Friday, February 19, 2010

John 6 and James White

John 6 and James White
Many years ago, in fact it was January 13, 2001, I had made a comment in my IRC Chatroom, #CathApol, that "James White has been proven wrong so many times it isn't even funny."  The particular subject I was discussing, with a person who went by the nickname of "tatrbrain," was John 6.  My thesis is, as it was then too, that John 6 is a Eucharistic treatise, basically from start to finish.  
In a post-debate review (something White criticized me for doing, though NOW if you look at his blog and YouTube site, you'll see he spends a LOT of energy "reviewing" debates with Tim Staples, Pat Madrid and others) I counted up at least twenty-nine times where White was wrong in that debate alone.  To this date, White has not engaged me on a single one of those points.  That page (which as of this writing needs some fixing of links and other maintenance) can still be found here: 
Recently in the Catholic Debate Forum (CDF) a supporter of White has come forward with essentially the exact same "fatally flawed" argument which White presented back in 2001 and even earlier in his 1990 book The Fatal Flaw (which was actually based upon arguments White had been having with me, but of course I do not accept that my side was adequately represented).  This supporter goes by the name of Micah Antony, and he quotes from The Fatal Flaw:  
On p. 171 of  The Fatal Flaw (a book you are most dissatisfied with) White brings up something I NEVER noticed before I read it, and I would bet not one nice Catholic on this site has either.  Staring at us right before our eyes in vs. 65 is
And He was saying, "Because of this, I said to you that no one is able to come to me except it is given to him by the Father.  Because of this many of His disciples went away to the things behind and no longer walked with Him."
White:  "Jesus was the greatest speaker of all time, yet many of the disciples went away from following Him.  If man could be convinced simply by coming in contact with Him, these men would have been.  But the operative factor was missing---the enablement of the Father.  These disciples went away not because of Jesus' words about eating His flesh or drinking His blood, but because Jesus asserted that it is simply not possible for anyone to come to Christ unless the Father enables him.  Roman Catholics continuously assert that these people went away because they  would not accept Jesus' teaching on the Eucharist...but what caused them to stumble was the proclamation of the absolute sovereignty of God and the inability of man.  The text specifically says, because of this many of His disciples went away...." (qtd here:

Well, I'll do a fuller critique of The Fatal Flaw at some point, I've began that project a few times now and have lots of notes in the margins, but for now we'll concentrate on this John 6 passage and point out (again) White's errors now being repeated by Antony.  So as to not be ripping passages from context, let us start at the beginning of John 6 and work our way through the whole chapter.  I should also point out to Mr. Antony, at least this "nice Catholic" has not only noticed this before - but has debated White on this very topic before - and if Mr. Antony were paying attention, he would have seen that from discussions we've been having on CDF.

John 6 (New American Standard Bible - White's favorite translation at least it was at one time, so I'll use it)

Five Thousand Fed

1 After these things Jesus went away to the other side of the Sea of Galilee (or Tiberias).
2 A large crowd followed Him, because they saw the signs which He was performing on those who were sick.
3 Then Jesus went up on the mountain, and there He sat down with His disciples.
4 Now the Passover, the feast of the Jews, was near.
5 Therefore Jesus, lifting up His eyes and seeing that a large crowd was coming to Him, said to Philip, "Where are we to buy bread, so that these may eat?"
6 This He was saying to test him, for He Himself knew what He was intending to do.
7 Philip answered Him, "Two hundred denarii worth of bread is not sufficient for them, for everyone to receive a little."
8 One of His disciples, Andrew, Simon Peter's brother, said to Him,
9 "There is a lad here who has five barley loaves and two fish, but what are these for so many people?"
10 Jesus said, "Have the people sit down." Now there was much grass in the place So the men sat down, in number about five thousand.
11 Jesus then took the loaves, and having given thanks, He distributed to those who were seated; likewise also of the fish as much as they wanted.
12 When they were filled, He said to His disciples, "Gather up the leftover fragments so that nothing will be lost."
13 So they gathered them up, and filled twelve baskets with fragments from the five barley loaves which were left over by those who had eaten.
14 Therefore when the people saw the sign which He had performed, they said, "This is truly the Prophet who is to come into the world."
So, at the very beginning of John 6 we have Jesus performing a miracle with bread (and fishes) whereby from so few loaves and fishes over 5000 people (the Scripture only counts the men) are fed.  Jesus not only demonstrates His authority over the physical things of this world, but also prefigures the Eucharistic bread which He will later give to us and it will be multiplied throughout the world so that every true believer can partake in this "bread."  More on that in a bit.
Jesus Walks on the Water

