their savior. Those given to Jesus by the Father were not the Calvinist elect, but rather they were the ones who had already believed the Old Testament and thus were followers of the Father before they met the Son. The Calvinist that I was debating introduced John 10:26 as an argument against my view of John 6, and I’d like to share my response with you as well.
I was recently asked to give my opinion of the Calvinist claim that John 6:35-45 agrees with their view of salvation. I have a very unique view of this passage, and I thought that it would be beneficial to share it with all of my readers. Here is the answer that I gave:
Most arguments against the Calvinist doctrine of limited atonement are doomed to failure from the start for the simple reason that they never address the foundational presuppositions of that doctrine. Instead of quibbling over the definitions of words like "all," "whosoever" and "world," my argument for a Benevolent Atonement is an attempt to use the Calvinist's own logic against him and to reveal the dangerously weak foundation of his doctrine.
The God of the Bible is a God of conditionals. Just think of all the "if .. then" statements in the Bible. God told Abraham in Genesis 18:26 that "If I find in Sodom fifty righteous within the city, then I will spare all the place for their sakes." Then, in Exodus 19:5, God told the Children of Israel, "if ye will obey my voice indeed, and keep my covenant, then ye shall be a peculiar treasure unto me above all people." And in John 8:51, Jesus said, "If a man keep my saying, he shall never see death." These conditionals are literally everywhere in Scripture. Whether Joshua's "choose you this day whom ye will serve" or Elijah's "How long halt ye between two opinions?" or Christ's final "whosoever will," God has consistently presented men with spiritual choices for them to make. The fact that God so often asks all men, both lost and saved, to make spiritual decisions necessarily implies that all men have the ability to make those decisions.
The first point of the BIBLE answer to the TULIP is that of Basic Ability. According to the Calvinist doctrine of total depravity, every individual is born in a condition so completely enslaved to sin that he cannot even repent and seek forgiveness unless God first regenerates his soul and causes him to be born again. Most of those who reject this doctrine do so by claiming that God has given every man a measure of prevenient grace which enables all men to freely choose to accept salvation, but I would like to take a different approach.
I was listening to Dr. James White’s podcast the other day and heard him defending the Calvinist TULIP and criticizing other floral acrostics attempting to provide a contrasting view of salvation. I’ve always disagreed with the doctrines of Calvinism, but I’ve never attempted to organize my disagreement into a simple acrostic which could stand toe-to-toe with the TULIP. That is, I’ve never done so before now. While listening to Dr. White’s podcast, I came up with a simple acrostic that I think defeats the TULIP with ease.
Bill Fortenberry is a Christian philosopher and historian in Birmingham, AL. Bill's work has been cited in several legal journals, and he has appeared as a guest on shows including The Dr. Gina Show, The Michael Hart Show, and Real Science Radio.
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"Give instruction to a wise man, and he will be yet wiser: teach a just man, and he will increase in learning." (Proverbs 9:9)