Apologetics Thursday – A Short Exchange on John 3:16

From a Youtube video comments. Open Theist Christopher Fisher leads:

Mr Course,

Talking about John 3:16. The context is that Jesus is explaining to Nicodemus how to be saved. Jesus illustrates how to be saved with lifting up a serpent in the wilderness. John 3:16 is in parallel to this. Explain how saving only a few select individuals who are pre-chosen is consistent with Moses lifting up the serpent to save whoever chooses to look on the serpent.

Course, the Calvinist responds:

The conversation didn’t start at vs 16…. way earlier Jesus already said ” You must be born again”. And when asked how that happens Jesus says it’s like the wind…you cannot control it or predict it. That’s how the new birth is….. it’s not something you control.

//Jesus illustrates how to be saved with lifting up a serpent in the wilderness.//

No, he makes only 1 parallel… the serpent was lifted up ( for people in Israel) and He would be lifted up for people from all nations (the world).

Arminian responds:
+Mountain DG I don’t think Jesus’ point about the wind was “you cannot control it or predict it,” as if to tell Nicodemus he might get lucky and he might not get lucky to have the wind blow his way. The wind was there for Nicodemus, but Nicodemus wanted something the natural mind could understand—and that’s the real point of the wind illustration, that it was something he would have to accept not knowing how it works. It’s really reading a theology into the text to make the wind match determinism and Nicodemus simply unable to make any choice at all about what Christ was saying apart from Christ’s deterministic decree.

Christopher Fisher, Open Theist responds:

//No, he makes only 1 parallel… the serpent was lifted up ( for people in Israel) and He would be lifted up for people from all nations (the world).

That is not actually true:

Joh 3:14 And as Moses lifted up the serpent in the wilderness, so must the Son of Man be lifted up,
Joh 3:15 that whoever believes in him may have eternal life.

What does “that” mean? Doesnt it denote the purpose or the result? And then who does “whosoever” refer to? In the parallel, Moses lifts a serpent so that anyone in Israel who looks will be saved. In the same way, whosoever turns to Jesus will be saved. Right? You think Jesus is saying “only the elect” by whosoever? In contrast to the parallel in context?

The parallel is the saving action and that is the primary parallel. And what is Jesus communicating to Nicodemus? Is Nicodemus entertaining a rant about chosen elect being saved… and this in response to Nicodemus’ question on how to be saved? You actually believe this?

What would Jesus have to say to make you believe that he was referring to all mankind (or at least all Israel)?

Leave a Reply