Sunday, May 25, 2008

Why the Calvinist treatment of John 3:16 won't wash

Looking at the Calvinist exegetical response to John 3: 16, I find it less than adequate. The significance of God's love for the world may be in virtue of its wickedness, but if there is to be a restriction on the persons that fall under God's love according to this passage, it is a restriction to the class of persons alienated from God.

Hence, I would read the passage "God so loved the all of those persons alienated from God that He gave His only begotten son, that whosoever believes in him should not perish, but have everlasting life."

If this is genuine love for all those persons, then it must open the way of salvation to all of those person alienated from God, such that it is causally possible for all to be saved.

Therefore John 3:16 refutes Calvinism. Or rather, the most natural, least forced reading of the passage undermines the claims of Calvinism.

30 comments:

Saint and Sinner said...

"Do not love the world nor the things in the world." (1 John 2:15)

By your logic, Victor, since all Christians are included in the above group of 'world,' then John must be saying that we shouldn't love each other.

Of course, since the word "world" in John 3:16 was never meant to bear the meaning of 'universal extent of persons,' your conclusions are fallacious.

Paul Manata said...

20 Things


Victor,

i) John 3:16 doesn't refute Calvinism since, as I pointed out, there are Calvinists who interpret it the way you do.

ii) What about 1 John 5:19?? If you are going to be consistent, must you not take that to mean *all* people?

iii) Of course, I gave you defeaters for your interpretation of John 3:16. I wonder why you act as if I never said anything.

iv) Your eisogesis doesn't work since you're importing a *quantitative* term (i.e., "all") that is not warranted by the text, especially if you take our qualitative argument. So, you're doing eisogesis not exegesis. We have shown that John uses the term 'world' in a way foreign to how you're using it. If that is so, then this undercuts, completely, the *quantitative* aspect you *need* from the verse. The *only* way you are getting "all" is because you read world "quantitatively. But we undercut that and it looks like you agreed. You don't just get to throw in a quantitative reading *on top of* the qualitative one *without* doing any *exegesis*.

v) Does it "open the way" of Salvation for those who were already in hell? Or does all not mean all? Jesus came to die for people already dead and in hell?

vi) All people can be saved if they repent and believe, Victor. A hypothetical is true so long as if the antecedent is instantiation, the consequent cannot be false.

In 7 verses (between John 3: 12-18), the word ‘believe’ occurs 5 times and ‘Son of God’ (or ‘Son’) occurs 5 times. That's te focus, not the "extent of the atonement".

vii) If salvation, coming to Jesus, is open for all, too bad Jesus says that NO ONE can come to him UNLESS the Father draws that person. Then Jesus says that he will raise that person on the last day. If you deny universalism, you are forced to conclude that not all "CAN" come to Jesus. (Have you read that paper I linked you to twice now?)

http://www.christianlogic.com/brianbosse/wp-content/uploads/john-644.pdf

viii) It is against my moral intuitions that Jesus would die for all people, pay for their sins, and then some of those same people would still go to hell. My moral intuitions tell me that a just God doesn't require double-payment.

John 1:29: "Behold the Lamb of God, which taketh away the sin of the world." Did Christ by His death take away the sin of all men without exception? If He did, all men without exception shall be saved.

If Jesus "took away" the sin of all men whoever, then why do any go to hell, Victor? Isn't *that* against your moral intuitions?

ix) Have you read Koukl's "Never Read a Bible Verse?"

http://www.str.org/site/News2?page=NewsArticle&id=5466

x) Notice that the text does not mention mention atonement, the cross, Jesus' death, or anything else that might be taken as an explicit reference to the idea of atonement. It is doubtful that John is intending to give an excurses on the "extent of the atonement" in this passage.

xi) This passage is more accurately in reference to, in sticking with John's immediate context (John 3:13-21), how people enter the kingdom of God, i.e., through faith (cf. whosoever believes).

