Debate Transcript

James White versus Leighton Flowers

Does John JOHN 6:44 Teach Unconditional Election?

James White Opening

06:06:28 [James White] Well it feels like I was just here actually, and in fact I was just a few weeks ago, but we have very different topics this evening in a very small amount of time in which to discuss them.

06:06:35 [James White] The topic of the debate, "Does John 6:44 teach unconditional election?", obviously is simply stating, has the historical understanding of John chapter 6 since the Reformation, is that a proper reading of the text?

06:06:49 [James White] And I submit to you right now, the only way to judge this debate is to judge on the basis of whether there is consistency in handling the word of God, consistency in handling John chapter 6, consistency in handling this passage in the same way that you would, well handle, for example, for those of you who were here, the text that we did with Trent Horn on the subject of purgatory, or any the other debates that we have done on other subjects. Who is consistently handling the word of God?

06:07:14 [James White] And so let's look at John chapter 6. I have to be very brief but we need to walk through this, this is the key to the entire evening. John chapter 6, the longest chapter in The Gospel of John, you have the feeding of the 5000, you have the walking on the water, Jesus has come to the synagogue Perum and the conversation begins because people are they seeking Jesus, they're literally seeking after Jesus, but Jesus knows that they're only looking for the signs, they're looking for the food.

06:07:39 [James White] And so he says to them in verse 36, "But I said to you that you have seen me and you are not believing." He's explaining how it is that people could hear his gracious words and even row across the lake seeking after him, and yet they are not Believers.

06:07:53 [James White] His explanation in verse 37 is, "All that the father gives me will come to me." He is saying these men who have rode across a lake to find him are not coming to him. And the entire rest of the section really is on the centrality of Jesus as the only means by which anyone can have spiritual food and drink. He is the source of spiritual food for those who will have eternal life.

06:08:20 [James White] And he says, "All that the father gives me will come to me." If you're coming to Jesus Christ, there is only one reason why that has happened - you have been given by the father to the son.

06:08:34 [James White] And "all that the father gives" - do whatever you do with and and can do with the subject of man's will, God's will, the father's will is being accomplished here, because he says "all that the father gives me will come to me." And "the one coming to me I will never cast out."

06:08:53 [James White] We don't have time to expand and preach upon all of this, but obviously Jesus is claiming to have the capacity and authority to cast people out, and yet he says he will not do so. Why? Because "I have come down out of Heaven, not to do my own will, but the will of the one who sent me." The father, and here is the will of the one who sent me, here's the father's will for the son.

06:09:14 [James White] "In order that of all which he has given me" - that's taking a whole group and Gathering to them together of all that he has given to me - "I lose none of it." The the will of the father for the son is that he be a perfect and Powerful savior, "that I lose none of it, but instead I raise it up on the last day."

06:09:38 [James White] That's how we have eternal life, if Jesus Christ raises you up on the last day, that is being raised to eternal life. Follow the phraseology through the rest of the section, you'll see that, for "this is the will of my father, in order that everyone looking upon the son and believing in him would have eternal life, and I will raise him up on the last day."

06:10:09 [James White] So what is the divine order being given by the father to the son? Results in coming to the son. What does it look like like to come to the sun? They are the people who present tense participles are looking upon the son and believing in him and receiving eternal life.

06:10:30 [James White] Well the Jews Grumble about this, "Is this not Jesus the son of Joseph?" And Jesus answers in verse 43 and says, "Do not Grumble amongst yourselves. No one is able to come to me unless the father who sent me draws him." Him, and "I will raise him up on the last day."

06:10:56 [James White] Please note once again, the verse ends with the same phraseology that we saw up above in verse 39, when Jesus expresses what the father's will for him is. He says at the end, "I'm not going to lose any of those, but instead I will raise it up at the last day."

06:11:17 [James White] Here in verse 44, "No one has the ability to come to Jesus unless the Father, the one who sent me, draws him, and I will raise him on the last day." It's very important to note that when it says "the father draws him", this is the same "him" in the last phrase "and I will raise him on the last day." There is no contradiction. You don't have the the father drawing some people and the son not raising him up at the last day. It is the same "him."

06:11:44 [James White] If we're going to - many of the ways around this text, try to insert a break in verse 44 to where you have people who are drawn by the father but then they have to do something, they have their Free Will actions or whatever else it might be, and those who are raised up at The Last Day become a different group, you cannot do that with the language. He who is raised up by the son is the same one who was effectively drawn by the father.

06:12:09 [James White] But please note the direct assertion of the text, "No one has the ability to come to me." What does that mean? Do we believe these words? Remember, this is in explanation back at verse 36, "You've seen me but you don't believe." "No one has the ability to come to me unless the father who sent me draws him."

06:12:30 [James White] Does our anthropology, does our view of mankind, fit with what is taught by the Lord Jesus in this text?

06:12:45 [James White] What does it mean to be drawn by the father? What is a picture of that? It's very important to note that Jesus in verse 45 gives us a scriptural basis and description of what drawing is.

06:13:08 [James White] In verse 44, one of the mechanisms that has been used down through the years to try to maintain some kind of synergistic view of this text normally involves inverting the order of the words. So for example, Norman Geisler went to verse 40, and you have the text speaking of looking upon the son, believing in him, and then he reads that backwards into the preceding verses to get rid of the emphasis upon the sovereignty of God in those words.

06:13:39 [James White] In the same way, verse 45 is frequently used backwards rather than seeing that here Jesus is giving a prophetic text, specifically Isaiah 54 and Jeremiah 31. He's giving a the background from the Old Testament for what it means to be drawn by the father.

06:13:53 [James White] What does he say? "For it has been written in the prophets, and they shall all be taught of God." There is a specific group...

06:15:09 [James White] Here there's a specific group. They are those that are drawn by the father to the son. And he says here's where the prophets were saying that they shall all be taught by God. Please notice they are the passive recipients of the action of God in teaching.

06:15:26 [James White] It's not that he's just throwing it out there then they will accept or not accept, whatever else. No, they are the passive recipients of the teaching of God. And then that's also described in the one hearing - passive action, you are - something is coming to you from outside. The one hearing from the father and learning from the father - passive action, something coming from outside, is what coming to me.

06:15:56 [James White] We already saw all that the father gives me will come to me in verse 37. And so here verse 45 is a continuation and explanation of how it is that the father brings this about in the experience of these individuals who are being given by the father to the son.

06:16:15 [James White] And that Jesus says he's come down from heaven to make sure that he will be a perfect savior in their behalf. They will not be cast out. That then continues into the rest of the discourse, which is not about sacramental Theology of the Lord's Supper. It is about the centrality of Christ, the same themes that had come before this, the Mana, the eating.

06:16:45 [James White] And Jesus is saying anyone who comes to me will not hunger, will not thirst. That is continued through this section where Jesus's absolute centrality as the source of spiritual life for every believer in him is laid out right in front of these individuals in a way they can understand in light of Moses and the Man in the wilderness and everything that had been said beforehand.

06:17:10 [James White] But I think it's important to note that when you get to the end of that discussion in chapter 6, many in verse 60 of his disciples said they heard what he said and they said this is a hard saying, a hard saying. And most people just focus upon the eating the Flesh and drinking the blood and and that's all this this that's discussed, but that's not what John is seeking to communicate to us at all.

06:17:45 [James White] Because you'll notice in verse 65, well in verse 64 he said, "You know, there are certain of you that you don't believe." Jesus knew from the beginning who was not believing and who it was who would betray him. And then verse 65 says, "And he was saying, for this reason I said to you that no one is able to come to me unless it has been granted to him by the father."

06:18:07 [James White] Here we go back to a repetition of the concept of verse 44. And this is now being given by the Lord Jesus as the foundation of why these disciples are getting ready to walk away. And what's interesting is it uses the imperfect tense, which is talking about a repeated action in the past. He didn't just say it once, Jesus repeated the reality that no one has the ability to come to him unless it has been granted to that person by the father.

06:18:47 [James White] Jesus did not seem to believe that you should soften hard words. And when you think about it, John chapter 6, Jesus begins with 5,000 excited disciples, not including women and children, and at the end of the chapter he has 12 confused Apostles, one of whom is a devil.

06:19:15 [James White] So I've said many times, this was the beginning of the church shrinkage movement. And it's a - very often there are times in the history of the church we need Church shrinkage movements, because these were people who were excited by what he was saying, they were excited by the the signs, the Miracles, but they were not excited about their own need that only Jesus himself could fulfill.

06:19:48 And so he emphasized to them repeatedly, "No one is able to come to me unless it has been granted to him by the father." Now there is the text, walking through it in order, allowing terms to be defined. So for example, what it means to come to Christ, you start with the first references, you follow them through, you determine the meaning of things.

06:20:16 [James White] The whole discuss with Roman Catholicism on on John chapter 6, what is the first reference to eating and drinking? It's to believing and coming to Christ. That's the emphasis all the way through the chapter. And so if you allow the terms to be defined in the order in which they're being presented, when we get to verse 44, we have that direct assertion, "No one has the ability to come to me."

06:20:54 [James White] Unless God the Father does something. He expends divine power, divine power that teaches, divine power that causes to hear, that draws people to Jesus Christ.

06:21:17 [James White] Now down through the years, the standard response that has been given to this text by many individuals has been to say, "Well you need to understand, this isn't the only place where the word 'draw' is used in the Gospel of John." Because it is an effective drawing, it results in a person being raised up on the last day. I mean this is the giving of eternal life, I mean that's clearly a Divine act on God's part.

06:21:42 [James White] But what will happen is sometimes people will jump six chapters into the future into a completely different context to John chapter 12. In John chapter 12, some Greeks have come seeking Jesus. And when Jesus is informed that Greeks are seeking him, this causes Jesus to basically say, "The hour has come, the hour for my glorification has come." And he makes a fair amount of commentary on how he is in essence wrapping up his public Ministry at that time.

06:22:20 [James White] Chapter 13 of course begins his private Ministry to the disciples all the way through chapter 17. But it's the coming of Greeks, Gentiles seeking after Jesus. And in his commentary in verse 32, he tells us that, "If I be lifted up, I will draw all men unto myself."

06:22:39 [James White] Now is that in some way in the same context of what Jesus was saying in the synagogue capernium? Well no, it's not. And in fact, the very next verse says he indicated by this how he was going to die, the being lifted up. I can't tell you how many people have heard preach over the years, "You know, we need to lift up Jesus, uh, John 12:32." Well no, don't - that's not what Jesus was talking about in that context. That was being lifted up as in crucified.

06:23:12 [James White] And so Jesus says, "If I am lifted up, I will draw all men to myself." Now what's the context of that? Now remember, Jesus does not meet with the Greeks, he hides himself from them, it was not time. But it's in the context of Gentiles seeking him that you have the words of John 12:32.

06:23:31 [James White] The Cross of Christ is the means by which Jews and Gentiles - that's what "all men" means. We Western European type people, very individualistic, we don't think like the Jews thought. The Jews, when they when they would hear the phrase "all men", they're hearing "Jews and Gentiles." And that's the context of John 12, and it is the cross that has drawn each one of us who are followers of Christ this day.

06:23:57 [James White] But please note something - it can't mean that the cross is naturally attractive to every single individual. Because the Bible tells us the cross is foolishness to those who are perishing, but to those who are chosen, 1 Corinthians chapter 1, who are being saved, it is the power of God and the wisdom of God. So the same event, to some people foolishness, a stumbling block, the stench of death. To those who are being saved, chosen by God, it's a very Savor of Life, the wisdom of God.

06:24:37 [James White] And so do we really want to assert that the people in the synagogue capernium, the reason they didn't understand what Jesus was saying is they just hadn't read the rest of the Gospel of John yet? That you need to have something that's going to come six chapters later that we need to read back into John chapter 6?

06:24:55 [James White] Now the presentation that I've given to you did not require you to grab hold of something over here, something over there, drag them in, invert the order of anything. It was a plain contextual reading. The same way that I would walk through say Romans chap 3 and 4 on justification with with uh Roman Catholics, uh Isaiah 43 with Mormons on the subject of of monotheism, um, giving examples Saturday evening in this room in dealing with one of the leading unitarians on the subject of the deity of Christ, using the exact same hermeneutical methodology on this topic as well.

