Alpha & Omega Ministries Apologetics Blog
John 6 and the "Pristine Faith Restoration Society" (#4)
08/07/2006 - James WhiteI continue my review of Tim Warner's attempt to subvert the testimony of John 6 to the sovereignty of God. I note in passing that I have come to understand that aside from misrepresenting and evidently misunderstanding basic elements of the Greek language, such as the subjunctive, Warner's group likewise seems to promote a form of TR Onlyism, including the accusation that John 1:18 is "corrupted" in the "Westcott and Hort Text." In reviewing Warner's comments on John 1:18, his utterly uncritical use of English translations of patristic sources (he doesn't even seem to give consideration to the need for a critical text of those sources), and his ability to stand logic on its head in the examination of that topic, I can now see why he has problems with basic exegesis in this text as well.
I will be a bit briefer in this portion. There were a few red herrings and errors in the subjunctive discussion provided by Warner I needed to "clean up" before moving on. First, it is hard to take seriously the argument that John 1:6-7 is relevant when it is painfully obvious that the meaning of "all" assigned by Warner is absurd on its face. Yes, I'm sure it was God's intention that every person living in China in A.D. 30 believe through John's testimony. And yet that is what Warner is forced to assert to try to get around the text. He ignores the completely different context of John 1 and John 6; tries to make parallel a statement of the purpose of God's testimony to the Christ with the will of the Father for the Son, puts two completely different contexts together (the clarity of John's testimony and its resultant rejection by Israel over against the express purpose of the Father for the Son in the eternal covenant of redemption) and as a result of all of this ignoring of context provides a basis for again misreading the text so as to do what we documented last time: taking an over-arching modal concept and forcing it on a text rather than recognizing immediate context determines modal function. The use of a subjunctive in one form or for one purpose in one context is not grounds for demanding it in another, especially when the result is absurdity, as we saw last time. I may be repeating myself, but I need to make sure those attempting to follow this discussion get this much: the meaning of the subjunctive is contextually derived. Just as it is always wrong to go to a lexicon, grab a meaning for a word, and force it into every usage, so too it is wrong to go to a syntactical grammar, grab a basic meaning for a mode, and force it into every usage. While that kind of thing is maddeningly common on the Internet, it is a sure sign to anyone who has actually worked with the language for years that the person speaking really doesn't know which end is up--they are "tools translators" rather than "language readers" because they are following an errant mechanical process rather than "hearing" the flow in the language itself. That's one of the reasons I miss teaching Greek and Hebrew (haven't had the opportunity in a few years now), since when you do so, you get to spend more time actually immersed in the text, and it helps you to avoid slipping into these kind of rather "lazy" errors. But Warner's presentation of the subjunctive isn't a lazy error: he simply has no idea what he's talking about. I don't wish to be uncharitable, and I suppose it is possible that he was just having a bad day here, but the fact of his misrepresentation of Wallace and of the language is truly beyond question.
In any case, this is seen as well in Warner's comments on John 6:40, which again echo very clearly similar claims by Dave Hunt:
In John 6:40, the phrase, "that everyone who sees the Son and believes ... may have everlasting life," the Greek verb "ech" is also in the subjunctive mood (present active subjunctive). In clauses where the subjunctive verb is used following "ina," "the focus is on the intention of the action of the main verb, whether accomplished or not." Once again, God's intention was that all who at that time saw Jesus and believed on Him MAY have everlasting life.Notice that Warner does not seem to understand his own quotation. That is, yes, the focus is on the intention of the main verb. So why insert this over-arching concept of "uncertainty" when the text nowhere even hints at it? Does Warner realize the result of his misreading? I do not believe he does, because he is so intent upon smuggling his particular understanding into the text. But if he were to be consistent, then his reading would not be, "While it is the Father's will, that will may not be fulfilled due to human free will," but instead, "There will be those who look and believe on the Son but who, though continuing in faith, may fail to be saved!" What a horrific thought, and how utterly outside of anything one could possibly imagine would fit in the discourse the Lord is delivering in Capernaum.
