Over the years I
have often surprised people by asserting that there is one
passage of Scripture that is so clear, so perspicuous, that
I have never seen a meaningful, coherent, contextually-based
interpretation of it that does not teach with clarity the
glorious freedom of God in the salvation of His elect
passage is John 6:35-45.
passage formed the basis of a recent discussion with Roman
Catholic proponent Scott Windsor on our webcast, the Dividing
Windsor’s unique “interpretation” of the passage did
not fare well in cross-examination. In his attempt to rehabilitate himself, Mr. Windsor contacted
Robert Sungenis of Catholic
Mr. Sungenis and I have debated many times in the
past, not just in person in formal settings (Boston College,
Long Island, Clearwater, Florida), but on line as well. Many
of those interactions were rather acrimonious.
Over the past few years, however, we have sought to
disagree, not so much agreeably, as respectfully.
It is not an easy task, of course, but both sides
have made good faith efforts.
It should be noted that I believe Mr. Sungenis has
made many elementary errors in his response: elementary in
regards to the Greek language, elementary in regards to the
reading of the text, and elementary in regards to Reformed
theology, which he presumes to critique.
Since post-moderns confuse refutation of error with
“hate-speech,” let me say up-front: I believe Mr.
Sungenis wrong on all these issues.
In fact, I believe him ignorant of a number of the
areas he is attempting to address.
It is not hateful, unkind, or unloving to say
these things if documentation and reasoned thinking is
provided to substantiate the conclusion.
If factual support is provided, the assertions are
simply truthful, and truth is not hateful.
However, if the accusations are made but no
reasonable argumentation is provided to substantiate the
assertions, a case can then be made that one is
engaging in false argumentation and personal attack.
Scott Windsor posted
some of Mr. Sungenis’ comments on his website, and made
sure to let me know about it, repeatedly.
I finally took the time to take a look at the web
page which documented all my “errors,” and found Mr.
Sungenis’ comments intriguing enough to warrant a
firmly believe that the more people struggle against the
truths of this passage, the more clearly the truth is
vindicated, and as this debate continues, I believe that
will become more and more evident.
My original response is found
Sungenis then responded on his own
website, and on Mr.
offer my rejoinder here in the hope that believers will be
edified, and the soul-thrilling truth of God’s all
sufficient work of salvation will be ever more clearly
understood in the hearts of minds of His people.
Refocusing the Discussion
One of the most troubling aspects of
many back-and-forth discussions is the fact that they can
often grow to such proportions that the reader is lost in a
myriad of details that may, or may not, actually be relevant
to the topic at hand. So
I am going to make an effort to refocus the discussion while
responding as fully as possible to Mr. Sungenis’ attempted
help, allow me to make some general observations and
comments up front, and then provide the substantiation for
these conclusions in the following material.
Sola ecclesia lives.
Mr. Sungenis simply does not provide textually
based exegesis. Those
who are familiar with the rules of meaningful exegetical
study of the text can see, by examining Mr. Sungenis’
efforts, that his interpretations do not flow from the text,
but are made up of assertions joined with a general, “the
word X does not have to mean this or that.”
The over-riding concern is always the teaching of
Rome, which is derived from Mr. Sungenis’ own
interpretation and understanding of the writings of the
then becomes the lens through which the text is seen, even
if this results, as it does here, in the utter reversal of
the meaning of the text.
This is one of the main reasons why, though almost
everything Mr. Sungenis says in his response is fully
addressed in The Potter’s Freedom, I am taking the
time to respond separately: it is an object lesson well
Mr. Sungenis’ handling of the koine Greek language
in this article does not present an in-depth, scholarly
understanding of syntax.
For example, aside from the fact that his original
assertion regarding the use of mh
in interrogatives has been refuted, his handling of such
things as participles is a telling sign of a less-than-full
understanding of the language.
I have commented to Mr. Sungenis in the past that he
needs to engage in a study of syntax that goes beyond
mere grammar. Syntax
involves the relationship of words and phrases.
The mere noting of a word being in the present tense,
for example, without recognizing it is also in a participial
phrase, shows a fundamental weakness of understanding of
syntactical categories and functions.
These are issues that are introduced, and mastered,
in later study of the language, and would not be covered
with sufficient depth in a brief Master’s program.
I was personally very blessed to have begun my study
of Greek before seminary, in college, where I minored
in the subject. As I teach Greek in seminary now, I am often distressed at
the tremendous speed with which we must cover the
material. I know all too well the pressures upon the seminary student
and the difficulty in mastering not only the grammar, but
then the syntax, of koine Greek.
The result of all of this is the simple fact that Mr.
Sungenis makes a number of rudimentary errors in his
handling of the Greek language in context.
These errors are noted below.
I also note, briefly, that in light of Scott Windsor’s
taking Mr. Sungenis’ words over the words of three
published and established Greek grammars, this information is
Mr. Sungenis does not understand Reformed theology.
The number of misrepresentations of Reformed thinking
in this article (and in his published works) is striking.
But, there is a possible explanation. Mr. Sungenis
himself admitted, in his personal testimony in Surprised
by Truth, p. 111,
Not being totally convinced that the
militant Calvinistic theology espoused at Westminster was
correct, I continued to find myself in theological debates
with professors and fellow students.
In light of this, it is somewhat
understandable how one who graduated from Westminster
Seminary could still use such phrases as “God forces men
to believe” and the like, caricatures which, while common
in anti-Reformed polemics, have likewise been refuted so
many times it is amazing.
Finally, Mr. Sungenis decided to spend a good deal of
time focusing upon Augustine in his response.
I believe the citation I offered was clear and
compelling, and I still do. I simply remind the reader that Augustine changed his views
over time on this issue, becoming ever more forceful in his
annunciation of the divine decree of the salvation of the
elect. Anyone who reads his later works well knows the force
of his statements. It
is quite easy to quote Augustine against Augustine by
ignoring the development of his thought through the Pelagian
controversy. The fact that he identified saving faith as a gift of God
given only to the elect is truly without question.
But I shall not clutter this reply with further
discussions of Augustine’s changing theology over time:
the issue is the divine teaching of Christ in the synagogue
at Capernaum, to which I now turn.
First Issue: mh
Does Indicate a Negative Response
In the web cast discussion with Mr. Windsor the
matter of whether Jesus’ asking the disciples, “You do
not want to go away also, do you” (John 6:67, NASB) came
up. Mr. Windsor
attempted to read free will into these words, assuming that
Jesus was “giving them a choice” and that this implied
the existence of free will.
In response I pointed out that the form of the
question in Greek uses the particle mh,
and that this indicates an assumed negative answer, just as
the NASB translates it.
Mr. Windsor contacted Mr. Sungenis, who commented
that the wording did not fit a “rhetorical question.”
Now, I have no idea what that means, and I do not
know if Mr. Sungenis was responding to Mr. Windsor’s
errant communication to him of what I said, or if Mr.
Sungenis just missed the point (I nowhere indicated the
question was rhetorical, but that it expected a negative
answer, which, obviously, is not the same thing). Mr. Windsor simply failed to provide any meaningful basis for
reading “free will” into John 6:67, and seemingly citing
Mr. Sungenis’ comment was enough to provide him with
another “error” on my part.
So I wrote to Mr. Sungenis and asked him to explain
what I had said that was in error regarding the fact that
John 6:67 is a question using mh that expects a negative answer.
When he replied, on March 4, 2001, he attempted to
assert that mh does not have to indicate a negative
answer, and provided examples.
I refuted each example, and noted the most glaring
one in my previous response.
His specific assertion had been:
1) MH before the main verb does not
always expect a negative answer. For example, in John 7:31,
MH before POIEESEI expects an affirmative answer, not a
negative one. In other words, the implied answer to the
question of whether the Christ will do more signs than Jesus
I pointed out that, in fact, the only
meaningful way of understanding the passage is to understand
that the crowd is saying just the opposite: that the
expected answer is a negative.
I even cited A.T. Robertson’s comments that
specifically note the use of mh, indicating a negative answer.
While it is hardly central to the issue at hand, it
does speak to Mr. Sungenis knowledge of basic Greek grammar and
to his general approach to exegesis and interpretation.
The simple fact of the matter is that I said nothing
wrong in the cited comments.
No meaningful scholarship would argue I did.
The issue is interpretation of the meaning of John
6:67, and the attempt on Mr. Windsor’s part to turn the
question into a positive support of “free will.”
In light of this background, note his response:
clarification, it is certainly possible that the use of MH
in John 7:31 expects a negative answer. Nevertheless, a few
things need to be said. Since Dr. White appeals to the
statement "many of the multitude believed in Him"
in John 7:31, he is inferring that the belief of these
people was so strong that they would be able to determine
whether Jesus was the Messiah, and thus answer the question
of John 7:31 negatively. I don't think that assessment is
provable, since we do not know that kind of belief the
people had. For all we know their belief could be like the
people of John 8:31, who are finally told by Jesus in verse
44 that their father is the devil. This chapter is in close
proximity to John 7:31, the verse in question, and thus
would have great impact on determining the type of belief
present among them.
This is mere misdirection; Mr. Sungenis said X in his
e-mail (quoted above); now he is saying non-X.
He seems to be admitting he was in error, but without
actually saying it.
In either case, the issue is not, as I pointed out,
whether these were true believers or not.
Personally, I don’t believe they were.
The point is that they said they believed, and they
were arguing in the light of that profession.
It simply makes no sense whatsoever to read the text
as Mr. Sungenis originally suggested, for you would then
have the following: “Then many in the crowd believed in
Him and they were saying, “Surely the Christ will do more
signs than this man when he comes!”
That makes no sense at all!
We here have Mr. Sungenis ignoring the context and
attempting to over-turn a simple rule of grammar.
Granted, he may well have simply provided a brief
response without seriously considering the text.
But in any case, he has here been shown to be in
complete error on the issue.
Instead of dealing with this, Mr. Sungenis continues
on with a different topic:
we know that the crowd is not sure of Jesus' identity, since
in John 7:27 they make a declarative statement,
"However we know where this man [Jesus] is from; but
whenever the Christ may come, no one knows where He is
from." Obviously, the people are not certain who Jesus
is, which is apparent by their doubt about the origins of
the Christ. Thus, when a few verses later the question of
John 7:31 is asked ("When Christ comes, will he not do
more signs than which this man [Jesus] did"), the
uncertainty described in John 7:27, along with the
uncertainty suggested in John 8:31-44 regarding the kind of
belief the crowd possessed, although still plausible, a
negative answer to the question of John 7:31 is not at all
certain. Indeed, if a negative response were the only one
expected, then we would expect to find such a negative
answer somewhere in the context (which is usually the case
when questions are introduced by the Greek MH), but we do
not find any here, thus the matter remains indefinite.
of proximity, I think I will also add Dr. White's own
assessment of the "belief" of the people in John
6, which is stated just one chapter earlier than the people
of John 7:31. In a later paragraph of this document, Dr.
White writes the following of John 6's people: "The
blessed Lord was quite blunt with His audience. He knew they
did not possess real faith. 'But I said to you that you have
seen Me, and yet do not believe' (v. 36)."
kindly as it can be put, that is obfuscation.
I made no error regarding mh; its meaning is clear in the passage, despite all the attempts to say
the reader decide.
this point I provided the exegetical section of my book, The
Potter’s Freedom, regarding John 6:35-45.
I will simply point out that at times Mr. Sungenis
seems to forget that I did not write this section following
my discussion with Mr. Windsor, so he faults me for not
addressing things as if I were writing it in response
to his own comments.
at the start, however, we encounter a fascinating
discussion by Mr. Sungenis regarding the fact that I have
written an entire work refuting the Arminianism of Dr.
Norman Geisler. Note
Since Dr. White has brought up the name of Norman
Geisler, I think it is worth mentioning here that Norman
Geisler is one of the most respected and well-known
theologian/philosphers in the Evangelical world. He appears
on the same radio programs that Dr. White appears (The Bible
Answer Man; Janet Parcell's America, etc), but on these
programs he teaches an almost totally opposite view of John
6 and Predestination than Dr. White. It is ironic that two
men, with two entirely different views on Salvation, can
appear on the same program with the same hosts, and yet both
be touted as faithful interpreters of the Bible.
There is, of course, one major flaw in
Mr. Sungenis’ reasoning: it assumes Norman Geisler offered
a “faithful interpretation” of the passage at hand.
As anyone knows who read Chosen But Free or my
response, The Potter’s Freedom, Dr. Geisler did not
offer any kind of exegetical interpretation of the passage.
It was one of the more amazing elements of the
discussion offered in Chosen But Free.
Hence, it is not a matter of “dueling
interpretations” regarding this passage, and even when it
is, is the suggestion being made that since there is
disagreement, that the text is therefore unclear?
Those who have read The Potter’s Freedom
realize that the exegetical argument is, in fact, the most
compelling argument put forward by the Reformed side. Sungenis goes on to make a very telling statement:
may also be worth mentioning that Norman Geisler's view of
Predestination and the interpretation of the pertinent
passages in John 6 are much closer to the Catholic view than
Dr. White's. Catholicism would applaud Norman Geisler for
his balanced view of Predestination and Free Will, whereas
Dr. White ascribes to the traditional Calvinist view, which
believes that God predestined men to Hell without regard to
Free Will. I would suggest that, if anyone is interested in
a refutation of the Calvinist view of Predestination,
consult Chapter 7 of the book "Not By Faith
Mr. Sungenis’ attempted “refutation” of predestination
partakes of the same common category and context errors as
this reply, I believe the reader will be helped by what
follows here. But
it is quite interesting to note the fact that Mr. Sungenis
is quite right. In
fact, I spent an entire chapter in The Potter’s Freedom
documenting what Mr. Sungenis here notes.
Arminianism is, in fact, very much in harmony with
Rome on matters of the nature of the will, God’s
sovereignty, and the nature of grace.
I even provided quotations from the Catholic
Catechism that closely parallel, down to the choice of
words, the assertions of Norman Geisler.
This is surely nothing new to anyone who is Reformed
and is aware of the historical and theological realities.
At this point Mr. Sungenis begins to provide a
point-by-point response to my exegesis in The Potter’s
reader is strongly urged to consider one main issue: who
presents a contextually-based presentation, and who uses a
“scatter-gun” approach? Whose conclusions flow from the text, and whose come from
pre-existing commitments to external authorities? We believe the answer to that question is clear.
wrote in The Potter’s Freedom (hereafter TPF):
blessed Lord was quite blunt with His audience. He knew they
did not possess real faith. "But I said to you that you
have seen Me, and yet do not believe" (v. 36). They had
seen Him with their eyes, but unless physical sight is
joined with spiritual enlightenment, it profits nothing.
Often the importance of this statement is overlooked. Verse
36 is a turning point in the chapter. Jesus now explains
their unbelief. How is it that these men could stand before
the very Son of God, the Word made flesh, and not believe?
Anyone who does not take seriously the deadness of man in
sin should contemplate this scene. The very Creator in human
form stands before men who are schooled in the Scriptures
and points to their unbelief. He then explains the why, and
yet so few today will listen and believe.
Sungenis: I need to interject here that, by an appeal to the
"deadness of man in sin," Dr. White is priming his
audience to one of Calvinism's major premises - - the total
depravity of man.