06:25:36 [James White] That is how we must judge what the text is actually saying and what it's actually communicating to us this evening. Keep your eye on the ball, keep your Bible open, let's stay focused. I think it'll be very clear by the end of the evening. Thank you for your attention.

Leighton Flowers Opening

29:10 [Leighton Flowers] Okay, here's the question: Does John 6:44 teach the calvinistic doctrine of unconditional election? I'm wondering if my opponent remembers that's the question, because I heard nothing an establishing unconditional election in his his talk. He read through the text and gave us some commentary, 95% of it which I go, "Yep, that sounds great." There's no contention here. Hopefully I can offer a little bit more.

29:30 [Leighton Flowers] Let's define our terms. From Dr. White's book, he cites Edwin Palmer stating, quote, "Divine election is always an unconditional election. God never bases his choice on what man thinks, says, does, or is. We do not know what God bases his choice on."

29:48 [Leighton Flowers] So Dr. White and I both believe that God the Father is giving to his son those who already belong to him. Did you hear that? The only difference is that Dr. White says we don't know why some people belong to the father and others don't. It's just a Divine mystery hidden in the secret council of his will.

30:02 [Leighton Flowers] Whereas we believe those who belong to the father are those who listened and learned from what he taught. They believed the father, so now they are being given to his son. And I'll demonstrate that this evening.

30:14 [Leighton Flowers] Starting in chapter 6, beginning in verse 32, Jesus is speaking to a Jewish crowd of superficial followers who are not genuine Believers, as Dr. White acknowledged. And they asked him for a sign, like the Mana that Moses gave. And he says to them, "Moses didn't give you the bread from Heaven. My father did. And now he gives you the true bread from Heaven. God gives his son, the bread of life, to the whole world," just like he already taught back in John 3:16. "For God so loved the world, that he what? He gave."

30:45 [Leighton Flowers] God is the initiator, we are the responders. He gives the bread of life to every spiritually dead sinner. Why does he do that? So that we may eat and live. If you refuse to eat of the bread that he gave to the world, then you won't live. You won't receive that gift, then you won't live.

31:07 [Leighton Flowers] Back in John 5:43, Jesus says, "I've come in my father's name and you do not receive me," which reflects back on what was said in John 1:12, "As many as receive him, to them he gave the right to become children of God." In other words, this Israelite crowd is responsible for whether or not they receive God's gift to them.

31:22 [Leighton Flowers] God isn't obligated to provide a gift to everyone, but he does, because he's abundantly gracious. But let's just suppose that the calvinist is right and that God didn't give this gift to everyone. Then what is the sinner really rejecting on Calvinism? He isn't rejecting the bread of life, because on Calvinism, the bread of life is not given to the non-elect.

31:41 [Leighton Flowers] You see, if Calvinism is true, those who remain in unbelief are merely rejecting a God who first rejected them. Provisionism, on the other hand, teaches that God gives the bread of life to all dead Sinners so that they may eat in order to live. And if they don't receive it, that is their own fault. They are rejecting a God who patiently holds out his hands, making an appeal and providing a real gift that he has actually purchased for them, as it says in Ezekiel 18, "For I have no pleasure in the death of anyone who dies, says The Sovereign Lord. Therefore repent and live."

32:12 [Leighton Flowers] Now notice that Jesus knows that even though this Jewish crowd followed him across the sea, as Dr. White rightly pointed out, he says in verse 36 about them, "You have seen me, yet you don't believe." But here's the question: why aren't they believing?

32:31 [Leighton Flowers] John 1:11 tells us that Jesus came to his own, the Israelites, and the Israelites were not receiving him. Why not? How we answer that question is a major point of contention in tonight's debate. Calvinism presupposes - listen to that word: presupposes - that the reason this grumbling Israelite crowd isn't believing is because of the T of their TULIP. As Dr. White explains on page 32 of his book, by default - I'm quoting from him - "By default, man sinfully rejects God," end quote.

32:57 [Leighton Flowers] John MacArthur said mankind is, quote, "by Nature, pre-programmed to believe lies." So why is Israel rejecting their own Messiah here in John chapter 6? According to Calvinism, because they were decreed by God to be born, by default, unable to believe what he teaches. They are born pre-programmed to believe lies.

33:16 [Leighton Flowers] I believe that is a wrong, unbiblical presupposition, which, by the way, even numerous calvinistic Scholars, including John Calvin himself, confess that these doctrines were first introduced into the church by Augustine, a former Manichaean Gnostic from Africa in the 5th century.

33:29 [Leighton Flowers] That erroneous calvinistic presupposition dictates how they interpret John 6 and the rest of the Bible. Listen, it does not matter how good your exegetical methodology is, or how well you know Greek, if you start with the wrong presupposition, then you will arrive at the wrong interpretation in both languages.

33:48 [Leighton Flowers] So our point of contention is not about Greek grammar or exegetical methodologies. Nor is it about me and whether or not I was really reformed or if I'm too man-centered. All of those talking points are red herrings that will only distract us from what is our main point of contention in tonight's debate, which can be summarized as follows:

34:06 [Leighton Flowers] Calvinists presume this audience is unbelieving by default. That's White's words, "by default." Whereas Provisionists teach this audience is unbelieving by their fault. In other words, Provisionists reject the Augustinian calvinistic presupposition of total inability.

34:24 [Leighton Flowers] So how do we as provisionists answer the question "why"? It has to do with the condition. Why is Israel rejecting their own Messiah? Well, according to scripture, despite God's longsuffering and holding out his hands to Israel all day long, as Romans 10:21 says, these people have, quote, "become callous" because they have closed their eyes, as Paul told us in Acts 28.

34:50 [Leighton Flowers] As both Jesus and the prophet Isaiah declared, God was willing to gather Israel under his wings. He was willing to save them, but they were not willing. So I submit to you that contrary to the calvinistic view, they are not in this condition because God was unwilling, or because they were by default born unable to believe, or because Jesus doesn't really love these Israelites.

35:10 [Leighton Flowers] Remember, Jesus wept over the unbelief of Israel, saying, "Would that you had known on this day the things that were made for peace, but now are hidden from your eyes." What does he mean "they're hidden from their eyes"? John 12:39 tells us plainly why Israel can't believe, quote, "For this reason they could not believe - God has blinded their eyes."

35:28 [Leighton Flowers] Consider how this too is contrary to the calvinistic assumption. Why would God blind their eyes or hide the truth from them if they were born, by default, unable to see or hear or turn? Why put a blindfold on a corpse?

35:41 [Leighton Flowers] Notice this hardened condition of Israel is not a universal default condition of all Humanity from birth. It is a purposeful Divine judicial judgment upon a rebellious people at a particular place and time so as to bring about Calvary through their Rebellion.

35:52 [Leighton Flowers] Furthermore, this also explains why Jesus only spoke to the large Jewish crowds using Parables or symbolism. According to Mark 4:34, Jesus would not speak to the Jewish crowds without Parables, but privately he would explain all things to his own disciples.

36:12 [Leighton Flowers] Now don't you think that's an important piece of information to understand when you're discussing a text in which Jesus uses very difficult symbolic language like "eat my flesh and drink my blood," which drives away the crowd of superficial followers? This is why we say context is key.

36:24 [Leighton Flowers] The historical context, according to Paul in Romans 11, is that God gave Israel a spirit of stupor, eyes that would not see, ears that would not hear. Paul said Israel was cut off because of their unbelief. They were not born cut off by default. No, it is their fault they're in this condition.

36:46 [Leighton Flowers] So this Jewish crowd has become quote "ever seeing but never perceiving," which is exactly what Jesus tells us in verse 36. By the way, that's exegetical commentary on just one verse: verse 36.

37:05 [Leighton Flowers] Now we move to verse 37, we're walking through the text, just in case you're needing to follow that, right? Verse 37, Jesus rebukes the Israelite crowd for their unbelief by saying, "All the father gives me will come to me." In other words, Jesus is saying, "You superficial followers, you're not being given to come to me because I know your true intentions. The father is not entrusting you to me because you're not genuinely following me. You're here to fill your bellies. So you're not being entrusted to the son by the father."

37:31 [Leighton Flowers] You cannot ignore the key question: who is the father giving to his son, and why? Again, here's where Dr. White and I really part ways. Calvinism teaches they are by default unable to believe because they are not given to Christ. We teach they are not being given to Christ because of their continued refusal to believe all that the father has already taught them.

37:51 [Leighton Flowers] Notice what the text says: "All those the father is giving to the son will come and not be cast out." The Greek word for "gives" here is didōmi, the same Greek word we saw earlier in John 3:16 - "For God gives his son to the world." And now he's giving all who first believed in the father over to his son so that they will be raised up with him.

38:13 [Leighton Flowers] Now notice again, this is not an isolated incident. Where else do we see the didōmi repeated in John 6? We see it again in verse 65, where you'll notice the same pattern: the unbelief of Israel is stated, followed by the rebuke of Jesus. Look at verse 64 where he says, "Some of you do don't believe." He knew from the beginning which ones of them didn't believe. And then he goes on to say, "It is for this reason they are not given by the father to his son."

38:39 [Leighton Flowers] For what reason? He knew they weren't genuine followers. He knew their motives. This is just like back in Chapter 2 when there was a bunch of followers following him superficially and he doesn't entrust himself to them. The same context is happening right here.

38:56 [Leighton Flowers] Look at verse 38, "For I have come down from heaven, not to do my own will, but the will of him who sent me." Notice the unity of the father and his son. You see this Unity also in chapter 6:39. "You search the scriptures because you think that in them you have eternal life, but the scriptures point to me," Jesus said. Notice he says, "If you believe the scriptures, you would believe in Jesus. If you believe what God taught through the prophets, then you would come to Jesus. If you believe what Moses said, you would believe in me, because he spoke of me."

39:21 [Leighton Flowers] And once again, we see the exact same pattern. Jesus is rebuking them for their unbelief in verse 40, saying, "Yet you refuse to come to me to receive life." Now notice the order there: a spiritually dead man must come to Jesus in order to receive life, just like in chapter six, you must eat of the bread in order to live.

39:41 [Leighton Flowers] Whereas Calvinism gets it backwards. You have to be made alive before you can eat. They reverse the order every time. You must understand this repeated pattern: the unbelief of the crowd followed by Jesus rebuking them because of their unbelief.

39:53 [Leighton Flowers] He's not merely, as Dr. White says, explaining why they can't believe by introducing the T of calvinism's TULIP and telling them they're born by default unable to believe. That's not what Jesus is doing. It's the same thing you see in John 10, when Jesus says, "You don't believe in me because you are not my sheep."

40:12 [Leighton Flowers] Is Jesus literally saying, "You know guys, you don't believe in me because I didn't ever like you. I didn't choose you. The father and I, we never really loved you. I know we cried over you and we wept over you and we held out our hands, but that was just all crocked out tear." Of course not.

40:24 [Leighton Flowers] Sheep are known to be followers, not those unconditionally elected in eternity past like calvinists read and pack into that word. So what's Jesus actually saying? "You are not sheep followers of me, the son, because you never were sheep followers of the father who sent me. If you followed him, you would recognize his voice. And if you knew his voice, you would know my voice, because guess what? They're the same voice." It's the unity, the theme of unity throughout the entire Gospel of John.

40:55 [Leighton Flowers] Now that we understand that theme, let's pick back up in verse 39 and we'll see the theme again. "This is the will of him who sent me, that of all that he gives me, I lose nothing, but raise it up on the last day." It is the Father's will that all who have already believed in his teachings will be given to believe in his son. Why? Because they're one in the same.