xii) Ra Mclaughlin writes,

"The first point is not so clear in most translations. The Greek, however, is quite clear. It identifies a specific group of people whom God sent Christ to save, and it labels them "all the believers" (pas ho pisteuon). Greek does have a way to say "whoever" (hos tis), but that is not the language used here. More literally, the text ought to be translated something like: "in order that everyone who believes in him should not perish." Older translations often render the verse in this way (e.g. Wiclif [1380], Tyndale [1534], Geneva [1557], Rheims [1582]), as do modern versions such as the NRSV. The same is true throughout this passage (e.g. John 3:18). In other words, neither in John 3:16 nor anywhere else in this context does John state that it was God's intention to make salvation possible for everyone, or to save an undefined group of people. Instead, he states that God's purpose was to save all the believers. Clearly, a universal atonement is not necessary for the accomplishment of this purpose. Rather, the fact that God's purpose was limited to saving believers actually strengthens the case for limited atonement by demonstrating that it was never God's intention to save everyone."

xiii) Your claim is that Jesus came with the intention to save every single person. So the corollary fo your position is that Jesus is a failure.

You may say that God just wanted to make salvation *possible* for all men. But again, this is foreign to the text. It is eisogesis.

xiv) Kosmos appears five times in this context (John 3:16,17,19), and in two of those appearances it *clearly* does not refer to *people* at all ("God did not send his Son into the world"; and "light has come into the world").

xv) D.A. Carson writes of the "badness" of Kosmos over the "bigness" ("all people whoever"):

"…God so loved the world that he gave his Son (John 3:16). I know that some try to take kosmos ("world") here to refer to the elect. But that really will not do. All the evidence of the usage of the word in John's Gospel is against the suggestion. True, world in John does not so much refer to bigness as to badness. In John's vocabulary, world is primarily the moral order in willful and culpable rebellion against God. In John 3:16 God's love in sending the Lord Jesus is to be admired not because it is extended to so big a thing as the world, but to so bad a thing; not to so many people, as to such wicked people. Nevertheless elsewhere John can speak of "the whole world" (1 John 2:2), thus bringing bigness and badness together. More importantly, in Johannine theology the disciples themselves once belonged to the world but were drawn out of it (e.g., John 15:19). On this axis, God's love for the world cannot be collapsed into his love for the elect. The same lesson is learned from many passages and themes in Scripture. However much God stands in judgment over the world, he also presents himself as the God who invites and commands all human beings to repent. He orders his people to carry the Gospel to the farthest corner of the world, proclaiming it to men and women everywhere. To rebels the sovereign Lord calls out, As surely as I live ... I take no pleasure in the death of the wicked, but rather that they turn from their ways and live. Turn! Turn from your evil ways! Why will you die, O house of Israel? - Ezek. 33:11

xvi) McMahon writes,

"It is the present active nominative masculine singular verb which determines our English rendering “whosoever believes”. The problem here is the word “whosoever”. There is no word “whosoever” in the Greek text. Literally the section reads “the believing ones into Him.” God so loved the world that the ones who believed into Christ may not perish but have everlasting life."

http://www.apuritansmind.com/Arminianism/McMahonExegesisOfJohn3_16.htm

xvii) Again, from Carson (this time his acclaimed commentary):

"Because John 3:16 is sandwiched between vv.14-15 and v. 17, the fact that God gave his one and only Son is tied both to the Son’s incarnation (v. 17) and to his death (vv. 14-15). That is the immediate result of the love of God for the world: the mission of the Son. His ultimate purpose is the salvation of those in the world who believes in him […] (PNTC, p. 206, italics mine)

xviii) You wrote:

"but if there is to be a restriction on the persons that fall under God's love according to this passage, it is a restriction to the class of persons alienated from God."

Can you demonstrate that *from the text*? Or is your mere *assertion* that our reading is not "adequate" supposed to function as the exegesis and the argument?

xix) Different meanings of "kosmos" in Scripture (at least 7):

http://www.apuritansmind.com/Arminianism/AWPinkMeaningOfKosmos.htm

xx) Victor, this was simply your "throw away" post to show that you have "biblical warrant" for rejecting Calvinism. I think my 19 above points seriously undercut your arguments here.