To which I
phrase “dead in sin” is completely biblical (Eph. 2:1-4,
Col. 2:13), and in point of fact, in the context of my book,
I had already established the biblical testimony to
the deadness of man in sin and total depravity (TPF
chapter 4, see especially pp. 100f) through a discussion of
such passages as Romans 8:7-8, John 12:39-40, 1 Cor. 2:14,
John 8:34-48, etc. I
was “priming” no one, but making reference to those who
deny man’s deadness in sin.
doctrine teaches that, after Adam sinned, man lost his free
teaches that after Adam sinned, he and his followers have a
corrupt nature which results in the enslavement of the will
to a sinful nature. The
will, of course, remains fully intact: it is simply enslaved
to a corrupt and fallen nature, resulting in the clear
biblical teaching on the inabilities of the natural
man outside of Christ, outside of regeneration.
Augustine taught, and the Catholic Church has followed his
teaching, that man was NOT totally depraved after the Fall.
St. Augustine taught that, although estranged from God and
marred in his nature, Adam retained a residual grace and
thus an ability to respond to God's call.
I refer the
reader to the preceding references.
is why passages such as 2 Peter 3:9; Romans 2:4-16 and Acts
17:24-31 can say what they do about post-Adamic man's
continuing responsibility to answer the call of God.
seems to believe that the general call of repentance and
faith implies a capacity that either remains after the fall,
or, is graciously given to all. No such capacity is even hinted at in the first two passages,
and the third refers to the very same universal call
Reformed people fully believe in and practice.
opposed to Dr. White's theology, not only does God issue the
call to repentance, He expects man to respond by using the
grace God has given him. If man does not respond, it means
he has resisted the grace of God. St. Augustine used such
passages as Zech 1:3; James 4:8; Luke 11:19; Jeremiah 3:22;
29:13 to prove this point, as did the Council of Trent.
As opposed to
Rome’s theology, and Mr. Sungenis’ interpretation
thereof, grace cannot be demanded; it is free, utterly free,
and is given on the basis of God’s choice and will,
nothing more. Repentance,
too, is a gift, given by God to His elect people, along with
faith, both as part of the work of regeneration.
Mr. Sungenis’ entire view of salvation, and
Scripture, is anthropocentric (centered upon man).
The Bible’s own view is theocentric
(centered upon God).
Man’s religions are invariably anthropocentric,
always including at their very heart various rites and
rituals (in Roman Catholicism, sacraments) designed to
control God and His power, removing from Him His sovereign
freedom and placing the ultimate power of salvation squarely
in the hands of man. This
is where biblical Christianity differs from the religions of
men, including Roman Catholicism and all forms of “Protestantism”
that likewise refuse to allow God to be free and man to be
the fallen creature.
Mr. Sungenis continues:
above facts are important, since it seems by everything Dr.
White has written that he attributes the obstinance (sic)
and unbelief of the Jews in John 6 to the fact that God has
predestined them to unbelief and eternal damnation.
men, outside of God’s gracious act of regeneration, are
enemies of God, opposed to Him and to His purposes, rebels
with a self-centered cause, one might say.
The focus of the passage is not reprobation: the
focus of the passage is upon the gracious predestination of
Christ’s elect, which explains their positive faith.
Unbelief is natural to the fallen man: faith is
unnatural, and requires a supernatural explanation, which is
what this passage provides.
if one looks at the context of the Gospel of John, indeed,
the context of the whole Scripture in regards to the Jew's
obstinacy, it is due to their continued resistence (sic) to
God's grace and call. Passages such as Ezek. 18:21-32;
33:11; Matt 23:37, etc., show that God continually pleads
with Israel to repent.
questions God’s call to repentance: the claim this means
that man is not what this passage says he is (unable to come
to Christ outside of supernatural enablement which is not
given to all, but to those given to the Father by the Son only)
is what is in dispute.
See TPF pp. 136-139 on Matthew 23:37.
it is theologies such as Calvinism which teach that God
issues such pleadings but without giving all men the power
to respond to those very pleadings.
I.e., God is
free to give grace as He sees fit, not as man demands of
freedom of God in dealing with the guilty and vile sinner
(Calvinism) vs. the enslavement of God to the alleged powers
of the creature who will decide if he/she will allow God to
accomplish His purposes in salvation (man’s religions).
fact, Calvinism teaches that God pleads with the
non-predestined man only because God will eventually use his
non-repentance as the evidence for his damnation in the
basis of condemnation is the same for all: sin.
The fact that man in his sin refuses to acknowledge
his Creator is, of course, evidence of God’s justice in
condemning him, but it is not the basis of that
other words, Calvinism makes God a liar. God pretends to
plead with the majority of mankind, but He doesn't really
mean it; in fact, His pleadings are really condemnations in
Such rhetoric from a graduate of Westminster who admits he never
believed what he was studying there anyway is fascinating,
to say the least. But
in reality, this kind of accusation is meant solely to
inflame emotions, not actually communicate anything.
It would be easy to respond with, “Catholicism
makes God a liar because God says He accomplishes all His
will, yet Rome says otherwise,” but is it not far better
to simply demonstrate the errors of Rome and allow the reader
to decide such things?
I surely think so.
Calvinism says that God’s call to repentance goes
forth for two reasons: it is used in grace as an instrument
in His hands in the effectual salvation of God’s people,
and for those who are righteously judged for their sin and
rebellion (which would include all, outside of grace), the
call demonstrates the truth of Paul’s words, “they are
without excuse” (Romans 1:20). The assumption that causes Mr. Sungenis to use terms like “liar”
is that he can somehow see God’s purposes in that general
call in each person’s life, which obviously he cannot.
John 6:37: Initial Exegesis
I wrote in TPF:
that the Father gives Me will come to Me." These are
the first words to come from the Lord in explanation of
man's unbelief. We dare not engage in hopscotch across this
text and ignore the very order of teaching He provides. The
first assertion is one of complete divine sovereignty. Every
word speaks volumes.
that the Father gives Me." The Father gives someone to
Christ. The elect are viewed as a single whole, [footnote:
The neuter form pa'n
is used when the entire group is in view; when each
individual person comes into view with reference to their
response of faith the masculine participle ejrcovmeno"
used, showing the personal element of faith.] given by the
Father to the Son. [footnote: Two tenses are used by the
Lord in this passage: here the present tense is used,
"all the Father gives (divdwsin) Me…." In verse 39, however, the perfect
tense is used, "all that He has given (devdwken)
Me…." ] The Father has the right to give a people to
the Son. He is the sovereign King, and this is a divine
that are given by the Father to the Son come to the Son. Not
some, not most, but all.
All those given by the Father to the Son will come to the
Son. It is vital to see the truth that is communicated by
this phrase: the giving by the Father to the Son precedes
and determines the coming of the person to Christ. The
action of giving by the Father comes before the action of
coming to Christ by the individual.
To which Mr. Sungenis replied:
Sungenis: Funny as it may seem, there is little with which I
disagree here. However, as you read on, it is the
Calvinistic doctrine of absolute predestination, which Dr.
White tries to assign to these verses that creates the
But in reality, it is just this section that Mr. Sungenis must
disagree with if he is to be at all consistent. The heart of the passage is here laid out: the existence of
an elect people; the giving by the Father to the Son resulting
in the coming of the elect to Christ; the use of the
masculine participle showing the personal faith that results
from the work of grace in the heart; the initial discussion
of the present and perfect tense uses of “give”; and the
perfection of the work of God in that all who are
given come to Christ. The
words are plain, as is the meaning.
I continued in TPF:
since all of those so given infallibly come, we have here
both unconditional election as well as irresistible grace,
and that in the space of nine words! It becomes an obvious
exercise in eisegesis to say, "Well, what the Lord
really means is that all that the Father has seen will
believe in Christ will come to Christ." That is a
meaningless statement. Since the action of coming is
dependent upon the action of giving, we can see that it is
simply not exegetically possible to say that we cannot
determine the relationship between the two actions. God's
giving results in man's coming. Salvation is of the Lord.
To which Mr.
would agree with Dr. White that we cannot say that "we
cannot determine the relationship between the two
actions," but whether Dr. White's
"determination" is the correct one is something
that he can't prove.
There is no
question, truly, concerning the relationship of the giving
of the Father and the coming of the elect.
Of course, all of man’s religions, that refuse to
give to God the authority to freely bestow His grace as He
sees fit, must find some way to reverse this order, for if
it is the giving of the Father that determines the coming of
any human, then salvation is theocentric, all to His glory,
and is not under the control of man.
As to being able to prove that the giving precedes
the coming, that is not even disputable.
No argument can be presented that can overthrow the
simple grammar of the verse: those given, come.
we can agree that those whom the Father gives will come to
Jesus, there is simply nothing in the passage that says
their coming was based on an "unconditional
election," nor that, once they come to Jesus, they will
remain there "irresistibly" without any chance of
As we will see,
Mr. Sungenis bases the identity of those given upon their
“free will” act of coming; this reverses the text, and
makes the giving of the Father conditional upon human action
(standard Arminianism makes the same mistake).
Hence, the “condition” he adds is human action
(faith), which this passage says is actually the result
of the election, not the means.
Therefore, unless he wishes to suggest some other “condition,”
the election is, in fact, unconditional and free.
Secondly, it seems Mr. Sungenis is confused regarding
the term “irresistible grace.”
The phrase refers to God’s gracious act of
regenerating a dead sinner and granting new life.
It is not a term referring to the truth that Christ
does not lose any of those given to Him.
That truth is plainly and without question referred
to in 6:38-39.
two thoughts are put there by Dr. White, but they are not in
the text. If read carefully, the text says only that those
who come to Jesus were given to Him by the Father.
says much more. It
says ALL who are given to the Son by the Father will come
to the Father, and every one who comes is never cast out.
The priority of the Father’s giving to the coming
of the one given introduces election and sovereignty; the
“all” introduces election and irresistible grace; the
promise of the Son never to cast out any who come to Him
introduces the security of the elect in Christ, which is
then expanded upon in 6:38-39 where the reason for His never
casting anyone out is fully explained in light of the Father’s
nothing has been inserted into the text at all.
should be no argument here, since the alternative is to say
that the people themselves, without the Father's power,
brought themselves to Jesus. Catholic theology has never
taught such a thing.
Note that by
not dealing with the appearance of “all” in the text,
Mr. Sungenis is able to avoid the actual force of Jesus’
it is a different thing to say “Some general folks the
Father gives the Son will come to the Son” than “ALL
that the Father gives Me will come to Me.”
The one involves the necessity of the effectiveness
of the drawing of the Father to the Son, the other does
not. One leaves
room for synergism (as in Roman Catholicism), the other
the passage says that, once they come, Jesus will not cast
them out. It doesn't say that the people cannot take
themselves out of Jesus. Dr. White is simply reading into
the verse what his theology has dictated to him.
In reality, of course, the reader can see this is untrue.
Verses 38-39 will explain that the one who is given
by the Father to the Son is the same one the Son will raise
up on the last day in perfect harmony with the Father’s
will for Him. To
posit the idea that the object of the combined love of the
Father, Son, and Spirit can be lost by the exercise of man’s
almighty will is to say that the Son can fail to do the will
of the Father, the very thing the text precludes.
The only way to read these words and not see the
perfection of Christ’s work and the resulting security of
the believer is to reject the theocentricity of the
text, and adopt, a-priori, a man-centered standard
that then allows you to ignore those elements of the text
that indicate otherwise.
I had written in
note as well that it is to the Son that they come. They do
not come to a religious system. They are coming to Christ.
This is a personal relationship, personal faith, and, given
that the ones who come are described throughout the passage
by the present tense participle, it is not just a coming
that happens once. This is an on-going faith, an on-going
looking to Christ as the source of spiritual life. The men
to whom the Lord was speaking had "come" to Him
for a season: they would soon walk away and follow Him no
more. The true believer is coming to Christ, always. This is
the nature of saving faith.
Dr. White is reading more into the verse than what is there.
I don't desire to make a big issue of the Greek present
tense participle, but I should add that Dr. White's
interpretation of it is conveniently applied to his
Calvinistic theology, which teaches that once a person
starts on the road to faith he will never lose his faith and
he will inevitably reach heaven.
has completely missed the point.
Yes, saving faith is on-going, as I said: but the
reason for the security of the believer is not based
upon the actions of the believer, but upon the
faithfulness of Christ the Savior.
I am not, in the above cited words, addressing what
Mr. Sungenis assumes. I am, however, pointing out something that is well known to
students of John’s gospel: he regularly describes saving
faith through the use of present tense participles and verbs
(especially the use of the present tense substantival
participle “the one believing,” oJ
pisteuvwn), while describing surface-level, fleeting
faith through the use of the aorist.
My application in the above words is direct and
simple: saving faith is not a one-time, surface level thing,
but is an on-going faith that keeps looking, keeps
believing, keeps trusting.
Again, the only way such words can make sense is
within the context of a theocentric reading of the text:
they are meaningless within the context of Rome’s
application is not provable from the text. The present
participle is merely telling us that the one who comes to
Jesus will not be stopped from coming. In other words, if
one attempts to come to Jesus, Jesus will not pull the rug
out from under him and say, "Sorry, I changed my mind,
I don't really want you to come after all," like the
Greek and Roman gods used to do. Jesus is faithful. The
question is whether we will be faithful to Him. That is why
2 Timothy 2:12 says: "If we deny Him, He will also deny
us. If we are faithless, He remains faithful, for He cannot
There is one
problem in the above paragraph: coming and believing
are parallel phrases in John chapter six and elsewhere.
“The one coming” is “the one believing.”
Is Mr. Sungenis consistent in his assertion?
Would he say that in verse 40 the only meaning to the
substantival participle “the one believing” is that it
is “merely telling us that the one who believes in Jesus
will not be stopped from believing”?
Such is obviously not the meaning of the text at all.
I wrote in TPF:
the one who comes to Me I will never cast out." The
true believer, the one "coming" to the Son, has
this promise of the Lord: using the strongest form of denial
possible, [footnote: Here the aorist subjunctive of strong
denial, ouj mh; ejkbavlw e[xw, "I will never cast out." The idea is the
emphatic denial of the possibility of a future event.]
far so good. There is definitely a strong denial here. I
have already said above that Jesus is faithful. He will not
pull the rug out from anyone. But watch what Dr. White makes
of this "strong denial."
The reader should note again the difference between viewing salvation as
the work of God, where it is Christ who actually saves
His people (Matthew 1:21) and viewing it as the
cooperative effort of man and God where Christ makes
salvation possible but does not actually save.
There is simply no basis in a synergistic,
man-centered religion for a belief in the security of the
believer, since there is no foundation capable of sustaining
the doctrine. In other words, without a Savior capable of saving,
you can’t have security!
At this point I had then concluded, “Jesus affirms
the eternal security of the believer.”
Dr. White has read into the verse a precept from his
Calvinistic theology. The verse doesn't mention anything
about whether the believer will be eternally secure from
losing his salvation (which is what Dr. White means by
"eternal security"). It only says that Jesus will
not cast him out if he comes to Jesus. The verse teaches
that Jesus is faithful, not that the believer need never
worry that he could make himself fall from Jesus. I can't
impress this upon the reader enough. Dr. White's
interpretation is a classic example of reading a passage
with one's own colored glasses.