41:13 [Leighton Flowers] Verse 40 says, "For this is the will of my father, that everyone who beholds, who gazes upon, who looks upon the son and believes in him will have eternal life." I agreed with everything that Dr. White said about that verse. It's very similar to Jesus' teaching back in John 3:16. In fact, just a few verses earlier when he talks about the serpent lifted in the wilderness and those who gaze upon the serpent in faith being healed. In the same way, Jesus is lifted up for the sins of the world, that whosoever gazes upon him in faith will likewise be healed.

41:44 [Leighton Flowers] Also notice the same order as before: Jesus says everyone who looks to him gets life. You must look in order to live.

41:56 [Leighton Flowers] Let's see what happens next. There's grumbling going on, as Dr. White likes to say, right? And then the rebuke of Jesus again. Unbelief, same pattern: unbelief followed by a rebuke. "No one can come to me unless the father who sent me draws him, and I will raise him up on the last day."

42:14 [Leighton Flowers] This verse teaches us that no one can come to Christ unless the father draws them first. Can everyone say "Amen"? Amen. That everyone who comes as a result of that drawing will be raised up on the last day. We all agree with that.

42:27 [Leighton Flowers] Verse 45 goes on to say, "It is written in the prophets, and they shall all be taught of God. Everyone who has listened and learned from the father comes to me." Again, we see the same theme of unity. Those who listen to the father will come to the son. Why? Because they're one.

42:40 [Leighton Flowers] But here is the big question for tonight's debate. Hear this: why would the father choose to draw someone to his son? Why? Why pick Simeon and not some grumbling Israelite? It's obvious. But remember, Dr. White has already admitted he does not know what God bases his choice on. It's just one big mystery hidden in the secret council of God's will, even though verse 45 explicitly says the condition for coming to Christ is that they had previously listened and learned from what the father had taught them.

43:13 [Leighton Flowers] So people like Simeon, or later we see in the book of Acts, people like Cornelius or Lydia, God-fearing, worshiping people who were not knowing the son at that time but later were drawn to believe in the son because they were worshippers of the father. Listen, it is no secret as to why God has chosen to entrust some people to Christ and not others.

43:33 [Leighton Flowers] This truth is seen throughout the entire Bible. In fact, we see it in Psalm 25 where it says, "The secret counsel of the Lord is for those who fear Him, and He Reveals His Covenant to them. He will instruct them in the way they should choose." So what is the condition? Again, the topic: unconditional election. What is the condition for being taught his Covenant? It is for those who fear the Lord in faith.

43:55 [Leighton Flowers] It's similar to what's taught in Isaiah 55:2-3, "Listen diligently to me, eat what is good, and delight yourself in rich food. Incline your ear to hear. Come to me, hear that your soul may live." Sound familiar? "And I will make with you an Everlasting Covenant."

44:08 [Leighton Flowers] Notice the parallel symbolism that we saw in John 6. We're inclining your ear to hear, listening, is equated with eating the food, the bread, so that what happens? Your soul may live. And notice it's those who listen and learn from him that he graciously chooses to bring into Everlasting Covenant.

44:25 [Leighton Flowers] In Nehemiah 9:30 of the Septuagint, the Greek word for "draw," helkō, is the same word we see in John 6:44. It's used for the Hebrew word masach, and it's literally translated, quote, "And you have drawn them for many years and testified against them by your spirit, by the hand of your prophets, and they have not listened." In other words, while being drawn by God, they refuse to listen, leading them to become over time hardened in that condition. In other words, it's their fault, not a default condition like Dr. White teaches.

44:55 [Leighton Flowers] James 4:10 says, "Humble yourself before the Lord, and He will raise you up." Notice the common language seen in John 6 - you will be raised up on the last day if you meet what condition? If you humble yourself in faith.

45:06 [Leighton Flowers] In Matthew 22, Jesus illustrates what he believes about election, which again is the topic of tonight's debate, with a very applic phrase that you're all familiar with: "Many are called, but few are elect." But remember that Parable. What was the stated condition to be elected in order to enter the banquet According To Jesus? It was not conditioned on their nationality. Remember, the calling went to the Jews and to the Gentiles. It was not conditioned on their morality, because remember, the calling went out to the good and the bad alike. But what was the condition? There certainly was one. They came in response to the invitation clothed in the right wedding garments. In other words, they came in response to the gospel, clothed in the righteousness of Christ by faith.

45:50 [Leighton Flowers] Listen, according to Jesus' view of unconditional election, it's not unconditional at all. Yeah, it's not conditioned on nationality, it's not conditioned on morality, but it is conditioned on faith in Christ. You must come clothed in his righteousness, not your own righteousness.

46:04 [Leighton Flowers] His. John 12:32, as was brought up, "If I am lifted up from Heaven," Jesus says, "If I'm lifted up from the earth, I will draw all people to myself." Now notice, I agree with Dr. White, that is a different context. I think Armenians, some of them, make mistake by trying to glop Loop these together and make them as if they're the same setting or the same drawing, because they're very different.

46:24 [Leighton Flowers] Back in John 6, the father is specifically drawing Israelites who had previously listened and learned from his teachings through the prophets and through the scriptures, and they are being drawn to believe in the son. But in John 12, Jesus is doing the drawing, and he's drawing everyone to himself by the gospel, both Jews and Gentiles, as Paul said, the gospel goes first to the Jew and then to the Gentile.

46:49 [Leighton Flowers] So the bride of Christ, after the resurrection, is the means by which the gospel goes into all creation, drawing all people to himself. Just before Jesus ascends into heaven, he commissions the disciples to go and preach the words he gave them, the gospel, to all creation so as to draw all people to himself.

47:09 [Leighton Flowers] But prior to his resurrection, that's not what Jesus did. In fact, he seemed to do just the opposite, as Dr. White rightly noted. He was not doing Church growth movement here. He was driving them away. I agree with him on all of that.

47:22 [Leighton Flowers] Mark 9:9 says, "They came down from the mountain and on the way down, Jesus ordered them, 'Don't tell anyone what you've seen.'" Have you ever had a pastor tell you that? Hey, don't tell anybody about Jesus yet. But that's exactly what Jesus says. "Don't tell anybody yet," he says. "Wait until the son of man has been risen from the dead."

47:40 [Leighton Flowers] Recognize that he isn't drawing everyone yet. Why? Is it because he doesn't really love them, he didn't pick them, he doesn't really want them to believe? Obviously not. Remember, Jesus marveled at the unbelief of Israel. Why would you Marvel at their unbelief if they were born by your Sovereign decree unable to believe?

47:53 [Leighton Flowers] Remember, Jesus wept over the unbelief, saying, "These things are now hidden from your eyes." You have to understand the context. He is using difficult symbolic language - eat my flesh, drink my blood - to keep them from understanding his true identity. It's a part of his strategic Plan of Redemption to drive the crowds away.

48:12 [Leighton Flowers] The cross would have never happened if not for this plan to hide the truth using Parables, riddles, symbolism, difficult language. How do I know? Paul said as much in 1 Corinthians 2:7-8, "We declare God's wisdom, a mystery that has been hidden." Recognize that word. It's a mystery that has been hidden. "None of the rulers of the age understood it, for if they had, they would not have crucified the Lord Of Glory."

48:38 [Leighton Flowers] Listen, this is a part of God's strategic plan to provide redemption for all the families of the earth, just like he promised to Abraham in Genesis 12:3, "Through you I will bless all the families of the earth." God is fulfilling his promise to bring Redemption to all people through his son Jesus Christ, the Lamb of God who takes away the sins of the world.

48:56 [Leighton Flowers] Thank you for your time.

James White Rebuttal

49:59 [James White] I'm going to talk a little bit more slowly so you can understand what was just said. Here's where the debate is this evening. What you just heard, the fundamental assertion that was made three or four times but never substantiated by any exegetical assertion whatsoever.

50:06 [James White] And by the way, if no one is able to come to the son except drawn by the father, and those that are drawn by the father are raised up by the son, that's unconditional election. I didn't think I needed to repeat that type of thing. It was fairly obvious from the beginning.

50:25 [James White] But here is the assertion. What Dr. Flowers just did is exactly what I said would take place. You begin at verse 45, you assign it a meaning, and then you read it backwards into the text. This happened a number of times.

50:45 [James White] So right toward the beginning, he said, "God gives those who belong to him to the son, those who listened and learned." So he's jumped down to verse 45, he's skipped over everything that's come before it, he takes verse 45, he assumes that everyone has this capacity, he ignores the fact that this is a fulfillment. This is Jesus providing the biblical Foundation of what it means to draw. It's not what determines God's choice.

51:18 [James White] Because what you need to understand is the position just presented removes from God the choice of who his sheep are. Even John 10 was mentioned. I've seen so many times in documentaries about keeping sheep, things like that, how the Sheep choose their Shepherd. No, that's not how it works. But that was what was just presented to you.

51:47 [James White] And so here we have the idea: God the father doesn't choose a specific people. No, the only people he gives to the son are those who have learned and followed him, the Father, which immediately turns the order of the text on its head, ignores the fact that being taught, the term "God" there is used in the genitive ablative form - by means of God.

52:21 [James White] So in other words, it's something that's happening to them. They are being taught by God. That's how they're being drawn to the Son, and that's why they'll be raised up in the last day. They're hearing - again, that's something outside of them. They're learning, receiving information outside of them.

52:41 [James White] But what has happened is Dr. Flowers has inserted an entire anthropology, not from Romans 1, but an entire anthropology into verse 45 which grants to people the capacity to hear and learn and therefore they follow the father, and therefore they're given to the son because they're one in unity of purpose, at least in that sense.

53:05 [James White] You did not hear any argumentation to substantiate that. You did not hear any argumentation from John chapter 6. You weren't told how that would explain why Jesus kept repeating it in verse 65 and why this is such a hard saying. You didn't hear any of that.

53:26 [James White] What you got was the repeated assertion, "All those who first believed in the father" - direct quote, again asserted, no text provided. So you've taken the text and done exactly what I knew, we knew what each one of us was going to say. It's pretty obvious. But you have to start at verse 45, remove it from what it means in its context, read it backwards, and that's what you get.

53:50 [James White] Now in the cross-examination, one of the questions I'm going to ask is, so do these people who are going to be raised up in the last day, did they have the capacity in and of themselves to come to the father? Or was there a special supernatural drawing needed for them to come to the father?

54:10 [James White] So did they have the free will to accept the father's teaching or reject the father's teaching, and hence enable the father to then choose them to give them to the son? Why can you come to the father freely but not come to the son freely? How does that work? I don't know.

54:31 [James White] We're going to have to find out, because there's nothing in John 6 about it. That's not an explanation of why these people don't believe. You see, you have to take verse 45, remove it from its context, insert an entirely foreign anthropology into it, preach it, you know, bring up all sorts of stuff and talk about, you know, God not loving them, try to do the emotional thing. But you just can't walk through John 6 and then understand why at the end you have the result that you have.

55:18 [James White] Because what he was really saying is, "Well, you know, the ones that come to me, I can't explain to you why you're not coming to me, because, you know, if you just accept the father's teaching, if you just accept, you learn from the father, you've got the freedom to do this. You have the power, you have the capacity, you have free will, you can do it. That's how it works."

55:40 [James White] That would have been an easy explanation. But that's not how Jesus explained these things. And in fact, he kept repeating their incapacity to come to him unless enabled by the father.

55:52 [James White] But the whole argument, the way around this from Dr. Flowers, is that may be true, but we deny to the Father the capacity and ability to choose those that he gives to the son. Instead, those that are given to the son are those who have fulfilled these purposes. And hence, you have a denial of unconditional election, because really the only election going on here is that God chooses to give the people who have freely come to him to his son and entrust them with their salvation.

56:25 [James White] Now again, it strikes me as very odd, because it sounds like they have the freedom to either come to the father or not come to the father. But once they're given to the son, they lose their free will. We'll have to find out during cross-examination exactly how that works.

56:44 [James White] But exactly what I said would take place did take place. If verse 45 is a description of the Divine action of God in how he draws people to the son, if that's what it is, then everything that was just presented to you collapses.

57:06 [James White] But that's what was presented. And I think it wasn't presented with enough clarity to necessarily catch it, that it is the key issue in our discussion of John chapter 6 this evening.