Thus that you have these defeaters, it will not serve as a defeater-defeater to simply *assert* that our position is "inadequate" and toss out some non-exegeted assumptions of how you "feel" the text should be read (I also didn't notice you proving your reading from *the Greek*). You don't get to just "make up" you own reading, it has to be faithful to *the Greek*. I clearly showed that *the Greek* undermines your quantitative readings in both "world" and "whoever."

Paul Manata said...

Saint and Sinner said...

"Do not love the world nor the things in the world." (1 John 2:15)

By your logic, Victor, since all Christians are included in the above group of 'world,' then John must be saying that we shouldn't love each other.

Of course, since the word "world" in John 3:16 was never meant to bear the meaning of 'universal extent of persons,' your conclusions are fallacious.

9:54 PM

**************

Or our enemy!

Or our neighbor!

Good points S&S.

We'll add that to my 20 above.

21 now.

:-)

Saint and Sinner said...

"Or our enemy!

Or our neighbor!

Good points S&S.

We'll add that to my 20 above.

21 now.

:-)"



:P

Anonymous said...

I'm so very thankful I don't have to try to find out what I should believe from an superstitious authoritative text, especially in light of the philosophical onslaught against the claim that we can know the original intent of an author, especially one in the ancient past! [This is why I argue that if a supposedly omniscient God revealed himself this way he chose a poor era and a poor medium to do so, which is completely ignorant.] I can just think for myself. Some things are just, well, obvious.

It is virtually impossible not to be influenced by everything we experience and have concluded throughout our whole lives when it comes to understanding any given text. The intellectually honest thing to do is be be humble about any such conclusions derived from exegesis and honestly admit these experiences are a great influence on one's conclusions, like Vic is doing. One must first admit and go with one's prior understandings when coming to a text like Vic has done. If someone, for instance, cannot see how that a Calvinist God could've decreed all Christians to be Calvinists as a check on his exegesis then nothing can help such a delusional person.

Go Vic!

Anonymous said...

Oh, and just to get in a dig, Calvinism is morally bankrupt.

Given that exegesis of a historical document is a slender reed to hang one's hat on it's exceedingly better to go with Vic's moral notions when reading that text. I just wonder if these Calvinists have actually read in the area of the history of hermeneutics or the history of theology. Surely they seem to have done so, but from the elitist and unjustifiable assertion that they are right and everyone in the past is wrong except for Calvin, and even there they think he was wrong on some things.

Now, compare this slender reed against Vic's moral notions and Vic wins hands down. For God to decree that unbelievers are reprobated to hell is moral bankrupt plain and simple.

The weight of Vic's philosophical arguments (vs historical textual data) are so strong that the only reason why Calvinists disagree is because of some psychological problem like fear, or blindness, or a deep seated desire to have an absolute conviction about their faith.

Anonymous said...

run along Loftus . . . you are boring.

steve said...

john w. loftus said...

"I'm so very thankful I don't have to try to find out what I should believe from an superstitious authoritative text."

Yes, Loftus subscribes to the alternative philosophy that first you die, then you rot. Something to be so very thankful for, don't you think?

"Oh, and just to get in a dig, Calvinism is morally bankrupt."

Oh, and just to get in a dig, atheism is morally bankrupt.

Don't take my word for it. Michael Ruse admits it. Does did Bertrand Russell in his debate with Fr. Copleston. So does Quentin Smith.

Then there's Peter Singer...

Rob Grano said...

"Therefore John 3:16 refutes Calvinism. Or rather, the most natural, least forced reading of the passage undermines the claims of Calvinism."

Exactly. As does a similar reading of I Tim. 3:4, 2 Pet. 3:9. etc. The fact that Calvinists have to jump through all kinds of hermeneutical hoops to avoid the plain reading of these verses strongly militates against their interpretation being correct. The only people who would possibly read these verses this way are people who've already got the Calvinist lenses on.

In addition, Calvinist hermeneutics of this sort seem to go against the Protestant idea of the perspicuity of Scripture, which I, as an Orthodox, do not hold, but which Protestants generally do.

Ilíon said...

Really! Isn't it just amazing that a self-proclamed Zombie and soon-to-be-worm-droppings ... or, WormBait, for short ... imagines he has anything interesting or substantive to say about anything at all?

Ilíon said...