Let’s remember a few things. First,
it is very easy to dismiss what someone else says as merely
their own projection of their pre-existing beliefs onto the
text. It takes
a positive demonstration of the assertion to make it
if salvation is a solely divine work then the
accusation of eisegesis made here collapses.
John 6:37a speaks of the Father’s giving of a
people to the Son---it does not mention man’s “free will”
as determining that divine act.
In other words, the action of giving is fully divine.
Then immediately after this statement of the Lord we
find the direct assertion of the Father’s will for the Son
in saving all those who are so given, and again the actions
are entirely divine, not human.
So, given that this phrase sits between two clearly
theocentric assertions concerning salvation, who, in fact,
is separating it from its context and reading into it a
meaning that is not there in the original text? You see, to deny the ability of Christ to save perfectly any
and all who are entrusted to Him by the Father is to make a
positive assertion: and upon what basis does Mr. Sungenis
ground his claim that Christ is unable to save outside of
human cooperation? Surely
nothing in this text.
He must go elsewhere to attempt to make that claim.
So when Mr. Sungenis says I’m reading the text with “colored
glasses,” this is about the only positive evidence offered
for the insertion, on his part, of a completely foreign
concept into the text at hand: the idea that Jesus can
attempt to save a person, and fail at it due to
that person’s choice.
And is this not just the over-riding assumption of
free-will that I identified in my previous article?
Of course it is.
Hence, Mr. Sungenis is engaging in circular
argumentation, assuming the conclusion of his argument
before he has in fact proven his argument.
That assumption, I believe, comes from his highest
authority (Rome), not from the text of Scripture.
So, the “colored glasses” are firmly planted not
on my exegetical eyes, but upon his, placed there by the
authority of the Pope in Rome.
This is borne out by what comes next.
I had written, “Jesus
is the one who gives life and raises His own up at the last
day. He promises that there is no possibility whatsoever
that any one who is coming to Him in true faith could ever
find Him unwilling to save.”
problem here, for this is precisely what I am contending.
Jesus, because He is faithful, will never be unwilling to
save those who come to Him. But I hasten to add that this
present statement by Dr. White is not the same as his
previous statement concerning "eternal security."
I truly hope the reader can see the issue: for Robert Sungenis and the
Roman Church, Jesus is more than willing to save, but
is incapable of doing so outside of the cooperation of those
He is trying to save.
So Christ’s willingness does not, in Rome’s
system, translate into the accomplished fact of salvation.
The text, however, says just the opposite: Christ’s
willingness results in the perfection of the
work because Christ is a perfect Savior who is able to save!
I continued in
this tremendous promise is the second half of a sentence. It
is based upon the truth that was first proclaimed. This
promise is to those who are given by the Father to the Son
and to no one else. Of course, we will see in verse 44 that
no one but those who are so given will be coming to Christ
in faith anyway: but there are surely those who, like many
in that audience in Capernaum, are willing to follow for a
while, willing to believe for a season. This promise is not
White implies that he has made an important statement above,
but there is nothing of real significance here.
The only way I
can translate this statement is, “It is not significant to
note that the promise of Christ not to cast out any who come
to Him is based upon the divine sovereignty of the Father in
entrusting His people to the Son, and that despite the fact
that Jesus then spent the next two verses explaining that
very relationship, so that He obviously felt that it was
most important to do so.”
course, those who are not given to Jesus by the Father do
not have the promise that Jesus will not cast them out. The
reason they don't have that promise is because they have
never come to Jesus. According to the verse's premise, you
can't have the promise that Jesus will not cast you out
unless you come to Jesus. In logic, the condition of the
category must be fulfilled in order for the category to
enact its stipulations. In effect, Dr. White is making an
issue of a non-issue.
that Mr. Sungenis forgot that the only ones who come to the
Son are those given to Him by the Father, hence the
connection I described above.
I continued and brought out the theocentricity of the
passage in these words:
promise to the elect, however, could not be more precious.
Since Christ is able to save perfectly (He is not dependent
upon man's will, man's cooperation), His promise means the
elect cannot ever be lost.
Dr. White keeps adding things to the passage that the
passage does not address. Where does the passage mention,
let alone deny, "man's will, man's cooperation"??
One is hard
pressed to respond to such a question.
When the passage presents the Father’s divine gift
to the Son and preceding and determining the very identity
of every single one who, as a result of being given,
come to the Son, and then goes on to reveal the Father’s
will for the Son to save every single one of those given
by the Father to the Son, the issue is not “where does
the passage deny” synergism, the issue is, how in the
world could anyone read synergism into the passage as Mr.
Sungenis does at every turn?
does the passage conclude that those who come can never be
It does so by
stating that 1) all who are given come, and 2) the Son
raises up all those who are given to Him in perfection
(i.e., He loses none).
This is simple contextual reading.
thoughts are simply not there. Granted, "Christ is able
to save perfectly," because He is God and does
everything perfectly. Would we want a savior who is
imperfect? Of course not. But how does Dr. White get from
Christ's perfection to the conclusion that Christ does not
anticipate "man's will, man's cooperation."
this stated in the context of accusing me of
eisegetical insertions into the text?
If Christ saves perfectly, Mr. Sungenis, are you
seriously suggesting that He only saves perfectly those who enable
Him to do so? The
text ostensibly under consideration says that Christ saves
perfectly those that the Father gives Him, and that
those who come to Him are, in fact, those that are given by
the Father (remember, this whole section is about why those
who see Jesus do not believe while the Apostles, as
we will see by the end of the discourse, do).
I had written
He will not cast out, and there is no power greater than His
own, the one who comes to Christ will find Him an
all-sufficient and perfect Savior. This is the only basis of
"eternal security" or the perseverance of the
saints: they look to a perfect Savior who is able to save.
It is Christ's ability to save that means the redeemed
cannot be lost. If it were, in fact, a synergistic
relationship, there could never be any ground for absolute
confidence and security.
restating the obvious, you can again see how Dr. White has
confused Christ's perfection and all-sufficiency with
The contrast of
theocentric and anthropocentric systems is now clear: if
Christ is a perfect Savior then He is able to accomplish
salvation in the Scriptural view. But in Rome’s view, Christ has a lesser task: making
salvation possible but not actually accomplishing
from Rome’s view, Christ can be a perfect Savior by making
men savable, while as we will see in this text of
Scripture, the reality is that Christ is a perfect Savior
because He actually saves those who are given to Him.
we can easily turn the tables here and say that, in being
perfect, Christ has an obligation to reject those who, once
having come to Him, become faithless and remain so. If He
didn't reject them, then he wouldn't be true to Himself, as
2 Timothy 2:12-13 tells us so clearly.
Note that in
Mr. Sungenis’ view, faith is not the work of Christ
either: that is, faith that truly brings a person to
Christ can in essence “go bad” (the truth is many come
not to Christ but to religion on the basis of a non-saving
“faith” in something other than the Savior), resulting
in the above scenario. However, are we not told that Christ is the author and
finisher of our faith (Hebrews 12:1-2)?
The divine nature of saving faith is here denied by
Mr. Sungenis. The
person who has been drawn by the Father to the Son (John
6:44-45) hears and learns from God and does not deny
Christ, hence 2 Timothy 2:12-13 is not making reference to
such a person. Keep
these statements by Mr. Sungenis in mind as we come to the
discussion of 6:38-39 and the will of the Father for the
Son. I had
addressed this tremendous passage in TPF in these
stop at verse 37 and miss the tremendous revelation we are
privileged to receive in the following verses. Why will
Christ never cast out those who come to Him? Verse 38 begins
with a connective that indicates a continuation of the
thought: verses 38 and 39 explain verse 37. Christ keeps all
those who come to Him for He is fulfilling the will of the
Father. "I have come down from heaven, not to do My own
will, but the will of Him who sent Me." The divine
Messiah always does the will of the Father. The preceding
chapter in John's Gospel had made this very clear. There is
perfect harmony between the work of the Father and the Son.
And what is the will of the Father for the Son? In simple
terms, it is the Father's will that the Son save perfectly.
"This is the will of Him who sent Me, that of all that
He has given Me I lose nothing, but raise it up on the last
day." It is vital to remember that this continues the
explanation of why He does not cast out the one coming to
Him. We must see this for some might be tempted to say that
the Father has entrusted all things into the hands of the
Son, and that this passage is saying nothing more than the
Son will act properly in regards to what the Father has
given Him. But the context is clear: v. 37 speaks of the
Father "giving" the elect to the Son, and v. 39
continues the same thought. Those who are given infallibly
come to the Son in v. 37, and it is these same ones, the
elect, [footnote: Jesus uses the neuter pa'n again to refer
to the elect as an entire group, though the fact that this
group is made up of individuals is seen in their being
raised to life and in their individually coming to Him.] who
are raised up at the last day.
how Dr. White inserts the word "elect" into John
6:37, but the verse does not mention the word elect. It only
says, "ALL that the Father gives to me..." The
neuter of pa'n does not mean anything crucial here, since
most pa'ns in Greek are neuter, unless a masculine or
feminine referent is in view.
replies: 1) the term “elect” is thoroughly biblical
(Romans 8:33, 11:7, 2 Timothy 2:10).
Of course it is not used in John 6:37-39, but one
must seriously ask Mr. Sungenis who, then, is being referred
to if, in fact, the people given by the Father to the Son in
John 6:37-39 are not the same body in view in Romans
8:33 or 2 Timothy 2:10?
Did Paul endure “all things” so that someone other
than those given by the Father to the Son would obtain
salvation in Christ Jesus?
Of course not. So
the term is not being “inserted.”
The term is used in Scripture of this very group, so
why not use it here? 2)
The Greek term pa"/pasa/pan
is 3-1-3 adjective declinable in all three genders: every
instance of pan is,
of course neuter: pan
is never masculine or feminine, for
obvious reasons. So,
Mr. Sungenis is simply wrong to say “most pans in Greek
are neuter.” All
uses of pan in Greek are neuter.
His statement would be as erroneous as saying “most
uses of tauth" in Greek are
all uses of tauth"
in Greek are feminine.
That’s just basic knowledge.
Secondly, since it seems Mr. Sungenis is not familiar
with the declension and forms of pa"/pasa/pan,
he has missed the point, a point noted in most critical
commentaries on the passage.
Pan is a neuter singular.
Yet, it is being used of the people the Father gives
the Son. Generally,
one would use a masculine plural to refer to a group, or at
least a masculine singular when emphasizing the “singularity”
of the group (similar to using the singular word “crowd”
though there is a composite unity inherent in the term: a
crowd is a singular entity made up of a plurality of
as I pointed out, when speaking of the elect of God as a
singular whole, Jesus uses the neuter singular.
The object of God’s elective decree is a distinct
and definite people, entrusted to Christ for full salvation.
Then, when the Lord speaks of the individual who,
upon being drawn and enabled of the Father, comes infallibly
to Christ, the masculine singular is used (6:40).
Mr. Sungenis may not think this relevant because he
is unfamiliar with the discussion of the text and the forms
found therein, but it is relevant to any meaningful
Mr. Sungenis then added:
with regard to inserting the word "elect,"
Calvinists do the same thing with 1 Timothy 2:4. The verse
says, "God desires all men to be saved and come to the
knowledge of the truth." John Calvin and his followers
say that the only way this verse can be understood is to
read it as: "God desires all the elect to be saved and
come to the knowledge of the truth." Likewise, they
will say of 1 John 2:2, "and He Himself is the
propitiation for our sins; and not for ours only, but also
for the elect of the whole world." But neither verse is
saying what the Calvinist wants it to say.
A couple of
quick points: the actual interpretation offered by Reformed
writers regarding 1 Timothy 2:4 is that “all men” means
“all kinds of men.”
I discussed this in TPF, pp. 139-145 (and 1
John 2:2 in TPF pp. 274-277).
But just to show that Calvin’s interpretation was
hardly anything new, I offer the following words from
Augustine, Chapter 103 of the Enchiridion:
Accordingly, when we hear and read in
Scripture that He “will have all men to be saved,”
although we know well that all men are not saved, we are not
on that account to restrict the omnipotence of God, but are
rather to understand the Scripture, “Who will have all men
to be saved,” as meaning that no man is saved unless God
wills his salvation: not that there is no man whose
salvation He does not will, but that no man is saved apart
from His will; and that, therefore, we should pray Him to
will our salvation, because if He will it, it must
necessarily be accomplished. And it was of prayer to God
that the apostle was speaking when he used this expression.
And on the same principle we interpret the expression in the
Gospel: “The true light which lighteth every man that
cometh into the world:” not that there is no man who is
not enlightened, but that no man is enlightened except by
Him. Or, it is said, “Who will have all men to be saved;”
not that there is no man whose salvation He does not will
(for how, then, explain the fact that He was unwilling to
work miracles in the presence of some who, He said, would
have repented if He had worked them?), but that we are to
understand by “all men,” the human race in all its
varieties of rank and circumstances, - kings, subjects;
noble, plebeian, high, low, learned, and unlearned; the
sound in body, the feeble, the clever, the dull, the
foolish, the rich, the poor, and those of middling
circumstances; males, females, infants, boys, youths; young,
middle-aged, and old men; of every tongue, of every fashion,
of all arts, of all professions, with all the innumerable
differences of will and conscience, and whatever else there
is that makes a distinction among men. For which of all
these classes is there out of which God does not will that
men should be saved in all nations through His only-begotten
Son, our Lord, and therefore does save them; for the
Omnipotent cannot will in vain, whatsoever He may will? Now
the apostle had enjoined that prayers should be made for all
men, and had especially added, “For kings, and for all
that are in authority,” who might be supposed, in the
pride and pomp of worldly station, to shrink from the
humility of the Christian faith. Then saying, “For this is
good and acceptable in the sight of God our Savior,” that
is, that prayers should be made for such as these, he
immediately adds, as if to remove any ground of despair, “Who
will have all men to be saved, and to come unto the
knowledge of the truth.” God, then, in His great
condescension has judged it good to grant to the prayers of
the humble the salvation of the exalted; and assuredly we
have many examples of this. Our Lord, too, makes use of the
same mode of speech in the Gospel, when He says to the
Pharisees: “Ye tithe mint, and rue, and every herb.” For
the Pharisees did not tithe what belonged to others, nor all
the herbs of all the inhabitants of other lands. As, then,
in this place we must understand by “every herb,” every
kind of herbs, so in the former passage we may understand by
“all men,” every sort of men. And we may interpret it in
any other way we please, so long as we are not compelled to
believe that the omnipotent God has willed anything to be
done which was not done: for setting aside all ambiguities,
if “He hath done all that He pleased in heaven and in
earth,” as the psalmist sings of Him, He certainly did not
will to do anything that He hath not done.
It surely seems
Augustine held to the view that “all men” in this
passage is contextually defined as all kinds of men
long before Calvin did.
If viewing the passage in this way indicates a
Protestant predisposition, does it follow that Augustine was
a Protestant? Be
that as it may, I continued in TPF by stating, “Resurrection
is the work of Christ, and in this passage, is paralleled
with the giving of eternal life (see v. 40). Christ gives
eternal life to all those who are given to Him and who, as a
result, come to Him.”