57:27 [James White] Thank you for your attention.

Leighton Flowers Rebuttal

Flowers Rebuttal 58:12 [Leighton Flowers] I know I do talk fast. I get in trouble for that sometimes. I'll try to slow down just a little bit. But my opponent still hasn't - he has the burden of proof here tonight. He's the affirmative and he still hasn't made a case for unconditional election.

58:24 [Leighton Flowers] And he keeps - the only main argument that he made is that listening and learning are passive realities. Since when? We all intuitively know that teachers are responsible to teach, students are responsible to learn. And that aligns exactly with what the scripture teaches.

58:36 [Leighton Flowers] God did not fail to do his part in teaching. Israel, generally speaking, failed to learn, which is why they're held responsible for that. Jeremiah 32:33 says, "They have turned to me their back and not their face. And though I have taught them again and again, persistently, they have not listened to receive instruction."

58:54 [Leighton Flowers] Does that sound like listening and learning are just passive realities? Do you blame your teachers at your school when your kids put in their earbuds and play on their phone? Or do you blame the student? Do you just assume the teacher doesn't really want to teach them when they refuse to learn? Because that's what Calvinism is asking you to believe.

59:11 [Leighton Flowers] God really doesn't want them to learn. He didn't pick them. He doesn't love them. That's what he's saying. I know he says it's all emotional. I can't help it that Calvinism makes emotional things. That doesn't make it wrong just because it's emotional.

59:23 [Leighton Flowers] Just because God rejected them before they were ever born, and that's emotional for you, and some of the people you love are rejected by God before they're ever born, and that's emotional for you, that doesn't make it any less true on Calvinism.

59:34 [Leighton Flowers] The fact is, he's the one who has the burden to establish that this is what God's doing - that this inconceivable concept of people being judged because of something they have absolutely no control over. The reason that we know racism is so horrible is because you don't judge somebody for the color of their skin. Why? Because they can't help it. They don't have anything to do with it.

59:54 [Leighton Flowers] Well, what do the reprobate have control over with regard to their unbelief and their hatred towards God? They have no control over it. Now the Calvinists will say it's because they want to reject God, they hate God by Nature, by default. Yes, God decreed for them to be that way from birth. They couldn't help it. There's no basis for human culpability. They have no blameworthiness. They're just victims of the Divine decree.

1:00:17 [Leighton Flowers] There's no reason to feel - might as well feel sorry for this crowd of unbelievers, because they're walking away in unbelief because secretly God didn't really pick them. Jesus doesn't really love them. And the reason they're walking away is because they weren't picked.

1:00:31 [Leighton Flowers] But that flies in the face of the context, because in the context, over and over again, he says, "You refuse to come to me so that you may have life," just like he says in Ezekiel, "I don't desire the death of anyone, declares The Sovereign Lord. Come to me, repent and live," holding out his hands to them. How do you reconcile the passage over and over and over again of him longing to gather the children under his wings, but they're unwilling, repeated by Isaiah as well?

1:01:01 [Leighton Flowers] Again, it's Dr. White's burden to establish that this verse teaches unconditional election. And I never have seen it even mentioned so far. Notice it also says in Isaiah 55:3 that I mentioned, "Incline your ear, come to me and hear that your soul may live." That seems to think that you're responsible to Incline your ear and hear so as to live.

1:01:19 [Leighton Flowers] Dr. White says it's just a passive reality for the ones who were picked. And if you were one of the Blessed ones to get picked, then you will incline your ear to hear because he'll cause you to Incline your ear to hear. So all the ones who don't includ the ear to hear, we can just say, "Well, they must not have been picked." Again, never established in the scripture at all. It's just presupposed.

1:01:36 [Leighton Flowers] But we should expect that from a presuppositionalist, because that's what presuppositional apologetics is all about. Not only do they presuppose everything when they debate atheists, they presuppose stuff when they debate theology too. What do they do? They presuppose Calvinism. They presuppose STULP - S before TULIP. The sovereignty meaning determinism. They presuppose that when they walk into the text.

1:01:55 [Leighton Flowers] And so they believe God decreed for everyone to be born unable to believe truth revealed by God unless you were picked before you were born and irresistibly caused to believe. He starts with those presuppositions. And if those presuppositions are false, then don't you all agree that would lead to a bad interpretation? Of course it would.

1:02:14 [Leighton Flowers] And I have every right to challenge his presuppositions. This happened in the Romans 9 debate too. I challenged his presuppositions, and what does he do? He doesn't exegete the text, he just jumps all over the place. He just - nobody can follow what he's saying. What's really happening, he's not engaging with the point of discussion.

1:02:32 [Leighton Flowers] The question of the debate is not who can read through the Bible and tell people what you think it means. The question of the debate is which of these two chapters establishes Calvinism. And Dr. White is not engaging that debate.

1:02:44 [Leighton Flowers] Listen, I have presuppositions too. We both have Traditions. Dr. White's known for saying, "Hey, your tradition will guide your exegesis, it'll guide where you go." I agree with that. But he has to recognize he has a tradition too. It started with Augustine. And that tradition is an Augustinian tradition of TULIP. And he reads that tradition into - he whitewashes John chapter 6, is what he does. And he brings his Calvinism into John 6.

1:03:08 [Leighton Flowers] So when it says "no one can," he reads the T of TULIP. He sees "unless they're given by the father," he reads the unconditional, the U of the TULIP. And then he sees "unless they're drawn," and he makes the word "draw" into an irresistible force. And now he has the I of TULIP all established right there in a neat little package.

1:03:25 [Leighton Flowers] You may say, "Well Leighton, don't you have presuppositions?" Yes, but I don't have to get my presuppositions from Augustine. I don't have to get them from even Paul, or a calvinistic reading of Paul. I can get them from The Book of John. Because you know what my three presuppositions are? John 3:16 - God loved the world and everyone in it. Christ came to die for the sins of the world and everyone in it, so that anyone, whoever, can believe so as to be saved. Those are my presuppositions. If I bring those three presuppositions into this text, this text flows perfectly from top to bottom.

1:03:51 [Leighton Flowers] You know, he debated Steve Gregg and tried to say the same thing to Steve Gregg. "You're just jumping all over the place. You're reading verse 45 back into the front of the text." And Steve Gregg's like, "What are you talking about? We just have one point of Distinction. You think that you don't know why God certain people to the son, and I'm telling you we do know why. It's those who believed in the father."

1:04:13 [Leighton Flowers] What does that change about Greek grammar or the flow of the text? It doesn't change anything. And I didn't start with verse 45. I started with verse 32, you know, the verse that says that the bread of life came to you. He spoke to a crowd of unbelievers saying the bread of life is given to you.

1:04:32 [Leighton Flowers] Isn't it Calvinism that says you shouldn't say to a crowd of people that Jesus came for them, because he may not have come for all of them? You can't tell a crowd, "Jesus died for you," because some of you may not be elect, and that would be disingenuous. Yet Jesus doesn't have a problem saying, "The bread of life is given to you," a crowd of grumbling Israelites. "And if you eat, you dead Sinners, if you eat of this bread, you will live."

1:04:58 [Leighton Flowers] And Calvinism reverses the order. "No, no, no, no. You see, you've got to be regenerated. That's what the word 'draw' actually means - helkō." What lexicon says the word "draw" means regeneration? Yet that's what they pack into that word helkō. It must mean regeneration. It must mean that he makes certain people alive so that they'll come to the life-giver.

1:05:16 [Leighton Flowers] That's interesting. How do you get life before coming to The Giver of Life? The Bible says You must eat in order to live. John 5:40 says that "you refused to come to me so that you might have life." It doesn't say, "I've refused to give you life so that you would come to me."

1:05:35 [Leighton Flowers] He summarizes the entire chapter in chapter 20:31 saying that "these things were written so that you might believe, and that by believing you might have life in his name." So how do we get life? How do dead men get life? They believe so as to live.

1:05:52 [Leighton Flowers] Calvinism reverses the order and says, "No, no, no. God has to unilaterally pick you before you're ever born, and he has to make you alive, causing you to believe."

1:06:04 [Leighton Flowers] Thank you for your time.

James White Cross-examines Leighton Flowers


JW: Dr. Flowers, is it still true today that no one is able to come to Christ unless they're drawn by the father?

LF: Everyone must be drawn in order to come to Christ. The drawing is the teaching, just like you say in your own book. You actually ask the question, 'How does God draw them?' By teaching them. I agreed with you on that point. He draws by teaching, and so you have to be taught like Paul said, 'How will they believe in one whom they've not heard?' They have to be taught. There has to be Revelation, there has to be light, and so they have to be drawn by God.

JW: So why is it that no one has the ability to come to Christ? Don't we have free will?"

LF: "They don't have the ability to believe in one whom they've not been taught about, just like I said. They have to be drawn by the teaching of God.

JW: So it's a matter of communicating facts or data to someone. Is that what the Gospel is?

LF: If you want to call the gospel facts and data. I mean, the Gospel is the power of God into salvation. It's the light, it's the sword of the spirit, it pierces in through not only bone and marrow but into the heart, and it affects our lives. Just like you know, you may say, 'The sticks and stones may break my bones but words will never hurt me.' Words have power."

JW: "A person who is drawn, again looking at verse 44, a person who is drawn by the father to the son is being taught by God. Is that being taught the gospel by God the Father?"

LF: "Well, Hebrews 1 says in days of past God spoke through the prophets and other various means but in these days he speaks through his son and then of course the apostles and the bride. So in that day in John 6, it's the transitionary period of being taught through the prophets and the law and now it's transitioning through being taught through Jesus and the bride of Christ through the gospel that's being sent to all of creation.

JW: So everyone who is drawn by the father to the son, is that today all people or is there what differentiates as to who is being drawn by the father?"

LF: "Well, we live in the church age so that the drawing is by Jesus to himself. Jesus draws all people once he's raised up and he's been raised up and so he sends the gospel to go into all creation and through the bride and through the gospel, the gospel of Jesus Christ through the teaching of the Apostles, we are now being drawn through the teaching of Christ.

JW: So the father is no longer drawing people to the Son.

LF: Well there may be people who read the law and the prophets prior there people in the Jewish tradition may may come to Christ through the teachings of God the father but there it's as you know it's a Triune God so God may draw through various means. In the Old Testament it was the as Hebrews 1 says it was the father that drew through his the prophet…

JW: So actually verse 44 isn't continuing true today something has changed to where when Jesus says I will raise him up on the last day who is it that Jesus will raise up on the last day?

LF: Everyone who comes to him in faith.

JW: ...everyone who comes to him in faith and yet in verse 44 who is it that Jesus will raise up on the last day?

LF: Well, in verse 44 like you acknowledge the difference between the context of chapter 12 and chapter 4 is chapter 4 is still prior to the crucifix…interrupted...

JW: I think you mean chapter six

LF: I'm sorry, yes, chapter 6:44 and so in chapter 6 he's drawing those who believe in the father who have listened and learn from the father, he's drawing them to the son and they will be raised up in the last day. For example, Simeon would have been a good example of this, He was a God-fearing man he would have been drawn to believe in Jesus. But after Christ is raised up that's when he says to go and spread the gospel to all people and so that's the means by which he draws all people through the Gospel of Jesus Christ. So you and I came through the drawing of Jesus. We didn't come through the drawing of the prophets.

JW: So everything in John 6 has now changed. Is the eating eating of the flesh, drinking the blood, has all of that changed now that Jesus is doing the drawing rather than the father doing the drawing?


JW: So those who were drawn in verse 44 are raised up by Jesus and that's everyone. Everyone who heard from the father learned from the father, is raised up by Jesus in the last day. Is there anyone who rejected the father’s teaching?

LF: I can't imagine why somebody who listened to the father through the prophets and believed, I can't imagine Simeon saying no to Jesus. Why? Because Jesus is one with the father. So if somebody listened to your teaching, then they would listen to the teaching of Jeff Durban because you teach the same thing. Why would somebody listen and believe your teaching and reject the teaching of Jeff Durban? You teach the same thing. Same thing...God is teaching something through the prophets and through Moses there's no reason that he would reject what the son teaches if they have the same voice. That's why the sheep don't re...interrupted…

JW: But if they have free will they can choose to do that for various reasons, right?

