whose hearts were right with God, stayed (John 6:67), so that the prophecy of Isaiah 6:10 may be fulfilled, in that those whose hearts were not right with God, may be a trap and a snare unto themselves, and not come to the Son so that they may be healed. This is why true believers do not turn away from Jesus over these words, but receive them, while the lost simply finds yet another excuse to reject God. The Calvinists, on the other hand, insist that even if the Arminian is correct, and that this passage is about the giving and drawing of those who were in covenant relationship with the Father to His Son, it must nevertheless be a “remnant by grace,” which is a Calvinist buzz word for Irresistible Grace. But why should we assume that? The Calvinist answers, “Because that’s the only way anyone comes to the Son (Jon 6:37),” and thus the Circular Logic of the Calvinist is exposed.

I’ll close by pointing you towards a video by Kevin Thompson:


Author: Bob

I’m an upper Midwestern guy who has recently entered the "Buick stage" of life and decided to migrate to Florida. This blog is an attempt to rectify discordant aspects within my Christian faith ... or what often feels like my lack of Christian faith. Things which make life more enjoyable include strong black coffee, charcoal grilling anytime of the year, putz'ing at a table saw, playing chess, a good orthopedic surgeon and an occasional IPA. Please feel free to poke around and comment as you wish. I welcome discussion and the insights of others.

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