Mr. Sungenis replies:
can't help but notice that Dr. White has skipped over the
details of verse 40.
Anyone who reads the chapter in TPF knows that I did
no such thing: what Mr. Sungenis is responding to here is my
discussion of 6:38-39. The last time I checked, verse 40 still comes after 38
and 39! Secondly,
I dealt with verse 40 in the specific comments I offered in
the article Mr. Sungenis is responding to.
To say I “skipped over” anything in light of the
facts to the contrary either shows that Mr. Sungenis began
responding without reading the entirety of the article
first, or he is simply misled.
verse says, "this is the will of Him that sent me, that
every one who perceives the Son, and believes on Him, may
have everlasting life..." In Greek,
"perceives" (or "see") and
"believes" are in the Greek active voice, which
means that the individual is doing the perceiving and the
believing. If the perceiving and believing were irresistibly
forced upon them by God, and it was Jesus' purpose to
emphasize such passivity, then we would expect the Greek
Again, it is
hard to know how to respond to this kind of assertion, as it
1) shows such an incredible lack of understanding of the
Reformed position it seeks to critique, and 2) is based upon
another errant conclusion based upon the original language.
First, the Reformed position that Mr. Sungenis was
exposed to at Westminster Seminary says that man actively
believes in Christ. It
is the function of the regenerated spirit, made in the image
of Christ, to trust in Christ, cling to Christ, hold to
Christ, look to Christ. I would challenge Mr. Sungenis to find anything in Reformed
theology that says otherwise.
Someone just wasn’t listening during Systematic
Next, Mr. Sungenis is perfectly correct in
identifying the voice of the terms in the passage,
but he misses the truly significant point: these are not
finite verbs, but substantival participles.
Literally the text says that every “seeing one”
and “believing one.”
John often uses the present participle as a
substantive, especially oJ
pisteuvwn, “the one believing,” and that in
contrast to those who do not have abiding and saving faith.
To take the simple appearance of the active, ignore
the fact that it is found in a participial form, and then
apply this to a straw-man misrepresentation of the Reformed
position, provides us with a glaring example of poor
is nothing in either the Reformed position, and much less
the grammar and syntax of substantival participles in the
Gospel of John, that would begin to explain why Mr. Sungenis
wrote what he wrote above.
Is he seriously suggesting that Jesus would
have to have used a present passive participle to
describe the result of God’s work of regeneration in the
heart of His elect? “The
one being believed” makes no sense, of course: John never
puts “believe” in the passive participial form.
Since Mr. Sungenis insists that this is what John
would have to do, could we ask him to provide us with a
translation of the text as he insists it would have to be?
Just how would Mr. Sungenis change the active voice
present participle into a passive, and how would he then
translate it? To insist that John would have to use a
passive voice for the truth of God’s work of regeneration
to be true is utterly and completely vacuous. Mr. Sungenis
note that the verse does not say that the "will"
of the Father is directed to making the individual perceive
and believe, but only to raising them up on the last day.
Again one is
hard pressed to know how to reply to such a statement.
Obviously, the ones Jesus raises up at the last day do
perceive and believe: hence, if the Father’s will for the
Son is that He raise them up at the last day, and they must
perceive and believe, how can the Son be held accountable
for the end of the process and not the means?
That would be like saying to the coach of the Los
Angeles Lakers basketball team, “We are holding you
accountable to win the championship, however, that has
nothing to do with winning any games before then.”
One does not attain the end (the championship)
without the means (winning games).
All those raised up on the last day looked and
believed on Christ: if Jesus alone is held
accountable for the resurrection of the people of God to
eternal life at the last day, as 6:38-39 teaches, then it
follows with absolute and undeniable inevitability that He must
be able to fulfill the Father’s command.
This means He must be able to raise dead sinners to
new life, and that is exactly what He does!
fact, there is no verse in John 6; or the entire gospel of
John; or the entire New Testament, that says God
irresistibly forces belief upon the individual. Conversely,
if Dr. White can find just one, then he wins this argument.
Given that Mr.
Sungenis’ assertions have been shown to be uniformly
a-contextual, it would seem the “argument” is already
course, we must again refute the false use of the term “force,”
as resurrection is not “forced” on dead men.
Jesus did not “force” Lazarus from the tomb: He
gave Him life, and Lazarus responded the only way a
resurrected man can: by coming forth.
In the same way when the Spirit of God brings new
life to the dead sinner, the resultant “new creation”
believes and looks to Jesus naturally.
The testimony to divine and free sovereignty in
regeneration is extensive in Scripture.
See TPF chapters twelve and thirteen for a
full accounting and defense of this glorious truth.
I continued in my initial exegesis of the passage,
“We must ask the Arminian who promotes the idea that a
truly saved person can be lost: does this not mean that
Christ can fail to do the will of the Father?” Mr. Sungenis is quick to defend the idea that one of Christ’s
sheep can, in fact, by exercise of “free will,” be lost:
how Dr. White has to qualify his language before he goes on
to form an argument against the Arminian. He qualifies his
words by referring to "a TRULY saved person."
Where does John 6 talk about "truly" saved people?
thing here is that John six is all about the very thing Mr.
Sungenis here misses: remember, John calls those who follow
Jesus to Capernaum “disciples” (6:60-66) who then leave
surface level followers are then contrasted with the
true followers who are drawn to Christ by the Father.
So the entire context screams the very issue Mr.
Sungenis says is not there!
Further, Reformed theology has always
differentiated between surface level followers (such as
those seen in John 8:30 who, in only a matter of moments, go
from believing in Christ to seeking to stone Him) and those
who are the true objects of God’s work of redemption.
Jesus’ parable of the soils likewise brings out
this very fact, a fact that seemingly Mr. Sungenis denies.
Dr. White wishes to promote is precisely what his
Calvinistic theology dictates, that is, there are two kinds
of people in the Church; those who are truly saved and those
who only appear to be saved. To him, the TRULY saved are
those who have been justified, once for all, and cannot lose
their salvation. Without this doctrine, Calvinism falls
theology is founded upon exegesis: it is the text
that determines what we are to believe, not an external
the visible Church has believing and unbelieving people
within its ranks, those who have experienced true
regeneration by the grace of God and those who have not.
Of this there is no doubt.
But we have to ask again, what does this have to do
with the text at hand?
order to account for those who fall away from the faith, the
only solution a Calvinist has is to say that they were never
Himself taught, not only here (those “disciples” who
walk away were plainly not drawn by the Father to the Son,
and hence were not given by the Father to the Son in the
first place) but in the parable of the soils, as in Luke
on the rocky soil are those who, when they hear, receive the
word with joy; and these have no firm root; they believe for
a while, and in time of temptation fall away.”
Note how these “receive the word with joy,” but,
since there is something missing regarding their nature,
they “believe for a while” but fall away.
John Calvin tried to do, his followers invariably point to
one passage of Scripture, 1 John 2:19, to back up their
claim. For a thorough critique of their use of 1 John 2:19,
I refer the reader to pp. 261-265 of Not By Faith Alone.
There you will find that although 1 John 2:19 can indeed
refer to people who were never Christians originally, this
only applies to SOME people, not to all people. Calvinists
try to make 1 John 2:19 an absolute teaching that applies to
everyone, but that simply is not the case.
Mr. Sungenis is
perfectly correct in saying that the immediate application
of 1 John 2:19, in John’s epistle, is to the antichrists
who went out from amongst the people. And in his book he admits that “some will leave the church
who were never sincere believers originally” (p. 264). So the question is, does the Bible teach us that true saving
faith is the gift of God given to God’s elect, so that
those whose faith does not endure do, by their leaving the
faith, show that they had no “root within themselves”
(Matthew 13:6)? This
is the issue. And
moving the focus back to the passage, so far Mr. Sungenis
has not addressed the actual topic at hand: the Father’s
will for the Son is that He lose none who are given
context, John is speaking about the antichrists who come
into the church by stealth to upset the faith of Christians.
If those antichrists leave the church, John assures the
Christians that they were never Christian in the first
place, as does Jesus in Matthew 7:21 when speaking about the
Pharisees. But that 1 John 2:19 does not apply to everyone
is made very clear not only by the context of 1 John 2, but
by the overwhelming amount of passages in the New Testament
which teach that a Christian can fall from the faith he once
possessed. For lack of space, I refer you to the book of
Hebrews 2:1; 3:1,6, 12, 14; 4:1, 11-14; 6:4-6, 11-12;
10:26-27, 35-38; 12:1,3, 14-17, 25-29. For a more thorough
study of this, I refer you to pp. 275-293 of Not By Faith
I can only
assume, then, that Mr. Sungenis has no meaningful reply to
the question I asked above and instead needs to leave the
context of John 6:38-39 to substantiate his assertion of the
imperfection of the work of Christ in saving His elect
people (the doctrine of insecurity, I have often said).
But how does any of this relate to the simple facts
we have seen thus far, those being that 1) The Father has
given a distinct people to the Son; 2) all thus given as
a result come to the Son; 3) the Son will not cast out
any of those coming to Him; 4) the Father’s will for the
Son is that of all that the Father has given Him, He lose nothing
but raise it up on the last day.
The question then remains for every person who
believes that it is possible to be a true Christian, united
to Christ, one of His sheep: if such a person is lost, does
it not follow that Christ has failed to do the will of the
up in this question is the simple fact that this passage
defies any and all attempts at forcing it into an
anthropocentric model. It is theocentric to its core:
6:38-39 makes no sense whatsoever unless it is
understood from the start that Christ is able to save
without the synergistic “enablement” of the elect coming
into play. Otherwise,
you are left with the Father expressing a will for the Son that
He cannot possibly fulfill. Mr. Sungenis’ response
completely misses this basic fact. As I had said in TPF: “If the will of the Father for
the Son is that He lose none of those that are given to Him,
does it not follow inexorably that Christ is able to
accomplish the Father's will?”
Mr. Sungenis attempts to reply:
it is obvious that Dr. White has misconstrued what the
Father's will is. The Father's will is that everyone who
perceives and believes will have everlasting life and be
raised up at the last day, but Dr. White is assuming that
those who once believed can never stop believing. If they
stop believing, then obviously, according to verse 40, it
can no longer be the Father's will that they attain eternal
life. Thus, we have answered the passage for what it states.
It is Mr.
Sungenis who is missing the Father’s will by ignoring
38-39 and making 40 his key interpretive passage, removing
it from its native context, and forcing it to function in a
way that is utterly eisegetical in nature.
Verse 38 says that the Son has come to do the Father’s
will; verse 39 expresses the Father’s will for the Son,
that being that the Son not lose any that are given
to Him. Verse
40 then expresses the Father’s will for those who are
given to the Son, that being that they look and believe
upon Christ. Because
Mr. Sungenis, and the Roman Catholic system, is dedicated to
the defense of human autonomy and the resultant concept of
synergism, the text is stood on its head, the natural flow
of thought that would, of course, be from 38 to 39 to 40, is
reversed, so that the contextual meaning of verse 40, which
surely, in light of the preceding three verses, and what
follows (6:44-45, 6:65, etc.), could not possibly be taken
as an assertion of human autonomy or “free will,” is
replaced with an eisegetical interpretation designed to
support the synergistic viewpoint.
Mr. Sungenis says he has answered the passage for
what it states, but in fact, nowhere does he actually offer
a contextually-based exegesis of the passage.
Instead, we are only told what the passage isn’t
saying, not what it is.
White is also presuming, but cannot prove, that the
"will" of the Father is such that it predetermines
someone's belief, and that in such belief the individual
will keep on believing indefinitely, without the possibility
of disbelieving in the future.
text is unambiguous despite Mr. Sungenis’ unwillingness to
hear it: the will of the Father for the Son is expressed in
revelation is given as an explanation of the statement of
6:37. The Son
will not cast out any who are given to Him by the Father.
All that the Father gives Him will come,
infallibly, in faith to Him.
There is no question whatsoever that the one coming
to Christ does so in faith.
Since all who are given come in faith, it is
an obvious fact that then that faith results from
being given: that is, there is none who is given who does
not, upon the experience of regeneration, experience true,
saving faith in Christ.
Hence, the text does tell us that it is a
divine act that brings about the salvation of the elect, it
is a divine act that causes a person to come in faith to
Christ, and hence the expression of the Father’s will for
the Son in saving all those thus given does speak
directly to the necessary nature of saving faith
(borne out by the Bible’s teaching concerning the subject
is why, as I pointed out above, that Calvinists such as Dr.
White will insert the word "elect" into 1 Timothy
2:4, since they are working from the premise that God's will
to save "all" cannot be thwarted. The only way
they can maintain this premise is by saying that Paul's
"all" can refer only to the "elect." If
not, then their whole theology crumbles.
And as I
pointed out, and as Mr. Sungenis should know, the
consistent Reformed (and contextually accurate) assertion
regarding that passage is that it refers to all kinds
of men (as in Revelation 5:9-10), not merely to “the
I said before, I would suggest that the reader consult such
passages as Ezekiel 18:21-29 and 33:11 where God pleads with
the wicked to repent and declares that He has no pleasure in
the death of the wicked. Does that sound like God's will
cannot be thwarted? If not, then I think you would have to
conclude that God pleads with crocodile tears. I think it
should also be pointed out that a position like Dr. White's
would have to say that, contrary to Ezek 33:11, God DOES
have pleasure in the death of the wicked, because by their
death, God's will, which did not predestine them to
salvation, is satisfied. If, in that respect, God's will is
satisfied, then He must have pleasure in it.
will, it is truly hoped, see the direct parallel between
this kind of rhetoric and that offered by the general
Arminianism of Protestant evangelicalism. And it should speak to all that rather than dealing with the
plain words of Jesus regarding the specific subject of His
salvation of His own people, Mr. Sungenis is reduced to
quoting passages from the Old Testament in a foreign
context, assuming a particular meaning, and then attempting
to use that to blunt the force of the clear didactic
teaching of the Lord. I
continued in TPF:
does this not force us to believe that the Son is able to
save without introducing the will of man as the final
authority in the matter? Can any synergist (one who teaches,
as Dr. Geisler does, that God's grace works
"synergistically" and that man's free will is a
vitally important part of the salvation process, and that no
man is saved unless that man wills it) believe these words?
Can one who says that God tries to save as many as
"possible" but cannot save any man without that
man's cooperation fully believe what this verse teaches?
have seen that John 6 does not make a contest between Free
Will and Election, but such a contest Dr. White invariably
sees in almost every verse.
course, my point is that there is no contest at all: there
is no such thing as creaturely autonomy in the semi-Pelagian
idea. Man is
dead in sin, incapable of seeking God, the enemy of God,
unable to come to Christ outside of the effective work of
drawing on the part of the Father (John 6:44).
No person reading the text in its native context, as
those in the synagogue that day long ago in Capernaum would
have heard the words as they were spoken, would for a moment
think of such ideas as “free will” or “synergism.”