LF: But I'm saying they would not choose to do so, because the father and the son are teaching the same thing. There's no reason that a person who's believing what the father teaches would reject what the son's teaching if they're teaching the same thing.

JW: When it says they shall all be taught by God who is the “they?” Who's the “all?”

LF: I think that's reference to Israel, just like Romans 10 when he asked have they not all heard. And he actually says, yes, they have. It's gone to the edges of the earth. And so I think it's the same reference point that, yes, Israel all have heard. Everyone has heard. Not everyone has listened and learned, because that's their responsibility. You can reject what you hear.

JW: So everyone in Israel was taught by God and so you see a distinction between that and everyone hearing from the father? That's a different group?

LF: No, I I believe that all of Israel has heard. Not all of them listened, but all of them heard. Because you're responsible whether you listen to your teacher or not if you tune out your teacher and ignore what he says that your fault not God's fault.

JW: But it says everyone, pas, everyone hearing from the father and learning does what?

LF: They come to Jesus.

JW: So if it was all of Israel, why didn't all of Israel come to Jesus?

LF: You're ignoring the fact that you have the ability to listen and believe. If you hear the message...if, like everybody in this room just heard me teach. Is everybody in this room going to believe what I taught? No, some of them are going to reject what I taught. You're responsible for what you do with what you hear. But just because they hear doesn't mean they'll listen and learn and believe.

JW: But it specifically states everyone hearing from the father will come to me...interrupted…

LF: Everyone who has listened and learned, it says. In other words, they heard and they learned, which implies that they believed. It doesn’t say everyone believed, it says everyone has heard the message and therefore, they’re responsible for the message they’ve been given.

JW: It says, every hearing one [pas a acusas}. Everyone hearing from the father comes to me. How is that not very clearly the description of what drawing means in verse 44? How can this be a general reference to God teaching Israel?

LF: Everyone who hears from the father and learns, they all hear his message but they all don't listen. Some of them close their ears, they close their eyes like Acts 28 says, Paul rebuking this same crowd of Israelites saying, "You're ever seeing but never perceiving. You have closed your eyes. Otherwise you might see, hear, understand and turn, and I would heal you." What's he saying? You have closed your eyes. It's their fault for closing their eyes, not a default condition from birth like you teach.

JW: So you see a distinction in the middle of the sentence and when it says it's written in the prophets they shall all be taught by God you interpret that as a general thing to all of Israel, right?

LF: Yes, all of Israel has heard. They have no excuse.

JW: Then when it's...then the sentence doesn't...there's not even a sentence break when it says everyone hearing. How is that different than being taught by God? I mean, the [theu] is in the [genative ablative] right?

LF: I'm just telling you what it says. Is that, they hear but hearing isn't enough. You have to actually believe what you hear. You think that's something God controls. I don't. That's the only difference.

JW: Where's the word believe in here? Is that, (alarm) is that I forgot to start mine?

LF: That's unusual. He always times it.

JW: Oh, actually, mine may have stopped and so, okay, all right great.

Leighton Flowers Cross-examines James White


LF: I've listened to your explanation of John 3:16 where you try to make world, not to be universal but of the elect in the way you kind of revamp the word whoever. I'm just wondering in John 6:33 where it says...interrupted…

JW: Revamp the word whoever...where did I do that?

LF: Where you change from whosoever to the believing ones. I've heard you give that expla...interrupted,..

JW: the Greek is [pas hapis ….]and it means everyone believing. I'm not revamping anything I'm actually just translating it correctly.

LF: Okay so do you use the same kind of hermeneutics when it comes to John 6:33 for the bread of God is the one who comes down from heaven and gives life to the world? Is that just the world of the elect?

JW: Uh, no, it's it's obviously the only the only source of life for anything in the world which includes Jews and Gentiles is the Lord Jesus Christ. That's the whole point of John 6, is that he is the living bread. So the world is everyone in the world who will receive life receives it only through Jesus Christ and in no other way.

LF: So the elect of the Jews and the elect of the Gentiles…

JW: I've never actually I've never said that. I think you're misunderstanding my understanding of cosmos. Cosmos is used by John in at least 10 different ways in a new testament at least 14 different ways.

LF: So Jesus did come for everyone in the world, every person, every single person in the world?

JW: There's a vast difference between saying Jews and Gentiles and saying every single individual in world. That would be like saying Jesus specifically came for Judas Iscariot, even though Judas Iscariot was…interrupted...

LF: So in in verse 32 and it says this is my father who gives you the true bread from Heaven. Jesus speaks to an unbelieving crowd. Would you say that to a group of unbelievers that Jesus came for you?

JW: In the same way that Jesus said it. Again, he's talking about the fact that he is the true bread from heaven. He is presenting himself in that way. I'm not making I'm Not Jesus so I don't know in someone's heart even though John 6 says Jesus did know the hearts and knew who did not believe.


LF: Okay I want to put kind of side by side our two views and I want to see if you think it's a fair characterization. I believe Jesus is rebuking this unbelieving Israelite crowd by telling them the reason they're not being granted to come to Jesus is because of their continued unbelief. They didn't listen to the father and therefore they're not being entrusted to the son, while you, in contrast, believes Jesus is explaining to a crowd of unbelievers why they can't believe by introducing Calvinistic soteriology...the T, the U, and the I. Is that is that basically what you think's happening here in John 6?

JW: No, of course, I reject your rabid misrepresentation of...interrupted…

LF: He's not introducing total inability?

JW: I'm going to answer the questions that you asked, okay? Please stop interrupting me. You just presented T and I and all the rest of this stuff...interrupted…

LF: I was just summarizing to be fast. JW: No, go ahead. What did you want to ask?

LF: I already asked. Do you think Jesus was introducing the Calvinistic doctrines to this crowd of unbelievers?

JW: Uh, he was introducing...he's not introducing Calvinistic doctrines because the belief in God's sovereignty is part and parcel of the Old Testament revelations. So it's not something new. This was something they already recognized. They already recognized that Yahweh had only revealed himself to the people of Israel, that the sacrifices of the Old Testament weren't for the Babylonians, Egyptians, or anybody else.

LF: So whenever it says “no one can,” you don't think that that's reflecting on the T of Tulip, total inability, the default condition that you refer to in your book?

JW: Yes of course it is. Of course it is. I just don't believe that's quote unquote Calvinistic theology being introduced. It’s biblical theology. It has been there from the beginning from Genesis...interrupted…

LF: All right, okay. You told one of your Calvinist friends that was debating with an atheist or somebody that was debating with an atheist, and he brought up total inability...he brought up Calvinistic Theology and he says you said, “there's no reason to be discussing the sovereign grace of God and things like that with someone who just doesn't even believe,” and so I'm wondering why you think Jesus is introducing these doctrines to a bunch of grumbling [gungasm] mooing Israelites.


JW: Massive category difference. Wow! He is explaining the fact that these individuals have come seeking him but they are not seeking him for who he is as the Messiah. They do not understand that he is the source of spiritual life and why would he say that to them? Well, because it's recorded for us in scripture so that 2,000 years later we could be sitting here and looking at it.

LF: Okay so you equate “drawing” with “regeneration” basically. You believe someone must be made alive, regenerated in order to come to the lifegiver who is Christ. Yet on page 25 of this book here, “Drawn by the Father” you wrote, “When we come to him, when we believe on him, he becomes the source of our spiritual life.” Well, isn't regeneration the source of our spiritual life not Jesus on your view?

JW: No. That's that's so obviously false I'm not even sure how to address it. The only way that you can have spiritual life is that Jesus Christ has provided for the work of the spirit through his redeeming work to even raise us to spiritual life. So the idea of separating regeneration from the person of Jesus is an absurdity.

LF: But you must be regenerated prior to coming to Jesus. So before you're unified with Jesus you have life...interrupted…

JW: First of all, I don't I don't agree that drawing is the same thing as regeneration. That's not the terminology. I think we ought to stick with what John 6 is actually talking about. John 6 defines the drawing by the father as teaching, learning, and hearing. That's the definition of drawing. It results in a person being raised up at the last day. That's the meaning in the context.

LF: I'll read a quote from you where you actually equate drawing with regeneration later, but I'll have to pull that up. What support do you have for equating this concept of regeneration with the word draw in the sense that you you obviously believe that drawing must involve regeneration because it has to proceed their believing doesn't it?

JW: Well, again, I I'm I'm here to debate John chapter 6. If you want to talk about all sorts of other things that seems to be your thing...interrupted…

LF: I just talked about draw!...interrupted

JW: ...that seems to be your thing and I realize, Leighton, it's it's it's all you've got. The reality is, the reality is as we have seen, what is found in verse 44 is the assertion that no one has a certain capacity unless something happens, and that drawing is an effective drawing. It's not talking about issues of regeneration, it's not talking about adoption, it's not talking about sanctification, it's not talking about a lot of things, but what it IS explaining is without it, there will be no eternal life.

LF: Can you explain from your perspective why this audience can't believe and why they're being judged for their unbelief if that's a default condition from birth that they have no control over?

LF: Well again, God is demonstrating to the entire universe his justice according to Ephesians chapter 1, the praise of his glorious grace...interrupted….

LF: you think it's just for God to condemn somebody who by default can't believe?

JW: I will continue with my answer to the initial question uh unless you just want to to say we're not going to be able to get anywhere with this.

LF: No. Go ahead. JW: Okay good. Yes, he is demonstrating the praise of his glorious grace from Ephesians chapter 1 in both the salvation of an undeserving people and in the condemnation of people who love their sin and remain in their rebellion. That's the answer of Ephesians 1:6. That's the answer I give as well.

LF: So it's a demonstration of God's justice to condemn people for something they have no control over?

JW: I utterly reject and you should know as a “former reformed Minister” that that is a gross misrepresentation that we believe that the non-elect love their sin that, they are invested in their sin, and to say that they have no control over it means that as the Incarnate one, Jesus had no control over what he did in time as well. We reject that because we believe everything the Bible teaches rather than just small snippets that we've accepted.


LF: Okay I want to dig into this moral accountability because I think that's the major Achilles heel of...interrupted…

JW: That would be in John 6?

LF: That’s exactly dealing with John 6 because it's by say it's by default in your own exposition of John say it's by default they're unable to believe and so that is the root ...interrupted…

JW: Yes because of their sin...interrupted…

LF: ... because because of their sin? Because they were born in that decreed...interrupted…

JW: Yes they are the sons and daughters of Adam that's what Romans 5 says.

LF: So let's let's put ourselves in their shoes. Let's give a name and a face to one of these people in the crowd that's gungasm mooing. Let's call him Rob the Reprobate. He gungasm moos and then Rob turns around he walks away and he drops dead of a heart attack. He's non-elect, so he goes to hell. On what basis is Rob judged? He had absolutely no control over whether he listened and learned from the father or Jesus. Why, on what basis, is he condemned?

JW: Okay absolutely no control means God must extend his grace to rebel sinners. LF: I didn’t say that.

JW: That is what's being said. If you say he has no control that means he is being forced to be a bad guy and God's standing there with a gun, “you be a bad guy,” no, he's not. In fact, God is restraining his evil. He is justly judged for the love of his sin. It's not a matter of being forced into to doing anything, it's not a matter of being incapable of doing anything outside of one thing. And that is if you're a rebel sinner you need the grace of God that doesn't just try to save, but actually saves.

LF: Did I ever say that God owes anybody anything?

JW: You are definitely implying it, yes.

LF: Did I ever say that he owed Rob anything the in the illustration?

JW: No. Continue on. LF: Okay so on what basis, I'll ask again, on what basis is he being judged?

JW: And I already answered the question. He's being judged on the basis that he's in Adam and therefore he stands...interrupted…

LF: So he's being judged really for Adam's sin…

JW: That's all right I've given the answer there's no reason to...yeah..I was wondering where that came from I was wondering what was in actually. Ready to go?