Rob Grano: "... In addition, Calvinist hermeneutics of this sort seem to go against the Protestant idea of the perspicuity of Scripture, which I, as an Orthodox, do not hold, but which Protestants generally do."

Do you really not belive that Scripture (at least, in general) is clear? It appears to me to be quite the reverse ... for, after all, what you'd written *presupposes* that the average man can understand what he's reading in the Bible.

Rob Grano said...

Ilion, certain ideas in Scripture are clear, as are the primary teachings which lead to salvation. My quibble is with those who'd make the plain teachings confusing, while simultaneously arguing that the whole thing is plain and simple. After all, even Peter said that some things that Paul wrote were hard to understand, and I don't think that was a comment on his penmanship!

Anonymous said...

Why is it that when trying to have a discussion of the ideas that separate us that the Calvinist doesn't even try to deal with my arguments and instead offers a bunch of red herrings? I've offered an argument against their position, and rather than dealing head on with that argument they throw problems for the atheist in my face. Doing so DOES NOT ANSWER MY ARGUMENTS! I can deal with the problems they throw at me sufficiently, but that's not the issue we're discussing here. Are they conceeding they cannot answer my arguments and then trying to offer the fact that atheism has its own problems as a way of saying "you too"?

"You too" type of arguments don't deal with the specific issue at hand.

Oh, but I'm boring. Yep, that answers me. ;-)

Ilíon said...

Loftus: "Oh, but I'm boring. Yep, that answers me. ;-)"

Are you?

Regardless, you're *utterly* irrelevant: you're a self-professed Zombie; you're nothing but (by your own admission!) soon-to-be-worm-shit.

IF what you so (ignorantly yet so) triumphantly prumpet were indeed the truth about the nature of reality, then nothing at all matters in any way. And, apparently, you don't even have the sense (unless it's that you don't have the honesty!) to grasp that simple and basic point.

Anonymous said...

Ilíon, the way you offer counter-arguments to my specific arguments reminds me of someone who covers his ears while shouting so he cannot hear his detractor.

When you actually want to deal with my arguments I'll be listening in. I've heard your broken record too many times. Is that all you can offer in response to everything I say?

Cheers.

Ilíon said...

Mr Loftus,
You *have* no arguments.

Firstly, you're a fool ... and I assuredly am not calling you stupid ... so anyone wishing to attain wisdom understands the he ought to look elsewhere.

Secondly, importantly, IF your assertions were true, then your "arguments" are self-defeating. Once we understand this primary and undeniable fact about the nature of your "arguments," then we *know* we can disregard any further spinning you attempt.

Asserting the same ignorance in different words does not transform it into knowledge.

That you *refuse* to see the visciously vaccuous nature of your "arguments" tells us the important thing (in the context) about you.

Anonymous said...

Vic, do you see the nature of Calvinism from Ilíon? In the Calvinist mind God has reprobated me to hell so there is no reason to engage me. That's covering one's ears and shouting over another human beings objections, and a major reason why I seek to debunk Christianity. They cannot treat us as humans beings because God does not treat us as such.

Such a barbaric viewpoint. I must argue against it.

Ilíon said...

What a self-satisfied ignorant (and satisfied in his ignorance!) fool.

steve said...

john w. loftus said...

“Vic, do you see the nature of Calvinism from Ilíon? In the Calvinist mind God has reprobated me to hell so there is no reason to engage me. That's covering one's ears and shouting over another human beings objections, and a major reason why I seek to debunk Christianity. They cannot treat us as humans beings because God does not treat us as such.__Such a barbaric viewpoint. I must argue against it.”

I’m sure Ilíon must find it quite surprising to see himself promoted to the ranks of the Truly Reformed. Sorry to disappoint you, John, but unless brother Ilíon has undergone a deathbed conversion to the Horrible Decree, I rather doubt his pedigree as a true son of Calvin. Not a supralapsarian Calvinist. Or even an infralapsarian Calvinist.

steve said...

john w. loftus said...

“Why is it that when trying to have a discussion of the ideas that separate us that the Calvinist doesn't even try to deal with my arguments and instead offers a bunch of red herrings?”