15 So Jesus, perceiving that they were intending to come and take Him by force to make Him king, withdrew again to the mountain by Himself alone.
16 Now when evening came, His disciples went down to the sea,
17 and after getting into a boat, they started to cross the sea to Capernaum. It had already become dark, and Jesus had not yet come to them.
18 The sea began to be stirred up because a strong wind was blowing.
19 Then, when they had rowed about three or four miles, they saw Jesus walking on the sea and drawing near to the boat; and they were frightened.
20 But He said to them, "It is I; do not be afraid."
21 So they were willing to receive Him into the boat, and immediately the boat was at the land to which they were going.
22 The next day the crowd that stood on the other side of the sea saw that there was no other small boat there, except one, and that Jesus had not entered with His disciples into the boat, but that His disciples had gone away alone.
23 There came other small boats from Tiberias near to the place where they ate the bread after the Lord had given thanks.
24 So when the crowd saw that Jesus was not there, nor His disciples, they themselves got into the small boats, and came to Capernaum seeking Jesus.
25 When they found Him on the other side of the sea, they said to Him, "Rabbi, when did You get here?"
And again Jesus demonstrates He is God and has authority over the elements!  It is not physically possible for the surface tension of water to support the weight of a human being walking upon it - yet there Jesus is!  In Matthew's account St. Peter also gets out of the boat and walks on the water, until he is distracted by the storm about him and begins to sink.  This truly is a miraculous metaphysical event for it is beyond natural reason that He should be (and Peter too) walking on water.  God has authority over His creation.
Words to the People

26 Jesus answered them and said, "Truly, truly, I say to you, you seek Me, not because you saw signs, but because you ate of the loaves and were filled.
27 "Do not work for the food which perishes, but for the food which endures to eternal life, which the Son of Man will give to you, for on Him the Father, God, has set His seal."
28 Therefore they said to Him, "What shall we do, so that we may work the works of God?"
29 Jesus answered and said to them, "This is the work of God, that you believe in Him whom He has sent."
30 So they said to Him, "What then do You do for a sign, so that we may see, and believe You? What work do You perform?
31 "Our fathers ate the manna in the wilderness; as it is written, 'HE GAVE THEM BREAD OUT OF HEAVEN TO EAT.'"
32 Jesus then said to them, "Truly, truly, I say to you, it is not Moses who has given you the bread out of heaven, but it is My Father who gives you the true bread out of heaven.
33 "For the bread of God is that which comes down out of heaven, and gives life to the world."
Just a note here in opposition to Calvinism - He does not come to give life merely to the elect, but He gives it to "the world."
34 Then they said to Him, "Lord, always give us this bread."
35 Jesus said to them, "I am the bread of life; he who comes to Me will not hunger, and he who believes in Me will never thirst.
36 "But I said to you that you have seen Me, and yet do not believe.
37 "All that the Father gives Me will come to Me, and the one who comes to Me I will certainly not cast out.
Here is where White starts his Calvinist argumentation, "all that the Father gives Me WILL come to Me, and the one who comes to Me I will certainly not cast out."  When does this "giving" happen?  I posit the "giving" may be argued validly to happen on "the Last Day," and those whom are given THEN will not be cast out.  However, this "giving" may happen BEFORE "the Last Day," for it says HE will not cast them out, but if they do not persevere (as St. Paul so often teaches) then they have not been "cast out" per se, but they have "turned and walk with Him no more," of their own accord.
38 "For I have come down from heaven, not to do My own will, but the will of Him who sent Me.
39 "This is the will of Him who sent Me, that of all that He has given Me I lose nothing, but raise it up on the last day.
Now here is a stronger case for Calvinism, but it's still not solidly in Calvin's court.  Again, IF this "giving" happens on "the Last Day," then they have been judged and will not be lost.  IF the "giving" is on "the Last Day" then perseverance is not part of the picture - it is finished, there's nothing left to persevere in.  If this "giving" happens ahead of time and none can be lost, then St. Paul's (repeated) teachings on perseverance are meaningless.  Calvinism on a whole has to explain away and/or rationalize away the concept of perseverance, but now is not the time to discuss that so much as it is to lay out the argument for John 6 being a prefiguring and Eucharistic treatise, so let us continue.
40 "For this is the will of My Father, that everyone who beholds the Son and believes in Him will have eternal life, and I Myself will raise him up on the last day."
Note the conditions here!  You must BEHOLD and BELIEVE in Him to have eternal life.  IF you do this, then He Himself will raise you up on "the Last Day."