James White 2nd Cross-Examination of Leighton Flowers


JW: Alright, returning to the subject of debate in John chapter 6, I am still extremely lost as to exactly how you are substantiating the reading that you are giving of verse 45. Is there...does the word faith appear in in verses 44 or 45?

LF: No.

JW: And when we use the term “coming to Christ,” are we able to do that now, but they couldn't until the cross. Is that what the one of the differences is?

LF: No one can come unless they've been drawn how does he draw by teaching them he taught them through the prophets of old and now he teaches through himself, his own teaching, and the apostles through the New Testament.

JW: okay so is there any text in the New Testament that talks about what it means to come to the father? Because you said in your opening that the father gives to the son those who have come to him. Does does the phrase, “come to the father,” appear in this text?

LF: Well, in verse 45 he says he knew from the beginning those who did not believe. So, in verse 64 he says he knew from the start which ones did not believe, and then he says for this reason they're not being given. Same thing in verse 45. Those who listen and learn from the father previously will come to the son. That's a condition. The condition they met is they listen to Moses. If you listen to Moses you would believe me, because we're one and the same. It's repeated throughout the Book of of of John.

JW: So the question again was, does the phrase, “coming to the father,” appear in this text?

LF: Um...coming to the father…

JW: You said those who come, you said those who come to the father are given by the father to the son. LF: So it says those who listen and learn from the father will come to the son. If you listen to Moses...interrupted…

JW: Had they come to the father? Were they...interrupted…

LF: Had you listened to Moses, you would listen to me. Had you listened to the prophets, you would listen to me. Had you come to me, I would give you life. It's repeated over even John 8 as you like to preach about if they belonged to God they would come to Jesus, but they didn't belong to God because they refused to listen to him. You don't think they belong to God because they weren't elected. I think they didn't belong to God because they didn't listen. So I blame them, and you you blame the Divine decree.


JW: Okay, so the word God in verse 45, they shall be taught by God, you believe that that action is to all of Israel.

LF: Yes, just like in Romans 10. Have they not all heard and he says yes. My message has gone out to the ends of the earth. They have all heard, they don't have an excuse.

JW: But it's not effective because the majority don't learn.

LF: A remnant does listen and learn and believe, and therefore, he reserves them. They're the lost sheep of Israel and those are the ones he's going to bring to his son.

JW: So they're reserved because of what they do. Right...they're the ones...

LF: They refuse to bow a knee to Baal. That’s why...interrupted... LW: What they did is why they were reserved by God, right?

LF: They responded in faith just like the scripture says.

JW: So you are introducing a distinction between [pontes and Pas] when there's only two words in between them. Because you seem to be saying saying everyone hearing from the father is different than all who are taught by God.

LF: I just don't assume by a presupposition like you do, that people who hear a message automatically have to believe it. I believe that some people can hear a message and choose not to believe it. I believe they can close their ears and their eyes to it.

JW: What if verse 45 actually comes after verse 44 and is describing what the the drawing that results in the giving of eternal life and resurrection, what if all who are taught by God all, who are who hear from the father, all who learn from the father is the effective action of God that's provided in scripture and being described by Jesus. What if that were the...what would that do to your theological understanding of this text?

LF: If that were true, then your presupposition TULIP would be true. And I don't think your presupposition is true. I believe they actually have the responsibility, the ability to respond to the teaching of God. They can deny it or they can accept it.

JW: So when I point to the words [pontes and Pas] and you create a distinction, is it a parlor trick on my part to ask ask you to substantiate that assertion?

LF: Again I can read from you exegetes, who know just as much Greek as you do, Dr White, who do not interpret this text to mean that people are just passive in hearing and learning because he's only talking about the unconditionally elected people in eternity past, You understand it that way because you have your presuppositions.

JW: I am talking to you about the grammar of the text, I'm not talking about my presuppositions, I'm not talking about Manichaeism or any of that insanity. I'm talking about what the text says. And the text is coherent in saying that all are taught by God everyone hearing. You distinguish, I'm asking you give us an argument that's not about my alleged presuppositions or somebody who's not here...interrupted…

LF: You're the one who brought up presuppositions….

JW: Show where from the text you make the distinction that is absolutely necessary for your position.

LF: And they will all be taught of God. That means that everyone of them have no excuse because they have heard what they need to hear, everyone has been taught of God. Everyone who hears from the father and learns comes to me. Not everyone who is taught will listen and learn. Some of them will close their eyes.

JW: I know…

LF: I don't know how that can be more clear Dr. White.

JW: I know you're making the distinction but it is painfully clear to those of us,..interrupted…

LF: So clear that you're the first one to be able to interpret that way. I mean it's not so clear if obviously a lot of people interpret differently than you, who also know Greek, Dr. White.

JW: You just said you just said that if these are actually descriptions of the effective actions of God that the debate is over. That my my understanding is correct.

LF: I didn’t say that...interrupted…

JW. And I'm simply asking you, it is fundamentally necessary for you if you're going to deal with the text for you to be able to explain why the sscriptural citation from is either Isaiah 54 or Jeremiah 31 [pontes didto the is different thanha] is different than [pas ha………..]. You have to explain why you're making that distinction from the text or just admit, “I don't know and it's presuppositional,” and we're we're done with it.


LF: Again I don't assume as you do that just because someone is taught, that they will necessarily therefore listen and learn. I believe that if a student is in a classroom and they don't learn it's not because the teacher doesn't really want them to learn, or because the teacher has some hidden agenda or a secret hidden agenda where two wills of the teacher... I think the teacher actually says when I want you to hear and learn and listen I really want you to hear and learn and listen. And when I hold out my hands to you all day long he actually wants him to come. That's what I believe. Clear enough?

JW: Nice cover for not being able to answer the question. But I'm done. Thank you.

Leighton Flowers Second Cross-examination of James White


LF: All right let's pick up by back with Rob the Reprobate. Okay let's say Rob the Reprobate, he's obviously held guilty for something he has absolute no control of because he's by default a hater of God. He was born that way can't help it...interrupted…

JW: False assumption. I'm not going to bother with answering questions based on false assumption.

LF: I'm using your words by default they are unable to believe that's your words.

JW: There’s a lot more to the expression of default.

MOD: There must be a question.

LF: Okay, thank you. Alright, so this man Rob was guilty because of Adam's sin. You mentioned that, and so if Rob had been aborted when he was a baby or he died when he was an infant would he have had faced the same fate as a non-elect infant?

JW: Oh my goodness Mr. Moderator are we going to stick to John 6 or are we going to start wandering into...interrupted…

LF: Dr White, Dr White, haven't you said inconsistency is as a mark of a failed argument…

JW: Yes…

LF: And isn't Calvinism very inconsistent with how they answer the question as to what happens to an infant when they die?

JW: No, but we we came here to debate John chapter 6 and you're trying to drag it on other things which is what you've done before.

LF: I'm talking…

JW: I am I am asking that you focus upon the text and the meaning of the text and not get into all sorts of other subjects that will that do not allow me to even have the opportunity of making a meaningful presentation on the subjects that have not been raised and are not a part of the subject this evening.

LF: The question of the debate is not who can exegete the text in a way that Dr White approves. It's a defense of Jesus’ supposedly inconceivable teaching of unconditional election, which I'm demonstrating by this line of questions. It's demonstrably unjust and inconsistent within the ranks of Calvinism to say that people are condemned for something they have no control over, and what better illustrates that than an infant that dies?

JW: I realize that the subject of the debate is not something you want to pursue. You just admitted that you are changing the topic of the debate.


MOD: There must be questions, yes. I think they should be about John 6:44, but there must be clear picky questions that allow for…

LF: I think, Dr White, I think that you want to avoid that particular issue. Is it true that you want to avoid that particular issue...interrupted…

JW: I’m not going to answer those questions...

LF: because you point out, even to John MacArthur and John Piper's view you point out the reasons that you don't think they're correct, points to the very point up for debate with regard to unconditional election?

JW: No, it has has nothing to do with John chapter 6 at all.

LW: It has to do with your interpretation of John chapter 6, believing..interrupted…

JW: Those are completely other subjects that we do not have time to make presentations on that will be useful. This is simply your way to avoid the fact that you can't deal with John 6,

MOD: Okay, all right. I have to call a time out. We either have to bring the cross examination to a close or all right well I'll move on I gather that there has been a debate in the last couple of weeks that has come up about infants and things like that I'm going to make the call…

LF: I will move on. I will move on. Fine. Are students in your class responsible to learn what they're taught?

JW: Yes that's why we have grades.

LF: Okay, do you want them to learn even when they don't?

JW: Uh, yep. That's what you want to be as a professor.

LF: And so they're not, it's not just a passive reality for them?

JW: No, it has nothing to do with John 6:45...interrupted…

LF: So why do you...interrupted… JW: Because I'm not God, and I am not being...I'm not... Jesus is quoting that term of what the drawing that effectively results in eternal life is, therefore, the connection is absolutely absurd.

LF: In Jeremiah 32:33 it says they turned their back on me, not their face, I taught them repeatedly again and again and they would not listen. How does that fit in with your interpretation here at verse 45 saying that it's just a passive reality?

JW: Well it's fascinating because you said Jeremiah 32?

LF: 32, 33 yeah

JW: Because anyone familiar with that section knows that Jeremiah chapter 31...interrupted…

LF: I'm actually I'm asking about 32:33.

JW: I'm going to answer the question. Jeremiah chapter 31 contains the section on the New Covenant that says that fact, it's probably the source of this citation…that and Isaiah 54, they shall all be taught by God. So there's clearly a distinction between the fulfillment language of the New Covenant that's quoted in Hebrews chapter 8 and the complaint that God makes against Israel about over and over again their rejection of what he has uh given to them in scripture.


LF: In John 6, everyone but the 12 as you mentioned left because, is that because not a single one in that whole entire crowd was given by the father to the son?

JW: Well, we could hope that in years ahead of that, but at that point in time even though they were called [M Thai] they found the saying sclaros hard and so they walked away. So uh whether any of them were saved a later period of time, scripture doesn’t address

LF: okay I just make it sure so some of you do believe some of the people in the crowd may have been elect?

JW: Doesn't say.

LF: Okay, so why do you suppose that Jesus wouldn't draw them or regenerate them at that time? Why would he speak in difficult language like Parables? Why would he do that?

JW: Because he chose to demonstrate that their faith was based upon what they had gotten from their food and so he was demonstrating to the disciples...what what was Peter's response? Will you too go away? And what what does Peter say? Who do we go to? You're the ones with the words of eternal life so that was especially important for them. But we're not we're not told all of God's purposes as to why he ordered the Gospel of John in the way he ordered the Gospel of John, anymore than I know why Jesus's brothers in the next chapter are unbelievers.

LF: If they're born by default unable to believe, then why would Jesus need to use parabolic language to keep them from believing?

JW: Well again we we go back to the same issue we've discussed before. For example, God had to harden Pharaoh's heart to accomplish his purposes in the Exodus because Pharaoh would have relented just simply to save his own skin. In the same way, God hardens people who have tremendous light so as to accomplish his purposes even if they are ignoring that light and not living in accordance with that light and maybe even doing things that would interfere with God's purposes just simply to accomplish their own ends.

LF: So why, then, did Jesus say when he was asked why do you speak to them in Parables he says otherwise they might turn and be forgiven?

JW: Because he's quoting from Isaiah which makes the exact same thing, And again, the point is...interrupted…

LF: So they're not going to be forgiven?

JW: I'm sorry?

LF: They wouldn't be forgiven if they repented? JW: Again, well was Nineveh forgiven when they whenvthey repented?

LF: Yes. A

JW: And yet they were destroyed very shortly thereafter because it was simply to avoid a particular punishment at that particular point in time,

LF: Well I think that was a different generation but we can talk about that later.

JW: It was the Assyrians anyways,

1:48:33LF: Jesus rebuked the city of Capernaum in Matthew 11.