Arguments? What arguments? This was your “argument”:

"Oh, and just to get in a dig, Calvinism is morally bankrupt."

You call that an argument? That’s your idea of an argument?

Why do you even bother, Loftus? Suppose, for the sake of “argument,” that you’re right and I’m wrong. What difference does that make? None. Absolutely none.

If atheism is true, then your existence is no more important than slug on hot pavement. The sun doesn’t care if you live or die. You’ll just melt away in a puddle of goo. No one will notice. Except the vermin.

If atheism is true, it doesn’t matter if atheism is true. Atheism and Christianity aren’t symmetrical propositions. The world is indifferent to one, while the other makes all the difference in the world.

If you’re right and I’m wrong, it doesn’t make a dime’s worth of difference. But if I’m right and your wrong, it makes an eternity of difference.

30 years from now, brown copies of Why I Rejected Christianity will take their place alongside 5¢ copies of The Celestine Prophecy, The Miracle of Seed Faith, and 88 Reasons Why The Rapture Will Be in 1988 at roadside flea markets—while you’re drooling in a nursing home.

Anonymous said...

30 years from now what happens to my book won't matter, Steve, no matter where I am. Books only have a limited lifespan anyway. But it's precisely because of people like you, Steve, and Paul Manata, and JP Holding, and Frank Walton, that I am so motivated to destroy the delusional faith you have (even if Holding isn't a Calvinist). 30 years from now there will be many people who will have rejected the Christian faith from reading my book, and it will partially be your fault since neither you nor Paul, nor Holding nor Walton ever treated me like a human being. I have other major motivations for what I do, of course, but what you and your ilk have done is to pouring gas on the flames of my passion. Switching metaphors it makes me want to go for the jugular vein of your faith like nothing else.

It's one thing for me to argue what I do because I think Christianity is a delusion, which it is. It's quite another thing for it to be made into a personal vendetta with me. You and your ilk have done just that.

So, I should partially thank you for helping my book be as forceful as it is. I put my all into it. It should be out at the end of July. I just don't think you understand. And given your lack of understanding here I suspect you won't. But it no longer matters.

Vic's faith is much more attractive to me than yours will ever be. Your faith repels me like nothing else.

Cheers.

normajean said...

Can't we all just get along? Serious, all... let's at least try to be nice.

Ilíon said...

NormaJean: "Can't we all just get along? Serious, all... let's at least try to be nice."
No. Not until we actually are dealing with "nice" people ... who, more importantly, are intellectually honest people ... dare we be "nice."

Here is (a mild instance of) what valuing "nice" above truth leads to.

Ilíon said...

Steve: "I’m sure Ilíon must find it quite surprising to see himself promoted to the ranks of the Truly Reformed.

Yes, it does amuse me every time Mr Loftus "accuses" (ha! even calling it an accusation is amusing!) me of being a Calvinist.

steve said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
steve said...

john w. loftus said...

“But it's precisely because of people like you, Steve, and Paul Manata, and JP Holding, and Frank Walton, that I am so motivated to destroy the delusional faith you have (even if Holding isn't a Calvinist). 30 years from now there will be many people who will have rejected the Christian faith from reading my book, and it will partially be your fault since neither you nor Paul, nor Holding nor Walton ever treated me like a human being. I have other major motivations for what I do, of course, but what you and your ilk have done is to pouring gas on the flames of my passion. Switching metaphors it makes me want to go for the jugular vein of your faith like nothing else. It's one thing for me to argue what I do because I think Christianity is a delusion, which it is. It's quite another thing for it to be made into a personal vendetta with me. You and your ilk have done just that. So, I should partially thank you for helping my book be as forceful as it is. I put my all into it. It should be out at the end of July. I just don't think you understand.”

That would explain why Loftus is so irrational. Logically speaking, why bother promoting atheism? Even if you think it’s true, is that a cause to live for? You might as well become a Televangelist for Ebola.

But, you see, Loftus views himself as a nullifidian version of Charles Bronson. He’s a brave, lone, vigilante who’s gonna single-handedly disinfest the Hood of Christian scum like Walton, Manata, and me. Cuz it’s personal, dude! A grudge match for the ages, baby!