In fact, it was the strong proclamation of the
sovereignty of God in drawing men to Christ, and the fact
that He alone is the source of true spiritual nourishment,
that offended them so!
is the problem with Calvinistic interpretation of Scripture:
passages which seem to support their doctrines are
invariably set on the highest plateau, and those verses
which give an opposite view are subsumed. In the end, the
subsuming of the verses they don't like shows that they have
misunderstood the verses they wish to put on the highest
plateua (sic). As Dr. White has shown, they consistently add
extraneous thoughts and qualifications to the text that are
simply not there.
of “adding” to the text has been thoroughly refuted, and
I leave it to the reader to determine who it is who is
allowing the text to stand on its own, and who is allowing
external authorities to determine interpretation. Almost every paragraph of Mr. Sungenis’ response gives
evidence of this. I
continued in TPF: “Is it not the Father's will that
Christ try to save but that He save a particular people
perfectly? He is to lose nothing of all that He is given.”
The anthropocentrism of the Roman Catholic position
continues unabated in the response:
again how Dr. White inserts premises from his Calvinistic
theology. The verse does not say "He IS to lose
nothing" but "It is the Father's WILL that...I
should lose nothing." Before Dr. White can insert the
word "IS" into John 6:39, he must prove from
Scripture that, in regards to God's desire to save all (cf.,
1 Timothy 2:4; 4:10; 2 Peter 3:9; 1 John 2:2; Acts 17:25-31,
et al), that the Father's "will" does not seek or
need the cooperation of man. In doing so, Dr. White cannot
just point to his favorite predestinarian verses, such as
Romans 8:29-30 or Ephesians 1:5-11, which speak only in
general terms, but he must answer all the passages in
Scripture which show that God is waiting for man's
cooperation (eg., Zech 1:3; James 4:8; Acts 17:25-26; Luke
11:19; Matt 11:21; Jeremiah 3:22; 29:13; Matt 6:33; 7:7-8;
Luke 12:31; 17:33; Rom 2:7; Col 3:1; John 1:12; 5:40; Rom
10:9-13; 10:16-21, and many other such passages). He cannot
reply by giving the standard Calvinist answer: "God
only asks for man's cooperation so that he can have evidence
to convict them at judgment day," since that would
incriminate God for telling falsehoods.
The reader is
invited to re-read this response and consider well the ideas
that underlie it. First,
whether it is Mr. Sungenis inserting his Roman Catholic
ideas at the expense of the biblical text or I inserting
Calvinistic ideas must be determined on the basis of
something more than mere assertion. Thus far we have found
precious little solid evidence that the text says anything
other than its plain meaning.
Next, is there truly some kind of difference in
summarizing the Father’s will for the Son by using the
term “is”? Surely
not! The text
says, “This is the will of Him who sent Me, that of all
that He has given Me I lose nothing, but raise it up on the
last day.” Such
is accurately summarized as I wrote it.
But note that Mr. Sungenis then gives us a glowing
example of eisegesis by simply refusing to believe that
Jesus could, in fact, fulfill the Father’s will without
the assistance of man!
Rather than dealing with the text, he instead lists
his favorite allegedly non-predestinarian verses (none of
which even begin to support his assertions, see the relevant
discussions in TPF) and then makes the accusation
that Reformed theologians engage in over-weighting some
passages at the expense of others.
Just a few observations: first, this provides us with
no meaningful exegesis of John six.
As such, it is primarily misdirection.
Secondly, while it would be profitable to go through
each and every listed verse and demonstrate that each is
fully compatible with the Reformed position, the main
problem here is that Mr. Sungenis does not understand
the Reformed position to begin with, making the effort a
waste of time. It
is truly difficult to understand how someone can hold a
Master’s degree from Westminster Seminary and list Matthew
6:33 as if it is relevant to the topic at hand.
But such an endeavor would take us far a field, and
this response is already far longer than most but the most
hardy individuals can handle as it is.
I had continued in TPF:
can this be if, in fact, the final decision lies with man,
not with God? It is the Father's will that results in the
resurrection to life of any individual. This is election in
the strongest terms, and it is taught with clarity in the
reddest letters in Scripture.
is inappropriate to say "the final decision lies with
man." No one in all of Christian history has been able
to plumb the depths of the workings of
predestination/foreknowledge and free will/responsibility.
We simply don't know how they work together, any more than
we know how the Trinity is 3 in 1 and 1 in 3 at the same
time. All we know is that Scripture speaks of both, not only
with Adam but with those after him. To deny one and exalt
the other is doing injustice to both Scripture and God.
We know how God
is three Persons in one Being: Being and Person are not
synonymous terms. Such is not a parallel at all.
The fact of the matter remains that there are only
two possible positions on the matter of man’s salvation:
either it is a free act of God’s grace based upon His own
purpose and will (as the Bible explicitly teaches!) to the
praise of the glory of His grace, or, it is a cooperative
effort between God and man in which God does all He can do
to save every single person but, in the final analysis,
the decision is man’s.
As many a preacher has put it, “God has voted for
you, the devil has voted against you, and now you get to
cast the tie-breaking vote.”
This is the true dividing line, soteriologically
speaking: the Reformers stood firmly for the sovereignty of
God’s grace, and Rome stood firmly for the sovereignty of
man’s will so that God’s grace, while necessary to
salvation, does not in and of itself save anyone outside
of their cooperation.
If nothing else, this dialogue has surely shown the
chasm that exists between the theocentricity of Scripture
and the anthropocentricity of Roman Catholicism and
I wrote in TPF:
39 begins with "This is the will of Him who sent
Me," and verse 40 does the same, "For this is the
will of My Father." But in verse 39 we have the will of
the Father for the Son. Now we have the will of the Father
for the elect. "That everyone who beholds the Son and
believes in Him will have eternal life, and I Myself will
raise him up on the last day." Amazingly, many wrench
this verse out of its context, misunderstand the reference
to "every one who beholds…every one who believes in
Him," and say, "See, no divine election here! Any
one can do this." But it is obvious, when the text is
allowed to stand as a whole, that this is not the intention
of the passage. Who is the one "beholding" the Son
and "believing" in Him? Both these terms are
present participles, referring to on-going action, just as
we saw in "the one coming" to Christ in verse 37.
to Greek present participles is not going to prove Dr.
Note: as anyone
can see, it was not intended to!
The point I have often made on the basis of this is
to contrast the continuing nature of saving faith
against the idea prevalent amongst some Evangelicals of a
kind of “one time” faith that has no abiding results.
verbs could just as well be aorists ("those who did
believe in Him") or perfects ("those who have
believed in Him") without infringing on the intention
of the text.
I remind the
reader of the contrast between the aorist and present tense
regarding “believe” in John, and the common discussion
in the scholarly literature of John’s use of the present
participle as a substantive in contrast to the surface-level
faith of the disciples who turn out to be unable to “hear”
key point that Dr. White misses here, as I noted earlier, is
that "beholding" and "believing" are in
the active voice, not passive. The action is done by the
subject who is "beholding" and
"believing." If anything, there is a unique
combination of God's election and man's cooperation in this
verse, not the one-sided view of election that Dr. White
wishes us to see.
have seen Mr. Sungenis’ error here already, and
have seen that the active/passive distinction he makes is
utterly without foundation in the text, let alone is it
relevant to the Reformed position, which affirms that the
gift of faith is actively exercised by the regenerated
Sungenis is seeking to turn the phrases “the one seeing”
and “the one believing” into proof-texts for his view of
free will: there is nothing in the phrases, however, that
supports his assertion, for neither of them address, even
slightly, the real question: does the decree of God to elect
a people unto salvation result in the infallible awakening
of those elect at a point in time to spiritual life,
resulting in their actively seeing and believing?
raises up on the last day all those who are given to Him (v.
39) and all those who are looking and believing in Him (v.
40). Are we to believe these are different groups? Of course
not. Jesus only raises one group to eternal life. But since
this is so, does it not follow that all those given to Him
will look to Him and believe in Him? Most assuredly.
Mr. Sungenis replied:
agree. No one has suggested that they are different groups.
No one has?
Did we not read of Mr. Sungenis telling us, regarding
1 John 2:19, that there will, in fact, be true believers who
do not persevere in their belief?
If this is the case, does it not follow that the
identity of the two groups, those given, and those raised
up, will differ, unless it is Mr. Sungenis’ suggestion
that the identity of the first group is determined solely on
the basis of the perseverance of the second?
faith, then, is exercised by all of those given to the Son
by the Father (one of the reasons why, as we will see, the
Bible affirms clearly that saving faith is a gift of God).
Mr. Sungenis replied:
course saving faith is exercised by all those given to the
Son by the Father. If they don't have faith, then the Father
is not going to give them to Jesus. So this statement is
inconsequential for Dr. White's position.
This shows us
clearly that Mr. Sungenis does not understand the
very heart of the whole issue!
Plainly he assumes an order here that is the very center
of the argument, yet his words tell us he is unaware of how
he has accepted this assumption without any foundation at
all. Listen to
the sentence, “If they don’t have faith, then the Father
is not going to give them to Jesus.”
In other words, foreseen faith, human action, is the basis
upon which the Father gives anyone to Jesus.
Rather than the clear order already seen in 6:37,
where the giving of the Father results in the coming
of anyone in faith to Christ, Sungenis reverses the order without
even noticing it. This
means he has not “heard” almost anything that has
been said in the presentation I have offered to this point.
He thinks the statement inconsequential, yet it is a
restatement of the very heart of the passage and the very
heart of the debate!
Thus ended the
discussion of the quotation I provided of the positive
exegesis of the text in John 6:37-40.
All this and we haven’t even gotten to the actual
response to my last article!
Verbosity reigns supreme! At this point in the last
article I quoted Mr. Sungenis’ initial remarks based upon
our web broadcast with Mr. Windsor.
These can be found in the previous article on this
subject, as I shall not repeat them here. To simplify, I shall simply put JRWPrev for the previous
article, Sungenis for his response, both indented, and then
my current reply.
JRWPrev: What shall we say in
response to this? A striking fact to note is that Mr.
Sungenis assumes the presence of "free will" in
the exact same way an Arminian does (and Mr. Windsor did).
Yet, the text never makes reference to such a concept, and
instead denies the very heart of that concept in 6:44.
Again, Dr. White is reading into the verse what his theology
So Mr. Sungenis
says, but so far, we have found the case to be just the
John 6:44 states: "No one can come to Me, unless the
Father who sent Me draws him..."
will raise him up on the last day” is the rest of the
that final phrase, which is so often ignored, the passage is
not whole. As
we shall see, it is vital to a full and proper understanding
of the text.
All the passage says is that anyone who comes to Jesus has
to be drawn by the Father.
the passage says? It
does not start out by speaking of the inability of
man? It does
not go on to assert that all who are drawn are also
raised up? Surely the passage says much more than Mr. Sungenis wishes to
We would expect nothing less. Anything less would be
teaching Pelagianism - - that man has the free will, apart
from God's drawing grace, to respond to God. But then how
does Dr. White see a "denial" of free will here?
Perhaps in the
section Mr. Sungenis doesn’t see, the one that says, “No
man is able”?
He does so by seeing more in the verse than what it actually
says, and by relying on his unproven presupposition that
election and free will cannot coincide. In order to prove
this presupposition, Dr. White would have to find a verse or
verses of Scripture which explicitly state that election and
free will are totally antithetical to each other.
The reader will
note that Mr. Sungenis has excised the phrase “no man is
able” from John 6:44, seemingly not even seeing it on the
page before him; further, there is no such phrase as “free
will” in Scripture outside of “free will offerings” in
the Old Testament which were simply offerings not demanded
by law. The phrase “free will” came into existence in Western
theology primarily through the influence of Tertullian
writing long after the New Testament period.
So of course there is no such passage: the idea of
human autonomy is nowhere found in Scripture.
God is free in the Bible: man is a creature, limited
both by his creatureliness and by his fall into sin.
The biblical testimony to the utter freedom of God
and His sovereignty over creation, and the biblical
testimony to the deadness of man in sin, has been fully
proven from Scripture so often that it almost seems silly to
prove it again. Both
issues are fully discussed in The Potter’s Freedom.
But, to refocus upon Mr. Sungenis’ attempted
discussion of John 6:44, we can only say that it utterly
fails to even begin to seriously deal with the text.
It ignores the clear assertion of man’s inability
due to sin; it didn’t even bother to cite the rest of the
verse which teaches us that those who are drawn are also
raised up (identifying the drawing of the Father as
coterminous with the giving of the Father to the Son and
refuting all universalistic applications of the text), which
would seem to indicate that Mr. Sungenis is unaware of the
many issues relevant to the exegesis of the text itself.
Suffice it to say, there is no such verse of Scripture. The
only thing Scripture denies is that man, without God's
prompting grace, can make a decision for God by his own
text says much more than that, it is just that Mr. Sungenis
seems intent upon not seeing that.
John 6:44 says nothing about “prompting grace.”
Such is eisegesis.
The passage says that God draws men who are unable to
come to Christ to the Son, and, that the Son raises
those who are drawn to eternal life, connecting this
directly with the assertion of 6:37 that all that the
Father gives the Son will come to the Son.
This drawing is not merely “prompting grace,” it
is effectual calling! This
is not “wooing,” it is drawing that results in coming.
It is divine, powerful, and efficient!
The passage says far more than Rome can possibly
accept, and hence those elements that are contrary to Rome’s
theology are simply ignored as if they do not even appear on
He asserts, "From our perspective, it is very easy to
interpret this as the Father having given to Jesus those who
responded to the grace the Father gave them. They respond by
their free will." Yet, there is nothing about God
giving "grace" to anyone, nor is there any
reference to "free will."
Sungenis: Granted. The words "grace" and
"free will" are not used in John 6, but then
neither is the word "elect," the very word that
Dr. White inserted in several places in his exegesis of John
refutation of this complaint, and note that the Roman
Catholic concept of grace and “free will” is not hinted
at anywhere in the passage, as we have proven.
The point I made in the program is completely skipped by Mr.
Sungenis in his response, that being the fact that the
giving of the Father to the Son precedes the coming of those
so given to the Son.
Sungenis: I didn't skip that at all.
did, and continues to do so, in the original context of
the webcast. Mr. Windsor had insisted that men are given to Jesus at
the final judgment.
I would like to ask Mr. Sungenis again: does he agree
with Mr. Windsor, or disagree with Mr. Windsor?
And I have reiterated it again, several times, in this post.
Obviously, the Father has to give them before they can come
to Jesus. The remaining question, however, is HOW did the
Father determine to give them to Jesus? Dr. White keeps
insisting that they were given by the Father's command of
predestination apart from the individuals (sic) free will,
since his theology insists that he make such conclusions.
As we have now
proven many times already, Mr. Sungenis has failed to bear
the burden of his assertions.
It is not a pre-existing theology that drives my
exegesis, as it is with Mr. Sungenis. The action of the giving of the Father both precedes
and determines the action of the coming of the
believer to Christ. To say otherwise is to throw out not only the plain and
simple meaning of this text (including the above comments on
6:44), but to contradict the straightforward testimony of
Paul in such incredible passages as Ephesians 1:3-11, Romans
8:28-9:24, etc. But to make this overthrow of God’s
sovereign decree work, we must realize that Rome must turn
this passage on its head.