Next, Warner attempts to explain the difference between the present tense di,dwsi,n (is giving, though, with the future tense following, h[xei, "will come") in v. 37, "the Father is giving" and the perfect tense in v. 39, de,dwke,n, "He has given," both in reference to the Father giving a specific people to the Son. Of course, there is not any problem in a contextual reading, as in v. 37 Jesus is explaining the present tense unbelief of the Jews, and likewise is speaking of the present tense coming of those given by the Father to the Son. The action of the Father is still what determines the resultant action of "coming" to Christ, even in the first clause of v. 37 (i.e., the Father gives, as a result, those given will come). But in v. 39 Jesus is explaining why He will never cast out one of those who comes, and that is because He has come down out of heaven to do the will of the Father, and that is that He not lose a single one of those that the Father has given (perfect tense, completed action) to Him. But Warner cannot have a definite, sovereignly chosen elect given by the Father to the Son. Instead, we once again completely ignore the context and come up with yet another incredible conclusion. The present tense is one group who are, at that time, coming to Christ. The perfect tense in v. 39 refers, amazingly, to those who has already been given, i.e., the disciples. So,
It is obvious, then, that the "giving" of the individual to Christ by the Father was something that was still continuing at that time, contrary to Calvinism's concept of this occuring for all the elect before the foundation of the world. That concept might be compatible with the statement in verse 39, but not with the statement in verse 37. Our view fits smoothly with both.Eisegesis is often marked by smoothness, but at the cost of the context. None of this has anything to do with what Jesus is actually saying in response to the unbelief of the Jews. That context is utterly abandoned in Warner's rush to find a way around the text. Warner's arbitrary decision based upon his system of theology once again turns the text on its head. There is no logical or rational reason why those "being given" in v. 37 is any different than those "given" in v. 39. Nothing in the context even hints at such a thing, let alone demands it. The topic has not changed, and adopting Warner's eisegesis completely disrupts the entire train of thought and isolates v. 39 from the discussion in 37! How utterly without merit it is to say that v. 39 is saying nothing more than God wishes He could save all those He has already given to Christ (not those presently coming), but He is uncertain as to whether he will be able to do so! This kind of manhandling of the text would not be required if Warner were not so desperate to find a way around this text. You see, those coming (present tense) are those who were given in eternity past. There is no contradiction. The reason anyone comes now is because in love the Father gave that one unto the Son; yet, I personally do not experience Christ, exercise faith in Him, or experience new life in Him, until that glorious time when God by His Spirit raises me to spiritual life, and as a result of that action, I come, and continue coming, to Christ. Warner sees a problem where there is none, and his "solution" destroys the flow of the text yet once again.
A Most Amazing Assertion
Now, when I read the next comment from Warner, I had to stop and read it a second time. Then I realized once again how utterly without merit his kind of progressive dispensationalism is. Here is the statement:
Given that Mr. White wants to remove this passage from its historical setting, we must ask him, how many people have actually SEEN Jesus since His ascension? Does not this passage refer to those who have actually seen Jesus in person and then believed? "Everyone who sees the Son and believes ... may have everlasting life" (v. 40). Is not this in direct contrast to the words Jesus spoke to Thomas? "Because you have seen Me, you have believed. Blessed are those who have not seen and yet have believed" (John 20:29). White will be forced to allegorize this term. But, that will be an uphill battle. There is no hint in the context that the word "see" should be understood figuratively. White will get no help from Johannine usage either. John used the term 31 times in his books. In only one case (John 4:19) the word might have been used in a figurative sense. The rest referred to something people saw with the eyes.Can you believe it? Evidently, Christians for two thousand years, who have spoken of believing and seeing Jesus in faith, got it all wrong! If they had just been dispensationalists, they would have realized that these precious words really have nothing at all to do with them! Of course, the fact that we are also told we must "hear" the voice of the Son of God to live, or "hear" God's words, seems to have passed Mr. Warner by (unless again he doesn't believe that is relevant to us anymore, either). In any case, one is simply left speechless at this kind of "chop shop exegesis." Jesus said to the disciples, "After a little while the world will no longer see Me, but you will see Me; because I live, you will live also" (John 14:19). I guess this promise was only for them, too, and not for us? What is left for us, I wonder? Seeing and believing, hearing and believing--eating His flesh and drinking His blood (will Warner be a literalist there, too, I wonder?)--all ways of speaking of the intimate union of the believer and Christ. Don't be robbed of these precious truths by man-made systems like Warner's.