[Leighton references multiple phrases which seem to come from Matthew 11:21-24]
That's a city that's in John 6 being referenced here, saying to them, “ Woe to you for if the mighty works were done in Tyre and Sidon would have been repent you they would have repented long ago in sackcloth and ashes. How would that be possible possible for a city to repent in light of the signs if they had to be drawn or regenerated first?
JW: Again it's's very frequently do this you're attaching concepts here that aren't even being addressed. What Jesus is saying is he's talking to Jewish towns there in Galilee and they recognize the sinfulness of the Gentiles, Sodom, Gomorrah, Tyre and Sidon, and so on and so forth. What he's saying is, you've had so much light and have sinned against it your sin is greater than their sin. So he's just simply using an example...interrupted…
LF: So they really would not have repented had he shown them those signs and wonders?
JW: That's not the that's not the point.
LF: That's what he says. Is he lying to them?
JW: I know that, and he's using that as an illustration of the people's sinfulness. It's not some kind of an idea of, well, it's a theoretical middle knowledge type idea, It has nothing to do with it.
LF: So Jesus is bluffing it sounds like. Alright, so...interrupted…
JW: I didn't use that term you did.
LF: You say, and the word say that “regeneration makes you alive, it makes you a new creation in Christ Jesus,” So, you believe because you've been recreated in the image of Christ and it's natural for one thusly created and indwelt by the Holy Spirit to believe in the one who he has redeemed and who has redeemed them and brought them to spiritual life. So is it accurate to say that in your view, one has to be made into a new creation in order to believe in Jesus?
JW: Yes.
LF: Okay
JW: The Fallen Sons and Daughters of Adam do not voluntarily abandon their own self-proclaimed sovereignty
LF: Okay. So 2 Corinthians 5:17 says if anyone is in Christ he's a new creation, but yet you have them being a new creation prior to being in Christ.
JW: I find it mere game playing to contrast differing texts as if they are all meant to provide a specific Ordo Salutus by order.
LF: You never do that, do you? JW: To be in Christ you are placed in Christ by the spirit of God and that involves being raised to spiritual life.
LF: Throughout John 6 we're called to come, eat, drink of Christ, so as to live, which is consistent with John 5:40, “You refuse to come to me so that you may live.” So how is it that one is made alive prior to coming to Christ?
JW: Again, spiritually dead individuals need to be given spiritual life so they can have true faith in Christ that endures and is focused upon who he is and not merely looking for signs and food.
LF: okay 1:51:25 MOD: We uh will have five minute closing remarks from each of our speakers. Dr. White will go first and then we'll get to the Q&A.

James White Closing

1:51:56 [James White] I would like to begin by thanking everyone who's come out this evening some of you have traveled a good distance, and I would like to apologize to our moderator for having to involve him this evening. I had hoped that would not be the case, but I should have recognized that it undoubtedly would have been. The debate ended when Dr. Flowers, in the cross-examination, said that if the actions in verse 45, specifically, "It is written in the Prophets, 'They shall all be taught of God.' Everyone hearing and learning from the Father is coming to me." When he admitted that if those are effective actions by God—specifically teaching as in revealing who Christ is—and they all...all who are drawn, that's the contextual reading, they who are drawn are taught by God. That's why they are effectively drawn, and they hear. Everyone who hears from the Father, everyone who learns from the Father, is coming to me. If those are effective actions by God that describe what drawing is, he admitted that means my position is correct.

1:53:32 [James White] And then when I pointed out that his interpretation of this text involves not only ignoring the instrumental mechanism by which the teaching takes place—God is the one doing this—but also ignores the fact that if you are hearing and you are learning, you are passively receiving information into you effectively. And to say that "Well, the one is Israel and the other is others," and I'm simply asking a simple question: The reason it says "They shall all be taught of God," and then it says "everyone hearing" and "everyone learning" is the point is this is God's effectual power being demonstrated in the salvation of his people. And his position requires you to draw a line before the word [pas] in the original language and say, "This is one group, this is another group," and he can't substantiate that. Well, there are other people that interpret it differently. That's not what you do in a debate. Quote them, show that they are actually dealing with this particular issue. Many exegetes are not even going to touch upon this stuff. They're not going to get into this depth. But what did I say at the beginning of this debate? Who is going to consistently walk through the text, who is going to allow it to speak, and who's going to go everywhere else and try to raise every possible topic under the sun, including infant damnation, to try to get around the fact that you can't actually handle John 6?

1:55:32 [James White] That's what happened this evening, and I'm sorry that it happened this evening, but that's what happened. And we may get into, we may have some meaningful conversation during the Q&A period and answering some of your questions, but when it comes to the issue of what Jesus taught in the synagogue in Capernaum, we have seen exactly what he taught. We have seen one side try to take verse 45, turn it upside down, split it in half, and read it into the rest of the text as if that is how you do exegesis. It isn't. That's not how you do justification, that's not how you do the deity of Christ, that's not how you do the Trinity, that's not how you do the resurrection. But when it comes to this subject, that's what people are willing to do. And so consistency, my friends, not emotion. Consistency. This is the God-breathed word of our Creator. Believe it, respect it, and handle it the way it requires us to handle it. Thank you very much.

Leighton Flowers Closing

1:57:15 [Leighton Flowers] Alright, I understand that the concept of infant damnation is a tough concept, but that is the root of the doctrine of unconditional election. The doctrine of unconditional election is basically God before anybody's born, and guess what? People who aren't born yet become infants eventually. And if you unconditionally elect people, that means you're passing over, you're reprobating everybody else, and they have absolutely no control over whether they're elect or reprobate. I know it's emotional. That's why Piper said he cried for three days when he was introduced to Calvinism. RC Sproul says he had to be drugged kicking and screaming into Calvinism. One podcaster said you have to go through stages of grief coming into Calvinism. Why? It's emotional, it's a hard pill to swallow, and of course, somebody who disagrees with it is going to push on that hard point. Dr. White has said inconsistency is the mark of a failed argument. Calvinists are inconsistent with what they say about infants. Why? Because it pushes to the one point: why would you hold an infant that dies responsible? The same thing—this is what our mutual friend Seth Dylan, who's the CEO of Babylon Bee, a sharp guy—he says, "If Calvinism is true, I struggle to see much of a moral distinction between infants and adults. Neither of them meet the condition for moral accountability the former are incapable of sinning, the latter incapable of doing anything other than what they were predestined to do. They're just instruments, not real agents. Treating them like agents and holding them accountable for their actions is just as absurd and nonsensical as treating babies as if they're guilty for wrongdoing." I am pushing on the most difficult point of Calvinism, that is, unconditional election, which if you look, that is the question of tonight's debate: is Jesus teaching this? And I'm showing you how inconceivable it is. Even in 1987, he said this was an inconceivable idea. I agree with him. It is inconceivable that somebody would be condemned for something they have absolutely no control over. He also keeps on talking about the past of realities, again bringing his presupposition into the text, but yes, I can quote from Mounts, I can quote from his friend Michael Brown, all of them talk about, in matter of fact, in the Greek, these are not active verbs and they've happened previously, and they're passive verbs in order for them—I mean, excuse me, they're not passive, they're active, they're listening and learning. So they would need to be passive in order to support Dr. White's view, but they're not passive, they're active verbs. And so just to assume, for example, when we read, for example, Isaiah 30:9 and following, it says, "For they are a rebellious people, lying children, children unwilling to hear the instruction of the Lord." So whose fault is that? They're unwilling to hear the instruction of the Lord. Therefore, thus says the Holy One of Israel, "Because you despise his word, not because you were born that way or because I didn't want you, because you despise his word and trust in oppression and perverseness and rely on them, for thus says the Lord, the Holy One of Israel, 'In returning and rest you shall be saved in quietness and trust shall be your strength, 'but you were not willing."

2:00:20 [Leighton Flowers] It's just like Matthew 23:37, but he doesn't refer to children, so Dr. White doesn't have a loophole to get around that verse. He's willing to save them, but they are unwilling. It's the same thing we see in Isaiah 55, as I've already mentioned: "Incline your ear, come to me and hear, so that your soul may live." Dr. White reverses that order: if I make you alive unilaterally regenerate you, then you will certainly irresistibly, effectually incline your ear and hear. The Bible never says this. Hebrews 1, as we mentioned in the past, "God spoke to our ancestors through the prophets, and they are responsible as to whether they listened and learned from the prophets. Those who refused to bow a knee to Baal, those who did listen to the prophets, those who did learn from Moses, guess what they're going to do when Jesus, the incarnate Son of God, comes onto the scene? They're going to believe in him, because they are one. And that's exactly what John 6 is teaching us. And after he's raised up, he's going to draw all people to himself. Listen, there's something we have in common here: we both believe that God the Father is giving those who belong to the Father to his Son. We both believe that. The only difference is he thinks they belong to the Father because they were unilaterally picked before they were ever created. I believe they belong to the Father because they listened and learned and believed him. That's the difference. Notice it doesn't even affect the flow of the text, it doesn't affect any of the Greek grammar by simply acknowledging that one distinction. Steven Greg pointed this out to him, Michael Brown pointed it out to him. He also said the exact same things to them and to John Lennox. They just read the text upside down, they read it backwards, they're not really exegeting. Listen, accusing somebody of not exegeting the text is just a question-begging, empty rhetoric. Whoever is exegeting the text properly is coming to the proper interpretation. It's equal to saying, "Well, my opponent is wrong because I'm right." It's not a real argument. Thank you for your time.

Audience Questions and Answers


MOD: Okay we have 20 minutes I have tried to curate questions that can sort of draw lot of these threads to a close as we close out the evening we'll be ending at 9:22. Whoever answers the question directed to them gets one minute and then a 30- second rebuttal.

So, question for Dr White if I am not drawn in the Calvinist sense, am I responsible for my rejection of Christ?

JW: Yes because the drawing is an act of grace. God's under no obligation to extend grace to rebel sinners. God could have done what he did with Noah and then wiped all of us out and said and dusted his hand off and said we're done, but he didn't. He graciously grants to rebel sinners eternal life in Jesus Christ, not because of anything in them, not because their choice meets... not because anything like that. It's granted solely on the basis of his mercy and grace. And so I don't know who's being drawn therefore I present the gospel to everyone and pray that God will make make his word to become effective in people's hearts but I know I cannot change those hearts myself only God's grace can do that.

LF: Notice the question was, “is he responsible” which even RC Sproul says that connotes the idea of being able to respond, and the answer by the Calvinist is, “no they are not able to respond positively to the proffered grace of the gospel, which is a doctrine first introduced by Augustine even by Boettner and [BABIK’S] own estimation. Augustine was the first one to teach that people can't respond positively or negatively so, no, they're not really responsible they're held punishable but they're not responsible on Calvinism.


MOD: Okay, question for you Dr flowers: Is God frustrated with man’s choices?

LF: I think there are several scriptures that do indicate God's frustration his anger, his holding out his hands, his longing for, and he is willing but they're unwilling. I think that's undeniable in the text. So I don't see any reason why somebody would suggest that just because, you know a lot of times you'll hear a calvinist say, “well God is trying and he's failing,” but what they're doing is they're projecting their own system onto us first by ultimately saying, “God're trying to irresistibly save everybody but he just can't do it but that's not what we believe. The first Christians were called The Way for a reason. Why? Because they were providing a way so that you could go this way and if you choose not to go that way that's your fault it's not a lacking of the provision. It's like Paul said they perish because they refuse to love the truth so as to be saved they're not perishing because God didn't really want them he's not really teaching them he doesn't really want them to believe he has two wills and one secret will that doesn't really want them to come and one that really does nothing like that the gospel is plain and simple.


JW: In answer to the actual question, there are expressions of God's interaction with anthropomorphisms, that speak of disappointment, longing, and things like that. The question, “ is God himself so unaware of the future and his own purposes and intentions and his own decree that he would be shocked or stunned at something that takes place in time, and the scripture says, “no.”


MOD: Dr White: Why preach the gospel if people will be predestined to damnation?