Instead of explaining why those surface disciples
would walk away in unbelief, the passage would in essence be
saying, “You do not believe because you do not believe. All that the Father gives me based upon your deciding to
believe will come to Me since that’s why the Father gives
them to me in the first place; and I will not cast those who
come to me out, except when they choose to get thrown out
come down out of heaven to do my Father’s will, which is
to save those who choose to allow Me to save them, and who
do not commit mortal sins that will prevent me from doing
so. All those
who actively by a free and autonomous will look to me and
believe I will raise up at the last day….No man is able to
come to Me by unaided free will, but all men are able to
come to me due to the presence of prevenient grace, which
may or may not lead to their conversion….”
How any of that ties together 6:35 and 6:65 only the
reader can attempt to figure out.
But that is not what the text says. The text only says that
they were given to Jesus. It does not say what the mechanism
for the giving is. Thus, my point above still stands: the
only thing the perfect tense does is tell us that the giving
preceded the coming and the raising up at the last day.
Conversely, Dr. White seems to have a penchant for making
any tense which is prior to the present tense refer only to
As was noted
before, Mr. Sungenis is ignoring the original context of Mr.
Windsor’s comments. The
text says, obviously, much more than Mr. Sungenis is letting
Further, the context of the passage, that being the unbelief
of those who are hearing His words, is ignored as well.
This is a misuse of the context. The only thing that can be
concluded from the context is that some of the Jews of John
6 were not among those that the Father "gave" to
Jesus, and therefore they didn't "come" to Jesus.
It is not said that they were not "given" because
the Father did not predestinate them. The text implies that
they were not "given" to Jesus because of their
unbelief, not that they were in unbelief because they were
turns the text on its head: it is completely backwards.
Jesus makes the statement that these followers do not
is an established fact in 6:35.
What follows, plainly, is an explanation of this
these men the Lord identifies as unbelievers had not only
listened to Him preach the entire day before, and wanted to
make Him king (6:15), but they had followed Him across the
lake and were actively seeking Him!
So why say they are unbelievers?
The text we are considering explains this fully, if
the context is allowed to stand.
Mr. Sungenis’ atomistic interpretation does not
provide any meaningful explanation of the text as
a whole unit. None
of it “hangs together.”
It does not flow. The ideas are disjointed and
is not the case with the common Reformed exegesis that
simply allows the Lord to speak the truth.
Note what Mr. Sungenis is saying here: the unbelief
of the men is why they are not given to the Son.
So, if they believe, they will be given.
But that means, “All that believe in Me, the Father
will give to Me.” Wait, that’s backwards: the giving is before the
it’s a foreseen faith, resulting in the giving.”
Which then results in the coming?
“All those that are foreseen to come to Me the
Father gives to Me and they then come to Me” is obviously
a tautology that has no meaning.
The text simply cannot be bent and twisted this far.
Instead, a foreign context of "free will" theology
is inserted out of nowhere, and the text is left in a
Foreign?? Out of nowhere?? Already in John 5:40 Jesus said
to them: "and you are unwilling to come to Me that you
may have life." Sounds very much like Jesus expects
them to make a volitional act of their will to come to Him.
Jesus puts the onus on them for refusing, not upon God for
not predestinating them.
Yes, out of
nowhere and foreign: think for just a moment about what John
six, as a unit, teaches.
Jesus gets a “good crowd.”
He works a miracle that excites them and puts them in
awe. They want
to make Him king. He
sends them away, and sends His bewildered disciples away in
a boat, only to come to them in their need on the water. The
next day the would-be disciples follow Jesus to Capernaum.
What does He do? He preaches a sermon that John tells us causes them to
question, and grumble, and eventually walk away because they
will not look to Him for anything other than physical food
(not spiritual sustenance). Quite
literally He drives away false professors and fake disciples
with words that continue to make men stumble to this day.
He is in control over every event: sovereign,
so I repeat: to insert into this text the idea that the
rebellious creature man is, in fact, able to control His
ultimate work through the exercise of his fallen and
enslaved will is to turn it on its head, to call night day
and white black. There
is no reason to be found on any level for doing this:
outside of the previous commitment to that belief that
causes a person to read it into the text of Scripture.
And that is exactly what we have seen over and over
thus far in this dialogue.
Even if John
5:40 formed the context of the next chapter (which it doesn’t),
it would hardly help Mr. Sungenis overthrow the immediate
context of the chapter itself.
The text says: “You search the Scriptures because
you think that in them you have eternal life; it is these
that testify about Me; and you are unwilling to come to Me
so that you may have life.”
The irony is that the phrase “come to Me” does
echo the subject of 6: 37ff, but to just the opposite
conclusion that Mr. Sungenis is suggesting!
Jesus said they were unwilling to come to Him, and,
as He taught in 6:44, unless the Father supernaturally
draws a person to Christ, they will always remain unwilling!
This is the God-glorifying, ego-shattering truth that
man’s religions simply will not accept.
In fact, the reader may well notice that Sungenis'
interpretation does not follow the flow of the text: it
skips from one section to another, even making 6:40
determinative in the meaning of the words that come
immediately before it, rather than following the logical
method of realizing that 6:40 is to be interpreted in light
of what comes in 6:37-40.
By this I think Dr. White has implicitly admitted that John
6:40 gives him much trouble, just like John 5:40 would
probably give him much trouble, since both verses speak
about the responsibility of man to make a decision for God.
No, this is an
implicit admission that Mr. Sungenis’ attempted response
did not engage in exegesis that follows the flow of the
text, allowing a thought to develop in the order presented
in the text. Secondly,
man is responsible to make that decision: and unless
it is being suggested that God is unrighteous to hold men
accountable to His law even when man is dead in sin and
living in rebellion (and enjoying it, I might add), there is
no contradiction between these truths.
Be that as it may, I am not ignoring John 6:37-39. I have
stated before, and I will state again, that John 6:37-39
teaches that the Father is responsible for bringing people
to Jesus. But John 6:37-39 does not say that the Father
brings them to Jesus because they were predestined, without
their free will. All the passage says is that whoever is
given by the Father comes to Jesus. There is no way Dr.
White can disprove that the reason the Father gives them to
Jesus is due to the individuals free will response to God's
We have seen
that this is a complete misreading of the text that not only
ignores many portions, words, and phrases, but ignores the
relationship they hold to one another.
This is sola ecclesia in glowing letters: Rome’s
theology precludes the teaching of the text, hence, those
portions of the text that contradict Rome’s theology are
simply removed by ecclesiastical fiat: “the text doesn’t
say….” or “you can’t disprove this.”
Mr. Sungenis can take a passage that speaks with
crystal clarity of the Father’s sovereignly giving a
people to the Son, the infallible coming of those so given
to the Son, His perfect work of raising that people to life,
and the utter incapacity of man to come to Christ outside of
the work of effective drawing, and somehow come up with such
things as “free will,” and then insist that there is no
way I can “disprove” his assertion that it was man’s
free will response to grace that determined God’s “giving.”
Of course, we are not told how this comes from the
text: it is an assertion from outside, as I have said.
But given Mr. Sungenis’ failure to even begin to
show us how this assertion is derived from the text itself,
to ask me to disprove it is meaningless.
In fact, it is unfair to say that Mr. Sungenis is even
offering exegesis here: he is offering Mr. Windsor a way
around the offered exegesis, but is not actually exegeting
the passage at all.
I think you will find that, unlike Dr. White, I am not
reading into the passage something I would like to see. As
far as I'm concerned, the mechanism for how the people are
given by the Father is not specified in the text, be it
predestination or free will. All it says is that what the
Father gives Jesus receives, period.
We have already
responded to this claim.
I emphasized the use of the perfect tense with Mr. Windsor
because he was inserting into the text his concept of free-willism,
and limiting God to the role of responding to the actions of
Mr. Windsor was not "limiting God to the role of
responding to the actions of man." Mr. Windsor was
saying, as I have said, that God draws men by his grace.
Hence the initial action is God's. God does so for all men.
Through grace, God even gives man the power to respond to
God's drawing. At some point, man has to make a decision,
just as Jesus denotes in John 5:40 when He tells the Jews
that their decision was to refuse to come to Him. Man either
accepts or rejects. In the workings of this decision, we do
not know how God's grace and man's volition work together.
That is a sublime mystery that no one on this earth is
probably ever going to solve. But the point remains that
God's role is not "limited to the role of
responding," especially since it is God who initiates
the whole action.
While this is
surely a summary of synergism, it does not comprise either a
meaningful exegetical summary, nor does it respond to the
actual assertion I made. Anyone can listen to Mr. Windsor’s comments and they will
surely know that he was subjecting God’s decision
to man’s, even to the point of saying that the “giving”
of men to the Son takes place only at the final judgment!
Further, we have surely seen that Mr. Sungenis’
position does result in God’s decision being
determined by the free actions of man, not man’s actions
being determined by the free actions of God.
This is the nature of synergism.
No matter how the synergist struggles, man remains
the final decision maker.
In fact, he introduced a very unusual, very difficult to
understand idea of how men are given to Christ "at the
last day." I pointed out this was impossible, since the
action of giving by the Father obviously comes before the
"last day." Look again at the text: "This is
the will of Him who sent Me, that of all that He has given
Me I lose nothing, but raise it up on the last day.
Obviously, "raise up on the last day" is a
terminal action: the danger of "losing" then must
come before the last day. The giving, therefore, is
logically prior to the last day, which contradicts what Mr.
Windsor was trying to say. Further, and naturally, the
"giving" would precede the experience of danger on
the part of any who might otherwise be lost, hence, it
precedes (as is seen in 6:37) any action on the part of
those who are so given.
I will grant Dr. White that the perfect tense comes before
the "losing" and before the "raising" at
the last day, but that is all that I will grant him, because
that is all that the text says.
I will take
that as a, “OK, White was right on that point, and Windsor
Dr. White keeps working on the false premise that those who
come to Jesus by the giving of the Father are secured for
eternity, but the text does not say that.
The text does
say that all who are so given come, are never cast out, and
the Son loses none of them, but when you refuse to embrace
the theocentrism of Scripture and import the
anthropocentrism of Rome into the text, words no longer mean
what they used to.
The Father's will is that of those He gives to Jesus none
are lost, just as He said He doesn't want any lost in Ezek
33:11; 2 Peter 3:9 and Zech 1:3. Again, the only way Dr.
White can fit in the Father's will is by inserting the word
elect both in John 6 and 1 Timothy 2:4.
We have already
seen that 1 Timothy 2:4 refers to all kinds of men
(of which the elect are made up), and that it is perfectly
consistent to see those given by the Father to the Son as
the elect noted in Ephesians and Romans.
Further, we note that 2 Peter 3:9 does, in context,
refer to the elect as those who will indeed repent (see the
discussion in TPF), and the other passages are surely
not addressing the issue of God’s decree of the salvation
of His elect people.
Mr. Sungenis divorces this passage from the context. As I
noted in my exegesis, 6:38-39 explains the glorious claim of
6:37: "All that the Father gives Me will come to Me,
and the one who comes to Me I will certainly not cast
out." Why do all who are given by the Father to the Son
come to the Son? And why will He not cast out the one who
comes to Him? Verses 38 and 39 explain this in the text, but
not in the attempted explanation offered by Mr. Sungenis. He
joins Mr. Windsor in reversing the order of the action of
6:37 (i.e., he makes the giving of the Father dependent upon
the coming of the believer, when the text says it is the
other way around).
I did no such thing. Check what I said. I stated clearly
here and in the post I sent to Scott Windsor that the giving
of the Father precedes the coming to Jesus. How could I say
anything different, since it is clear in the text? I
challenge Dr. White to show us where (Scott or) I said that
the "coming" of John 6:37 precedes the
"giving" of John 6:37.
As the reader
will note, Mr. Sungenis has repeatedly asserted that it is
the belief or unbelief of men that determines whether the
Father gives men to the Son or not.
To quote him directly, “The
text implies that they were not ‘given’ to Jesus because
of their unbelief, not that they were in unbelief because
they were not ‘given.’” Obviously, in my
comments I am referring to logical priority and dependency,
not temporal: if the Father’s giving of men is dependent
upon their free will actions, as Sungenis says, these must
be foreseen actions. Hence,
the actions of man in time determine the actions of God in
is the simple fact of how synergism works: creatures
determining what the Creator can, and will, do.
Pots in charge of the Potter.
The perfect tense makes sense in the context in which it is
used: Christ came to do the will of the Father. Surely
Christ knew, when He came to earth, what that will was, did
He not? Are we to actually believe that what Jesus is saying
here is that He came to perform a general salvation of an
unknown group, so that the text really should say,
"This is the will of Him who sent Me, that of all that
He will give Me upon the basis of their free will action I
lose nothing, but raise it up on the last day"? How
would that be relevant to the assertion of 6:37?
No, He wouldn't say that, since John 6 is not creating a
contest between predestination and free will - - a contest
Dr. White desperately wishes to see in the context to
support his Calvinistic beliefs.
As I have said
before, there is no contest, because “free will” is no
more a concern of the text than “the Book of Mormon” or
“space aliens.” The
reason I am addressing it is because Mr. Windsor and Mr.
Sungenis keep inserting it!
Surely there is no place for it in the text, but the
synergist must keep sneaking it in where it doesn’t
belong. I am
addressing the resultant confusion in the text that comes
from the very position Mr. Sungenis has already enunciated.
JRWPrev: Remember, Jesus is explaining
the unbelief of the crowd: how would this explain their
unbelief, since such would involve the assertion that they
have the very ability to believe that is denied to them in
6:44 and 6:65?
Again, Dr. White reveals his false presuppositions. Dr.
White believes that every time he sees a passage which says
that a man cannot come to Jesus except by the giving of the
Father, that passage teaches predestination. That is an
Denial of the
obvious does not rid us of the obvious.
Note that above Mr. Sungenis failed to even begin to
interact with the fact that John 6:44 teaches utter
inability and that it teaches that all those who
are drawn are also raised up (i.e., that this is not
merely prevenient grace, but an effectual calling).
Mr. Sungenis assumes that “giving” means “trying
to give, but often failing.”
If “giving” actually means that the Father will
draw that person to the Son effectively, so that
Jesus’ words are true, “all that the Father gives Me
will come to Me,” then this “unprovable assertion” is,
in fact, proven.
The passages do not tell us the Father's criteria for giving
the people to Jesus.
No, it does
not: it simply denies that the criteria lies in the
person thus given.
That is, the “criteria” is simply the mercy and
grace of God, as we are told elsewhere (Eph. 1): Jesus’
words tell us clearly that it is not the actions of man that
result in the elect being given by the Father to the Son.
If it is not the actions of man, then the “criteria”
must lie solely in the Sovereign Creator, and that is the
consistent biblical truth.
All the passages say is that those who come to Jesus are
given by the Father, period. Whether the Father's criteria
for bringing them to Jesus was predestination, free will, or
a combination of the two, is not stated in the text, but Dr.
White keeps insisting that it is only predestination. Again,
he is reading into the text what he wants to see.
ignoring certain phrases, or simply denying that other
phrases are relevant, Mr. Sungenis misses the entire thrust
of Jesus’ words, as we have seen repeatedly already.
Instead, the Father's will is obviously well known to the
Son. He is entrusted with God's elect, and His unlimited
power and salvific ability explain His assertion in 6:37:
not only will He never cast those who are given to Him by
the Father out, but all who are given will come to Him,
since He has the capacity to bring this about! If this were
not the case, nothing in 6:39 would make any sense.
