Wednesday, February 21, 2007

Efficacious Drawing or Prevenient Grace?

Commenting on John 6:44, D. A. Carson writes:

The thought of v. 44 is the negative counterpart to v. 37a. The latter tells us that all whom the Father gives to the Son will come to him; here we are told that no-one can come to him unless the Father draws him (cf. Mk. 10:23ff). And again, it will be Jesus himself who raises such a person up at the last day. The combination of v. 37a and v. 44 prove that this 'drawing' activity of the Father cannot be reduced to what theologians sometimes call 'prevenient grace' dispensed to every individual, for this 'drawing' is selective, or else the negative note in v. 44 is meaningless. Many attempt to dilute the force of the claim by referring to 12:32, where the same verb for 'to draw' (helkyo) occurs: Jesus there claims that he will draw 'all men' to himself. The context shows rather clearly, however, that 12:32 refers to 'all men without distinction' (i.e. not just Jews) rather than to 'all men without exception'. Yet despite the strong predestinarian strain, it must be insisted with no less vigour that John emphasizes the responsibility of people to come to Jesus, and can excoriate them for refusing to do so (e.g. 5:40). (The Gospel According to John, 293)

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