Words to the Jews

41 Therefore the Jews were grumbling about Him, because He said, "I am the bread that came down out of heaven."
42 They were saying, "Is not this Jesus, the son of Joseph, whose father and mother we know? How does He now say, 'I have come down out of heaven'?"
43 Jesus answered and said to them, "Do not grumble among yourselves.
44 "No one can come to Me unless the Father who sent Me draws him; and I will raise him up on the last day.
Here we have THREE THINGS to consider:
1) The coming to Him.
2) The drawing.
3) The raising up on the Last Day.

1) The coming to Him, regardless of when this happens, does not negate the persevering in Him.  We cannot read Scripture in a vacuum from the rest of Scripture.  If perseverance is important, then it cannot be contradicted or contraindicated by other passages in Scripture.  The only way this "coming" can be taken in the way White, et. al. states it is if this coming is on "the Last Day," and then I have no argument against it.
2) The drawing, when exactly would THIS happen?  Well, John 12:32 makes that clear - it happens when He is lifted up and then who is drawn?  "All men" are drawn, let us look at the verse: "And I, if I am lifted up from the earth, will draw all men to Myself" (NASB).  Again, a contradiction to Calvinism!  Unless Calvinism believes God fails, somehow, in the drawing and giving, then somehow, somewhere in this we MUST see that the human will can defy God, which is the ultimate sin which WILL send each person in such denial to Hell.
3) Again with "the Last Day" as a referent to the "raising up" of those who have "come to Him."  So the subjects of this proposition are the "coming" and the "raising up" which will happen on "the Last Day" - and all this is conditional upon the "drawing."  Well, the "drawing" happened nearly 2000 years ago - and "all men" are drawn to Him - or else John 12:32 is lying to us.
45 "It is written in the prophets, 'AND THEY SHALL ALL BE TAUGHT OF GOD.' Everyone who has heard and learned from the Father, comes to Me.
46 "Not that anyone has seen the Father, except the One who is from God; He has seen the Father.
47 "Truly, truly, I say to you, he who believes has eternal life.
Here again the Calvinists think they have a foothold on the argument, but again they are twarted by the fact that the condition of "believing" is put here.  What kind of "believer" would refuse to "obey" the Lord?  More on that in a bit.
The Eucharistic Treatise