Again, Dr. White has inserted the word "elect"
into the mix, and he has confused God's "unlimited
power and salvific ability" with forcing people to
believe apart from their free will.
Note the use of
the term “force,” a word that is, obviously, meaningless
in this context. It makes as much sense as saying Jesus “forced” Lazarus
from the tomb.
This is an important point: the problem with Dr. White's
theology is that in his attempt to save the sovereignty of
God he inadvertently makes God unsovereign. In Dr. White's
theology, the only way God can be sovereign is if He
overpowers man into believing against his will. The Catholic
God is much more sovereign than that, since the Catholic God
is the one who remains sovereign and controls all the events
of history with respect to, or in spite of, man's free will.
As the Catholic Catechism says so aptly, "To God, all
moments of time are present in their immediacy. When
therefore he establishes his eternal plan of
'predestination,' he includes in it each person's free
response to his grace." (Para 600).
railroad tracks “meet” in eternity, too, right?
No, parallel railroad tracks, should they ever meet,
will result in a train crash.
Rome may use high-sounding words to attempt to mix
the unmixable, but that doesn’t make the result rational.
Either God saves perfectly, or He reacts solely to
the decisions of finite creatures.
Every attempt to rob God of His freedom and subject
Him to His creatures has failed, as this one does as well.
Mr. Sungenis says the perfect tense is not
"crucial" to the passage. Then why does he later
lay weight upon the present tense of the same verb, if the
verb tenses are not crucial? (Mr. Windsor said on the
program that discussing these issues was really irrelevant
anyway. Mr. Sungenis seems to disagree).
Sungenis: This is an attempt by Dr. White's to 'damn if you
do and damn if you don't.' I am alert to such Catch 22
ploys, since I have been debating for quite a while now. Be
that as it may, the only reason I brought up the present
tense of DIDWMI in John 6:37 is because Dr. White tried to
make an issue of the perfect tense of DIDWMI in John 6:39.
His claim was that the perfect tense denotes predestination.
If that is the case, then my question was what does he do
with the present tense of DIDWMI in John 6:37? If his thesis
about the perfect tense in John 6:39 were correct, wouldn't
that mean that the present tense in John 6:37 would say
something opposite?? Yet you don't find Dr. White making a
case for the present tense of John 6:37 like he does for the
perfect of John 6:39. Obviously, in his frame of mind about
the purpose of Greek tenses, John 6:37 doesn't help his
case, so he ignores it. He thought that Scott Windsor, who
doesn't know the Greek, wouldn't catch this little
inconsistency. That is why Scott contacted me, and that is
why I am telling what I am.
Those who have
now read all the material to this point are undoubtedly
amazed at what was just said.
To say I “ignore” John 6:37, when I brought it
out in TPF, and in my previous response, and
discussed it fully, is amazing indeed.
Further, I simply pointed out the inconsistency in
Mr. Sungenis’ assertion: if the perfect is irrelevant, the
present would be too, would it not? Surely Mr. Sungenis has approached this passage in a significantly
different way that Mr. Windsor did.
Mr. Windsor eschewed any discussion of the grammar of
the text as irrelevant.
Such a viewpoint would render a large portion of Mr.
Sungenis’ books irrelevant as well, but Mr. Sungenis seems
hesitant to point out Mr. Windsor’s errors at this point.
Finally, again, I raised the perfect tense in the
context of Mr. Windsor’s assertion that men are given to
the Son at the final judgment, after they have come
to Christ. Mr.
Sungenis has said that “of course” the giving precedes
the coming, but it is based upon foreseen faith.
So, Mr. Sungenis disagrees with Mr. Windsor.
The perfect tense tells us that the Son has already been
given, at the time of the speaking of these words, a people.
Mr. Sungenis neglects to note the use of the neuter pa'n as the object of what has been given to the Son. As I pointed out in my
exegesis, it is a people, a whole, that has been entrusted
to the Son. [We will see this helps us to see the
consistency of the use of the present tense in 6:37 below as
well.] This people is defined by God's act of giving, not by
any human act of "free will."
Pay attention, this is important. This is where Dr. White
has totally misconstrued the meaning of the Greek perfect
tense. Dr. White is trying to use the perfect tense
("has given") to prove that, prior to the words
spoken to the Jews in John 6, the sum total of people who
would come to Jesus had already been given to Jesus prior to
the discourse in John 6, and for that matter, prior to any
event in history. Note well: the perfect tense in Greek does
no such thing. Again, let me state, the ONLY thing the Greek
perfect tense does in John 6:39 is tell us that the action
of the Father's giving precedes the action of "lose
nothing" and "raise it up on the last day."
The "giving" may occur in the past, the present or
in the future, but whenever it occurs it will be before the
"lose nothing" and the "raise it up on the
last day." That is all the verse is saying. To claim
that the perfect tense is saying that all the people in
view, prior to the events in John 6, have already been given
is a total distortion of the text. There is simply no
referent for the perfect tense that confines its beginning
to the primordial past. If such a referent IS there, I
challenge Dr. White to show us where it is.
about it a moment. “It
is the boss’ will that of all the accounts that have been
given to you, Mr. Jones, you lose none of them, but cause
them to increase in sales.”
Is there anyone who would for a moment suggest that
what is actually being said here is that these accounts will
be given to Mr. Jones at a future point?
Remember, Jesus is identifying the Father’s will
for Him. Is Mr.
Sungenis suggesting that the Father’s will for the Son was
unknown to the Son prior to the Incarnation, for example?
If the will was, in fact, known, then does it not
follow inevitably that the action of “giving” here
carries its normal sense? The perfect tense, especially when used in speech, refers normally
to a completed action in the past with abiding results to
the present. Upon
what principle---contextual or grammatical---does Mr.
Sungenis suggest the possibility that we should translate
the passage so that it allows for, “of all that shall be
given to Me”?
Sungenis continues to ignore the original context in which I
raised this issue, but even in these comments, he refutes
Windsor’s suggestion that the giving takes place at the
last day. To
assert that my comments were in error but not to admit that
my comments were perfectly correct in the context originally
given is an obvious error.
Sungenis is simply in error to say that the ONLY thing
communicated by the use of the perfect tense is that the
action of giving by the Father precedes “not losing” and
“raising up.” This
can be seen so easily that it is startling that someone of
Mr. Sungenis’ education could miss it: replace the perfect
with a present. The
present tense action would still precede the future
tense “not lose.” So
is Mr. Sungenis seriously suggesting that the present and
perfect are interchangeable?
Is this how one does Greek exegesis?
Or do we recognize, as I have pointed out in my
exegesis, the consistency of all of the text? That the present tense in 6:37 is associated with the personal
pronoun and the personal coming of the believers as
individuals; that 6:38-39 backs away from that
present-tense, “in the now” situation and provides the
background, the reason for the assertion of 6:37; that it
does so by switching to the neuter singular pronoun so as to
bring the entire people of God into view as a singular whole
(the common use of the neuter singular) and by moving
to the perfect tense verb, “has given,” and then the
future tense “will not lose” and “will raise up,”
setting up the contrast between the completed expression of
the Father’s will in eternity past (the very time frame
provided for the same action in Ephesians 1 and Romans 8)
and the future fulfillment of the entire work of
“will not lose” can also be interpreted as an aorist
subjunctive, but such would not impact the point being made
in light of the use of the future “raise up”.]
The charge of “distortion” is best directed at
Mr. Sungenis for gutting the text of its meaning so as to
safeguard Roman tradition.
The perfect tense points to a completed action. Mr. Sungenis
says that we cannot tell when this action took place. That
is quite true, but we can surely determine that it took
place prior to other actions. It took place prior to the
coming of anyone to Christ; and it takes place prior to
Jesus' action of "not losing" those who are given
Sungenis: I would have to say that the reason Dr. White is
admitting to this is that I pointed it out to him, for it
surely wasn't admitted in his radio program or the
subsequent Internet debate he had with Scott Windsor.
Basic facts are
not “admitted.” Nothing
I have written on this subject is contradicted by basic
Sungenis’ reading is so unusual, and so a-contextual, that
responding to it does at times require one to go over things
so basic that they otherwise would not require attention.
I certainly do believe that this giving took place in
eternity past: but as I said on the program, I prove that by
direct reference to such passages as Romans 8:29-30 and
But we are not interested in what Dr. White
"believes" to be true. At this juncture, we are
only interested in what the grammar of John 6:37-39 allows
us to say, since Dr. White attempted to use the Greek
grammar to support predestination and deny free will.
No, I used
Greek grammar to refute Mr. Windsor’s false assertion that
men are given to Christ at the final judgment, not before.
If Dr. White wants to deal with Romans 8 and Ephesians 1 at
some other time, I will be glad to oblige. In fact, I think
Dr. White and I should have a formal debate on this very
topic, since he believes this issue is the real dividing
line between our two faiths, and the faith of a man such as
this interchange has surely shown the vast differences
The key in John 6 is that the giving results in the actions
of coming and believing.
No, the "giving" of John 6:37 results only in the
"coming" not in "believing."
As a brief
review of the text bears out, the two are synonymous in John’s
gospel, and in this passage as well.
Think about it just a moment: one can come without
John 6:37 does not even mention belief. When the issue of
"believing" is added to the mix in John 6:40, the
formula changes somewhat. In John 6:40, those that
"perceive" and "believe" do so in the
Greek active voice, which denotes an action of their wills,
an action that is not included in John 6:37. The only
actions in John 6:37 are those between the Father and the
Son. In John 6:40, however, there are three actions: the
Father's will, the person's volitional belief, and the Son's
raising them on the last day.
We see again
the atomistic, a-contextual methodology employed by Mr.
Sungenis. We have already refuted each element of this section in the
previous material. However,
it is hard not to stand in simple amazement at Mr. Sungenis’
inability to see the relationship of “coming” and “believing,”
as if they are separate things!
All one has to do is read 6:35 to see the error of
such thinking: “Jesus said to them, ‘I am the bread of
life; he who comes to Me will not hunger, and he who
believes in Me will never thirst.’”
Given Mr. Sungenis’ position, the one who comes to
Christ and the one who believes in Christ are different
that is not the case! Instead,
the careful exegete sees that there is no coming that is not
in faith; and no faith that does not involve coming to
Christ. The two
are synonymous terms in this passage, so to make the
distinction Mr. Sungenis does is simply incredible.
So in summary, the perfect tense is surely very important:
it not only refutes the erroneous application Mr. Windsor
made (and which Mr. Sungenis did not repeat---we truly
wonder what he thought of it), but it does communicate to us
vital information concerning the absolute freedom of God in
giving a people unto the Son. The people of God have been
given to the Son. What a tremendous truth!
Sungenis: Yes, what a tremendous truth it is that the people
of God have been given to the Son. If it weren't for the
Father's drawing grace and mercy, none of us would have a
chance of salvation, whether it be by predestination or free
salvation” vs. “a perfect Savior who does the will of
the Father without fail.” The contrast is striking.
John 6:40 indicates that man actively believes. The single
most common means of attempting to get around the meaning of
John 6:37-39, which so strongly precludes the insertion of
human will and effort into the sovereign work of salvation,
is to literally turn the text on its head and read it
backwards. That is, rather than following the natural
progression of thought, from the topic of unbelief in 6:35,
through the assertion of v. 37, into the will of the Father
in 38-39, and then into verse 40, they start with an
a-contextual interpretation of 6:40, and then insist that
the preceding verses cannot bear their natural meaning
because of their assumed, but undefended (and indefensible)
interpretation of that one verse.
As I have shown above repeatedly, we are doing no such
thing. What is happening between John 6:37-39 and John 6:40
is that Dr. White has already presumed that the perfect
tense of John 6:39 teaches predestination. Thus, anything
anyone says to him about the sequential verses will mean
that Dr. White will invariably discount them by using his
pre-interpretation of John 6:39. But once Dr. White sees
(and I truly hope he does) that John 6:39 is not saying what
he thinks its saying, then perhaps he will be open to a more
fair reading of John 6:40, or even of John 5:40.
Which is no
defense of turning the text on its head.
Each of these issues has been thoroughly addressed
There is no doubt on anyone's part that 6:40 clearly
presents man as active and believing. That is not even
relevant to the debate, since no one is asserting that man
does not believe in Christ as an active agent. Note the
plain assertion of the text: "For this is the will of
My Father, that everyone who beholds the Son and believes in
Him will have eternal life, and I Myself will raise him up
on the last day." The "free will" argument is
clear: "beholds" and "believes" are
active verbs. Men behold the Son, men believe in the Son.
Hence, it is argued, this act of beholding and believing
forms the basis upon which God elects. Such an explanation
takes a partial truth (the elect surely come to Christ,
behold Christ, believe in Christ) and turns it upside down
in clear violation of the text.
careful reader, however, will note that 6:40 follows
6:35-39. Hence, if the flow of thought means anything, we
already have the identity of those who will come, behold,
and believe, established in these preceding verses.
Remembering that Jesus is explaining the unbelief of those
who have seen Him work miracles, we have the identification
of those who do come to Christ as those who are given to the
Son by the Father (6:37); the same ones who will be
infallibly raised up by the Son as per the Father's will
(6:38-39). We have already been told in 6:37 that those the
Father gives to the Son come to the Son: coming is active.
Believers believe. Saving faith is a gift of God, given to
His elect people.
Sungenis: Without repeating myself, let me refer the reader
to my above remarks. If I have missed anything, please bring
it to my attention and I will address it.
outline just provided in my comments has been thoroughly
defended in the previous materials.
It is simply my hope that the reader has as clear a
grasp of the context and flow as possible.
So it is completely true that every believer believes, every
believer comes to Christ. But the wonder of the passage is
that every single one given by the Father to the Son, all,
without exception, look to Christ in faith and receive
eternal life. It is a gross misuse of the passage to turn it
into a proof-text for "free will" by removing it
from its context and turning it backwards.
Now, here is where this issue gets a little confusing for
some. On the one hand, we can agree with Dr. White's
statement that "it is completely true that every
believer believes, every believer comes to Christ. But the
wonder of the passage is that every single one given by the
Father to the Son, all, without exception, look to Christ in
faith and receive eternal life." Believers believe;
they come to Christ; every one given by the Father without
exception, and they receive eternal life.
I, Robert Sungenis, throwing in the towel? Not quite. First,
the above statement doesn't deny free will. If Dr. White had
said, "believers believe without recourse to their free
will, such that God imposes belief on them against their
will," then, of course, I would object. Second, the
above statement doesn't tell us anything about whether those
who believe and receive eternal life keep on believing and
actually enter into heaven. One can believe but then fall
from belief. One can be given eternal life but could later
forfeit eternal life for disobedience. That is why Scripture
speaks about "losing the inheritance," if we fall
away. Many of the passages in Hebrews that I cited above
state that very thing.
Such provides a
good summary of how Rome’s over-riding theology destroys
meaningful exegesis. We
have seen how clearly the text speaks of God’s giving resulting
in the coming in faith of the elect; we have seen the
Father’s will for the Son so that the Son loses none
who are given to Him; we have seen that there is no such
thing as person who comes to Christ in faith without the
drawing of the Father, and that the Son raises up all those
who are drawn (6:44). And
yet, despite all of this, due to an external, allegedly
infallible source (and I just note in passing, Rome has never
infallibly interpreted this passage, hence, all of the
comments Mr. Sungenis has provided are his own private
interpretation, from the Roman viewpoint), these truths are
subsumed and, I believe, ultimately denied.