JW: The easiest answer is because we're commanded to do so, and God uses means to his ends to accomplish his ends. But yes, we are given the tremendous privilege of being the instruments by which we can plead with others. We recognize the grace that we have received, we recognize that it was not because we were better than anyone else or more insightful or more humble or anything like that. We know that in our rebellion, God grabbed hold of our sinful hearts and changed us. And so it is a privilege to then be able to proclaim that message of grace to others around us. We don't know who the elect are, and so we proclaim the gospel to everyone, pray that God will accomplish his purposes. And we are, as Paul says, he endures all things for the sake of the elect, that they may receive eternal salvation.

LF: The law does have a place you can be commanded to do something, but I don't think that's going to drive you like love will. That's exactly what Paul expresses in the first three verses of chapter 9. He loves them so much he's willing to give up his own life. That sounds like Jesus to me, self-sacrificial love. That's what should be driving our evangelism, not just because God told us to, but because we love them like Christ loved them, and we actually believe they can really be saved. Our theology drives our methodology, and if we believe everybody can be saved, then guess what? We're going to preach to everybody because we really believe we might persuade them, like Paul tried to do in Acts 28 all day long, trying to persuade them.


MOD: Okay, Dr. Flowers: If two people were presented the gospel message and one believed—let me go back—if two people were presented the gospel and one believes, one does not, what is the difference in the one who believed. Is he better?

LF: On our view, we don't believe someone is better in order to believe in Jesus you get better by believing in Jesus, and anyone can do it. So no matter even if you're the most moral, immoral person in the whole world, you can still put your faith in Jesus. So you don't have to be better to believe in Jesus on Calvinism, you do. That's why the whole choice meat thing is funny to us because only on Calvinism are the specially elected people turned into a new creation, a better creation, better people, and that's the reason they believe in Jesus. So it is based on their quality. For us, it's not based upon the quality of the individual it's based upon the quality in the one in whom they trust. Christ is the choice meat he's the one we put our trust in, and he's the one who covers us in his righteousness. He's the better quality one. Just like when you call Abraham choice or righteous, or Job is a righteous man, or Enoch is a righteous man, they're calling him choice, they're calling him good. Why? Because they believe in Christ, the choice one. He's the good one it's his character given to us, covers us. And that's why the whole choice meat debacle is funny because it's really a projection of Calvinism onto us.

MOD: One minute

JW: No matter how provisionists try to avoid this, the reality is if God is trying to save everyone equally and one person is saved and one person is not, the difference is not in God's power or God's attempt or the message itself, but in the individuals themselves. That's what the issue is, no matter how hard they try to get away with it.

MOD: I wonder how many people are watching and are totally confused why we keep talking about meat, so just putting that out there.

LF: I skipped dinner I'm hungry.

MOD: I'm assuming everyone knows, but okay.


MOD: Dr White: Why can't sorry why can't sovereign God set the condition for choice if that's what he wants to do?

JW: Well, God could do whatever he wants to do the issue is not can God, could God have made a different world or universe or anything else. The question tonight is what does John Chapter 6 reveal to us about unbelief, about the role of the Father and the Son, and the reality that as believers, we have the promise of Jesus that he is a perfect Savior, and that it's not because we have allowed him to save it's because he is doing the will of the Father. The Father gives a particular people to the Son he entrusts them to him for their salvation. Christ dies in their place the Spirit comes and brings them to life. This is the beauty of the fact that salvation is of the Lord it is his work, to his glory alone, that is the key.

LF: I actually asked Dr. White the same question on a Twitter exchange, and I said, "Could God do it this way if he wanted to?" And you actually replied by saying, "That's like asking if God could create a rock so big that he can't move it." And my reply to that still is no, it's more like could God create a rock that he chooses not to move? In other words, could God create creatures that he chooses not to determine their choices but actually gives them the free real responsibility to either come or reject and thus are held responsible because they're actually able to respond?


MOD: Okay, Dr. Flowers: if the passage John 6:44 does not teach unconditional election, does it teach conditional election?

LF: It's not conditioned on morality, as we mentioned it's not conditioned on their nationality, but there is a condition: they listen and learn from the Father. All who listen and learn from the Father come to the Son, so there is a condition. The reason these people didn't meet the condition, the Bible, the verse tells us in verse 64—I keep getting my numbers mixed—64, he says he knew from the start those that did not believe. And then he says, "For this reason I told you that you weren't granted to come to the Father." He's telling them the reason you're not believers, you're superficial followers, that's why they're not being granted to come. So on my view, it's really clear, the reason they're not being given to the Son is because of their unbelief. On Dr. White's view, however, the reason they're not believing is because they're not being given to the Son. In other words, the giving is what causes the believing on his view. On my view, it's because they refuse to listen and learn from the Father they're unbelieving, and therefore they're not being given to the Son because of that fact.

JW: Once again, verse 45 is being turned upside down. And I will just simply—we've already covered all this, but I will just correct one error in Dr. Flower's closing statement. He tried to identify hearing, the one hearing and learning he doesn't seem to understand those are participles, they're not finite verbs. And so he was in error about his application at that point.


MOD: Okay, Dr. White, can the Father draw all people but only give those who believe to the Son and he won't lose them?

JW: Well, what would this drawing involve? The statement of Jesus is if you're drawn by the Father, you will be raised up by the Son. That the Father has the sovereign right to give a particular people to the Son and entrust them to the Son for their salvation. That's what John 6:39 is about, that's how the Son does the will of the Father. So the drawing is effective, it's powerful, and it has a result. And the description of that drawing is in verse 45. That's what it means to be drawn, and it results in a person coming to Christ. This again is what God does it's to his glory alone. And that's why we can have any eternal security at all, because it's not up to us it is up to the Father, the Son, and the Spirit to bring about their own self-glorification through the salvation of the elect people.

LF: I think Cornelius offers us a good example of what we see taking place. This is a man who listened and learned from the Father, he followed God, he was a God-fearing man, but it wasn't until he heard the gospel sent by Peter from Joppa that he was born again. And that's exactly what we see happening. God is giving those who have trusted in him to his Son for safekeeping he's drawing those who believe in him to believe in the Son so that they too will be saved.


MOD: Dr. Flowers, is Christian conversion a supernatural work of God, i.e., a miracle?

LF: I believe the gospel is the inspired word of God that's brought to all of the world, and so that's supernatural, inspiration of scripture is supernatural. The incarnation of Christ is supernatural. We need all of those graces of God coming before. We need revelation we need light, all which comes by supernatural means. And therefore, we respond to those supernatural means by which we are either judged for our unbelief or “Well done my good and faithful servant. Enter into your rest.” And so the whole reward punishment system of Christianity makes no sense on Calvinism because basically they're being rewarded for something God unilaterally causes to happen and punished for again something God unilaterally causes to happen and so I think once again you just have to look at the whole of the text and all of the text together to understand the plain meaning of your responsibility in light of God's supernatural truth that all of us have to respond to.

JW: An answer wasn't given to the question the question was is conversion a supernatural action, and provisionism doesn't have an answer to that. Well, I think it does, but they don't want to actually admit it because yes, men are dead in sin, and that's why there has to be a supernatural conversion experience. So yes, conversion, thanks be to God, is a supernatural action.


MOD: Dr. White, getting back to Pastor McLanihan, is it not possible that John 6:45 is a commentary or explanation of the previous statement and therefore describing what happens chronologically first?

JW: Chronologically first, it is a scriptural description of what verse 44 is saying, and it's describing what the drawing is. But once again, I just emphasize it's been called merely passive. Nothing has been given to us. Not even tried to provide you with anything from the text at all that gets around the fact that it's God that is doing the teaching to a group—all of these people—that it's God who is causing all these people to hear, it's God causing all these people to learn, and what is the result of God doing that? They come to the Son. That is the explanation of verse 44. That's why it can be said all those who are drawn are raised up on the last day. That is the consistent reading of the text. We have been given zip in response to that.

LF: That's just blatantly untrue. I gave a lot of proof to my position, and Dr. White is just using his talking points. He's already getting his talking points out there for everybody to repeat on Twitter, and it's quite obvious what happens. It's a pattern. It's the same pattern that happens every time. It's the unbelief followed by the rebuke of Jesus that they're unbelieving, and therefore they're not being given by the Father to the Son because of their unbelief. It's their fault, not a default condition from birth, and 44 is explaining, like it says throughout the rest of the text, it's a unity of the Father and the Son.


MOD: Dr. Flowers, if God has the same salvific love for every person, it's an assumption you may want to challenge, but if God has the same salvific love for every person, why did He create a world in which He infallibly knew billions of people would live and die without ever hearing the gospel?

LF: Well, we can ask Him those difficult questions when we get to heaven because there are difficult questions that the Bible does not specifically address. But, however, I do think Romans chapter 1 does tell us that no one has an excuse because He has made the truth known through general revelation, through the light of conscience. The gospel has been made known, and that gospel has been proclaimed through your conscience, the law written on your heart. And those who are faithful with a little light, God will bring more light. Throughout the Scripture, it indicates this. I have quite a few videos talking about that in my book "God's Provision for All." This book here actually answers that question about those who never hear the gospel for those that want to go deeper into that study. It takes a little bit longer than 60 seconds to be able to unpack all of that, but I think even, interestingly enough, MacArthur had a sermon in 1981 that was wonderful that answered that question beautifully, in my opinion.

JW: God has a sovereign decree that he is working out in this world that results in the glorification of His grace. That's what Ephesians 1:6 says. Provisionism doesn't have a decree, and in fact detests the decree and attacks the decree at every possible opportunity and therefore really cannot explain why these things are in the ultimate sense of what God is accomplishing in His creation.


MOD: Okay, this will be the last question for Dr. White, and then we'll have one more for Dr. Flowers. Does Jesus say that. two options: all who are drawn by the Father come to him, or all who come to him are drawn by the Father?

JW: Well, one would just be descriptive and the other would be didactic. But the statement specifically is in light of the fact that no one has the ability to come to Him unless this drawing takes place, that when that drawing does take place, that it inevitably results in a person coming to Christ. He had already said in verse 37, "All that the Father gives me will come to me." So either we have a sovereign God who is capable of graciously giving people to His Son to bring about their perfect salvation, or we don't. We have a god who's responding to his creatures and he's limited in who he can give based upon what those creatures allow him to do. That's not the teaching of John chapter 6. That doesn't explain the unbelief of the Jews. And so the drawing is effective because it results in everyone coming who is drawn to the Son.

LF: I want to address the accusation that we don't believe in a decree. We believe God decrees, but God decrees good things, not evil, on provisionism. And so we love God's decree we talk about God's decree all the time. But we don't believe in the decree of rape and murder and molestation, of every single evil, heinous thing that happens in the world. That's what we detest. We detest people blaming God for heinous evil by saying that God brought it about by sovereign decree. That's what we despise. We don't despise the decrees of God.

2:22:47 MOD: Okay, last question for the evening. The crux of John 6:44 is the "why," as you said, Dr. Flowers. So after being fed and seeking Jesus, why did the thousands of people not come to him at the end of the chapter? What else did they need to actually believe?

LF: That's exactly—I'm glad that question. That's why he's speaking to them in harsh language. He doesn't want them to come. He's not drawing them right then. He's using their unbelief just like he hardened Pharaoh's heart, hardening Israel to bring about the crucifixion. This is why the interlocutor in Romans 9 is a hardened Jew, not a synergist in the first century. It's a Jew that's grown hardened and callous, and God has cut off in their unbelief using them to cry out crucify himk give us Barabus! God has determined to bring that about how by hardening an already rebellious group of people called Israel and who are they to question God if he wants to reshape and remold a hardened lump of clay called Israel into a crowd that cries out crucify him so as to engraft the nations of the world, God is using the hardened Israelites to bring about redemption that is the interlocutor that is the objector in Romans 9 and is exactly what Jesus is fulfilling in John chapter 6 by speaking to them in difficult symbolic language so they cannot hear and understand.

JW: I wonder why Jesus didn't use harsh language with Nicodemus?

MOD: There you go, okay. I think that's what you call a rhetorical question yeah it is um

LF: I wish I could answer.