Coming soon to movie theaters near you. Rated R for pervasive language, graphic violence, and drug references.

Ilíon said...

J.Loftus: "... So, I should partially thank you for helping my book be as forceful as it is. I put my all into it. ..."

But doesn't all of nothing remain precisely nothing? And doesn't all the force of nothing accomplish precisely nothing?


J.Loftus: "... I just don't think you understand."

Oh, you poor, dear, intentionally and willfully self-deluded thing: you *just* don't understand ... But then, you dare not allow yourself to understand, do you?

As with all the tribe of pretend-atheists, you imagine you can have it both ways: you imagine you can both assert a "philosophy" by which NOTHING AT ALL MATTERS and yet continue without self-contradiction to believe that it matters very much to "cure" us Christians of our "delusion."

I could call your "reasoning" (by which I mean not merely yours personally, but that of all 'atheists' in general) sophomoric, but that would be to insult all sophomores throughout all time and space: no 'atheism' ever rises even to the level of the sophomoric.

As I said: you're a fool ... you lie to yourself.

normajean said...

Illion, why the link to Clayton's response to me? He was nice. Agree? I was nice. Agree? He's a bright guy who has every right to disagree with me. You're a bright one also. What I'm saying is that I don't think pissing wars accomplish much. If you guys enjoy fighting, step into the cage. I personally enjoy mma = )

Ilíon said...

NormaJean: "Illion, why the link to Clayton's response to me?"

Odd. The link is supposed to be to your response to him: "Clayton, I promise I’m not being stubborn here. ..."


NormaJean: "He was nice. Agree? I was nice. Agree?"

I don't put much store in "niceness" ... history (and personal experience) teaches me that a concern for "niceness" over truth and/or justice always leads to injustice and falsehood: the people who assuredly are not "nice" ... you know, persons such as those who do not scrupple, apropos of nothing, to call a person such as Mr WL Craig a "a charlatan and a huckster" ... will always use persons such as yourself, who value "niceness" above more important things, as advantageous tools.

Clayton "nicely" attempted (on authority of his own recognizance) to de-legitimize your argument ... which undercut his by showing his to be mere subjectivity ... and to which undercutting he would not have been able to offer a consistent counter. You "nicely" cooperated with him.

Sure, everything is "nice" all around. And false. And built on lies. But such "nice" and pleasing falseness.


NormaJean: "He's a bright guy who has every right to disagree with me."

I'm leaning more towards "intellectually dishonest."


NormaJean: "What I'm saying is that I don't think pissing wars accomplish much. If you guys enjoy fighting, step into the cage."

But see, that attitude is part of the problem. It's that attitude that enables those such as Clayton (and don't get me wrong, he's small-fry in this regard) to use those such as you as tools.


Passionate disagreement ... even active scorn of the others' claims/arguments ... is not automatically a "pissing war."

Perhaps you've been watching too much TV, in which the plucky heroine always settles that matter between the two (slightly dense) men by dismissing it as a mere pissing contest. In fact, I gotta tell ya, as a life-long male, I'd never even heard of "pissing contests" until I noticed the plucky TV heroine scorning the men as just little boys engaged in a pissing contest. But, maybe I lead a sheltered life ... there are other things, supposedly encountered by all boys, that I'd never even heard of until I was an adult.

Anonymous said...

SCHIZOPHRENIA is a mental illness, and Calvinism/Reformed Theology/The Doctrines of Grace and/or Sovereign Grace...No matter what you call it/them it's all SCHIZOPHRENIA! I pray to GOD for all of those stuck in that garbage to repent in THE NAME OF THE LORD JESUS CHRIST AND BY THE BLOOD OF JESUS CHRIST REPENT!
PS-Whether you believe the raw sewage of calvinism or no, go to YOUTUBE, and type in the search Calvinism Refuted, and repent and forsake Calvinism, in all it's forms, Or if you are not a calvinist, it'll help you avoid that garbage...Just in case you didn't read this right calvinist's REPENT! IN THE NAME OF JESUS AND BY THE BLOOD OF JESUS, THAT WILL WASH AND CLEANSE YOU FROM ALL UNRIGHTEOUSNESS! REPENT!