48 "I am the bread of life.
49 "Your fathers ate the manna in the wilderness, and they died.
50 "This is the bread which comes down out of heaven, so that one may eat of it and not die.
51 "I am the living bread that came down out of heaven; if anyone eats of this bread, he will live forever; and the bread also which I will give for the life of the world is My flesh."
52 Then the Jews began to argue with one another, saying, "How can this man give us His flesh to eat?"
53 So Jesus said to them, "Truly, truly, I say to you, unless you eat the flesh of the Son of Man and drink His blood, you have no life in yourselves.
54 "He who eats My flesh and drinks My blood has eternal life, and I will raise him up on the last day.
55 "For My flesh is true food, and My blood is true drink.
56 "He who eats My flesh and drinks My blood abides in Me, and I in him.
57 "As the living Father sent Me, and I live because of the Father, so he who eats Me, he also will live because of Me.
58 "This is the bread which came down out of heaven; not as the fathers ate and died; he who eats this bread will live forever."
Now eight times in eleven verses Jesus talks about us eating HIM, HIS FLESH and drinking HIS BLOOD.  This command repeated so many times CANNOT BE IGNORED!  If one attempts to explain away and/or diminish this eight-fold repeated command - are they obedient to His Word?  Are they truly "believers" in His Word if they do not accept Him AT HIS WORD?  This is the crux of the matter - and as we continue we see that it is over THIS that many of His disciples are grumbling!  It is THIS over which they said "This is a difficult statement; who can listen to it?"  Don't be caught up in the Calvinistic shell game by later verses taken out of the context of these verses!  Don't forget verse 52 either, "How can this man give us His flesh to eat?"  THIS is what they are struggling with!
Words to the Disciples

59 These things He said in the synagogue as He taught in Capernaum.
60 Therefore many of His disciples, when they heard this said, "This is a difficult statement; who can listen to it?"
61 But Jesus, conscious that His disciples grumbled at this, said to them, "Does this cause you to stumble?
62 "What then if you see the Son of Man ascending to where He was before?
63 "It is the Spirit who gives life; the flesh profits nothing; the words that I have spoken to you are spirit and are life.
64 "But there are some of you who do not believe " For Jesus knew from the beginning who they were who did not believe, and who it was that would betray Him.
65 And He was saying, "For this reason I have said to you, that no one can come to Me unless it has been granted him from the Father."
Note again the subject of this section the "THIS" which He is talking about is the previous section which is the eight times in eleven verses of Jesus referring to the necessity to eat His Body and drink His blood.  White and Antony would have us believe that verse 65 is the Calvinistic treatise which causes the disciples to walk away from Him but anyone reading the context can certainly see that the whole subject of their grumblings was over "How can this man give us His flesh to eat?"  Yes, we must BELIEVE HIM and ACCEPT HIS WORD and EAT HIS FLESH or we have NO LIFE in us.  THAT is the "this" in "this reason" which is followed by verse 66:
66 As a result of this many of His disciples withdrew and were not walking with Him anymore.
Again, as a result "of THIS" many of His disciples withdrew and were not walking with Him anymore.  I can't emphasize more the "THIS" which the disciples were grumbling over just five verses earlier and what they were grumbling over is verses 48 through 58 wherein eight times in eleven verses Jesus demanded we eat His body and drink His blood.  It is absolutely silly to ignore all this context and then attempt to impute Calvinistic theology into verse 65, as if verses 48 through 64 weren't even there.
Peter's Confession of Faith

67 So Jesus said to the twelve, "You do not want to go away also, do you?"
68 Simon Peter answered Him, "Lord, to whom shall we go? You have words of eternal life.
69 "We have believed and have come to know that You are the Holy One of God."
70 Jesus answered them, "Did I Myself not choose you, the twelve, and yet one of you is a devil?"
71 Now He meant Judas the son of Simon Iscariot, for he, one of the twelve, was going to betray Him.
And in closing of John 6 Jesus does not go after those who "withdrew and were walking with Him anymore" and say, "Hey wait guys!  Don't get Me wrong here, all you need to do is believe, that's what I really mean by eating and drinking.  Come on back, don't take Me so literally!"  No, He allowed them to walk away for they RIGHTLY understood Him and just lacked the faith to accept Him at His Word.  Then, instead of offering a different explanation to The Twelve, He challenges them, "You do not want to go away also, do you?"  In short, He was sticking to what He said and gave them the option to leave too - but Simon Peter stood up and answered for the rest of them, "Lord, to whom shall we go?"  You have the words of eternal life."  Then interestingly enough John ties all this up with a reference to the night on which He was betrayed, and the one who would be identified as the betrayer would be so identified at the celebration of the First Eucharist!  
The objective reader here can most certainly see that there is a Eucharistic theme throughout the whole chapter of John 6 - to deny this and focus upon one verse out of context is not an honest or scholarly reading of John 6.

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