Such is very much like those who read the words of Jesus in
John 8:47: "He who is of God hears the words of God;
for this reason you do not hear them, because you are not of
God," and hear it saying the opposite if what it
actually says. When tradition is allowed to over-ride the
text, people hear the text saying the opposite of what it
really says: they hear it say, "the reason you do not
belong to God is because you refuse to hear," rather
than what it actually says, the reason they do not hear is
because the pre-existing condition which allows them to
hear, that of belonging to God (being of the elect, being
one of Christ's sheep) is not present.
Contrary to what Dr. White is proposing, I take the words
"He who is of God hears the words of God; for this
reason you do not hear them, because you are not of
God" just as they are. The verse does not say "the
reason you do not belong to God is because you refuse to
hear," so I wouldn't venture to make it say that. But
the question remains whether Dr. White himself has
understood John 8:47, or is he trying to make more out of
the verse than what is actually there, just as he did with
John 6:37-39? I am sorry to say that the latter is the case.
I agree that only those who are "of God" are going
to listen to God's words. But that does not tell me HOW
these people came to be "of God" (ie., whether by
predestination, free will, or a combination of the two). Dr.
White is assuming that they became "of God" only
be an eternal decree in the distant past that bypassed their
free will. Again, every time he is faced with a passage that
speaks of God being involved in the salvation process, Dr.
White invariably interprets this to mean that God has
predestined the recipients without regard to their free
will. Why does he do this? Because his theological system
forces him to do so.
incredible example. Think
about what is being said.
How could these men, by an act of “free will,”
embrace the message when they cannot hear it?
The point of the passage is that 1) men lack a
fundamental ability due to sin, and 2) God is the one who
chooses who belongs to Him and who does not.
The same is true of the matter of Christ’s “sheep”
in John 10. The Shepherd chooses the sheep, not the sheep the Shepherd.
The Shepherd lays down His life for the sheep, and
then tells the Pharisees that they are not His sheep!
The synergist who grounds salvation upon the final
decision of the grace-aided will of man simply cannot avoid
the logical conclusion of their system, which involves the
reversal of these passages.
So too, here in John 6, while verse 40 is surrounded by the
testimony of God's sovereignty (6:37-39, 44?45, 65, etc.),
those who exalt man's will due to their traditions refuse to
listen and understand.
Here is another problem in Dr. White's exegesis: he puts
verses of Scripture at odds with other verses of Scripture,
and then he decides which set of verses he is going to let
hold more weight.
Such is utterly
passage is a whole. The
reader has seen clearly that only one side can offer a
consistent, textually-based interpretation of the text.
There has been no pitting of texts against each other
he has pitted John 6:40 against John 6:37-39, 44-45; 65, as
if the final decision is going to be based on a head-count
Such is again
obviously untrue. I
have provided a consistent interpretation of John 6:40 in
the context of its appearance, rather than what Mr.
Sungenis has done, which isolates the passage from what
comes before and after.
This is the difference between my offered exegesis,
and Mr. Sungenis’ eisegetical response.
makes him do this? Sorry to say, but it is his
"tradition" of Calvinism that makes such demands
on him. Conversely, the Catholic position says, "let's
take all the verse together, not make one stronger than the
other, and make a conclusion that is fair to all of
Scripture." In doing so, the Catholic Church sees both
God's sovereignty and man's free will, not only in John 6,
but in the whole Bible. I only wish Dr. White would be as
fair with Scripture.
I believe we
can see who has been fair and who has not.
The answer is not difficult to see. John 6:37 speaks
of the person coming to Christ in faith. All that the Father
is giving Him, as a result of being given, will come (future
tense) to Him. This fits perfectly with John 6:44, where the
Father is actively (and effectively, without failure),
drawing those He has given to the Son to Christ.
This kind of exegesis shows precisely the danger inherent in
using Greek with no boundaries. One can just rearrange the
pieces, snip a little here, bend a little there, and presto,
we have Greek grammar that conveniently supports the
doctrine we wish to propose, in this case, Calvinism, and no
other will be allowed, says Dr. White.
I believe we
have already documented that it is Mr. Sungenis who engages
in this kind of activity, not I.
First of all, John 6:44 does not get into the issue of
failure or success. All it says is that whoever comes to
Jesus has to be first drawn by the Father. It is a simple
cause and effect relationship. It doesn't tell us whether
the person who came was predestined; used his free will;
stays indefinitely once he comes; or any other detail about
Please note the
above refutation of Mr. Sungenis on this passage, and how it
was he who has given us a tremendous example of 1) ignoring
the text as it stands, and 2) only citing a portion of it,
not seeing the relationship the skipped part bears to the
reader is strongly encouraged to consider well how Mr.
Sungenis constantly says, “All it says is…..” while
then ignoring major elements of the text.
John 6:44 says much more than “whoever comes
to Jesus has to be first drawn by the Father.”
The reason Mr. Sungenis is blind to the rest can be
found in one simple word: tradition.
Second, John 6:37 does not say that the effect of
"giving" is due to the cause of being
"given," regardless if there is any truth to that
relationship. If it were saying such, then the verse would
read: "Because of all the Father has given to Me, then
all the Father gives to Me shall come to Me."
What? Such doesn’t even make sense.
The action of giving precedes the action of coming;
the combination of the verbal element and the assertion
that all who are so given come, starts the chain of
truths that Mr. Sungenis just can’t escape: that the
giving of the Father is free.
He has to prove it is synergistic, not free, and he
has not even made the first attempt to do so from this
is simply impossible to do.
But John 6:37 contains no Greek HOTI clause that connects
its outcome with the proposition in John 6:39. They are two
independent verses giving two different perspectives on the
same event. The "giving" of John 6:37 looks at it
from the perspective of history wherein each century is
providing a group of people who come to Jesus. John 6:39
looks at it from the perspective of the final consummation,
wherein all those that have finally been "given"
will be raised on the last day. That's all the verses are
challenge Mr. Sungenis to explain to us how he places 6:39 solely
in the future. We
have already seen his error regarding the perfect tense verb
in this passage.
Sungenis' point, however, is fully refuted by simply
thinking about the use of the present in context. In John
6:37, the present tense giving results in the future tense
coming. Sungenis' idea is that our "free will"
decision predicates and informs the "giving" of
the Father, so that it is our choice that determines the
Father's choice. But the text refutes this clearly.
Not only does the text refute it, but I refute it. I have
never said that the "'free will' decision predicates
and informs the 'giving' of the Father, so that it is our
choice that determines the Father's choice." Rather, I
have made two things very clear:
Father's choice works with our choice, and
White's theology egregiously dismisses free will from John 6
based on a presupposition in his Calvinistic theology.
We have already
seen, over and over again, that Mr. Sungenis is
presenting synergism, and he does insert free will
into the passage, so that man’s decision determines God’s
is truly beyond question by this point, and the reason why
he would wish to contradict himself is difficult to
JRWPrev: Those who will come will do so
not out of some mythological "free will" but due
to the gracious work of the Father wherein He will draw them
to the Son: and the Father performs this miracle of grace
only in the lives of those He gives to the Son.
I think the above statement by Dr. White proves my point.
Notice how he satirizes free will as being
"mythological." That's because his mentor, John
Calvin, despite any verse of Scripture that suggested
otherwise, determined there could be no free will.
Mr. Sungenis has never provided a verse that uses the phrase
“free will,” yet, he assumes it so basically, he can say
that Calvin never produced a verse that denied what he only assumes.
The circularity is glaring.
Any verse that taught free will was either subsumed under
predestination or interpreted to say that it only seemed as
if men had free will, since behind such statements God was
secretly setting them up for a fall so he could eventually
condemn them for not repenting. If you want to see the
contortions he had to go through to arrive at such a
position, I suggest you read pp. 457-472; 554-570 of Not
By Faith Alone.
And I suggest
you read The Potter’s Freedom.
Now, it seems Mr. Sungenis is insisting that the present
tense here must be emphasizing an on-going action (though,
for some reason, the normal meaning of the perfect is said
to be less than definitional in 6:39), which while possible,
is not the most logical syntactical choice.
This is simply not true. Check the record and you will find
that I do not press the "ongoing" nature of the
present tense of John 6:37.
OK, here is the
Sungenis said: “Also, the verb "give" in John 6:37 ("All that
the Father gives to me will come to me") is a Greek
present tense, not a perfect, which shows that the action of
"giving" is occurring presently, and is not
confined to whatever White conceives the perfect tense of
6:39 to be saying.” It
certainly seems that he said, “…which shows that
the action of ‘giving’ is occurring presently….”
I simply mentioned the present tense to counterbalance the
inordinate use of the perfect tense by Dr. White in John
6:39. I said that
1) it was
wrong for Dr. White to make the perfect tense of John 6:39
refer to some primordial decision of God's in the distant
past irrespective of man's free will, since the verse did
not specify such a referent;
And I did so in
the context of Mr. Windsor’s errant assertion that the
giving takes place at the last day, a point that has been
fully established; as to the consistency of seeing this
giving as the same referred to in Ephesians 1:3-11, let the
regarding the perfect tense one can only say that its
definitive action precedes the action of the main verb; and
What? Such makes no sense. What
if the only verb in a sentence is a perfect tense, and is
the main verb? The
perfect speaks of past, completed action with abiding
results in the present.
3) that the
verse does not specify the starting point for the perfect
But it does
preclude the application Mr. Windsor made of it!
JRWPrev: In fact, given his position,
Sungenis would have to assert a kind of "iterative
present" understanding of this present tense verb,
since the action of "giving" would be dependent
upon the free-will actions of men.
For those who are not familiar with such terms,
"iterative" refers to something that repeats. With
that, I don't know how Dr. White is applying it.
Nevertheless, Dr. White has continually misrepresented the
Catholic position by insisting that we are only interested
in the "free will" angle of things. Let me make it
clear that we are interested in both predestination and free
will. Both of those aspects are working in John 6, as I have
There is no
predestination in synergism.
Such is an oxymoron.
This makes the future action of coming determine the present
action of giving, just the opposite of what the text
Obviously, since Dr. White has misunderstood the Catholic
position, his statement above is also incorrect, both
grammatically and theologically.
has not demonstrated an error in understanding Rome’s
position: if our free will choice is necessary, then God’s
predestination is limited to merely offering a plan,
not choosing a people.
Secondly, there is nothing grammatically wrong with
the sentence when one remembers that I am making reference
to the terms in the text under discussion.
Instead, the fact that this present tense is used in tandem
with a future tense (gives/will come) throws the emphasis
upon the timing of the action into the future, hence the
normative translation "All that the Father gives
me" (NASB, NIV, KJV "giveth", NRSV) rather
than the unusual "All that the Father is giving me…."
While not fully a "gnomic" present, surely it
exists in the same general area, stating a general truth of
the Father's giving of a people to the Son, and the emphasis
lies squarely upon the result of that giving, the coming of
the elect to Christ.
Obviously, I would have no problem with the grammar of John
6:37, since I am not out to distort the grammar, whatever it
may be. What I am opposed to is Dr. White's application of
the grammar to his Calvinistic beliefs, as, for example,
throwing in the word "elect," as he did above, to
persuade the reader to his theological perspective. All the
verse states is that those who come to Jesus had the
Father's giving as its antecedent cause, period.
And that giving
is election! Hence
the validation of what I have said from the start.
Contextually this is the point: those who stood before the
Lord in unbelief, who, despite seeing miracles, would not
come to Him, did not because they were not given to Him by
the Father. This explains their continued unbelief.
Although this is beside the point, it really doesn't explain
their unbelief. For if it is true, as Dr. White asserts,
that they were not chosen, in the primordial past, to
believe when Jesus came, then it would make little
difference whether they saw miracles or not when Jesus came.
has completely missed the entire discussion, if these words
are representative. Of
course it explains their unbelief!
And of course it is not beside the point, it is
the point! They
can stand before the very incarnate Son of God and yet stand
in unbelief. Why?
Is it because they are somehow “worse” than those
who believe? Or,
better put, that those who believe are smarter, more
insightful, “better” people?
reason is found in the grace and mercy of God alone,
for those who are redeemed are so only by mercy.
There is nothing in the elect that make them “better”
than the others, more likely to “choose” God.
We were all, Paul reminds us, dead in our
transgressions and sins.
This is the whole point, and Mr. Sungenis continues
to miss it.
In actuality, then, the notion of using miracles as an
impetus for belief really undercuts the Calvinist position.
All the Calvinist can say is that the miracles are performed
in front of the Jews so as to have more evidence to convict
them at Judgment Day for not repenting of their sins, as if
God is some kind of ogre who has to grind the point into the
sand before He can unleash His fury. But for the Catholic
position, the use of miracles fits in very well, since the
free will component of their salvation allows the miracles
to work their intended effect - - to consider more seriously
their responsibility to repent. On occasion, the miracles
were instrumental in turning the people to Jesus.
Aside from the
rhetoric that flies in the face of so much biblical
evidence, let the reader note how again the text is stood on
its head: did the miracle of feeding the 5,000 join
synergistically with the “free will” of the crowd to
lead them to true conversion?
Is that the point of the passage?
Or is Jesus preparing the Twelve for the result in
John 6:65-67? Let
the reader decide.
To throw the emphasis in 6:37 upon the present tense rather
than the future action is to miss the context;
To claim that your opponent is "throwing the emphasis
on the present tense rather than the future action"
when he is not doing so, is the first and only error here.
Let the record
stand on its own: “Also, the verb "give" in John 6:37 ("All that
the Father gives to me will come to me") is a Greek
present tense, not a perfect, which shows that the action of
"giving" is occurring presently, and is not
confined to whatever White conceives the perfect tense of
6:39 to be saying.”
Again, the only reason I mentioned the present tense in John
6:37 was to offset the unwarranted emphasis Dr. White was
making of the perfect tense in John 6:39. I neither dwelt on
the "ongoing" nature of the present tense in John
6:37, nor did I postulate that its effect was overshadowing
the future tense of the verse.
to miss the weight of the perfect in 6:39 in defining the
will of the Father is likewise an error.
The Perfect tense in Greek grammar does not define the will
of the Father. The Perfect tense merely tell us when an
action took place relative to the main verb, or other verbs,
in the sentence structure. Once again, let me reiterate: the
only thing the Perfect tense of John 6:39 is doing is
showing that the action of "giving" must precede
the action of "raising" on the last day. That's
not too hard to understand. You don't even need to know
Greek to figure that out. It is only when someone tries to
inject their own theology into such a simple grammatical
construction that problems start to arise.
And since we
have seen that Mr. Sungenis is in error even on this basic
point of Greek grammar, we encourage the reader to consider
this when evaluating so many other claims made in a similar
This file is
more than 200K in length.
It’s probably way too long.
But a full response was warranted, if only to make
sure that a few items were clear: 1) the flow and meaning of
the text is unambiguous and clear; 2) the attempts on Mr.
Sungenis’ part to interact with the text on a grammatical
and syntactical level failed; 3) God is free and sovereign
in His work of salvation.
Soli Deo Gloria!